Ahoy there! This is my personal blog which I use as my memory extension and a medium to share stuff that could be useful to others.

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David beats Goliath…again!

I watched the David Haye Vs Nikolai Valuev WBA Heavyweight title fight a couple of hours ago. There was a lot of hype before the fight billed as “David Vs Goliath”, given the whopping 7 stone weight difference and significant height difference between the two boxers. Before the fight, David promised that he would be the first man to knock out the “beast from the east” and did some thrash talking about the huge Russian.

Nikolai-Valuev-v-David

 

Well, the fight was far from a spectacle, it was twelve rounds of a cat-and-mouse game, not many punches exchanged and there was no knock out. David Haye won by a majority decision on points and is now the WBA Heavyweight Champion of the world. David was slipping and sliding more than punching. His negative tactics were understandable since he was facing a giant with a massive height and weight advantage, but he could have thrown more punches in the earlier rounds as he in fact rocked Nikolai a bit in the last round with a combination (after the match, David said that he hurt his right hand in the early rounds and so didn’t use it much).

Although no boxing fan would want to see a title being won in such a boring match (and some may even argue that David did not do much in the fight to win the title) , David’s victory is a breath of fresh air for the boxing Heavyweight division. David Haye has the skill, speed, power, aggression and charisma for a world champion (though he can do without a bit of the thrash talking pre-fight), whereas Nikolai is just a boring giant who relies more on his size than skill. Lot of big bucks await David Haye and I wish him well. It will be interesting to watch him take on the Klitshcko brothers.

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Today, the inaugural Airtel Champions League Twenty Twenty (CLT20) kicked off with the first match played between the Royal Challengers Bangalore (India) and the Cape Cobras (South Africa). The Cape Cobras won the match with some exceptional batting by Jean-Paul Duminy, scoring an unbeaten 99 of 52 balls.

With the T20 format becoming wholesome entertainment, I guess the Cricket Administrators took a cue from the UEFA Champions League and created CLT20. This year’s CLT20 includes 12 teams from 7 nations. However, the fact that the World T20 champion Pakistan isn’t represented in this year’s CLT20 is disappointing.

Here in the UK, I’m glad that I can watch the CLT20 on British Eurosport 2 (channel 411 on SKY).

Nowadays, there is always cricket to watch! Good for us fans, but cricketers need to have a very high level of fitness to avoid burn out. It will be the survival of the fittest!

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There’s a glass trough filled with clear water before you. To this trough, you add some filthy water, some stinking pond water with moss and algae, some filth from the sewers, some rabbit crap and then stir the contents in the trough. You now have a trough containing a revolting mixture before you. Would you, even in the wildest of your dreams, think about drinking water from this trough? Probably not!! However, Michael Pritchard will do it without hesitation as he is the inventor of the Lifesaver bottle, supposedly the world’s first ultra-filtration bottle which will allow you to drink water from any source, from the cleanest to the most polluted. The filtration concept itself is simple – apart from activated carbon found in almost all water filters, the Lifesaver bottle uses filter membranes with pores smaller than the smallest virus, thereby blocking all pathogens and unwanted pollutants. The FAQs on the company website also claim that you could drink your own urine if passed through a Lifesaver bottle, but it’s not recommended [ perhaps as it makes urine therapy less effective!! 😉 ]

Watch Michael Pritchard’s demo of the Lifesaver bottle (at TED) below:

 

 

The Lifesaver bottle or jerry can could save the lives of millions of people around the world in dire need of drinking water, but for this ultra filtration technology to really change the world, it must be affordable, safe to use and easily accessible.

 

The Lifesaver bottle scores well on safety. The bottle has been tested and certified by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (laboratory test results). Also, when the bottle’s filtering mechanism expires, the filtering system simply shuts down preventing unsafe consumption of water.

Regarding affordability, you can check the cost of Lifesaver products here. They are expensive and will not be affordable by the people who need them most. Michael Pritchard believes that developed countries which provide massive aid to developing countries can include these bottles as part of their aid packages. However, for Lifesaver products to be more affordable and easily accessible, perhaps Michael should license the technology to manufacturers around the world with utmost importance given to adherence to quality. The developing and poor countries wherein people are more likely to fall short of drinking water are typically also the countries where corruption is widely prevalent and so many fake bottles could be manufactured thereby putting several lives in danger. So, while this technology is wonderful in the benefits it can bring to millions, there’s still more to be done to realize the benefits.

