Friday, December 19, 2008

Sennheiser HD 202

My Philips earphones stopped working last week. Philips earphones, like any of other $20-odd earphones, do not work for me for more than a year. So this time I went looking for new ones with an intent to try something different - noise cancelling headphones. After doing some research, I quickly realised active-noise cancelling headphones, with a price tag between $300 to 400, would be bit of a overkill. I settled for a passive noise cancelling headphone. JB Hi Fi had a wide variety of these headphones to try on. I took my mp3 player loaded with my favourite song(s) in different genre to trial out my next headphone. In the end, I bought Sennheiser HD 202.

I have had HD 202 for a week now and I absolutely love it for the following reasons:
  • Performance: Excellent audio response. Powerful Bass. Performs well at high sound level. Quite crisp at low bass levels.
  • Ambient noise: Good at blocking ambient noise. The ear cup with its oval shaped ear pads fits around your ears thereby blocks most of the ambient noise.
  • Comfort: HD 202 fits me well. It is light weight. The soft leather-like, replaceable ear pads feels goods on the ears. I was able to wear this thorough the length of a Tamil movie without feeling uncomfortable/the need to remove it. HD 202 also comes with a belt clip for adjusting cable length when on the move.
  • Portability: Unlike Philips earphones, it isn't the most easiest things to carry around. I am still looking for a suitable carry case. It appears rugged in build...and I can probably chuck it in the backpack with other things. It probably wont last very long if I do that. The bulkiness is a limitation, I think.
  • Cable length: 3 metres. The cable length for Philips earphones was only 1 metre. With 1 meter, I was always on a tight leash with the laptop or the mp3 player. 3 metres is good.
  • Price & Warranty - AU$68 at JB Hi Fi, Brisbane. 2 years warranty. Good price, quality product.
Thumbs up!

Do you use HD 202? Or are you planning to buy HD 202? Your comments or queries are welcome.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Rajni turns 58!

Superstar, Thalaivar, Rajni or Rajni Sir turned 58 on Dec 12th. Rajni's stature in Tamil Cinema is common knowledge to everyone - Chinna kozhandhaiyum sollum! He is perhaps THE most popular, charismatic, highest-paid actor in Indian film industry. To celebrate Rajni's birthday, instead of listing my favourite Rajni (as hero) movies or memorable Rajni scenes or the all-too-famous Rajni (punch) dialogues or Rajni songs- I'll list the unforgettable villain roles played by our Superstar.

Style, charisma, his own distinctive-trademark dialogue delivery and his characteristic on-screen mannerisms are the attributes that makes Rajni the mass hero that he is. I am a Kamal fan and I consider Kamal numero uno in terms of acting. I know many die-hard Rajni fans may refute that even though in the back of their minds they know it is the truth. Come know it. But hey, whenever I see Rajni's finger swish followed by a punch dialogue or his trademark intro scene/song, even the 'Rajni-Superstar' musical intro played in the beginning of the movie - I get goosebumps. If I am watching the movie in a theatre, I join the crowd with the claps and whistles. His style, his magical presence just sweeps me off my feet.

Coming back to the topic, before Rajni appeared in hero roles he played villain in many films. I watched most of his villain movies recently. Previously, Raghuvaran, M R Radha, Radha Ravi, Sarathkumar (Pulanvisaranai), Sathyaraj (Amaidhipadai), Prakash Rai formed my top villain list. Now, after watching villain roles mentioned below, Rajni is my favourite detestable villain - any day.

Vettaiya Raja, Chandramukhi.

Yep. I know his screen time as Vettaiya Raja was just for the Ra Raa song. But didn't he bring out despicableness of the character? Pure Rajni magic!

Chakravarthy, Netrikann

A rich, arrogant, promiscuous father. Just watch the first scene of the movie. Theeratha velaiyattu pillai!

?, Moondru Mudichu.

The saboteur.

Ramanathan, Avarghal

A jealous, egoistic, sadistic husband who tortures his wife, not with a whip, but with words.

Ramanathan'na vettanumpola kovam varala?!

Parattai, 16-Vayadhinile

A village villain. Rajni redefined the imagery of a village villain in this role. No handlebar moustache. No Veecharuva. No loud dialogues. Just a very cunning and wicked rowdy. His dialogues had style and lustful sarcasm. To top all this, the famous "idhu eppadi irruku" to add more venom to his villainy.


