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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Notes from Facebook Developer Garage, Chennai

On 19th September, a Facebook Developers' Garage took place in Chennai, Organized for facebook, by BusinessBlogging and sponsored by OrangeScape. David Recordon and others from facebook, along with few other speakers spoke at the event and interacted with facebook developers and users

David-Speaking at fb-developer garage

This post offers some information about facebook, which might be of interest to most of you, as a facebook user.

David Recordon, in his talk said "Facebook uses mySQL... If we lose data its because of human error n not mySQL" When I updated this to twitter and facebook, Nitin Salgar, an expert in SQL related stuff, promptly hit back, saying "Negative. Fb migrated from mySQL clusters to home brew map-reduce based NOSQL database solution called "Cassandra" ( an apache incumbator project now)" I invited David Recordon to my laptop and showed above comment, for which he promptly agreed that it is true.

  • On being asked by a user "How does Php6 going to help developers?" David Recordon said "I know nothing much about php6"
  • For the question: "Why can't we add adsense kind of code into our facebook page and monetize it", David Recordon said facebook is exploring multiple advertising/revenue sharing models and details should be out soon.
  • For my question, when is facebook places coming to India, David said he has no idea...
  • David said they planned to kill the term "Facebook Connect" and call it signin with facebook, but felt this is sounding like a bad idea as facebook Connect was a well established term.
Post event, me, Kiruba Shankar, Rajsekar (organizers of the event) and Kevin D Souza (another facebook employee) caught up with David Recordon for dinner, David was very open to experimenting with Indian food. He sampled several Indian dishes at Sangeetha restaurant and said he liked most of them. He also said he loves his job at facebook very much.
Couple of speakers had used obsolete/old data in their presentations. David informally said "I could lose my job if I use such statistics"

While there're mobile clients to update your facebook account from mobiles, there're very few options to effectively manage a facebook page from a mobile phone. When I brought this to David's attention, he said the team should be aware of it and solution should be out soon. (Right now the only way to update a facebook page from mobile is to send an email to a pre-designated email id given by facebook)

Facebook has now made it difficult to reject a friendship request. There's only an "Approve" and "not now" option and no "Reject" option. (one has to follow more complex way to delete all pending requests). This is obviously to encourage people to add more and more friends, and eventually increase facebook's inventory of users.

group-pic-facebook-dev-garage
  • Facebook's India office in Hyderabad is all set to be inaugurated on 30th September, at Hyderabad
  • Also Facebook is now allowing city specific advertising in India. So far it was only country level.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mysore airport, FEMD, Navilaadavaru and IIMB Vista 2010: Random Updates

This post is a collection of 5 updates/news…

1. Mysore Airport to be operational from Oct 1: News is in that Mysore airport will be inaugurated by Karnataka CM BS Yadiyurappa on October 1st, 2010 and Kingfisher Red will commence its Mysore-Bangalore-Chennai flight service. (IT2407, Rs 2002, departure 1420, ETA 1510- this timing is not suitable for those travelling to Blr for a day’s work though)

While it is indeed a welcome news, would you really consider flying from Mysore to Bangalore? 1 hour pre departure check in time, 50 min flight, 2 hours to reach from Blr airport to home…Will be more convenient to catch a bus. (at the cost of a Vayu Vajra ticket fare from BIAL to Jayanagar, you can get Mysore-Bangalore ordinary bus ticket). Though this is true, the service might cater to international tourists who prefer air, Infosys officials who prefer air travel and those travelling between Chennai and Mysore.

On the other hand, if you’re staying near Kengeri, it might make more sense to go to Mysore and board a flight to your destination, than travelling to BIAL. Mysore airport can also serve as backup for Blr.

Related: My Kingfisher Experience * air travel observations *

2. Ford Endeavour Media Drive (FEMD) and Ford India drive- Most of the cars I’ve been rentingendeavour of late on Self drive have been Ford makes. Fiesta and Endeavour to be specific, hence I’m developing a liking for this brand. Ford has been organizing a media drive whenever they launch a new variant of Endeavour. Last year they had it in Himalayas [Youtube video here], this year in Goa. I wasn’t invited, but good to know all car companies are doing activities involving bloggers and media.

Ford Figo on the other hand has launched Ford Figo India drive, wherein 4 newly wed couples will be given a chance to drive Figo from Chandigarh to Chennai (1 week per couple), fairly similar to Tata Nano superdrive for which I’d contributed as Official Blogger.

Right: A pic of Ford endeavour, from one of my recent self drive trips. Related posts: Ford Endeavour XLT 2.5 MT Review * Ford Figo Review * Self Drive cars * Tata Nano Superdrive * SUVs from Toyota Also read: Driving Ford, Ford's official blog

navil_for_samvaada_page3 Naviladavaru: A Kannada movie made in a budget of 35k: Our classmate BM Giriraj and team has produced an entire movie in a budget of 35k. Titled Naviladavaru, movie was screened last week. A screening and interaction with film crew has been facilitated by samvada team in Bengaluru on October 2nd. The movie is videographed using a borrowed DSLR, lots of Giri’s students had agreed to act for free, lighting is done using table lamps and so on. The 3 songs, 75min movie story is centred around terrorism. BM Giriraj also has worked as Associate Director in another Kannada movie called Moggina Manassu.

