Friday, April 28, 2006

Amitabh Bachchan vs Shahrukh Khan: Google Fight!!

Ever thought of pitting the superstars of two different eras against one another and see who is more valuable among them? It seems like child's play these days if one knows how to use Google for the purpose. But how many could have imagined that a person would come up with a creative way of finding out the real worth(yes, in dollars!!) of various celebrities from Google's point of view? Soam Acharya takes us on a fun ride in an article published on Desicritics evaluating the price tag attached by Google Adwords to different Indian celebrities if you want to use their names as the keywords for the ads you want to place with it. If you don't understand what I am talking about, you surely need a crash course in Google Adwords! Head straight to Soam Acharya's blog article for more details on that, but here is the interesting part:

Amitabh Bachchan-------------$1.36
Om Puri-------------------------------$0.36
Shahrukh Khan-------------------$0.34
Aamir Khan-------------------------$0.20

Shame on the Khans!! Now that's surprising, isn't it? With Shahrukh being termed as the heartthrob of the entire nation and Badshah of the box office, Google Adwords doesn't seem to share the same opinion. Still, $1.36/per click for Big B definitely looks like a steal, ain't it?

Google Search:

Amitabh Bachchan - 1,690,000
Shahrukh Khan - 2,430,000

Google Fight:

Other interesting statistics awaits in the category of the female actors:
Shabana Azmi-----------------------$0.69
Rani Mukherjee--------------------$0.43
Aishwarya Rai-----------------------$0.28
Kareena Kapoor--------------------$0.25
Phew!! Shabana Azmi more valuable than even all the male actors except Amitabh! Google Adwords seems to have a better taste when it comes to these actors than the Indian viewers it seems ;)

Do read the complete article here. Author's blog is here.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Performancing Firefox 1.2 Released

Performacing Version 1.2, a blogging extension for the Firefox web browser, was released a few days ago. Its pretty stable and has added a few useful features with this release:
  1. The interface looks good. Or my eyes were not working well until now.
  2. Upload images and files to an FTP site and then link to them from the blogs. Upload images from within Performancing and upload files from anywhere in the browser(its added to the "Performancing" sub-menu of the Firefox context menu.
  3. A button called "Metrics" allows easy access to the metrics of your blog(if you are using Performancing to track your blog).
  4. When you add a new blog to Performancing, it automatically detects the settings for the popular bloggers(, wordpress etc).

More details are here. An image uploaded using Performancing's new upload tool is here:

(This is my first post from Performancing 1.2. If you see "Powered by Performancing" somewhere here, then it is also a new addition to this release.)

Update1: thanks to buddy mastmallu for digging this post.
Update2: here is the procedure to add spell-checking ability to the performancing extension. i couldn't get it working though.

powered by

It feels good

Being a positive person that I am, positive developments that have taken place in the country last longer in the memory than the not-so-positive ones. Here I share a few of them.

We all know about the political party Paritrana formed in January 2006 by the IITians. They had announced that they will be contesting the 2006 Tamil Nadu assemblty elections and recently finalised 6 constituencies to contest these elections. They have requested one and all to spread the word about them. Not a lot of voters from Tamil Nadu should be reading this blog, but just getting absolved of the duty of 'spreading the word' is our job, isn't it? I have done my duty and you decide if you want to do yours or not ;)
You can interact with the members of the party at the following forum: Paritrana @ VOA
Story on Hindu. Story on Desicritics. Their Official Website.

Ever heard of an ISO 14001 certified village? Namakkal, a southern district in Tamil Nadu with a population of 53,000 became the first village from India to get such a certification. Thanks to Municipal Chairman S. Gandhiselvan, his associates and the general population in the village, they say:
[it] took three years to put in place a system that brought it international recognition. The certification is given to any organisation that uses technology and maintains internationally acceptable standards in services and develops an environmental management system in which water, air and sound quality are maintained.
Complete story is here.

An initiative on the Internet means it has to be the Indians settled in the US or another foriegn country. The initiatives themselves are good but I have no idea how many people living in India are going to be influenced with them. One such initiative is Voice of Ambition; in their own words:

We at Voice Of Ambition are experimenting with the idea of creating India’s First People’s Radio using the technology of podcasting. You can hear the programs on the site without any hassle for free. As we want people to voice their opinions and desires we have on the site a presentation which will tell you how you can send your audio to us using so that we can podcast it to the world. We also have tutorials and links to help you record audio. So having said this we encourage you to record your audio and voice your opinions to the world.

They have articles, podcasts, forums, pictures from India etc. And a very energitic team which has resolved to make VOA a success. Do register yourself with the website and participate in the forums if India related issues really interest you.

With all the political debates related to South Asia(predominantly India right now), things are getting really heated up at Desicritics. Its a bloggers network(part of and you too can become a member and post articles there if you are blogger. Though it contains quality reviews of the latest books, movies, music albums etc, articles belonging to a lot of other categories too(technology, business, opinions, short stories etc), but the articles related to south asian politics is what attracts the most of the traffic. Head straight to their main page.

Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa: A 10 Out of 10 Movie

I went to watch this film with very little expectations. That is because i had read Amitabh saying in one of his interviews that this should have been a short documentary and not a full featured film. after watching the film, i must say that he couldn't have been more wrong than that(assuming that the interview was a reliable one).

This particular film was closest to my sensibilities, which only a very few films are. The film was very opiniated one, which means it was that much more difficult to get the nod of a large section of the audience. There are only a few films in which I felt satisfied after every new development in the story and never thinking that it could have been better than that. What more, we were told at the end of the screening(yes, it was a special screeing by Moving Images) that the writer Mahasweta Devi, on whose book this film is based on, had felt that the film version is better than even her book version. Kudos to Govind Nihlani!

The film deals with the complex issue of naxalite upsurge in the West Bengal during the 1970s. Following are the keypoints of the film from my point of view:

1. Young lads from rich and affluent families also became part of the naxalite movement(HKA has a similar theme, in the Bihar setup) hoping for a better future for the neglected sections of the society, carrying a dream to change the entire structure of the world, bringing peace and prosperity to everyone. Jaya Bachan's youngest son, played by Joy Sengupta, plays the character of one such guy.

2. From the point of view of the youth, they are doing the noble deed of cleaning up of the system. From the point of view of the system and the administration, these people are nothing but the criminals. Interesting angle added to this is the point of view of the family and the relatives of such students-turned-naxalites: Joy's father(Anupam Kher) and his siblings treat him as a criminal and consider him to be an embarrassment. The father tries to completely erase him from his memory once he gets killed in the police encounter.

3. Jaya Bachan represents the other side of the society - the part which has no point of view at all. They don't understand what is right or wrong with the system, what is meant by standing against it, what are the rights of the common people and how they are flouted by the adminstration. She loves her child more than anything else but yet fails to understand, or even know what his dreams are. She donned this role with perfection and she looks nothing but the character itself.

4. Seema Biswas represents that part of the society which pays for the sins committed by the others. Her family has one son - a naxalite, and three daughters. As the son would be the torch bearer for the family in time to come, he is the one who is properly fed and properly educated by the parents. With the hope that he will get a job for himself as soon as he completes his education and will then take the burden of supporting the family on his shoulders and will marry off his three sisters. Its a pitiable condition in this scenario for them to lose him after investing in him for 20 long years. The family is deep in the trenches with the father not being alive anymore, mother not in the health to take up domestic work at others' houses, the family having to meet the expenses with the tution earnings of the eldest daughter and by selling off the home utensils. Who will marry off the daughters now? How would they be even surviving for very long? what wrong did they do for having to face all these troubles?

5. The cunning way in which the politicians deal with the naxal upsurge is beautifully handled by the director. No point in explaining all that here though; the moral of the story is that you always are at a disadvantage when you chose the violent path. You don't even know to which side you belong. To give a real fight, especially in a democratic setup, you have to be in the system; otherwise you are doomed.

6. The oppurtunity to have a second thought on what went wrong for them with the naxal movement, why they have failed, should they have done anything differently etc was given to Nandita Das's character. It was a real pleasure to see such a young actress(it was one of her first films*) putting up with such an impressive performance. The scene where Milind Gunaji interrogates her was by far the best in the film. Her first interaction with Jaya Bachan raises a lot of thought-provoking questions which do not have too many obvious answers. These two scenes take the film to a completely different level.

7. The engagement party of Jaya Bachan's daughter is just another high point of the film. It has humour, it has satire, it has pain and it comes at an important phase in the film.

8. The film ends with Raghu's dream (almost) coming true. The difference: his own mother, Nandita Das and the other colleagues now work by being within the system. His mother works on the documentation of the human rights. Nandita Das works with the tribals. so on and so forth.

The film is so strong in the ideology yet its presented in such an interesting and entertaining format, a film couldn't get any better than this, isn't it?