So, on his 58th birthday, my only request to Thalaivar is: Please do more roles like the above or roles performed in Aarulirindhu Arupathu Varai or Mullum Malarum or Thillu mullu. We realise you have the a specific image to adhere to; the burden of expectations from fans and Tamil cine industry. We also realise mass-entertainers, ridiculously hero-centric and illogical gibberish like Sivaji and Kuselan are inevitable. But, we know what you are capable of. So just give us one more Parattai or a Ramanathan before you quit acting...something in the shades of grey. You teased us by playing Vettaiya Raja. We are hooked, again!

Happy Birthday Superstar!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Idhu dhaanda body!

"If you are talking about a guy's six pack, it better be about the beers" - Unknown

Well, after looking at these pictures, I'll make an exception.

It was heartening to see Surya and Vishal flaunt their six-packs in their recent movies. Apart from Action King Arjun and Chiyaan Vikram (Vijay is not too bad either), Tamil actors were not known for trim bodies, toned muscles, fit or atheletic figures. They were renowned for the opposite - big bellies and bloated looks. This reminds me of a Vivek joke in Saamy. Vivek goes to a pot-bellied cop "Pramaadhama investigate panni puduchitel. I am very proud of you. Aana onnu, unga thopaiya mattum korachukhongo...illeane unga shoe-ey ungala paakamudiyaadhu...hahah" LOL

I hope this sets a benchmark for future actors. You may want to check out this well written post by Raju on sexy six pack.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Hmm...another nerd!

I heard this conversation recently:

Non-Engineer A: You attending the function tomorrow?
Non-Engineer B: (in an unenthusiastic tone) Yea...
Non-Engineer A: What's wrong?
Non-Engineer B: It's all engineers...would be pretty boring. They don't talk, can't communicate properly.

OK...that was, to put it gently, a lame comment by NEB (Non Engineer B). Normally my brain treats lame comments as junk mail (not junk e-mail…Gmail does a good job in trashing that). We see them in the post box, sometimes we open it because it stands out (like funny lame comments), but it quickly ends up in the rubbish bin. But this comment, for reasons I am going to discuss, got me. Being an engineer, I was mildly offended by it. After having a chat with NEB, I see a glaring lack of knowledge or understanding of what engineers, particularly the ones in my field (Power Systems, SCADA) do. Is it plain old ignorance on their part? Or is it a fault on us - failing to educate the public of what we are doing; why we are doing; why we are doing the way we are doing.

We, engineers, I think, don’t emerge much in people’s mind these days. We don’t really feature in the news and people become aware of our existence only when there is the odd blackout or a bridge collapse. However, back in the early-mid 20th century, engineers were revered and sometimes placed even in a higher pedestal than doctors and scientists. Famous engineers like Edison, Nikola Tesla, and Charles Babbage made ground-breaking inventions, so grand in the scheme, that it changed the world forever. Their successes made headlines. Engineers were acknowledged then, not that they are not acclaimed today – but their contributions were strikingly visible to people. I believe people these days take most of the things for granted. Everyone is comfortable and things appear to be obviously simple. So the appreciation has worn off.

In the last few decades, engineers are still making the inventions, pushing the boundaries - but it is on the stuff that has already been done before. The inventions are incremental; they enhance/develop already existing inventions. Let me explain. Skyscrapers: The soon-to-be tallest building in the world, Burj Dubai, will hit newspapers as the one of greatest things ever done by man. Well, it is great. But it is not something people have not seen before. It is, as my Chinese friend puts it (sorry Tim...LOL), just another erection. Jumbo Jets: Airbus put in considerable amount of work get the new A380 built. But it is just another big plane to the public. There is far more interest in the features available in A380's business class than in the engineering used to get the plane's weight down. Long bridges: done. Space missions: oh yes. High speed computers, Whiz-bang weapons: OK, these may have come up in the latter part of 20th century, but engineers and the public saw it coming. The society is inured to these developments as they occur slowly over a period of time.

My point is: we engineers in the last few decades (I feel bad saying this) have not invented/built anything (with a few exceptions) of grand/remarkable scale that challenges all established ideas of scale, size and beliefs. We have not proposed preposterous ideas and make what everyone would consider an impending failure into a genius invention. Have we lost the spark? Or is it because, we have invented everything there is to be invented? Understood the whole universe armed with Newton's law and a fx82TL Casio calculator? Hmm…

Perhaps we engineers are victims of our own success. The role of modern engineer is more of maintenance- it is true to a certain extent - while adding some new developments (enhancements) here and there. I hope, with the exciting R&D done around (e.g. nanotechnology - I don’t know much about it…I’ve read about it and its sounds very interesting) the world, that we are in the threshold of another era of spectacular inventions.

