Random Thoughts, Cricket, Movies, Music ...



Friday, March 31, 2006

Diego Maradona at his best

I am not a great soccer fan (mainly because I cannot play it well :)) but I am huge fan of Maradona and his amazing control over the ball. Watch this montage and look at the way he manages to control the ball - truly amazing.



Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Message from a friend

Here is a message from my friend Asim Suter - it is amazing what Avijit Chakraborty is trying to achieve. Please do read and see if you can help in any way:

==================================

Dear Friends,

Please read this article

"Avijit Chakraborty, 35, started his journey late last March and plans to visit 62 countries and bike 64,000 kilometers by November". Chakraborty is 7,850 kilometers and 25 countries toward his goal and leaves behind his wife, Arundhati, and 4-year-old daughter, Ahana. (more...) He has already circumnavigated the world once in 1999-2000 on bicycle. This
is his second time (more...).

Right now as I type this person is headed for San Jose enroute LA to Mexico from Seattle.I came to know about him from a friend of mine in Seattle today only. He needs a few things to continue:

1) Shelter in San Jose for few days - he needs to get visas done in SF - [That’s mine :-) He'll be staying with us as long he can, time is precious for him, he is targetting the Guinness Record ]

2) Funds - He is self sponsored and has sustained on charity so far. He has been supporting himself by staying the nights at police stations or temples/gurdwaras..or a tent that he carries with him [ what I judged from talking to him is that he needs as much as possible - he still has a long way to go ]

3) Press coverage.[ What does it take to get a coverage in San Jose Mercury News or SF Chronicle ? ]

4) If you have friends who can help him in LA and beyond ( Mexico and South America)Please let me know if you can help with ideas and/or money.

If you can help by donating money please contact me. I'll personally collect it and hand over to him When he is in San Jose. He is expected to be in San Jose sometime around April 05/06.

-Thanks
Asim Suter
408-8025930 ( Cell and OK to call anytime sane)
asimsuter@hotmail.com
asuter@cisco.com


==============================

Monday, March 27, 2006

Seth Godin Video

Here is a nice video of Seth Godin speaking at Googleplex - it deals with the Internet marketing strategies at Google and he also talks about his latest book - "All Marketers are Liars" !

Enjoy!
Thyaga

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Visit to the Cache Creek Resort & Casino

Yesterday, we went to the Cache Creek Resort & Casino at Brooks, CA. Firstly, the feeling that we were going to visit a place after so many days itself was reason enough to get us excited. Secondly, the drive to the resort was actually quite beautiful - the road took us through lush green mountains and vineyards and all this made us feel even more relaxed.

Cache Creek is an interesting combination of luxury hotel and winery and resort and casino. In short, it has everything that one needs for a relaxing time. Anyway, we went in and then first had lunch at a Chinese restaurant inside the resort. We were hungry and probably, that was one reason why the food felt tastier than it was :). Anyway, after that we decided to try our luck at the casino. We played slot-machines, more slot machines and finally tried our hand at the black-jack table. The summary of the casino trip was that we ended up losing $60 once again re-emphasizing the fact that the house always win :)

On the way back, we met up with Chetan at Sacramento, had a pretty decent bhaat and then came back home. All in all, it was a good trip - we had a good time (although we lost money :( ). So, if you are in the Bay Area and looking for a weekend getaway, do pencil in Cache Creek Resort - its not as grandeur as Las Vegas but definitely it is worth a visit.

Cheers,
Thyaga

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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Thailand & Malaysia - the next homes for Bollywood

Have you noticed how many movies get made in South-East Asia nowadays - with Thailand and Malaysia leading the pack. The trend seems to have picked up steam ever since the release of Mahesh Bhatt produced Murder, which was exclusively made there. Now, every 3rd or 4th movie that we watch is either made there or has them as the "outdoor" shooting venues - e.g. Murder, Ek Ajnabi, Family, _most_Mahesh_Bhatt_movies etc. Only the elite few such as Yash Chopra still prefer Switzerland for its locales and romanticism.

One possible reason for this trend is the increase in low-budget, decent story, racy thrillers in Bollywood (Ek Ajnabi, Zeher, Kalyug). Gone are the times when film-makers took years to make movies. In this day and age, the producers want a quick bang for their buck and that is what Thailand and Malaysia provide them with. Excellent locales, efficient crew and most importantly, privacy to work without being mobbed by the crowd. No wonder, the producers and directors love it.

