Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Cracked Enigma!!

Hurray!! I cracked the Level 25 - Final Frontier of Enigma - A series of computer puzzles organized by IIT Karagpur.

Those who are interested @ taking this quiz, have a look at the webiste - Enigma

Answers are posted in the comments section.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Silence of the Lambs - Movie Review

Kart's Rating - 4.5/5

Few weeks back, I watched the movie - 'The Silence of the Lambs', a horror/thriller movie, starring Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins, for which they both won Oscar awards for their flawless acting. It is unlike other Tamil/Telugu/Hindi movies in more than one way - there is no hero and the villain is also not an important character in the movie - the villain 'Buffalo Bill' appears in the screen only for few minutes and that too at the fag end of the movie. The movie is well directed and you would find it very interesting till the very end.

The main cast is played by Jodie Foster, the heroine one would want to fall in love at first sight. :-) Her acting was mature and her facial expressions were near perfect. I liked her (acting) to such an extent that the first thing I did when I came to office the next day morning was - I typed 'Jodie Foster' in Google search toolbar. :-) She acted as a FBI Academy student and fitted that role perfectly.
Antony Hopkins acted as 'Hannibal Lecter', a brilliant forensic psychiatrist and a incarcerated serial murderer. His performance remains the shortest lead acting, Oscar-winning performance ever, as Hopkins is on screen for less than 17 minutes throughout the course of the film.

For those who wanna know more on this movie, I would advise them to spend 10-15 bucks, rent a DVD and enjoy watching the excellent movie.

For those who enjoy reading a book than watching a movie have a look at the novel - Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Kart learns to Rock - My first date with Violin.

Ever since my sister started learning carnatic music (that was a decade ago), I wanted to learn a musical instrument - initially it was not because of my overwhelming interest in music but purely because I always wanted to set the parities straight with my sister, who was teasing me for my musical ignorance. Over the years that wish grew stronger and stronger and by the end of last year it was strong enough to seriously think about joining a music class.

Why not Vocal? That wouldn't have been a question in the first place, if you had got a chance to hear my voice before. I am a below average bathroom signer. By saying this I am not trying to be modest. :-)

Now came the tougher question - which instrument to learn - Veena, Keyboard, guitar, violin or drums?

Why not Veena? I am skeptical about learning Veena, as the world 'Veena' sounds feminine to me - may be because I started growing watching 'I-eat-curd-rice' girls playing Veena in Doordharshan or may be because my bed room had a photo of Goddess Saraswathi playing Veena.

Why not Keyboard? Keyboard is an easy instrument to learn. Even if you are a bad musician, the sound from keyboard won't make you look awfully bad. But it can generate only discrete frequencies unlike string instruments which can generate continuous frequencies. It might also be monotonous - especially after spending hours in office typing my computer keyboard.

Why not drums? I recently moved to an apartment and I wanted to stay there for some more time - so don't wanna risk being tagged as nuisance by my neighbors - learning drums can be pleasant feeling to you but not to those around you :-).

Now the real tussle was between learning Violin and guitar. Guitar always sounded a cool thing and I usually envisage it with rock stars. But, Violin is also an equally cool instrument. Then, I asked my friend, who though not a prodigy in the world of music has a profound interest in music, batted for Violin and suggested me to take it up. The icing on the cake was when my school mate gifted his violin to me, definitely not an euphemism for saying that I grabbed it from him. :-), which obviated the need for further analysis on choosing the instrument.

After zeroing in on the instrument, and after a month long search for a good music teacher, I joined kalanjali to learn carnatic violin by Jan first week.

My first day was cool and it lasted only for 30 minutes. I did pooja to Goddess Saraswathi's image @ Kalanjali- not because I am a theist but only because my master is... After completing the rituals, I struggled to play even...Sa...ri...ga...ma.. in my violin for the next 15 minutes. But not any more, after a week long practice and now my apartment mates have also started enjoying my experiments with violin, though they occasionally tease me for the odd sound it generates in between. :-)

Made in Japan - Book review

Kart's rating - 4/5

'Made in Japan' by Akio Morito is arguably one of the best books I have read so far. Yes - It's a book written by the co-founder of SONY, one of the most successful electronics companies in the modern world. It was not only a good book on management but also provided me deep insights on the world affairs and Japanese culture; As and when I read the book, I stood on the shoes of Morito and analyzed how I would have reacted to those situations - it really was an interesting exercise (though you could call it as childish exercise), which helped me to understand how good a manager he is/was.

At a quick glance, one might feel that he was flattering the Japanese - their culture, their management skills, their technology, their work quality, their working style, and what not.... Initially, I got an impression that he was biased and was trying to sell Japan to the rest of the world. But, in retrospect, I am tempted to second his view. Japan, like a Phoenix bird, rose from the shambles after the world war II. The kind of economic growth they had after world war II was really remarkable, given that they are /were neither blessed with rich mineral wealth like Russia or USA, nor oil/natural gas like the Arabian countries. They are just a small island, cursed with active volcanoes and deadly earth-quakes; It was terrible to know that many Japanese were unfortunate enough to see Tokyo rebuilt thrice after destruction - once after world war II and twice after earth quakes, which shook Japan in the last century.

I always believed that attitude determines everything - when Sony was founded by Akio Morito and Ibuka, two creative young and creative engineers, they had no positive atmosphere for starting a company. They found it very difficult even to get a decent work place and the basic raw materials to build their electronics product. But within few months after the world war, Sony and other Japanese were not worrying about the havoc caused during the world war but rather they were looking ahead.

In his book, Akio Morito has expressed a very strong view on almost everything. He openly criticized his fellow company mates, his competitors and infact some of his own decisions. His views on the world economy, the economic development across the world, the management strategies employed by the west vs Japan were all very informative. His decisions in tight situations were spot-on most of the times, though some of them were learning experiences.

In short, 'Made in Japan' was an interesting and informative read.

PS: I wrote a part of the review long back (4-5 months back) when I read the book. But, I didn't find time to continue it until now, so the blog might lack coherence.