First Day,First Show.Last Word.Full Stop.

Movie Reviews.Mostly Tamil.Occasional Telugu.Rare Hindi.English episodic. Foreign Seldom.Cricket Trivia In The Gaps.



Wednesday, March 02, 2016

RIP -Martin Crowe - Man Who Hooked Me Onto The Game

For a lot of kids the beauty of Sachin was the thing that pulled them into the game,for others it might have just been the joy of supporting India and for others maybe a true love for the game.

My very first introduction to cricket from days that I remember was way back in 1987 when the cricket world cup took place for the first time in India .As a 6 year old ,It was enticing to watch a contest played on black-and-white tv sets with great contest such as the Bush Classic Catches held during the breaks.

I enjoyed watching the classic catches more than the game and one such catch caught my attention .

The person scoring a breathtaking 141 in a close game ,that had potential to be a great upset was Dave Houghton .-A man well on way to becoming first great Zimbabwe cricketer.

However the person taking the catch was a young Martin Crowe,the sheer athleticism of the catch drew me into the game, and I was hooked onto it forever.

Even now when my mind draws into nostalgia ,It is that one catch that frequently plays back in my mind.I guess we all have our moments when we get passionate about something,for me it was that very moment and for that I have Martin Crowe to thank for .

RIP Martin Crowe,you went away too early at 53 .The game is poorer for you.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Reporting For ..

The world has become digital .People get their daily news round ups from the social media,the ubiquitious news reporting sites,the local news paper 's e-version on the web.For all these sources and for someone who consumes content on the web a lot ,one thing I have shied away from is reading news sites extensively.
Sure I go around catching up on daily news and twitter (the most useful amongst the social media) stirs up a lot of content for me .However with the routine of work taking over ,it becomes tough to peruse digital sites.Hence the morning newspaper devoid of all tamashas still serves me as the primary goto source.

Pieces of investigative journalism which usually require a more keen reading are best absored on newspapers .The worst part of news websites is that everyone tailors their content according to what is most visisted and according to what you have read .If you didn't know Yahoo has about 10000 different personalization algorithms to show up different news to everybody and more often than not these are the popular news sources.

Hence the newspaper,something which I can pick and choose and more importantly browse quickly.

However the odd times that I do read up on the net,I try to look for longform articles,the articles which read more like a book,but are so exquisitely crafted that you just have this obsessive need to keep reading.

If you have not seen this , ,you should .The class of writing in long-form is such  a world apart.

In 2014 I wondered if a better story than the-family-that-robs-banks-together would ever appear.

In 2015 (and if this does not make it to best long form awards list,I will be damned) has appeared.

For about 15 mintues of reading it and the thought process following it,It was like watching a move and seeing scenes in front of me .

About 25 years of reading newspapers in earnest,15 years of reading digital content,consuming almost every cricket article that has been written , I doubt anything better than the below has been written.

This is reporting nirvana .George Bell ,RIP
Sniffing a fetid odor, George Bell's neighbor called 911

Monday, August 13, 2012

More Olympic Trivia.

More trivia that I started digging:

  1. 192 of the 193 United Nation Members participated in the 2012 Olympics .South Sudan the lone exception.
  2. 193 of the 196 Independent Countries participated in the 2012 Olympics .South Sudan,Kosovo & Vatican did not participate.
  3. Taiwan is not a UN member but an Independent Country and hence the extra nation in case 2) above
  4. 11 Countries that were territories also participated.       
  • Palestine, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, United States Virgin Islands,Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Aruba,Hong Kong,Cook Island
  • Totally 193+11 =204 nations participated .

Now the question having known the above.
How many teams walked out during the opening ceremony ?
  • If your answer is 204 as would be logical it is wrong.The answer is 205 .Athletes from South Sudan(No NOC yet  because it is a newly formed nation) and the Netherlands Antilles (whose IOC was dissolved in 2010) participated unde the International Olympic Flag.
Which countries won a medal for the first time?
  • Guatemala,Grenada,Gabon,Cyprus,Botswana.
Which countries have never won a medal in any olympics till now?
  • About 75 of them .Wiki has a nice list here.

Best Ever Olympics.Finally the Answer.

