11 December 2003 » In Tech » 2 Comments

At one of the pubs in London – The Ship, I think – we heard a song that seemed familiar but we could not come up with the name. So Darren said, “Watch this”, and dialed 2580 on his mobile. After the connection was established he held the phone up and waited. In 30 seconds the other side hung up and in a few minutes Darren got an SMS from that number. It was the song, identified – “Get Off” by Dandy Warhols. I was amazement personified.

Apparently, this service is called Shazam. It’s not expensive at all (50 pence for every confirmed song) and they have a database of 1.6 million tracks, plus it keeps a history of the songs you requested identification for on their website, so you can come back and see the list at any time. Now that is a clever application of mobile technology. I would definitely pay to use something like this.

The Tale of Two Cities

10 December 2003 » In Travel » 4 Comments

Sometimes the best things happen in the most spontaneous way. I was supposed to go to London to work out the project plan with the UK engineers there. Originally, we planned it for middle of November, but the visit of Mr. Bush there resulted in enough disruption that we had to postpone until the week of Thanksgiving. “Well”, I thought, “since I have to work on Thanksgiving and I have 2 floating holidays that I need to use before the end of the year, maybe I can combine all the vacation days and work out a quick trip somewhere nearby… Paris!”

Yes, Paris, that fabled City of Light.. I have heard much about it from my parents and friends, and I seized this opportunity to see it with my own eyes. I stayed there from Nov 19 until Nov 25, with no particular plan of action; every morning I would sit in a cafe, having coffee and pain aux raisin or pain aux chocolate and figure out what I wanted to do. Of course, I went to the Louvre, the Eiffel Tour, the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Arc de Triomphe, and the rest of the tourist staples, but I also walked a lot every day, exploring the arrondissements (the districts), sitting by a fountain here, window shopping there, stopping for lunch at the wonderful outdoor cafes, grabbing a banana-nutella crépe from a street vendor.. That is the only way to get a feel for the new city, in my opinion.

Some good places in Paris to go to for food and drink:

  • Aux Trois Maillets, an excellent jazz bar, very friendly and non-assuming
  • Les Bookinistes, owned by Guy Savoy, serves up delectable cuisine and exceptionally friendly and pleasant service
  • China Club, good place to relax and chat with friends or listen to jazz in the upstairs room. The bartender there really knows his stuff!
  • These guides that helped me get around Paris:

    On morning of Nov 25 I took the Eurostar high-speed train to London. I had not been there previously either, and obviously, I did not have much free time in that city, but I still managed to see a few sights and go on a pub crawl with the UK guys. If you visit London, check out The Porterhouse in Covent Garden – they have 200 draught and bottled, and also the largest collection of beers on display that I have seen, over 10,000 of them. If you bring in a full bottle of beer and they don’t have it yet, you get a free drink and they put it in their collection.

    The pictures from the trip are here.

    Erase, Rewind

    02 December 2003 » In Other » 1 Comment

    This must be the coolest clock I have seen anywhere online. Make sure you have Flash installed.

    Kill Bill

    07 November 2003 » In Movies, Reviews » 12 Comments

    Last night I was in the mood to see an action flick. So it was between the latest Matrix installment and Kill Bill Volume 1. I am so glad I picked the latter.

    “Kill Bill”, announced in the opening titles as “The 4th Film by Quentin Tarantino”, is a quintessential “revenge through martial arts” film that is all style and no substance. And that is what makes it good, along with a few other things. Tarantino manages to make us forget that the storyline is basically heroine going through the laundry list of her enemies and killing them one by one (or 88 at once in an extended scene). The movie can be easily dismissed by some as a gory, violent, purposeless imitation of the kung-fu flicks, but seen from another angle it is a beautiful homage to, and at the same time a parody of, the same genre. Tarantino has always been adept at blending black humour, action, unique characters, non-linear progression, and memorable dialogue, all spiced up by perfectly fitting soundtrack, and this effort is no exception. I was thrilled that “Lonely Shepherd” by James Last and Zamfir was picked as the movie’s theme and the melody works wonders there.

    A good movie will have its scenes invading your mind for a long time after you see it. “Kill Bill” certainly does that for me. Now, I just need to wait for Volume 2.

