RS. 50

IT magazine for the contemporary woman




Vol. 2 Issue 14

30 36 50 53 74 76 81
The Magic of Special Effects Celeb Blogs Rule Cyberia Smartphone Fitness Apps Future Phones for Fun Unlimited Demystifying Benjamin Button When Sci-fi Makes It to Real Life New Television Technologies



Do You Need Blu-ray?

november 2009

tech tip
57 Save Notes Online Using Evernote 58 Merge, Split and Repair PDF Files

59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67

Tech Must-haves for Tech-savvy Stars Get More Out of Your Notebook Defragment Hard Drive to Speed Up PC Use Scrape Torrent to Search Torrent Sites Invest in IPOs with HDFC Securities Search in Google & Yahoo! Simultaneously Soapdish Becomes Cradle for BlackBerry DAP for Speeding Up Downloads Get Parrot Minikit for Voice Dialling Google Trends Track Online Behaviour


Best Tips for MS Word Users

Style IT

how to
90 92 94 96 102
Get Back Missing Calculator in XP Encrypt Your USB Flash Drive Optimise Outlook Express Upgrade Windows XP to Windows 7 Capture Screenshots from Videos and DVDs


Boost Your Wireless Router Signal

Founder Vishwa Nath (1917-2002) Editor, Publisher & Printer Paresh Nath Editorial Office E-3, Jhandewalan Estate, Rani Jhansi Road, New Delhi-110055 Phones: 41398888, 23529557 E-mail: Advertisement Department E-3, Jhandewalan Estate, Rani Jhansi Road, New Delhi-110055 Phones: 41398888, 23529557 E-mail:

Abducted by Aliens


spice IT
13 18 22 34
Buzz Byte Live IT or Leave IT Chatroom Snapshots

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Printed and published at Delhi Press Samachar Patra Pte Ltd., A-36, Sahibabad, Ghaziabad and Delhi Press, E-3, Jhandewalan Estate, Rani Jhansi Road, New Delhi - 110055. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without the written permission of the publishers. This copy is sold on the condition that jurisdiction for disputes from sale, subscription and the published matter will be handled at courts/forums/tribunals at Delhi. Title Live IT is registered with Government of India as trademark. 2008 © D elhi Press Patra Prakashan Pte Ltd., New Delhi - 110055, India.

6 8 12 15 17 88 114 115 116 121
Letter from the Editor Tech News Did You Know? Care IT Letters to the Editor Interview - Sunny Vaghela Shopper’s Guide Q&A Glossary Supplement - Photoshoper

peek & pick
108 HTC Hero & HP Pen Drive 109 Car Charger for iPod & Logitech
Bluetooth Notebook Mouse

110 iPod Touch 111 Logitech QuickCam Sphere MP 112 HP All-in-One Printer &
Morning Walker

113 HCL TFT Desktop &
HTC Touch Diamond2

Tech Career



Netgear Wireless Router


From Editor’s Desk
Celebrity Watch!
Priyanka Chopra has been on it for quite some time. So have Big B, Gul Panag, Mallika Sherawat, Preity Zinta and Shahid Kapur. As is common with film celebrities around the world, even our dear Bollywood stars like to keep a track of the number of stargazers who closely follow the latest happenings in their lives. Not that they are always in a number game; but it is natural to get an ego kick to find out how eagerly they are being watched by their fans. And the latest fad in this age of stargazing is to maintain a Twitter account and keep a tab on the online users who follow your updates. But for once, the glamorous world of Bollywood was trumped by the dreary world of politics when it came to celebrity stalking. It was in the month of September when this great debacle happened and a quirky politician from down south Kerala clocked in more than 100,000 Twitter followers, making him the first Indian celebrity to cross that milestone. Thanks to Shashi Tharoor’s relentless ‘tweeting’ about the austerity measures that were being implemented by the Congress government, and his now legendary ‘cattle class’ remarks, a new dimension was added to India’s yet nascent world of celebrity mania in the cyber sphere. All of a sudden, Twitter became a household name and Tharoor, the poster boy for this microblogging service. With the growing popularity of social networking sites and developments in Web 2.0, more and more Bollywood stars, much like their counterparts in Hollywood, are now maintaining blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts – all in the name of reaching out and connecting with their fan base. Social networking sites have brought our favourite stars (and the not-so-favourite ones too) closer to us than ever before. But it is not just for reaching out to their fans that most of these young generation film stars have embraced the wonders of IT. For them, tech gadgets and gizmos serve the dual purpose of utility and fashion statement. Much like the expensive cars and designer wear, cutting-edge IT gadgets have also become a part of the persona donned by movie stars. In this issue of Live IT, we take a close look at the IT mantra of India’s celebrities. From the gadgets they love to the blogs they write, we explore the star-studded IT quotient that our fabled celebrities have built up for themselves – both to suit their personal needs and to project a trendy image. Anant Nath Managing Editor

