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Thursday, March 27, 2008

cool web

I generally dont like to blog about technical things because there are many people out there who do that way better than me. But today i stumbled across these unique ventures. In both the cases, we get to see how artists are using web. Its creativity at its best!

The First One : OneThousandPaintings
Idea: Numbers from 1-1000 are painted and are painted only once. So the numbers already ordered are gone. There are still about 227 paintings left. And these paintings are not cheap either. The price is 1000-number. But people are still buying them like crazy, read this excerpt from that website's blog:
Tosh Cooey, owner of 314, 159 and 265 (that's right, your reaging PI, i.e. 3.14159265) wants to expand his series and is looking to buy 358 and 979 (because PI = 3.14159265358979). If you own them, he offers USD 500 for each.
Best of all, people are reselling their paintings and claiming upto USD3300$ for it. The artist who came up with this idea is Sala, a Swiss artist. And btw, she also has made an applet where you can see the DOM structure a page visually using cool tools. You can check it out at : http://www.aharef.info/static/htmlgraph/

The Second One : 365SpecialDays
Idea: Inspired by the previous one, in this page, people can submit a day that was special to them and why it was special. Based on this, the artist will paint a picture and mail it to you. All of it comes for about 182.5$ (the reason for such a price is because it is half of 365). Only 365 paintings will be made, if your day is gone, you wont get it back. Artist behind this venture is Fernando.

Lastly, there is an excellent compendium of visualization tools which can be read here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Once

Once in a while there comes a movie like "Once" which just refreshes you, makes your day and leaves memories forever.
16 hrs ago i heard the song falling slowly 10th time and then went on to blog it here yesterday. Next thing, i downloaded a torrent for the movie and enqueued it. It was going on slowly and had to keep it on for the night. After waking up, the movie was downloaded but it was a spanish dubbed version. fuck it!, searched another torrent and then after 4 more hrs, it was done. Then followed an hr of tussle to wait and watch the movie at night but patience was unbearable (Movies are somehow better in the peace of night). So here i am 100 mins later and yes, i have watched Once.

Its beautiful! Simple, plain and brilliant! Its a love story of two ordinary people who love music. Music in the movie is Irish as is the location. I have heard Irish music in movies only and i have loved them. Other Irish movies that i recommend are - Evelyn and Cold mountain. Since i am an Indian and Indian movies are filled with the above two ingredients - love and music, its surprising that i love this movie way better than all of them. This is definitely my #2 best love story movie, the first spot is taken by Before sunset.

I was watching Tarantino's review the other day on Chungking express and he says that he hasn't met a person who has watched Chungking express and do not have a crush on Faye Wong's character. And i completely agree with Tarantino (can you disagree with god ?). So here's a list of characters on whom i have a crush:
1. Faye Wong in Chungking express.
2. Marketa Irglova in Once.
3. Nhu Quynh Nguyen in Mua he chieu thang dung (At the height of summer / The vertical ray of Sun)
4. Gayatri Joshi in Swades.
5. Julie Delpy in Before Sunset/sunrise.
6. Scarlette Johnson in Lost in Translation.

Ofcourse the list will grow on and on..... Strangely both Faye Wong and Marketa Irglova are singers first and actors later. I conclude this post by this beautiful song - The hill, written and sung by Marketa Irglova.
Lyrics:

Walking up the hill tonight
and you have closed your eyes
I wish I didn't have to make
all those mistakes and be wise
Please try to be patient
and know that I'm still learning
I'm sorry that you have to see
the strength inside me burning

Where are you my angel now
don't you see me crying?
And I know that you can't do it all
but you can't say I'm not trying
I'm on my knees in front of him
but he doesn't seem to see me
But all his troubles on his mind
he's looking right through me
And I'm letting myself down
beside this fire in you
And I wish that you could see
that half my troubles too

Looking at you sleeping
I'm with the man I love
I'm sitting here weeping
while the hours pass so slow
And I know that in the morning
I'll have to let you go
And you'll be just a man
once I used to know
And for these past few days
someone I don't recognise
This isn't all my fault
when will you realise

Looking at you leaving, I'm looking for a sign



Falling slowly

Falling slowly is an OST from the movie Once perfromed by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. It won the oscar for this year's best song.