Until then, when an engineering success in a typically obscure field like substation design, SCADA or power system protection gets into papers with a photo of an engineer with a big grin, people like NEB will read it and say/think [Refer to the blog post title].

Monday, December 1, 2008

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Times of India - Chennai

I saw this video by Times of India to commemorate the 369th birthday of Chennai. The video titled 'A day in the life of Chennai' is satirical take on Tamil cinema and Tamil Nadu politics. Politics and Cinema have always had a connection in Tamil Nadu.

With a slight sarcastic undertone in the lyrics of the 'Naaka Mukka' song, the video portrays the ascendance of a film star to a minister and his eventual downfall. There are some creative visuals which captures the sad reality of the fanatical following of cinema and politics by a section of TN society.

Good video.. Times of India could have given a better birthday gift by showing the brighter side of Chennai. Oh well...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Barmy Army Chants

A follow up on crowd chants. Below are some by Barmy Army.

Note: The chants/poems below were NOT written by me. They are all Barmy Armys' creations.

Shane Warne

He's fat
He's round
He bounces on the ground
Shane Warne, Shane Warne


Row, Row, Row, Your Boat
Gently down the stream
Murali Murali Murali Murali
Chucks it like a dream

Throw, throw, throw your ball
gently down the pitch,
Murali, Murali, Murali, Murali,
isn't life a bitch.

Throw, throw, throw your ball
gently down through the air,
Murali, Murali, Murali, Murali,
where is Darrell Hair.

Shane Warne

(To the tune of 'My Old Man's A Dustman')
Shane Warne is an Aussie
He wears a baggy cap
He wears a Nike earing
He is an Aussie twat
He's got his little flipper
He's got his box of tricks
But when he bowls at Strauss
He hits him for a six

Shane Warne’s Villa
(To the tune of Tony Christie’s ‘Amarillo’)
Show me the way to Shane Warne’s Villa
He’s got his diet pills under his pilla (pillow)
A dodgy bookie from Manila
Nursey’s on her mobile phone

Repeat x3

La-la lar la-la la-la lar, Fat Git!
La-la lar la-la la-la lar, Take a bung
La-la lar la-la la-la lar,
Warney where’s your mobile phone?

Justin Langer

Langer is an Aussie
He wears the gold and green
He is the biggest whinger
That we have ever seen

He wasn’t very happy
When we called Brett Lee’s no ball
He’s got a very big mouth
And he’s only five feet tall

Ricky Ponting

I can’t read and I can’t write
I must be Australian
I can’t read and I can’t write
I must be Australian

I can’t bowl and I can’t bat
My names Ricky Ponting
I can’t drink and I can’t fight
My names Ricky Ponting

Ricky Ponting
Ponting is the captain
Of the Aussie cricket team
But once the match is over
He is a gay drag queen

Ricky Ponting
Ponting’s special friend
Is a man called Glenn McGrath
You’ll see them holding hands
At the Sydney Mardi Gras

...Australia's response

Sung to the tune of 'Advance Australia Fair' - Australia's national anthem. Written by Australian songwriters - Greg Champion and Dave Brookes.

Fred Flintoff is a criminal,
Trescothick is a bore,
And Michael Vaughan’s a mummy’s boy,
And Ian Bell never scores.
Paul Collingwood can’t get a game
And Pieterson’s a flop,
If they’re the best old England’s got,
They might as well give up.

Crowd at The Gabba

It was a hot Saturday afternoon at the Brisbane Cricket Ground (colloquially called The ‘Gabba) in the first test match between the Trans-Tasman rivals Australia and New Zealand. The scorching heat and humidity made me run towards the sparse strip of shade in the Grandstand as the sun tilted towards west. Under this thirty-six degree heat, Tim Southee was under the cosh as Simon Katich smashes consecutive fours. Daniel Vettori, the NZ captain, has a word with his tired bowler and they make few changes to the field set up while delicately balancing attack and defence.

Amongst all this action, there was something strange happening in the background. Something…it has always been there but there is something more to it now. Ah, it’s the crowd, no the crowd noise. A section of the crowd in the adjacent grandstand, mainly Australian supporters – majority of them holding a plastic tumbler of cold beer on one hand and a plastic soft-drink bottle on the other, shouting:

“Cullum’s a wanker,

tum dum, tum, tum dum” (by tapping the plastic bottle on the seats)

Whenever a new player takes field position near that particular section of the crowd; they welcome him by chanting on his name. I have heard this particular crowd chant before in test matches in NZ and I should admit I found it quite funny the first time I heard it (especially the way the rhythm is maintained by tapping the plastic bottles for “tum dum, tum, tum dum” or by clapping).Calling a person a wanker is insulting. But it didn’t stop there. NZ players were subjected to continuous abuse from crowd with comments like Faggots, “F**k off Kiwis/NZ” etc. This resulted in a verbal and physical altercation between Australian and NZ supporters. Ten people were evicted from the stadium.