Be prepared to see more and more of these places in the coming movies. Don't complain because I have already warned you :).

-- Thyaga

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Friday, March 24, 2006

The callto:// syntax

Yesterday, I discovered something quite funky. Just like <a href="mailto://" is the syntax for invoking a mail application from the Web page, it seems you can do the same for invoking a Skype call and also Yahoo Messenger from the Web Page.

So, if you want to Skype me, then you click on this

If you want to Yahoo! IM me, then you click on this

Pretty nifty, eh?

Cheers,
Thyaga

Thursday, March 23, 2006

End of the Winter Quarter

The Winter Quarter came to an end yesterday and boy!, this Quarter was indeed really tough. Actually, we didn't realize it untill it was too late. I really do not know how we spent the last 2 weeks of this Quarter - I always felt that there was always more things to do and less time on hand. Here is a sample itenary :)
  1. Friday Night - Preparing for the "special" Class on Saturday for the Social Entrepreneurship class
  2. Saturday - Spent 8 hours attending the class
  3. Saturday evening - started the actual study for the Finance exam on Monday
  4. Sunday - studying for the Fianance exam on Monday
  5. Monday - Finance exam
  6. Tuesday - preparing the 2 page write-up for the Marketing critique paper
  7. Wednesday - Marketing case presentations and critique paper presentation
  8. Thursday - head is swirling like a bazooka! :)

Some things don't come easy in life :) - anyway, it is over and so, we are just going to chill out. Oh yes, did I say that we have 2 papers due next Thursday as well :) - but that seems so far away - ha ha.

-- Thyaga

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Interesting Course about Social Entrepreneurship

Last Saturday, I attended an interesting course at SCU - this was about Entrepreneurship in a social context. The premise of the course is that market in the developed countries are saturating and so companies need to look out at different countries and different markets to continue growing. The biggest opportunity lies, according to the study, at the "bottom of the pyramid". Developing countries such as China and India have such huge potential that companies must look at innovative ways to sell their products in such markets - they should include how to manage capital resources effectively, how to manage local resources and most importantly, how they can benefit the society of these developing nations along the way.

In the end, you need to nominate one company, whom you think is using innovative technology to benefit society in these developing countries and also is profitable. I am planning to nominate "Dhristee" (http://www.drishtee.com) because I believe that they are doing something very very unique indeed. Incorporated in August 2000, Dhristee seeks to mark a paradigmatic shift in the delivery of services to rural India by serving villagers directly instead of intermediaries, through the use of services enabled Kiosk franchises. The local Kiosk owners may also provide additional customized services to the surrounding villages such as ICT training, regional job postings and even matrimonial services, while the entire network is increasingly utilized as an outlet for commercial services such as insurance, education, and agri-services. Drishtee’s web-based software facilitates transactions and communication within a secure localized intranet between villages and a district center.

So, if you think about it, the benefits are huge -the Kiosk Owner gets a sustained income after a short span of time, hard work and absolute dedication. The community benefits because on an average a villager saves eight times the money that he spends on services using the Kiosk. The Government benefits because transparent functioning implies less corruption. Corporations such as health care, insurance etc can now have an excellent reach at minimum cost. Within a span of approximately six years Drishtee has not only been able to create, but also sustain and scale up a diverse network of revenue earning Internet kiosks within Indian villages.

Along the way, I also came upon a site http://www.nextbillion.net that acts as a database of companies doing such pioneering and innovative work. Do you know of anything similar? - leave me a note.

Cheers,
Thyaga

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Audio Blog ... after a long time

this is an audio post - click to play

That ain't cricket, Mr. Pawar

I was going through the cricket itenary of the Indian cricket team for the India-England series and one thing struck me that was quite apparent. The test matches are being held in Nagpur, Mohali and Mumbai. The one-dayers are being held at Jaipur, Delhi, Faridabad, Goa, Cochin, Guwahati, Jamshedpur and Indore. What does this tells you?

This tells you that the matches are being allocated not on the basis of a rotational policy but by a simple policy of "who favors whom". Nagpur and Mumbai are obviously Pawar's home grounds and so, that is simple to understand. The others, if you think a bit, is not so difficult to understand either. Mohali is IS Bindra's home ground - IS Bindra is the man who was so against Jagmohan Dalmia and so, naturally, he is a Sharad Pawar pacifier. Jaipur, Delhi, Faridabad are all boards who have some strong representation in the current cricketing board. Lalit Modi, the BCCI's powerful spokesperson hails from Rajasthan. Of course, the southern and eastern states have got some matches but that is primarily to keep them happy.

