Saturday, June 27, 2015

Jurassic World Questions

 

How long has Jurassic World been open? How did they reclaim the island from the rogue dinos from the first movie? Are any of the dinos in Jurassic World the ones that have been there all along, just recaptured? Why didn't they clean up the ruins of the original community centre? How did those kids manage to get a Jeep that's been sitting unused for 22 years into working condition at all let alone so fast? How do you even sell an idea like Jurassic World after the events of the first three movies? How was the T Rex in California from the third one spun in the media? What do animal rights activists think of the park? What about conservationists when they're literally feeding endangered sharks to that water thing for entertainment? Do the employees live on-site or are they ferried in every day? Why is a park in Costa Rica staffed exclusively by Americans? How does Costa Rica feel about having an island full of murder-lizards close by? Are the scientists using this gene splicing and cloning tech to save other endangered species? To fight disease? What are the scientific ramifications of the Jurassic World universe? Is 22,000 people a good visitor turnout for a park that size because I feel like they could do better? What does admission cost? Do they have tacky themed resorts like Disney? Why are people literally no longer impressed by fucking DINOSAURS that they need something bigger and scarier? How did they get everyone off the island when the T Rex was still loose? What were they even trying to accomplish with that thing who thought that was a good idea? Dr. Wu you were there in the first one WHY DID YOU THINK THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA? HOW THE FUCK DID CLAIRE OUTRUN A T-REX IN THOSE HEELS?!??

Friday, June 26, 2015

Google Unveils 'Which Phone"

 

Android is open source operating system and there are hundreds of manufacturers which sells several thousand types of smartphones. Selecting the perfect Android smartphone can be pain and confusing.

To overcome this issue, Google has unveiled a new tool called “Which Phone”. The tool allows to you to find the perfect Android smartphone according to your needs.

It is a simple tool which asks you the purpose of buying the smartphone. It shows several options and you can select the options according to your needs. You can select all options but selecting one is compulsory.

There are several options available on the ‘Which Phone‘ tool like Taking Photos, Listening to the music, Being Productive, Social Media, Gaming, Staying Fit, Talking, Web surfing, etc.

After selecting the need, the tool further ask about the time spend on the selected options. Like if you have selected taking photos, then it will ask you how much photos you take in a week. After that you need to select whether you want fast camera or selfie camera.

Once you have selected all your needs, it ask you to select your favorite carrier and then it will show the perfect smartphone according to the needs specified. It shows several smartphone and lists the interesting features about the device.

 

tmpC45F

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Dr Henry Wu

Following the two sequels to the 1993 smash hit "Jurassic Park," actor BD Wong realized he had to take things into his own hands.

As Dr. Henry Wu in "Jurassic Park," the chief engineer responsible for the recreation of the dinosaurs in the park, there was never any resolution to what happened to the character.

Did he get eaten by his creations once the park lost power and roamed free? Did he make it on one of the last boats off the island?

The character's absence in any followup sequels led to years of people asking Wong what happened to Dr. Wu. Finally, the actor was ready to finally give the fans what they wanted.

"I was at the point where I wanted to make some videos to put online showing what happened to him," Wong told Business Insider. "Silly things for the fans, like he somehow ended up with the shaving cream can." Referring to the infamous Barbasol can filled with dinosaur embryos that dropped out of Dennis Nedry's coat when he was attacked by a Dilophosaurus in "Jurassic Park."

shaving cream can

YouTube/Universal/"Jurassic Park"

But before he could follow through on his zany idea the phone rang, and it was "Jurassic Word" directorColin Trevorrow.

A year before "Jurassic World" went into production, Trevorrow reached out to the actor and asking if he would like to reprise the role of Dr. Wu.

"I was like, 'Sure, of course, that sounds great,'" Wong recalled. "I didn't really take it that seriously because things change all the time."

Wong knows that from first-hand experience.

The 54 year old is a veteran character actor having worked on "Law & Order: SVU" for 11 years playing Dr. George Huang and starring in countless movies since the 1980s. But when he got the call to play Dr. Wu the first time around in "Jurassic Park" he thought it would bring him to the next level.

Mainly, because of the size of the Dr. Wu character in the book. In which he stays on the island with the others to regain power to the park.