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Sony Ericsson MH907: Do what comes naturally!

Sony Ericsson’s recently launched Motion Activated MH907 headphones allows you to just do what comes naturally to listen to music and receive calls on your mobile.

The downside to this wonderful innovation is that the MH907 works only with Fast ports on Sony Ericsson phones. There are Fast port to 3.5mm jack adaptors available, but I don’t know if the adaptors prevent the motion activation functionality.

The motion activated headphones work as follows (image adapted from Sony Ericsson’s website):

 

MH907

Watch Sony Ericsson’s ad video below:

 

Visit the Sony Ericsson website for more details

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More plastic in your wallet

In India, you would often face a problem using old, worn out or perhaps slightly torn banknotes. Typically, Indians refuse to accept such banknotes, but unfortunately, such banknotes are in wide circulation. Paper banknotes have an estimated lifetime of around 1 year. Given the population of India and the dominance of cash over credit/debit cards and cheques, the lifetime of paper banknotes in India could very well be less than a year. So, the Reserve Bank of India has recently initiated action to extend the lifetime and enhance the security of Indian banknotes by issuing a global tender for the production of 1 billion pieces of Rs. 10 denomination polymer (plastic) banknotes. Well done RBI!

Polymer banknotes were developed by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and The University of Melbourne and are made from the polymer biaxially-oriented polypropylene (BOPP) which enhances both durability (non-porous, more resistant to dirt and liquid and not easily torn) and security (makes counterfeiting much more difficult). In 1996, Australia became the first country with a full set of circulating polymer banknotes in each denomination, from 5 to 100 dollars.

So, with polymer banknotes, you don’t have to worry about washing your trousers with banknotes in your pockets, as doing so will only return your banknotes to mint condition!

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Will BPL revolutionize our digital world?

Broadband Over Power lines (BPL) is the technology used to transmit data and provide internet access via electric power lines. The underlying mechanisms used for transmitting digital data over power lines have been around for a while and used by Electrical Energy Suppliers to monitor their power grids. As a matter of fact, many countries are now switching to Smart Grids (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act signed by President Barrack Obama in February 2009 included $4.5 billion for Smart Grid development) to ensure electrical energy is distributed, monitored and managed more efficiently. What makes these Smart Grids smart is the ability to carry digital data across their extensive Power line networks and hook up with IT systems to process the data and manage the grid. The image below, courtesy of HowStuffWorks, illustrates broadband internet access over power lines (BPL).

bpl-network

Voice Over IP (VOIP) has revolutionized the telecom industry by integrating voice over data networks, thereby making way for the demise of the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). Electrical grids have more reach than the copper telephone cables, thereby ensuring broadband access to the internet has a wider reach (e.g. in rural areas).

BPL and VOIP, both disruptive technologies, could bring about radical changes in the telecommunications and Electrical Power industries, with the prospect of pertaining all wired voice and data networks to power grids and in-house electrical wiring.

BPL does have its share of obstacles, power line noise interference and the use of frequency bands allocated to Amateur radio operators. However, the circulation of the first draft (for approval) of the IEEE Standard 1901 for BPL in July 2009, is a promising step towards full acceptance and standardization of BPL. And then, it will be only a matter of time before several electrical and electronic manufacturers develop a whole new range of BPL products (some BPL products are already out there).

Transmission of digital data along with electricity over power lines opens up a whole new world of possibilities. Imagine, if all your electrical appliances at home could exchange data with each other and with you. You could administer all your home appliances using software on your computer or handheld device. You could remotely turn on/off light switches in your home. You could schedule various tasks for all your appliances at home to automate your daily routine (alarm, lights, coffee, toast, etc.). Your world could become truly digital!

References:

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Pretty Boy stays pretty

I just watched the welterweight fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Juan Manuel Márquez. Floyd was returning to the ring after a hiatus of 21 months, but it seemed as if he never took a break from boxing. The fight was entirely one-sided with Floyd dominating throughout and making the current WBA and WBO lightweight champion Marquez look ordinary. Marquez stepped up to welterweight for this fight and so didn’t lose his titles. Floyd had a good weight advantage over Marquez (he even weighed 2 pounds more than the agreed fight weight and forfeited $600,000 as a penalty to Marquez), but extra weight or not, Floyd’s boxing skills were a joy to watch..

