Movie Review – Avengers: Age of Ultron

The only time Joss Whedon would ever feel he could have done a better job with the Avengers Franchise, is when (and if) Nolan brings out Justice League and carries through the subtle humanisation of super-humans, aliens and gods which he has tried to achieve, in vain, in the Age of Ultron.

In fact, the most well developed characterisation is that of Ultron, who in spite of his indestructible strength, knowledge and power, pines for company, and in spite of the lack of strings on him has a vendetta against his creator. It is extremely fun to see ultron rebel against the very mention of likeness to his father and in the very next scene see him make a quip, Tony Stark style.

As for the avengers, Whedon attempts to bring an element of human emotion into all of them, the most obvious being Hawk-Eye, the Black Widow and the Hulk. The revelation of Hawk-eye’s personal life is quite the stunner and while adding another layer to the character hardly helps with the story or endears us to him, mainly because there is hardly anything known about hawk-eye in the cinematic universe for this to make us sit up and take notice. A similar drawback occurs with the Black Widow with too little known about her past for the audience to attach ourselves to her. The Hulk however, is just plain confusing. Bruce Banner, as always, is mighty scared of going into one of those rampages and destroying the earth. Yet, we see in fight after fight, that he has complete control over the Hulk, going so far that he even gives the Black Widow a little piggy back ride.

New entries to the avengers team, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, are more endearing with back stories and all the confusions and opinion changes that come with being a enhanced human.

One dissappointing  characterisation, however, is that of the vision – who somehow realises who he is by looking into a mirror? However, the movie ends with an ambiguous face-off between the vision and his creator that could lead to a more elaborate series in the future.

There are some endearing moments in the movie where the Avengers bond over Thor’s hammer and then later again over Thor’s hammer. However, the basic thread of the film mirrors the first Avengers movie – with the team basically trying to gel together while the villain tries to break them up, invariably using mind control. Talk about Deja vu.

However, the movie has more than enough on offer for Fan boys and Girls with endless stunts, display of powers and punchline. There are several scenes establishing a sense of camraderie between the avengers, mostly in-between battles, and while planning for the next battle. Talking about battles, the movie begins with one, goes through one after the other, and ends with one. Hardly one set is introduced without super-humans and robots battling each other in it and tearing it apart. It would be difficult to write about the battles and the powers without dropping a dozen spoilers but rest assured they will make you whistle and hoot.

Thor and the Captain seem to have struck up a nice rapport on the battlefield which makes for good viewing. And for those who are not Marvel fans, the movie still has enough of Iron Man and Tony Stark witticism to keep you coming back.

As with most Marvel Comic Series’, several threads have been left untied to be taken up in a future movie. The missing hulk, the appearance of Kang, the ambiguous ending of Ultron himself with the Vision, the fate of the Infinity stones (Links with the Guardians of the galaxy on this one) all point towards several action-packed features in the future.

My verdict – I’ll definitely watch it a couple more times.

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Net Neutrality, Airtel Zero and the Drama of cyber-activism

Alright. Before you guys jump ship and start hating me, let me make one thing clear. I SUPPORT NET NEUTRALITY.

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Or. Most of it. I believe all content is equal and that if I have an internet connection at 8Mbps then everything I look for, I should get at 8Mbps. Flipkart and snapdeal. Netflix and Popcorn-time. But I DO NOT support the shit AIB and the rest of those TRP-lusting dramatics would lead you to believe.

Now, according to Columbia Law School professor Tim Wu, who coined the term, the best way to explain network neutrality is as when designing a network: that a public information network will end up being most useful if all content, sites, and platforms are treated equally.

It does not, however, mean that you cannot charge for certain types of services or that you cannot ink an agreement wherein payment for services is received from one of either party using the network.

Now before we go on, let us look at what Internet.org is trying to achieve. While the economics and social impact of internet.org are too complex to explain or understand, the short version is that it is trying to bring the internet to everyone. Even those who cannot afford it at the moment. So basically, while you and I can afford the Rs. 250 pm that we spend on 3G, not all can. Now the question is, is it better to provide these people access to some part of the internet while temporarily barring them from having the choice of search engine? I would say yes. Anyone who cannot pay for a connection would say yes.

