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