Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Zune incompatible with Windows Vista !!!

I couldnt resist posting this !!
This is almost comical !!

As per reports, Zune, the brand new MP3/ Music player from Microsoft is Incompatible with Windows Vista, the brand new Microsoft Operating system furthering the legacy of Windows XP.

Hard to believe, but if its true, God help MS !! :)

2 Major Microsoft Updates : Vista/ Zune

Windows Vista.. is shipped !! Finally...
That is big news.. After 5 years, MS has shipped the latest release of Windows Operating System last week. And it will hit retail markets on January 30th. Do check it out !! Its quite glitzy with its graphics.. though in terms of overall value for money, I would say its not a major revelation in top of Windows XP.

Microsoft yesterday also released its much awaited personal Music (mp3) player called ZUNE. Its supposed to be pitted against the die-hard Apple IPod. Its going to be interesting to see how well is Zune received in the already IPod dominated market. I am not too hopeful for a mass level conversion of Ipod lovers to switch to Zune. Infact, because of Microsoft's strong focus on DRM (Digital Rights Management), which restricts the use of media not licensed to the user, (Pah!!!) I think the geek community would steer clear of it. And Zune is much too high profile to appeal to the average Joe.

Whatever it is, I shall be following this story closely.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Canon- Delighting you Always..

Well, that tag line seems to have come true in its full form. This week, Canon India replaced my 3 year old well-worn Powershot A70, that was having trouble with its CCD Module, with a brand new Powershot A530.

Well, You could argue that Canon sold me a defective product in the first place itself. Well, thats kind of true. My A70, along with those of a lot of folks out there somewhere on the internet, has a defective
CCD Module that seems to give a "purple display" issue, as it is widely known in some forums. Still, I had been using my A70 for a good part of 3+ years. It was just a few months back that this problem started.

To be true, I had given all hopes on it. In todays times, it is overwhelmingly expensive to get a gadget repaired, specially getting a key component replaced. It was a just routine search on the net, that gave me some hope, that of free repair of the CCD sensor by Canon folks. This was verified with the local Canon Authorised Service Centre here.

I left my camera with them nearly 3 months back, expecting to receive the repaired camera (with a replaced CCD mod.) in about 2 weeks. 2 weeks stretched to 2 months, with the Service Centre folks updating me that the CCD Sensor array of 3 Megapixel is in shortage, no new cameras using those kinds being the reason. I thought that was the last I would be hearing about it. And it was kinda true...

A530 looks quite similar to A70, with minor look and feel changes. The major plusses are : 5 megapixel Sensor array, 4x Optical zoom (compared to 3x of A70) and its need of only 2 AA sized batteries rather than 4 for A70.
There are a few minusses as well. Its got an inferior movie mode with VGA (640x480) resolution movies with only 10 fps (frames per second) instead of the regulation 30 for A70. Moreover, I would need to buy the newer format SD Memory card for it, since A70 used Compact Flash.

All in all, I am happy. First of all to see my pint sized camera back in action, only a notch better this time. And then its brand new, and hopefully, if I am lucky, it should last me a while.

Its adequately fast and has reasonable picture quality. Some pictures will come in this post, that I shot with the A530. Only, Blogger is bugging right now.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Don - Movie Review

I saw Don, finally.

Let me start with Farhan Akhtar, rather than writing in a straightforward movie review. Farhan Akhtar for me is among the two most exciting filmakers in Hindi Movies today, the other being Vishal Bhardwaj(dir: Omkara). On a tangential note, this list also used to have the likes of Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Karan Johar, who lost favors with me at some point or the other. But that matter enough for a separate post, which I have no intentions as of now to write.

Coming back to Farhan Akhtar, I,
like most folks my age thought his debut with 'Dil Chahta Hai' was magical. I simply loved every single frame the way he shot it in DCH. It wasnt really about telling a novel story, but really about the novel approach to story telling. It had a very patient approach to tell its story and I loved the way not every frame was shouting to add something significant to the story. I dont know if the last line makes sense, but I do love it when the screen play isnt just a copy of the story. Guess what, the last one line is equally abstract.

