Another one of my articles on OSNews.com!

Today, OSNews.com published an article I’d written two weeks ago. This is article number 4 in the OSNews list. Here’s the link:

An analysis of HP’s future strategy, post Carly Fiorina.

I didn’t actually intend this one to be a 4-page, 3000-word article – I started taking notes to find why Carly was fired. There were rumblings about this within IBM a few days before her resignation. I also wanted to find out if IBM was vulnerable to the same threats that HP faced. After all, I surmised, we’re pretty similar in size and product range. Well, things were a lot more complicated than on the surface.

So what’re you staring at the screen for? This is end of the post! Enough said! Go read the article! Yeah, now!

Where have all the family feuds disappeared?

We don’t read much about the Ambani feud these days. And does anyone even remember the high-stakes, high-tension, high-visibility Lodha-Birla spat? In both these cases, news channels went over the board bringing every second of drama straight into our homes. Business magazines devoted their covers, and a good chunk of their pages, to discussing what might have happened, and what could transpire. Experts on these topics apparated from thin air, reporters learnt all sorts of tidbits from dozens of “sources close to the family”. In short, for a few weeks after news first broke about these fights, they formed a significant part of our daily lives. Only to completely fizzle out of public view days later.

So why do things wind down so dramatically? Why does the print and television media lose interest in these sordid affairs so quickly? Is our collective attention span as a nation so fickle? When a month ago, hours were spent discussing what Anil Ambani’s strategy against his brother might be in the future (whether or not there were enough facts to reach any sort of informed opinion), we now run the risk of missing out even if Anil does come out with such a strategy.

I remember both the Indian Express and the Times of India devoting a full page for detailed analysis of the different terms involved in the prospective messy legal battle between the man to whom Priyamvada Birla bequeathed her wealth to – R. S. Lodha, and the indignant scions of the Birla family. What the Hindu Succession Act was, what defines a Hindu Undivided Family, the matter of how a person writing a will is judged to be sane or insane, and the entire hierarchy and individual holdings of the Birlas. Wow! But if a newspaper is willing to spend so much time, money and manpower into a news item, surely it must also have the perseverance to pursue the matter. If the matter goes to court, the public needs to know what’s going on. If there’s a hint of an out-of-court settlement, good investigative journalism must bring it to the notice of readers. That is what separates responsible journalism from mere sensationalism.

And that is what crazy competition in the media seems to be doing to quality content. In the mad scramble for TRPs, to grab the last split second of a viewer’s attention, print and television media now try so hard to make news interesting, that the objective of enabling readers/viewers to build an opinion and reach a conclusion, is lost. By flitting from one “hot” issue to another, our national media fails on two important counts: keeping a check on the people in the spotlight, and giving viewers a complete perspective on the origins, happenings and most importantly, eventual conclusion of an event.

I have a new MP3 Player!

My cousins Anil and Sameet, who live in Canada, gifted me the Creative MuVo Micro N200 portable MP3 player! This has to rank as one of the best gifts I have ever received! Guys, you rock!

The photograph above is about 1.5 times the actual size of the player!

The player’s about the size of a cigarette lighter: 6.5cm x 3cm x 1cm. Incredibly light, and very sleek. It has a 512MB flash drive, runs on a small AAA cell. Creative claims that it has 15 hours of battery life. What’s more, you can record music from any audio source (through the line in), record voice via the microphone and tune in to FM radio stations! Oh, man!

It interfaces with your computer via a USB, and transferring files is incredibly easy. Just plug it in, turn it on, and Konqueror (I’m using KDE at the moment) will pop up a notice saying a USB drive was found, and would you like it opened in a Konqueror window? All it takes is drag and drop after that. The only flip side is that you can’t right click and choose “Unmount” from the “Devices” tab in the Konqueror sidebar. The drive is, funnily enough, mounted with root permissions. This in spite of the fact that you can write to the drive as a non-root user. It appears as /dev/sda, so you have to “sudo umount /dev/sda” to disconnect it. Will find a workaround for this.

At the moment, I’m packing the player with as many songs as I can find on my ThinkPad! Will post more on how I’m using this player!

Remix Scourge!

Warning: This post might sound like the rantings of a cranky old fogey from the 50s, but I really love “old” Hindi Film music, so I’ll run that risk:

Damn! There are just SO many remixes being made in India today! And they’re really shoddily sung. Since I don’t have access to too much TV, I don’t know how trashy the videos are. All I know is that most of them are full of sleaze.

I was on an IBM bus yesterday evening, travelling all the way to Kothrud (which takes about an hour from Ozone, IBM’s dev. centre), listening to Radio Mirchi. Well, after a while of really bad music, I decided to make a list of the remixes they were playing (remember, this is about an hour-and-a-half’s worth of time):

Raat Ke Humsafar – originally from “An Evening in Paris”
Hoga Tumse Pyaara Kaun – originally from “Zamane Ko Dikhana Hai”
Hoton Pe Aisi Baat – originally from “Jewel Thief”
Sajana Tere Bina – originally from “Judaai”
“Disco Station” – originally from “Hathkadi”
“Leke Pehla Pehla Pyaar” – originally from “CID”

All of these are classics, but they’ve been simply ruined by some two-bit singer and some DJ who, fancying himself as a composer, lifts a tune and passes it off as a “re-creation”. Indeed, when these videos are played on TV, the info bar says “Music Recreated by…”. What s**t is that?! Are today’s composers so low on talent that one in every two songs played on the radio is a remix? Why, think of the movie “Dil Vil Pyaar Vyaar” – not only was the title not original, but all the songs in the movie were RD Burman classics, simply re-sung, and the promoters had the gall to call the soundtrack a “tribute to RD Burman”! I bet RD’s gaping open-mouthed in heaven at this nonsense down on Earth! Even Veer-Zaara’s soundtrack was composed by the “late Madan Mohan”, using his “unpublished works”! For God’s sake, who gives you the authority to “finish” his unpublished works? You’ve “finished them off” for sure!

Why remix “Hoga Tumse…” or “Disco Station”? The original was pretty catchy in the first place. Or however do you intend to make “Raat Ke Humsafar” into a dance track? If that isn’t the intention, what is? Besides, those individuals who’ve attempted to re-sing these numbers have done a horrible job. Shankar Mahadevan (I think that was him singing Hoga Tumse…) has rushed through the song, ignoring fine variations in tone that made the original so appealing. I expect something much, much better from a singer of his class. The result is that the remix falls flat on its face.

Ostensibly, these remixes are made so that the “masses” can dance to “old tunes” which would otherwise have been “lost”, to make them more “relevant” to today’s tastes. I can’t believe that people make money and build careers out of this plunder! Since no one would buy audio CDs of such inane musical reproductions, the makers of these albums make sure that the video is as appealing (read sleazy) as possible, so that they can make a fast buck selling video CDs instead. With big money at stake and plenty of competition, the race for sleaze has resulted in abysmal content on our music channels. What we’re seeing on TV today is downright ridiculous! I don’t know if state-decreed censorship is the answer (I oppose all forms of censorship by the Government), but I can understand the motivations of those who propose it.

This won’t last forever, though. No matter how many classics they remix, I predict that people will just tire of being bombarded with cheap, low-quality, sleaze-dripping videos. Fatigue will set in evertually. I just hope it’s sooner rather than later.