Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Winner is Cricket

"Nothing gets the nation going like Cricket does." A few days ago, I would have thought twice before saying this, but the recent exploits of our Men in Blue in the European continent have ensured that we fans have converted back to our first religion of choice- Cricket!

They went to Ireland down and out- written off, forgotten by their fans, away from the radar of the media. And then, all it took was a 2-1 drubbing of the Proteas in Belfast and the "Team India" was on its road to recovery- the road to fame again.

Then came England and by this time, the media had got excited- again, the newspapers and Television were discussing cricket- again, and "expectation" was back- again. The Mighty Four were on their last full tour to England and all of a sudden, none wanted to miss the spectacle. Cricket was back, forgotten for just a while, but back in all its glory; much like one of its own disciples whom we all know as Dada. The nation was believing again, so much so, that by the time the first test ended at Lord's, the Rain God had himself intervened in the interest of this born-again "faith".


The Indians celebrate Andrew Strauss' wicket, England v India, 2nd Test, Trent Bridge, 4th day, July 30, 2007 © AFP

With victory in sight in the Second test, amidst all the hoopla around Sreesanth theatrics, Zahir's fondness(?) for jelly beans and the the umpiring, all I'll say is that it feels great to be back in the good old days where Cricket is the uniting force of the nation, where a victory makes us Indians feel Indians. You know sanity has returned to the country when you can simply start a conversation with a stranger at the bus stop on everything and anything involving Cricket- Sehwag or no Sehwag?, Dada or Dravid?, the umpiring blues and all!


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Friday, July 20, 2007

Pottermania

I'll have to admit that the nature of Pottermania is beyond my comprehension capabilities! As more and more fans of all ages and countries immerse themselves in Harry’s adventures, adding fuel to the belief that Pottermania is inescapable, I am purely and simply baffled by its ability to appeal to all ages.

Bored by the inactivity prevailing in this muggle world, I began to read the first one of the series and immediately concluded that reading beyond the tenth leaf was something impossible. Undeterred, I watched the first movie. I Hated it. But with the evil-wizard becoming apple of more and more eyes with every passing moment, around the world, it could only have been something wrong with me and so I watched the second movie. And then it became so easy to establish that I loathed the Potter Kid!

Just a passing thought - "Would it be a bad idea for a Potter special appearance in Oliver Twist? The poor kid could do with some wizardry."

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Wimbledon - Swan Lake and Bartoli

OK. In the last few hours, I've been asked this question thrice and hence this post: Who am I rooting for in this Wimbledon?

I no longer cheer for "Gentlemen's Tennis" these days. For it is unusually mundane and boring. FedEx and Nadal are way way ahead of anyone else that is clearly reflected in their rankings and hardly makes for any competition. Andy Roddick comes a distant third and this makes watching men's game a little less exciting when compared to the yesteryears of the men's game. The years that passed by had a different air to them, with the likes of Sampras, Agassi, Jim Courier, Goran Ivanisevic taking to the courts, the atmosphere that much more intense, the involvement all that much more. Plus as my friend Santosh says it- where are the serve and volley plays!

(For all those jigging about on this stance of mine on FedEX and Tennis, I won't still buy your arguments about Schumi's dominance making F1 mundane though! F1 without Schumi is still like a kiss without a squeeze ;) )

Sharapove Swan Lake LookOn the other hand, the Ladies game is as exciting as it has ever been. With all the gussied up stars packing such punch, amidst shots characterized by elegance; it is nothing but a spectacle.

And Yes, intermittently you'll find some things to talk about, like there's this Swan Lake style that Ms. Sherapova was seen in this Wimbledon. Really don't know what was in her mind but she was looking like a damn swan herself. Swan or no swan, she surely disappointed her fan!

BartoliBut coming to the first question, with which this post began: Who am I cheering for this Wimbledon? Well, honestly, till yesterday I had no doubts what so ever that Justine Henin was going to win (and I was happy in the same way I am when Chelsea wins.) She's still going to win it unless Venus can pull off a performance extraordinaire, but after the 4th of July, I am totally going for this French lady Marion Bartoli after seeing her match against Michaella Krajicek! Seeded 18 for this year's event, she is what one could call a surprise survivor- the one with the weird serve and that hyper-enthusiastic dance on the baseline. She should make it to the finals. But then, why does she have to play against Justin in the semis! :(

So, who're you cheering for???

Update:

Set 1: Marion Bartoli has just been given a tennis lesson by Justin.
I think that says it all. 6-1 for Henin.

Set 2: Ms. Plumpz takes the lesson!
Who would have thought so? Bartoli wins 7-5. Boy, does she pack some punch.

Set 3: "OMG, I can lose this!!! "
Henin trails 0-4 in the decider! None around can believe it. She's simply being toyed around with.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Himesh, Paris and Piclens

The last Monday I woke up feeling not all that well- indisposed with some sort of weird cold, the sort that makes your nose go blue or pink, and a nasal tone that could give even Himesh Reshammiya a semblance of some competition. This illness streak has continued for the week and it's only now, on a cloudy, windy Sunday afternoon that I feel fine, almost perfectly.