"I was actually hired from auditions I did that were scenes taken from the book," said Wong, referring to the Michael Crichton novel the movie is based on.

"So imagine my surprise when I got a call that I was working on the movie for one day," he said.

Though his character was stripped bare, Wong got over it quickly because being on a movie of that magnitude definitely helped him get more work.

But when Trevorrow came calling 20-plus years later, Wong was a bit skeptical.

"I think he might have sensed that I was sensitive to their not being much to [the character]," he said. "He was courting me in a way."

As Wong predicted, it was months following that first call with Trevorrow when he finally got word that Dr. Wu was going to be in the film.

But how they had fleshed out the Dr. Wu character was beyond Wong's expectations.

"The character was coming full circle but also they were giving him his due in some way," Wong said. "They were making him into a three-dimensional person and I liked that."

In "Jurassic World," Dr. Wu is now the head of the division that clones dinosaurs and has pushed the boundaries of cloning. He's in charge of developing bigger, and more dangerous creatures to keep fans of the theme park returning for more.

BD Wong Chuck Zlotnigh Universal2.JPG

Chuck Zlotnick/Universal/"Jurassic World"

Dr. Wu's major scene comes after his newest creation, the Indominus Rex, has escaped and the park's owner Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan) comes to Dr. Wu for answers. Like in "Jurassic Park," Dr. Wu gives the audience a better understanding of what our heroes are up against. But this time Trevorrow wanted the character to have an added layer.

"We're about to shoot my big scene with Simon Masrani, Colin comes over to me and says, 'You know, I think Wu he should say, 'All of this is because of me,'" Wong recalls.

The line was not in the script, and Wong was instantly taken-aback that Trevorrow would let a lower-tier character say a line of such magnitude.

"I was like, 'Are you kidding me?' But I said the line in every take from that point on," Wong said. "But I thought they were never going to use that. Or Universal would not let them use it. That's just too much of a commitment."

Monday, June 22, 2015

Inside Out - Story Telling Perfection

 

Working at Pixar must be challenging, this studio has created by far the most visually stunning and emotional computer animated movies ever. Every time they make a new movie, they are competing against themselves. No other studio comes even close to producing the refined product one comes to expect from Pixar. And so everything they produce, right down to the shorts, are must-watch. Their latest offering, Inside Out will leave you in laughing out with joy, and in tears  before the end. This is some piece of really great story telling, and its not just for the kids !

tmp85C

Quick question , which is the last Pixar movie you remember watching ? The one which really touched your heart ? Chances are, it was 2009's Up. That movie made viewers cry by simply rendering graphics with music, with absolutely no dialogues in some key scenes. Inside Out will be the next Pixar animation which will play with your emotions. This is a coming of age movie. Kinda. Its about the gradual, almost imperceptible demise of childhood. In the artificial world beautifully created in the movie, the premise is that there are basically five emotions controlling every one's thoughts: joy, sadness, fear, anger and disgust. Its the same for every person, and these five emotions try among them to control emotions. At a turning point in the lead character's life (Riley), something unexpected happens, joy and sadness get lost , and separated from the rest of the gang. While joy and sadness try frantically to get back, the remaining three emotions try their best to control, and Riley's life is turned upside down, or inside out.

Inside Out (2015 film) poster.jpg

Even with such a simple premise, Pixar is able to create a huge world with many plot points. The world building is complex, there are various characters and machines running the brain, and each one has a specific task. Even sadness, who stands out with her melancholy and who is despised by the others, has her place and importance, and no-one else can replace that. The takeaway: emotions are meant to connect people together, and that relationships are the most important things in life. After a tumultuous day with the emotions running all over the place, order is restored, and things improve, Pixar style !

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Jurassic World - the best Jurassic Park sequel!