Floyd Mayweather Jr.Floyd Mayweather Jr. (who changed his boxing nickname from “Pretty Boy” to “Money”) was simply too quick for Marquez and showed us why he’s the best pound-for-pound (P4P) boxer on the planet today! Floyd’s excellent defence (the rolling of shoulders, ducking and slipping away from opponents), his lightning speed (ability to jab faster than the blink of an eye) and accuracy were on exhibition during his fight with Marquez.

Floyd was darting in, jabbing Marquez and bouncing back, all within a flash, thereby not giving Marquez a chance to land any clear shots on his chin. No wonder Floyd’s the Pretty Boy!

For those of you who claim that Boxing is a barbaric sport, watching Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the ring may change your mind, as he makes boxing look a skilful art, rather than a brutal sport.

So, what’s next for Floyd? A fight with the winner of Pacquiao-Vs-Cotto or Sugar Shane Mosley will be fascinating to watch and a more even match.

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Language, Mr. Tharoor! [sic]

I was rather amused by the news on NDTV this evening, when I learned that a hot topic of debate in India was Shashi Tharoor’s comments on Twitter. I couldn’t help thinking about the British sitcom Sorry! and its catchphrase "Language Timothy!"

Well, this was the dialogue between Minister Shashi Tharoor and the veteran journalist Kanchan Gupta on Twitter, that caused a storm in a teacup:

 

Kanchan Gupta: Tell us minister, next time you travel to Kerala, will it be cattle class?

Shashi Tharoor: Absolutely, in cattle class out of solidarity with all our holy cows.

 

I love wit and especially when it comes from an Indian politician, which is seldom. But then, of course, Shashi Tharoor isn’t your run-of-the-mill Indian politician. He’s a very well educated, accomplished author and journalist and has served as the UN Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information at the United Nations.

Shashi’s reply to Kanchan was just a witty remark, but what is even funnier or actually farcical is the Congress party’s recent gimmick on “Operation go austere to attain political nirvana”, causing it to take umbrage at Shashi’s remark. Such a gimmick will soon come undone as it cannot mask rising prices and make up for lack of good governance. The Congress criticized the term “cattle class” and the BJP criticized the term “holy cows”. How narrow-minded these mainstream political parties are! And to make matters worse, NDTV (which is on the way to becoming News, Difficult To Vindicate) ran a program (“The Buck stops here” hosted by Bharka Dutt) for an hour discussing Shashi Tharoor’s remarks and twittering by politicians, without even once mentioning the context in which Shashi made the remark. After watching the program, I had no idea that Shashi passed the remark in reply to a journalist’s question on travelling in cattle class.

Now, let’s consider the language of the offensive [sic] dialogue. For those of you (like me) who have travelled in economy class, you wouldn’t hesitate to find similarities between a herd of cattle and passengers cramped up in the economy class. Actually, cattle don’t have to excuse themselves and squeeze past other cattle for a comfort break and so perhaps they’re even more comfortable than us.

 

No wonder the five-year revision of the Oxford English Dictionary lists "cattle class” as a term to describe economy seats on an aircraft.

 

Also, the term “cattle class” is used quite commonly, like in this article describing how UK troops return to the UK from Afghanistan. Here again, I’d say that the troops have it better (more leg room) than Les Misérables in the economy class (by no means am I envying the troops as I know they aren’t guaranteed to have legs to fill that ample leg room).

The Congress folks are simply getting their knickers in a twist over a funny, inoffensive remark and shouting “Language, Mr. Tharoor!”

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Let the reforms begin!

I believe that education is one of the most important factors contributing to a country’s development. Education can weed out or scale down problems such as poverty, crime, communalism and suppression of freedom. So, I was excited when the Indian HRD minister (Kapil Sibal) recently announced that he was reforming the education system in India as this was a long time coming.

Kapil Sibal’s mantra of “expansion, inclusion and excellence” along with his announcement of a few reforms such as optional Class 10 board exams, accreditation agencies for schools, free education and private sector involvement in primary learning is certainly a step in the right direction and if such reforms are implemented with passion and perseverance, then they will contribute towards giant strides along the road to India’s development.