    LA + UNCH

    03 November 2003 » In Work » 5 Comments

    Last week I made an urgent visit to LA in order to secure a British visa for my upcoming business trip. I drove down (don’t ask) on Thursday night, got the visa on Friday, and spent some time at the Santa Monica Yahoo! LAUNCH office where Michael Radwin also works. I must say that I liked the layout and atmosphere there much better than at the Sunnyvale one, which tends to be more corporate and sterile. LAUNCH office has a feeling of dot-com era emphasized by funky cubicles, exposed brick walls, and nooks and crannies full of old promotional materials.

    But the coolest thing about my visit was getting a tour of the recording studio and the media library. Ian Dittbrenner, the senior audio producer, grabbed Michael and me while we were walking around and launched into a very entertaining description of what the studio is for. All kinds of music stars come down to the office to record interviews, performances, and these get broadcast on LAUNCH. This explains the presence of the blue screen on the stage.. The walls of the studio hallway and the recording room are covered with guitars donated by the stars and signed by them, including Led Zeppelin, Jewel, 50 Cents, Poison, and many others. If I came a day earlier, I could have seen Ludacris taping a show, apparently. Some Yahoo! execs were in last week and watched Blink 182 pull the pants off each other. Hmm, I should visit LA office more often.

    Normally, the media library is off limits, but somehow we were able to sneak in. This is where all the tapes and recordings that LAUNCH made are stored, in a climate controlled environment. But that’s not all. There are also over 1 million CDs kept in huge, rail-mounted racks. I really wanted to get my fingers into that collection, but there is some sort of silly rule about not letting employees check out CDs. Oh well, there’s always the Internet.

    Perfect age

    03 November 2003 » In Me » 1 Comment

    I turned 27 yesterday. According to USA Today, most people under 30 would choose this as the perfect age if they could freeze their aging process. What can I say, it feels great so far.

    The older you get the less you care about making the once all important b-day special. I mainly chilled out at the coffee shop, reading a Terry Pratchett book, and later on went with a couple of co-workers for a dinner at Steamer’s in Los Gatos followed by seeing Lost in Translation. A very nice, small, sweet movie that felt perfectly suited to the night.

    Around the world

    29 October 2003 » In Photography, Travel » 3 Comments

    My friend Joachim is going on a trip around the world. He will travel through Europe (briefly), India (for two months), Southeast Asia (for a month), and will end up in San Francisco some time around the end of February. And he is blogging this experience. I can’t help but feel envious and also wonder at the same time whether I could leave behind a job, sell most of my property, and embark on such a trip. Best of luck to him.

    Oh, sweet broadband!

    20 October 2003 » In Other » 4 Comments

    So, after some googling – and I use that term just because it’s an accepted one – I am back to pre-SP4 speed. The solution involved tweaking one of the incredibly obscure registry keys, and to this point I don’t know what I did intially that could have made SP4 barf this way. But if you ever run into the same problem, edit this key:


    and change the value from 0x3 to 0. People with nothing better to do can read this .

    Thanks, SP4

    20 October 2003 » In Other » 7 Comments

    On Friday night I decided to install iTunes for Windows and see what all the hoopla is about. iTunes cried bloody murder that I was not running the latest Windows 2000 and demanded SP4 to be installed right away. Okay, I thought, no problem. Click Start / Windows Update… / SP4, wait, reboot, login.

    Result: my internet connection is slower than what I had in 1992 with the 2400 baud modem. What the hell? After a bit of searching it is apparent that SP4 exhibits some “issues” on certain machines. I de- and re-installed the network adapter driver, rebooted a couple of times to be sure, but I might just as well have tried to move the moon with the power of my mind, for all the good it did. Next step is messing with MTU settings, I guess.

    Any hints?


    16 October 2003 » In Bay Area, Reviews » 1 Comment

    Last night I went to see the production of Jesus Christ Superstar at the San Francisco Orpheum theatre. Somehow I missed the movie, and have not seen the show performed live before – I just own the soundtrack. The set and lighting were very nice and imaginative. The cast performed admirably, but their singing seemed better than the acting ability. Lawrence Clayton and Natalie Toro were strong as Judas and Mary Magdalene, respectively. However, two of my favorite pieces – “Last Supper” and “Gethsemane” – were not quite up to my expectations. Maybe it was due to sound equipment or acoustics that felt muffled at certain points, but it might just as well be the evidence of the lack of raw emotion invested into the performance. A couple of years ago I attended a special that showcased some pieces from Webber’s career, including “Gethsemane” and I thought that one was particularly sublime, even better than the one on the soundtrack. Still, always good to see a live show infused with enthusiasm and this one definitely had that in abundance.

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