With Lakshya, Farhan had the unenviable task of matching upto DCH, which commercially he couldnt. I thought Lakshya was well made but it lacked the spirit that inhabited DCH. But you could see the strong style of story telling he still used. Another point, he miscasted Amitabh Bachchan very very badly. On the whole, I enjoyed watching Lakshya, though at the end of it, I did feel something missing.

With Don, you could see he wanted to re-tell the 1978 classic his own way. So far so good. Don, was probably the most exciting Amitabh Bachchan movie I saw growing up. (OK, along with Amar Akbar Anothony) I simply loved DON and could watch it as many times as I could. It was every boys dream, what with, AB in a double bonanza, lotsa action and Don kinda style and all. Moreover, it was a tremendous thriller, with several threads running parallel. If not a masterpiece I would still call it a Masala-classic, whatever that means.

I was pretty eager to watch Don, as I wrote here, maybe just a shade less than Jaan-e-mann, for obvious reasons. And I did manage to see Farhan's version this Saturday. It started of with lot of style and a suave (but really old looking) Shah Rukh Khan playing the don pretty much his own way. Thats both good and bad. The good is he didnt try copy Amitabh, the original. The bad part is he was more Shah Rukh than don, as usual. What with his smooth neck twirls and the works. But lets just put it this way that it wasnt distracting enough to ruin the experience. The only times I thought about the SRK-Amitabh comparisons were when SRK plays Vijay. So you get the point?

The first half of the movie rolls pretty much predictably, along the same lines as the older one. Casting is pretty strong. I thought Pawan Malhotra (old time Nukkad guy) was pretty good as Narang. Boman Irani (playing DCP DeSilva) is good in any role we all know. Isha Kopikkar as Anita was perfect too. Though, I thought, SRK playing Vijay wasnt just as convincing. He lacks the rustic touch to play Vijay well enough. BTW, did anyone notice an expensive looking watch (Rolex, anyone??) on Vijay's wrist just after he has danced his butt-off at the Ganpati festival. Priyanka Chopra is quite ok as Roma.

Actually, thats one point I want to make here.
I thought, Priyanka was pretty adequate and decent in Don, with Farhan at the helm of affairs. So was Arjun Rampal (as Jasjeet). Now both of these are pretty (below) average actors, who can turn into a nightmare with a bad director calling the shots. Both of them manage a decent performance here, restrained and controlled. Interestingly, I thought, Boman Irani, though strong in his portrayal of DCP DeSilva (with the twist, wink!!) was just about strong and adequate here. If you have seen Being Cyrus, Khosla ka ghosla and Munnabhai I/ II, you know what I mean. He literally elevated his simpler and more straightforward characters and even the movies as a whole with his acting. Not so here. Maybe its the leeway and flexibility he could manage with lesser directors (not really discounting Raj Kumar Hirani here..). With Farhan, I think Boman was bound with the processes and his director's vision to be able to really throw himself wild into his portrayal. To be honest, I thought his character became quite cliched and tended towards boring. So, thats the pluses and minuses of working with a top director.

Farhan remains very loyal to the original script throughout the first half. Only, the setting changes appropriately to modern times. I wish to make one more remark here. I thought, the scenes with the Don making Cocaine deliveries first in Paris and later in India seemed quite unrealistic. These deliveries seemed routine enough, and didnt warrant for the top man to do it. Lets just put these in the cinematic liberties bucket, though I expected better from Farhan.

Just at the interval, Farhan really decides to play with the script. Without giving anything away of the movie and the twists, I can imagine Farhan sitting with the script in the drafting stage and deciding he needed to give his own twist to the otherwise straightforward original. Doing so was not only difficult in itself, but he wanted to retain the exact same screenplay until the half-time, thus aggravating his effort. And that is my friends, where he went wrong.

He didnt adulterate anything with the story till the half-way mark, though theoritically, the story changes somewhere much earlier than that point. So he lets the story un-roll as if its a faithful adaptation, and than starts to unleash the twists. Actually the first one is quite intelligent, though a bit predictable, with atleast two scenes providing solid hints in that direction. The second 'twister' that Farhan saves for the very end, according to me is the film's undoing. It just doesnt add up. Atleast not if you slip in the character's shoes and imagine the proceedings in retrospect.

