Chennai, Events, Technology

Conference on Recent Trends in Computing

Two weeks back I got an invite from Mrs.J.Vijayalakshmi, Head of Department, MCA of Sri Sairam Engineering College, inviting me to do an Inaugural address in their annual National Conference on “Recent Trends in Computing & Communications“. The event conducted in association with Computer Society of India (Region 7) was to be on April 10th 2015, Friday in their campus in West Tambaram near Kishkinta theme park. Since I have never been to that area and addressing students is something that energizes me I immediately agreed to do the talk. Last Friday (April 10th) when I visited their campus after a hour long ride from my office, I was greeted with a vast campus, hundreds of acres nicely maintained out of nowhere.

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Movies

Boyhood (2014)

BOYHOOD

Boyhood (2014) by Richard Linklater got the attention last year as it was shot over 12 years. The story is about the happenings in the life of a six year old  boy (Mason Jr played Ellar Coltrane)  as he grows older till he becomes an adult and gets into college. He is raised along with his elder sister by his mother as a single parent.  All along the 2:45 Hours movie we are traveling along with Mason, but at the end we realize the film is not only about Mason but about his mother and her poor (unfortunate) life partner choices as well. As Mason gets into teenage he gets exposed to Alcohol and smoking, at this point I was expecting to see his life to get derailed but surprisingly Mason maintains his balance thanks to wise advice he gets from his teacher and his biological father, this is a optimistic story telling which I liked.

The screen play is simple, a straight line yet sharp, which makes it stand out from usual Hollywood family dramas. It focuses around Mason, but stays away from the cliche of it being a narration by Mason about his own life. All the extraneous happenings outside of Mason’s view has been left out. A brilliant film and a must see, but keep a boatload of patience due to the long running time.

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Movies

The Fault in Our Stars (2014)

The-Fault-in-our-stars

The Fault in Our Stars (2014) is an interesting film, why?

Within the first ten minutes of the movie and with the background of reading the description you will find yourself deducing almost the entire plot, likely twists and ending. Still I found myself watching the movie entirely and be entertained, credit for that goes to Screenplay and good Direction by Josh Boone.

The film is based on a novel by the same title by John Green, it’s about a teenage girl (Hazel played by Shailene Woodley), a cancer survivor living with a lung condition that requires her to carry an oxygen tube in her nose always. The story revolves around Hazel falling in love with another cancer patient, a teenage boy (Augustus played by Ansel Elgort) with one leg amputated due to cancer, while both fight their disease and one loses the battle. In between we are shown quickly Hazel’s struggle with the disease as a fast flashback and meeting of her beloved writer Peter van Houten in Amsterdam which turns out to be unexpected.

I get fascinated whenever I watch continental European cities on screen, the same happened on the portions where the story visits Amsterdam. Though we could guess what’s to follow when Hazel & Augustus meet with Peter van Houten, the hash words spoken by the writer doesn’t fail to shock us and makes us feel the pain of Hazel. The writer says to the two young cancer patients who have traveled all the way from USA to Amsterdam just to see him, that you both are spoiled American brats who are used to pampering due to your illness and you should realize that you both are just  failed experiments in the millions of human evolution instances; Don’t bother me with what happens further in a fiction, get over it. This is followed by writer’s assistant taking Hazel & Augustus to visit Anne Frank’s House, hearing Anne Franks’ name was enough for Hazel to forget her disappointment and pull herself, the visit to the cellar after the arduous climb was a perfect background for Hazel to express her love to Augustus.

While Hazel’s character is deeply rooted to realism, Augustus character has been made from a Hollywood cookie cutter to be bold, outward looking and cheerful. Depicting cancer patients in a visual medium is difficult, the disease doesn’t show it’s deadly signs on the outside. What we see are weakness and fatigue of the patients but could never see what they are going through. To get this covered the Director has relied on showing a oxygen tube being constant around Hazel’s nose and blood during the acute stage for Augustus.

What I found to be different in the film was how the care givers in this case the parents of Hazel were shown, Hazel’s mother character has been sculpted nicely, showing the human emotions of a mother holistically. Overall, a good film to keep you entertained for two hours, which could have been improved with sharper editing to trim the drag at few places.

 

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Chennai, Hotels

Azulia Mediterranean restaurant

Jaikumar, a friend of mine invited me to lunch today. I agreed to go with one condition, take me to a restaurant in Chennai I haven’t been to and one that offers a cuisine that’s not Indian. He took me to Azulia restaurant in GRT Grand T.Nagar which serves Mediterranean cuisine. In the past I have tasted Lebanese cuisine which I liked so I was expecting to like the food here as well.