Unfortunately public screening of the film has become a challenge. To get the censor certificate Giriraj has to become a member of the Producers’ Association which will cost Rs 50,000.
More details about the movie and how they managed to produce it at the cost of 35k can be read here .Also read Navilaadavaru movie review in Kannada by Raveeshkumar


4. IIMB presents Vista 2010
PGSEM students at IIMB are organizing exclusive corporate events named Vista Corporate Evening on 2nd Oct 2010. Events planned include a corporate quiz exclusively for the corporates and 2 business plan case competitions (one sponsored by Yahoo! and the other by Nokia). You might wish to participate in the corporate quiz  or other contests. More details at http://www.iimb-vista.com

5. Blogbharti about to die down?
Looks like community managed blog aggregator sites are dying down slowly. Recently Desipundit was shutdown, and now blogbharti is showing similar signs (no updates since Aug 8). Few years ago it was a matter of prestige and good source of traffic, if one's posts get listed on Desipundit or Blogbharti. Its editors would hand pick quality posts from all over and promote them. May be editors are not having time/motive to do it anymore or may be facebook and twitter are taking a toll on these sites. Good to note that Blogaddda, Indiblogger and few other communities continue to add value

Topend vs entry level-tips on buying gadgets

This post shares some thoughts that can help while making a purchase decision- Will it be worth buying topend models while buying electronic gadgets or should one prefer to save money and settle for entry level model? The post refers laptops but the same holds good for other electronic gadgets.

An earlier post on this blog, where I compared various laptop makers Dell, HP, Sony and others has been fairly successful and those looking to buy laptops have been posting questions seeking advise.

If you’re planning to buy a laptop/camera/mobile or any such electronic gadget, you’ve following 3 options:

Option A: Buy a basic/entry level model which has all minimum required features and serves most your requirements

Option B: Buy a top end model, most of the times almost 2+ times as expensive as entry level unit, most of the fancy features we may never use, hoping to treat this as long term investment

Option C: A compromise between the above 2 options, a mid level product.

If we take the example of a laptop, I can buy a basic netbook for 15k, a decent notebook for 25-30k or pickup a top of the line model for 45-50k or even more.

Many people often ask/think “Let me extend my budget and buy the topend. I am planning to use it for long term anyway” This temptation is heavily supported by up-selling tactics of sales staff, better discounts/offers on top end model and possibility of better recognition in peer group for owning a latest product.

But then, I personally feel it is better to settle for an entry level or mid range model which servers our purpose, than buying an overpriced topend model thinking it as an investment. My opinion is based on below reasoning:

  1. Technology changes fast and prices keep coming down. What’s latest and cool today will be outdated in a few months. One might feel proud about his super cool 60k laptop today, but in 2 years, it’ll definitely sound outdated. Is it not better to buy a decent 30k laptop today, sell and buy another one after 2 year instead of a 60k laptop? In 3 months if its price drops to 45k, won’t you be left disappointed?
  2. Most of the high end feature will hardly be used. You may have Blu-Ray readable drive- how often do you use a blu-ray disc? You may have remote control for multimedia controls- is it really needed? It may have great graphics card: are you buying it for playing games? There may be exceptions, but there’s high chance that you wont necessarily be needing most of the features
  3. Unless you earn money from your product, electronic goods are heavily depreciating assets. Resale value will be very less. Extending your budget for fancy features/feel good factor is not a wise option.
  4. Even with top of the line products, peace of mind can’t really be guaranteed. Products like laptops might fail after sometime due to various reasons like voltage fluctuations, physical mishandling, software issues etc. Though configuration is top end, brand is reputed things can go wrong. Get good warranty instead.
  5. There’s a risk of theft/damage/loss when you carry your gadgets along. Unless you’ve good mechanism to counter these possibilities (such as insurance, warranty, proper packaging, data backup etc) your disappointment will be lesser when the product isn’t expensive.
  6. At times it makes sense to buy a basic model and enhance it though upgrades/accessories/add on features, on a need basis.
  7. Some high end features may also come at a price- a touchscreen tablet will have less screen clarity than regular screens (also it’ll be smaller in size), a high power processor might be more demanding on battery etc

What’s your take on this? Do you give in to temptations of latest variant or often prefer to save money? Do share your thoughts

Also read: Branded or Unbranded? (a comparison between advantages and disadvantages of buying branded vs non branded goods * Be an alert ConsumerProduct and Service Reviews * Shrinidhi quoted in Deccan Chronicle about Windows 7 *

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

CWG spoof: How newspapers would read on Oct 2


This is a spoof on Common Wealth Games (CWG) to be held in India, New Delhi next month; Imagine how newspaper reports might read on October 2, one day ahead of the inauguration ceremony of CWG. Any relevance to persons corrupt and more corrupt are purely intentional.

New Delhi, India, October 2, 2010: CWG Failure should be taken in true sportsmen spirit- Kalmadi

As the last remaining contingent of foreign athletes boycotted Common Wealth Games and left the country due to substandard and nonexistent facilities, CWG OC Chairman Suresh Kalmadi said that the disastrous performance of CWG Organizing Committee should be taken in true sportsman spirit. Standing on the debris of a heap of construction materials which once was a Stadium meant to host the games, Kalmadi said “winning and losing are all part of the game, Our failure to host an event should be taken in similar sports spirits. We shouldn't be worrying about failure and should move on, particularly after the money is made” Kalmadi said he was very pleased with his "personal performance" in games preparation. “We hadn't played with 70000 crores earlier, now that we've mastered the art, we're confident of 'performing' 'much better' at the next event we'll be organizing” he said off the record.