You may wonder “Does India really need to overhaul its education system? After all, aren’t most of the IT jobs being offshored to India? Isn’t the gruelling Indian education system getting the best out of kids?”. Well, I whole-heartedly agree with Mr. Kapil Sibal on the dire need to reform India’s education system as I believe the current Indian education system has several inadequacies, some of which are listed below:

  • All read, all forget: A famous proverb “When you read, you forget; when you see, you remember; when you do, you understand” explains why the current education system churns out theoreticians, rather than students with practical know-how. India’s schools (especially state schools) focus almost entirely on theory. Students will read pages and pages about an electric motor without even seeing one. Students typically read, learn by rote and purge out everything during an exam with the primary aim of securing the highest rank they can. No wonder then, that India is the world’s largest IT back office with loads of hard-working (not necessarily smart-working) software professionals.
  • Unhealthy competition: Obtaining the first rank in class is more important to a student’s parents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts and even the family dog than it is to the student. A huge amount of pressure is placed on the young shoulders of a student to cope and this is where many parents tend to be unreasonable (perhaps because they feel that if their kid cannot become a doctor or an engineer, the kid is a failure). This leads to stiff competition for every mark squeezed out of an exam. Students and their parents tend to believe that a student who scores 100% in a one-off Math exam is better in Math than a student who scores 99%.
  • Quality of teaching: While there are good teachers in many Indian schools, I’m willing to bet my bottom dollar that a majority of teachers in Indian schools are simply not good enough to impart education. Private schools are run like capitalist businesses wherein the primary focus is on huge revenues from school fees and donations, rather than on providing an excellent education to its students. As a matter of fact, several schools employ young men/women who’ve just graduated from an Arts/Sciences college, as teachers without any formal training in teaching. They do this so that they can pay such teachers small salaries and maximize profits. In the end, it’s the students that suffer with a poor quality of education. And that’s why tutorials are thriving businesses in India!
  • Corruption: Corrupt practices such as teachers accepting bribes to pass students, leaking of question papers, subjective evaluation, etc. are quite rampant in many schools.
  • Poor Infrastructure: When some schools (especially outside cities) don’t have enough money to buy adequate furniture for classrooms, computers would be a dream for them. In order to provide all kids with an equal opportunity to good education, all schools must be provided with at least the minimum required infrastructure to impart a good education.
  • Sporadic evaluation: Most Indian schools have 3 periods of examination in an academic year – quarterly, half-yearly and final. This method of evaluation means that students are given only 3 opportunities to prove themselves in an academic year. Also, all the cramming for exams is concentrated in those 3 periods.

 

Now, for some suggestions (apart from Kapil Sibal’s reforms):

  • Lab Classes and Projects: The structure of the subjects being taught in most Indian schools must be radically changed. Rather than pertaining all evaluation to a text book, I believe certain percentage of evaluation (~ 25%) must be assigned to projects/lab classes. Given the ubiquitous www and the wealth of easily accessible information, students must be encouraged from an early age to do some research on their own, present their views on a topic, debate with others, provide a critical review, etc. Schools need to provide a well-rounded knowledge to students. Also, students must be encouraged to be innovative and creative.
  • Continuous evaluation and Grading: Mr. Kapil Sibal mentioned the need for “continuous, comprehensive evaluation” and I’m glad he realizes that need. I have great admiration for the evaluation mechanism followed in my alma mater. In every academic semester, we had no evaluation in the first month, perhaps to cool off, go dating and prepare to get screwed (I mean by the evaluation to follow). After the cool off period, we would have 3 tests, 1 quiz and 1 comprehensive examination (sum total of 100 marks) for every course such that we would have a couple of evaluations every week (given that we typically had 5-7 courses a semester). This form on continuous evaluation ensured that every evaluation counted and there wasn’t much time to fool around (no idea how some of us found time!). At the end of the semester, every student would be graded (not ranked) for a course based on his/her performance relative to the others who took that course and based on the grades in all courses, a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) would be calculated. This evaluation system used by my alma mater was modelled on the system widely used in American colleges. Such an evaluation system would greatly benefit the Indian schools.
  • Education Boards: For any education reforms to work, there cannot be too many education standards out there. Currently, there are several education boards such as ICSE, CBSE, State, Matriculation, Anglo-Indian, SSLC, etc. Education boards must be consolidated to enable the reforms have a far-reaching effect.

