Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Mozilla Firefox ver. 1.5

Mozilla has released ver. 1.5 for Firefox. You can download it from here(around 5Mbs).

Also gave me a good opportunity to finally shift to Firefox. Realized immediately, what a fool I was, not to do it before.

Cheers,

I think, therefore ICANN

ICANN - the mai-baap of all domian names, really needs to get it's act together.

It's
a) Molopoized the business of allotting domain names. There needs to be a better system, are more importantly a more respresentative body.

b) There is increased lethary as far as the pace of sanctioning new suffixes goes, and the internet on the whole needs to be more functional and flexible.

c) There are various other issues and complaints as to the nature of it's functioning. I think only the BBCI can rival ICANN for it's level of 'opaqueness'. The ICANN meetings schedule is aimed at being representative but keeping meetings in places like Carthage, Mar Del Plata and Accra ensures that most of the do-gooders don't attend, thus making the whole group a monopoly of the few.

It's high time control was diluted and fairer sytems be adopted. For the internet to grow rapidly, it need's a better system. As for me there is an urgent need for the ' .blog ' suffix. With the transmogrification of the blogsphere, ICANN should have been responsive enough and this problem should have been fixed long before.

Cheers,

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Look ma, where I found a libertarian !

Lalit Modi is the new Vice President of the BCCI. Sharad Pawar has finally acceeded to the much vaulted port-key of Indian sport, which means rich rewards for all those on his side. One of Pawar's aide-de-camps has been Lalit Modi, the suave, tough-talking self-professed cricket afficanado from Rajasthan. In fact assuming from his previous track record as the Mumbai Cricket Association's President and the President of the Maharashtra Olympic Committee , Pawar as a Union minister will not have enough time to look after the day-to-day affairs of the Board, Lalit Modi is the man you should be courting in case you are in line for a favour with the BCCI. And if this is the case, then there is cause for joy - for, at least from what he says, Modi seems to want to make good, all the bad publicity a certain other person has brought to his particular family name.

Lalit Modi was the one of the foremost opponents of the Dalmiya regime, when the TV rights issue came up, arguing against various clauses in the agreement. He championed the cause of BCCI setting up it's own TV cricket channel, thus broadcasting to millions of viewers all the live action, including building up a strong programming portfolio for broadcasting quality content
when India is not playing. He argued that this would enable the BCCI to make more money, without periodic hassles over telecast rights and the subsequent debates over the advertising revenue cuts etc. His voice seemed to have been lost, especially since focus shifted to the crucial elections and the subsequent postponing of the telecast rights issue.

Now with the emergence of Pawar, Lalit Modi will probably get the free hand he long desired. He himself is a businessman, and seems to have a lot of new ideas and will bring some dynamism and professionalim to the post. He proposes hiring the best talent ( "IIM graduates" ) and appointing CEOs for the different areas like Finance, Advertising, Media and Public Relations. In fact, he has spoken out harshly against the much-criticized zonal selection process and proposes having a one or two person committee ("a Gavaskar for example") to do the job.

Modi points out the fact that the BCCI being the richest cricket body in the world and responsible for generating tremendous amounts of revenue for the ICC in particular, and the sport of cricket in general, fails to assert itself on the world stage. He cringes at the fact that the BCCI does not have a proper website, symbolizing a lack of profesionalism and transparency.

Many have pointed out these issues and indeed very simple solutions exist to solve these. The point to be made, is that, we now have a person with similar thoughts and ideas and a desire for action in a place of power. Modi fought a long battle to gain the presidency of the Rajasthan Cricket Association against a Dalmiya-backed incumbent of 33 years. He then vociferously held
up against the TV rights issue. Now that he is in a place where he can change things, he has a lot resting upon his shoulders.