Lyrics:

I don't know you
But I want you
All the more for that
Words fall through me
And always fool me
And I can't react
And games that never amount
To more than they're meant
Will play themselves out

Take this sinking boat and point it home
We've still got time
Raise your hopeful voice you have a choice
You've made it now

Falling slowly, eyes that know me
And I can't go back
Moods that take me and erase me
And I'm painted black
You have suffered enough
And warred with yourself
It's time that you won

Take this sinking boat and point it home
We've still got time
Raise your hopeful voice you had a choice
You've made it now

Take this sinking boat and point it home
We've still got time
Raise your hopeful voice you had a choice
You've made it now
Falling slowly sing your melody
I'll sing along

This one song has inspired me to watch the movie. Sung in a very unique way, this song is quite mystical. At the time of writing this movie is ranked #227 on top 250 list of imdb. This song gives the message of hope. Here is what Marketa Irglova said on accepting her oscar:

"Hi everyone. I just want to thank you so much. This is such a big deal, not only for us, but for all other independent musicians and artists that spend most of their time struggling, and this, the fact that we're standing here tonight, the fact that we're able to hold this, it's just to prove no matter how far out your dreams are, it's possible. And, you know, fair play to those who dare to dream and don't give up. And this song was written from a perspective of hope, and hope at the end of the day connects us all, no matter how different we are. And so thank you so much, who helped us along the way. Thank you."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Living in US of A - part 1

I was missing on this satire topic - Living in US of A - on this blog. This post and the ones coming in future will be reflections of how it is living here.

Firstly, America is very pessimistic when compared to India. They are too negative. For example, here there is a social security number given to each working individual. It can be thought as an equivalent to passport in Indian context. Once you submit your application, they say that it will take 4-8 weeks for it to get delivered. They are too pessimistic in their estimate about their service, their postal department etc. Actually they deliver it in 2-3 weeks. Now we compare to it in India, where in passport office, officially it is claimed that your passport will be delivered in 45 days. Now this is optimism. If all things go perfectly then it will be delivered in 45 days while we all know that it usually takes 4-6 months. I like the Indian attitude.
Take another example of public transport, this time the satire is on the other side. Firstly, it is assumed that most people will not use public transport ( a very pessimistic assumption indeed) and moreover, they have one fare no matter how much distance you have to cover - be it the next stop or the one 50 miles away. Why will they assume that every individual using transport will travel end to end? Beats me! Is it so hard to implement variable costs depending on distance.

"Feel aa gayi thi"
Generally speaking, a life of an Indian living in USA is eventless (opposite of eventful - why eventless is not in dictionary fruitful-fruitless, meaningful-meaningless etc). Anyways, the life of an Indian grad student is even more useless and it is always marred by constant homesickness. But there comes in a day, very very occasionally when we stop and enjoy the moment of living in USA. This happened to me when i was walking back to my home after carrying bags of grocery and at the intersection, i saw an incident that would make any Indian proud. As the light changed to red, a woman busy in her own world didn't notice and collided to a car coming in perpendicular direction. Me, couple of my friends and about 7 other Indians who were standing close to the intersection were very amused now as we were expecting a scuffle now. Come on we deserved to see something, hear some swear words, we were all excited by this unique prospect that reminded us so much of our motherland. It was this feeling that makes us appreciate the beauty of an accident, makes us homesick and inspires me to write a blog post :D. Anyways, what followed was the worst spectacle ever, both the cars went to a corner, woman apologized, the guy in the other car accepted her apology and since no one was hurt, they both parted ways amicably. Although we missed on a biggie but sure as we say in our common lingo "feel aa gayi thi" :D

Sunday, March 16, 2008

falaq aur ufaq

समाप्त हो रही है यह रात, जाग राही,
बहुत नींद पा ली , बहुत स्वप्न देखें
ले अब अंगडाई और चुस्त हो चल
आ अब उफक को आंखों में बांधें
आ आज फलक को मुठ्ठी में समेंटे
चल अब आज से सत्य को गले लगा लें

For a better usage of these words, check at : http://yamuna-writings.blogspot.com/2008/03/lead-india-anthem.html

Background: Aman and i were chatting one day about what comes first in aman's mind when he writes a poem using nice urdu words..does he makes a line keeping the word in mind or is it that the word just naturally comes to mind. I belong to the former category. Anyways, this chat happened 3-4 week ago and 2 days back , we were discussing the Gulzaar's lyrics in lead india campaign song and i told aman that i am tempted to write a poem with these words in it and asked him to do so.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Foreign language songs

Lost in translation
Directed by Sophie Copolla
Song : Kaze Wo Atsumete. (Collect the wind)
Band: Happy End
Lyrics: (This is translated version of lyrics borrowed from : http://charmless.wordpress.com/2007/11/28/kaze-wo-atsumete-happy-end-mp3/

As I was walking down a towering alley
In the outskirts of the city
I saw beyond the blotched fog
A streetcar still sluggish from sleep
Crossing over the sea

That’s why I want to gather the wind (under my wings)
Gather the wind (under my wings)
And run across the blue sky.
As I passed through a beautiful sunrise
I saw beyond the empty-looking breakwater
A city with its day-colored sails up
Moored in the port
That’s why I want to gather the wind (under my wings)
Gather the wind (under my wings)
And run across the blue sky
When I was killing time one morning
At an empty coffee shop
I saw through the cracked glass
The rustling of the high-rises’ silken clothes
Brushing on the sidewalk

The song sings about how the beautiful landscape of Tokyo has been lost by the rapid economic growth of Japan.