Why I believe Telecom companies should charge for OTT services

Here again the basic premise is Open Internet.  There are very few people who want to use all of the internet all of the time and have the resources to pay for it. Considering real life constraints, we should be trying to provide as much of the internet as possible to as many people as possible for the least costs possible.

Here about is the point where people would talk about how cheap internet is and how technology has been improving. That in no way decreases the huge capital costs that Telecom companies have to undergo in order to install and maintain this infrastructure and also to continually keep improving it. This wonderful article in the Mint covers a lot of it.

Let’s look at airtel’s revenue break- up:

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Slightly old and blurry date but manageable. Anyway, notice how revenue from data forms a little less than half of mobile revenue. Now, this is revenue from data is predicted to grow to about 80% of total revenue. Why? Because customers are going to stop making voice calls and switch over to Skype and viber.

But why is that bad for the Telecos when their revenues will be going up?

Well, have u ever observed how your downloads speeds slow down when you are skyping? But the image is still blurry? and have you observed how the speed does not slow down to a proportionate amount when watching a blurry video on youtube? That’s because VOIP services such as Skype take up much more bandwidth – which reduces the performance of the network. So, when all of us start saving on voice calls and use viber and Skype instead, the telecom companies need to do a major re-haul of the infrastructure to continue maintaining service standards.

In order to pay for that, they will inevitably increase costs on data connections. Thereby rendering the internet out of reach for even more people. People who might not be using Skype and viber all the time.

Solution? Charge for Over-the-top services. Something like the southwest airlines of Internet connections.

Airtel Zero and how it might just prevent OTTS charges

Most people consider the internet to be a one sided transaction where the knowledge of the world mysteriously lands up. You want to search for the cheapest flight? You want to order food online? Netflix? None of the companies providing these services are Not-for-profits. All of them are businesses looking to make money and as with any other business decision, they gave thought before choosing the internet as their medium. In other words, none of these companies would have entered the internet if it did not have the large user base it currently does. And so, it makes sound business sense for them to ensure the expansion of this user base.

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Like credit cards and any advertisement medium. Now so far, the internet’s user base namely – us, have been the only ones being charged whereas the customer base – the numerous businesses which operate through the internet haven’t been charged at all. Airtel Zero is trying to change that.

In order to tackle the inescapable rise in prices, and enable everyone to be on the internet, Airtel is trying to shift the responsibility of paying for the network services from the user to the customer. Opponents would say this destroys the level playing field of the internet. It could. But if this letter from Gopal VIttal is sticking to the truth, then it wouldn’t. It would of course give a leverage to companies with deep pockets, which is already present through – advertising, discounts, and so on.

If every company had the same business model with the same constraints and no points of parity, then there would be no need for the existence of more than one company in each category. If providing free access is the USP of flipkart, then snapdeal could provide lower prices to win over customers. But trying to kill the very idea in order to prevent the use of such leverage is highly dishonourable and not in the best interest of the customers and users.

In essence, while net neutrality is indeed a requirement and fighting for it is necessary, cyber activism twisting and turning the facts could destroy the OPEN INTERNET, which is far more important in a country like India where a large percentage of the population is yet to be exposed to high speed internet.

What are your thoughts?

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” hello baby” Muaah Muaah “Have you lost weight?”

   Considering this is my first post after joining MDI , I probably shouldn’t write about the Godrej Loud Session. I should have started with the academics and the activities and the perennial lack of sleep. I should have started with the assignments, cases, ppts and quizzes, the very many many quizzes. But I dint and now you are gonna think MBA students spend their time saying ridiculous stuff and winning t-shirts for it. Not that its far off from the truth.

Today, 12th August 2013, Parmesh Shahani and Mark Kahn came to MDI to launch Godrej LOUD, the most creative B-school competition I have seen so far. LOUD which expands to Live Out Your Dreams, asks us to tell godrej our dreams, not B-plans, not Innovative Ideas, not Smart analyses, but our dreams. The ones we are most passionate about. And they are ready to pay us for it, A whopping INR 1.5 lakh so that we can live out our dreams! We screamed, sang, clapped, laughed, screened videos and in short had a very good time. But that wasn’t the most awesome part of the evening at all.

