Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Google health

Google health is a new service offered by Google. It aims to provide a comprehensive web-based service where patients can store and manage all of their health related information in a secure electronic format and can share their medical information with their clinicians and pharmacies. All that is required to get started is a google account.

Anyone can build up their health profile by entering their health conditions, medications, allergies and lab results. Google has also teamed up with a number of health care units and pharmacies in the USA whereby patient medical reports can be imported and stored. Information is also available on various medical conditions and is made freely available to anyone. Users can also look up doctors and clinic details and have them saved in their profile and quick reference later.

This service is currently provided to users free of charge and the interface too is advert free. This is an excellent initiative by Google. There will be lots of murmurs as usual with regards to privacy and security. Google assures that the users will remain the custodians of data stored in their profile in spite of the data being stored on Google servers.

It will be interesting to see how this service evolves and is integrated into other country's health care set-up. At this point in time, it is primarily USA-centric but as with other services offered by Google, it won't be long before the service is offered in other countries too.

***Pictures courtesy Google Health

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Movie Review - Bachna Ae Haseeno (Hindi, 2008)

Bachna Ae Haseeno is promoted as a young yuppie film that promises good music, exotic locales and fun-filled moments. Does the movie deliver that???

Ranbir Kapoor is the heart and soul of the film. His character arc progresses from an 18 year old boy to a 30ish guy and he carries of his role with aplomb. I didn't watch Saawariya and hence had no pre-conceived notions about his acting ability and was pleasantly surprised with his assured performance.

The story is broken down into 3 segments during his growing up years where he gets to romance three beautiful ladies and how that shapes his perceptions as he gets older.

Minissha Lamba plays a small town girls who is taking a trip across Europe where she runs into Ranbir (DDLJ style). She is completely besotted with the Raj character from DDLJ and is pretty much living in a dream world. This portion of the movie makes a lot of reference to DDLJ and not all them come off well. Few years down the line, he gets into a live-in relationship with Bipasha Basu who is an aspiring dancer and quite modern in her outlook. That she is vulnerable too at the same time makes her a very believable character and her performance is quite engaging. The last act features Deepika Padukone playing a taxi-driving MBA student in Australia with a very independent streak and a strong mind. Her character isn't as well etched as the other two and her lack of expressions only adds to a damp performance.

A special mention needs to be made about Bipasha Basu's designer. She is absolutely stunning whenever she is on the screen and is quite an eye candy. She is especially delicious in the "Lucky Boy" song. All the songs have been well choreographed and the frequent usage of the yesteryear song "Bachna Ae Haseeno" just helps the story move along.

The movie is full of subtle humour and they helps in the pacing of the movie. While the second half is definitely over the top and dragging at places and could have one with some trimming, the cinematography is top-notch and the songs are well placed.

This movie is definitely a fun-filled outing!!!

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Time for change

Well, it's been almost 3 years since I relocated to Cardiff to work as a researcher at the University. Its been a wonderful experience interacting with the staff and colleagues here. I will have very fond memories of my time here in Cardiff. Had numerous opportunities to travel and excellent interactions with colleagues. My role here also provided me with an ideal platform to be as open minded as possible while exploring every possible opportunity and strengthening my skill set.

I will be moving to London where I will start working as an Analyst with Deloitte. They have a very comprehensive training schedule and this will enable me to get a good grasp of the functioning of the industry. While living in London is not something I am looking forward to (given the commute and crowd), I do look forward to the numerous things that I can involve myself in a city like London.

Here is to a new start!!! Cheers!!!

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Joomla on GoDaddy

I have been using Joomla for a while now and I have found it to be quite an easy Content Management System (CMS) to use. Almost every aspect of the CMS can be modified and while this allows for flexibility, it also leads to a situation where developers may struggle to identify when it is time to stop tinkering around.

I have developed / redesigned a few templates (mainly by modifying existing ones rather than creating one from start). Also, Joomla allows for core module functionality to be over-ridden. This enables portability of the template when a newer version of Joomla comes knocking around. These changes are contained within the template itself. Various modules can be placed strategically within the template allowing for an uncluttered look while providing information in an easy / clear / targeted manner. It is also possible to edit the contents (write new articles) from the front end itself provided the login module is enabled.

There are always a few niggles. The SEO (search engine optimisation) option doesn't work straight out of the box. It requires the Apache web server root files to be edited and this problem has persisted despite a few new releases coming out of Joomla. To get this working, do the following steps:

  • rename htaccess.txt to .htaccess
  • Uncomment "RewriteEngine On" (remove the '#' sign)
  • Uncomment "RewriteBase /" (again remove the '#' sign)

If your website is hosted on GoDaddy server, allow for up to an hour to pass before the changes are registered. After that enable the SEO option on the Joomla backend. The above steps will only work if your site is placed in the root dorectory. You may need a few tweaks to get it working if the site is hosted on one of the sub-directories.