From the movie: Respiro
Respiro literally means "Respite" or "Breath". Good movie. Watched a good non-hollywood flick after a long time. It is about a woman who is living on an Italian island and has dared to do things different from usual norms and hence is typecasted as mentally ill by the locals. But a one line description is no way close to thousands of stories. My best part is the showcasing of the coarsen plain near beach ... in a way it gels with the movie...sub-consciously makes me feel coarse/agitated.
Song: La Bambola
Artist: Patty Pravo
Get this widget | Track details | eSnips Social DNA

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Tum chalo ( I had to blog this)

Check out the video above: Its made by toi for their lead India show. I havent seen the show but the video song and lyrics is very good.
Music by: Shankaar, Ehsaan Loy
Sung by: Shankar Mahadevan
Lyrics: Gulzaar (who else)

Falak pakad ke utho, aur hawa pakad ke chalo, –2
Tum chalo, to hindustan chale –4

Lagao haath ke suraj subah nikala karein, ]
Hatheliyon bhare dhoop aur uchhala karein, ]–2
Ufaq pe paav rakho, aur chalo akad ke chalo,
Falak pakad ke utho, aur hawa pakad ke chalo, –2
Tum chalo, to hindustan chale –4

Meaning: falak (Sky), and Ufaq (Horizon)
Read the 3rd and 4th lines. Man! I can read them 100 times and still not get bored.
The lyrics are plagiarized from here: http://projectbee.wordpress.com/2008/01/05/tum-chalo-indias-new-anthem/
i am still looking for the person/organization who made this video.


And since TOI has paid for this video, it does not mean that i have started liking TOI. I just appreciate their this venture as i did when Airtel hired Rehman to make that awesome tune.

Monday, March 10, 2008

My million dollar(Rupees) business plan

Every one has got a business plan, very few execute them. I fall into the same category. Therefore i am open sourcing it, so that people who can execute can take it. It has got great social value.

I hate using plastics, particularly plastic bags. One of things that irritate me the most is when all those retail shops - Foodworld, reliance green etc pack each and every item in a separate plastic bag. The people who sit at the counters are strictly instructed to pack each different vegetable in a different bag. Here is my business plan. Stop having plastic bags. Instead start selling jute bags for lets say - 5 rupees or 10 rupees per bag. Customers have an option: - get your own bag from home or take your stuff on your own or buy the jute bags from the shop. Clearly, by easy observation on indian buyers, people will always forget to take bags while going to shopping. And they always shop enough that it can not fit in two hands. So they will be forced to buy those jute bags. Moreover, atleast some of them will learn their lesson and start taking bags from home. The above plan has following advantages:
1. Needless to say, lot of plastic bags will be saved.
2. Small-scale firms which make jute bags will get a big push. Lot of employment opportunities etc.
3. People will become lot more conscious of environment around them and may be practice such behavior in other places too.

There are close to 100 outlets of Foodworld in Bangalore. Each outlet gets atleast 100 customers a day. Assuming the shop owners get a profit of one rupee every time they sell a bag(which is very low assumption because shop owners are shrewd capitalists) They will make 30,000 rupees per day in Bangalore only. Hence giving a turnaround of million rupees in one year. And since the number of people who buy from these stores is going to increase, it is pretty scalable plan guarantying returns year after year. And as a side-point the corporate can advertise this as they are the eco-friendly corporate and gain good publicity and respect.

This plan in US will have more effect as 100% of population in US buy stuff from such stores(Wallmart, publix etc). And US people are lazier than Indians, hence they will never bring a bag from home. I am sure it will also work here.

And an interesting link: China has banned plastic bags

Friday, March 7, 2008

Some undefined laws

Are laws defined or observed? COnsider Newton's third law: Every action has a equal and opposite reaction. I claim that laws are discovered. On a sidenote- what will be the opposite reaction to the action of discovering a law.

This post is a highly philosophical post - i have discovered two laws which are still not in public domain. So before anyone else takes the credit, let me post them here before i file for a patent.

Law of minimum energy expulsion principle: Each action is governed by a principle that minimum amount of energy should be spent in executing that action.

Although, it is not as generic as Newton's laws but this law is frequently observed in the daily lives of lazy people. To support my law, common examples are tv remote, touch lamps, escalators etc. I have merely formalized this notion. it has been a long practice known with different names; In scientific jargon it is known as ergonomics, In management terminology it is called Just In Time technology.

