Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sherlock Holmes (2009) - Movie Review

Vidit Bhargava
Rating: ****
Directed By: Guy Ritchie
Actors: Robert Dawney Jr. (Sherlock Holmes), Jude Law (Dr. Watson)
If you don't watch this one, you've certainly missed 130 minutes of entertainment. Ever seen Indian mystery movies? You actually sometimes know whats going to happen next. However, this movie bears the name of the famous detective novel and you always have your expectations high with such movies. Does it live up to the expectation? Can we perhaps, know whats in store for us?

The Plot: It's very simple, In the 19th century, Lord Blackwood(reminds me of Voldemort from the Potter Series) a dark magic performer is caught by Sherlock Holmes from the Scotland Yard and sentenced to death for committing 5 murders of innocent people. That's closed then but, but then this guy rises from the graves and starts killing more people. More dark magic is involved. Can Holmes unravel the secret as to how Lord Blackwood returned from the death bead?

Half the movie gone, you'll find yourself appreciating just the sets of medieval period, acting and Holmes' detective and action skills. You won't have the faintest of idea on what's going on. Holmes and Watson just move into hay wired shops with no connection. Its just good then, you're rooted to your seats, to not miss any action in the second half.

The sets as I told above are very good. The set up of the 19th century Britain is flawless. They are picture perfect. The old carriages, the tower bridge in construction, the pentonville prison, restaurants with lanterns and the whole practice of dark magic is well researched and well made.

But you hardly get time to appreciate that because Robert Dawney and Jude Law take most of the action in the screen. They add life to the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. I cannot dream of any other playing this character.

The screenplay is very well written, Sherlock Holmes' swift detective skills or the wonderful climax are just some parts of this well written mystery. You yourself try to solve the mystery with these people, there seams nothing possible for the climax but still when the climax comes you are left open mouthed.

The only possible problem with this movie is that you may end up using more brains than you intend to, so this one will not please the ones who love no brainers like De Dana Dan.

This is the first Sherlock Holmes movie I've ever watched, and I'm completely impressed. There is no flaw in this ingenious movie. This one is truly a must watch.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Adobe - Apple "Reportedly" fight

Vidit Bhargava
Now this is one is an old topic on my blog's news real, but it resurfaced again after, Steve Jobs "reportedly" went to WSJ and told flash a CPU HOG!

Now don't think I am just another Apple Fan (which I am not, I never really like any and everything they make for example Apple TV, I never really liked the idea). I just want my readers to know how much rumor is there on Internet these days.

Here are 3 reasons why all this is made up and non of it is true!
1. Proof? Neither do we have any proof that Apple actually opposed or condemned Flash. Neither do we have any proof of Adobe getting raged on Apple's comments.

Adobe's blog is always reported in any article of this Flash Vs. Apple fight. Adobe's Featured blog has just one paragraph on Apple in their blog (in the near past) which states Adobe is ready with the mobile version of Flash for Safari on iPhone OS. Now thats something we haven't heard since iPhone's launch. So is Flash in for the next version of the OS? Proof of the statement? here: Adobe's blog

2. No News! The CEO of the World's Most Secretive tech corp. enters WSJ office without any hype and bashes flash as a CPU Hog.

Further Kevin Lynch states in a blog post on Adobe's blog about MACS inability to run Flash!

Now WSJ would have of course covered this news on their site. Obvious isn't it. But look what happens when we search for Steve Jobs' news in the past few days: WSJ Site No News at all!

Kevin Lynch for a matter of fact hasn't blogged since 2007 on his blog, here: Kevin's blog and if u're looking for Adobe's blogpost on their official blog? Look in the first link.

3.Flash runs! Now in the first link, we also see the guy stated that Adobe supports creating apps in Flash for the iPhone. Surely, Apple wouldn't have done that if they wanted a fight with Adobe.

Flash ads are also seen running on iPhone a several times!

Now I don't want to form an Opinion on whether Flash is buggy. It falls in between, Its not the best but its good enough to beat its counterparts (Silver light). However, a few times I see Flash files crash and fail to load or sometimes the youtube video starts streaming from between also (This can be 'cos of my internet, though). And if Apple is looking for a counterpart to flash, it's hard to beat their market now.

