Life Of Navin

Random Musings, Random Bullshit.

kc

LoN Top 7 Movies of 2009 - Part 2

See: Part one of this post ( No.7 to No.4 in the list)

Let's get straight to it shall we...... the Top 3 movies of 2009

3) Star Trek
I've never really been a fan of Star Trek. So much so that when my friend suggested we see the new Star Trek movie, I thought George Lucas had come out with a new Star Wars film! That's how ignorant I was! But I really am glad I watched this movie!

The Star Trek movie was a great introduction to the Star Trek universe, and infact a prequel to the popular TV series. The movie introduces the various characters of the Star Trek world, Kirk, Spock and Uhura to name a few, and how they met for the first time.

The CGI of the movie are astounding, and it's an absolute delight to watch on the big screen. However, this wasn't one of those iPhone type movies. And by that I mean "All style, no substance" kinda movies. The acting was nice, the dialogues were witty, and the storyline was simply awesome!

All in all, the movie instantly made me a fan of the Star Trek world, and inspired me to watch the TV series, so I guess, that's a job well done for the makers of the movie!!

2) Up
After watching Madagascar in 2005, I never really thought any other movie could ever compare to it, in terms of a story, or emotional strong points. And it did prove true for every animated movie I watched since then, including the sequel to Madagascar. But Up, the story of 78-year-old balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen, definitely goes right up there amongst my favourite animated movie of all time!

A crazy story, told with such a humane storyline, is what makes Up such a brilliant movie. Through the whole movie, you're either rolling on the floor laughing at the antics of Fredrickson, Russell and Dug, or at the edge of your seats with excitement.

The beginning love story, is by far the most brilliant animated love story ever, so much so, that despite having watched the movie over half a dozen times, I still cry in the scene when Ellie passes away. And I have no qualms about admitting that!! That's how brilliantly the scene is shown!!

The animation by Pixar, is as awesome as can be, but the emotions portrayed are what steal the cake from them.

Everyone - regardless of age -will enjoy this movie, since there's a little something for everyone. And while this may not be a start to finish laugh riot as Madagascar was, it'll definitely leave you with a great feeling at the end!!

1) 3 Idiots
And the number one spot, in LoN's Best of 09 list goes to Aamir Khan's latest venture, 3 Idiots. And I don't think too many people will be surprised by this choice. This comedy with a message, released on the last friday of 2009, manages to pwn every movie I've seen so far with pure filmmaking genius.

I must admit, I had a slight reservation whether Raju Hirani, the man who successfully wooed the masses with the Munnabhai series, would be able to tackle a young and peppy theme in the presence of ever-critical, scrutinizing eyes that cry for realism, but only under the fundamental stipulation of it being coated with entertainment, is not an easy task. Nor is it an easy task for a director to make a strong, personal philosophical statement in today's cynical times. Hirani expresses his beliefs clearly and effectively without committing the cardinal sin of getting preachy.

And how can we forget the acting. Yeah, I did wonder if Aamir would look odd as a college kid. But believe me, once the movie starts playing, you simply never even think about this. Aamir, Sharman and Madhavan keep you completely engrossed in their conversations, and before you know it, you're dragged into their world. The musical score is brilliant, with some awesome lyrics by Swanand Kirkire, who is known for his quirky lyrics, and manages to create many lovely memories through song and dance in this movie.

Sure, some people out there say that 3 idiots is simply Munnabhai MBBS with slight changes like MBBS<-> Engineering, Munna<->Ranchoddas, Dr. Asthana<->Viru S, and so on and so forth, but believe me, as an engineering student myself, I can truly tell you that 3 idiots is a much more unique movie than Munnabhai MBBS. Infact through the whole movie, I saw a character who did stuff exactly as I would, whose thought process was parallel to mine (I won't name that character here. People who know me well know exactly whom I'm talking about.) . And that made me love the movie even more, since it was a glimpse into my own life!!

Who steals the show in the end? Everyone steals the show! 3 Idiots isn't an ordinary film. It's not a standard use-and-throw or watch-and-forget type of entertainer. It's a life-changing experience. One won't look at life the same way after watching 3 Idiots.

When I first saw the trailer for 3 Idiots, I was disappointed that it looked nothing like 5 Point Someone, the Chetan Bhagat novel which the movie is loosely inspired by. But now that I've seen the movie, I am extremely glad that it isn't based on the book!! Yeah, 3 idiots is whacky, quirky, maybe even a little predictable, but at the end of the day, it's a movie capable of change. Change in the system we know as our education system. We can now only pray that a ripple effect of the movie is felt, in the same way that Lagey Raho Munnabhai managed to create a nation wide revival of Gandhian philosophy!!

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Well, that's all I guess. Hope you guys watch the movies listed in the posts.

Do you agree with my picks?? Do let me know!!

Wish you a Happy New Year!! Have a great new year's party hangover!! :)

LoN Top 7 Movies of 2009 - Part 1

The year 2009 has been a year filled with loads of entertainment for me. I've been fortunate enough to have been able to make time to watch some of the greatest movies, ranging from the classiness of The Godfather series, to the comic stylings of the The Monty Python Series, to the sheer epicness of The LOTR series, to name a few.

At the same time, a more than gracious increase in my income, mainly consisting of odd projects, quiz earnings and pocket money, enabled me to visit the friendly neighbourhood multiplex on multiple occasions, to watch some of the latest movies play out on the big screen.

And as the year comes to a close, a look back at the movies through the year reveals quite a few gems. So I present the best movies of 2009, movies which simply must be watched at all costs, by any self respecting individual!!

Note: The list was originally a Top 5 list, but was extended as there were too many choices to make!!

