Archive for September, 2007

Cool stop motion animation

September 30, 2007

Now, the title of my blog is a direct inspiration from the animation technique – Stop Motion. Here is one cool stop motion animation.

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NY Times Presidential Debate – Transcript Analyzer

September 28, 2007

Transcript Analyzer

Yesterday, I happened to see the debate of the Democratic presidential candidates, and was amazed at the presentation mechanism of this debate. The above page has a video of the entire debate, and the first thing you notice whenever you start watching an online video is…, yes, the total length. And I was promptly disappointed, because the debate was over 100 minutes long. Now, I don’t have that kind of a time, even for a presidential debate.

And then, I looked at the other parts of the screen and was thrilled. The second column is the actual transcript for the video. And a third column lists the major points or agenda in the debate. So I can very quickly scan the transcript of the current topic and skip sections I am not interested in. Or, I can jump an entire topic and go to the next topic. I thought, “Wow! This is great! What a nice way to watch video! Just like my DVR, perhaps even better because I can scan at the items coming next in the video!”

But wait, the amazement didn’t stop there. They also have something called a transcript analyzer, for people with even little time. This list presents you with the number of words spoken by each debator, and also marks each passage when you scroll over each candidate. You can also enter a few words – like Syria, for instance – and find matches for your text inside each candidates transcript.

Now, that’s a killer app, right there.

Apple storage technology at University of Cincinnati’s UCFileSpace

September 27, 2007

Apple (AAPL) had a hot news item yesterday about University of Cincinnati, from where I discovered UCFileSpace. UCFileSpace is an online file storage system for the students and faculty at University of Cincinnati. It is built completely on Apple technology, and uses Xserve servers and Xsan. Xsan can provide storage of upto 2PB (2 petabytes).

During my days at UC, the Iomega Zip Drive (with its 100MB capacity) was the de facto standard for data storage. Then, the 100MB space looked like humongous space, and I think I might have had two of those zip drives during my entire life at UC. And to compare, UCFileSpace comes with a default capacity of 1GB per user.

UCFileSpace also serves as the storage for user websites (available as homepages.uc.edu/~username). But the neat thing is, it also comes with shell access.

Now, that’s a coach…

September 25, 2007

Take a look at this coach’s tirade against a news reporter. After I saw the video, I *had* to see the news article in question, and undoubtedly it is of poor taste. However, the point is, this coach is one that is worth playing for…

Quicksilver in real life

September 24, 2007

Of all the apps I use in my laptop, one that I can absolutely not live without (love those double negatives) is Quicksilver. I simply cannot use my laptop without this tool running. Anyways, I found this great footage about Quicksilver in real life. You need to have experienced some Quicksilver magic to fully appreciate this video.

Quicksilver in Real Life from Matt McInerney on Vimeo.

India Unbound – Gurcharan Das

September 22, 2007

India Unbound

This is a book that I picked up at random during one of my vacations back to India, but couldn’t put down after I started reading. Gurcharan Das is a former CEO of Procter & Gamble India, and this is one of the main reasons I even laid my hands on the book. P&G is headquartered in Cincinnati, you see.

The book emphatically presents the problems and failure of Nehruvian Socialism and the positive effects of globalisation initiated by the Narasimha Rao government. The book does sound a little bit one-sided at some parts, mainly because Nehru’s vision did have some benefits for India – eduction reform which brought us such eminent schools like IIT and IIM, and a tightened national security policy. The entire concept of centralized planning, however, was a massive mistake and has been proved so wrong by the capitalistic forces of the past few decades.

The book is a very good read, if you are interested in the historical underpinnings of the Indian business immediately after the Indian Independence. The presentation is also very light and entertaining, and I haven’t come across an economic book that is such an easy read.

Never let me go – Kazuo Ishiguro

September 21, 2007

Never Let Me Go

Never let me go is a first person narrative by Kazuo Ishiguro, which happens to be my favorite method of story delivery. The book begins slowly, but suddenly turns so brutal – it is like waking you up on a early morning, slapping you hard and sprinkling your face with ice-cold water. What’s unique about this book is not the fact that you are now wide awake, but the fact that you might be wondering ‘Man! What a way to wake up?’.

The story begins in a quaint British countryside school in Hailsham, and is narrated by Kath. Throughout the novel, there is no mention of the time period during which the novel takes place, but once the story starts unfolding you become aware that the period is not really of much importance. The children in the school live their lives without any exposure to the outside world, and this is a continuing trend throughout the novel – the central characters are always detached from the external world. I think this is one of the most intriguing aspects of the book, as this characteristic alone makes you wonder about humanity, and what it really means.

Anyways, it is really hard to talk about the book without having to divulge any of its suspense. So I will stop right here, and let you enjoy it.

Smart Bookmarks – Firefox Add-on

September 21, 2007

SmartBookmarks

Firefox is my preferred browser for all the operating systems that I work with. One of the key differentiators for Firefox is its plugin mechanism, and I have found that only a few plugins can be classified in the can’t-live-without category. Firebug, Adblock Plus and All-in-one-gestures are a few among these.

Recently, I stumbled upon another neat add-on — Smart Bookmarks. I like things to be kept organized (at least in my computer), and so my bookmark tree is rather deep. And it used to be a pain to navigate to these bookmarks. (Of course, with Quicksilver I didn’t really have to, but it was nevertheless a pain in my office machine). Smart Bookmarks took all that pain away, in one single sweep.

This add-on really is an enhancement over the existing Bookmark Bar. Tt is not really possible to add more than a handful of bookmarks to the current Bookmark Bar, due to space constraints. The Smart Bookmarks bar, simply hides the Bookmark title, leaving you with just the website icon. And once you have a few nice bookmakrs, the browser gains a certain individuality that’s quite impressive to look at. Above is how it looks on my laptop. Sweet.

The Saxon Stories – Bernard Cornwell

September 17, 2007

I’ve always been a sucker to medieval war stories with battles on the sea, having been enthralled by the historic Tamil novels of Sandilyan. When I accidentally discovered ‘The Saxon Stories‘ by the popular English historic author Bernard Cornwell, I was hooked. So far, the author has released three books in the seven or eight book series.

The Last Kingdom The Pale Horseman The Lords of the North

 

The stories are set in the 9th century England (which coincides with the early Viking Age) with the The Viking Challenge and the Rise of Wessex as the backdrop. The anglo-saxons are lead by Alfred the Great, and the danes are mostly lead by small and big lords, some of whom are entirely fictional. The story is essentially a first person narrative, told by the Uhtred Ragnarson who is actually an ancestor of the author himself. It is apparent that a lot of research has gone into the books, as the lifestyle and customs of this period are vividly described. Even more thrilling is the description of the battles involving hand-to-hand combat with crude weapons.

Zeitgeist – The Movie

September 13, 2007

Zeitgeist [tsahyt-gahyst] -noun German : the spirit of the time; general trend of thought or feeling characteristic of a particular period of time.

Recently, I happened to watch Zeitgiest, The Movie. It is available completely free online. I cannot say that I was blown away, but it definitely piqued my interests in the ‘Federal Reserve System‘, ‘The Gold Standard‘, and also to an extent on the Christian beliefs on the origin of Jesus.

Although it lost a little of its charm for me because of its propagandist attitude, it still was a revelation.

Take a peek. You will be hooked!