Sunday, November 28, 2004

Sayonara Autumn '04

Click Info : October 24, 2004 Akazawa,Nagano-ken,Japan.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Wonder Years

Couple of days back I came across a "Mahabarath"(BR Chopra's famed television serial) DVD video. The esoteric phrases, gaudy sets gave me a "multitude" to wonder and complain about. Rather than morphing into a "complaint box" , I started hiking down the timeline from my first glimpse of the TV which was once a synonym of Doordharsan.

1983 was the year when television proliferated in the subcontinent (atleast in my part of the world,Visakhapatnam,India).Doordarshan used to start its transmission with a melancholy tune and its logo fading in.

'84 our neighbour bought a black and white television and from then on my mother never needed to search for me. I remember that television for two programs, one :Indira Gandhi's cremation that was aired live, and the other was Giant Robot, that used to be transmitted every thursday around 1630hrs. I was simply fascinated by the gimmicks of the Giant Robot.

The serials original name was Johnny Sokko and his flying robot.

From 1985 I stopped running into my neighbours house as we got our first television Dayonara. In those days Konark and Dynora were hot brands. My dad was so addicted to the News at 2030hrs/2100hrs that no matter where he is, he used to find his way home. For me sundays serials were a treat. Fiction used to intrigue me a lot. Project UFO and Star Trek are two such serials that I never missed an episode.Sharp ( if I remember his name right) was my favorite in star trek

Humlog as most call it the Grandpa of all Indian television serials. It went on air for almost an year, and all of my family used to sit and watch it. At 7:30PM the transmission towers used to switch to Regional news where by we used to get News in telugu.

Slowly television programs started dictating our schedules. If some one asks "can you come at 7 PM ?" , there goes the answer bang "why not at 730PM!!!" (bcos., 700-730PM there is a telugu serial). 1987 we bought our first color television and it was Konark (Orrisa govt's., short lived company),this was the center of all media entertainment in my house till 2003.

Buniyaad goes second in the history book after Humlog. If some one would have taken a viewer rating, these will be the all time high for a decade or so. Alok Naths got his biggest break of his life with buniyaad.

Well if the name Ram sounds Hindu for the rest of the world then for India Doordarshan was
Ramayana. Ramanand Sagar was the pioneer of this epic dramas. This was for the first time in india that people started worshipping the television when this serial was being aired. Arun Govil personified Lord Ram in everyone's mind,and Devika as Sita. I remember that television sales were all time high on account of this serial.

Rajini which used tobe telecasted around sunday 1130hrs was one of those "women empower" kind. Most people know Priya Tendulkar as Rajini, which she was in her real life too. She should have been inspiration to many in some way or the other.

Mahabharat , Sri Krishna, and there goes the whole list of these epic dramas.Slowly I started loosing interest in these as it looked more and more monotonous. A one hour serial will be flooded with 20-25 minutes of advertisements. It tested viewers patience.

Slowly cable television got in and doordharshan was on a downhill. DD started its version ups. DD-1,DD2...DDx. Incidentally this reminds me of my office in bangalore where each of the blocks are numbered the same DD1,DD2!!. (well DD here stands for Design and Development).

I always used to look towards DD for the Indian-Pakistan and Indian -WestIndies matches. One match that haunts me even today is the Sharja tournament finals when Javen Miandad hit a 6 of the last ball of Chetan Sharama.

Fauji was a 9PM serial which I really enjoyed watching, I guess after this sharukhan never had anything to look back for.

If its Quiz Time this it was Siddhartha Basu. He was the most prolific Quiz master I have ever seen, next stands DerekOBrie of the Bournvita School Quiz.

The other serials that I enjoyed watching were; Karamchand where pankaj kapoor makes sure he stammers on " lilly dont be silly ". Nukkad which goes with the title song "..bhukey ko roti ka..pyaase ko paanikaa intazaar hey...!!". UGC programs : were the only educational programs in those days. Vikram aur betaals puzzles and riddles .My Yogi, Chitrahaar, Chitramala, Udaan, Street Hawk, Malgudi Days, World of Sport thats to the best of my memory.