Organising Committee spokesperson Lalit Bhanot said "success is subjective and depends on perception. Your measure of success may be different from my measure or his measure or his measure... We may not be able to host the games but we got worldwide publicity"

Delhi CM Shiela Dixit downplayed the failure as insignificant. “It’s only international athletes who’ve returned- the people of Delhi are still here and they’ll continue to pay taxes and put up with our mess. There’s nothing to worry. We’ll have more similar events planned to sustain the chaos and mess created” she said, emphasizing the need that people should pray harder and increase their tolerance levels.

Cabinet Secretary KM Chandreshekhar termed athletes leaving India as a minor thing. "I don’t know how it happened, why it happened but there’s nothing to worry about. Everything is fine and we’re confident of concluding the event. If no athlete turns up we can always randomly pickup people and distribute medals based on reservation policy, so that all communities and casts will be getting their share of medals." he said, while suggesting that media should play down the incident and everyone should stand united for National pride.

There’s no security threat. We are all set to announce that “we’re beefing up security” if something goes wrong, but some journalists continue to do sting operations and expose the loopholes, which is a conspiracy to defame us-said one top Delhi Police official.

Union Urban Development Minister, Govt of India, Mr Jaipal Reddy admitted"Yes, there has been some delays and issues, but these are very common. Though number of people doing the actual work on the ground is close to none, we'd sent large number of supervisors to supervise the progress. They've been doing wonderful job supervising the progress." "We're now planning another committee that will supervise these supervisors"Union Home Secretary GK Pillai added. 

"There's no issue at all. There have been projects where we executed everything on paper and pocketed 100% of the money. Here we've at least built something"- Said an OC member who didn't wish to be named. "These structures were supposed to last at least till inauguration day, its unfortunate they collapsed just few days ahead of it.." he added

Calls made to PMO went unattended. Sometime in the evening a watchman who came to lock the doors picked up our call and said that the last available staff at Indian PMO has already rushed to CWG venue to supervise the preparations.

Late night update: Happy to see the wonderful response received for this post. 50+ likes, 550+ pageviews, lots of comments- thanks to each one of your for the appreciation.-Nidhi


Image sourced from bollypatrika.com/ Other Humor posts: New Year Resolutions * Work phone * Gender confusion over the name Shrinidhi * Ladies who call me everyday *

Why we never see Go Fast sign and other Questions


This post simply asks a series of questions I have in my mind. If you have answers/comment do comment or else, do like/share this post, so that other internet users might be able to take note and put in their ideas.
 
1 We often see “Go Slow” sign, which means that drivers should reduce the speed. But speed being relative sign board needs to be specific to what speed one should come down to and most importantly for how long. Am I supposed to “Go Slow” for rest of the journey? Shouldn’t the signage be specific like “Go slow for next 2 kms” or “Go slow till you cross the school”? Why is that we never see an “Ok, enough of slow driving, you can speed up now” or “Go Fast” sign? 

2 Another similar thing is security agencies “Beefing UP” security at airports and other place after a terror incident. Given the fact that they had “Beefed UP” security sometime back, I am more interested in knowing when did they “Beefed down” the security. Shouldn’t that be announced as well? Or are they reaching new scale of security preparedness with every beef up? Doesn’t look like, because if that were to be true, the beefed up places should be like impregnable fortresses by now

3. Travel advisories: After every terror incident US UK and other embassies issue “Travel advisory” to their citizen, alerting them about security concerns. While I appreciate their concerns towards their people, I am just curious to know if their advisory carries any expiry date. Or do they issue advisory stating “it’s safe to travel to India now” after sometime?

Just thinking… Got more thoughts like this? Got any answers? Do comment

Photo from flickr

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Chandragiri fort near Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh

We were supposed to visit Chandragiri fort during our Horsley Hills trip, but with our car creating trouble Day 2 plans went for a toss and we had to drop the idea of visiting Chandragiri

2 months later, during our Venkatagiri-Talakona trip we accidently came across Chandragiri fort and explored it a bit.

This Chandragiri is located in Andhra Pradesh near temple town Tirupati and not to be mistaken with a similar named fort in Kerala. On the Bangalore-Tirupati route, Chandragiri fort is located about 20 kms before Tirupati. The fort houses 2 major buildings- One is a 2 stories building called Raja Mahal or King’s residence, now converted into museum and the other one is a smaller Rani Mahal.

Rani-mahal-Chandragiri Chandragiri-museum
Chandragiri fort was built in the 11th century. (Now 1000 years young!) Chandragiri was under the rule of Yadava rayas for about three centuries and came into control of Vijayanagar rulers in 1367. (source, Wikipedia) and probably this explains the presence of a golden coloured statue of Sri Krishnadevaraya in the campus.