The happiness law: Happiness can neither be created nor be destroyed. It can only be transferred from one person to another.

Like any laws, they can not be proved but only observed. This law has been studied by me rigorously. Common examples are :
1. It is frequently seen that humans derive pleasure on others' sorrow. This is exactly a consequence of above law. Other's person's sorrow leads to a decrease in his happiness which is gained by the viewer leading to his pleasure. From now on, please dont blame the viewer, he is just a pawn in the nature's grand plan.
2. Related to the above point, humans feel sad when they see others as happy. This again is reasoned by this law.

It is my belief that when Earth was created(whenever,big-bang, whatever!), a certain quantum of happiness was assigned to humans divided equally among them. How the first happiness transfer took place is again a chicken-egg problem.
As a corollary to the above assumption is that as humans grew in population, the level of happiness is distributed among that many and hence each individual is less happy than he was in past. This observation is also true today and hence forms a basis of my future laws/theories.

[Note: This post will be moved soon, in near future, so if you think that there are any flaws in my laws or you have found a counter-example, please let me know.]

Monday, March 3, 2008

Life in feb 2008

Past 2 weeks have been very good. Here are the new things that i did :

Poker: participated in the league round og the gatech poker tournament. Came 4th out of 14. First 3 were to qualify for finals. Not bad considering that it was the first time i was playing with real people. I got lucky couple of times on bad hands and was out on a very good hand. So it all evens out :)

Internet for the blind: Aman and me tried to participate in this Social Innovation Competition but didnt qualify for the next round. But it was a great thing to do such an exercise. In the process i came to know a lot about start-ups, business plans and web tools.

Music: If Juno bowled me out in the first quarter of feb, second quarter belonged completely to Beatles. Although not a big fan (despite Justin's numerous recommendations), things changed after i watched the movie Across the universe by Julie Taymor (of Frida fame). The movie has about (i think) 24 beatles songs, sung by the actors themselves and of-course the movie revolves around those songs. Absolutely loved the movie and songs. My personal favorite now are - Dear Prudence, Let it be and Hey Jude.

Talks attended: Attended tech talks by Jeff Heer (Visualization), Alexander Razborov,(Guru in complexity theory), one on Map-reduce by a umd guy.


And yesterday, my roommate (Amey) decided to screw my life by bringing the movie Bleu by Kielowsky. How can i say no to this movie. Had to watch it for the umpteenth time.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Leap day

Damn! I am one day late.

Aman had a status message yesterday: savor the day!
And then he went on to write a blog post: http://yamuna-writings.blogspot.com/2008/02/29th-february.html

So i thought to pen some nice stories about it myself:

Last week my mom just joked with me and asked me to tell the name of my girlfriend. I also joked and replied that i will not tell you her name but her birthday is coming - its 29 feb. She laughed and said that then i cant marry her - she is still a minor!

Well thats the spirit of 29Feb - lucky enough to be the odd one and enjoy all the talk but unlucky enough for people to poke fun.

One thing that amazes me is that why do we have such a calendar system. How does it matter anyways. So if we have 365 days every year, ok then after some million years, we will have winter in june, summer in jan..so what. Global warming is doing worse than this. Whats wrong with the chinese calendar or the egyptian one. And who came with the idea of dividing the year in such an odd fashion, even the symmetry of alternating series is violated by july-aug, leave about feb.

The only reason that i can think at the top of my head is to make the life of amateur programmers hell.....ita a typical class XI computer science problem - Write a program to tell whether a year is leap year or not OR to write a program to convert a day to the date of year. Somehow the visionaries were able to guess that there will be computers in future, students will be forced to write stupid programs...lets screw them.

But here are some very interesting stories:

Tradition, Folklore and Superstition

A tradition was introduced many centuries ago to allow women to propose to men during a leap year. This privilege of proposing was restricted to leap day in some areas. Leap day was sometimes known as “Bachelors’ Day”. A man was expected to pay a penalty, such as a gown or money, if he refused a marriage offer from a woman.
The tradition’s origin stemmed from an old Irish tale referring to St Bridget striking a deal with St Patrick to allow women to propose to men every four years. This old custom was probably made to balance the traditional roles of men and women in a similar way to how the leap day balances the calendar.
It was also considered to be unlucky for someone to be born on a leap day in Scotland and for couples to marry on a leap year, including on a leap day, in Greece.

The above thing is taken from : http://laurenyoungfansite.wordpress.com/2008/02/29/today-is-leap-day-feb-29/

Another interesting post is : http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2008_02/013226.php
The post asks questions that when do people who are born on leap day celebrate their bday in a non-leap year.

One interesting answer posted there is :
My mother was a leap day baby and in off years always celebrated on Feb. 28. Her reasoning was it was bad enough to not celebrate on the right date so you may as well get the month right.