Besides sickness, nothing really happening except that I moved in to a new place with another awesome bunch of guys. That adds something like 70 odd more minutes to my commute everyday and requires an ungodly time for me to wake up. But then, I get 24x7 Internet connectivity here which more than makes up for the trivialities :)

And for all those, who believe that the geek quotient of the enginerd weblog has come down drastically in the recent past, here's something real cool that I came across:

Piclens

I installed Piclens,a firefox plugin  which delivers an "immersive full-screen experience for viewing photos on the Web." The plugin enables us to search and browser images from Google, Flickr, Picasa, Yahoo, Friendster and others in full-screen theater like mode. Way too cool! Check this video:

 

Paris

And then, if this is still not enough to take the geek-meter of this blog higher, soon you'll find a post here about the geek gamer- Paris Hilton. Yes the same celebrity/ socialite/ business woman/ model/ actress/ recording artist we all know so much about. Surprised? Didn't you know she is in the list of "Ten Top Girl Geeks!"

 

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Music-Impaired

I have a disability when it comes to music- understanding it and appreciating it.

So much so that sometimes when I stand with my friends, I can't help but feel that they are an alien bunch talking gibberish in an alien language about this thing they call music. I stand there dazed and confused, seemingly lost in their conversations laced with words like melody, rythmn, beats and what not.

They say its World Music Day today; and that I have a serious problem.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Sania Mirza and Laloo: The IE correlation

Sania Mirza appears again on the enginerd weblog.

This time for two reasons:
1. She is back in Top 50 again. Good going Miss.
2. The Indian Express (IE) goofup where her pic is with the caption: "Railway Minister Lalu Prasad cuts cake during the celebration of his 60th birthday as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress". Some correlation this: Sania in 50. Lalooji just out of his 50s.





Not quite the intended caption!!!

Bombay update:
Last couple of days in Bombay have been hectic and a lot of fun. Back to Bangalore tomorrow morning. And I heard Desh was on Radio City!

Friday, June 08, 2007

TOI fanboy

Girl: Did you know this [...] happened?

Me: Yes, I read about it in the TOI.

Girl: You read the TOI?

Me: Absolutely. I am a big Information junkie.

Girl (with that unapproving look): You got to be kidding me! You mean you actually look up the TOI for information???

Me (quipping): Oh yes, I do! In fact, I start with the supplement- The Bangalore Times.

Wonder why girls got to act so smart!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Weekend plans?

At lunch today, the topic of discussion was passion for motorcycles; and by the end of it, we had planned out midnight ride to Nandi Hills.

Didn't turn out to be a particularly bad idea, considering Local Live estimated it just over 6000 miles :O


Bangalore to Nandi Hill in just 6000 miles

Didn't know they had a Nandi Hill in Kenya too.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Kaapi and Cappuccino

So, what did I do this weekend? I drank a cup of coffee. And now, If you're wondering why would I be blogging about some cup of coffee I drank, its purely because I have understood that "life is not solely composed of tasks, but tastes."

Okay, continuing: I drank another cup of hopeless coffee at the ubiquitous Cafe Coffee Day. Hopeless, I say, because that is exactly what it appears when compared to the kaapi at any of the numerous Darshans or Saagars in every nook and corner of the city.

Filter kaapiIt's not that I realize my preference for kaapi only now but the law by Mr. Murphy, or any of the corollaries following from it probably played their part. I was there meeting a friend and it is only obvious that I ask the individual for a cup of tea/coffee. The answer in most cases is yes, for almost everyone knows my affinity for caffeine. The problem here was that I meant a filter kaapi and the friend here was more of a cappuccino type. No problems, I thought as it was just a matter playing my own convincing self but no, it was not to be. The friend wouldn’t budge an inch, and when I saw that condescending glare, CCD it had to be.

An hour and a half later, smoking passively all the while, I silenty shelled out two 100ers; bid the friend adieu, and headed for the same old darshan. Filter kaapi, it had to be!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Podworks.in - India's Biggest Event on Podcasting

As someone who is really hooked on to podcasts, I find it really odd when people are completely oblivious to podcasts, and that the term podcasting still remains geek to many. So much that The Times Of India once ran a whole article on Podcasting without even mentioning terms like RSS, web feeds, or subscription!!! What they said:
All downloadable audio files are now called ‘podcasts’.

[...]But while all those who download music from the net are indeed ‘podcasting’

Why I am writing about Podcasting today is because I just got to now that Chennai will be organizing another unconference this June 9th and 10th on Podcasting . Podworks.in, as the event is called is a "2-day workshop styled unconference dedicated to the sharing of knowledge around new / social media (audio and video podcasting, blogging, more.)

