Thursday, February 22, 2007

Is it Christmas? Sure feels like it.

Wow. A good weekend, and a mostly good week, and then yesterday's football results. Could a girl ask for more? (Well, other than a vat of chocolate sauce and Jamie Bamber and/or Jason Dohring).

My new job goes well, and it has so far stimulated more brain cells than the last six months combined. For some strange reason India has started winning cricket matches again, and even though I profess not to care, it is nigh impossible not to. I have been managed to get my hands on most of the Oscar nominated films and I am looking forward to my choc-a-bloc movie-watching schedule. Social life continues to flourish thanks to friends at work.

And then, I am gifted with superb football results! It was almost perfect - Manchester United win. Real Madrid win (and people die of shock). Arsenal lose. The 'almost' is only because Milan only managed a draw, but anything that's not a loss for Milan is good these days.

It gets better and better. There are rumours that Schumi is being groomed for the top job at Ferrari. A so-so episode of Battlestar Galactica is mitigated by lots of Lee Adama. And there is a fantastic episode of Veronica Mars.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Free Kareem!

Today is Free Kareem Day. Kareem is an Egyptian blogger who has been arrested and will be prosecuted for daring to express his views on his personal blog. He is currently awaiting trial and will be sentenced to jail for 11 years if found guilty. There are world-wide rallies organised to further his cause. In India we are attepmting to assemble a concerted blog protest.

Freedom of speech and expression is as essential in human endeavour as breathing (cliche I know). Any attempts to muffle dissent must be brought to light by whatever means possible. I am glad to be a part of this movement, and I hope that my readers will also take up cudgels on behalf of not only Kareem, but the idea of free speech.

You can find out more about Kareem and the protest here.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The End of the World is Nigh

Because I am about to voluntarily defend Microsoft.

A new OS release from MS has been met with something considerably less than enthusiasm. It seems the tech media, and even the mass media, is sick of the MS experience, as it were. They've all used Windows98 and XP, and have met with the Blue Screen of Death, and patched and repatched their computers too many times to actually buy anything MS says about Vista being really, truly secure. This general underwhelmed reaction to the release of Vista is compounded by the fact that there are zillion versions that they've released (thus confusing consumers no end) and more importantly, that very few existing machines can actually run Vista. My laptop, which is pretty darn cool and loaded, can run the Home Ultimate edition, but only just. If I do install it, I'm sure I will be able to run barely any applications and it will kill my hard drive.

Oh wait, the defense. Yes. So, contrast all of this negative press with all the hoopla surrounding Apple's iPhone launch at MacWorld 07. Steve Jobs is a rockstar, even given all the stock-optioning issues, and Bill Gates is.... not. In interviews with the mainstream media, particularly this one with known Apple afficiando Steven Levy, Bill (and by extension, Microsoft) comes across as a man with a serious case of Apple envy. But if you read the questions asked, and measure them against his responses, the slightly defensive tone is quite warranted. Through the entire release, all they've been asked about is Apple and OS X, and this is compounded by Apple's cheeky PC and Mac ads. The media has also gone overboard with predictions of this sort. While I don't doubt that Apple's market share will increase, and I also don't doubt that the pick-up on Vista will be slower that XP, MS, to all intents and purposes, still dominates the PC market as much as it ever did. Linux has made little to no headway in market share, and Apple may increase its share, but its a long way from even being true competition.

I have also read many, many opinion pieces speculating that Apple will now take advantage of the general public distrust of MS and start to license its OS X to other PC makers. Michael Dell has said he would put OS X on his computers in a jiffy if he could. But I honestly doubt that such licensing will happen. As some people have pointed out, the reason OS X is relatively secure as compared to MS, is because the hardware it runs on is as controlled by Apple as the software. MS doesn't have a say in its hardware, it doesn't offer a vertical experience. Thus, its very pervasiveness ensures that hackers are far more likely to spend their time and energy exploiting security holes in an MS OS.

Having said all that, however, I'm not migrating to Vista anytime soon. I will wait atleast a year to upgrade, and I may just trade in my laptop for a Mac well before that.

In the meantime, Steve Jobs has written an opinion piece on Apple's Thoughts on Music blog that gives me the fuzzies. Of course, this seems like it is atleast partially in response to the EU lawsuit but his ideas are still very interesting, and as user, exciting.

Also, can I express my extreme dissatisfaction at all the rumors of an important Apple ad during Superbowl this year (echoing its iconic 1984 ad) being completely false? I lived in a state of suspenseful anticipation and then... nothing. And on the same note: the Superbowl ads? Sucked, mainly. For me, the best of the bunch was Coke's Grand Theft Auto commercial. Bud Light's Slap was good and so was CBS' Letterman and Oprah but... that was it.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Battlestar Muzaktica, Indeed

The reason for this unprecedented double post is that I had to say something about how absolutely incredible the score on Battlestar Galactica is. I love the show for its incredible character-driven drama, its morality and its politics, but the music sets the tone perfectly.

And there is one particular piece, called Passacaglia, which is beautiful in its simplicity. Its haunting, its bleak, and its sense of tragedy is almost palpable. It is the kind of music that you want to die to.

ETA: This is the blog of the composer for the miniseries, Bear McCreary. Its an interesting read for anyone interested in music, and also a fascinating insight to the creative process behind a score.

Winners, All

An extremely belated round-up of various Guild winners:

Screen Actors' Guild Awards:

Female Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries - Helen Mirren, Elizabeth I

Male Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries - Jeremy Irons, Elizabeth I

Male Actor in a Comedy Series - Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock

Female Actor in a Comedy Series - America Ferrera, Ugly Betty

Ensemble in a Comedy Series - The Office

Male Actor in a Supporting Role - Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls

Life Achievement Award - Julie Andrews

Female Actor in a Drama Series - Chandra Wilson, Grey's Anatomy

Male Actor in a Drama Series - Hugh Laurie, House

Ensemble in a Drama Series - Grey's Anatomy

Female Actor in a Supporting Role - Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls

Male Actor in a Leading Role - Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland

Female Actor in a Leading Role - Helen Mirren, The Queen

Cast of a Motion Picture - Little Miss Sunshine

My (100% biased) thoughts: While I dig Hugh Laurie as Dr. House, having already won this award before, I'd have hoped the SAG looked elsewhere (remember Michael C. Hall?). Also, I really really love Grey's Anatomy, that show pushes my buttons, BUT a) they didn't nominate possibly the two best ensembles on TV in the category (Battlestar Galactica and The Wire) and b) even amongst the nominations, it can be argued that Grey's is one of the weaker shows, not the stronger.

I'm also loving that Chandra Wilson won for her Bailey, absolutely my favorite character on Grey's, and that Ugly Betty is receiving so many plaudits in its first season.

I don't have anything worthwhile to say about the movie awards. The less I say, the better, except: I watched Little Miss Sunshine, and color me underwhelmed. How The Departed could be overlooked for an arty road movie (excellent though the performers are, and entertaining though the film is), is beyond me.

Directors' Guild of America Award: Martin Scorsese, The Departed.

Nothing but YAY! Here's to an eventual Oscar. (Finally!)

Producers' Guild of America Award: Little Miss Sunshine.

See Above.

I'm semi-excited about the WGA Awards on Feb. 11, seeing as they were the only ones smart enough to nominate BSG for something. Well, rant or rave, it'll be on here.