Honourable mentions (in alphabetical order):
Avatar, I Sell The Dead, Paranormal Activity, Public Enemies, The Hangover, The Invention Of Lying, The President Is Coming, The Tournament, The Ugly Truth, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Zombieland, 99

7) Watchmen
I'd blogged about Watchmen earlier (link), and the fanaticism following it simply compelled me to read the graphic novel and then watch the movie. The movie is a brilliant visual experience. It was amazing to see Dr. Manhattan, Rorschach and the rest of the gang performing to perfection on the big screen.

The director Zack Snyder has managed to remain true to the book right upto the last scene, with many scenes literally looking like 3D versions of the graphic novel. Of course, the jury is still out on whether the movie ending was better or the original graphic novel ending was better, but I think I'll just leave it at that. I've become a huge fan of Snyder's work, after watching this movie, and his 2006 blockbuster, 300. Kudos to him for having managed to perfectly bring to life this novel, which uptil recently was "too dark, too complex and too 'smart'" to be made into a movie.

Hats off to Jackie Earle Haley, who managed to brilliantly portray the complex role of Rorschach in the movie.

If possible try to watch the Director's Cut of the movie, which is a more complete experience than the feature film. And I beg you, please read the novel before watching the movie!!

6) Inglorious Basterds
"Once upon a time, in Nazi occupied France....", started the trailer, and right from this point on, I simply had to watch Inglorious Basterds! Being a huge fan of World War related movies, I had sky high hopes from this movie. And boy, did it live up to all of them! Quentin Tarantino's masterpiece, showcasing a group of Nazi-hunting jewish secret allied-forces regiment, instantly made me a huge fan of QT!

A beautiful storyline, wonderful editting, and some brilliant acting, including what is arguably the best performance this year by Christoph Waltz (Col. Landa), was an absolute delight to watch.

This movie has all the elements of a timeless classic, and is a definite must watch for everyone with a strong enough heart. (In typical QT fasion, this movie is filled with loads of gory scenes)

And of course, what better way to celebrate the holiday spirit, then watch a bunch of elite jewish allied forces attempt to murder the Fuhrer in this pulp fiction masterpiece!!

5) Dev.D
Anurag Kashyap's modern day take on Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's classic Bengali novel Devdas, is a movie that leaves you with a mixed feeling once you leave the theatre. Infact, I and my friends had collectively concluded that this movie, which generated an enormous amount of hype when it was released, was just another overhyped bollywood flick. However, this movie is more like a bottle of wine... the more time you spend thinking about it, the more brilliant it gets!!

The movie, set in the modern day background, rather than a murky, depressing early 1900s background, involves some excellent modern day substitutes for the characters from the novel. So, Devdas not only drinks, but is a chain smoker, and does drugs as well, while Chandramukhi, is a modern day prostitute, who even offers her services over the phone!! :)

The musical score of the movie is revolutionary, to say the last, with Amit Trivedi managing to bring out a song to portray every emotion in the movie! And of course, Emosanal Atyachaar (and its remix) will hold a special place as one on Bollywoods mindnumbingly crazy, whackiest, yet brilliant track, for many years to come!

The amazing cinematography (many techniques which have been copied in newer films), will simply leave you in awe! This movie is a brilliant portrayal of one segment of the youth of India, and if you're in the 18-30 age group, you'll simply love it!

4) District 9
When I first heard about District 9, the only thought that came to mind was "Just another 'Alien vs. Human' movie", but once I'd watched this movie, I had to take back my words!! D9, to put it simply, marks the coming-of-age, of a genre that has long been plagued with flimsy movies.

Director cum writer Neill Blomkamp's masterpiece, which actully is a feature length remake of his 2005 short film, Alive In Joburg, deals with aliens in a mature, and completely human manner. The whole movie is shot in a documentary style, and deals more with the interaction between aliens and humans, rather than a full fledged war between the two.

The movie is the director's version of District Six, a real life district in Cape town, South Africa, where the movie is based, where nearly 60,000 blacks were forcefully removed (during the height of the apartheid era). The movie thus is a social message as well, putting light upon events that occured in South Africa in the 60's that were shameful, to say the least.

Sharlto Copley, as Wikus, is simply brilliant, and is definitely one of the best perfomances of 2009. He manages to portray the role with such ease, that you actually begin to think that the movie is a series of true events.

The doors for a sequel are wide open, and I really hope the sequel will be just as good as the original, if not better, though I doubt it can get any better than this gem of a movie!


So these were No. 7 to No.4 in the list. If you want to find out the Top 3 movies of the year, Click Here!!

Things You Didn't Know About LoN!!

Over the year and a half that LifeOfNavin(LoN) has been in existence, I've been overwhelmed by the response it's gotten!! What started out as a means to rid boredom soon evolved into a full-on blog, often appreciated, while also sharing its share of rumour-driven attention. LoN has evolved from being a tech blog, to a random awesomeness blog to a proper personal blog. The final phase arguably started with the first in the ongoing "Stuff I Did This Semester" series of posts.

Anyway, one of the favourite sections on the site seems to be the "Contact Me" page, with quite a few people writing in, with both bouquets and brickbats. And I've made it a point to reply to almost every one of them, excluding the "Fraandsheep requests". There are some questions about LoN that have been asked by multiple people. So here are the answers to some of those questions!!

Logo Ka Rahasya!!
The logo next to the title is the subject of many mails that I get... Stuff ranging from "What does that signify" to "Hey, that's a very creative logo" to even "WTF is that?" is pretty common. Anyway, I'll spill the beans.

The logo is something that's very personal to me.... I won't say much, I'll just let the picture below do the talking:

So yeah, It's my name..... Original?? Lame?? Whacked??

Actually, this logo was first drawn in a book during a boring college lecture back in July '09, and I thought it was kinda cool so added it on the blog!! A nice, simple personal touch to a nice, simple personal blog!!

Why did you start blogging?
This is something that I've told very very few people!! No, I didn't start LoN to write about my life, but to write abut someone else's life!! And that person is a guy whom I consider the greatest physicist who ever lived, Nikola Tesla. I'd just finished watching the movie The Prestige, in which Tesla is portrayed as a crazy but brilliant inventor, which is as close to reality as you can get, and his personality had a profound influence on me!