 

Of course, India has some of the best brains in the world making significant contributions to Science, Technology and other disciplines, but then most of these brains have left India for better education and more opportunities in developed nations like the USA. A better education system, better facilities and more opportunities can stem this brain drain.

Revamping the education system in India is, by no stretch of the imagination, an easy task. However, Kapil Sibal has made a promising start and is heading in the correct direction.

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Gujarat Government: Don’t bin it, but ban it!

One of the hot topics in the Indian news media over the past couple of weeks, was Jaswant Singh’s expulsion from the BJP due to the release of his book titled “Jinnah: India-Partition-Independence”.  It seems the book blames Jawaharlal Nehru for the partition in 1947 and claims that Jinnah was wrongly portrayed as the villain of the partition.

Not long after the book’s launch, the pro-Hindutva State government of Gujarat banned the sale, publication and distribution of the book in Gujarat. Consequently, Jaswant Singh filed a petition against the ban with the Supreme Court and the court has issued a notice to the Gujarat government for clarification.

Well, it’s good to see the Supreme court take up the cause of democracy and freedom of speech, but what’s more alarming is the state of affairs in India. Indians do not hesitate to boast about India being the world’s largest democracy, but the truth is that events over the last decade have quite often shown India in poor light with respect to democracy. If India wants to join the developed nations of the world, it needs to ensure that the democratic rights of all its citizens are protected.

What is the need to ban a book? If the book distorts facts or is rubbish, then bin it or don’t even buy it. If the book is indeed historically inaccurate, then surely another dozen books correcting the mistakes will be published soon and historical events may be debated. But why ban a book? Why ban somebody’s freedom of expression?

Narendra Modi (chief minister of Gujarat) is seen as both a hero and a villain, a hero by people of Gujarat for his rapid development and industrialization of the state and a villain by pretty much the rest of India for his pro-Hindutva stance and role (or lack of role) in the Gujarat carnage of 2002. Recently, at the inauguration of a new plant for Hitachi Home and Life Solutions India,  Narendra Modi said “It’s my dream to make Gujarat a great financial power. A day will come when Gujarat, along with Japan and Singapore, will dominate the Asian economy”. That’s a nice dream Mr. Modi and I appreciate it, but first and foremost, please dream of ensuring that your state is truly democratic and secular [and perhaps also lift prohibition! 😉 ] and fulfil that dream. Otherwise, should there be another carnage in Gujurat, you may scare off investors and your dream of making Gujurat a great financial power won’t be easy to achieve.

Update (05/09/2009) : On 03/09/2009, the Gujarat High Court revoked the ban imposed on the book by the Gujarat Government and within 24 hours, the book’s publishers rushed 5000 copies of the book to Gujarat. Well done Gujarat High Court!!

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Microsoft made a victim of its own success

I support open source and free software and I use quite a lot of such software. However, this does not make me anti-capitalist and hate everything proprietary. If it weren’t for the capitalist businesses, the world would not have been as industrialized as it is today. Even though the recent credit crisis which plagued (and perhaps still plaguing) the world was primarily caused by capitalist business (private banks), history has shown that governments cannot run businesses efficiently. Yet, the knives are always out for some capitalist businesses. The rulings passed by the European Commission (EC) of the European Union (EU) against the capitalist powerhouse Microsoft seem to have been made on hatred for Microsoft and everything proprietary. 

Well, I’m far from being a fan of Microsoft. Yet, I cannot deny that Microsoft has introduced the world of computing to many millions of people, primarily with their desktop Operating Systems. Microsoft may not be a technology pioneer, but it has certainly been excellent at doing business and dominating the world software market with its products.

Here are the key rulings passed against Microsoft by the EC:

  • March 2004: Microsoft penalised with a $613 million fine, 120 days to divulge some Windows code to enable other vendor products be interoperable with Windows and 90 days to offer a Windows Operating System without Windows Media Player.
  • July 2006: Microsoft fined $357 million for failing to comply with the anti-competition ruling made against in in March 2004 (mentioned above).
  • February 2008: Microsoft fined £1.35 billion for failing to comply with the anti-competition ruling of March 2004

 

In addition to the above rulings, the EC also announced:

  • May 2008: EC was going to investigate Microsoft Office’s OpenDocument Format Support
  • January 2009: EC was going to investigate Microsoft’s bundling of IE with its Windows Operating Systems.