Interesting eh? - anyway, in whichever ground India plays - I need to see only 1 result - that they should win and that too win convincingly.

-- Thyaga

Pixel Advertising

I came to know of an interesting advertising trend called "Pixel Advertising" - it is similar to a hoarding that you see on the streets excepting that it is on the Web. Also, you need to buy space by the pixels. Check this article out - an Indian has set up a site where you can buy your pixels and make your millions :).

-- Thyaga

Friday, March 10, 2006

Where is this?


Look at the photo above and guess where is this place? - cottages nestled in the foothills of snow-capped mountains, this could be anywhere in the Himalayas in Shimla or Darjeeling or somewhere in Switzerland or probably in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. If you have all had your guesses, then let me tell you that this photograph is taken from the bed-room window of my home ! But yes, the description still stands justified - HOME is indeed heavenly.

Home is where the heart is - so true!

Cheers,
Thyaga

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Cricinfo's new scorcard

Have you checked Cricinfo's new scorecard? They have been trying to deploy it slowly and surely for the different matches and i think they might have got it wrong this time. I have been a huge fan of Cricinfo and the amount of information that it dishes out to cricket-hungry fans such as me. But this scorecard has left me quite disappointed. Some of the problems are:
  1. In the previous scorecard, you could look at the Full Scorecard at the top and clearly say who won the toss, what is the match number, who is the umpire, MOM, MOS etc. Now, you have to scroll all the way to the bottom to see most of this information.
  2. In the previous Full Scorecard, you could clearly see who are the debutants in a specific match - in the new one, it does not even list it. That is not cool at all.
  3. Also, the Main Scorecard is also not clear - it does not bring out the action in front of our eyes - something that the previous version used to do.

It is possible that I am biased towards the old scorecard - but having thought about it for a while, I really feel that they might have got this one wrong.

Anyway, as long as they keep offering this service, there isn't much to complain :)

Cheers,

Thyaga

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Google CL2 Calendar ?

A recent report at WSJ reveals that the Google is getting ready with its Calendar software - another indication that it is trying to compete head-on with Microsoft. Not surprisingly, this was found out by a Blogger, who was snooping around on the Gmail links.

Interesting indeed.

-- Thyaga

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

B-school Surveys

In the past week, I have been flooded with friends and peers attending different classes at B-Schools asking me to fill-in surveys. Having done these surveys myself, I know how important it is to get as much data as possible. I am just posting these to my Blog - take whichever ones you want to take and do a good deed by helping out struggling students :).

  1. Survey on Digital Recording Services
  2. Survey on Shaving Products
  3. Survey on SUV perceptions
  4. Survey on Alcohol Preferences
  5. Survey on Hybrid Cars
  6. Survey on Radios
Thanks for helping out.

Thyaga

Friday, March 03, 2006

India Pakistan Under 19 World Cup Video

If you thought that Under 19 cricket is not interesting, then watch this video of the Under 19 World Cup finals between India and Pakistan - you will feel the same kind of excitement in a normal India-Pakistan match. FYI, India bundled out Pakistan for 110 and then Pakistan bundled out India for 71 to retain the trophy. Piyush Chawla was the redeeming factor for India claiming 4 wickets and also top-scoring with 24. For Pakistan, Anwar Ali took 5 wickets.

The best part of this video is that it gives you a glimpse into the future. Already Piyush Chawla has been selected into the India team - I am sure few more will follow. As for Pakistan, I cannot understand how they keep producing such wonderful fast bowlers - they all seem to have amazing control on pace and swing. It is really heady stuff.

-- Thyaga

Pictures from the Elevator Pitch Contest - Santa Clara University

Enjoy these pictures from my B-school's Elevator Pitch Contest.

Cheers,
Thyaga

Commentators on Sky Sports

I have been watching the cricket telecast on the web, thanks to Sky Sports. The commentators signed up by Sky Sports are an interesting mix of people - some good and some really bad.

(1). Dean Jones and Nasser Hussain *****
Excellent commentators who concentrate on the game rather on their own individual biases. Nasser espcially has impressed me with his shrewd and strategic thinking. I always knew that he was a thinking captain but to let the viewers an insight into his view points has been an absolute treat. Dino of course is wonderful to hear because he makes you enjoy the cricket even if nothing interesting is going on in the field.