Museum houses a small collection of ancient artefacts, idols and literature, related to regions ranging from Mysore Empire to the Golcondas. Caretakers of the museum offer to explain them in more detail to you, of course in expectation of money. Photography is not allowed inside. First and second floor of Rani Mahal is closed and kept out of bound from tourists.

history fort-layout
The palace appears to be built more for leisure than as a defence against enemies, as the structure is located very close to fort walls (which aren’t of great height either) and not built on top of the hill. The small rocky hill adjacent to it houses about 8 ruined temples and structures and a decent walk through the fort campus would take about 3 hours. (refer image above)

KrishnadevarayaThere’s a small pond in the campus and some boats too, but the pond is too small for any sane boating. Laser show is organized during weekends, 7PM onwards.

Chandragiri is a good place to stop by while visiting Tirupati.

Similar posts: Shanivar Wada, Pune * Bekal Fort, Kerala * Gingee Fort * Keladi Nagara Fort *  Talakona waterfalls, AP * Alamparai fort and backwaters off ECR * Madhugiri Fort near Tumkur *

Friday, September 17, 2010

Skywatch Friday Photos

Hadn't posted anything under sky-watch Friday so far, this is the first attempt, sharing a few random photos from my collection related to sky...

1. Electric cables all over- Skywatch pic, clicked at Velankannai shrine, early 2009
This will be common scene near all electric poles. Why can't we have a more systematic and less messy way of laying electric cables? I've another post on similar lines, explaining why spider man will never be able to operate from India.. read it here

2 Sky at Endpoint Manipal...
More photos and details of EndPoint Manipal

3. Sunset in various colours, closeup


And of course, re publishing the close up pic of Moon... Took this photo while we were travelling to venus in a space shuttle and we passed very close to moon... just kidding...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Life Without Technology-Ruchika Vyas

What does it take to live a life without using technology? Can you try living for a week without cell phones, computers, home appliances, TV and so on? We all should try internet Sanyas once a while. Here’s a guest post by Ruchika Vyas, The article was part of a column Ruchika and team started in iDiva (a lifestyle supplement that is published every fortnight and is distributed with The Times of India) called The Comic Strip Joint - A humorous take on the comedy called life.

Life without technology- By Ruchika Vyas 
Giving up technology and living life as in medieval times sounds exciting in theory, but would it be that much fun? Maybe the elaborate vintage costumes would amuse you for a while, but then what? Go to war as the Mughals did? Let’s face it. Most people in those times went to war out of sheer boredom. I mean, they didn’t exactly have fun activities to indulge in, except maybe the ones that include reproduction. Let’s be honest: if they had the Xbox 360, they’d probably cosy up indoors and play Mortal Kombat or Dead or Alive. There’d be no bloodshed, no one would have to die, they’d save a lot of money on the heavy artillery needed for war and the women would get more leisure time for their milk and rose-petal–soaked bath.  

Giving in to curiosity, I took it upon myself to discover what life would be like without technology. What would happen if I didn’t check my emails for a week? Would my plants in Farmville survive if I didn’t water them? Will readers stop following my blog if I didn’t update it for a few days? Would I be haunted by the hundreds of text messages that would pour in while I’m off the grid? Most of you are probably already shuddering at the mere thought! But play along, because I did give it all up—well, for a week anyway. 

On Day 1 of my tech-less life, I woke up at 1pm—so much for switching off the alarm. I now wondered why I was awake at all, considering I could no longer use my cell phone, computer, TV, radio, MP3 player, refrigerator, microwave or geyser. Well, I decided I might as well make the best out of this kind gift. So I went back to sleep. 

After my second awakening, the wondrous vision of meditation came to mind. So I began to focus on attaining peace and nirvana. No less than five minutes went by and my evil twin, restlessness, took over breaking my already weak connection with the almighty. My twitching fingers—obviously withdrawal symptoms from a lack of texting and typing—needed something to do. So I took up knitting; the good thing is I now have a back-up career. 

Day 2 saw me head to work, which was pointless, really. With no computer, I had to write my articles on paper, all the while praying that my shoddy handwriting would be understood. I was flooded by disgustedly shocked looks from every passerby; my purpose of being at work was becoming a frequently asked question. Someone sarcastically even suggested I make a placard stating my reasons. My stylist friend even offered to get a pendant made stating the same. Not being able to text, tweet or blog, I knitted my grievances. 
Days 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 were almost the same: Sleep, read, eat, drink, and sleep. The nights proved more interesting. I was either being eaten by giant evil cellphones, or being sucked into vast computers in a whirlpool. Some even took dramatic twists like this one: Fed up of living a replica of Fred Flintstone’s life, one fine day I return to the real world only to find my Second Life avatar to have replaced me. In fact, she was a better, new and improved me, with 800 new friend invites on Facebook, 999 new followers on Twitter and an inbox flooded with praises and compliments. Pop! Back to reality. 
Turns out, life today is incomplete without the incessant SMSing, obsessive tweeting and frequent attempts at beautifying our Facebook farms.
Writer profile:  Ruchika works for iDiva as a Features Editor. She is also an amateur photographer and blogs at Travel stories of India She’s an avid traveller and has visited several places across India—such as Ladakh, McLeodganj, Fort Kochi, Ooty, Coorg, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Pushkar, Shimla, Binsar, Kanatal, Mussurie, a tribal circuit of Sarahan-Sangla-Recong Peo-Kalpa-Chitkul in Himachal Pradesh—and abroad—such as Maldives, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Dubai—to name a few. She has previously freelanced for publications like Mumbai Mirror, Jetwings (Jet Airways' in-flight magazine) and Flylite (Jetlite's in-flight magazine) and also one of the co-authors of Outlook Traveller Getaways’ book ‘Driving Holidays in India’.