Also, with the added twists, some other stuff which was better in the older version takes a beating. The Vijay-Roma romance track is half-cooked and quite forced upon. Certain scenes of Anita are manipulative, specially viewed in retrospect ( w.r.t. the twists). The Don's goons story isnt tied up properly, but then maybe thats left for a sequel (which I desperately hope never comes!!).

So much for the story and the twists. I thought the music wasnt fun at all. I loved DCH tremendously for its music. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy really invented a new genre for Hindi music with it. They were all new sounds and we hear soo much music that is unconsciously borrowed from it. Even Laksya had a very solid musical score. It had the most breath-taking instrumental piece that I can remember in the last few years, for its Lakshya war theme, or whatever it was called. With Don, Farhan and S-E-L restrict themselves to the older DON's music. Adapting a couple of songs might be a greast idea to pay homage, but its nothing to talk about. It actually reminded me of the endless remixes you watch (more than listen) on MTV and Co. I really misses a genuinely new album from Farhan and SEL collaborating again.

The Cinematography is great, but thats old news. Every other movie nowadays boasts of nice visuals, and Don is really not in the stunning category either. Editing is top grade. I dint really complaint of a slow narrative. I thought the screenplay/ story is where Farhan missed the bus. This time I would call it just that, unlike Lakshya. I missed the Farhan touch in the proceedings. DCH and Lakshya both had it, and I thought I could tell a Farhan frame from a set, until I saw Don.

Concluding, go and watch the movie if you loved the original Don. And if you have been a Farhan fan, I would still say, go ahead and watch it. Guess what, Farhan isnt in top form.. but then he does deserve another chance, unless offcourse its a sequal to this one.

Friday, November 03, 2006

My Trsyt with BugZilla

I have never really got my hands dirty in the Licensed -vs- Open source Software debates, that ravage all over the internet. But somewhere in my heart I always rooted for Open Source. Its the perennial underdog, with public unity and diversity propelling it.

But, my perceptions took a bit of a beating yesterday when I got my hands dirty trying to get Bugzilla, the open source free licensed Bug Tracking Software from the Mozilla stable. Its a free download from the web and is supposed to be THE big buzz.

I located the step by step install instructions on site and rubbed my hands in glee to get a top class Bug tracking software running for my project.. FREE. A day later I realize its not a cake-walk.

The issues with Open source, more specifically Bugzilla and its installation, as I perceived are immense.

1. No Consolidate Package. There is just no 1 single package that can be downloaded and installed (on XP or even Linux) Bugzilla. So you download Bugzilla, Active PERL, MySQL Database, Apache web server and after that you are only just begun on your way.

2. Version Issues. All of these 'components' are open source too. So you need to figure out which version is what you really need. You realize, thanks to lots of documentation on Support site, that certain versions of ActivePerl or MySQL have bugs that block Bugzilla functionality. So you need to be really careful in picking the versions you download.

3. The Step by Step guides are good, but not great. A lot of the steps are for prev versions, and the UI/ Interfaces have changed since then. Plus, so much is assumed that you need to 'know' stuff like MySQL and PERL to proceed. I messed up my installation because I checked a setting in MySQL called 'Strict SQL', which ironically was a recommended setting. That dint allow Bugzilla CGI to execute on my webserver.

4. Lacking Customizability. Eventually when I have Bugzilla up and running, I realize, that Bugzilla is not really great in Customizability. Its open source, so you can hack what you want. But thats different. You cant customize a lot of stuff on a running instance. Now, thats just a bad quality for a software. No amount of 'openess' can shield it.

The biggest issue for me was the complicated installation. Had it all been 1 package, it makes the life a lot simpler. You just run through 1 installer and not worry about picking relevant versions etc.

I think whatever might the Open Source champions claim, the day when masses shall use Open source software are still far away. Open Source SW might be free and easy to configure, but for now, its still geek friendly. It still lacks User oriented features. Open source advocates always talk about bugs ravaging licensed software, but the fact is as long as the Software has lots of useful and revelant features and they mostly run fine, we are happy. If you write a very compact application that doesnt do much but doesnt have a lot of bugs, its still not what we want.

To end this post, well, I have got my Bugzilla up and running and discovered some does and dont along the way too. The Application, while might not allow me all the customizability, should still serve our purpose.