Cerebral Shangrila

Friday, April 29, 2005

Hitchcock -- The master of Suspense

Today is the 25th Death Anniversary of Alfred Hitchcock. One of my favorite directors , he is universally acclaimed as the master of suspense. Having seen most of his movies (including the less famous ones such as Marnie,Spellbound) , I would consider every movie as an incredible experience. Suspense,intrigue,mystery,chilling background music,cameo appearances -- they are all trademarks of a Hitchcockian thriller. Here are five of my favorite Hitchcock movies . If you haven't seen them yet, now is the time.

1. Psycho : Can't say anything new that hasn't been said yet. This is a Classic. The "Shower" scene is one of the most chilling moments in celluloid world.

2. Vertigo : A Complex tale of a Detective , his fear of heights and his obsession with a woman. Exotic San Francisco locales and wonderful acting by Jimmy Stewart.

3. North by Northwest : Mistaken Identity , Cross Country chase and a stunning climax at Mt.Rushmore.

4. Rear Window : Can an entire thriller movie be shot inside an apartment ? Watch this amazing movie to find out.

5. Rope : Two young men commit a murder just to see what it's like . Its a spectacular movie with superb screenplay and dialogues.

The other good Hitchcock movies : Dial M for Murder,Rebecca,Strangers on a Train,Shadow of a Doubt,Birds.

Here is a nice Slideshow on Hitchcock from Rediff.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Farewell Letters -- Nice fwd

The farewell letters ( At firms, when employees leave)are always laced with sentiments,nostalgia and sweet memories ( Though in some cases the actual truth is otherwise). Here is a nice fwd I got about a pragmatic " Time to say goodbye" letter :

Time to say good bye
Hi all,

It gives me great relief to flee from the Project _________ at __________where I have wasted the last ____ years loitering on this project.

I sincerely want to express my deep unexpressed feelings (hatred, disgust, rancor, frustration, malice..) towards my PL __________________ , whose useless suggestions, ignorance, negligence and continual cribbing have given this project its current distorted shape. Every long and vague discussions with him have left me more confused shattering my fragile fundamentals. All the goals laid down by him were completely ambiguous which totally contradicted those laid down by the Module Leader(ML) .

I will also like to extend my disgust to those who have unnecessarily showed undue interest in this project by poking their noses and hammering suggestions in areas which did not in any way concern them. The final code of this delivery is screwed up by my PL and ML without looking a single line of the code. Their destructive criticism and sardonic and superfluous remarks coupled with shabby grammar are greatly depreciated. All support groups have put in their best efforts to make matters from bad to worse.

Lastly I would like to thank all my friends for providing competent atmosphere to set high scores in all the computer games and helping me to endure through this catastrophe.

Worst Regards

A battered Team Member Soul

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Blogs -- BusinessWeek Posted by Hello

The Blog world is cheering. The latest BusinessWeek issue has a Cover Story on Blogs and its impact on businesses. The Cover Story is written in a blog style and is pretty interesting. The story also introduces lot of blog terms like " Moblogging (Mobile Blogging)", " Vlogging (Video Logging)" , " Dooced (An expression used when someone loses a job because of blogging)", "Flogs" (Fake Blogs) and RSS,Blogger,Creative Commons to the uninitiated.

I am a bit disappointed that the article did not focus on " Yakkers and Hobbyists" because there is a tremendous information dissemination potential and expertise hidden there which the businesses covet . Also they could be the seeds for tomorrow's entrepreneurial ideas and thoughts.

Lots of my fellow students started asking me questions about blogging after seeing the cover story. Its surprising that from our class only Carp and I are regular bloggers.

Monday, April 25, 2005

F1 - The Past Vs Future

Congrats Alonso ! That was one heck of Driving. The Imola circuit witnessed one of the best F1 Races that I have seen ( and I haven't seen many ..I am a newbie to F1 but still a loyal follower in the last few months ... ) . The final laps witnessed a sensational clash between the past Champion (Schumi) and Alonso,the man predicted by many to be his successor. And Alonso kept his nerves . Btw, Hard Luck Kimi .

With 12 laps left and Schumi just behind Alonso , the commentator said , " If Alonso manages to beat Schumi to the pole today , there is little doubt that he deserves to be the champion of the future " .

