Global merger mania has just begun

First IBM-Lenova, then Maytag-Haier and now Unocal-CNOOC (wonder why India’s’ ONGC didn’t bid on this?). Suddenly, you have a hue and cry from all corners of the US, fears of security and what not. I think these large global mergers are just beginning.

With globalization and the current US Govt’s obsession with the spread of freedom and democracy and its pre-occupation with Iraq, the US economy has been sinking steadily. As companies continue to under perform (like Unocal) and their values drop, such mergers and acquisitions are bound to happen. Rather than get into protectionist mode and prevent such mergers, I think these mergers should be encouraged. Its just the inevitable result of globalization and the growth of Asian economies. So “let’s bring’m on”

IE6 doesn’t like Google Maps

I use IE6 on Windows 2000. I mostly use Firefox except in a few cases where I use IE. I went to http://maps.google.com in IE and viola! the browser crashed with the familar “send” , “dont send” links. This is repeatable. Wonder what IE7 has in store! Crash Google video, maybe! 🙂

If you are wondering what this image is about, I was just trying the new add image feature in blogger, way cool stuff!

Google video viewing: A Quick take

Google released a video viewing capability. The results of any search are a bunch of screen shots of the video starting at several points during the actual complete video — i.e., start of 1 minute, 10 minutes etc. You also have the ability to search within that video produced by the original search. Double clicking on the screenshots gives you the video in full screen mode. You can also sign up to upload your own videos for potential inclusion in future versions of Google videos. I am sure there are a lot many more wonderful features that go with this service.

As always, pretty cool, but from the first look of it, appears quite preliminary. The search was very slow and very often results were returned with screen shots but no video! Try searching for “Bachchan on Charlie Rose”. You have to go through a couple of screen before you find the text “Video is currently not available”. (this text can be more “in your face”).

Further increase in toll!

Read over the weekend that come 2007 the toll on bay area bridges are going to be increased by a dollar. The toll will be $5 for the Golden Gate bridge! This toll increase is simply insane. Combined with the ever increasing gas prices, simply getting to work is slowly becoming such an expensive affair. No wonder jobs are going overseas!

Aussies are back to their winning ways

With two successive victories, the Aussies have put to rest any doubts about their continued domination of world cricket. These two victories highlight just how critical Symonds is to the team. A suspension for drinking followed by two outstanding performances. Man, this guy is awesome!

I think they are going to win all the remaining one-day games of this series. (I predicted their victory over England 🙂

Movie Review: Parineeta

Starring: Sanjay Dutt, Saif Ali Khan, Vidya Balan
Hindi, romantic story based on Saratchandra Chatterjee’s book.

Indian movie film makers have now resorted to the easy way out. Simply remake old movies! Inspired by the success of Devadas, follow other remakes such as Parineeta (apparently already made twice), Paheli (original appeared in the early 70s), and in the works is the remake of Don! Since I have not seen the earlier versions or read the book, I was pretty open minded about Parineeta.

Like most Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s movies (1947, Kareeb, Munnabhai, Mission Kashmir etc.), this one is a made with a lot of attention to detail. The music is excellent and blends perfectly with the film. The sets are very impressive and the overall quality of the movie making is excellent. Newcomer Vidya Balan has put in a very creditable performance and is an excellent choice for the role. Saif Ali Khan, gradually emerging as a commercially viable romantic hero (Hum Tum, Kal ho Na Ho and now Parineeta), has put in a good performance as well. Sanjay Dutt (a fixture in Vidhu Vinod Chopra films) appears to have gained weight and aged significantly. The rest of the cast does their part.

The storyline as such is nothing new or for that matter earth shattering (as made out by some reviews and other movie promos). Typical stuff — childhood friendship, grows into romance, some misunderstanding, love triangle develops, hero agrees to marry another girl (small role by Diya Mirza), realizes his mistake, melodrama ensues, and the couple come together. Someone has to be a villain. In this case its the hero’s Dad. Saif plays the hero, Sanjay Dutt completes the love triangle, while Raima Sen helps fix the traingle. Rekha appears in a dance number to enhance the star power. The strength of the movie lies in the treatment of the none too new plot, the excellent music and the overall production quality.

If you are the type who generally enjoys commercial romantic films, this movie is a very safe bet.

Book Review: Q and A

Title: Q and A
Author: Vikas Swarup
Fiction, story based in India.

An exciting novel! The story revolves around a quiz show (and hence the name Q&A) and the lead character, who works as a waiter in a restaurant, and who wins the quiz show prize of Rs. 1 billion. The quiz organizers suspect foul-play and have the winner arrested. The rest of the book is about how he knew the answers to each of the questions, not by foul play but by a strange series of events in his life. The answer to each question has a story behind it. The author has ingeniously weaved a whole series of stories into one. Very creative and imaginative indeed! The book is fast paced and very engaging.

The book is quite “filmy”. In other words, it has a strong bollywood feel to it. Perhaps the author was considering a movie even while writing it (or maybe it began as an attempt at writing a movie script). Its a masala of sorts — gays, match-fixing, espionage, murder, robbery, romance, suicide, filmstars, child abuse, sex, prostitution, contract killing, incest, you name it– a comprehensive list of issues du jour are cleverly captured in the book as a part of the story.

Overall a very impressive and commendable effort for a debut novel. Most debut novels have an autobiographical side to it. But this book is the product of a hugely imaginitive mind and has little, and probably no autobiographical side to it.

The author is from the ministry of external affairs in India. Check out his interview.

Firefox: Tabbed browsing problems

Everyone is raving about the tabbed browsing feature in Firefox. While I do agree that its a powerful and cool feature, I have noticed a couple of shortcomings. Firefox turns into a memory hog and slows down the machine when you have a number of tabs. Secondly, when you click the dreaded x mark to kill a tab it doesn’t prompt you. Instead it just kills the tab without prompting! On more than one occasion I have lost useful work because of this. I wish they would prompt the user before killing the tab! Firefox is nevertheless a cool browser! (at least until MS IE 7.0 is out!)

Aussies in trouble?

After almost a decade Australia has lost 4 crickets matches in a row! No matter what, this must put them under a lot of pressure. To come out of this will take a lot of character and strong leadership. Its a good test for Ponting.

Tomorrow’s match against England is crucial. If Australia loses again, they are going to be under a lot of psychological pressure. If you think about the last match against England, barring Pieterson’s super performance, Australia were well on top. So one could argue that it wasn’t as much of a failure on Australia’s part. It was more to do with one “out of the world” batting display that sealed their fate.

With Symonds and Lee back in the side, Australia might just return to their winning ways. Symonds has a lot at stake given that his captain blatantly lied to coverup for him. All in all and interesting tussle lies ahead and for once the Aussies are on the defensive! If they lose again, they could be in real trouble!

Here is my prediction for tomorrow’s match: Australia will thrash England