A Day in Hollywood, LA with a rising Star- Guest post by Anu Menon

Guest Post- As I’ve never been outside India, I’ve been trying to bring in some international content by means of guest posts. Here’s a guest post that narrates the tour of Hollywood studios in Los Angelis and a rising Star she met. The post is contributed by Anu Menon. Anu Menon blogs at Truth Personified. Her posts were enjoyable due to their straight from the heart nature. Once a Hyderabad based IT professional, she is now settled in the states. Without taking much of your time, let us jump to her guest post. It is a bit lengthy and I’ve hardly edited it, do give your feedbacks -Shrinidhi

A Day in LA with Stephen a rising Star- by Anu Menon


It’s always the visitors who know more about a place than most locals do. The simple logic is that when you live in a place you take it for granted and don’t really care about knowing the history, the places to see etc,. Whereas, as a visitor, you always want to cover as much possible in as little time so that you don’t miss anything in case you don’t get another chance to get back. So was the case when I, having lived my entire life in Hyderabad had to take friends and relatives who visited us on a tour. I could take them shopping anytime but sightseeing was a pain to plan out and execute. Try telling this to Stephen Schochet, a tour guide for the past 20 years.

Having met Stephen at the gym we got talking about our common interests – Writing of course! Within a few minutes of conversing with him I got to know that he was two audio books and one hard cover old! Over the years Stephen Schochet, as an LA tour guide has shared many interesting tidbits and stories with tourists which led to amassing knowledge about the history of Los Angeles. He knows almost every nook and cranny in LA.

Stephen has 2 audio books Tales of Hollywood and Fascinating Walt Disney to his credit and Hollywood Stories is his first non-fiction paperback . It has already received raving reviews and he has been busy with radio interviews and book signings. As a tour guide in LA Stephen has been sharing snippets of interesting trivia with tourists for over 20 years now. The trivia includes real stories of Hollywood stars carefully put into interesting stories. Being fastidious he made sure that he got all his facts right while making sure that it brought a smile to the reader.

While I would be sharing a review of his book in a later post, in this post I would like to share the tour experience with Stephen. You can order his book here.

Trip duration: 5 hours
Cost: $55 + tip( Ideally between 10 – 15%
Pick up and Drop off at hotels/VIP tours office
Tour highlights: Venice beach, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Farmers Market

The day tour stars ideally at 9:30 am and goes on till 2:30 at the max given there are no traffic related delays. Stephen has told me of experiences where in an afternoon tour has been extended till night 9 because of the President’s arrival in town.

The tour covered some generally unseen locations, for example, who knew Los Angeles has places like Kerala backwaters in India? Venice Canals is very scenic location with quaint houses with canals for backyards. Every house even had its own little boat.
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The streets are tiny and very well maintained. While showing us these beautiful places Stephen added a Hollywood tidbit of his own - ‘In olden days when movies had just started to be shown in theaters they didn’t have much. One entire movie consisted of - Two girls getting to a lake. As they get ready to take off their clothes a train passes by and the next scene shows the girls playing in the lake. One man went and watched this movie every single day as long as it aired and when asked why he kept going and watching the same thing over and over again he said he went with the hope that one of the days the train would be late’.
Coming back to the tour, a very brief history about LA is in order. Information source: Stephen and Google.
Los Angeles County has 88 cities and is the most populous county in USA. Thousands and thousands come here with the Hollywood dream and to make it big in films.

The Venice beach which was the first stop, lasted 25 minutes and it covered the canals, the beach, the sidewalk shops and lots of interesting people. I even met a guy who said ‘Namaste. Do you know Gabbar Singh? He is my brother. Have you seen Sholay?” Well what can I say, the answer is NO I haven’t watched sholay even once but that’s another story. Venice was founded in 1905. After being subjected to neglect over the years Venice bounced back with panache.
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It was a pretty foggy day at the beach so the water evaded us and so did the mountains… But the weather is unpredictable too. The moment we moved onto the freeway and the sun came streaming right in – thank god for the air conditioning.
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The beach also has the Muscle Beach where there are pictures of Arnold and his body building. It used to be frequented by Dave Draper, Larry Scott, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Danny Trejo. On Labor Day 2006, California governor and several-time Mr. Olympia winner Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Weider protege, presented Joe Weider with the Venice Muscle Beach Hall of Fame's Lifetime Achievement award. Joe Weider is the co-founder of the International Federation of BodyBuilders (IFBB), creator of the Mr. Olympia, the Ms. Olympia, and the now-defunct Masters Olympia bodybuilding contests. These days most Television and Movie stars go to Gold Gym.