(2). Ian Botham ****
Good commentator - however, he doesn't provide too much of analysis and strategy. But he speaks well and keeps his English team bias to a minimum, but it does leak out on and off.

(3). David Gower and L.Sivaramakrishnan ***
David Gower has this penchant to show all things English is very good and all things (including groundstaff, fieldsmen, field, pitch etc) Indian very bad and that is what pisses me off. He is of course heavily biased towards England. Sivaramakrishnan, on the other hand, normally has an unbiased view, which is of course very good. But I have been disappointed with his analytics of the game. Being a good leg-spinner himself, he doesn't analyze some things such as why Kumble is not getting wickets, why Kumble is getting bounce etc - things which will excite the user and help us learn the game more.

(4). Jawagal Srinath **
His plus point is that he just shoots from the hip. But that is his weakness as well. It is good to say what you have in mind but it should make sense in the context of the game. Also, his bias towards his Karnataka team mates - Dravid and Kumble - is understandable but why go overboard especially when India is having a tough time. He should have the nerve to tell that Indians are not performing upto expectations and that better performance is necessary. He seriously needs to improve his grammar as well - really, he has been a disappointment.

Keep listening :).

-- Thyaga

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Some Movie reviews

Over the past couple of weeks, we saw a few Hindi movies - some of them were excellent and some not so good. Here is the list:

15 Park Avenue *** (Review)

Coming from Aparna Sen, the director of Mr. and Mrs. Iyer, I had expected this movie to be another edge of your seat gripping drama. Instead, this is a movie which delves into the psyche of a human being, harping on the differences between reality and delusion. Konkona Sen Sharma, plays the role of a person suffering from schizophrenia and the situation gets worse when her fiance dumps her and leaves her. It is a good story but it is a little heavy though - the ending is also a little open-ended and open to interpretations.

Shikhar *** (Review)

Coming from John Mattan, the director of Sarfarosh, I was expecting another thriller because the story and the trailers gave the impression that the movie was similar to Wall Street (Michael Douglas). But actually the movie is quite different. Ajay Devgan plays the role of a businessman real estate developer (capitalist view) who will stop at nothing to get a plot of land to build his "dream city". Initially, Shahid Kapoor, who plays the role of the son of a socialist father, falls for this dream and then realizes his folly and in the end outsmarts Devgan. The movie has its moments but it is not in the same league as Sarfarosh.

Rang De Basanti ***** (Review)

One of the best films that I have ever seen. This Aamir Khan starrer, brilliantly directed by Rakesh Mehra (Aks), tells the tale of 5 college guys who believe that nothing can happen for the good of India but a series of incidents and events lead them to perform acts of heroism and patriotism. A magnificient movie which definitely the youth of India will identify - it is very inspirational. A MUST-SEE !!!

Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara **** (Review)

Exerpt from the review:

===
What is Alzheimer's? Dementia? Schizophrenia? Scientific definitions offered are plenty, but the root cause of this sickness is much more deep-rooted than it appears. That's what makes Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara such a superbly multilayered presentation.

Director Jahnu Barua shows us various facets of the tragedy. He explores the fear and uncertainty that a victim of this disease goes through. At the same time, he doesn't ignore the trauma and helplessness of a daughter fighting a losing battle or the cowardly attitude of the young brother who doesn't want to take responsibility and wants to send his father to a mental institution. The filmmaker shows a family dealing with an unusual situation without being judgemental about any of its characters.
===

In short - this is a wonderful film, although a bit slow-paced. Anupam Kher is just brilliant - reminds you of the Saraansh days and Urmila Mataondkar is also splendid.

Ek Ajnabi ** (Review)

A complete remake of the Denzel Washington starrer, "Man on Fire", this Apoorva Lakhia (Mumbai Se Aaya Mera Dost) starrer is a complete waste. The first half has its interesting moments with Big B showing his acting prowess in a subdued role of a driver/body-guard for a girl belonging to an Indian family in Thailand. Just when you begin to think that the movie is going to gather pace in the 2nd half, the director actually loses grip on it and it meanders off with unnecessary fights and arguments. In the end, you leave with a bad taste in your mouth. It could have been much better than what was shown.


Hope the reviews are useful. Leave a note with your comments or suggestions and whether you had any other view points about any of the movies.

Cheers,
Thyaga

Finance Blog

A friend of mine, Hoimonti recently started a Blog about FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) Finance. This has tons of stuff about personal finance and hopefully, will help us all to retire early:). Anyway, here is the link to the Blog.
Cheers,
Thyaga
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