Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Microsoft Correctly Predicted Almost Every Award At Oscars 2015


Microsoft's Bing prediction engine has correctly predicted the 2015 top Oscar winning wards that include best picture, best director, best actor, best actress, and the results for supporting actor and actress.



Microsoft's Bing prediction engine has correctly predicted the 2015 top Oscar winning wards that include best picture, best director, best actor, best actress, and the results for supporting actor and actress.

In all, Microsoft successfully predicted 84% of the 24 results and only 4 were wrongly predicted.

Microsoft uses a prediction model for the Oscars that is under Microsoft researcher David Rothschild over at the company's New York City research lab. Microsoft had also predicted the World Cup, English soccer results and NFL games and also rightly predicted the US election in 2012 in all 50 states.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Aluva Shiva Rathri


After more than a year of being pestered and reminded, I went to Aluva during the annual Shivarathri festivals. Although the actual Shivarathri is traditionally only one night, here the festivities go of for almost a month. The hottest selling item there this year is :…the dust mask. Due to the ever growing crowd and the fact that the main area is actuall the river bed, there is tremendous amount of dust kicked into the air. The place near the temple is completely occupied by vendors and hawkers who have set up their temporary stalls.


The usual toys, sweets to plants and household items were for sale. And at the very end, they have the rides. There is a walkway constructed across the river from the bank to the temple shore. And the night time sights from the top was indeed beautiful.


But the place itself is terribly commercialized. The items are priced high. Are of low quality.

Friday, February 13, 2015

AIB Roast


If you want to see the worst kind of humor from Indians, check out the AIB roast video on youtube. I came to know of it from the news, with various lawsuits filed against the makers of this video. The public claim it was indecent humor. So I checked it out. I was in shock.

I could watch barely 10 minutes into the video. The whole program was nothing but a collection of tasteless, sensless, and over the top adult 'jokes'. I put jokes in quotes because I did not laugh at even a single one of them.

I have followed the AIB group in the past, some of their videos were really inspired eye openers. They have a penchant of finding humor in the worst current affairs news. And they compose good parody songs as well. But the roast was overcooked.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Crimson Tide


I have some movies on my hard drives I love to watch over and over again. And today I just felt like watching Crimson Tide again. Its one of those rare war-themed movies with a nicely told story and great acting. It is also one of those rare movies were the enemy is not a Nation or Country. The enemy is War itself. And there is no antagonist or protagonist per se. Both the lead roles are against each other, but they are right in their own ways. The audience would take sides on what kind of character they are themselves are.


The movie tells the story aboard a  US Nuclear submarine a decade after the cold war, and the two top people in command are in conflict with each other. The crew of USS Alabama is called home from vacation to active duty, and to go out in preparation of war. The sub's captain, Ramsey (Jene Hackman) , goes with his guts, just staying within protocol.He does this because he is one of the few guys remaining with actual combat experience , and has friends in high places (as is revealed towards the end of the movie). He also has a group of fiercely loyal officers on board. He needs a new Executive Officer , who will be his second in command, and selects Hunter (Denzel Washington, in the first of many collaborations with Tony Scott), a by-the-book officer who is careful both with his words as well as actions. The two have differing views on war and politics, this is made clear in the beginning when Hunter shares his views of war in the Nuclear world. He states that the true enemy is "War itself".





From here on, we see Ramsey hating Hunter for his more diplomatic and cautious approach on deck, and this escalates quickly. Ramsey runs a mock drill in the sub when there is a fire emergency in the galley, which Hunter does not approve of. The whole point of this scene is to explain to us, the dumb viewers, what the entire procedure is to launch a nuclear missile from the submarine. Every command given by the captain has to concurred on and repeated by the Executive officer. This unified chain of command is how the crew would follow orders in face of an emergency.  Some time later, they receive an actual message from the Navy , asking them to go to Defcon 3 and to be ready to fire nuclear missiles at Russia.

