Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Google Birthday Doodle For You

I was very presently surprised when I found this doodle on my Google homepage this Sunday, which was my birthday.

Got a lot of queries about this one as I put the picture on Facebook and so wanted to clear all doubts and answer the queries.

1) No, it was not visible to everyone in the world, however much I would have loved if that was the case! This was a personalised logo, visible only to me, only on my birthday.

2) No, Google did not do this for me because I am an employee. We do have a few lucrative perks, this is not one of them. Any Google user can get this Doodle on their birthday, and here's how:

a) Go to your Google Profile 

b) Update your birthday and you're done!

If you go to the Google home page on your birthday (when signed into your Google account) you should also find the customised Google Doodle, with the little mouse over "Happy Birthday [firstname]"

Go ahead, get your own Google birthday doodle.

P.S: This was announced in this Google Blog Post.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

S. M. Krishna's Speecho Portuguesa

A lot has been written and tweeted about our Minister for External Affairs, S. M. Krishna's reading of the Portugal Foreign Minister's speech instead of the Indian one at a recent United Nation's meeting. Most in fact mentioned he went on for 5 minutes before realising it was the wrong speech. Well, as in most cases there was some fire behind the smoke, however it wasn't as bad (5 minutes) as it was made out to be!

Here's a video of the gaffe, [source thestar.com and http://jacobjoseph.com]

Friday, February 11, 2011

Graphical Representation Of Valentine's Day

My opinions on Valentine's Day are similar to the rest of the world's about this blog - non-existent. Don't care a Hallmark's card or Muthalik's underwear about this day. Luckily my wife also shares my views and we have saved a lot of time, hassle and money on long lines at restaurants, ideas to surprise each other and gifts on this day. However, to quote Voltaire, to the public display mongering lovers I say " I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" [Source: Wikipediaagainst the fundamentalists spewing inanities like "Okay to kiss, but not in public"

Anyway, this is not an 'Opinion' post but a simple graphical representation of this very expensive day. Here we go.

Valentines Day By The Numbers

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Review of 'Cricket: All You Wanted To Know About The World Cup'

Disclaimer: Diptakirti is a "social media friend" of mine. Though we haven't met in real life yet, which is a shame, we're regularly in touch through Twitter and Facebook and also have a common circle of friends. In spite of the above I have tried my best to keep the review completely impartial and unbiased.


To begin with I didn't like the name of the book, one bit. Given it's the first book of the author of the extremely humorous blog 'Calcutta Chromosome' I expected better than a summary of the book as the title. However, after finishing the book (in 2 hours flat!) I realised it is perhaps an attempt to come across as honestly as possible, because this book is not exactly a work of fiction. It's a reference/guide book to the World Cup of Cricket and probably the author didn't want anyone to buy the book with any misconceptions about the contents of it.

'Cricket' (going forward in this post will refer to the book by that simple moniker) has the potential to become the Bible to thousands of 7-14 year old cricket crazy, statistics mad kids across India. Especially the quizzing, trivia scavenger types. And that brings me to my next point that I found a bit odd, Puffin Books (the children's book arm of Penguin), the publisher of 'Cricket' for some inexplicable reason decided to put '12+' in large big fonts on the back cover. There's not a word in the entire 170 odd pages that I wouldn't be comfortable saying in front of a 5 year old. [Update: I have been informed that "the age recommendation Puffin puts is from the 'reading/comprehension' proficiency angle and not the content. Kids below 12 years would not be able to read so much text comfortably"]

Finally, coming to the contents of 'Cricket'. I wish Diptakirti had written this 15-17 years back and the budding quizzer in me (specialising in sports, and super specialising in cricket) would have put him on the highest pedestal I had for writers. It really has "all that I would have wanted to know about the world cup" and could have helped me bulldoze my opponents in the various cricket quizzes that crop up during the WC season. However, yesterday when I finished the book it was more like a refresher session of Complex Equations, India's Independence Struggle or the Merchant of Venice (ICSE 2000 text book) rather than coming across new concepts, stories and theories that I had never heard of before. Not that I knew everything that's mentioned in the book, at least I definitely didn't remember it all, but somehow missed the "Wow, that's a neat piece of information!" moments. To be fair I had been a very active cricket quizzer all through my school & college life and given there was only 5-6 World Cups to cover, almost all of us knew everything from the colour of Kapil Dev's shoe laces to Lance Klusener's girlfriend's favourite boy bands. 

But this was during school, maybe college. Over the past 5 years or so my association with cricket has dwindled down to the occasional ODI championship final, or close games involving India or the IPL. So, what I was really looking forward to was to get acquainted with the players of the other 13 teams participating in this WC. Have almost no idea about who they are and how good/bad they are and what to expect from them. This is a section that is conspicuous by it's absence. There's an in-depth coverage of the Indian squad, and just as you turned the page expecting the rest it goes off into yet another ode to Sachin Tendulkar article. So after the 2 hours, my WC knowledge from the past has been thoroughly refreshed and polished, but I am still as clueless about the WC starting in less than 2 weeks as I was before starting 'Cricket'.

Now, when I read the review so far I realise I am painting a picture which is far from what my thoughts on the book actually are! The well researched statistics, the junkets of trivia gleaned from over 35 years of the WC, the jovial sketches of players, coaches and commentators, the most spectacular matches which the present school going generation couldn't watch live, highlighted and described with the love and passion for the game - all this put together makes it a must gift have for most school going kids and the grandpas spending the majority of their time in front of the television sets watching any and every cricket match that's on TV. If you're starting your quizzing career (we quizzers take this trivia tradition very seriously!) you'll never regret getting your hands on this mini-cricket omnibus.

Let the cup of joy begin!

P.S: You can buy the book for Rs. 169 from Flipkart.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The Best & Worst Of Super Bowl Ads Of 2011

The Super Bowl is a phenomenon. An American sporting one, that we are being forced to get acquainted with in recent times due to instant global connectivity provided by mediums such as Twitter, Facebook and the likes. Like most Indians the first time I came across this term was in 2004 when Janet Jackson inadvertently, or otherwise, invented the term 'Wardrobe Malfunction' during her halftime show during the Super Bowl. Though primarily a sporting event, "The Super Bowl is the championship game of the National Football League (NFL), the highest level of professional American football in the United States, culminating aseason that begins in the late summer of the previous calendar year." [Source: Wikipedia] this has developed into a social, cultural & advertising landmark of the United States. I don't think we have an Indian equivalent as of today, but perhaps the final of the IPL as envisioned by Lalit Modi could one day become our Super Bowl night.

Anyway, this post is not about the sport of American Footbal, which I understand as much of as the Maori language or finer nuances of brain surgery. The advertising world keenly follows the ads during the half time of the Super Bowl as it reaches the highest number of American eyeballs among all televised events and of course this kind of an audience is reached only by super premium advertising slot prices. Considerable research goes in before and after the show and marketers the world over come up with various findings about the efficacy, popularity, impact and other metrics of the advertisements.

Hulu, the popular video sharing site (not accessible from India) conducted some polls this year to ascertain the popularity of the ads through the interactive medium and thousands of respondents actively participated.

Wanted to share the top & bottom 3 ads in terms of popularity. [Tip: TechCrunch] Will be happy to hear your opinions on them.

[Watch the videos in full screen mode (by double clicking on them) as the format of the blog may not render the best viewing experience]

Top Ads

1. Volkswagen: The Force (19 million views on YouTube)

2. Bridgestone: Carma (870,000 views on YouTube)

3. Doritos: House Sitting (846,000 views on YouTube)

Worst Ads

3. Go Daddy: The Contract

2. Salesforce: Chatter.com Launch 'Doing Impossible Things'

1. Salesforce: Chatter.com launch 'Still doing impossible things'

Friday, February 04, 2011

Restaurant Review - Blue Nile, Pune

Last November I was visiting Pune on work and decided to catch up for lunch with Anindyada, long term Pune resident, fierce food lover and a certified chef. Given the profile of my host I didn't meddle in the act of choosing the meeting and eating venue. All I had mentioned was I would willingly be shepherded to any destination as long as there was some meat on my plate. And meat there was, enough to cause my arteries to choke and taste buds to rejoice. It was decided we would meet at his old, quaint, landmark-ish restaurant of the city - the Blue Nile. 

Although located in the heart of city, this building, nestled in the cool shadows of the been-there-seen-that trees nearby gives the place a welcoming feel on a warm, sunny afternoon.

Since it was a weekday lunch, that too kind of late around 2:30 PM the place was quite empty, with only 2 of about 10 tables occupied. The place exuded an old world charm, not completely unlike the United Coffee House in Delhi (which reminds me is another place that deserves a post of it's own) or Koshy's in Bangalore. The waiters were well dressed men in their mid forties, well spoken and fiercely proud of their association with the place. 

As I had made my intentions clear in terms of the kind of food I was looking for, Anindyada didn't bother looking at the menu card and with the air of a regular exchanged some pleasantries with the articulate manager and placed the order. The food didn't take long to come to our table but a bit before it did arrive, on it's way, it's smells reached us. The kebabs, piping hot spicy chicken wings, were as delicious as they looked and had the soft, succulent texture you usually associate with the finest of their brethren. I must add that the green mint chutney and the light yogurt based dip significantly added to the taste and character of the dish. 

Then the main course, and I was left stupefied because I had assumed that Peter Cat of Kolkata is the only place that serves this making you weak in the knees dish - the Chelo Kebab. The rice was warm and mildly flavoured, and each grain was buttered just enough to slip playfully over each other. It was difficult to resist the temptation of greasing the dish further with the chiplet of butter provided. I will be dishonest if I said it didn't add to the goodness. The Chelo Kebab, as the name suggests includes skewers of kebabs and we ordered a mutton and a chicken CK. The Mutton dish was a plate of rice accompanied by a sheekh kebab, while the chicken one came with three pieces of chicken tikka kebab. During the much informative lunch I learnt that the Chelo Kebab is a variation of the Biriyani, which was started in Iran and also got to know about the Iranian lineage of the Blue Nile. Though the North African nomenclature of the Iranian place in the middle of the Maharasthra still tickles my curiosity from time to time. 

I take this opportunity to thank Anindyada for introducing me to this lovely eatery and the wonderful company laced with nuggets of information on varied subjects. If you happen to be in Pune and have just about enough time for a meal don't give this place a miss. 

P.S: Besides the food that we discussed in detail, the place and it's management also display a keen sense of humour. This poster, along with many others adorn the walls of the Blue Nile.