Two walls are painted with how Venice looked eons ago and there are some public places where graffiti is permitted.
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LA is home to many celebrity owned restaurants like Ago, House of Blues, Geisha house & Ketchup(for the Ashton Kutcher fans). XIV is a celebrity spotting restaurant. Some celebrities swear by small time restaurants… Most of us know the Randy’s donut place because of the movies it’s been featured in.
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Most of us are familiar with Beverly Hills 90210 which is also part of the tour. The Rodeo drive is a host to expensive shops and the hotel where the movie ‘Pretty Woman’ was shot. The interesting part is that there is no Richards – Julia suite because all their scenes were shot in the Walt Disney Studios.
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The next stop was Hollywood and this stop lasted about 40 minutes. Tourists were given coupons to buy souvenirs at the Hollywood Souvenir store. The stretch of Hollywood is home to the Kodak theater which has been hosting the Academy awards/Oscars since 2002 and all businesses are shut down and the red carpet laid out to welcome the stars. The Madame Tussauds, the Chinese Theatre, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Ripley’s Believe it or Not are all on this stretch. You find hundreds of people dressed up as their favorite stars ready to pose for you. The most famous star of the Hollywood Walk of Fame is ‘Michael Jackson’.

Last but not least is the Farmers market which attracts the rich and famous as much as it attracts common man. The farmers market generates the most revenue given the tourist it draws. Food of every type, vegetables, fruits, pastas, flowers you name it…
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I got myself some pasta and fresh golden raspberries on my way out…
Having spent a typical Stephen Schochet Day on his tour I would like to add how much it matters to a tourist that the guide is as fun loving as he is informative. Stephen is a perfect mixture of both so tours with him never hold a dull moment be it LA traffic or the sometimes monotonous freeways.

Stephen Schochet also has 72 videos on his youtube channel. Reviews of his book ‘Hollywood Stories’ can be read here.
Snippets that might interest you:
o Steven Spielberg gets 2% of the Universal Studios revenue.
o Marine Del Rey is the 2nd largest man made small boat harbor.
o Ages before, as shown in the movie Changling, the public transport in LA was cable cars. Over a period of time as the number of buses and cars increased it killed the public transport. Read more about the scandal here.
o LA initially was mostly a swamp until the discovery of Oil.
o Home to many earthquakes(nearing 10000 a year) Los Angeles is literally on the Pacific Ring of Fire.
Places to visit in and around Los Angeles: Chinatown, Koreatown, Little Tokyo, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Kodak Theatre, Griffith Observatory, Getty Center, Getty Villa, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Hollywood Sign, Hollywood Boulevard, Capitol Records Tower, Los Angeles City Hall, Hollywood Bowl, Theme Building, Watts Towers, Staples Center, Dodger Stadium, and La Placita Olvera/Olvera Street.

Pictures of the trip here.

End of post. Other guest posts: Lifestyle in Singapore * Petronas Twin Towers * Singapore flyer * Singapore Underwater World * Jurong Bird park, Singapore *

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Random Thoughts and Updates

This post lists a few random thoughts and updates…
0: Long Live Google wave: sad to see Google closing Wave... It was a nice platform, but its success was limited by 2 factors- need for a separate login and by invitation only... If I need to collaborate something with a few people on Wave, its important that all of them are accessible on wave- If they don't have an invite or haven't loggedin, collaboration will be a failure. If this was integrated within Gmail, I believe things would have been different...

1. Life Span of Sony Digicam batteries: My hitherto perfect 2 year old Sony H50 batteries are showing signs of sickness. Camera shows an error “for use with genuine battery only” and shuts down after some time. Couldn’t figure out what’s the expected life span of such batteries. Any clues?

2. Satyam Scam: 20 months since the outbreak, no updates on the status of investigations. No interim reports, no renewed deadlines, no audited/unaudited financial results. All accused are out of jail on bail. Govt investigators are probably on a world tour at taxpayers expense, under the pretext of probing Raju’s assets overseas (in about 64 countries to be precise- can be a life time tour since they’ll have to probe for possible assets in all popular tourist destinations.

3. Withdrawing Recommendations on petrocard: In an earlier post I’d recommended BPCL’s petrocard, but would like to withdraw the same. BPCL has changed policy under which card will get blocked if not used for a month. Probably a security feature but some of us may not be so regular to go to BPCL outlet every month, just to keep the card active. Reactivation process is almost non existent and emails fetch no response.

4. Live Blogging Connect 2010: Had 2 days of action packed event at Chennai. Connect2010 is TN version of Bangalore IT.biz Blog posts and details can be found here at connect2010.in/blog

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Above: Bloggers and Volunteers at CII Connect 2010

5. Ford Endeavour beckons: Avis is renting out Ford Endeavours at fairly affordable rates and I’m tempted to rent it again…Under 3000 Rs a day…

6. In yet another development which proves that social media is being taken seriously by companies, Kiruba Shankar is flying to South Africa to live tweet the Champions League. He won this opportunity by mobilizing maximum number of people to vote for him. I am sure we can expect more such contests in future which target bloggers, twitter and fb users, with a mission of gaining lots of social media mileage.