This is a welcome change to the fans who are getting to see some competition in F1 after years of Michael's domination. Schumi raced like a champion from the 13th position to the 2nd position yesterday. Hats off to him. But the future has arrived.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

The Dilbert Principle by Scott Adams-- Book Review

The last time I laughed out loud when travelling alone in a crowded train was due to P.G.Wodehouse's Jeeves & Wooster. Scott Adams made me do it again. Scott Adams is undisputably the king of " Office Humor" and his popular creation " Dilbert" is acknowledged as an enduring corporate icon.After several years as a Cartoonist ( After his 9 year career at Pac Bell), Adams decided to write a book satiring the Corporate World.

The Book is subtitled " A cubicle's eyeview of Bosses,Meetings,Management Fads & other workplace afflictions". In the next 300 odd pages he dips his pen with humor,satire and cartoons about most management buzzwords and fads. Every line of the book drips with humor and he leaves you spellbound with his creativity and quick wit.

This book is a must read for anyone who has worked in an office and definitely more so for MBA's and B-school students so that they don't take themselves too seriously ! I borrowed this book from the Library but am now planning to buy it .

Here are some snippets from the Book :

Foreward : These days it seems like any idiot with a laptop computer can churn out a business book and make a few bucks. That's certainly what I'm hoping. It would be a real letdown if the trend changed before this masterpiece goes to print.

on Voicemail : Voice Mail has freed more employees from work than any other innovation.

on Marketing : The entire discipline of marketing can be summarised by " If you lower the prices you can sell more units" .

on Consultant : A consultant is a person who takes your money and annoys your employees while tirelessly searching for the best way to extend the consulting contract.

Business Plans : Somewhere between the hallucinations of senior management and the cold reality of the market lies something called a business plan.

Sales : If your company's products are overpriced and defective you can compensate by having a good sales incentive plan.

ISO 9000 : A group of bored europeans had a few too many heinekens and decided to play an elaborate prank on the big companies of the world.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Google Adsense

After weeks of deliberation , I finally added "Google Adsense" to my Blog.So from now on you will see Ads on the Right side pane of my blog. I am curious to know the economic potential of Blogging . Btw, the first ad displayed was " Have you got Depression ? " :-) ...

Thursday, April 21, 2005

B-Schools -- Grade Inflation

One of my first sem Prof used to joke " Dont worry about grades , MBA afterall stands for "Mostly B's & A's" " . Unfortunately that seems to be the truth. B-Schools have experienced rampant Grade Inflations in recent years. Adopting a student centric approach , most B-schools have tried to satisfy students by giving them good grades ( rarely giving anything less than a "C" ). But is this a fair approach ? Why are students obsessed about grades (This has an answer -- in the quest of lucrative jobs ) ? Should B-schools continue to be "nice" to students ? These are some of the Questions answered in this BusinessWeek article.

The article also talks about some schools which have adopted a simplistic "Pass/Fail" Grade approach.

Afterall , the true value of MBA lies beyond mere grades.Its all about "true learning". The grades must be just incidental. The Wise ones realize this early and the rest keep chasing the grades !

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Harvard to Las Vegas

My previous post on Casinoes set me thinking about the gaming Industry . When I was reading Newsweek today, an article caught my eye. The largest casino gaming company in the world now is Harrah's . The biggest surprise was the CEO of Harrah's. He is a MIT trained Economist and a former Harvard Business School Prof !! He has been hiring mathematicians and computer jocks to help create high-tech marketing programs at Harrah's and has turned it into a profit machine .

So casino isn't just glamour and fun , a lot of serious "hard work" and smart guys are behind it !

Monday, April 18, 2005

Singapore takes the Casino route ..

After months of public debate (??) , the Singapore govt gave a green signal today for Casinos in Singapore. However, they would not be merely Casinos and instead would be Integrated resorts with Hotels,Restaurants,Shopping Malls .

There would be proper controls for the locals in Singapore, discouraging them from getting addicted to Casinos . The Govt arrived at the decision after weighing the Economic benefits (Increased Tourist revenue) and Social costs ( increased Crime,addiction). The PM's speech was laced with concern about the social costs and the govt would take every step to keep it minimum.The decision I feel is a very pragmatic one.