Finally, I would keep my fingers crossed and hope for the flash to come on iPhone OS. Till then such sensationalized fights will "Reportedly" end after they got old and rotten!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Tale of Full Touch Screens

Vidit Bhargava
It came with the iPhone in the business phones category, now every single company in India produces these 'fancy' Smart Phones.

When the iPhone was announced in 2007, the first reviews were like..."Dude, Full Touch Screens? Where is my Keyboard?"..."No Stylus? You're Kidding right?"..."This will eventually prove to be the downfall of Apple"..."The software lacks some basic features, its just a fancy over hyped device"

The reviews had no base, and hence, proved to be wrong. However, this is not the point. The point is today we see 10s and 1000s of full touch screen devices flooding the market and all of them have almost similar taglines. They've all removed the Stylus from their backs. A new category of devices has come across which provides music and apps with the touch of a finger but do they have any quality which makes us buy them? Except the 'TASHAN' factor nothing impresses us, though.

What I'm trying to say is that today we a floury of devices, they get rave reviews from Tech Shows and become instant hits but are these devices any different from each other? We always get one or the same thing packed in different 'mobile OS', They provide us with grids of icons of applications on your home screen. The bottom of the screen is followed with one or two fancy keys, nothing else. No uniqueness in the mobile. Just the same old features.

The reason why these phones are like these is just because they're trend followers. Not the trend setters. Most companies today don't want to take the extra risk of providing some thing evidently new. I'm not saying every body should start re-inventing stuff but provide something which forces us to buy the device at the moment nothing does.

The E series from Nokia has got the same looks and features of a Blackberry of course though on Different OS. Corby, HTC Touch, etc... look more or less similar to each other in features as well as design.

The full touch devices neither provide healthy touch screens, nor do they give any thing new in the hands of the user. I find them all the same.

However, we must not forget to appreciate the silver lining in this cloud. We've at least got some people who think a little differently, Widgets and working widgets being added to the mobile phone where to me a very good step which is taken by many today. Also not to forget Android, Its quite unique in its way, every company can have their customized version of the OS. Thats absolutely awesome.

So my wish is we see something new. Something that doesn't come in any other phone. Something thought of and then made. Until then we have no use of the wide variety of the colorful fancy phones hanging on the Mobile Shop near you. iPhone rules this industry even now.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Notion Ink Adam - Just another tablet?

Vidit Bhargava
Yesterday's Times of India student edition said allowed "ADAM THE 'iPAD KILLER' MADE IN INDIA". First of all, I don't how will it kill the iPad, before its market release, I really don't know. Yet this product grabs a little more attention, it being made by Indians and running Android OS.

Notion Ink, made by six ex-IITians has designed this one, and the prototype we saw of it in CES 2010 is much different than the one we're seeing at the MWC 2010. Its a different design which now has a rotatable camera. So it makes up for the old badly made prototype. This one is fully functional too.

Equipment wise this device is highly equipped with some sort of power. 3 USB ports, 1 HDMI, Bluetooth + Wifi + 3G, Android, Ubuntu and Chromium OS, a Tegra processor from NVIDIA & a display that has ambient lighting. For once i'm convinced that this has something!

I'm dieing to have a hands on of this one. The software does mesmerize me, not the Android but the Ubuntu one, thats clearly a master stroke. You've also got USB ports, then there is an HDMI also and finally a rotating camera, Awesome!

The most unique part of it is the back track pad, we'll need to figure out how that thing works but as of now we know it works for the little links in browsers. For now it looks innovative!

We knew that India engineers and designers ere doing most of the innovative work at Microsoft, Intel, and Apple. We just needed to take the first step. - Rohan Shravan (Co-founder, Notion Ink, Adam)
Its just the beginning though, these guys have the potential to provide the world with some amazing products. This being one of their first product. Adam has every feel of a fully furnished and technically sound, utility based product. It won't act as a showcase of touch screen.