How come I miss the Friday night "The World this Week", which was my all-time favourite. Anchorperson :Prannoy Roy .

The tussle for the remote control in the living room was a virtuous gift of the cable television. 80% of the disagreements between me and my mom was around the channel in question. Beyond 2000 (BBC),X Files(Star Plus),Wonder years(Star World).

I hardly dated the idot box since 2001.

(images courtesy : humaara Google)

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Movie Time : NRIs

96hrs of weekend with the ambient temperature in single digit and the six's thermometer showing no great differencial left me no option but to stay home. Since the internet connection is not yet restored at my place I dubbed into a parasite for my neighbour.

Offlate I turned into a movie buff and the testimony :4 movies in 24hrs and going. Flavours, Legally Desi,Murder and STOP. Each of their story line is based on NRIs lifestyles in different parts of the world.
Flavours and Legally Desi : USA.
Murder : Bangkok.
STOP : Dubai.

Flavours takes the honors among the four. There are handful of movies that I watched thrice. As the movie was shot by some Telugites lots of references to Andhra(esp Hyderabad), and if Andhra what can come next "software engineers floating in US". So the movie is all about the ups and downs of their lives.

Radha Krishna (aka RAD) is to Marry an american Janet, so RADs parents come down for the marriage(Mr & Mrs Gopal Krishna), they force themselves to respect the choice of their only son and every frame is filled with laughter.Mr&Mrs Gopal Krishna looked like they are immitating my parents when they came down to Japan (Ok .,they were not here for the same reason). The triangle love/matchmaking story between Rachana,Karitk and Ramana Dasarakothapalli is just the coolest I seen offlate. The Bench Team and Candy give make the movie crispy touch. The Bench Crowd has a message "Those who dont manage to find a software job end up as consultants in US."Well Vivek is the champ of the movie, watchout for his nodding-head-syndrome, and his love fundas.In the movie there is a mention of MIB which sounds derogatory. But I have no clue of what it means!!

STOP : It will not take long for you to guess why this movie is named STOP when the story line has nothing to do with it other than what we shout in our daily lives "STOP IT". A movie of 4 roomates Sonia,Tina ,Om and Pooja living in Dubai. Its a good timepass movie

Legally Desi : Yo one more desi movie with (Santa, Banta) sardhar jokes. I guess some SONY/JVC handycam should have been used for shooting this one. It turns out to be a good tea time.

Murder : Call this the Indian version of UNFAITHFUL. If you are done with Unfaithful then there is no point in watching this, unless you are crazy of Mallika Sherawat. I regret why I wasted my time on this, but then I tested my players Fast Forward and Rewind buttons if they are living up to what they are built for.

I am not taking any questions on how I got my hands on these movies in this part of the world. AlreadyMPAA is on a sueing spree.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Godzilla : 50 and still rocking

Godzilla Statue , Ginza ,Tokyo.

Its been 50yrs since the Godzilla hit the Japanese silver screen. The BS2 channel called it the 50yrs of Godzilla week and screened the movies every night.I was not that lucky to view all of them as I was breaking my back at office.I managed to view the first Godzilla (1954) movie and today the Godzilla 2000: Millennium.Godzilla is the creation of Tomoyuki Tanaka. In most of the movies Godzilla goes for hiking around Tokyo and hibernating in the Tokyo sea.

Just trying to draw some connections : Japan is frequented by Earthquakes, Typhoons and rarely volcanic erruptions probably all the known natural disasters. Calling the Natural disasters are GOD-chilling around, GODzilla works on the similar lines creating large scale havoc. Japanese shot some 28 movies on this invincible pyromaniac in 50yrs and in the last 5yrs there was one every year. No need to question whos crazy of this Monster.