 

Unsurprisingly, companies that goaded the EC to push Microsoft to one corner are Microsoft’s competitors – Novell, Sun Microsystems, Opera, Mozilla and Google. Well, I am surprised that Google became involved as I thought it usually just lets its products speak for themselves.

Well, I believe that the EC’s rulings against Microsoft and other investigations are unfair. Microsoft has every right to keep its own code proprietary and why should Microsoft pay the price of being so successful and dominant in the software market? Why can’t Microsoft’s competitors develop better products and market them better to remove Microsoft’s dominance? Yes, Microsoft has the great advantage of using its Operating System to enable its other products reach the masses. So what? Why can’t other companies develop better Operating Systems and bundle them with better products? I do appreciate the requirement to release code to enable other vendors make their products interoperable with Windows (that’s the only part of the ruling I agree with), but requiring Microsoft to strip down its OS and remove products like Windows Media Player and IE is simply ludicrous.

The EC’s ruling, in effect, stipulates an upper limit for a successful software business. If you’re doing great and nobody else can do better, you got to slow down to allow others to catch up.

Why isn’t the EC bothered about the following?:

  • Apple bundling the Safari browser with the Mac OS X
  • Google striking a deal with Sony to ship all Sony PCs/laptops with the Chrome browser

Perhaps, the EC believes that Microsoft enjoyed its success for too long and now while Microsoft is being punished for moving too fast towards world domination, other companies should be allowed to catch up!! And which browser do you think Google will bundle along with its Chrome OS due to be released next year? The EC’s ruling against Microsoft has set a bad precedent.

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Hi-tech pants, open source design

I recently came across some cool pants (created by Distilled Clothing, a San Francisco-based men’s fashion line) which block potentially harmful Electro-Magnetic Fields (EMF blocker) like those caused by radiation used by mobile phones.

According to Distilled, “The jury may still be out on whether Electro Magnetic Fields from mobile phones hurt us but phones are legally allowed to emit 1.6 watts per kilogram of radio frequency and one might prefer some insurance. Hence this pant with copper and nickel plated pocket bags that block potentially harmful radiation.

The EMF Blocker pant design pattern has been open sourced by Distilled and is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Some photos of the EMF Blocker pant (courtesy mattymerrill’s photostream) are shown below:

 

 

distilled_emfblocker

 

  

Like the tagline “Protect yourself and your future progeny” :)

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A new metric for movies – RunPeeCount !?

Recently, I came across a whacky website which attempts to address an issue which probably many people have experienced while watching movies at the cinema, especially those long movies – the urge to empty the bladder (pee)! Well, a Flash developer, Dan Florio had just that experience while watching King Kong and developed a website Runpee.com to assist cinema goers in identifying when to run to pee so as not to miss the best parts of a movie!

Here’s a screenshot of the Flash application that powers Runpee.com.

 

runpee

 

The screenshot above provides the pee times for the movie “The Time Traveler’s Wife” indicating that you may pee for around 4 mins at around 46 mins into the movie and obviously, at the end of the movie (for as long as you like). You will also have the option of getting to know what happens in the movie during those precious 4 minutes (you can unscramble the encrypted spoiler).

Well, Runpee.com was launched in August 2008 and is apparently gaining popularity very quickly. It seems that a collaborative effort is underway to analyze pee times for various movies, not just Hollywood, but even regional movies across the world.

I’m sure that Indians could benefit enormously from Runpee.com stats given the very long duration of Indian movies. Also, identifying pee times for Indian movies will be easy (most often during songs) and some entire movies may be just pee time. 😉

Perhaps movie producers and directors will have to take note of a new metric for their movies – the RunPeeCount. i.e. the number of times you can pee during a movie without missing anything interesting. Obviously, movies with the lowest RunPeeCount rule! And imagine what this website will do for cinema owners. They’ll need to upgrade their WC facilities  to accommodate huge queues at specific times of a movie’s running time. Imagine watching “The Time Traveler’s Wife” and @ 46 mins, almost everybody says “It’s pee time” and rushes towards the nearest exit!

Whoa! I’ve never typed/uttered the word “pee” so many times in such a short period. :) Visit the website and have fun!

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Catch me if you can!

A couple of days ago, after Sri Lanka thrashed New Zealand in a test match played in Sri Lanka (primarily due to Muralitharan’s exceptional bowling), Mark Richardson (former Kiwi batsman) resurrected the issue of “Murali chucking the ball by going beyond the 15-degree”.