As evident from his talk in the breakfast scene, Ramsey is ready to pus the button, he just needs to know when. He does not want to know the why. He believes that in the Navy, you just follow orders given to you, and expects everyone else to fall in line, including his XO. But Hunter, on the other hand, is cautious, especially when it comes to launching missiles. When they receive the second message to fire the missiles, Hunter gives his concurrence un-willingly. But before they can act on the message, they spot a problem. A russian submarine in the vicinity, and they navigate to avoid and identify this ship. During this manoeuvring, they receive an incomplete third message regarding the missile launch. This is the second act of the movie, and launches both the characters against each other in a mutiny. 




Holy Shit !

Then they both go at it – guns blazing. It's hard to pick out all the dialogue because they roar so hard over each other, but Washington certainly gets to give a great speech: "No sir I do not concur, and I do not recognise your authority to relieve me of my command under navy regulations … under operating procedures governing the release of nuclear weapons we cannot launch our missiles unless you and I agree … this is expressly why your command must be repeated. It requires my assent, and I do not give it, and furthermore if you continue on this course without confirming this message first I will be forced … to relieve you of your command."

This is a genuinely surprising moment, because the one thing Scott left out of our thorough immersion in navy procedure is that the XO might be able to take over the sub. Despite a bit more shouting from the captain, the chief of the boat, reluctantly backing the XO, calls for two men to take the captain to his cabin. Hunter and Ramsey just glare at each other, and after one last bark from the captain, Ramsey is led away.

This is where the audience begins asking : "Who is right ?" . Ramsey has years of experience guiding him. Hunter has not seen any combat at all. The entire crew is loyal to Ramsey, and will follow his command. Hunter is new on the boat, how can he come in and take over the sub ? Its not a democracy on a nuclear submarine, its a chain of command. There is also a hint of racial tension , with all the talk of black and white horses. (Hunter is black, and Ramsey is white.)


Just when the audience starts thinking that the inexperienced Hunter is probably making a mistake, we see the russian submarine emerge again. Earlier Ramsey had expertly avoided direct contact with that sub, but Hunter was meeting it head on. Hunter is able to guide the sub and successfully attack the enemy sub, but in the process the Alabama is also hit, and takes damage, and starts sinking. Hunter has to give an order to seal up a bay, which would save the ship, but kill three of his crewmen trapped in the bay. Ok , so he is good enough to fire, but got the sub hit. Hunter's first priority is to get the radio fixed and receive the complete message. At this point no one, not even the audience, knows what the actual intended message is. It could be order to stand back. It could very well be an order to attack

This is my favourite thing about this movie. Once we enter the submarine and it leaves the harbour, all the action takes place on the sub itself. The action never cuts to any other place:  the other sub, the Naval command centre, or anyone's homes. There is no flashback either. Since we are in a sub under the sea, we cannot just turn on the TV or radio  to know what is happening outside. We don't know what the actual situation of the emergency is. So we just have to go with what the crew of the sub knows at the moment.

Towards the end, Ramsey is back in the command post, and has a showdown with Hunter, even punching Hunter in his face for the missile key. At this point, it is just personal to Ramsey, he doesn't care about protocol anymore. But just then, the radio is restored, and they receive the full emergency message. They have been ordered to stand down, the nuclear emergency is lifted. Hunter has his 'aha' moment, but does not show off. Ramsey is proven wrong after all. For the first time in the movie, he confidently hands control to this XO, and walks off deck.



On hindsight, we see that Hunter, through his cautious approach, just prevented a nuclear war. A possible third world war. But it is made clear that Ramsey's actions too were right. He acted with whatever information he had at that point.

Plot Hole: All the messages (EAM) they receive on-board the Alabama is authenticated using codes. Except one. The second message they receive, to go to Defcon 3. That message is received and just read by everyone in the scene, without being authenticated.

Also, the aftermath of the two submarines attacking each other is left un-resolved. Three US sailors lost their life during the attack, which was during the mutiny. One whole Russian submarine was destroyed. This would have surely increased the tension between the two countries. But these points are not addressed at the end.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Jurassic World new trailer rocks !


The new Jurassic World trailer just came out.



Check out the new Park Cams which went online.













Some of the CGI has been changed/updated: