Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap Day


What happens when you get an extra day in the year ? Well, the Indian Government decides to unveil the new budget. A mixed bag, this year. More taxes, more ways to take your money. Nothing given back. The trickle-down news is that cars will get expensive. Specially diesel vehicles. And specially the high end variants. They will attract a 5% additional cess under various monickers. Just after this news, they increased the price of diesel too.

But the rope-a-dope news was about the EPF withdrawals. After decades of mulling over this, the government has proposed a tax on EPF withdrawals. It will be a case of double taxation. The EPF component is part of the gross salary, on which tax is already paid. If the withdrawal is taxed, that will be the second tax on the same amount, with its interest.

Acche din.

Speaking of good days, over on the west side of the world, Leonardo Di Caprio finally won the best actor oscar after all those years of being nominated. Here is a person who found success to early, but had to wait 20 years to get the highly coveted academy award. Its not even his best acting in the Revenant. But this year, surprisingly, there was lack of competition in the category. The king of the world not ought to retire.


Indian Budget 2016, Oscar Leonardo DiCaprio Revenant tax SUV diesel

Friday, February 26, 2016

Throwback: Magazine CD Days


I was back in my home town some time back, and was going through some old ‘garbage’. You know, the stuff you are sure are useless, but you keep around anyway. And I ran into some old magazine CDs I had purchased more than 10 years ago.IMG_20160221_125806755

They are from a computer magazine called CHIP, which they later renamed to DIGIT. The came out in monthly issues, and each issue had two CDs, one with business/work software, and the other had fun/games/videos stuff like that. During the mid nineties these magazines where very popular and sought after by computer enthusiasts. Because the internet had just hit India, but the usage rates were awefully high. Downloading a CD worth of content from the internet would take hours ,and it cost about 60 rupees per hour. So getting two CDs of downloaded stuff for 100 rupees was like a good deal, all the content was nicely documented and arranged in a searachable menu. And the CDs still work till this day !





The 2nd fun CD usually came with trial/shareware versions of computer games, and most of us got to play US titles in this way, without having to download them ourselves. I als digged the computer/programmer softwares they used to ship. The CDs I have are dated July 2001, and November 2002.




Digit still gives out discs, though now they consist of DVDs.Today of course the internet has become a lot more affordable, so one can stay online all day without having to empty one’s pockets for all those downloads. But its fun to think how far we have gone since then.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

RocketMiles–Earn Miles by Booking Hotels !


Just happened to come across this service called RocketMiles which gives out free miles just for singing up, and further more for booking hotels via their site or mobile app. These miles can be used to book airline tickets. They have launched their service in India now, and lots of miles are up for grabs.


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

These Calculator Unboxings are Hilarious !!


Matt Parker is hilarious in these calculator unboxings.


February night sky, 2016. Planets galore.


If you watch the night sky in this month of February this year, you will get to see a rare sight. Early morning, around 5:30 am, you can catch five of the sun’s planets almost in a straight line. Like so.


It is an awe inspiring sight. I took some pictures, but none of them capture the beauty of this spectacle accurately. You will be able to see Mercury, Venus , Saturn, Mars and Jupiter. Jupiter rises in the east around 10pm itself. You will be able to see a very bright dot in the east which does not blink at all.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Open Live Writer : New Release ! (.6)



The Open Live Writer project has released a new version. If you already have Open Live Writer installed, the software will automatically update itself. The new version is, and it fixes the categories panel. The categories open up and show every category entry you have added prior, and also has the ability to add new ones.




Arnab Lashes out against JNU issue





Friday, February 12, 2016

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Monday, February 8, 2016

Stupid Promotion: 14 hours a week for laundry !?


I got this stupid promotion e-mail at work today. This goofy startup says that people spend upwards of 14 hours a week doing laundry.



Seriously !! We spend not more than 2 hours a week for this. Not sure what ‘most’ people are doing in the laundry.

Prof. Brian Cox was in a band !


You probably have heard of the British Astrophysict Brian Cox, he is like the British version of Neil DeGrasse Tyson, helping to teach science in that part of the world. What I did not know , was what he played the keyboard for a British rock band called D:Ream. He played the keyboard on their hit single Things Can Only Get Better.


Top 10 Food Preparation Scenes in Movies


Friday, February 5, 2016

Action Hero Biju - An ode to the Indian Policeman


I got to watch this Nivin Pauly starrer movie today, and I was blown away. This is without argument the first hit for Malayalam movie this year, and a milestone for Nivin, who turns producer for the movie, and Abride Shine, the director.  Its surprising how a movie can break stereotypes, yet still be a clean entertainer in this time and age. This is one of those rare gems you can watch with your parents, and kids, and still have lots to talk about when its over. TLDR: catch it at the earliest.

The movie is an unconventional-cop-story. Thanks to intelligent writing, the movie holds together spectacularly even  when there is no one single plot or one big villian. Every other cop-movie has the officer chasing down an underworld don, or a corrupt politician, or even has the Indian cop travelling abroad to solve their cases. Not Biju Paulose. He is  the town Sub-Inspector for Erankulam, and he plays within his jurisdiction only, as per the book. I say per the book here, because Biju even knows a few law points to back him up. The movie follows about one-month of a life of very dedicated and honest police officer, and his small team. And the myriad of colorful charachters you might meet in the city. And it is these charachters and their police cases that give us an insight as to what the life of an average police officer is like in Kerala (and the rest of the country too).