I studied Tesla religiously. Not just his physics, but also his philosophies, his life, his everything!! And I realised how some of the greatest inventions, though invented by Tesla, are to this date credited to people like Edison. This made me so upset internally, that I simply wanted the world know the truth about Tesla. And to vent out my rage, I wrote a long Word document (made up of bits and pieces copied from various sites). Now I simply had to get the word out to the public.... and blogging was a platform to do just that!! Thus LifeOfNavin was born!! The Tesla post was the first one on LoN..... all other posts, including the intro, were written later and then pre-dated!!

Here's the link to the first post of LoN:
Nikola Tesla-- The Man, The Machine (Part 1 of the 4 part series)

Why The name LifeOfNavin? Why not something cooler like Life of P[a]i?
Firstly, like I said before, the blog was simply meant to vent out my feelings about Tesla. I needed a name for the blog before I could post anything on it... so I simply went with the first name that sprung to mind!!

As for the LifeOfP[a]i suggestion, this may seem amazing, but I hadn't heard of the Yann Martel novel when I started the blog!! If I did, then probably you'd be reading LoP right now!! :P

You had a poll to choose the new LoN layout (link), but you didn't shift to the template with the highest votes... Why?
I know this seems unfair to the voters considering that I'd specifically said that I'd shift to the template with higher votes, and Acid Rain(23 votes) got more than twice the votes that Studiopress (10 votes) got! But the truth is that I did change the template to Acid Rain for a short while of 10-15 mins, and not only was it too dark, but it also wreaked havoc on the formatting of the previous posts!! So I had no other option than to go for the second best option!!

Do you write about everything in your blog?
Well, that depends on your definition of "Everything"!! I almost always write on more general topics, that everyone can relate to, rather than esoteric topics that will find barely any readers. But once in a while such esoteric topics do come up. I write equally from my heart and my brain, and try my best not to be opinionated (except in movie reviews). My writing on this blog has progressively moved through topics ranging from tech to space to network security to geekiness to personal posts to rants to complete random coolness!! And I personally feel that's how it's supposed to be...... After all, Randomness= Life Of Navin.

When is the domain coming?
I've mentioned loads of times that I'll be getting a proper domain for the blog. Well, to tell you the truth, things haven't been working out so good in that direction. Certain domain names that I simply love have already been taken, while others are too costly!! Many people have suggested some really cool domain names, but let's just say, I'm waiting for that special domain. Till then, it's Blogspot zindabad!! :)
Let's keep our fingers crossed and hope that something clicks really soon!!

Well, that's all for now! Keep the comments coming in!! Cheers!!

Events I Miss Coz of My Sem Exams!!

Okay, I'll say it outright..... I hate these exams!!

Well, not really the exams as such, just the timing of the exams!!

My semester exams seem to have arrived at the worst possible time, and boy, am I upset!!

NOTE: Sem exams stretch all the way from Nov end to mid Dec.

I'm missing loads of events because of a less-than-helpful sem timetable..... these are the important-ish ones among them:

FOSS.IN (Dec 1-5)
Had big plans to attend FOSS.IN, India's foremost Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) event, which draws crowds from all spheres of computer sciences, right from the end of September. I was all set to go for it, but then the semester timetable was released and I found out that it's right in the middle of my Semester exams!! :( :(

Now a few friends from Mumbai and Goan dude Kaustubh Naik, are my eyes and ears at FOSS and are keeping me updated about the event.

ClubHack (Dec 5-7)
ClubHack is an initiative to bring security awareness in common people who use computers and internet in their daily life. It's a member driven open community to make cyber security a common sense. Being the Net-sec monkey that I am, I was planning on packing my bags and heading up to Pune for this event, but.......

Megawhats
(Dec 13)
A team based quizzing event organised by a bunch of India's finest quizzers at Karnataka Quiz Association, Megawhats is a national level quiz conducted in 9 cities across India. It's a big event on the quizzing calender, and one that is anticipated by quizzers across the country...... well, except for one quizzer, named Navin Pai!! :(


SEQC Dec Quiz (Dec 6)
The Sunday Evening Quiz Club quiz, held on the first sunday of each month are quizzes with some serious standards yet laid out in the traditional Susegaad Goenkaar manner. I really like these, since not only do I get in touch with some of the best quizzers in the state, but also manage to brush up on my quizzing skills (if I may call it that). This month, I'll be missing this quiz as well!!

As a consolation though, I'll be the quizmaster at the January SEQC quiz (W00t W00t!!).

IFFI (Nov 23- Dec 3)
I think pretty much everyone here knows what a huge movie maniac I am. Well, the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), despite all its flaws, is still a International level film festival, which screened some pretty amazing movies, and I wanted to be a part of it.... And I don't think you'll be surprised to know that it took place entirely during my semester exams!!

Two Trekking Sessions (Dec 6 and Dec 13)
Canopy Goa organises trekking sessions every once in a while, and they've scheduled two tours (a birding trip and a butterfly watching trip) for the month of December.... and guess what? Both of them lie during the semester exams!! Waaaahh!! :( :(

A Goa #Tweetup (Nov 25)

A tweetup is a gathering of a group of people who've met on Twitter, and there was a Goa Tweetup scheduled for the evening of the 25th of Nov. I had missed an earlier tweetup since I got news of it very late, but I seriously wanted to be able to make it for this one!! Too bad, my timetable played spoilsport!!

So overall, I'm completely pissed off at the University Board for ruining one entire month of action for me!! :(

Hope, other events planned out over the next couple of months, including two national conferences, one national level conference that's to be held here in Goa and one or two college technical fests, work out in my favour!!

Update: And just when I thought that the worst was done, it turns out NOTHING works out for me. Practical exam dates came out today, and one of the exams falls on the 18th, a day when the Goa Open, a state level quizzing tournament is to be held!! So one more event added to the list!! Grr!!