In the 1954 movie they kill Godzilla by dropping an "Oxyzen destroyer" in the place where it hibernates, but in the 2000 one can see all the weapons of war in action from the apache-chopper to the F16s and more(guided missiles,sony viao laptop, canon EOS series cameras). How come they forget about the time tested oxygen destroyer?. This reminds me of an old joke : Once a soap maufacturing company gets a complaint that one of the customers got a soap box without a soap in it. The company calls for its Research Engineers to find a solution to the problem. The champs do some brainstorming for 6 months and come out with a scanner to throw out empty boxes which has a 99% hit, so they plan to put 2 workers to manually inspect. The chief of the company thinks other wise and puts the same problem to a factory line worker, the worker brings a gaint fan and places it across the line(For the brainy : The emptyones are knocked off).

Walking down the memory lane I remember that I first saw Godzilla in a movie KingKong vs Godzilla in my high school days. Of all the Gaint Monsters I am a fan of King Kong, may be my ancestral connection calls for cheering KK.The first of the King kong movies dates back to 1933. King Kong adores blond beauties and so do I.

I am looking forward for the 2005 Christmas release of the King Kong Movie.Its directed by none other than Peter Jackson(Lord of the Rings fame), and this movie is said to be a faithful reproduction of the 1933 KK movie. Check this production diary link of KK2005.The future of behind the screen screen seems to be more before the blue screen. Adrien Brody is featuring in this movie, I liked his action in the movie The Pianist as well as the movie.
Tip of the day:

Google is rocking.(prerequisite:iexplorer-install-Google-toolbar / firefox). If you feel lucky then just type the name of the website in the address bar it will open up,eg., type bbc for

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Going Offline

"Roti, Kapada aur Makaan" might have been the essentials for the human race with the usual eccentrics publishing their own versions.

Everything looked normal till 800hrs(yesterday), all set to logon to when I realized that I am off the network!! Courtesy : my ISP provider has unplugged me. Subscribed to Yahoo Broadband and was kinda "lived happily everaafter",but all of a sudden things started falling apart : "late kate" got into me and missed the bills so waited for the next months cumulative bill, to my luck I didn't get one. As Murphy said when u need your bill the most it ends up in unattended neighbor's post box, finally when u manage to figure it out, the pay date would have expired but the story didn't end there when the ISP guy calls I fumble on the phone with the invincible Japanese lingo.

Whom to blame ? :
a) my Japanese proficiency b) English proficiency of my ISP
c) my late Kate attitude d) my fate.
well what ever be I am the victim, OK to find some solace let me click on "D".

Finally I cross the line into the eccentrics and scream out , I need "Roti, Kapada, Makaan aur cyberspace".

Here onwards I'll be posting the JAPLISH I come across. (JAPLISH : Japanese English).
JAPLISH of the Day :

A. On my way to office there is a second-hand/used car shop. The ad reads : "New Used Cars".
B. Can you guess whats the antonym of "OK" ? well its "NG" hold on .........still wondering, then here I go "Not Good".

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Digital Click : Picasa

Organizing every day growing digital photographs was a grueling task for me for years. I been trying various kinds of archiving and viewing softwares but nothing ever came close to what I wanted as Picasa did.

Picasa is a freeware. Its interface and feature sets are simply the best what one wants in the process of archiving and viewing.Needless to say that quality and innovative software is powered by Google.

Here is the feature list of picasa :

Picasa's Album sorting just goes in a jiffy. It gives a feel of light and swift. Well for archiving 3000+snaps it made an internal db of some 11MB which is resonable.In every folder it creates Picasa.ini file. One can set options per folder basis: scan the folder or not, or to watch for changes.

Picasa's Slideshow gives you a 3D feel during navigation. It sorts itself on the basis of time stamp. It has an option of background music during slideshow(mp3 support).Navigation is really very intutive. Advanced options help u edit the timeline.

Picasa's Image editor does resizing, cropping, redeye reduction,rotate,color and contrast enhancer.

Picasa also gives options like creating a web-albums(html) or batchprocessing at the click of a button. Guess nothing can be more intutive than this for sure.

Well this is not a complete or partial review of picasa. Try this out its worth a look and sooner or later it becomes indispensable.