With the vanishing of Ganguly's aura of invincibility and Dalmiya's omnipotence (and indeed a new 'academically sound' captain and a coach) one wonders if this really is the dawn of a new era in Indian cricket. However I find it necessary to put on record, my gratitude towards Ganguly and Dalmiya, for taking Indian criket on the front foot. There were a lot of positive things that
the duo gave to Indian cricket, which lent us some respectability on the world stage. However, in analogy with the timing of John Wright's departure, this is the right time for the changover of guard on the national scene.

And Lalit Modi, with a fresh infusion of ideas seems be the right man for the job.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Birth of a Question.

As the figures roll us by,
To get us drunk - and keep us high,
In spirits of the work that's done,
And in stead, for years to come,
There are a few things that spring to mind,
Puzzles and riddles of another kind.

What's the day but a number's cry,
Birth's farewell, Death's secret spy.
Or are the moments some brownie points -
For the years ahead with creaking joints

Or perhaps, just a little tap
To run us harder, to bridge the gap
Just a gentle wish, to live-it-up
And to fill the day with a happy cup

Or even perhaps a jolt from time,
That today's dollar will be worth a dime,
But the day, today, is nothing more,
Or better and fuller than the one before

Easy it is, for me to ask,
So set yourself this simple task
The day today, when tomorrow gets
See yourself what it forgets

And that is where the answer lies -
Buried deep beneath,
Those "Happy Birthday!" cries.

-Abhishek

Friday, November 25, 2005

George Best (1946 - 2005)

One of the greatest there ever was - May your soul rest in peace.

Details.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

EUROPEAN FILM FESTIVAL

special crossStyx Spotlight

Where - National Film Archives of India (NFAI), Law College Rd.,Pune.
When - 1st to 7th December
Entry : Free, First Come First Serve.

Schedule :
1st Dec. : Hotel Rwanda (UK)
2nd Dec. : Enduring Love (UK)
3rd Dec. : Samia (FRA)
4th Dec. : Mitr - My Friend (IND)
5th Dec. : Kannathil Muthumittal -The Peck on the Cheek (IND)
6th Dec. : Aprilkinder - The April Children (GER)
7th Dec. Gegen Die Wand - Head On (GER)

All films : 6:30 PM except Mitr: 8 PM.

Comments :

I don't thing this festival is much publicized, but the films look promising. Hotel Rwanda is a film I've heard a lot about. Also I haen't ever watched a Mani Rathnam in Tamil. So really want to watch Kannathil Muthumittal. So if you're in town, or don't have exams(like me), or don't have anything better to do, then this should be really good. I'll try an catch at least a couple of films.

Oh, and for more info you can call NFAI at : +91-20-2565 8253.

Cheers,

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Of two people and two papers . . .

Today's Sunday pull-out of both The Maharastra Herald(MH) (run by the Sakal group and not to be confused with The Herald, or the Deccan Herald) and The Times of India would make an excellent case study about the nature and content of the two newspapers.

The colour supplement along with The Sunday Times today, which might have been read by many, features Vikram Seth - fresh after a release of a new book. The much famous, the much in-the-limelight and definitely one of the most cherished sons of the Indian literary fraternity. The piece is poetic and languid, and carefully crafted. It's breaking at the barriers of scaling literary ladders while describing the subject at hand. Seth - with his bisexuality, a caring family and numerous best-sellers would be an interviewer's delight - and an editor's cover page target. And so as all the equations churn out the right munbers, Seth makes it to the front page. A few weeks after the release, his book needs another gentle push on the swing, to keep the stone rolling, to keep the publishers happy. And so Seth smiles, he gives off a few snippets and anecdotes from here and there - and thus is fixed another peg in his marketing campaign. Of course, the papers love it. Seth is after all - glossy, magazine material.