7. Blockberry Update: Good to see Govt's concerns over not being able to intercept blackberry communications, but wonder if they're monitoring all other mediums (Pvt msgs in internet forums, chat rooms etc) effectively

Monday, September 06, 2010

Callezee Gurusamarpanam event in Chennai

Chennai based tele-information company Callezee (aka Call Ezee) conducted an event called Guru samarpanam in Chennai recently
callezee-guruscallezee-gurusamarpanam
Conceptualized by Callezee founders, Mr TSN and others, Guru Samarpanam has been an annual ritual conducted by callezee to honour renowned teachers

This year the Gurusamarpanam event was held in Music Academy, Chennai, wherein callezee senior officials and management were present and awarded teachers. The Gurusamarpanam event was also live webcasted

This year the Param Acharya awards were presented to Prof M.S.Ananth (Education), Prof Dr. S. Kalayanaraman (Medicine), Natyaacharya V. P. Dhananjayan & Smt. Shanta Dhananjayan (Dance), Padma Shri Haridwaramangalam Dr. A. K. Palanivel (Thavil), Kalaimamani S. V. Ramanan (Media) and Sivasankari (Author).

Acharya Awards were presented to P. S. Raman (Law), Sangeetha Choodamani S. Sowmya (Music), Radhika Sarathkumar (Cinema & TV), Bombay Gnanam (Theatre), Dr. Chef. K. Damodaran (Culinary) and D. Jayaraman (Sports). Callezee conducts Guru Samarpanam every year. We join call ezee in wishing the winners.

Its a good initiative by INMAC (Callezee's parent company) to identify and honor good teachers every year.

Callezee Quick Review
Call ezee recently got funding from internet major Yahoo. Callezee now has operations in over 17 cities and fast expanding, aiming to take on the likes of Just Dial, Ask Laila, Sulekha etc.

Unlike just dial which has nationwide single number, callezee seems to have different numbers for different cities, making it difficult for travelers to remember. Also just dial records names of callers and greets them with name when they call second time, but callezee is yet to adopt such strategies. Callezee also seems to be focused on only telephonic search, as its website doesn't have much details, compared to its rivals. A quick search also hints at piling number of consumer complaints against Callezee, which the management needs to take up seriously and resolve asap.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

ಪಂಚರಂಗಿ ಚಿತ್ರ ವಿಮರ್ಶೆ Pancharangi Kannada movie review

This post is written in Kannada about a review of recent Kannada movie, Pancharangi. Non Kannada readers can check the August 2009 archives for the time being.

ಈ ಬ್ಲಾಗಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಕನ್ನಡದಲ್ಲಿ ಬರೆದು ಬಹಳ ದಿನಗಳಾದವು. ಇತ್ತೀಚಿಗೆ ನೋಡಿದ ಯೋಗೇಶ್ ಭಟ್ಟರ ಪಂಚರಂಗಿ ಚಿತ್ರದ ಸಂಕ್ಷಿಪ್ತ ವಿಮರ್ಶೆ ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರಕಟಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದೇನೆ

ಒಟ್ಟಾರೆ ಹೇಳುವುದಾದರೆ ೨ ಗಂಟೆಗಳ ಅವಧಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಒಂದು ಉತ್ತಮವಾದ ಚಿತ್ರ ನಿರ್ಮಿಸಿ ಕೊಡುವಲ್ಲಿ ಭಟ್ಟರು ಸಾಕಷ್ಟು ಯಶಸ್ವಿಯಾಗಿದ್ದಾರೆ ಎಂದೇ ಹೇಳಬಹುದು. ನನ್ನ ಕೆಲವು ಅನಿಸಿಕೆ/ಅಭಿಪ್ರಾಯಗಳು ಹೀಗಿವೆ:

ಇಡೀ ಚಿತ್ರದುದ್ದಕ್ಕೂ  ಕರಾವಳಿ ಸಮೀಪದ ದಕ್ಷಿಣ ಕನ್ನಡ ಶೈಲಿಯ ಮನೆ ಮತ್ತು ಅದರ ಸಮೀಪ ಇರುವ ಸಮುದ್ರ ಮಾತ್ರ ತೋರಿಸಲಾಗಿದೆ. ಇವೆರಡನ್ನೇ ಕ್ಯಾಮೆರಾದಲ್ಲಿ ಸಾಧ್ಯವಾದಷ್ಟು ಆಸಕ್ತಿದಾಯಕ ಆಂಗಲ್ ಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ತೋರಿಸಲಾಗಿದೆ.  ಇವೆರಡನ್ನೂ  ಬಿಟ್ಟರೆ ಇನ್ನೇನು ಇಲ್ಲ. ಅನಾವಶ್ಯಕವಾಗಿ ಇನ್ನೇನೋ ತೋರಿಸಬೇಕಿತ್ತೆಂದು ಹೇಳುವುದು ತಪ್ಪಾಗುತ್ತದಾದರು ಭಟ್ಟರು ಮಂಡೆ ಓಡಿಸಿದ್ದರೆ ಕರಾವಳಿ ಸುತ್ತ ಮುತ್ತಲಿನ ಜೀವನ ಶೈಲಿಯನ್ನು (ಉದಾ: ವಾರದ ಸಂತೆ, ಭತ್ತದ ನತ್ತಿ ನಡೆಯುವುದು, ಮೀನುಗಾರಿಕೆ etc )  ಚಿತ್ರ ಕತೆಗೆ ಪೂರಕವಾಗುವಂತೆ ಮತ್ತು ಪ್ರೇಕ್ಷಕರಿಗೆ ಬೋರ್ ಹೊಡೆಸದಂತೆ ತೋರಿಸಬಹುದಿತ್ತು (ಗುಲಾಬಿ ಟಾಕೀಸ್ ಚಿತ್ರ ನೋಡಿ)

