The Best of Coke Studio

The long standing dream of an Indian version of Coke Studio is finally coming true. The only glitch, MTV (which has long stopped standing for Music TV) is associated with it, and that sends shivers down my spine.

Anyway, last night was spent listening to a lot of it, and I thought I would try and rate my faves from it.

The best one, Aik Alif by Saieen Zahoor and Noori. There are three distinct phases in the song, and Saieen Zahoor brings the sufi charm to it.

Next up, Alif Allah by Arif Lohar and Meesha Saafi. Actually Arif Lohar is so damn good that Meesha is reduced to a background singer. His singing, his chimta, and his expression. One word – awesome!

Allah Hu, by Ali Zafar and Tufail Ahmed is next one. There is this very hallucinogenic feel to the song. Is especially awesome during late night psenti sessions.

Durr by Strings and Ustad Gullu. Awesome mix, and love the extended vocals.

Rona Chor Diya by Zeb & Haniya and Javed Bashir. How can one not like this one?? Javed Bashir is brilliant, and so is Zeb.

Titiliyaan by Strings. Can’t think of a more melodious song.

Husn-e-haqiqi by Arieb Azhar. The lyrics. The performance. The crescendo!

Dastaan-e-ishq by Ali Azhar. The emotions. The choking. The flute.

Honorable mention: Saari Raat by Noori.

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The Victory!

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way. ~ Charles Dickens

To say that past year or so has been the year of scams for India would be a gross understatement. From the CWG to the 3G, we watched in a state of suspended belief as scams got unearthed with Sachin’s consistency. The once teflon coated Manmohan Singh is in the center of such a muck that some of it is bound to stick. In fact, so numbed were we with the state of things that a new scam does not surprise anyone any more. India is getting more and more recognition around the world as a super power, both economic and political, and yet there was something missing.

In such a state of disillusionment, this World Cup victory gains a different meaning. Many see the victory as a validation of India’s growing stature, in the game and also outside it [must read], and not without reason. However, to me, this World Cup victory will be symbolic of the fact the something in this damned country works. Some Gods don’t fail us.

I distinctly remember 1996 and how much I cried as a child, along with Kambli on the screen, wishing that the idiots at Eden would at least let them complete the match. 1999 was a farce with the stupid Super 6 rule. 2003 was a heart break. I sat there, front row in the Audi, cheering so hard that I felt that my veins would pop. But after the first 3-4 overs something in me gave up hope and I went and slept. I haven’t still watched that match – not a single ball. It felt like fate had cheated us out of the cup then. 2007 was a blink and miss. And add on this the disillusionment with the politicians, the feeling that we were being cheated out of everything. We needed something to restore our faith in the country. There had to be someone who would make you believe. For the past couple of decades Sachin had been that man who had us believing.

Sometimes, truth isn’t good enough, sometimes people deserve more. Sometimes people deserve to have their faith rewarded. ~ Batman, in The Dark Knight.

You had this distinct feeling that it would be now or never. The one God we have might not win this cup – and its not that we care – its because some idiots would consider him a lesser batsman because he hadn’t won this one.

As the tournament progressed, the team took me on an emotional roller coaster ride, winning and losing at will. I did not know if we would win, or fall apart at the key moment. The quarterfinals restored some calm. India had chased down a decent total against a decent attack. The semifinals saw us defending a decent total (respect for Afridi – you rock! Why you ask? Here.).

And then it was the time for the big one. The final. We begun like never before. Zaheer – you beauty. Sree – you jack ass! Yuvi – you rock! Gambhir and Dhoni – respect!! People throwing themselves around. We conceded a little more than we would have liked in the last 10, and the momentum was with Lanka going in to the break. And then Sachin (did you see the straight drive??) and Sehwag got out cheaply, and I thought we would unravel quickly again. TV was switched off (I am superstitious – when I watched wickets fell), and turned on every now and then and I could see India building a few partnerships.  Maybe we could win. Thanks to Anubhav for making me watch. From then on it was a display of serene batting – except that one run – and we reached home quite comfortably. And the final shot by Dhoni, as Rahul put it, “”Uses it well, his bat he does.. hmmmm” – very Jedi like.

This victory will re-instill the much needed faith in a country bereft of heroes. There are some people we can still look up to. The ’83 World Cup gave us Sachin (and Sourav, Dravid, Laxman, and Kumble). Can’t wait to see what the ’11 World Cup brings us!!

We won!!

PS: In this entire media orgy, please don’t forget the Leander and Bhupati are also again the best in the World! Good going you guys!!

Rescuing my Laptop!

From my days at BITS, when did a fresh install of the OS almost every month, to the post BITS era, where a fresh install was almost unheard of, it has been some transition. From someone who would install Linux (pre-Ubuntu days) and then hunt for drivers, to someone who would not trust himself with a Windows install.

However, I still like trying new stuff, and I did end up installing a beta of the Windows 7 SP1. Big mistake! It changed my Windows copy to a RC and started giving me weird messages about only a few days remaining for me to upgrade. So when the SP1 was formally released, I tried to upgrade. But the stupid system wouldn’t let me. Big FAIL, Microsoft. Anyway, after some Googling around, I discovered that I had to reinstall the OS. And there begins the story.