It was Parmesh and Mark. What they spoke, to be more specific.

Parmesh is a crazy person. He has written a book called Gay Bombay, Has edited for verve, loves Poonam Pandey and Rakhi sawant, Has done his masters in MIT ( the MIT in USA as he had to point out), was one of the first few to get onto the internet, is a shameless pimp by his own admission, and a visionary of sorts. He must have talked for about 45 minutes or more and the whole time he had us in splits.

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What exactly did he talk about? Thinking back, he mostly talked about himself ( Talk about being narcissistic) and about a fetish for hats and cross-dressing. He ridiculed Mark. He ridiculed us. He poked fun at just about everything in Gurgaon and MDI. And then he talked about his ideas and about Godrej Culture lab. And that was brilliant. The Indian version of TED, every week at Mumbai. And I was amazed I hadn’t heard about this before. This was genius!! So the Culture lab is basically an open session every Friday or Saturday were people gather and discuss, like most people here do at pubs on Fridays. Except instead of bakwaas and bakchoddi, there is ideas and innovation. An excellent Idea, I suggest everyone check it out. And then of course he gave us advice – which is the title of the post and also his recipe for success. In the fashion industry, not in the corporate world, It would probably get you on a harassment case.

And then came Mark Kahn. Kahn, not Khan. And he is a Venture Capitalist. His dad is a German, his mother is an Israeli, his wife Bengali and he calls India home.

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After completely running down every possible career choice we can make in the next two years, after categorically assuring us we will be miserable at our jobs, after pointing out that we have been torturing ourselves for the entirety of our lives, He tells us go do those jobs because they pay well,  and a creative job pays shit.

Follow your hobbies, keep your friends close and be happy. Give. And Enjoy life. And work hard. And find something you wouldn’t be against doing. Like Finance. Never go into Finance. Ever.

So, after about two hours of Aunty-theses, Orange aunty, Life philosophy from Rakhi Sawant, Insects and flowers and cross pollination and feeling like an insect and a whole lot of dirty jokes later, HR came in. As expected, End of fun.

 

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The Hardest Part

The bags are packed.

Everything I would need stuffed into two medium sized travel bags.

Tomorrow, as I board my flight, I will be leaving behind a relationship built up over 21 years. I will be leaving home.

4 years ago, when my brother left, I could only feel the excitement. New places. New people. New adventures. I always believed, as most people acknowledged, that the hard part would be settling in wherever we are headed. No one ever told me that was the easy part. No one ever told me that the hardest part would be leaving.

The excitement is still there. In fact a part of me feels like a 5 year old about to open a present. Yet a part of me feels like a 5 year old whose favourite toy just broke.

It’s not about leaving behind friends. We’ll always stay in touch. We’ll always meet up. Although less frequently. It’s about randomly texting everyone on a lazy summer day and deciding to go somewhere. Anywhere. Without any plans.

It’s about meeting up for snacks at the bakery on the corner of the road. About talking endlessly about random subjects sitting in random places.

It’s about the train ride back home everyday and convincing friends to walk with me to the station. It’s about running across the street when u hear the train’s horn. It’s about that split-second decision whether to buy tickets or not.

It’s about all night long gaming. It’s about being so preoccupied doing nothing with a bunch of friends that we all forget to eat.

It’s about waking up at 7 am and then moving on to sleep on the couch till 11 am. It’s about being in a city where u cannot get lost.

It’s about asking for a coffee as if you have woken up at 5 am. It’s about getting that coffee.

It’s about fighting over that last bite of food. It’s about being woken up on a Sunday morning by the bhajans from next door.

The conversations over a red signal. The schemes on bored evenings. The debates about cinema, music, laws, regulations, roads, actors, actresses and what not. The auto rides that almost got you killed. The rushing to movies hoping we don’t miss anything.

It’s about wondering if all these things are over.

It’s about looking back over 21 years. Looking back over every memory you have and wondering if you would ever make that many memories again.

Only as the last few days in chennai came did I realize that I have so many lose ends left. That 70-rupee debt at the bakery. The places I never visited. The friends I never made. The friends I never made up with.

The hardest part is not going somewhere unknown. It’s leaving the known. And everything that made it home.