GRT-Chennai-Mediterranean-1

In Azulia, the interiors were little dated but ambiance was still nice. After a long table full of ladies left, we two were the only diners, not surprising as it was a working day lunch, not an ideal time for fine dining.

Since I was a vegetarian I played it safe by asking the restaurant staff to suggest me items from the menu to order. He suggested we go with a:

Tomato based soup,

Crete village (green) salad,

Humus with pita bread,

Borek Bel Jibneh (spring roll like vegetable stuffed item),

Yogurtlu Kebab,

Moroccan Vegetable Stew with broken wheat and

for desert Omali (bread soaked in milk with rose water)

The food tasted good, I liked it, I couldn’t vouch for the authenticity. The chef came out, greeted us and explained about their elaborate brunch buffet on Sunday’s. I should come here again, next time with my family!

GRT-Chennai-Mediterranean

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Gadgets, Technology

We won’t be using smartphones by 2025

Favourite this post in your browser, as I am daring to make predictions on the state of smartphones for next 10 years. Before I do that, I have no qualification or experience in designing or manufacturing or marketing Smartphones, and that is what makes me qualified to do the predictions as an user.

1.By 2020 phones will get smaller & smaller – reversing current trend

When mobile phones were invented in 1973 at Motorola they weighed 2 Kilograms and were bulky. They continued to look more or less the same when they got commercially released after ten years in 1983. In the next 25 years when phone subscribers grew from zero to several billions it was all about how to make the “brick” like phones smaller, lighter and easier to carry. An example was Ericsson’s most loved model T39, introduced in 2001 it weighed just 86 grams. Then iPhone happened in 2007, at 135 grams and 4.5 inches it began reversing the trend of previous 25 years of phones becoming smaller. Today in 2015, iPhone in its latest avatar iPhone 6 Plus weighs 172 grams and 6.22 inches, phones are becoming bigger and bigger. They have blurred the line separating a phone and a tablet.

When iPhone came, following which Samsung continued to introduce larger phones it made sense, as a larger surface area made it easier to use the Touch interface. And users were reading more content in the phones, whether it’s Kindle ebooks or long form (TL;DR) articles or see in retina display the photographs of their loved ones, all of which was happening away from their PCs and Tablets to smartphones since you were carrying one always in your pocket. Smartphones have become the one gadget that you carry with you when you are sitting in restroom stall or when even you are in your bed with your lover.mobile-phones-initial-days

Now looking forward to next five years, in 2018 I predict Smartphones (or phones from now on) will become smaller and smaller, reversing the trend and going back to basics. Why?

Number One reason I see for this to happen is not due to wearables (I see them as a by product than a cause) but due to evolution of software and change in our usage pattern. For the first time in Human history we are at an inflection point where machines (computers and software) can understand what they see, what we speak and make choices based on them within the parameters of our individual preferences, think of simplest example of Google Now & Apple Siri to Google Cars & XBOX Kinect. In the next five years the capabilities in Artificial Intelligence are going to grow exponentially and have profound impact in the way computers interface with humans, I am talking here of the reverse of Humans communicating to Computers. As you read the last line, you may already be discounting it, but remember as humans we understand incremental growth easily but our brains can’t visualize exponential growth. That’s what is currently happening in Artificial Intelligence powered by Cloud, Big Data & Sensors.

As a result of this, computers need to offer fewer and fewer options and commands to us, they can predict & decide on what we want even before we want it. This means less or zero real estate is needed in a phone to present to us with menus, buttons, textboxes and other GUI elements. What about TL;DR articles and ebooks you may ask, there is a growing trend here that can answer it. With more millennial born growing up along with their short attention spans, the reading habits are fast changing. Majority of the content they consume will be video & audio, the only reading they do will be of extremely shortened summaries crafted personally for them by ubiquitous software. For viewing pictures you will want to use ever larger screens that are to be found in your work place & homes, in the initial years it will continue to be Tablets (iPads) and cheap laptops. For those bibliophiles like me we will use specialized devices like Amazon Kindle in its tenth iteration.

2.By 2025 phones will cease to exist in its current avatar

This one is easier to extrapolate from my previous prediction, it’s just logical progression of phones becoming smaller and smaller, then suddenly disappearing altogether. I don’t mean to say we will not be making calls, reading messages or viewing videos, it’s just that the devices we use for these activities will not be in the form of a phone as we see it today. These capabilities will be part of our everyday objects, invisible individually but all of them are connected to a cloud based neural network like in Avatar’s Pandoran biosphere.

In the technology landscape of 2025, operating systems like Windows, Android or iOS will matter less, web browsers like IE, Chrome & FireFox will cease to exist in their current form, mobile apps would have all transformed to neural nodes. And when all that has happened, remember you read it here at venkatarangan.com in April 2015.

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