ISB had provided us a licensed copy of Windows 7 Professional but as a nrg image. And almost all tools needed me to either have a DVD or a iso file.

Step 1: Install Daemon tools. It allows you to mount the image files (nrg, iso, etc). Also, it will allow you to convert them into ISO files 🙂

Step 2: Download and install Windows 7 USB/DVD tool. This will help you create a bootable USB drive from the ISO.

Step 3: If you need any special drivers, download them and keep them handy. Also, I downloaded the Windows 7 SP1 RC. Unfortunately, unlike nLite, the tool for slipstreaming Windows 7 just sucks! So you can’t build a custom install.

Step 4: Boot up from the USB and there you go!

Step 5: License key and activation. Now for some reason Windows 7 wouldn’t accept the key we got from ISB and kept calling it invalid. After some searching on the ISB alum mails (GMail search rocks! Thanks for using it for the alum mail ISB), I saw that it needed to be activated by phone. So I followed the instructions and for the first time ever I activated my copy of Windows over a phone. Also the first time I actually own a licensed copy of the OS 😛

Step 6: Customize it. Now to get Windows 7 back to the state it was in with all the apps and settings I wanted. Step in Ninite. This super tool lets you install most free softwares in one click. Select online the apps you want and download the (really small) Ninite installer. Run it, leave you laptop connected to the internet for an hour or so (depending on your connection and the tools you want) and Ninite will install everything by itself. Bingo! Here is a list of all the apps I selected.

  1. Google Chrome – the best browser there is, period. Also, the sync function allowed me to get all the extensions, plugins, passwords from my office laptop in a jiffy! Such joy!!
  2. Firefox – the version 4 is out, and need it to download House 😛
  3. Windows Live – just for fun.
  4. Google Talk
  5. Skype
  6. VLC
  7. Winamp
  8. MPlayer
  9. K-Lite Codecs
  10. Flash
  11. Picasa – the tonnes of snaps I have on my laptop. Wow!
  12. GIMP
  13. Foxit Reader
  14. CutePDF
  15. MS Security Essentials – the best antivirus there is today.
  16. uTorrent – obvious!
  17. Dropbox – another must have.
  18. CCleaner
  19. 7-Zip
  20. Notepad ++

Other than these I installed the SP1 for Windows 7, IE9, Office 2007, and all updates needed. Also installed (and used till way past midnight) was the hugely addictive Angry Birds.

A number of extensions for Chrome were also installed – GMail checker, URL Shortener, Cricinfo, Reader, Adblock, Google Translate, ToDo Camp, Tweetdeck, and some more.

All in all, a day well spent. My laptop now works faster, is cleaner, more updated, and less prone to crashing, though frankly speaking Windows 7 has crashed only a few times over the past year and it has surely become my favorite Windows OS of all times over taking Win XP.

Random Notes #171

** Correctly predicted 4 of 5 major Oscar awards this year. Not too bad, or as Sudeep put it, Oscars were just too predictable. Just too point out a small thing. The Social Network, while being a really good movie, is not an Oscar material. And I personally think its a little hyped. Eisenberg and Garfield were really good though.

** As I think more about it Black Swan grows more on me. The entire movie revolves around Natalie Portman, and she carries it off really well. Leon, V for Vendetta, and Black Swan all feature her starting off really unsure of herself, and discovering herself with the help of someone else.

** Watched The Inside Job finally, and I feel that it is one hard hitting documentary. It makes no bones about pointing fingers and pointing them at big and important people and institutions. Good job!

** Also, there was a discussion on the BITS alum mailing list over The Inside Job, Rajat Gupta, and the financial meltdown and the role the Wall Street played in the crisis. Though some really good points were made, I really did not see anyone come out in support of the financial industry. Maybe its just not fashionable. Though I am myself not a huge fan of the industry and its bonus system, I would still like to point out a few things. The financial industry still remains the place to be in for people who want to be close to the action and make shit loads of money. Someone said they don’t make anything, but I do believe that a number of products they create are really innovative and require as much technical inputs as say designing a search algorithm. And as for greed, its the same across industries. The pharmaceutical industry is no stranger to not such smart decision making. J&J (they have a case study in BSchool on them and they ethos) has had more recalls than probably the entire industry together, and that is almost in the last year or so. I guess the BP fiasco is still fresh in people’s memory. Intel, and its anti-competitive practices are well known, and so are the mistakes made with user data by Facebook. The energy industry, the mineral industry, the diamond industry, the automobile industry. You name it, and they have made some very stupid mistakes. People praise successful people and deride ones who aren’t. I am pretty sure that most of us would have given anything (and most would still do) to work for Dick Fuld, and now we wouldn’t touch him with a 10 feet pole. Hindsight, as the say, is always 20/20. To make the call in real time, while the shit is happening, is what it is about. May be one day we will stop the shit before it hits the fan.

** The post number is England’s score for the match today, and as the Gods would have it, yet again, SA have… well, choked!