The screenplay builds up the intensity of the cases, it starts with a what is usually called petty-cases, a terminated employee not getting her promised salary, young law breakers driving illegal vehicles that sort of stuff. You realize that these might be called petty cases, but an officer cannot simply write them off, he has to give everyone the same attention, and same priority. Then the cases intensify, there are drug dealers, the gunda mafia. Towards the end, Biju himself ends up in hospital due to an encounter.

Star of the show, Nivin Pauly’s charachter of SI Biju Paulose is the uncorruptible , honest police officer. He cannot stand injustice. And he makes sure he dolls out justice to anyone in his jurisdiction coming to him for help. He does not care for ministers, or rich affluent people. He is the common man’s hero. But that does not mean he takes law into his own hands. Nothing illegal. As he says clearly in the movie, “its not about right or wrong, its about the law”. He is willing to turn the other way if the culprit is willing to compromise with the victim. But if the culprit does NOT, well, then its Biju’s way. Nivin changes tone all through the movie, he talks to the complaintants calmly and pleasingly, but if he finds anything illegal, he raises his tone and shouts down the enemy. He is not afraid to smack someone in the face, or use his favourite tool – the humble coconut ! If every policeman in the country were like this, the country need not have lawyers and judges.

What stood out:

  1. A bunch of new actors play the complaintants, everyday people in the city. Housewives, auto drivers, drunkards, thiefs, shop keepers. Everyone plays them convincingly, with enough lines. Lot of humour there.
  2. Sooraj Venjaaramoodu’s 5 minute cameo in the movie steals the thunder. His charachter Pavithran breaks stereotypes too. When he first walks into the station, he looks inabreiated. His complaint is that his wife left him for his friend. We, the audience, is convinced that is is Pavithran’s fault. Surely the wife cannot be blamed.  Biju calls them both to arrive at a compromise. The second time we meet him, we are in for a shock. Turns out, Pavithram does not drink or smoke. Is not a wifebeater or drunkard. He works hard for a living and provides for his wife and his only daughter. The 5 year old daughter is his entire world. But his wife was in love with somebody else the whole time. Pavithran is willing to take back his wife, and even willing to correct any mistake he might have commited. When Biju puts forth a compromise proposal to share custody of the daughter, is is revealed that the daughter was never Pavithran’s ! Sooraj’s acting to his revelation is simply jaw dropping. There were claps in the theater when he finally leaves the station in tears. Reminded me of that scene in Indian Rupee when thespian Thilakan cries holding on to a pole for support.
  3. The movie addresses a few threatening & relevant social evils. The officer talks about the suicide of a mother with her baby at a school function, explaining his point of view that it is when people lose courage to face challenges in every day life that they brink on suicide. He opines that modern life in luxury and care has made people weaker, and when they are not able to meet their goals in life, they give up easily. And the urge to overcome obstacles has to be learnt at home and school. As per official reports, Kerala has the highest suicide rate among the major states in India.
  4. The other topic addressed is the rising usage of drugs/intoxicants among youngsters, specially children. This can be seen as a cliche because Biju is never shown smoking or drinking in the movie, being a police office, one would assume otherswise.  He is againts usage of tobacco or drugs, and gives a like statement that the boys in the family have more freedom, when they should be under scrutiny too.

What did not;

  1. The most useless movie charachter of the year award would go to Anu Emanuel. With no dialogues, or anything to contribute to the movie, she was just there for eye candy. Her part could have completey written off and that could have improved the movie.

Stray thought: This is Nivin’s first joint production. He is really nervous with the venture. And thankful. The first 3 minutes before the movie is full of him and Abride thanking everybody he ever met on their journey to this movie. And special thanks was to Vineet Sreenivasan, who gave Nivin his first role.

This is definitely the first big hit of this year for Malayalam cinema. Off to a good start, here’s expecting more…


Nivin Pauly Action Hero Biju movie review Anu Emanuel Abride Shine police Biju Paulose preview hit

Bangalore Naatkal–audience reviews




Income Tax was born in Britian, in 1779



I ran into this video on youtube today, and it mentions how Income Tax was created in Britian.

British Income Tax was created as a temporary measure to raise funds for the war efforts of that time. But it continues till this day.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Microsoft Edge records browsing historyin InPrivate mode


Nowadays every browser has an anonymous browing mode: Chrome has Incognito mode, Safari has Private Browsing, Firefox has... actually, Firefox has Private Browsing too. Whatever the name, what these browsing modes all have in common is that once the browser is closed, there is no record of which sites have been visited. That's not to say that ISPs and law enforcement agencies wouldn’t be able to determine the browsing history, but from a local point of view it is as though no browsing has taken place.

But Edge is different.

Somewhat counterintuitively, Edge actually records browsing history in InPrivate mode. More than this, by examining the WebCache file it is a relatively simple task for someone to reconstruct full browsing history, regardless of whether surfing was performed in regular or InPrivate mode.


The page at is currently offline. But its on Google cache.


Moto X Force - launch delayed


Was just watching the online launch of Motorola’s new phone with shatter proof glass. Its been delayed by more than an  hour..