The MH carries a article about Ruskin Bond. The pages are not glossy. Colour is barely used, with a sketch used instead of a photograph. The piece wanders. Pulling Bond's leg about his technological naïveté. Mistaking the mobile phone for a TV remote - his dusty old typewriter and even his routine domestic problems with the LPG connection. The piece articulates his commonness, his simple style of writing and the reactions of a sleepy town to it's most remarkable inhabitant. There are a few worldy references about Vishal Bharadwaj's much-acclaimed movie version of Bond's book - The Blue Umbrella , and also to Bond's reactions to a previous adaptation - Junoon. A courte formal Q&A interview about his writing and a vivid description of the life he is leading. The article is rooted in it's affection for everything simple. Almost a Gandhian love for Bond's small idiosyncrasies. The piece overall is a synechdoche for the values of the paper in general. Common people, common values and a simple, lucid style.

I must say that I enjoyed reading both the pieces, In the Humble Author's Garden (Nona Walia, Vikram Seth) and Ruskin Naturally (Malini Nair, Ruskin Bond) with an equal, eager interest. However the point being made is about the sensibilities of the two papers - one highly tuned into the stream of trends, circles of wealth and power, fashion and currency and the like - while another is strongly rooted, going about, making a niche, documenting simple, day-to-day, matters-to-the-common man news.

Is there is still hope that a newspaper might emerge, with no keep-advertisers-happy compulsions, in-tune with the haute couture as well as with the hoi polloi. Not an unbiased newspaper - because bland, off the lip reporting would be unpalatable - but a paper that takes a stand, argues for it and hears out it's opponents. What is need is a reader sensitive newspaper, and I, at least in Pune, don't have one.

(PS : The lack of such a newspaper makes it easy for me to conclude, without any further research, that the existing print media industry is controlled, if not fully at least partly by a some setup of external 'string' controls. Experts in this field are free to point out the exact details. )

Cheers,

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Schizophrenics No More !

Ok, we are now officially COEPians. A new board(boards?) has been put up and tomorrow there is a programme to annnounce this formally. The Maharashtra Herald readers might have read this already. Since most of my fellow students are on their bi-annual pre-exam hibernation break, I though this place would be a good place to tell all. Also I intend to rub the smiles off some of my seniors' faces, who separated themselves, under the name guise. So, you, you and particularly you - alteast I will graduate from a college with the same name as you all.

Also here are a few snippets from today's papers.

Lila Poonawala (Alumnus and one of the main campaigners for the name restoration)

On Thursday, I would again enter 'my' college. PIET sounded very alien. I was at the forefront of the alumni agitation for the restoration of the original name. I had persued the matter upto the CM..."


R Vasudevan(of Vascon Engineers)

"There is sense in restoring the original name. Industries are spending billions on building brand names and. So there was no sense in losing a brand name that has built up over a 100 years..."


So from tomorrow we all will be proudly COEPians again.

However there is a catch.

The official name reads : 'P.I.E.T 's COEP' -

So if you were worried about sanity prevailing, don't. Tell everyone, everything is as mad as ever.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Long and umm.. Short of Aussie Soccer

UPDATE : Australia have defeated Uruguay in Sydney via penalties.Read match report here.


First the updates : Australia and Uruguay meet tomorrow in Sydney in the second leg of the play-offs for the World Cup in Germany next year. Australia lost the first leg away in Montevideo 0-1. So like every WC, they face the uphill task of beating twice champions Uruguay at home.

Now the pathetic state of Aussie soccer :

Oceania(the group from which Australia comes) does not have a direct entry into the World Cup. The winners of Oceania play against the 5th team in South America for a place in the WC. Every year Australia thrashes all the stupid teams like Fiji, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand and proclaims itself the king of Oceania. Then it promptly goes and gets it's ass kicked by some South American team.

This time around their coach is Guus Hiddink, who one might remember from his exploits with South Korea at WC 2002. Also one report suggests that the match was a close one, so is it that not everything it lost ? Maybe. But considering the resources and player quality - the Socceroos should have qualified for atleast one world cup.