 

I just watched Jurassic World, first day, first show today here in Bangalore. With on the most un-enthusiastic and lethargic crowd I have seen. No one shouted, yelled or screamed during the movie. There was only a single kid in the audience. But that in a way, allowed me to watch the movie distraction free. This has been a 22 year wait for me ,and I think this is by-far the best sequel to the original Jurassic Park movie. It borrows a lot of ideas from the first book, and brings in lot of new ones as well. And you will best enjoy this movie if you take it as a direct sequel to the first JP, forget the two sequels which came out in the last 22 years, and you will be fine.

tmp544

The movie tells us a pretty basic and simple story, I will not bother writing out the plot here as somebody already put the whole thing on Wikipedia. But the gist is that after the events of the Jurassic Park movie, Ingen had to sell everything to a new company (Masrani), and they took the next step in the business. They now have a full fledged , functioning park on the island, with 25+ species. But seeing a real life dinosaur is not terrifying anymore, so they decide to make the mistake of creating an entirely new dino species from scratch, by mixing up dna from different animals. Just when things look stabilized, the new "asset" escapes from its paddock, unleashing terror on the island when it still has 20k visitors there. When all attempts to use modern "sophisticated" technology to capture the beast proves futile, they find the only way that will still work…another dinosaur !

Oops…almost gave that away. Spoilers follow: First they try to use the trained raptor squad to hunt down the i-Rex, but then, it turns out the i-Rex also has velociraptor dna in it! They communicate, and now the raptors have a new 'alpha'. When that plan too backfires, they unleash the resident T-Rex. The T-Rex was the hero (or heroine, she is a female, remember ?) of the first movie, saving some of the lead characters from the raptors in the first movie, and here that idea is re-used. So the two rexes fight it out, with a little help from blue, the lone raptor, and then finally, mossie (the mososaurs) finishes the i-rex off.

Surprises: Having read the books and watched the previous movies like a hundred times, I thought I had become a JP expert, and could predict some parts of the story. But I was surprised by a few things:

  1. Maximum Kills, maximum thrills. This is the Jurassic movie which has the highest number of deaths (both humans and dinos) on screen. Some of the gruesome kills are done offscreen, with only blood splatter for a little animation. I counted 7 humans dead, not including the entire ACU team, and many of the other dinos. While JP showed only a  4 kills ( Genarro, Nedry, Arnold, Muldoon), each one had a some focus (Arnold's death was not shown) building up to it. Here, the kills are quick and there is no build up. Except Masrani, he was shown to be someone who enjoyed watching and caring for the animals, but he pays the price of taking out the chopper without a license.
  2. Nobody important dies. The central cast survives the carnage. Hoskins is the only one killed by the raptor, but he was a bad guy anyway. The two kids, Claire and Owen escape with a few bruises. I was expecting Barry, Owen's friend (sidekick), the black guy, to be killed, but is shown in the end very much alive. Which brings me to…
  3. Henry Wu survives ! Again ! Henry is the only person who escaped form the incident on the original park, and then escapes again in JW, this time, with a lot of embryos and his work with him. This sets up the stage for the sequel, which I bet is gonna look stupid. In the Jurassic Park book, Henry Wu is killed by a raptor just before the novel ends, when he helps the team to try and restore power in the park. There is a part in the book were he argues that the dinos in the park are not-real, because they are engineered. And that part is now in this movie when he discusses this with Masrani.
  4. JP Nostalgia : There are some clever throwbacks to the original movie. The original JP tune is re-used, when the park is introduced in the beginning, when the kids explore it. Mr DNA shows up at the visitor centre. Lowery's console at the control centre is just as sloppy as Nedry's and he is wearing a JP t-shirt ! When lost on the island, the kids find an abandoned warehouse full of stuff form the first park. They find one of those 'expensive' 3d glasses, and a working gas powered jeep (number 29) in red and white which they use to escape to the visitor centre. During the raptor chase at the visitor centre, Clair turns on a holographic device, which renders the hologram of a dilophasaurus, which jeered with its frills, distracting the raptor. And….and the red flare. Claire uses a red flare to distract the T-Rex towards the Indominus Rex !
  5. Jimmy Fallon cameo: Jimmy has a cameo as the presenter during the gyrosphore trip, were they show him in his scientist suit, and the lab around him bursting into flames. Apparently, they spared no expense, just like when they used Richard Kiley in the first movie.