*The credits of the film suggest that it was the first film by Nandita Das. But she had already worked in Fire(1996) before this film.

$ I used the names of the actors rather than the characters as I have forgotten almost all the character names.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Google Page Creator: A Visual Tour

I just played for a little while with the latest offering from the Google Services - Google Pages Beta. I took some screenshots in the process and am uploading them here. They are all self explanatory, so sparing you people with my commentary.

Google Pages Welcome Screen

WYSIWYG Interface of Google Page Creator

Creating a New Page

Editing a Page

URLs Can Be Validated

Preview After Adding 4 Sample Links

Layout of the Pages Can Be Changed

An Example of a Different Layout

Preview of the New Layout

Manage All the Pages Using the Page Manager

Uploading images and other resources and adding them to the web pages is also possible and very simple to do. Google Pages should come very handy for creating the individual profiles, simple personal websites or maintaining one's todo list. Register with Google Pages to get an invite if you haven't already got one.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Amir plays his next card, supports NBA movement

Amir Khan is in the news again. His latest outburst over the sensationalisation of the news stories by the media is still fresh in our memories. Most of us had applauded him for the same considering that few superstars had done such a thing before. This time though, he seems to be trying to bite off more than what he can chew.

Don't get me wrong - on the face value I would still call his decision to support the Narmada Bachao Andolan to be a brave step for a noble cause. I have no reason to believe that it wasn't done with the best of the intentions in his mind. If nothing else, it should only give more publicity to a movement which is constantly being ignored by the successive governments(one central and four state govts) formed by different political parties at different times. But how much value is it going to add to the ongoing movement?

The politicians should be a little worried: this might awaken a few more sleeping citizen who were eagerly waiting for Amir Khan's next release Fanaah to a more serious issue. The media should be happy: they can start giving the NBA movement the prime time focus from now on and make it their cover story for a while. The NBA activists should be happy too, for they have one more spokesperson to help their message reach out to the common(read film-crazy) people. In the current equation, there can only be one loser: Amir Khan himself.

Amir has gone on the records that he wouldn't care if its going to negatively impact the performance of his forthcoming films. He has also made it clear that his involvement in the cause would be an active one. What he seems to be lacking in is the experience. He doesn't seem to have done his homework properly before plunging into a serious issue like the NBA movement, where he will have to discover the fact that fighting with the politicians would not be as easy as standing against the media. Here are a couple of examples showing his immaturity:

1. When asked why he thinks the rehabilitation should be a an easy job, he said "Politicians have got so much of wealth with them, can't they build small houses for a few poor families?" I am sure he meant 'government' there and not the politicians(so absurd to expect the politicians to part with their personal wealth to take care of the poor), but pardoning his 'slip of the tongue' for a moment, is he really so sure that the Indian government is so rich that rehabilitating the displaced families in narmada valley is such a trivial task for them?

2. When asked if he will be participating with the other NBA activists in their dharnas to register his protest, he shot back that staging and participating in the dharnas is not his job. Well Amir, we understand that your job is to act in the films, but how does that help in making political statements sitting in the comforts of the air-conditioned rooms and appealing to the common public to come out in the open, in the scorching heat of the sun to join the NBA movement? is that what is your job?

I respect the courage of Amir Khan to have come out in the open with the issues which had kept him bothering in the recent past - better be late than never - but I also hope that he doesn't vanish into the thin air after making some bold statements, by succumbing to the ordeals that come with such an undertaking, or by not being able to stand the rigours of standing against the politicians. The issue also is not a two dimensional one where the politicians could be assumed to be certainly on the wrong and the NBA activists to be on the right side(Govt did rehabilitate a lot of families, they still are trying their best to follow the supreme court directives, the demand to stop the construction of the dam to raise its height is universally condemned etc). Is Amir Khan(also Rahul Bose etc who are supporting the NBA's cause) ready for understanding all the dynamics involved in such a complex issue and take a bold and educated stand about it?

PS: Amir Khan had also visited the office of ANHAD a week ago reaffirming his support towards the studies of the children who had lost a year of education due to Gujarat riots.

Political parties trying to bully me: Aamir
Aamir Khan Threatened by Politicians
Comments From Another Blogger

Thursday, April 13, 2006

ajaxXLS: Next From AjaxLaunch

i had written about the three Ajax applications released in the last three weeks by ajaxLaunch in my previous post. If i had guessed in it that the next application released by them might just be a spreadsheet, a spreadsheet application it is!