The event being a workshop styled unconference, is the place to know all about Podcasting ; and then start publishing/consuming all that media content with the available syndication technologies. After the event, I hope that at least in Bangalore, no one would call me weird if I am listening to an interview and not a song while commuting.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

SMS and Mobile Targeting

Writing his guest column at the Mobile Marketing Magazine, Richard Webster writes about how SMS and intelligent targeting can produce great results:

The key to unlocking the real potential for customer recruitment lies in understanding more about them and having the ability to interact with them directly. The availability of mobile data, and the intelligent application of it, is absolutely critical to SMS campaign success. Analysis and careful selection can be carried out before broadcast, and afterwards, with detailed responder profiling.

[...] With intelligent application and targeting, SMS messaging can enhance a brand, and produce great results. Furthermore, it is cost-effective, measurable and intuitive: lifestyle data in particular has a wealth of additional variables, because the way in which the information has been volunteered allows for the fine-tuning of campaign targeting like no other data can.   

[...] here is a pipeline for immediate, measurable and targeted communication bursting with potential, and waiting to be exploited to the full.  Delivery of message, capture of response, trackability of source-to-sale at a low cost-per acquisition: the next big thing for mobile marketing is the application of data. They say there is no idea so powerful as one whose time has come: so get targeting, get texting.

[via Emergic]

 

New Search Experience with Google Experimental

The ever-experimental Google now redefines our Search Experience with new User Interfaces for Search. The new interfaces provide a more "integrated" search experience, that means that you don't have to go about looking for different search engines for videos, blogs, news, pictures etc.

New Navigation Features

Navigation within search results and within different Google sites is going to be a whole new experience with a top navigation bar as seen in this screenshot:

Google results: The new top navigation bar


But the best part about the new navigation is the contextual navigation links on Search Results. With this, for any keyword searched, if there are relevant results in any other Google service like Maps, Blogs, Videos, the links to those would also appear. For example, a search for India would result in a dynamically generated navigation bar with links to results from Google's News Maps Blogs Groups Images Video etc. But I always liked the Live Search top navigation. At least the "More" option is better thought out!

Google Search results: The tall "More Dropdown



Live Search results: The multi columned "More" Dropdown

Experimental Interfaces

Three new experimental interfaces, and three very different ways to search. But definitely interesting. The Lab has come out with something stunning here, I guess.

Timeline and map views

See results on a timeline or on a map. The search results are dug to extract key dates and location and the results are shown on a timeline and map. The first time I saw that bar graph depicting the timeline, for a moment I thought Google had used the wonderful ajaxified slider timeline that was first used by the guys at Measuremap. But it isn't and one fails to understand why.

For example, a search for "Indian Independence", came up with the following results on the timeline:


Google Timeline Search

Left hand navigation and Right Navigation Context Menu

The other two interfaces are to allow users to search deeper and look for a particular type of content like images, videos, patents, products or news. Nothing really special about these. And I am not too sure why we have the right side navigation menu at all. Right side in Google the area with supposedly the least attention on the screen for users. So why the navigation? The left hand navigation contains 1.) Links to search results from within different Google sites and 2.) Related Searches (like the ones to the right column in Live Search)

Of all these, I think the Left Navigation is something that could be integrated into the search results page now. It is quite intuitive to use and people won't take one minute to get used to it.


Elsewhere on the web:
Google Marries the Static and Live Web
Google Experimental: Opt-In To Google User Interface Experiments.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

10 New Uses For Newspaper

Not in India, where newspaper readership is soaring, but everywhere else Traditional Media is finding new ways of not being irrelevant. Read these 10 New Uses For Newspaper from Net!!!

Pipl- People Search Engine

Just came across Pipl, a Search Engine for People on SEL.Pretty interesting is all I'll say at the moment; but the results I looked for were far from accurate.

Here's what SEL had to say about it:

Pipl is a people search engine that tries to be a little different. Rather than just go off and hunt for email addresses, this tries to search through the deep/invisible/hidden web to return content that other search engines are going to miss.

[...] This however maybe a little churlish, given that it's only recently launched. It's an engine that's worth taking a peek at - even if it's only to see what they have on you and your namesakes. It will probably be more than you expect.

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Every start.com has an end

start.com, the incubation experiment that finally led to the hyped Live.com is all set to retire on the 22nd of May 2007. I actually used start.com for a while before I moved on to Newsburst and finally Google Reader.

 

Announcing this, Sanaz Ahari wrote on the start.com blog:

This is a bittersweet moment as I reflect on what start.com accomplished from it's inception in February 2005, helping pioneer ajax homepages and gadgets on the web. We accomplished great things both in terms of technology as well as being an agile small team and connecting with our customers. A successful incubation project that evolved to live.com. Unfortunately it is now time for us to retire start.com as our incubation ground for live.com.  Effective next Tuesday, 5/22/07, start.com will redirect to live.com.