Every Olympics ends with the International Olympic President declaring it the best ever .This time however it may be true not only because of the standard of the competion but because it quite simply was the best televised Olympics ever.If the YouTube coverage was superlative,the television coverage in India was the best ever.God forbid those days when our only source was DD .With ESPN taking over the coverage,we had Star,Espn,EspnHD and DD Sports covering .It means 4 events at one shot.DD Sports did it extremely professionally as well.Maybe they are catching up to world standards.Oh and ofcourse India did it's best ever,whats there not to like about this Olympics .Oh wait there may be!

It had its share of controversies,the shameful Badminton fixing scandal,the usual doping scandal,and the judging controversies.India had it's best ever performance but it had its fair share of bad luck in many ways . Boxing was definitely biased against India..Not long after India raised its voice were some judges from Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan thrown out .News of bringing back the old scoring system should cheer up the boxers.

It is said Umpires favor the stronger nations in cricket,and it is more a matter of psyche than true bias when it comes to making the line calls.This time however I am sure it is the same in Olympics.The Chinese & Americans are the BCCI of the olympics.They call the shots,they get the medals,they get the line decisions.
The medals may be mostly their effort but the decisions is just bias.

This was exactly what happened when I watched a pair of Chinese divers in the synchronized diving competition.They had been doing well so far but the crucial penultimate dive came.And to the layman ,that dive was just horrible.There was no sync and they landed with a huge splash ,as good as landing on your belly in gymnastics.The commentator on air said, "That's probably going to move China out of the medal race" .Then a few seconds wait and the points come up ,A few judges score 6.5 on 10 which is probably the right score .The rest scored a perfect 10 .The total was the highest ever in the competition and China won the gold medal. The commentators reaction when the score came on the screen "Well that seems rather generous" ,enough said ,case closed not one more round of diving did I see after that.

And finally after all these years a question that had been bugging me since I was 7 got cleared.I have always wanted to look it up since I was a kid,but without the internet in those days I had never been able to get a proper answer from anyone.With the Olympics being held in London,the question piqued my thoughts again and  I finally got my doubt cleared.

What is the difference between UK (United Kingdom) , GBR (Great Britain) & England ( In cricket)

The answer is simple.

  • UK = GBR+NI (Northern Ireland)
  • GBR=England+Wales+Scotland
  • England(In cricket) = England+Wales
  • Ireland = Separate nation that shares its border with NI 

However there is one addendum. Folks from NI have a choice of either representing GBR or Ireland in the Olympics .So there is no independent National Olympic Committee from Northern Ireland.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Complete Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle Cover Pages

ACK and Tinkle have something special apart from their brilliant stories and their cool artwork inside.Their front covers; .The front covers are a special attraction and are usually illustrated by an artist who does not draw the inside pages.I am not sure why that was the case,but front covers usually require more imagination to attract the user in one shot.

Following are the  ACK Covers of the original edition from Edition no 11 Krishna  to Edition no 436 Jawaharlal Nehru.

Tinkle Covers From No 1 to No 350 are almost complete .They also have few after 350

Sample ACK Covers:

Sample Tinkle Covers

Friday, March 02, 2012

Amar Chitra Katha -The Collection Story

A lot of people stumble onto this page by looking for the Amar Chitra Katha Title List .I need 9 more individual issues to complete the collection ( which means I now have 437 individual issues) .So here is the list .If anyone has them and are willing to provide me a scanned copy/sell them to me ,please contact me on this page itself.

48 Tarabai
132 Ranak Devi
208 Jayadeva
304 Doctor Kotnis in China
340 The Making of a Swordsman
364 Khudiram Bose
370 Raja Desing
374 Hamsavali
376 Lila & Chanesar
388 Sundarasena
418 The French Revolution
422 Louis Pasteur
428 Napoleon Bonaparte
430 An Exciting Find
432 The Indus Valley Adventure
679 Swami Pranavananda

Edit: Managed to get some of the above. 1 More..Drum roll...

Friday, January 13, 2012

What's ailing Dhoni ?