The A - League :

The Aussie local league, the A League is basically concentrated around the major cities. There is a wide disparity between the teams on either coast, with only one team from Perth participating. Some teams from around that area play in south-east Asian leagues simply because it's cheaper and nearer. The erstwhile National Soccer League could not be termed to be very competitive and had to be revamped into the A-League much like America's shift to the new system. There is also a inability to attract foreign players in the league, keep good local talent to help the newer generation and equally a lack in top-class quality. One exception could be Dwight Yorke, who seems to love the Fosterous life in Oz-land. He's currently playing for Sydney FC(IIRC).

The Players

Australia has produced extremely good players, those who can compete on the national level, at least recently. Some names playing in Europe include Tim Cahill(Everton),Mark Schwarzer(Middlesborough), Mark Viduka(Middlesborough) and John Aloisi(Alaves). An important name not taken is that of Harry Kewell(who probably became the first Aussie to win the Champions League), because of his friction with the Aussie Football Federation, and his subsequent retirement from international football.

The Future:

The Australian Football Federation has taken an extremely significant and important decision by deciding to be a member of the Asian group, thereby having to qualify along with the likes of Japan and South Korea. This should ensure that a)they play more regularly against better opponents and b)that their chances of qualification grow manifold. However it's bad news for Asian teams like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and China who had an extremely good chance of qualifying. Asia has 4 slots, and now with 3 being clearly taken, there remains only one spot to keep fighting for.

Tomorrow's Game

Uruguay are a tough tough side to beat. With the likes of Alvaro Recoba(Inter Milan) and apple-of-everyone's-eye Diego Forlan(Villareal) along with Dario Silva, Marcelo Zalayeta and company I personally don't think the Aussies will be able to do it. Also a world cup without the Uruaguan team would be take some of the shine off Germany '06.

However in 4 years time at South Africa, if the Socceroos qualify then that could be start of the rise of a new power in world football. The American already have achieved much and the copy-americans that they are, don't expect the Aussies to lag behind. Also the talk of Australia hosting the WC in the future could materialize if this happens, which could prove a catalyst for this process.

Till then, the average Aussie will have to be content paying 25 bucks an hour to the beer-fetching bikini-clad model, as he watches Gilly pelt Pollock and company to all four corners of the MCG.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

My Favourite Columnist

Here's Robbo is a longer-than-usual treat.

Last week he called American Sports - "freak sports". Responding to a disgruntled reader he writes -

Look, the Americans won't win anything as long as they're playing a game where draws are OK. They cannot stand drawing. Finishing a game, shaking hands, saying that was all right and going for a pint. They can't do it. It's not in their mentality.


David Seaman recently go rid of his much criticized pony tail (that being the most criticized hairdo after Pietersen's peacock shock-locks). Everyone's happy and maybe that was the reason he could't jump well enough.(Ronaldinho anyone ?).

And when someone said Robbo thought cricket was better than sliced bread, you know Robbo can write about more than cricket.

And frankly sliced bread isn't that great. I don't know about you but I prefer a nice uncut floury bloomer, which you can cut into any size you like. Sliced bread is a much overrated invention if you ask me.


And previewing the England Argentina 'friendly' Robbo wrote :(responding to Crespo's comments about playing with knives in the mouth)

Well if they come out with swords, we'll come out with...pens

What we can also do with the pens is use them to write '1-0 World Cup 2002' on the back of their shirts so they've still got a reminder when they leave the pitch.


And if you haven't had enough - Read the full thing.

Cheers,

Damn!

Missed this. So much for being a true-blue fan.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Hey you ! What's with the poppies?


Not many people could have forgotten the scene in Mangal Pandey where Toby Stevens tells the British lady, in presence of all the officers about the opium wars and the about the British coercing the Indian farmers into growing poppies. The Englishman's fascination with poppies indeed goes a long way.