MiniNOOOOOOOOva!!

On the evening of 26th Nov 09, after getting back home from first sem paper of the third sem, my twitter timeline showed an unusual tweet by @OldMonkMGM, a bong dude, and it was kinda fishy!!


Hmm...This dude has a weird sense of humour I thought, and casually proceeded to the site mentioned in the tweet for my daily dose of torrenting. And BOOOOOOM!! My world came crashing down upon me like a stack of cards squished by a mammoth!! Mininova was NOT Mininova anymore!! And gleaming away in all its HTML yellowish ribbony glory was this notice:


And I knew it at once..... Mininova had just died! The monk was right after all! You may want to read the original Mininova blog post before proceeding.

Now you're probably wondering why I'm so sad over the death of a site, that too of a P2P site, which we all know are sprouting like mushrooms all over the place!!

Well, here's the story (Forgive me if I get a little senti here!):

My tweets after I read about the demise of Mininova!

I've been living an active online life for over 8 years now!! It all started with a modest dialup internet connection, which when connecting to the interwebz sounded like a cat getting run over by a truck, and using which, downloading anything over 8-10 MB was considered simply impossible (or pathetically slow)!!

And then came the age of broadband... and I instantly realised what was at stake!! Every single file I had deemed unobtainable would soon be, well....... obtainable!! And with gleaming eyes and a hunger for information, I waited for the friendly neigbourhood BSNL-walla to call up and offer a broadband scheme. But that was not to be!!

Being in the middle-of-nowhere village that I am, acquiring a broadband connection was almost as difficult to get as getting John Abraham to show some facial expressions!! And after over a year of gadha-mazoori (mostly by my dad and a neighbourhood colleague of his), I secured a broadband connection in October 2008!!

Every broadband enabled friend I had had told me about torrenting, and I remembered my experiments with torrenting using a dialup modem (A movie that showed 1 year 2 weeks left for download to complete for nearly 24 hrs!!), and so I downloaded the eternally trustworthy uTorrent and began looking for torrent sites..... and the first, and by far the best one I found, had a name that instantly was etched upon my heart, MiniNova.

The site, which was founded in early 2005 by five Dutch students, instantly opened up a new world to me.... a world where sharing is caring, where seeding is next to godliness, where names like aXXo, nHaNc3, FxG and FxM are considered to be gods!! Where Robin Hood seemed to be everone's favourite story!! Living a life behind the mask of mysterious usernames, torrenters stole from the rich, and supplied to the poor, all without any compensation other than a "A/V 10/10" rating which implied the "rip" was perfect!! Despite initial doubts on the ethicality of P2P, I torrented, and boy, I torrented like hell was on fire!

formattingArtist's impression of aXXo!!

Movies that were not/yet to be released in India, Music by obscure yet amazing bands, E-books on everything ranging from Amateur photography to Zucchini modeling, Comics, Graphic novels, Games, High-res images of Jupiter, declassified FBI files, everything you could think of was right there on mininova!! And it was not just me.... a whole generation of people took to torrenting through mininova... so many infact, that Mininova ranked 9 on Google’s list of most queried terms in 2006. It recently even crossed the 10 billion torrent downloads mark!!

I loved Mininova so much that even after discovering sites like Torrentz.com, which showed torrent statistics from various torrent sites, I'd still religiously log on to Mininova almost everyday!! Mininova was the only torrent site on which I actually registered as a user, just so that I could be part of the community! Infact when ThePirateBay, another popular torrent site, let go of its tracker (again for legal reasons), I didn't care, since I knew I still had Mininova. When aXXo stopped putting up files, I didn't care, since I knew Mininova would show me equally good quality files. And now it's all gone!!

I'll miss you Mininova, your bright home page, your lovely tabbed interface, your autocomplete enabled search box, the brilliant comments you gathered!!

Actual comments for an episode of The Office

But most of all, I'll remember you as a source of endless hours of entertainment, and as a rebel against the system/rage against the machine kinda initiative that you were!!

You have nearly always answered my pleas for information and entertainment, and nearly all of my ~350 Gig torrented material directly or indirectly branches from you!

I hope you have a great time in website heaven... you're definitely in my Website Hall of Fame!! With the death of Mininova, comes the death of its active community(and my username: madmax108). Farewell homies!! God bless the 5 guys who came up with the concept of Mininova, and God bless every commenter on the site who'se valuable info has helped my pick out some of the best stuff I'll ever lay my hands upon!!

Apparently, Mininova became popular after its predecessor, named Suprnova, closed down (you guessed it right..... for legal reasons). Now that gets me thinking, will we see a Micronova soon?

P.S. I'm seriously thinking of staging my own Pirated Film Festival in memory of Mininova (and after reading the first comment in this post)... let's see how that plan works out!!

Related:
10 Alternatives to Mininova (via TorrentFreak )
Linux+Watchmen=Vacation Masti

10 movies I simply MUST watch after the sems!!

It's that time of the year again!! After 4 odd months of attending bunking classes in college, the semester exams appear out of the blue and every student runs helter skelter trying to get his hands on as many notes as he can!! (even though in 90% of cases, he doesn't read even 50% of the collected notes!)

For me however, exams always mark a time of acute lack of concentration, and it seems as if every small thing distracts me (see this). Being the movie fanatic that I am, the last week or so has been like hell for me, since loads of people have been recommending awesome movies to me, and I've been restraining myself from watching (or torrenting) any of them!!

So here is a list of 10 movies (actually a few more!!) I'm dying to watch once the sems are done:

10) The Punisher and Punisher:War Zone
The movie The Punisher and its sequel, are said to be the best in the leave-your-brains-at-home whacked out action Boys only testosterone-overdosed movie genre!! Enuf said!!Definitely on my list!!

