.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sambhar Mafia - Cooked To Kill!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Costly Typo

I do come across occasions where people type Sidney Sheldon as Sydney Sheldon, but this one was even more amusing:

A 21-year-old German tourist who wanted to visit his girlfriend in the Australian metropolis Sydney landed 13,000 kilometers (8,077 miles) away near Sidney, Montana, after mistyping his destination on a flight booking Web site.

Dressed for the Australian summer in T-shirt and shorts, Tobi Gutt left Germany on Saturday for a four-week holiday.

Instead of arriving "down under", Gutt found himself on a different continent and bound for the chilly state of Montana.[Link]

MSM and Juvenile Crime

The report about the kidnapping of 11-year old Arvind and the subsequent recovery of his body has gripped Chennai during the last few days. There are some established norms in the media regarding the reporting of such juvenile crime. It has come to light that the people behind this gruesome murder are minors in the age group of 16 – 17. An earlier article by The Hindu’s Readers’ Editor lays down the broad guidelines regarding media reporting of juvenile crime. It looks like Rediff.com has decided to flout some of those norms in covering the Arvind murder investigation. Rediff has gone ahead and published the names of the three kids accused in the Arvind murder case.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Novel Cheating Thru Bluetooth

An Indian news item is doing the rounds in all the popular international tech sites. An Indian chess player apparently hid a Bluetooth device under his cap and got remote (computer) assistance from friends. It seems he has been growing in stature over the last few months and also secured a Central Government job under the sports quota. One wonders how such a thing was not spotted during the earlier stages of his career.

An Indian chess player has been banned for 10 years for cheating after he was caught using his mobile phone's wireless device to win games, chess officials said on Wednesday.

The player, Umakant Sharma, had logged rating points at a rapid pace in the last 18 months and also qualified for the national championship, arousing the suspicion of officials and bemusing rivals.

Sharma was finally caught at a recent tournament when officials discovered that he had stitched a Bluetooth device in a cloth cap which he always pulled over his ears.

He communicated to his accomplices outside the hall, who then used a computer to relay moves to him, Indian chess federation secretary D.V. Sundar said on Wednesday. [Link]

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Paparazzi ToI-ishtyle

The ambitious ToI seems to be adopting paparazzi-style reporting to stay ahead in the game. In this process, they seem to have caused injury to the Finance Minister. It's better if ToI focusses on its core competence of covering beauty queens and Bollywood celebrities.

An official press release said Mr. Chidambaram and some members of his family (wife, son, daughter - in - law and grand-daughter) were dining out with some friends when the photographer of a newspaper approached them repeatedly and asked for permission to take photographs. Each time, his request was turned down as the family was on a private visit.

Police sources said there was a scuffle when the photographer of The Times of India attempted to take pictures as the family came out of the restaurant. An attempt was made to snatch his camera and in the melee the Minister tripped and fell.[Link]

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Mottai Boss

(via Sify)

When user experience takes a back seat

The Hindu’s online edition seems to have embraced online ads eventhough it comes at a huge inconvenience to the average user. Earlier, The Hindu used to sport Google ads and other local ads only on the sidebar. Adsense Ads used to appear at the bottom of the article. I recently noticed that such ads (not just text ads) have started appearing right in the beginning / middle of an article. Although other publications have been using such a style, The Hindu’s attempt to do it has been plagued with poor execution. I think The Hindu is indirectly pushing people to take to the e-paper instead of the online edition. Here are some snapshots of what’s in store:

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Fans Rejoice While Multiplexes Mourn TN Govt. Decision

If Karunanidhi’s order comes into force, you could soon grab a movie ticket at Sathyam Cineplex and Mayajaal at just Rs. 50. I know that it’s too good to be true. It would be interesting to see how the multiplexes react to such a directive by the government. Upcoming multiplexes like PVR and INOX would be seriously evaluating their plans in the light of the new rule.

An official release here said the Chief Minister M Karunaidhi, announced a minimum ticket rate of Rs 10 and maximum of Rs 50 for A/c theatres and Rs 7 and Rs 30 for non-A/c theatres in the corporation areas.

The rates would come into effect from January 1. The release said the Chief Minister declined permission to theatres to hike ticket charges for a period of two weeks when new films were exhibited. [Link]

If the price is capped, there would be less incentive for movie halls to provide superior service and to differentiate their offering. A/c halls might even switch off the A/c’s (as it used to be done in the past) half-way through the movie so that they can save on the power cost. Parking charges might go up and the price of the snacks could be jacked up to supplement the revenue loss.

While the average movie goer felt that Sathyam and Mayajaal charge high prices, there was always the other segment which was ready to pay the asking price for the ultimate movie experience. Although I’m in favour of doing away with the open fleecing in the first two weeks, I somehow feel the upper limit is quite harsh on the movie halls. It is better to let the market decide on the right price.

Monday, December 18, 2006

McDonalds set to enter Chennai

After making a mark in Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Hyderabad, global fast food giant McDonalds has finally unveiled plans to set up shop in Chennai. McDonalds has had a close association with PVR Multiplex and the same relationship is likely to continue in Chennai as well. PVR Multiplex will be housed inside the AMPA Mall on Nelson Manickam Road and McD will also open its Chennai outlet inside the AMPA Mall.

While you are caught in the traffic jam on Nelson Manickam Road, you could possible walk upto McD and grab some take-away :-)

Ultra Premium Apartments in Chennai

The sky-high real estate prices don’t seem to be acting as a dampener for high-end residential properties in Chennai.