The Ajax spreadsheet application, called ajaxXLS, is scheduled to be released in the next few hours, but they have released a picture of how the application might look like. go catch it here. i will try to update once it gets released.

the announcement was followed by a post with the top 10 questions being answered about the ajaxWrite application; the same post also notes that the ajaxWrite application can be embedded in your Fold web start page - the instructions to do the same are available here. to know more about the Fold service, go here.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Three Cool Ajax Applications

Some time back, AjaxLaunch had announced that they would be releasing a new Ajax based web application every week from then onwards, and they are bang on their target until now, with three such applications released in three weeks time. we have already seen their earlier Ajax based applications ajaxWrite and ajaxSketch, applications that are similar to a desktop word processor(think Microsoft Word) and a paint application(think Microsoft Paint), but which run completely from with in a web browser. the latest to join is ajaxEyespot, that allows videos to be uploaded and edited(like Microsoft MovieMaker) from a web browser, all without having to download or install any application on the local system. try the following links:
AjaxLaunch - the main website


all of these are still in the beta stages and support only some basic features.

for those who are yet uninitiated with the Ajax technology, the interface of Google Mail, Google Personalised Home, Windows Live etc are all good examples that make use of it. more info is on wikipedia.

Google also seems to be working on a Yahoo! Geocities like service for their GMail users - Google Page Creator. It allow the webpages to be created in WYSIWYG format, which doesn't require any HTML knowledge on the user's part. Read a simple review by pandia.

any guesses what it will be the next week(12th April) from AjaxLaunch? a charting application? or a jukebox? spreadsheet? stay tuned.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Laws and their abuse

read a couple of disturbing news pieces in the recent times: one was about a pattern developing in some areas of india where the children are dishing out threats to their own parents and in-laws to hand-over the entire property to them, and then shift to the old age homes. the weapon? the Dowry laws.

the dowry problem in india has been so rampant and so grave, that strict laws were formulated some years ago, to atleast put some powers in the hands of the hapless daughters-in-law, whose dowry-related death cases were on a constant rise. no one could have hardly imagined at that time, that the same laws which were created to protect their own well-being, would be so conviniently (ab)used to gain monetary/material benefits.

the second story belongs to the pakistan higher command, who have a rather simple way of governing the people: see what they show you and listen to what they have to say to you. after banning the indian tv channels, the indian films and a host of other websites, it was the turn of blogspot and wikipedia. that just doesn't make any sense at all. just because the government doesn't want to expose their citizens to a few objectionable items, it can't put a blanket ban on the entire gamut of information!! there is a wealth of information on the blogspot blogs, 90% of the content should be unobjectionable by any standards, so what was the logic behind banning this entire domain? can the pakistani youth afford to be cut down in this fashion from the rest of the world? wikipedia was unblocked after a period of several hours, but no reason was specified why it was blocked for that short period of time. the blogspot domain continues to remain banned however. some people have raised their voice, many others continue to join them in their fight.

April 1st, this season

gone are the days when "look at your back, something is coming!" was supposed to be the best april fool joke from your 8 year old friend. with age, the jokes start to become more immaculately planned; and much more innocent looking ones. following suit, the most elaborate joke i have ever witnessed was executed by the one of the most popular indian blogs
today - Sepia Mutiny. if you missed out on witnessing all the drama develop, and then fizzle out on the 1st of April, you can catch a summary of the events that took place from these links:
Sepia Mutiny - blogspot
Sepia Mutiny - hoax website
More Info

it featured on desipundit too!! i got to know about this hoax much earlier though, thanks to the efforts of one vikas from desicritics to do a simple whois(duh!) and discover the expiry date of the domain name to be august 2006.

the other april fool joke was played by desipundit itself. see this.
Desicritics had this: Interview with Ganguly
Google had this: Google Romance
Linus Torvalds Joins Debian
A big list of april fool jokes

then there were many others. one of my friends got "engaged" on the eve of april 1st. are we going to fall for it?

Google Video is Now Available in India

i just wandered to the google video website today and tried to play a file from there. unbelievably, the file played without any errors! surprised, i googled for the news as to when did google make google video service available for the indian users, and found this piece of information from techwhack website:

Google Video in India

it has been available since the 20th of the march!! so no more hacks required now, just go to the google video website, pick your favourite video(or search for one) and play it. the controversies related to indian hindi movies being uploaded to the google video servers and being shared by everyone all around the world, should get more serious with this development.