My only gripe with the movie was that there were really no surprises, most of everything happened just as predicted. The whole plot unfolded pretty much as in the first movie, Owen is actually brought in to inspect the paddock of the Indominous Rex, just as the experts are brought in to inspect JP, and the creature escapes. Nearly all of the key scenes were already released out, in the form of trailers and sneak peaks. The rest of the plot came out in the form of rumours and leaked photos, thanks partly to hyper active social media, and partly due to viral marketing. The only true surprise everyone wanted to know was what eventually would happen to the I-Rex, Mossie gets it ! The parts which were weird was were Owen 'communicated' to the raptors, and Hoskins repeatedly describing scenarios to use the raptors in battle. But still, I was happy with were the story went. This opens up a lot of possibilities for the sequels. For instance, many of the flying reptiles could have escaped from the island, what happened to them ?

tmpFB91

tmp8FA7

tmp996

tmp3B42

tmpA980

tmp1D0B

 

Colin Trevorrow has delivered a polished, intelligent, and crowd-pleasing would-be blockbuster.  Jurassic World accomplishes the task of being something of an original adventure within the confines of being a sequel. It has almost too many good ideas, while using the original film only when contextually appropriate. I wish the main characters were a little more refined, and I wish the film took the time to explore its subtexts beyond periodic seasoning, but that may be me wishing for a different film. The movie we got is pretty good, and Trevorrow has delivered what amounts to a best-case scenario for a novice director being handed the keys to a massive franchise.

tmpB740

Download the cam rip of the movie from here.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Jurassic World - Ticket Bookings begin in India

 

They have started selling tickets to Jurassic World in India. Though only a few theatres are enabled. Movie hits this Friday !

tmp6A02

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Losing the Signal - The Blackberry Story

 

There's too much work at office nowadays, I don't get any time to catch up on my reading. But every now and then, there is buzz about some new book and you just have to read it.  A few weeks back there was a general buzz in the news about Blackberry, formerly Research In Motion. It seemed that Microsoft was keen on buying the dying company. And two Globe and Mail editors were about to publish a book about the rise and fall of Blackberry. Two online newspapers had published excerpts from the book, and they covered the general theory that it was Apple's iPhone that brought down Backberry's smartphone business. The excerpts read like one of those TV documentaries were scenes were re-enacted and interviews explained them in detail.

I had to read this book. And so I did. I got myself an pirated online .epub version of the book and read it over the weekend. It was indeed a good read, and here is what I learned.

image

 