It’s about leaving Chennai.

 

 

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The Exam Room

Friday, 30-11-2012

9:30 am

 I received my Nanoscience and Technology question paper.

9:35 am

I realize I only know 4 of the 10 two-mark questions.

I decide I can attempt all 10 anyway. I have been in this college for 4 years after all.

9:45 am

As I am midway through rediscovering what MOMBE is, I realize something.

With a little help from the most popular guy in our department, our HOD, This would be the last exam I write as an undergraduate. Heck, if things go wrong, this could be the last exam of my life.

Not that I am complaining.  But it lead to a more important realization. College is coming to an end. In another 6 months, I would be a biotechnologist. Hopefully.

4 years. 4 long years, have passed by in the blink of an eye.

I don’t remember much of what I learnt in classes these 4 years. To be truthful, I remember only my favorite subjects.

But there is something I do remember.  I remember the conversations.

Weird and pointless conversations, but extremely fun conversations. I remember moving on from late night messaging to late night phone calls.  Messaging till 12, and then switching to talking till 4 am. Text message conversations that spanned days. Talking about  Spongebob squarepants and people who got stuck. Listening to stories about people I did not know. I should make a separate post for all the weird conversations I have had.

I remember birthday celebrations. Acting as if we are surprising someone, even though we are planning it right in front of their eyes.  Calling them up at 12 to wish them happy birthday over a conference call, with an insane number of people. Although those calls never made sense, they were funny. And conference calls with a proper number of people would always end up being long sessions of mocking and teasing each other.

I remember all the people I have met. Some I would have been better off not meeting at all. Some I wish I had made better friendships with. I remember the new friends I made. I remember the friends I lost.

And I remember all the firsts. The first time I bunked a class. As embarrassing as it is, I have to admit it was to study for a test. The first time I turned up to college without studying for a test, subsequently bunking a class to study for it.  I remember getting blasted by the HOD for going to him directly for a signature instead of submitting it at his office. I remember my first lab experience. My first “sonthamana” experiment. The joy at finding out it worked. The dejection at realizing it was a false positive. Taking photos because it was too sad to start out again just yet. I remember the first time I tasted a lot of different stuff, disguised as other stuff of course.

I remember chatting to the lab assistants because it was easier than learning the experiments. Point to note: Always be friendly with the lab assistants. They are extremely helpful during exams. I remember convincing others to write assignments for me, write records for me, even though I would only be sitting next to them and making small talk.

I remember the work for the symposiums. I remember fighting with a guy in his own conference room, even though I was the one asking for money. I remember coming early because something didn’t work. I remember staying late because I was too excited to leave. I remember discovering “Ghana “songs on auto-rides in the middle of the night.

I remember sitting in placements. Laughing with the interviewer, screwing up all the answers because her good looks kept distracting you. Still getting placed and wondering how the hell that happened.

I remembered am writing an exam.

9:50 am

I get back to the two-mark questions.

11:45 am

I have written everything I know. As many times as possible, in as many ways as possible.

I realize I have screwed up this exam. As I leave the exam hall , I look at my friends and wonder….

“Is there really that much to write in Nanoscience? “

happens every time!!

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Facebook.

Back in 2003 , When Erica Albright must have dumped Mark Zuckerburg she wouldn’t have figured she was toppling a historic domino effect. So, anyway she got called a bitch online. Zucky made Facebook. Zucky got famous. He got a billion. And Erica probably felt like an enormously dumb person.

 And now, 8 years later, Thanks to Zucky, We have a public forum where we declare  all girls who reject us as bitches, Rant about super boring classes , Bitch about the professor who screwed your grades and what not in front of 900 million people. And then strangely, right after we update our status about our hugely embarrassing drunk exploits last Friday, We go protest again anti-privacy laws. Saving that for a later post though.

 Facebook provides a place for social connection via the sharing of photos, videos and text updates. Users create personal profiles and establish relationships with other people and companies. Of course, That’s all bullshit.

Here’s what we actually do on facebook:

The guys

1.Send friend requests to random girls with hot profile pictures.

2. Ogle at  hot pictures of that sexy girl who you bumped into once in school and then promptly friended on facebook and who you are hoping would one day actually reply to your messages.