When Aussie journalist Edward George Honey suggested the 'moment of silence concept' as we know it to mark Armistice day, another interesting tradition sprung up - Wearing a poppy on your sleeve. So every year as it nears the 11th of November all the Englishman (Aussie and Canadians too) turn out in their best Sunday coats with a bright red poppy planted to it.So everybody, from Alex Ferguson to Tony Blair and from the creme de la creme to the hoi polloi, is parading their bright, red poppy. I also remember the poppy making an appearance in many a classical British Detective Series. In Sherlock Holmes too methinks?

Shouldn't we guys in India do something too. What about all wearing Gandhi topis on Oct.2 ? That would be fun!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Prisoner's Dilemma

He hurried long the road. "Maps are good" he thought. He hadn't been in this quarter of town before. Hell, he didn't even have time to observe the silent surrender of the night dew to the already boggy earth. His eyes sighed, a good opportunity missed. But it was not everyday that you had rescue your girlfriend from the Melgrinthians. And now, was definitely a bad time for unaimed, unsolicited musings. Look at the map. "Next left turn". Sure? Yes.

There it was in front of him. The huge floating tower of the Werlocks. Time left : 25 dits. Lots of time to go and get a slimy key. But not nearly enough when you had to beat the guards, slash some Werlock necks and then search over 20,000 gidders of neatly arranged lockers. Wow! 20,000 gidders! That would have bought a lot of Melgrinthian counties, a gild for every locker. He took a deep breath. Pictured her in his mind. Checked for his wand. Right! Lets go.

The next 20 dits went off in a flash. He could barely remember what all had happened. A lot of Werlock blood had flowed, for sure. Anyway, he had made it to the passage to the Chamber of Tirkamati, the abode of the key, the only thing that
could get back his beloved _____. The key in your hand, and _______ was free. One small problem Mr. 20,000 gidders, only 5 dits and one key. He had to try.

He pushed open the door. In front was the largest idol of Tirkamati that could be found anywhere on the whole of Aeqia. And to the left and the right were what looked initially like a massive wall of segmented steel. He looked at the heavens. The timekeeper indicated 4 dits remaining. He decided there was no time to lose.He decided to start from the left. He proceeded to mount the hoverator placed near the idol. The 6th row from the top would be a good place to start. A 1000 lockers a dit would mean he could cover only 1 in 50000 of all the lockers. He had to try. The hoverator took him up a 100 feet and he started from he right end. A quick glance at the Keeper and he opened it. There it was! A shiny golden key - Staring at him.

Harsh stared into nothing. He hoped option A was correct.

"Lock kiya jaaye!"

Monday, November 07, 2005

For quizzer's sake !

The ruling FRELIMO Party of Mozambique has decided to redesign it's flag - most famous for the AK 47 and Red Star. The committee to redesign this flag includes an architect and former public works minister along with a painter and a writer. Also a design competition has been launched and the committee is currently studying proposals for a new design.

When the constitution was amended recently, an additional rule necessitating a change in the flag was passed. However, now that the time for actual change has come, there is a widespread opposition to the move. The opposition RENAMO party, has fought tooth and nail against the move. Curiously enough it was RENAMO which was one of the major benificiaries of the SA support. They say the gun represents the nation's triumph over the South-african sponsored factions which caused long drawn out civil war. Infact a leader was quoted as saying "If the star represents communism then the US would be the most communist state in the world."

Though the move seems a logical move and the FRELIMO party seems pretty set to ring in the change, following generations of quizzers would lose a piece of flag trivia, that was very dear to me, atleast.

Read this excellent full report.

Cheers,

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

League Quiz - November Edition

Me and a friend are doing a quiz as a part of the Pune Quizzing League. The details are as follows :

1. Scope : General / Trivia
2. Date : 5th November, 2005
3. Day : Saturday
4. Place : Persistent Systems Pvt. Ltd.,
Senapati Bapat Rd. Pune.
5. Time : 4 : 30 PM
6. Teams of 2 / open for all

You can check out the interactive map and sample quiz.

Make it there if possible. Promises to be a lot of fun.

Cheers,