  1. The story of Blackberry is one of those untold or unheard of success stories of technology companies from the 1980s. Their story starts around the same time Microsoft and Apple started business, but never got the same kind of media spread. So they have been in business for 30 years, but they earned worldwide praise for their devices for only about 8 years, from 1999 to 2007, then they Blackberrys were the definition of a smartphone.
  2. Mike Lazaridis (born Mihal), the founder and long serving co-CEO of the company, was an engineering genius. He used to fix broken things right from childhood, and helped out fixing stuff in his school, and this set the stage for his career in the emerging telecom industry. He was the son of immigrant parents from Istanbul, his family had limited means, and he did many odd jobs in his neighbourhood and school (selling self-made quiz buzzers at one point) before he found his calling in world of electronics and communication. He built his own oscilloscope ! When he started engineering at the University of Waterloo in 1979, they had one IBM 360 computer !Discouraged with the world of big business, he decided to be his own boss by starting a consulting company that designed computer solutions for local technology companies. He and his friend Doug Fregin dropped out of University weeks before the course completion and in an unintended nod to the many lessons they had yet to learn about running a business, Lazaridis and Fregin formally registered their new company under the name Research In Motion Ltd. on March 7, 1984.
  3. At first, the company designed custom electronics for companies in Canada, and then they jumped onto the wireless communication industry designing & manufacturing pagers, the only cheapest way back then to transmit non-voice data. They worked with Ericsson to change the one-way paging system into two way, and then decided to do something about bringing e-mails to a hand held device. At the time, the only way to access e-mail was via a desktop or laptop computer. Palm was selling a wireless devices they called the Personal Digital Assistant, but it had no e-mail, only Contacts and Calendars could be shared. Mike Lazaridis himself used one, and wanted to bring these new technologies into their own range of offerings.
  4. The name Blackberry was not coined by anybody at Research in Motion. Instead, they hired Lexicon Branding, a local company renowned for its gift of selecting memorable brand names, particularly for nerdy high-tech products like Intel's Pentium and Apple's powerbook. The codename for the new device was PocketLink, and most of RIM liked and wanted that name. Somebody at Lexicon had written soothing words on a whiteboard to throw around ideas for the new name, and the words included “summer vacation,” “melons,” and “strawberry”.Next to the name of the red fruit, one of the employees had scrawled “blackberry.” It was the 40th and last name considered for the new device and Laziridis liked it instantly.
  5. The Blackberry was never intended for every user on the planet. At the time, network speeds barely allowed full HTML page browsing, and RIM wanted to sell their dedicated , encrypted e-mail services on the expensive phones to top executives who would appreciate the product. When other companies were designing multiple phone models for every demographic like age group, profession, language and country, RIM produced the same kind of phones with only a few differences between them. In 2001, they were struggling to meet sales demands for their phones, because no other manufacturer had any similar offerings. They had a plant in Waterloo in 2002 to make the phones, but they did not take the risk of opening more plants in other countries, specially third world countries. This was the main reason why their phones were priced high, and it is a mistake other companies did not make.
  6. RIM had the technology to put a full HTML web browser on a phone for years, but US and Canada network operators prevented them from doing that, fearing it would clog up their network. Steve Jobs at Apple had full control of his company, and told AT &T that they would not be involved in the design of the Apple phone at any point at all, and that they would have to support full web browsing and multimedia on the network, even the licensing deals. AT & T had no choice but to take up the offer. This is the reason why the iPhone looked cooler when it came out, it boasted of all the features other companies were denied to put on their own phones.
  7. RIM never considered Apple a threat, because while RIM was making sophisticated phones for the executives of the enterprise, Apple's phone was more like a multimedia device, and RIM predicted the new phones would clog up AT&T's network. It did. The network got so overloaded, people started complaining of dropped calls and slow internet. But what RIM did not predict was that the users didn't really care. Apple sold millions of phones in their first month alone,  more than the sales of RIM's Pearl in the last quarter. RIM took their time in responding with a touch device called the Blackberry Storm, but its touch-cum-press-down-screen proved to be a disaster, every one of the first phones had issues and had to be replaced. If RIM had designed a touch screen similar to that of the iPhone, things would have been different.
  8. There were other issues as well. A few months before the iPhone launch, RIM was hit by a patent related lawsuit from NTP Inc, a shell company, which would reap millions off RIM's profits for years. RIM was in talks with Motorola for a takeover, but those talks fizzled because Motorola did not want to sell them their patents. Motorola went down, was bought by Google, and then sold to Lenovo. RIM also had a scandal regarding back-dated options for their stock.

vlcsnap-2015-06-07-18h13m57s240

 

However towards the final chapters of the book, what plays out is that the reason the company failed in the end is the same reason they had succeeded in the first place : exclusivity. RIM did not make phones for everyone, just the elite. They sold fewer phones than rivals all through history, but those were expensive phones for the enterprise worker. Sure they were built sturdily, had great battery life, and the unique keyboard and encrypted e-mail system, but these were custom made for those who needed it. Also, a big part of RIM's revenue came from loyalty, a Blackberry user had to buy the overpriced phone all right, but then they also needed to pay RIM a monthly usage fee to use the Blackberry network for secure e-mail. And this licensing fees comprised a big part of the companies revenue. Once a Blackberry user decided to ditch the service, that loyalty was lost. And so was the monthly fee. After the i-Phone, whenever the two CEOs had to discuss on the probable next steps they could take, the decision was always between maintaining Blackberry's exclusive and signature keyboard+service system and following Apple's lead of a large multitouch smartphone or licensing BBM to other vendors, and they chose exclusivity each time. This constant pattern of choosing the lesser of two evils eventually undid whole company.