Typically, with yet another “chucking claim” from a non-Asian affiliated with the game, Asians will be quick to react that such claims provide more evidence for the negative bias against Asian cricket teams. Yes, history has provided some reason for such reactions. For example, when Simon Jones bowled beautifully in the 2005 Ashes, England called it reverse swing, but when Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis (the Sultans of swing) bamboozled the English batsmen, England called it “ball tampering”. It is such hypocrisy of teams like England and Australia that has alienated some of the Asian cricket players and fans.

However, with regards to Mark Richardson’s recent comments on chucking, I believe he makes a very valid point. He did not attack or blame Murali, but rather criticized the ICC for its inept policing of chucking.

I also believe that the ICC’s current policing of chucking is woefully inadequate. As per the current process, an umpire refers a suspect bowling action to the ICC, the ICC conducts several laboratory tests on the bowler with the suspect action and based on the test results, concludes whether the bowler chucks or not.

The ICC makes a bowler completely aware that it’s testing his bowling action in the comfort of a laboratory and expects him not to be consciously or sub-consciously aware of this fact and consistently replicate the same bowling action he uses in all situations in highly competitive international cricket matches.

If a suspect bowling action can only be confirmed in a laboratory, then the only excuse I can find for the ICC following the current nonsensical process is the lack of adequate technology. On the other hand,  if a technology which allows a bowler’s action in cricket matches to be analyzed exists, then the ICC should perhaps police chucking as follows:

  • Ensure the law(s) related to legal bowling is/are unambiguous.
  • Create a team of experts who are very proficient in all technologies required to measure and confirm whether a bowler bowls or chucks.
  • Create a schedule for every Calendar year to randomly select International matches and analyze all bowlers’ actions in those matches. The selection of bowlers whose actions are analyzed must be uniform across all teams. Based on the results of the analysis, bowlers should be informed whether they have a legal or an illegal bowling action and action can be taken accordingly to ensure all players play within the laws of the game.
  • If a bowler’s action is so suspect that an umpire refers the action to the ICC, then the bowlers’ action in that match must be analyzed to confirm or reject the umpire’s suspicion.

If there isn’t a technology which can capture and analyze a bowler’s action in any cricket match, then bowlers (with suspect actions) who are subjected to laboratory tests could play “Catch me if you can!” with the ICC.

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A Bolt from the blue!

My Oh My !! Usain Bolt is Superman. I have been keenly following the world’s best sprinters since I was a kid, followed the Olympics and World Athletic championships closely, always knew who the fastest man in the world was and the world record time for the 100m. However, none of the sprinters I have watched have amazed me anywhere close to as much as Usain Bolt has. I bet Usain Bolt’s name is on every athlete’s lips right now as this guy has given us some breathtaking stuff in two major championships over the past two years.

usain_bolt First, he broke the world records in the 100m and 200m in the Beijing Olympics (2008) by clocking 9.69 secs and 19.30 secs respectively. And now, over the past week, he has smashed those very two records by the same margin of 0.11 secs by clocking 9.58 secs and 19.19 secs in the 100m and 200m respectively in the World Athletic Championships at Berlin. Note that 19.19 secs for the 200m is a rate of 9.595 secs per 100m. Now, that’s FAST !!

Unlike most of the races I’ve witnessed in which the likes of Carl Lewis, Donovan Bailey, Maurice Greene, etc. broke world records, Usain Bolt had taken significant leads over the other athletes in the races, showing that he was clearly far ahead of his competition. And the athletes competing with Usain Bolt are also benefitting by putting in their best performances in trying to keep up with Bolt. The 100m race in which Usain Bolt clocked 9.58 secs, is the first 100m race in history in which 5 athletes clocked below 9.93 secs. Never before have so many athletes in a 100m race run so fast!

And what’s all the more remarkable is the manner in which Usain gives us these great performances. He’s super-cool and relaxed before a race (I’m sure that da Jamaican genes have something to do with it) and doesn’t seem perturbed by pressure or expectations. He makes his victories look so easy.

With the exception of the 200m race in which he clocked 19.19 secs, he didn’t seem to give 100% in all the other races and yet he smashed world records in those races. So, Usain’s certainly got more to offer and the world is going to stand up and take notice every time he runs because when Usain runs, you’d never know what is humanly possible!

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