TIP : When you want to organize ur digital photographs the best way to name your folders is YYYYMMDD_CAPTION. I prefer this over other ways of categorizing as vacations, family etc as this is based on timestamp.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Chukchi : whale hunting

There are no universal rules without exceptions.

I was lazying around with the idoit box and came across an interesting documentary, its wrt the whalehunting by the chukchi. Chukchi is eastern part of siberia where the winter temperatures go down to -30 degrees Celsius.

Chukchis staple food had been whales for the past 2100yrs. As everyone is aware that whales went into the endangered species list and thereby hunting of whales is banned. Well I cant imagine what could happen to me if they said eating rice(my staple food) is banned. So when the chukchis faced this inevitable world wide ban there was a literally no option but to starve to death.

So the International WHAT SO EVER committee came up with an amendment : Only Chukchis can hunt whales!! well it didnt end there it went on to say that their hunt should be very humane and the chukchis should only use their indigenous ways.Chukchis cannot use modern boats for hunting or towing the whales to shore.

Every hunt should be informed to the officials so that it can be monitored. Once they manage hunt and tow it to the shallow waters they cant use any machinery to get it to the land. A 100 men could only manage to put a token effort to get it to the shore.Finally they endup slicing it in the shallow waters itself.

The clause to the amendment is more of a political sadism.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Digital Click : diwali timeout

To the best of my memory for the past 4 yrs I was never home for diwali, and for the last couple I ended up celebrating "Hanabi" the Japanese version of festival of lights. Well Hanabi here is more like the July 4th Fireworks display,the only diffence being that many japanese tend to dress more traditionally.

Copious mails of diwali wishes gave me a "Chelo kuch karte hey" kind of "josh" which once again pulled me into hobby tuned obsession (digital click). The Indian store on my last order sent a couple of complementary "diya"(clay made). To give a creative touch I started off without a plan. As said creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes and choosing which of them to keep. Since I was shooting lights I needed a dark background : set the table with a couple of black T-Shirts and used the sigma lense in macro mode at 300mm.Finally the snaps found their place in the diwali greetings card.


[click on image to enlarge: images resized]

Diwali day was really cool seeing couples going traditional,the best part was the dinner at Anand's place,and the real diwali dhamaka was Deepu's X(which is obvious but not yet going public).

Thursday, November 11, 2004

KISS : The Fluid Focus Lense

I was an advocate of KISS, acknowledging my inablity to comprehend complex theories. Not many innovations look as simple as the Philips FluidFocus lens.

Philips Research Labs cameup with a Fluid focus lense. The concept was something like emulating the human eye.To understand the design all one needs is basic school physics.Why not hear it from the horses mouth fluid focus.Dont forget to check out the video that demonstrates how it can focus on objects at different distances.

Q: Now what turns me on?
A: When I discover that there is some one out there who adores KISS.
KISS : Keep it simple stupid

Monday, November 08, 2004

Digital Click : Road So Far

Shortly there is going to be a population explosion in the file formats you guess which file format is going to outsmart Chinese+Indian population by leaps and bounds? .....???

No need to strain your grey cells its the one and only one JPEG.

In the winter of 1998 when I was flipping though a tech magazine at the college library I came across a term "Digital Still Camera", the concept was simple a CCD sensor --> Analog to Digital convertor--> DSP processor(Imaging algorithm) --> RAW/JPEG file. I said to myself this is it, this is the solution to all my problems. Well let me tell you what the problem was : I always felt I had a good eye for photography but could never afford one in the first place. In those days photography was always a rich mans passion.
wrt the DSC the Pros listed were : A. One time Investment B. Unlimited shots(limit: memory size).etc and virtually NO Cons other than the Price(is this true).

My long wait came to an end in the spring of 2001, I bought myself a Kodak KB-10 (a point and shoot)camera.It costed some 700INR/15USD with 2kodak 36/ISO200 film rolls free. I started my journey by pondering over the kodak website for the photo tips.With a point and shoot there was nothing to worry,just choose ISO100/200/400 film and all you need to look for is proper framing of the subject.I enjoyed it to the best. I captured real good memories with it(Elxsi SD group Picnic to Hognekal waterfalls,wayanadu trek,sabarimala yatra etc).
Lessons Learnt : ISO is inversely proportional to ur lighting conditions.