There would be two Casinos ( Integrated resorts) -- at Sentosa & Marina Bay . Leading Casinos like Harrah's , MGM Mirage have already submitted the bids along with seventeen others. Here is a report from IHT.

So add a few more jewels to Singapore Tourism's crown.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Intel offers $10,000 for a Magazine

Do you have the April 19,1965 copy of the "Electronics" magazine ? If you do, you could have won $10,000 from Intel last week. Intel had offered $10,000 (on eBay) because that was the issue in which Gordon Moore's famous " Moore's Law" first appeared. Intel apparently has photocopies but not the Original of the magazine.

However, this has left the Librarians fuming. The Libraries now have to guard this copy of magazine against people who are out there to steal it. Already University of Illinois engineering Library has reported that one of the two copies it has, is missing .

Btw, Electronics magazine went out of business several years ago. Intel meanwhile closed its eBay listing a few days ago, after it got offers from several candidates .

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Tiger Woods & Sachin Tendulkar

Tiger Woods won a major (Masters) after two long years and Sachin Tendulkar scored a Century almost after a year. Two totally unrelated events occuring at the same time have much more in common than we think.

Rohit Brijnath writes in The Hindu " These men evoke respect but no longer fear; they are still very good, on days brilliant, but that veneer of invincibility has a tear in it " . Nice Article .

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Birth of the Rs.9990 PC

Its too good to be true. But it is true. The Xenitis Group has launched the first sub-10K PC in India. Called the "Apna PC" / "Amchi PC" , it runs Linux on a Cyrix Processor. The Company also sells a Intel based PC for Sub-11K .Here is an article from Rediff on this.

One of the biggest enabler of social change in India has been Technology. The e-choupals are a testimony to it. By making PC's affordable to the middle class and the lower middle class , the firm hopes to target a huge untapped segment.

Perhaps they are living upto to Microsoft's dream of a " PC on every desktop". Albeit with Linux !

Monday, April 11, 2005

Will Chennai get an F1 Circuit ?

It was supposed to be Hyderabad, then Mumbai and now suddenly we find Chennai in contention. It was Naidu's dream to get F1 racing to Hyd but after his surprise election loss the issue died down there. Then Mumbai was supposed to become an F1 circuit but seems Chennai is hot in competition.

According to this Report in TOI , the CM of TN has already written to the Prime Minister regarding establishment of a F1 Circuit in Chennai. She has also pledged her full support to get F1 circuit and a automobile testing facility at Chennai.

So who is going to win this race ? Only time will tell.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Conan O'Brien's Harvard Commencement Speech

This is humor at its best . One of the funniest speeches (Click on the underlined words) that I have ever read. This speech was delivered by Conan O'Brien at Harvard in 2000.

Conan O'Brien hosts the "Late night show with Conan O'Brien" in NBC and is slated to succeed Jay Leno as the Tonight show host in 2009 ( The erstwhile popular Movers & Shakers by Shekhar Suman was adapted from the Tonight show ) ....

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Carnatic Music Concerts

All good things come to an end. The SIFAS Classical music festival came to an end last week. Apart from the Hindustani Fusion ensemble concert about which I had blogged , I also attended Carnatic music concerts by Sudha Raghunathan ,Mysore Brothers(Violin Duet),R.Pavan (Disciple of Semmangudi) and Bharathanatyam by Vimala Raman (Who seems to be quite an allrounder -- Apart from being a dancer she is also Miss India Australia 2004,a model and a IT Database Analyst by profession).

The acoustics at Esplanade auditorium was splendid. Hoping for more such musical events in Singapore .....

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Tamil Brahmins -- Have they been victimized by Dravidian politics ?

It was an open secret about which no one talked about . But the recent issue of Outlook has broached this taboo topic again. Outlook has two articles about how Tamil Brahmins (Tam-brams is perhaps the hep word which is more popular in cyberworld) have been hounded and bashed by the Dravidian parties over the last few decades. The first article talks about how they have lost their voice to protest and the second article is an interview with well known tamil writer Asokamitran where he compares Tam-brams with Jews ( Both communities faced immense wrath and castigation since the 1930's although brahmins thankfully didn't have to face an Holocaust).