9) The Maiden Heist
I'm a huge fan of Morgan Freeman's acting, be it in comedy or serious roles (kinda like the Amitabh Bachchan of Hollywood), and this movie is on my list simply because of his presence in it!!

8) Goodbye Bafana
The true story of how Nelson Mandela, a man I regard as one of the greatest icons of all time, changed the life of his prison guard!!

7) Absurdistan
One of the few comedy movies on my list, Absurdistan is a story about women in a village who go on a strike of the worst possible kind- A Sex Strike, to ensure their demands are met.

6) Looking for Eric and The Football Factory
Two movies based in soccer, though in a thoda sa hatke manner. the first movie deals with Eric Cantona (aka God!!) giving a fan some life coaching while the second deals with Soccer
Hooliganism..... What more can I ask for?

5) Schindler's List, Munich and Saving Private Ryan
Three movies by Steven Speilberg, two of which I've watched when I was much younger (when they didn't make much sense to me back then), rated very highly by friends and critics alike.

4) The Flying Scotsman
This one was recommended to me by one of my bestest-est friends Avantika. The movie showcases the true story of Graeme Obree, the Champion cyclist who built his bicycle from old bits of washing machines who won his championship only to have his title stripped from him and his mental health problems which he has suffered since.[sorry about the IMDB synopsis]

3) Catch Me If You Can
I remember watching part of this movie, which is based on the true story of Frank Abagnale Jr., the most famous conman in the world, but I want to watch the whole movie now!!


2) Enemy at the Gates and The Mongol
Both these movies, which are fictional, but based on true stories, one on the extreme sniper Vassili Zaitsev and the other on another great leader, Genghis Khan!!

1) The True Story of Che Guevara, Che (Part one and Part two),Motorcycle Diaries
Three movies on the life of the man, the leader, the revolutionary, Ernesto Che Guevara, who, despite what anyone may say, is, in my humble opinion, the greatest leader who ever lived!!I really want to know more about the man who single handedly brought down governments!!

I don't care if I fall as long as someone else picks up my gun and keeps on shooting. - Che Guevara
0) Harishchandrachi Factory
Yeah, I know this is number 11, but what can I say.... I'm a movie fanatic!! This movie, India's official nomination to the Oscars this year, is about the the efforts that Dadasaheb Phalke had to take during the making of India's first feature length film Raja Harishchandra, and has been recommended to me by loads of my marathi speaking friends, and I simply can't wait to watch this movie (with subtitles of course, since "mala marathi maaet naai").

Ok..... that's all. In all, I've named 19 films in my 10 films list!! :) :)

And I'm sure there will be many ore that'll get added to the list by the time the sem exams are done!!

Think you know a movie I may like? Recommend it to me in the comments!! cheers!!

S4TD -Sorry For The Delay!!

Many will call me an adventurer - and that I am, only one of a different sort: one of those who risks his skin to prove his platitudes. --Che Guevara
I know I haven't been able to update LoN as frequently as I'd have liked to (or as you'd have liked as your mails and comments have mentioned), especially over the last 3-4 months and this has led to quite a few rumours popping up about LoN (and me). So let's clarify em: Firstly, I'm NOT dead, or sick, or sick in the other sense.... okay, now that we're on a roll, let's move on shall we?

Here's What I Have NOT done over the last few months:

1) Gone back to my home planet
2) Decided to quit blogging.
3) Become a CS Pro and started practising for the World Cyber Games (WCG)
4) Relocated to the Himalayas, and broken all ties with the outer world in my aim to become a philosophical master of mankind!!
5) Become a perfectionist to the extent that I don't feel any of my posts are worth posting (Did someone just say Aamir Khan?).
6) Started studying for college!! (Most important!!)

But yeah, I have been amazingly busy (with a capital B) over the last few months. This semester (3rd out of 8) has introduced me to a whole new world that I'd never imagined, even in my wildest dreams. And hell yeah, I've been enjoying every moment of it!!


Instructions I live by!! :)

And while I'll leave more details of what I've been up to through the course of my 3rd semester for my End-sem "Stuff I Did This Semester!!" post, here's just a sneak peak of what I've been up to:

1) Gotten involved in college affairs as the second year representative of CURSOR, the Comp Sciences student body of my college that I'd briefly mentioned here.
2) Attended a workshop on the Python Programming Language organised by FOSSEE
3) Attended a workshop on Network Security organised by NULL
4) Co-founded a youth magazine, Straight From The Moron (SFTM) and was chosen as editor. Here is the latest issue (Issue 4)
5) Written papers and prepared abstracts for 2 national level conferences, the more notable amongst the two being NullCon 09.
6) Designed half a dozen websites, including two for start-up companies!! Plus one crazy whackjob site for my class which'll go live once the exams are done!!
7) Twitter-ed, Facebook-ed,Orkut-ed,LinkedIn-ed ,Networked.
8) Played CS like crazy, but still at a level which makes the G-force guinea pigs look like supermen!!
9) Participated in a street play.....to very mixed responses:

REVIEWS:
The show was great, and the showstealer was Navin Pai, one of the finest acting talents I've seen in a long time --Critic 1

Navin is the kind of actor you go to when a block of wood is unavailable! --Critic 2

10) Joined the College robotics club and the College photography club (and won the inaugral photography competition)!!
11) Participated in a inter branch intra college event, Tandav, and worked on everything, right from organisation to participation to jubilation!! (we came second in the cultural segment and won the sports segment!!)
12) Bunked loads of lectures so that I could do points 1 to 11

My semester exams start at the end of November, and go on till the 20th of December....so again, there'll be a break from posting at LoN!! :(

But kya karein, I've got a lot to study, especially because of point 12 mentioned above!!

So cya guys in the final weeks of the year!!
cheers!!

Related Posts:
Stuff I did this semester (Sem 1)
This Semester... (Sem 2)

Striking In On Counter-Strike!!