There are a few problems though, for example the immediate comparison to iPad, its immediate image as an iPad Killer, this dents the whole aim of this project. If you look at it from this angle, it looks like a device intended to copy iPad and add its own techniques to make one of its own & then trying to overpower the iPad with some promotion. First thing, we must know is that Apple is a company that has been in the world market for more than 30 years. The iPad will always be more commercially powerful than this one and for Adam it's very difficult to hamper many sales of iPad, even though its packed with goods.

Coming to the Processor, thats a SoC (System on Chip) from NVIDIA; 1GHz of Tegra 2 whose predecessors were used in Smartphones, Multi-media players etc. However, the NVIDIA site boasts about its capabilities with Tablets. We're yet to see that. So, if the Tegra is even slightly less powerful than A4 then it will have problems, problems with multi-tasking and thats what people won't like. Android however might not do multi-tasking but I can vouch for Ubuntu and Chromium doing that. While, if its above A4 (which too is capable of Multi-tasking*), this one will ease of doing the work.

With a 10.1 inch touch screen we'll have to see whether it does well or not. Remember, most phones have failed when compared to iPhone on the touch screen factor. Here also a full touch screen is provided and if this falls in the category of HTC touch screens it will drown. Just think of beating the screen every time you want to execute a program, its really going to be like beating your old computer to run faster. So thats where I want to see how it does as they've said their providing a capacitive screen with multi-touch possible. This point also goes against many other giants making tablet, remember HPs Slate. However, the hands on for Adam look good, it looks like their touch screens are at least better than the HTCs. No beating Apple this time!

As an Apple fan I was looking forward to buy the iPad but then this one came. Appealing though this product is, I'll still wait for the reviews and if its more aggressively priced than Apple's we can consider this one but for now it provides everything but it all needs to be tested and tried before I can personally buy one instead of iPad (which is releasing earlier than this one!)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

My Name is Khan - Review

Vidit Bhargava
Rating: ****
Every body keeps saying watch the movie. stars tweet that too. But is it even worth watching? Did every body just promoted the film or it wasn't needed for a film so good?

The Plot: Khan is determined to meet the president of US. He is on a journey and keeps writing in his diary. Also this is a love story but this time its much more sidelined than ever. I am not disclosing the plot in detail!

The first thought which came to my mind after watching its theatrical trailer was...Again?Didn't we have enough of 9/11. Thats gone surely, this ones another story with many sub-plots and 9/11 being one.

The acting is done excellently by Shah Rukh Khan and others. The dialogues are exceptionally well written (I had lost hope for any good dialogues after watching De Dana Dan, Blue & Dil Bole Hadippa). The story is a little loose though. However, the screenplay covers that up. Direction also has been good. The movie is gripping, you never feel bored and tired.

Still there is one area where the movie fails, the length. The movie could have easily been 15 minutes shorter in the end. (Karan Johar has been doing that since a long time)

Also, The movie is a good tear jerker. That works both in favor and in opposite direction. I don't see many people coming out of the hall smiling you know! but still its OK works for me at least.

So all in all, Its a movie that will be liked by most of the people. Well, one thing you would've noticed in this review, its different as I haven't talked about any of the many messages in the movie. Well they were there and many of them, and yes they are well put also. So thats it, MNIK is a must watch.

Now Typing: Mechanically!

Vidit Bhargava
My membrane keyboard this Jan. encountered an accident with my coffee. It as you know was a very silent death of some keys of my Microsoft Keyboard. Now, I had a Pleomax also and a TVS Gold also. I chose Pleomax over the Gold for it being younger than gold and much more reliable. I never really enjoyed Pleomax actually, so this week I decided to have a look at the TVS keyboard, does it work even after 12 years?

Its a mechanical keyboard. Having several times the life of a membrane keyboard. Fine lets try using it now. When I took it out, the white was coated in a layer of off whitish yellow. I cleaned that with some Colin, not a big problem.

After cleaning, we tried it on our old PC (The keyboard had AT ports), It worked well. So the next hurdle was to get a new connector for the keyboard. We needed it go into a PS/2 port. Easy, I went to the market at a computer repair shop, asked for an AT-PS/2 connector and this is solved too. But how does it work? Is it still good? Was it worth to spend 50 bucks on a connector?