I usually don't like to talk about cricket or to a much lesser extent write about it.I prefer to watch (and will watch anything) and play .So when I wanted to write this ,it is simply because the modern media sucks at writing about cricket.One of the many reasons I have stopped reading about it ,except for the stats based articles and at times the few intelligent ones remaining like the Bhogles and the Chappels is that it is written by fools who have never been in a professional sports environment.

The media writes a lot of gibberish on cricket and all of these fit the traditional arm chair critics.Not one article goes into the minds of a person and they wont because they have never played the game.You dont know what it is to perform professionally day after day.

"So Why has Dhoni failed" and I have probably the best answer for it.It is an answer I formulated about 6 years back and the question then was "Why is Dhoni so successful?"The answer for both is the same.

Dhoni by birth was not a cricket fanatic,he was more passionate about football and took to cricket by chance.Somewhat similar to Saurav Ganguly.When he did start doing well,it was because to him cricket was a job ,and as any employee in a company you want to start doing justice to the job.He did not care about whether he had the passion for it ,or not .To him it was a 9 to 5 job and he did it so well.This is the biggest difference between Dhoni and all the other failed captains before him ,the sachins the dravids etc.To them it was an "oh my god what If I failed this is my life",to Dhoni it was not.

His mind was clear,he always knew if he sucked at it ,he will give it up .
Now you may ask how would you play a game if you didn't like it.Well much the same way as one would work even if he did not like it...Ambrose the former West Indian fast bowler has publicly stated he hated cricket ,but he was so good at it only because to him it was a job and nothing would please his Mom more than doing his job correctly.He says that after his last ball in cricket,he has never ever watched cricket again.You see where I am going! To some people cricket is just that,A job! (and in modern day sports, it is just a rarity because the game is so professional).

This is the same reason that espouses Dhoni's don't care attitude and coolness. I put in a bug in my code today ,I don't sit and weep for it,I come back and fix it whenever it surfaces.You see that is the difference between passion and doing it for the job's sake.if you had passion you would ensure the bug does not happen ,but if you do it as a job there will be chinks in it and eventually the chinks arise because of your don't care attitude.

The thing that has happened today is that Dhoni has just lost his love for the game.He does it day after day just like we do because of some sort of loyalty.We know our company has treated us well,so even though we hate it ,we keep chugging along.Dhoni has the same attitude.And when that attitude surfaces it is bad for both company and the employee .In this case bad for both Dhoni and India.

All his recent conferences where he talks about retiring from one format ,points to the exact reasoning above.It may not be a bad thing for him to do,in fact I would encourage him to take a break from test cricket,maybe he will want to do it again,but mostly he wont and if he does not want to,so be it.Let him play the format he at least likes and quit the rest.

The hiding that India is currently receiving is actually good ,this will help them build a stronger and better base for the future.And in reality it does not matter as every thing in sport like life is a cycle.You will have good days and you will have bad days.

Dhoni has to take this decision and I fancy him taking this decision by the end of the year.You heard it here first.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hangman Game Updated

The hangman game that I had developed earlier is now updated .It includes the T20 players list as well now .

So there are three versions you can choose from Test,ODI,T20 .Have Fun !

I have maintained this game for over 2 years now and have studiously updated with list of new players now and then .Make no mistake this was a manual effort from my side,the only automation being the player value that was generated using some heuristics.A wise manager whom I had worked with earlier often referred to making repeatable tasks as an automation.So that is what I did .
The manual process is ,
a)Get the list of new players from Cricinfo
b)Add it to the list of players.
c)Upload to the Hangman site.

So I wrote a simple utility combining batch scripts and java to
a)Downloads the earlier list from hangman game site
b)A simple Cricinfo parser that first fetches the list of new players alone,then looks up the player page to extract the name.
c)Merges the new information with the old one
d)Upload the old one.
e)EMail the status of the above steps
f)Automate steps a)-e)

For steps a) and d) I had to use a FTP Java Library
For steps b) and c) used java HTML Parser Kit.
For step e) I used an an awesome utility available for windows called sendEmail
For step f) Tried and tested Windows Schedule task (that runs daily) which invokes a batch file that does the above steps.

So simple.? It has now saved all my manual effort and the site takes care of auto updating itself. Yay!