Well, I know its been over a month since my last post on LoN, but there's a reason to that.... infact there are quite a few!! Firstly, I've been preoccupied with loads of other stuff right from college crap studies to pursuing other hobbies like photography, robotics and web designing. Being a computer engineering student, I've been coding like crazy, shifting from platform to platform, and jumping from langauge to language faster than you can say C++. Secondly, I've been facing some serious writer's block. Thirdly, certain complications with respect to my last post have made me question whether posting personal views on a blog are actually apt or not. Fourthly, and coming to the topic (finally), I've been constantly distracted by this certain mod of Halflife, that the world knows as Counter Strike!!


Counter strike is NOT a game... It's a religion!! It has its own rules, its own etiquette, its own X factor. And in case all this sounds like crap to you, just think for yourself: What can be better be getting along with a bunch of friends from around the country and frying some opposition ass!!

Well, for the morons among us who don't know what CS is, here's the Wiki definition:
  • Counter-Strike (commonly abbreviated to CS) is a tactical first-person shooter video game which originated from a Half-Life modification by Minh "Gooseman" Le and Jess "Cliffe" Cliffe.
Well, I guess that's all you need... now get back to not having a life!!

There are basically 2 ways to play counterstrike:
  • Against Bots
  • Against Humans
Now lets just say that playing against bots is only for n00bs!! The real "mazaa" in CS comes only against human opponents!!

I've been playing this game only for around half a year, and I'm definitely addicted to it!! Counter Strike, like most online activities, is played with a nickname. In my case the nick is not really hard to guess...... its M@dmAx , an alias I've used for over 8 years!!

Now of course' you're probably wondering why this "game" is so special over the millions of similar First Person Shooters out there!! Read on to have your question answered:

CS is a celebration!!: How many of you can truly say that you have celebrated someone's B'day in a truly different fashion?? We can!! CS gives you a million reasons to celebrate life {mainly because you spend a lot of time on the dead side of the table}!!

bloggerformatting at work!!Kunal a.k.a. Neo_HaNgmAN's B'day!!

CS is artistic: If you've ever played CS, you'll know what a spray is..... its basically a design that you paint up on a wall/on the ground. Its function is very very limited yet it is by far the most customised thing in CS. A clan is generally recognised more by its spray than its name!!

bloggerformatting at work!!Example of a "spray" around the bomb

And its a territorial battle after all and what better way of showing the opposition who's boss than by spraying a design over their dead bodies!! Believe me, nothing pisses them off more than that!! CS gives you an opportunity to test you're creative side and create sprays that stand out from the rest!!

Here are a few custom sprays that I've used over the last month and a half!!


CS is Universal!!: One more great thing that CS has done is that it has introduced me to a whole new group of people from across the globe!! Knowing that the guy who just fragged you is from Kolkata, or Delhi and even from out of India is no longer a surprise!! Infact, its sometimes even funny. There was this one time I was playing well into the night and after a looooooong session, I decided to get to bed (at around 3:00 AM!!). I said G'nite to my fellow players and three of them instantaneously asked me where I'm from!! When I told them I'm from India, they revealed that they were from Auckland, New Zealand, and infact it was time for them to head out to college!! Such is the brilliance of CS, that breaks all borders between countries!!

CS is an opportunity to make friends...... its a learning experience.... a celebration..... a toast to teamwork...... and if you ask me, its a fan-friggin-tastic game as well!!

So if reading this post has gotten you excited about the game religion that we call CS, pick up your mouse and start practising your headshots!!

I leave you with this piece of music made completely out of sounds from the game!! Enjoy!!


P.S. I'm seriously hoping my next post comes soon!! :) :)

Afflicted By A Disease!!

Over the last few days, I have been afflicted with a strange illness. No no, its not the Swine flu!! But its just as serious!! Let's just call it the "why-am-I-still-single-please-get-me-a-girlfriend-quick" syndrome.You may think I'm joking, but believe me, I'm not!! This is serious stuff people!!

It all started off around a month ago, when a certain grade "A" muggu moron, asked out one of the nicest girls I know. Obviously my first reaction was "Hehe, this bum actually thinks he can go out with her...this is bound to be funny!!".


But I was wrong!! Not only did she say yes, but as the days went by, this guy actually managed to keep her happy, and many people actually accepted these two as a pair!! Now that got me completely bugged!!

Why?? Because in an Indian college, muggus are generally at the bottom of almost every pyramid you can think of, right from the people who can play soccer list, to the people to invite to that late night CS session list, to the most date-able lists!! But the very fact that this freak-of-nature managed to get hooked, while yours truly remained single just blew me out of my mind!!

The "accepted" Social Pyramid in college

I want to change my status in Social Networking sites to "committed"!! But here's the catch..... I first need to get committed to a girl. I call my current state a sickness, because I'm pretty sure this is just a temporary phase, and this miserable feeling of being single will go away soon..... Oh yeah, I'm sure!! But right now, all I want is someone whom I would be able to call my girlfriend (for real)!!

Now, studying at a college with an almost negligible female population (by female, I mean 'my type' of female), what sources do I have to get committed?? Well, not many really!! :(

I don't have the balls to just walk upto any girl and say ‘Hi! Have we met before??’ And practically speaking, it is simply impossible to talk to any girl out there on the street. We always hear of stories like - "You heard of X? He just found his love at the mall! And now they are dating ..." Believe me, these fantastic stories only take place in people's fantasies!!This leaves the option of a long distance relationship with one of of my schoolmates..... but somehow, the idea of not actually being close to 'her' nudges me away from this idea.

I don't want to go online onto some Orkut-like site and ask girls with nice display pics (which generally are not theirs) to "Make Fraandsheep" with me, because frankly, I'm not that cheap and will never fall down to that level!! {why on earth are you smiling??}


And most of the "offline" girls I know are all either taken (some even by these goddamned muggus), while others are blissfully single and ignorant of my condition!!