3. Hope that you’ll find the love of your life on facebook.

Come on guys. Let’s stop kidding ourselves. The friend requests never work. You put up a witty, creative profile and send requests and get ignored. Some guy puts up his new R15 as his cover picture and suddenly he gets 43 accepts. Universal truth, brothers.

And that sexy girl , whose pictures you are ogling at, She puts up pictures because she has a life. About time we stopped ogling and start living don’t you think? I mean, Facebook la laam sight adikarathu. Enna koduma saravana ithu?

You are insulting all the heroines who have videos of item numbers in youtube, I tell you.

 And true love. If you figure that one out, Email me. Right now.

And now the girls

Come on, don’t start getting shocked already. We all know the only connections you make on facebook are the ones that pay for your cappuccinos and smoothies.

  1. Trying to figure out which of those guys who sent you requests would fit the aforementioned critieria.
  2.  Posting pictures of yourself. Getting all your girlfriends to comment with little hearts. Then replying in comments with little hearts. And then going thanks to each and everyone. Intha polappuku….

                 And of course , the likes. If we stare at you in class we are creepy, if we comment “hawt” on FB we are sweet?

  1. Chat on each other’s walls. If we listen in on your conversations in class , you fight for four days and yet you plaster your conversations on each others’ walls.  And you go 😀 if someone likes your chat-comment. I mean seriously? Some girls…….

But then, at the end of the day….

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ElectriCity.

Hello. My name is Karthic. Come on. I’ll Show you my room.

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 What? You can’t see anything? Neither can I.

 Welcome to Chennai. And Power-cuts.

The power-cuts became a daily occurrence around the time I entered second year I think. And after 2 years, after a new government, many protests at nuclear plants, promises of wind power, of solar power, One world cup in Cricket, Commonwealth games, CWG scam, 2G and 3G and their respective scams, two new shining smart card enabled (?) toilets and 1 very awesome blog post we still do not have enough energy.

If anything, we are worse off. Amma officially reduced the power cuts to one hour. But then, you can’t ignore the laws of physics can you?

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Danush in padikathavan: Varatha padippa va va nu sonna epdi varum??

Amma in TN: Illatha current ah tha tha na epdi thara mudiyum??

And so we still have power-cuts. Before, me and my friends used to decide where to hangout based on what we wanted to do. But now…..         

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I think this is how the government is trying to control what we do. Offensive TV show on air? Power cut. Protest meet at Bessie? Power cut. Muahahaha. The perfect foil for a totalitarian regime.

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But what irks me most is not the power-cuts, its how the government is handling it. Electricity, one of the most of basic needs for a state to grow industrially and economically, is completely uncared for. And instead, lies and political statements are made to cover it up. The recent announcement of reduction in power-cuts to one hour a day was followed the very next day by 4 hour-long power-cuts. And that is in the capital. It’s in a more despicable situation in the rest of the state.

 

And yes, I do know kudankulam is being built. The reactors will come into operation. But will that be enough? My guess is no. Taking into account, the enormous number of development projects under progress all over the city, the power consumption will only grow, exponentially. And now I hear they are clearing lands in a forest somewhere for a large-scale solar power plant. I find the idea funny. Just like how they made the education system a joke. To make people employable, they needed degrees. So they built colleges all over the place. So now, what about the unemployed educated? Just help IT grow, keep everyone happy. All engineers are IT field nowadays anyway.

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Random image. 😛

I am truly confounded by one fact. Chennai is blazing hot and bright as natural sunlight could allow it to be. Would you get a better place to harvest solar energy?? When Chennai had water shortage, They arrived at the surprisingly brilliant plan of rainwater harvesting.      

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SO why not make solar energy harvesting mandatory? A few square feet of solar panels on top of each house?  Considering the number of DTH dishes making rooftops ugly these days, A few solar panels shouldn’t matter. Maybe we could start with the malls…. EA has a ginormous roof area. Am not sure what they use it for, but solar panels would surely take a big load of the grid.

 

This might not be the best solution. But for a state which has a dozen top ranked engineering colleges like NIT and a city which has IIT and ANNA UNIVERSITY innovative solutions shouldn’t be a problem, should it?

GO SOLAR.

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