The anti-brahmin,anti-hindi plank of DK & DMK has been a huge vote bank for them and no wonder their diatribe against brahmins still continues.

While some brahmins pride themselves on the community's intellectual prowess ( the oft quoted IIT-ian domination and Silicon Valley being the biggest Agraharam in the world) , the truth is that the reservation (69% against them in professional colleges) has made life very tough for the middle and lower class brahmins living in non-metros and rural areas to get a decent education.

I think the brahmin community has paid the price for decades of untouchability and other social evils they practiced long ago. The utter stupidity of caste based reservation is clear to everyone except the Dravidian parties.

Hence its in the best interests of the nation to forget the past and think about the future.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Grapes of Wrath -- Book Review

John Keats said " A thing of beauty is a joy forever" . " Grapes of Wrath" is one such beauty. Its a moving story about the travails of a poor family (The Joads) during the great depression (1929-33 in the US) and their efforts to preserve their self dignity. It captures the horrors of great depression , the battle between the rich and the poor and mankind's need to preserve self dignity and humanity above everything else. The story traces the journey of the Joads after they lose their tenant farm in Oklahoma, they join thousands of others, traveling the narrow concrete highways toward California with the dream of a piece of land to call their own.

John Steinback is a master storyteller.He weaves a magical spell in his writing and builds the crescendo which culminates in one of the most poignant final page that I have ever read. This book earned him a Pulitzer prize in 1940 .

The novel was also filmed into a movie (by John Ford) *ing Henry Fonda and was nominated for seven oscars (and winning two). Looking forward to seeing the movie too.

"Our people are good people; our people are kind people. Pray God some day kind people won't all be poor. Pray God someday a kid can eat. "

Monday, April 04, 2005

In Search of a Tiger ... Posted by Hello

P.S : The above Photograph was taken by me of a Tiger in Captivity in Gold Coast , Australia .

This magnificent animal is in danger again . After the successful "Project Tiger" initiative in the 70's , the tiger was supposed to have been out of danger. However , the recent reports that there are no tigers in Sariska Tiger Reserve (Rajasthan),India comes as a shock to most nature lovers.

I am not very suprised. I visited Sariska Tiger Reserve "in search of tigers" in October,2003 . I could not spot a tiger ( Though I was lucky to catch a glimpse of a Leopard and all night in our forest guest house we could hear the Leopard's Calls ). When we enquired with the forest rangers the last sighting of a Tiger was weeks back (?).

In my Blog post back then , I had expressed some reservations about the practices in Sariska . Here are those :

There were a few things which have been nagging me ever since the Visit to Sariska Tiger Reserve.

1. Why do they have a Village deep inside the Sanctuary ?

2. Why do they allow two wheelers/ four wheelers ( What protection do human beings have against animals & vice versa, it becomes easier for poachers to get inside ) inside the Sanctuary ?

3. There is no signboard saying "No Honking"and the external vehicles disturb the animals by honking & shouting inside .

If the Govt is serious about Wildlife Conservation then let it act before its too late .

And now comes the news that there might be no tigers left in Sariska .

The most selfish animal is mankind. If we think we can survive by killing all the other species then we are the biggest fools in the world. Let us atone before its too late. It would be a tragedy if these magnificent animals are lost . Save Tiger !

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Sourav Ganguly - is it time for a change ?

The third test is something Indians would like to forget. But they are not willing to forgive Ganguly & Co. Hope we do well in the One-dayers .. I have been flooded with forwarded jokes on Ganguly in the last few days.

Here is one such Joke :

Following are the 4 easy steps to cook maggi

Step 1: boil one cup of water

Step 2: as soon as Ganguly goes for batting, put the noodles in the boiled water and put the tastemaker.

Step 3: stir till Ganguly is on field.

Step 4: As soon as Ganguly is back in pavilion, your noodles are ready to eat.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Apple "Think Different" Ad -- Gandhi Posted by Hello

Found these "cool" Billboards at the Apple Website which are based on the "Think Different" Ad. I am posting the Gandhi & Picasso pics.

Apple "Think Different" Pics -- Pablo Picasso Posted by Hello

Found these "cool" Billboards at the Apple Website which are based on the "Think Different" Ad. I am posting the Picasso & Gandhi pics.