Excursions by Amit Gawande

Cleaning your room takes effort. Blurring your background on Skype does not.” This is a nifty addition to Skype - bokeh for video calls. And a very valid argument to put the iPhone X like a dot projector and infrared camera modules in laptops.

Thu, Feb 7, 2019 thoughts

I always believed Anchor was strategically working towards an acquisition. I never thought they would sell out so early. So glad that I did not sign up while they were drumming up how they aim to take podcasting mainstream.

Wed, Feb 6, 2019 thoughts

Has the political realm across the world always been this messy? Or is it that I read more about it now and hence am more aware? I am left anguished every time I read anything around politics. No morals. No civility. Pure egocentrism on display.

Wed, Feb 6, 2019 thoughts

What are the recommended, non-tech, non-news newsletters? Other than NextDraft, of course. I have realised the newsletters I subscribe to tend to get repetitive. I do not want to know of the thoughts on same tech/non-tech US news 🙂

Tue, Feb 5, 2019 thoughts

Indian Government wants to put control on Tik Tok - this is a fall-out of the fake-news debacle with WhatsApp. It wants to make sure there are mechanisms in place to contain misinformation and also set accountability when that happens. Not too overreaching if done well.

Mon, Feb 4, 2019 thoughts

Spending a quality time with close family amidst nature is the most effective way to get rejuvenated.

Mon, Feb 4, 2019 thoughts

I managed to catch up on two great television series - Doc Martin and The Good Place, both highly recommended by the community here. Need to especially thank @macgenie for the recommendation for former - boy, I am love with the seaside village of Portwenn. Had some fun days.

Mon, Feb 4, 2019 thoughts

Why CAPTCHAs have gotten so difficult

So apparently we, humans, are struggling to prove ourselves as human now - The Verge reports.

Figuring out how to fix those blurry image quizzes quickly takes you into philosophical territory: what is the universal human quality that can be demonstrated to a machine, but that no machine can mimic? What is it to be human?

I am sorry, but we are taking the literal definition of CAPTCHA - Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart - too seriously. It is a good enough system to filter out attacks from majority of the bad actors not so strong both technically and financially. Sure, there would come a day when the AI systems to beat these complicated CAPTHAs would become extremely cheap — might be even sold pay-per-use.

But when that happens, we better be ready with something that can replace this old system of identifying humans online. Authenticating and authorizing an identity online should be made a priority project at all the technology leaders.

Sun, Feb 3, 2019 opinion security

A great thread by Destin of Smarter Every Day on how crazy minds are fooling YouTube algorithms with AI.

I just figured something out I want to talk about it. Let’s talk about weaponized bots, algorithm exploitation, countermeasures, and counter-countermeasures.

Sun, Feb 3, 2019 thoughts

I attempted to watch Black Mirror: Bandersnatch today. Netflix managed to solve a lot many technical challenges — it is a well-done interactive film. I think first of its kind. But boy, did it suck as a film. The format just did not click for me — the film worked neither as a science fiction nor as a horror.

To be frank, I am a bit disappointed in this genre of films. There has been so much talk about these choose-your-own-adventure or multiple endings movies/shows. But I find the whole concept a bit distracting. Every time, I was made to choose any aspect playing on the screen, I was pulled out of the flow of the movie. I doubt this interactive form will work for many.

Call me old school. But I want to be driven, I want to view the story from the director’s perspective. I like to see what he or she wants to show me, keeping my mind completely open. I do not want to play a game while I am watching a movie. Because if I do want to, well, I will play a game in the first place.

Sure, this was a good experiment to explore this concept of letting viewers drive the narrative of the film. And although I question its feasibility, I also believe this is just a start. There’s soon going to be lot many such experiments with VR too. Whatever the makers believe, I am sure I would hate that form.

I wish makers spend their efforts on the story, on the screenplay, on all the other aspects that make a movie brilliant. I will any day choose a linear, single ending drama or a thriller that a director has complete control over than a broken, nonsensical story that I can control every aspect of.

Fri, Feb 1, 2019 movie review opinion

I published my thoughts on the wonderful movie Bhai: Vyakti Ki Valli”. It’s celebration of a life — the movie, the experience left me completely nostalgic. Just wish it was an equally good biopic though. It is a must watch nonetheless.

Fri, Feb 1, 2019 thoughts

Bhai: Vyakti Ki Valli - Celebration of a life

I recently watched Bhai: Vyakti Ki Valli, a movie I was very eagerly waiting for quite some time now. It is a biopic of a person that I adore, an iconic Marathi writer and a humorist, a brilliant theater artist and an adept musician, a person who inspired me to start writing. That person is Purushottam Laxman Deshpande, lovingly called Pu. La.” or Bhai” in the region I am from.

Narrating the life of this towering personality is not a small feat given the sheer number of stream of art he was passionate about. He is a well-known and a well-respected person amongst Maharashtrians of all age. It is through his writing, through the careful study of human nature around him that he taught many what the real happiness is. So it is only just that I was so curious to learn more about this master, through especially the first of this two-part biopic that focuses on his early life.

It was wonderful to know more about this simple person and was refreshing to see the Maharashtra of early 1900. In a way, I thought the people, the society that Bhai dwelt in was a lot more liberal, more open than what we see today. It was pleasing to watch the strong women with definite opinions, the simple marriage or even the relationship that Bhai’s wife and his mother share. The finale with a mind-blowing rendition of Hindustani classical music through a couple of well-known songs was sheer magic on screen - left me with goose bumps down my arms. It is Marathi culture on display. It instantly transported me back to my childhood days when these songs were our morning alarms. Boy, how much do I yearn for the simple life of yesteryears?

No doubt then that it was a brilliant watch for me, and my family. Even my friends share my experience. But all of us already know a lot about the person and the people around him. The list of characters, from the real-life like Bhimsen Joshi or Kumar Gandarva and from Bhai’s imagination like Anna or Namu Parit, that walk the screen are well itched in us Marathi people’s memories. But that may not be the case for people not from this state.

I wish this movie was an equally well-made biography, not just a celebration of the life of this beloved man. I wish the characters were allowed to grow, introduced at the very least. I wish we learned more about the relationship Bhai shared with these characters. I wish this could have been that one movie I would recommend every friend of mine to watch so that they knew what gem of a person Pu. La. was. But, alas.

First thing I did once I was back from the theater was to listen to couple of Pu. La.’s story-telling acts. It was heart-warming for me to see many aged couples who could barely walk taking all the effort to come down to the theater with their family and laughing their hearts out. May be they had spent their golden years together watching Bhai live and now they want to re-live those days. So yes, the movie did leave many, including me, nostalgic. May be that was the win the makers were going for.

Thu, Jan 31, 2019 opinion review movie

I feel updates to m.b discover feed have slowed down significantly. May be @macgenie too is getting ready with some nice little announcements to make after Manton? 🤔

Thu, Jan 31, 2019 thoughts

In a year marred by media tirade for their sheer disregard for user’s privacy, Facebook continues to grow unhindered. Their income grew more than 60% this quarter, even MAU increased. No wonder Mark believes FBs too important for the world — be ready for more apologies.

Thu, Jan 31, 2019 thoughts facebook