Even 12 years later, every key is in contact (touch wood), The only difference in the keys area is that the enter key is big and the "|" key is placed up beside the backspace. I still love its sound (reminds me of the typewriters.). Also the keyboard is Mechanical, my ideal choice for a keyboard.

But I can't deny it having a few problems. There's just a bit of a problem with the control key (Perhaps, I played a lot of DAVE in my childhood!), the space bar is a bit unstable at edges, and insert key doesn't work. Also I tend to make more errors in touch typing (this keyboard being larger than my last two.)

On the whole the experience of using the keyboard is awesome, I like my "Old" Keyboard. Its perhaps always good to have a change. A new TVS Gold still costs a bomb (Rs. 1350) but I'm content with only giving 50 for a at converter. Old is Gold!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Google Buzz!

Vidit Bhargava
Today once again we stand at a fork between 2 paths on which is more popular and the other which is better. Buzz was going to be the latest thing in GMAIL since a user of its tried to label the thing in January but couldn't do so. So what is buzz? If you've read today's newspaper and watched yesterday's news its a facebook killer social networking facility. Is it?

After the much anticipated announcement Google states.."Its our first step in Social networking arena", Remember the long dead orkut here? Wasn't it from Google? Anyways, this time Google isn't taking any chance, they're doing their new product the Pritam & Microsoft way. Yeah, they're copying features from other SN sites; Twitter and Fb. You tweet in twitter n do nothing else, same goes here. You just update your status and wait for comments. Like in Fb, people like your status updates, they can even share it, and do stuff. Thats not it, sharing videos and photos is also prevalent. But just like Twitter, you don't have 3rd party apps.

You may ask, that's what a social networking site does, isn't it? Well, yes social networking sites more or less do the same thing but not quite distinctively like buzz does it. You open buzz from your gmail account and you'll find 2 things familiar: One that people are following you and you are following people (taken from twitter, of course) the other being that you can update your status and like or comment on others also (Facebook perhaps!). So you see they're directly taking stuff from other sites.

Twitter started the idea for tweets and following people, its successful. Facebook gave us status updates, like and dislike feature. Today 400 million people use facebook. These sites were unique and they've got their share of credit. Remember, Orkut lost track midway, just because they tried to pick up stuff from Facebook.

However, Google Buzz is not all about copying, it too has something unique about it. Integration with Gmail brings a lot of attention in many people's inbox. This is an instant hit formula, as there are many people on Gmail who don't know much 'bout social networking, they'll get into it very quickly. We also see a location adding feature in mobiles. Also sharing photos with picasa, videos with youtube, blog posts from blogger and brace yourself, tweets with twitter (Yes, the very thing they've picked up the idea from) are good new options which certainly attract people.

While, this article may seem to be all about copying stuff from other sites and how I don't like that but that's what the "New" Google Buzz is about!

Like many other popular people and companies who extract stuff from the less popular sources (like Pritam takes from Korean songs & Microsoft lifts stuff from Apple), Google too is going the same way. That's unfortunate. However, they're products still be hit, they are popular. Be Unique and innovative Google.

Also, not to forget Facebook is getting old and twitter which is still to be popular amongst the youth & common people (only 140 character tweets). Google Buzz is up for grabs for those who want a new social networking platform.

Finally, Its about the people, they are the ones who'll decide for which site to choose. Social Networking works just because of the people & that's the reason I might use it (indirectly of course, I'll use twitter integration. I prefer the better!). There's nothing more that attracts me to use Buzz.

Monday, February 08, 2010

2012 - Review

Vidit Bhargava
Cast: John Cusaak, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Amanda Peet, and much more!
Rating: ** 1/2 (Average)
Another one, I missed last year! This time our school said they'd show us the movie. Yeah, they promised us to show it in December, we're getting to watch it in February! but I'm not very disappointed as this wasn't a movie I was looking forward to (Thanks to the bashing reviews). Our Audi. is good for plays and stuff, but the movie bit... we got a half a size screen and that too there were black bars! Well at least I managed to watch the full movie even if I couldn't hear it very clearly (thanks to the sound quality).