Australian crowds abusing players is not a new phenomenon. They are well known for their foul-mouthed outbursts and racial gibes – a Muralitharan, Ntini, Gibbs, Caddick or Harbhajan Singh (albeit gave a few himself) have faced the brunt and can vouch for it. Big screens in major cricket grounds regularly flash the ICC anti-racism code, but it has little or no effect.

While the group was doing their preposterous deed, I was beginning to wonder: Here we have a group of people having a good time with mates or fellow cricket enthusiasts, watching cricket over few beers. It’s all good fun, they take the Mickey out of the players – which is OK as long it doesn’t get too personal (‘wanker’ chant , even though not terribly insulting, is over the line) and gradually or suddenly – I don’t know, they get incensed or get carried away with the fun and pass a offensive and/or racist remark. Why? You may think I have already answered the question in the previous sentence. The offensive and/or racist remark is the end result. My question is how they arrived to that stage which makes them utter those remarks. Why did their behaviour, which initially was cheerful and sporting, turn into a mob-like behaviour? Would each member of that group behave the same way if they were isolated from the group? Why, when together as a group, is there a deliberate suspension of decent and responsible public behaviour? Or does the mere fact of being in this collective presence give them an ideal opportunity to vent and display a false sense of ego? I do not understand this psychology.

I am sure certain individuals in that group would know, subconsciously, that their action were not correct. But they probably shun their conscience and went with the flow. Who ever are the individuals that composed the group, whatever their occupations, character, beliefs, intelligence – they let themselves down that day. Shame on you guys!

IMHO, the reason for this type of behaviour could boil down to the aggressive nature of Australian culture and the way of upbringing children in the society - parents inculcating right morals to their children at home and education at school. This type of behaviour is sadly, I don’t see it changing any time soon.

Oh by the way, NZ lost the test match. It’ll probably add more fuel to the fire for the Adelaide crowd.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Vaaranam Ayiram

Vaaranam Ayiram is Gautham Vasudev Menon's tribute movie to his late father. VA is a heartfelt, emotional movie about how a father plays an important role in each phase of his son's life.

Watching VA one would tend to feel that GVM's aim would have been similar to Cheran's Thavamaai Thavamirundhu. While TT portrayed the hardships faced by a father to provide the best for his children in a typical Cheran style, VA depicts daddy's emotional contribution and guidance in different stages of his son's life.

TT adopts
an unrelenting attack of slow, silent and subtle sentiments with strong holds of reality. VA has these sentiments but takes a melodramatic route (military operations, kidnap & rescue) which deviates from the movie's main subject/purpose - daddy, thus lessening the impact. It may be argued that this deviation plays a turning point in 'son' Surya's outlook on life, but I feel GVM could have scripted it better. Overall, VA does manage to pass on the intended message which I think can be best described by a quote - 'Any man can be a father, it takes someone special to be a dad(dy)' .

Dialogues in English - I guess GVM was trying to bring in reality of everyday speech. Yes, we all speak Tanglish these days but there should be a limit to which English is used. I am not asking for thooya (pure) thamizh here, just strike the right balance!

Great performance by Surya in both roles. GVM has brought the best out of Surya again. Simran does well as Surya's mom and shares a good onscreen rapport with 'dad' Surya - reminding me of their onscreen chemistry in Nerukku Ner. Sameera Reddy was adequate and Divya Spandana sleepwalks through her role.

Harris Jayaraj, once again, has given some awesome songs - 'Adiye Kolludhey', 'Nenjukul Peithidum' and 'Mundhinam'. My favourite song is
'Nenjukul Peithidum' - a soft melody with an acoustic guitar background sung beautifully by Hariharan.

Worth watching. Avoid the theatre, watch it on DVD.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My top 10 Ganguly moments

This is my top ten memorable moments of Sourav Ganguly's career. There were numerous moments to choose from, but I chose the instances where I/we would remember Ganguly for the person/player he is.

Here it goes.