Actress Hema Malini has sent the real estate prices soaring in the city she hails from. A big-time builder has signed up with her to build six apartments on a 14,400 sq ft plot owned by her in the posh Poes Garden area of the city.

Each flat, when ready, will come for a staggering Rs 6 crore. [Link]

With most of the demand being fuelled by the IT / ITES sector, the IT corridor is a natural choice for big budget housing projects.

Now, Vijay Shanthi is coming up with a bigger project - apartments that will cost Rs. 8 crore each.

Another of their project is Club Cabana along the I.T corridor. A small community of 18 exclusively-styled villas that will cost Rs.1.25 crore each.

The project is to come up on a four-acre plot will have only 10 per cent built up area and the rest 90 per cent, a green spread.

Residents will have to park their cars near the gate and either walk, or bike or golf cart their way home through the greenery. [Link]

If the current trend continues, affordable housing might be a thing of the past.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Veggie Delight

A recent study in the UK has revealed that people who are vegetarian are likely to have a higher IQ than their non-veg counterparts.

A Southampton University team found those who were vegetarian by 30 had recorded five IQ points more on average at the age of 10.

Researchers said it could explain why people with higher IQ were healthier as a vegetarian diet was linked to lower heart disease and obesity rates.

Researchers said the findings were partly related to better education and higher occupational social class, but it remained statistically significant after adjusting for these factors.

Vegetarians were more likely to be female, to be of higher occupational social class and to have higher academic or vocational qualifications than non-vegetarians.

However, these differences were not reflected in their annual income, which was similar to that of non-vegetarians. [Link]

More and more people are turning vegetarian in the western world and such studies would definitely give a boost to the vegetarian movement.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Waking up to Reality

Tamil cable TV channel Raj TV has been a laggard and has always been in the 3rd or 4th slot in the ranking list. Lack of funds and lack of political backing could have been some of the reasons behind this lethargy. It looks like Raj TV is finally making some moves to be in tune with the market. First, they announced plans to go for an IPO. I’m sure the mega bucks unlocked from the Sun Network IPO would have motivated Raj TV as well. Now, Raj TV seems to be firming up plans for their international foray.

The group is in advanced talks with DTH operators in Malaysia and Singapore, which has a sizeable south-Indian origin population.

"While Malaysia and Singapore are natural markets owing to a large number of people who understand Tamil, markets like Europe and South America have not been tapped before and we plan to do that by offering dubbed and subtitled content through DTH," M Raajhendran, MD, RTNL told Business Standard.

Chennai on Indian Rendezvous

Discovery Travel & Living is running a series called Indian Rendezvous and it covers 6 Indian cities. The episode featuring Chennai went on air few days ago and those who missed it can catch the re-telecast at 10 pm IST on 14th Dec. I’m not too sure whether this series will also be shown in the international feeds of Discovery Travel & Adventure.

At RmKV, the sari store, Meera tries out a sari, which has been entered in the Guinness Book by the sheer strength of its length. It is a completely different experience at Major Roy's Adventure Zone on the East Coast Road.

After a bit of para-sailing, rappelling, shooting and rock climbing, she fills her eyes with beautiful things at the Cholamandal Artists village. Next, she zooms to Irungattukottai for a roar down the racetrack that made Chennai an indispensable part of the motor sports calendar. A taste of Madras filter coffee at Dakshin, a few measured steps at Kalarpana, a dance academy run by actor Shobana, a forecast of the future by `naadi' astrologer L. K. Vijaypandian and a climb up the "Rain Tree" at the Taj Connemara complete the picture.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Guideline Value for Chennai Properties

The Tamilnadu government has released the latest version of the guideline value for real estate in various cities across Tamilnadu. The Registration Department’s website provides the detailed information about the guideline value for each street in each locality. Each street is classified as Commercial / Residential area and then categorized according to its worth.

Usman Road is currently Chennai's most expensive stretch, according to recently revised guideline values. The stretch between the T.Nagar bus stand and Panagal Park is valued at Rs. 11,500 per square feet. In other words, a ground here will cost Rs. 2.76 crore.

I did some preliminary search and figured out that the guideline value for GN Chetty Road and Theagaraya Road (Pondy Bazaar) is Rs. 5500. The same for Bazullah Road is Rs. 4000.

This guideline value is only for the land. Actual price for real estate transactions could be much higher than the guideline values and a large amount of black money could be used in these transactions.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Web Search in Tamil

The launch of a new Tamil search tool definitely indicates that content in Tamil is on the rise. TamilThedal, the newly launched search tool allows you to search using any of the 6 Tamil keyboard layouts. I'm sure the new search tool would help us in discovering more online content in the Tamil language.

Lastech Systems, a Chennai-based company, has launched www.tamilthedal.com, a site to enable Internet users use search engines such as Google for search in Tamil. Users can directly type the Tamil text to search using various keyboard layouts such as typewriter, Phoenetic, Tamil-99 and Romanised.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Exploring Chennai

Filter Coffee Tours (FCT) could very well turn out to be Chennai's way of improving the tourist experience in the city. With the increase in business visitors, tourists and NRIs, there is a definite demand for professional tour operators. Lot of these visitors could look for customized tours and thats where tour operators like Filter Coffee Tours can make a mark. FCT currently offers tours covering various places in and around Chennai. They also offer tours which offer a peek into some aspects of Chennai life.

A lot has been written about the success of Bangalore Walks, a company which operates walking tours in Bangalore. Most of the other cities have some sort of walking tours, but these walks have largely been one-off events and Bangalore Walks seems to have institutionalized this business. If new companies like FCT try to integrate walking tours into their portfolio, they can win over a wider audience.