ಐದು ಬಣ್ಣಗಳ ಪ್ರಸ್ತಾಪ ಸಿನೆಮಾದ ಪ್ರಾರಂಭ ದಲ್ಲಿ ಒಮ್ಮೆ ಆಗುವುದು ಬಿಟ್ಟರೆ ಉಳಿದಂತೆ ಅದಕ್ಕೂ, ಚಿತ್ರಕತೆಗೂ ಅಂತಹ  ಲಿಂಕ್ ಕಾಣಿಸುವುದಿಲ್ಲ. ಕತೆ ಚೆನ್ನಾಗಿದೆ, ಎರಡೇ ಎರಡು ದಿನಗಳ ಘಟನೆ, ಚಿಕ್ಕದಾಗಿ, ಚೊಕ್ಕವಾಗಿ ಶುರುವಾಗಿ ಪಟ್ಟನೆ ಮುಗಿದು ಹೋಗುತ್ತದೆ. ಫ್ಲಾಶ್ ಬ್ಯಾಕ್, ಹೊಡೆದಾಟ ಇತ್ಯಾದಿ ಅನಗತ್ಯ ಸರಕುಗಳಿಗೆಮುಕ್ತಿ.  ಬೋರು ಹೊಡೆಸದೇ ನೋಡಿಸಿಕೊಂಡು ಹೋಗುತ್ತದೆ, ಅನಗತ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಹಾಡುಗಳು ಬಂದಾಗಲೇ ಒಂದಿಷ್ಟು ಕಿರಿಕಿರಿಯಾಗುತ್ತದೆ. ಹಾಡುಗಳ ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯ ಮತ್ತು ಸಂಗೀತ ಅಷ್ಟೇನೂ ಇಷ್ಟವಾಗಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಲೈಫ್ ಉ  ಇಷ್ಟೇನೆ ಹಾಡು ಪರವಾಗಿಲ್ಲ, ಉಳಿದ ಹಾಡುಗಳು ಇರದಿದ್ದರೂ ಪರವಾಗಿರಲಿಲ್ಲ , ಒಂದೂವರೆ ಗಂಟೆ ಯಲ್ಲಿ ಸಿನಿಮಾ ಮುಗಿದು ಹೋಗುತ್ತಿತ್ತು. ವತ್ತಾಯಪೂರ್ವಕವಾಗಿ ಹಾಡುಗಳು ಇರಬೇಕು ಎಂಬ ಕಾರಣಕ್ಕೆ ಅವುಗಳನ್ನು ತುರುಕಿಸುವ ಅಗತ್ಯ ಇರಲಿಲ್ಲ.

ನಿತ್ಯಾನಂದ ಸ್ವಾಮಿಗಳು ಚಿತ್ರಕತೆ ಗೆ ತಮ್ಮ ಸ್ಪೂರ್ತಿ/ಕಾಣಿಕೆ  ನೀಡಿರುವುದು ಸ್ಪಷ್ಟ.

ನಾಯಕ ಸಿನಿಮಾದುದ್ದಕ್ಕೂ ಗಳು ಗಳು ಎಂದುಕೊಂಡೆ ತನ್ನ ಡೈಲಾಗ್ ಮುಗಿಸುತ್ತಾನೆ. ಹೊಸತನ, ಮ್ಯಾನರಿಸಂ ಎಂದುಕೊಂಡು ಸ್ವಲ್ಪ ಹೊತ್ತು ಆಸ್ವಾದಿಸಬಹುದಾದರು ಉಪ್ಪಿನಕಾಯಿ ರುಚಿಯಾಗಿದೆಯೆಂದು ಆನ್ನ ಸಾಂಬಾರ್ ಬದಲಿಗೆ ಎಲೆ ತುಂಬಾ ಉಪ್ಪಿನಕಾಯಿಯನ್ನೇ ಬಡಿಸಿದರೆ ಎಷ್ಟು ಜನರಿಗೆ ಇಷ್ಟವಾಗತ್ತೋ  ಗೊತ್ತಿಲ್ಲ. ಉಳಿದ ಪಾತ್ರಧಾರಿಗಳು ಉತ್ತಮವಾಗಿ ನಟಿಸಿ ತಮ್ಮ ತಮ್ಮ ಪಾತ್ರಕ್ಕೆ ನ್ಯಾಯ ಒದಗಿಸಿಕೊಟ್ಟಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ನನಗೆ ಬಹುತೇಕ ಪಾತ್ರದಾರಿಗಳ ಹೆಸರು ಮರೆತು ಹೋಗಿದೆ. ಹುಡುಗಿಯ ತಾಯಿ ಪಾತ್ರಧಾರಿಯನ್ನು ಟಿ ಏನ್ ಸೀತಾರಾಮರ ಧಾರಾವಾಹಿಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ನೋಡಿದ ನೆನಪು. ಮದುವೆ ಬ್ರೋಕರ್ ಪಂಚಾಕ್ಷರಿಯೇ ಸಿನೆಮಾದ ಎರಡನೇ ಹಿರೋ. ತಮ್ಮ ಅರ್ಥ ಗರ್ಭಿತವಾದ ಮಾತುಗಳಿಂದ ಗಮನ ಸೆಳೆಯುತ್ತಾರೆ.

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