10. On a collision course. Running between the wickets is not Ganguly's forte. 'Quick' singles are not really a feature in SG's batting. But when he does decide to take that 'quick' single, obstructions of any form doesn't help. Here is a Minties moment...

10. The comback innings - This was Ganguly's first international game after his excile due to Chappell row. 51 not out vs South Africa, Johhanesburg, 2006. Determination and grit under intense pressure.

9. Stop wasting time! Ganguly argues with Mohammed Yousuf.

8. Taunting the Iceman, yea bring back the Biff! - Irritating Steve Waugh by being late for the toss (I think it was not deliberate, well who knows?), getting the red rag out of the pocket in the Goa one-dayer, howling send off to Steve Waugh after his dismissal...It all counts!

7. The Man with the golden arm. The partnership breaker. Five-fer in Sahara Cup 199?, crucial wickets Adelaide Test '99, vs Aus Kolkata '98, vs Pakistan '0? and other matches I can't remember.

6. 143 vs Australia, Brisbane. Gutsy knock. It set up the series for India and was a precursor to some great batting in the series.

5. Ganguly - Tendulkar partnership vs SA, Jo'burg, 2001-2. Brutal knock!

4. Test Debut century vs England, Lords 1996.

3. "I was asked to step down as captain" - Ganguly spills the beans in a press conference after scoring 12th Test century against Zimbabwe in 2005. Followed by the Chappell's email...Beginning of the end?

2. The sight of Ganguly charging down the track to a spinner. In this video, Muralitharan is the victim. 183, vs Sri Lanka, World Cup 1999, Taunton.

1. Natwest Trophy final celebration, Lords. Nothing beats this.

Some notable moments & innings which just missed the cut. They are:
  • Double hundred vs Pakistan, Banglore
  • Verbal encounter with Stuart Broad in 4th ODI vs England (Don't **** with me buddy!)
  • 87 on a difficult pitch vs SA at Ahmedabad '08
  • Tense hundred vs Australia at Melbourne '00
  • 80 odd vs Australia at Melbourne '03 (before Sanjay Bangar caused a run out)
  • Final moments of his final test
What are your 'Ganguly' moments?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Dada says Tata

Sourav Ganguly has retired. It was a bit sad to see him go - not because he was India's most successful test captain or one of the greatest one day batsman of all time - but he is a fighter, a natural & charismatic leader and one of the great personalities of the modern game.

I was a never a big fan of Sourav but I had this quiet admiration of his approach to the game, his intuitive - bordering towards impulsive - captaincy and the confident attitude with that touch of arrogance.

Ganguly's reign was synonymous with India's emergence as cricket's superpower. He will always be remembered as the symbol or representative of the new generation of sportsmen, why even young Indians, who dare and give a good fight.

Ganguly, in my opinion, can not be classified as a batting genius. His shortcomings in his batting are common knowledge to anyone who have followed Indian cricket. Watching him bat can make you stand up from your seat and applaud or cringe in the same seat. I will miss his leaden-footed waft outside the off stump, the WTF look he gives just after the waft, the look of being shot-down just before he faces a fast bowler (OK this was during the period when he was terribly out of form - e.g. India tour of NZ in 2002), the silken cover-drives, huge sixes coming down the track against the spinners and the uncanny knack of picking up a wicket to break a huge partnership (No wonder he is/was called 'the man with the golden arm').

Sourav, thank you for everything. We will miss you. You were a freakish legend!

Vital spark of heavenly flame

I came across this poem in high school. A poem about death. The feeling just moments before a slow, peaceful (well I would like to think that way) death.

Legendary stuff from the great English poet, Alexander Pope.

Vital spark of heavenly flame!
Quit, O quit this mortal frame:
Trembling, hoping, lingering, flying,
O the pain, the bliss of dying!
Cease fond Nature, cease thy strife,
And let me languish into life.

Hark! they whisper; angels say,
Sister Spirit, come away!
What is this absorbs me quite?
Steals my senses shuts my sight,
Drowns my spirit, draws my breath?
Tell me, my soul, can this be death?

The world recedes; it disappears!

The ramble begins!

Hello! Thanks for visiting.

I've been reading many blogs for the last few years. I feel it's about time I had my own blog. So, like everybody these days, I have joined the Blogger bandwagon. As a new kid in the blog world, a short intro wouldn't be out of place. I am from Chennai, India. I am a SCADA Engineer by profession and currently reside in Brisbane, Australia.

So, what can you expect from this blog? Refer to the blog's title & subtitle.

I'll try to post often and hope you find some or all of the contents of this blog interesting and you keep coming back.

Have a great day!