Most conversations I have with girls look more like interviews, with me portraying the role of the interviewer shooting out questions like: "How're you??" "What are you doing now??" "Met so-and-so recently??" and ofcourse the most popular showstopper "So what else??".......most conversations end within minutes of me popping this question!!

This is usually how things progress at my end. However, there have been exceptions!! And I'm seriously hoping that one of these "exceptions" works out in my favour!! Over the last week, four very interesting girls have given me their contact details....hopefully something clicks!!I have made blunders in the past, which have been totally successful in keeping me blissfully single till date!! Lets just hope that this time will be different!!

With that I leave you.......but before I go, here's the chorus of my current favourite track, Hey Juliet by LMNT
(Hey Juliet)
I think you're fine
You really blow my mind

Maybe someday,
you and me can run away

I just want you to know

I wanna be your Romeo

Hey Juliet


Sniff Sniff... No wonder I like this track!!


P.S. I'm pretty sure that atleast one of those girls-who-gave-me-their-contact-details will read this blog, read about my affliction (and the fact that I referred to them as "exceptions"), label me a despo, and then block my number... There, another blunder :( :(

5 Things I Learnt From "The Gods Must Be Crazy"!!

You've probably heard of this movie called The Gods Must Be Crazy (TGMBC). It is a South African movie which tells the story of a bushman named Xixo (pronounced KeeKo), who encounters technology for the first time in his life, in the form of a coke bottle, and all the (mis) adventures that follow. It is widely claimed to be South Africa's finest movie, and considering its the only South African film I've seen, I completely accept!! :)

There were so many things that I realized after watching this movie. And, as the title of this post suggests, 5 of them are listed below.

1) Fast motion comedy is cheesy.... but fun to watch!!
I'd always had this impression that fast motion comedy is too slapstick to actually be fun. But this movie changed all that!! Yeah, its cheesy, its slapstick, its wacky, but its a whole load of fun!! Not wanting to spoil the fun of the movie by posting the fast motion segments of the movie, I'll simply post the fast motion version of Hakuna Matata!!



2) South Africa is simply awesome!!
Believe me, this movie sigle handedly moved South Africa up by atleast a dozen places in my "Places To Visited Before I Die" list. Sample this: The picture shown below is the location where the climax of the movie is shot..... And right below it is the actual shot from the film. Amazing eh?



3) Globalization is an arsehole!!
I'm pretty sure that you're wondering how I can even say such a thing considering that the very reason that I'm able to write this post from my nook in Goa, India, and you're able to read it sitting in ________ (fill place name here) is due to the amazing phenomenon that we call globalization.

But this movie opens you up to the other side of globalization. It shows how something as insignificant as a coke bottle can wreck havoc in the lives of an indegenious culture. And how a universal language (English) and a common culture have become such an integral part of life, that we cannot accept anything that doesn't conform to our culture!!

4) Coke is evil!!
You might have read that the pesticide content in Cola drinks is higher than the drug content in Amy Winehouse, and have probably heard of bugs being discovered in packaged coke bottles, and even read stories of Coke being banned in certain countries, but TGMBC introduced me to another reason why its probably right to say that Coca Cola is evil. Of course, in the movie the bottle has been used simply as an example, but considering that I prefer Pepsi anyway, you can say that Coca Cola is a huge No-No!! :)

5) Kalahari Bushmen rule!!
I'd heard so much about indigenous cultures, right from the Eskimos at the north pole, to the pygmies in Africa, to the Dayaks in Indonesia but one culture that I have always been intrigued about but never really knew much about were the Bushmen of the Kalahari. This movie focuses a lot on this culture and its cultural values (such as their family system, their way of life etc.). Another thing the movie showcases is the amazing eyesight these bushmen have. All in all, I learnt a lot about this culture that I'd been fascinated about simply by watching this movie. Now I've read up a lot more on these amazing people who're endowed with some amazing skills, both physically and mentally. Would I want to be reborn as a Bushman?? Hell Yeah!!

(Things you have to do to format in blogger!!)I agree with this guy!!

All in all, TGMBC is an amazing movie, and a must watch, not only for fans of the "World Cinema" genre, but also for anyone who is fascinated about learning about cultures other than your own.I'd strongly suggest you watch this movie to understand how much bigger the world actually is (yeah, BIGGER, not smaller as the internet suggests!!).

Simple Problems, Exhorbitant Solutions!!

Note: If you have a sibling then you'll understand exactly what this post is about. If you're amongst the unfortunate few whose parents decided that one brat running around the house was more than enough, then I'm sorry to say but you'll probably miss out the point of this post!!But read on anyway...

Rule No 1 Of Siblingry: Arguments are part and parcel of a siblings life. And logic has absolutely no place in these arguments!!


Now believe me when I say that me and my kid sister respect this rule like its the 10th commandment!! Infact I'd rephrase the rule to read something like "Thou Shalt Argue Illogically With Thy Sibling Atleast Once Everyday" for more of a dramatic effect!! Infact I think this rule is more universal than any of the other 9 commandments!! Don't believe me?? Read on my friend, and be dazzled by the idiocy portyared by yours truly!!

This is NOT fiction. This conversation actually occured on today evening.

Me and my sister* were having a huge argument over how I'd murder someone and not get caught. (This may sound a very gloomy topic to be discussing but it was very relevent at that time because we'd just finished watching the movie Zodiac which is based on a true story of a serial killer). I kept coming up with many many ideas and she contradicted me everytime.

Most of my plans included my hands leaving fingerprints all over the victim or the surroundings and my sister kept pointing it out that a single finger print would be enough to screw my case!! So I thought for a while, and then came up with "The Ultimate Plan" [insert cool techno music here] :

"I'll kick him off a cliff" I said, but then she argued that even toe prints are distinctive like finger prints (She's right apparently). So I thought for a while and then came up with my solution..... "I'll kick him off a cliff and then...... I'll chop off my legs, and use a pair of prosthetic limbs instead for the rest of my life". I then looked at her waiting for her to say something stupid to contradict my "Plan par excellence". She thought for barely 5 seconds, smiled, and then said "Why don't you just wear a pair of socks when you're kicking him off?"