Coming to the movie, they start in 2009 where Satnam Tsurtuani (Small role by Jimi Mistry) in India's at an underground copper mine, tells his friend from USA about some solar flare thing and neutrinos. Which means that the core of the earth is melting, making the Earth's Crust unstable (this was explained well with a bizzare animation than those two conversing), The US friend of his, tells someone from the White House Chief of Staff. Shift to 2012 Everybody is worried about these massive earthquakes. They don't know what is happening, only a few US people know what to do... Go to China! where there plan executes in saving "Some people" before the world ends and of course as the Mayans predicted Earth is coming to an end in 2012! Now, there is one family they mainly focus on, the one of Jack Curtis. They know what to do and are going to China! I think, I am not telling everything about this movie very well (so many things happening, you know!), you may refer to the wikipedia plot for everything in detail!

By the way, we saw some part of India as well! Something I hadn't predicted and there was a large tsunami that hit the Indian shore then, also a lot of parts, apparently when they were telling the time and place, were written on the screen in Mayan language, and when they reach China, those Chinese people start speaking their own language, that was realistic but at the same time irritating with no subtitles.

Coming to performance of the movie, The action and special effects bit is done well, full marks there. The massive volcano eruption and then the earth splitting scenes, they're good. Also the movie makes an impact on the minds of the people and it was after all made for a good cause.

Apart from that, there is hardly anything you'll find much interesting, the movie begins well but after the opening credits, when it actually starts in 2012, it gets boring. In the middle, there are action packed special effects scenes which excite you but then they switch to the emotional mood (a real attyachaar!), which fails completely. Neither did I feel sympathy for the US president dyeing or nor did I feel bad 'bout the emotional talks the characters did with their fathers. Unfortunately, a large chunk of the movie is dedicated to it.

Also not to forget the extremely predictable plot. You won't be scared when the count down of the impact finishes, you know somewhere that they'll survive the impact. You tend to foresee that the rich are going to board the impact saving mechanism and some human rights person will prevent them to do so!

The movie is 2 and a half hours long but it seems to take a lifetime to reach the climax, I was almost waiting for it. Somehow the critics got right on this one. I would have given it 2 stars but for some reason I feel it should be watched as it's at least an attempt to make an environment movie, not a gr8 one though!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Discovery's New Channels in India

Vidit Bhargava
Being a Tata Sky user, I got the privilege to see the 2 new channels of Discovery Channel; The Discovery Turbo and Discovery Science!Although, It costed me a new add-on package but I'm pretty happy with these channels. While Discovery Turbo talks mostly 'bout cars and bikes and aircrafts, Discovery Science (The Science Channel in the US) does the Science & Technology department. Both are of my interests!

Talking of Discovery Turbo, as I've just started viewing these channels there's particularly one program which I like very much; Wheeler Dealers, which is hosted by Mike Brewer and Edd China. This one is exciting for those junk wars (Discovery Channel program) fans! They take up a working car with gloomy exteriors or interiors and give it a make over.

A Bug for Beetle was the first one which I watched. They had taken up an abandoned almost fully destroyed Beetle from some scrap yard and given it a makeover of a beech car. Yeah, None of Beetle's exterior or interior was left, they scrapped it for some shiny ones. The Only parts left were the main machinery. Next I watched a Mossy Mazda, converted into a stylish racing car. Not much was changed here in terms of appearance but the technical work was awesome!

Wheeler Dealers provides a good amount of technical information as well as a lot of facts we didn't know!

P.S. Can you believe it, Edd China the mechanic in this program has won 4 Guinness Book Records.

Discovery Science is yet to be searched well, I've only seen 2 programs so far, one is something like How we do that, or... I don't remember the name properly but it were good facts and techniques assembled in one program, which proved out to be pretty interesting. The only problem was, the same time Wheeler Dealers was coming & it was far more interesting.

The ads offer something unique here. I saw Buzz Aldrin (for those of you wondering, he is the second man to land on moon), talking 'bout his experiences of that venture. One of the ads also features Dr. Michio Kaku (I'm a fan of his), explaining his concepts of Fusion & one where he tells about the string theory!