All in all, it was a good read. Some really good investigative journalism, sounded too much like a documentary screenplay. But a great insight into the another part of the technology industry from the eighties.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Premam

 

Filmi 'experts' would say that 'Premam' is too silly to be the name of a malayalam movie, it is too short and bland, and the word might sound a little negative as well (compared to its nobler sister 'Sneham'). Had this movie been released a decade earlier, it would not have worked, the story is too simple, there are no established actors, no superstar, and the entire crew comprises of people unknown of. But it works, and what makes it click is it's simplicity. A simple story of a malayalee boy, his two best friends, and the three loves of his life. The movie is proof that even the simplest idea can work, if executed properly, with perseverance and passion.

tmp8E90

I saw this movie today in Bangalore, about a week after its release, and was pleasantly surprised with the results. Again, the movie fights convention, they never released the trailer, the only publicity was one of the songs, and some posters. So when people walked into theatres, they had no idea what to expect. The story is of our mallu hero George, growing up in a village in Aluva, Kerala in 2000, and how he tries to woo the love of his life at that point. Nivin Pauly excels in a role tailor made for him. He has two best buddies, always to advice & rescue him. Shambu is the more pessimistic of the lot, and Koya, the little more practical minded one. Its nice to see a Hindu, Christian and Muslim  trio of friendship here. And the three friends persist through life, they are together all the way through college, and even after that. Anyway, George faces a lot of competition from other 'roosters' in his neighbourhood and ultimately rejection, and has to move on. The movies skips to his final year in college, when George is now the brash student everyone hates , and where he unexpectedly starts to fall for his teacher, a guest lecturer in his college. But their mutual love goes unrealized as she faces an accident and loses her memory (this amnesia part is the only stereotype of this movie). The third act of the movie is in modern times, our times. George has mended he brash ways and actually runs his own coffee shop. This time, love comes calling his name again. George has to go through what we see as a third rejection again, but good things , it seems , come to those who wait. We see our hero getting married, its a happy ending and all is well.

tmpAE0

You see the problem here ? The above condensation of the story does not do justice to the movie. At all. What stands out is the execution. Everything from the cinematography, costumes and dialogues to the awesome background music and editing, is a class apart. The cast is perfect, everybody has a role to play, and they all play believable, everyday characters. No over-the-top or artificial characters here. And the visuals, of rain and sun and flowers…oooh..too much nostalgia ! The background music complements the visuals beautifully. I could point out numerous things which the set department got right: the kids of 2000 use the trusty-rusty cycle to get around, and have to use landlines to call each other. They hang out at the local tea stall, and drink lime soda with kuskus. George uses a hero pen and actually writes down a love letter, and makes spelling mistakes too. He has to tear up everything and start from scratch again. There was no cell phone or sms back then. No internet or facebook. Kids of today would find living in those times really frustrating. And in the college timeline, which runs in 2005, there is a hint of technology. SMS over cellphones was the simplest way to get a message around. And in modern times ,the characters spend a lot of time on their smartphones. This kind of attention to detail sets this movie apart, nothing is out of place.

The makeup deserves a special mention, because we see the lead characters growing and aging through the movie, believably. The trio of actors who play the +2 school kids is the very same who play the 30+ characters at the end. And the actors too change their mannerisms to suit the age: the school characters are naive and shy, while at the other end we see them mature and confident (and stoned too, for too long). But the surprise offering of the movie is the role of Malar, the tamil guest lecturer played by the debutante tamil actress. Nobody could have seen this one coming. She does a fantastic job at playing her role convincingly, its hard to digest that it was her first (and possibly last) movie. I also like Vinay Fort's character of Vimal sir, the bumbling mumbling teacher of the college. This character is gonna live forever.

tmp787E

The story is an amalgamation of the love stories of many , many young couple from that period. Everybody will be able to relate to some aspect of the storyline. And the movie itself can be considered a sort of rebellion, against various stereotypes of the industry. This is a new breed of film makes who excel in in telling stories using beautiful visuals, accompanied by perfect music. Who would have thought that such a simple story played by inexperienced actors could set the box office ringing ? And if this is the vision of things to come, and things are doing in the right direction. Expecting more from this crew of youngsters.

tmp39E

Update(01-Jul): Looks like the dream run of this movie at the theatres will be cut short abruptly, a copy of the movie given to the censor board has been leaked online. But on the flip side, they already made a lot of money. And Nivin has got rave reviews for his acting, the people have anointed him the new superstar of Malayalam movies. Some are calling him the next Mohanlal, as his acting reminded them of Mohanlal's early career. But he is cautiously playing down the hype and maintaining that he still has a lot to learn. He pointed out that he is now 25 movies old , in just 5 years !

Monday, June 1, 2015