D'oh.... So simple!! Why didn't I think of that?? My plan had a monetary cost of a few lakh rupees, and me losing my legs forever, while her idea cost me barely Rs.50-100 (plus I maintain all my limbs intact!!). You have no idea how moronic I felt when I realized the simplicity that this 12 year old had used to solve a problem that my "to-be-engineer" brains couldn't figure out!!

I seriously need to get back to my basics!! Grrr...


*This is a pic I took just now of the two of us!!

Linux +Watchmen = Vacation Masti!!

Random thought no. 765891 of the day:

College vacations have just started a week ago, and already I've gotten so much stuff done, that I seriously feel that going to college anymore will just be a waste of my time!!


Random thoughts apart, this post is about two amazing things I did over this past week.
  1. Messing around with Linux and
  2. Reading my first graphic novel!!

Okay, so let me clarify:

Messing around with Linux :
Always having atleast 2 computers at home means I can always be messing around on one of them and generally messing around means experimenting with OSes. I've had a computer running various distros of Linux on a rotational basis for nearly a year now. However, thanks to my other priorities, I never really got my hands into Linux that much. Now, finally that I've got the time, I've started moving towards linux as much as possible!!

I started off by getting rid of Backtrack 3, which I'd installed to run some network tests on a friends remote network, (but which was since that day lying there almost unused), and then installed Ubuntu 9.04 (Codename: Jaunty Jackalope). After a smooth install,I was greeted by the linux boot screen. Post logging in, I noticed that all my hardware was recognized and functioning properly [Now that's what you call "working-out-of-the-box"]. Anyway, this perfect picture of Ubuntu 9.04 lasted only until I rebooted!! Once that was done, it seemed I couldn't get my audio driver to function past the login screen!! So I went to the Ubuntu forums and noticed that quite a few people had similar problem and the Gnome ALSA mixer seemed to solve the probem for them. I tried the same, and a few minutes later, music flooded my room once again!!

Now being the true computer junkie that I am, I decided to work with terminal commands as much as possible!! Crazy idea but awesomely fun!! But now lets shift the focus of this post to point 2.

Watchmen:
The people who guard our societies in the nights, whistling every now and then to scare away the badmaash gundas who're out there with the sole aim of looting you while you snooze.....But NO, I'm not talking about those guys!! I'm talking about the new movie with the same title that is said to among the best in recent times. Even IMDB users have rated this movie 8.0 on 10. Wow, I had to watch this movie!!

However, I read that the movie was infact an adaptation of a 12 part graphic novel by Alan Moore. And apparently, the novel was a super duper hit back in the late 80's. Being the ardent tweeter that I am (follow me), I asked some of my fellow tweople what they thought of the movie, and the book. Some of the tweets were amazingly informative. I soon realised that this book actually has a cult following!! One day, by mistake, I called this novel a "comic", and around 15 people tweeted back telling me to change that the word "comic" to "graphic novel"!! Then I read this(Read the second half of the article). I also read on wiki, that not too long ago, the novel was considered by Hollywoods top directors, to be too dark and complex to be made into a movie!! Then finally someone said "People who watch Watchmen movie without reading the comic should be burned alive!". Ooh.. so I decided to read the comic first.

I downloaded all the 12 issues and then found that the downloaded files were in some strange .CBZ format. A little research later, I found that .CBZ is a format specific for graphic novels. This started my hunt for software that could display .CBZ formats.

And this is where the 2 points collided. The first software I found that seemed to do the job, was a software meant specifically for Linux, and guess what its name was?? It was Comix!! Take that Watchmen fans!!

Anyway, installing Comix in Ubuntu was as simple as using the terminal command:

sudo apt-get install comix

Reading the novel was a joy, firstly because it was my first proper read in a loooooong time, secondly because it was my first graphic novel, and thirdly because it is an awesome awesome book!! Comix is a piece of brilliant software and runs very smoothly on Linux .

By the end of it all, I have become a huge fan of both Ubuntu 9.04 and Watchmen. I'm really planning to get more into more graphic novels especially ones that have been adapted into movies or TV series such as Black Hole, V for Vendetta and 300 (The latter 2 being among my most favourite films of all time!!). I watched Watchmen (the movie) a few days after reading the novel, but I'll save my comments on that for my next post, hopefully by the end of next week. I've absolutely fallen in love with Ubuntu 9.04 and plan to make it my permanent Linux distro.

Now, I'm pretty sure, that if you've read this far, that you're interested, either in Watchmen or in Ubuntu 9.04..... so its time for some links!!

You can buy Watchmen (the graphic novel) either from Amazon (for $12.73) or from Flipkart (for Rs.812)

OR

U can do what I did, and download the all twelve parts as a single torrent download from here. The torrent, at the time of writing this post has ~150 seeds which is more than enough for a fast download.

You can watch a trailer of Watchmen the movie on YouTube.

As for the Linux part of this post:
You can download Ubuntu 9.04, you can download the disc image either directly or using the BitTorrent protocol from the official Ubuntu download page . The page even offers downloads of the earlier version of Ubuntu (Ubuntu 8.04 Codenamed Hardy Heron).

Comix, the comic book reader is open source, just like Ubuntu, and can be downloaded here.

That's all for now I guess.... more to come soon

P.S. A day after writing this post, I uninstalled Ubuntu 9.04 from my system and installed Fedora 11, which is another awesome Linux distro (codenamed Leonidas. Yeah, after the hero of the graphic novel 300!!). So much for my love of Ubuntu 9.04!! cheers!!

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Prologue

Finally after all these years, here's to the beginning of what was there, what is there and hopefully what will remain!! So here are my thoughts & words -Online!!

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