Kodak KB-10

My profession got me to the land of cameras : Japan, getting a decent remuneration I just went with the flow.We started touring Japan,and started with Osaka-Nara.I walked into a camera shop(may be yodobashi),was clueless on what camera to buy !! Finally made up my mine if its 1.2/2/3Meg pixel I will pick up the highest of all.Now which brand to choose ? only one brand I been hearing for my childhood Japans No:1 brand SONY. So I landed up with a 5 Mega Pixel Sony P10 cybershot.with a 3x optical zoom it looked really great. Well the other numericals were just greek and Latin to me.

Sony Cybershot P-10

Ended up paying 70K Yen/28K INR/620USD that includes a 32+128 MB Sony Memory Sticks.The funny part was that 8 of my colleagues bought the cybershot P8, some assuming that I bought it after a through review of all the models. Any way it didn't disappoint us todate.The best memories that I captured was my parents visit to Japan. By now I became a photography buff and day by day I started finding fault with the quality. I was most disappointed when I was not getting the right exposures. Realized that the camera was not built for what I demanded. Only option was to switch to a better one.
Lessons Learnt : Decent photographic print(postcard size) demands 3.2Meg Pixel.Dont be fooled by the mega pixel nos unless u need larger prints.
Of all the Digital Cameras my value to money camera happens to be the Nikon coolpix 3.2-5 Meg pixel range.

With my quest for perfection at an all time high. I planned to switch to Digital SLR. For almost 6 months I was in a fix of which religion should I choose. As its a kinda rubicon once I choose btw Nikon and Canon. A couple of trips to Yodobashi camera shop in tokyo left me clueless. I finally drew the line and Kissed the Digital Rebel Canon a Good bye and hugged the Nikon D70. One thing for sure the Nikon bodies give you a feel good factor in your hand.Nikon being my subconscious choice.

Nikon D70
Finally I got my baby on August 4th 2004,I dumped all other things and hanged around with it day in and out.D70 costed me some 1200USD which came along with a 18-70mm DX lense.I added a Nikon SB-800 flash(~300USD)and some filters.Since I plan to shoot in raw I purchased a 1GB Compact Fash(~150USD)

Offlate I Demystified the photography glossary to a greater extent and now feel at home with those exposure concepts. From here on I plan to start a Digital Click : Demysitfy X series and post it as often as possible.

If "A Picture speaks a 1000 words" is true, then if I use the rules of Mathematical Induction, does a Video playing at 30 frames per second : speak 30K words per second ?

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

So Lost And So At Home

Well today is "bunka no hi" i.e., CULTURE DAY (A day for promotion of culture and the love for freedom and peace. On the culture day, schools and the government award certain persons for their special, cultural activities)but for me its one more day to lock myself up at home.

For the past 10days I was trying to mimic Mahesh Room environment(what they call the perfect Bachelors Room), by just letting things find their own center of gravity, well I scored a 90% for sure but this morning I couldnt take it any longer so I put on my "shudata aur parishudata" hat and in no time it was back to its glory.

Since I didnt have any plan, I turned on the TV and no sooner I was wondering if I am in USA ? out of the 12 free public channels broadcasted - one was all dedicated to US Election Counting. What is this WORLD ELECTIONs or US ELECTIONS ? For obvious reasons Japanese are US Crazy but this was a bit too much. The US Elections being dealt with the same intensity as the Japanese, guess only the coordinated of the repoters changed.Well this is what "Power and Influence" can do(I am not here to debate that Power leads to influence or what so ever).

I finally found company for the day "So Lost And So At Home" :OSHO. Eight of the sixteen discourses where captured in this book that Osho gave during the spring and summer of 1980. Once you are into this book you can't excuse your self. The more I try to question , the more I tend to accept his answers. Where does this book sit in the classification : Jokes / Spiritual / ?? (do I need to coin one).Well if you figure this out then do let me know.