The template currently used by this site was freely available and I just made a few tweaks, particularly with respect to the header images and font colors and sizes for the various page titles.

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Friday, August 08, 2008

Olympics opening ceremony (Beijing, China, 2008)

What a fantastic opening ceremony it has been. The desire and ambition to showcase to the world the progress made by the Chinese is absolutely mid-boggling. Every performance has been fine tuned to perfection and enacted on a gigantic scale. Starting with the countdown to the start of the opening ceremony, the drumming artists have been fabulous.

The Chinese national anthem was rendered in such a beautiful manner by a 5 year old school girl. There was a huge segment during the opening ceremony where the history of China was depicted and the sheer ingenuity was awe-inspiring. They made use of the entire length of the birds eye nest stadium to depict their cultural heritage. While the period depicting late 19th and early 20th century was conspicuously missing (w.r.t Opium war, Cultural revolution and Japanese invasion), it still made for interesting viewing.

It did make me realise though the gulf in the ability to host an event of this magnitude by India. While being regarded as an emerging superpower, India, for all its glory, have a very very long way to go before we can consider hosting an international event. The single-minded devotion of the Chinese governmental authorities is something to be be admired instead of just criticising it all the time. While, we as Indians are proud of our democracy, it does not always provide the ideal background to fast-paced development. It's a sad state that we do not possess a single multi-purpose stadium that would meet the rigorous standards set by the IOC. It's indeed downright depressing to note that for the 2010 commonwealth games taking place in New Delhi, we are still making use of the facilities that were constructed during the 1982 Asian Games.

While most western leaders did criticise China's human right records and there were murmurs that some of them may not turn up, almost all of them eventually turned up. The thing that riled me the most was the fact that India (for all its stature in the global set up) was represented not by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh but by Mrs. Sonia Gandhi (leader of the ruling party in India). It was such a slap on the face for a democratic country that China invited some one other than the one elected by the 2nd most populous nation on the earth. It looked like another trick of China to undermine India in a massive forum.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Yoowalk - 3D world

I recently came across the site Yoowalk and found it to be an interesting experiment. It aims to create a 3D representation of the Internet world where you can navigate and visit any site you want. It is similar to reading a map and finding your way out. Each user can create their own avatar (personality / person representation) and interact with other fellow users. There are provision for making your website available in the 3D world and Yoowalk is coming up with their own set of API tools that would help the interested users in creating a 3D model of their website. It's still unclear if the publishers of a website need to pay a fee. There are no components to download and the application is completely self-contained in a browser. While it is possible to use the application as a guest user, the usage is restricted and requires registering and creating an avatar to make full use. Just as in a real estate development, you can find plots of area vacant. If you would like to list your website in the 3D world, just select a vacant spot and deploy your model.

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Movie review - Singh is Kinng (Hindi, 2008)

One thing that becomes apparent on watching this movie is the undeniable fact that Akshay Kumar has terrific screen presence and makes a movie work however inane the script may be. It doesn't really matter as to who the director is as Akshay is able to rise above the script and keep delivering hits. As some one said, this movie is critic-proof and going to be box office hit.

The story goes somewhat like this. Akshay is Happy Singh and is lovable useless guy in the village. Sonu Sood plays Lucky Singh and is a feared underworld don in Australia. As his garners more and more press coverage, villagers back home in Punjab are worried about his deeds maligning the entire community and hence they pack off Akshay Kumar to Australia to convince Sonu to give up his bad ways and return home. The rest of story is about Akshay Kumar worming his way into the gangster den and triumphing at the end.

The story takes a detour and Akshay Kumar and his pal (Om Puri as Rangeela) land up in Egypt where they come across Katrina Kaif, who happens to be researching on criminal behaviour and it's love at first sight for Akshay. While Katrina comes across as extremely beautiful with adequate dancing skills, she can barely mouth her lines. It's an ordeal watching her enact a scene. It is to Akshay's credit that he is able to overcome the deficiency in the script as well the inept acting by his co-star. Neha Dupia plays the gangster moll and in fact looks and performs better than Katrina (which is not saying much).

Do all these deficiencies really matter? Nope. Just as the song "Singh is King" comes on the screen shortly before the interval, you are sucked into Akshay's charisma and style. All the songs are well choreographed and stylistically performed. The songs are hummable and some of them quite groovy. As the credits roll, we get to watch the much hyped Snoop Dog song and I must say, it works. The song is quite catchy and the novelty of seeing an international artiste perform alongside an Indian artiste keeps it going.

Don't go to this movie expecting any logic or try to make sense of anything happening on the screen. Leave your brains outside the screen and you may end up enjoying the movie!!!

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