Compiled by Priyanka Dey


who had come forward to celebrate the memorable It was Mahatma Gandhi’s 140th birth anniversary on Oct. 2. And guess the search engine giant featured a doodle on its home occasion in the most unique manner? It was none other than Google and page as a mark of respect. Google featured the face of Mahatma Gandhi on its logo, a touching gesture, even as people across the globe celebrated Bapu’s birthday and paid homage to the Father of the Nation. Even today, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi remains the undisputed political and spiritual leader of modern India, and Oct. 2 is marked around the world as International Day of Non-Violence. Conceptualised by Dennis Hwang, Google’s doodles are created to remind people of important dates or events. Other prominent figures who have been featured here include Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Confucius, Louis Braille, Pablo Picasso and Michael Jackson.

Are you tired of shelling out big buck s to companies like Norton and the likes? Don’t worry – it is now possible to bid adieu to paid anti-virus software and opt for a totally free version. In October, Microsoft has officially released its new computer security programme, Microsoft Security Essentials, although the beta version has been available since June this year. With the official release, users can download the software for free from _essentials. The company provides regular updates, so that one can stay abreast of the latest malicious program mes, which can steal passwords or turn PCs into spam servers. What’s more, the programme will not slow dow n users’ systems, claims Microsoft. The IT giant has also made it clear that it does not intend to steal business from companies like McAfee and Symantec.



November ‘09

Transcend, a global leader in storage and multimedi a products, has declared Windows 7 compatibility that its StoreJet external test. The latest among Mi hard drives have passed crosoft operating system be fully compatible with s, Windows 7 is an evolut applications and hardware ionary upgrade that will designed for its predecess Research, the current sat or, Windows Vista. Accor isfaction rate for Window ding to ChangeWave s 7 is four times higher tha n Windows Vista. In order to ensure comple te functionality when used with the new Wind ows 7 operating system, Transcend’s 2.5 inch and 1.8 inch StoreJet external hard drives hav e been thoroughly tested to meet Microsoft’s strict standards. Those using Transcend’s external har d drive can now rest assured that their Transc end products will have no compatibility issues wh en they upgrade to Windows 7. Says Mr. Austin Huang, Regional Head (Sales) for SAARC & AP AC: “We always strive to keep pace with technolo gy. Our incessant R&D has made our produ cts highly acceptable in the market. Now that Microsoft is launching its latest version of Wind ows operating system, Transcend users can freely use their external hard drives on Windows 7 computers without worrying about compatibi lity issues.”


Made of 18 carat yellow gold and studded with 4,459 diamonds, the world’s most expensive BlackBerry is bound to be the darling of every heart. It has taken designer Alexander Amosu nearly 350 hours to create this eye candy. What’s more, the owner of the piece can personalise the product with his name or company logo inscribed on it. The stunning handset in glittering gold and dazzling diamonds comes at a staggering 125,000 pounds. An anonymous millionaire from the Middle East has acquired the first of the three limited-edition handsets.

November ‘09



Adobe has recently announced that Flash 10.1 will be available on a wide range of smartphones and handheld devices. A beta version of Flash for Windows Mobile and Palm WebOS is likely to hit the market later this year, followed by Google Android and Symbian versions in early 2010. Many interactive pages and videos that you see on the Web are powered by Adobe’s Flash technology. Till now, smartphone users can only access Flash Lite which cannot show anything better than a subset of Flash pages. Then there are quite a few cell phon es which are unable to display Flash content. But the tech constraint seems to be over now and almost all smartphone users will be entitled to full Flash suppo rt. “Flash on Windows Mobile will require OS 6.5 and Flash for Android will run on OS 2.0, codenamed Eclair,” said Anup Murarka, director for technology strategy and partner development within the Platform Business Unit at Adobe. On the other hand, the Palm Pre, HTC Touch Pro2 and BlackBerry Bold will all have in-built Flash . But what about Apple’s iPhone? Well, there is no hope yet, unles s both companies decide to work in sync.


available at com/. The http://fastflip.googlelabs. er of pages window presents a numb can search in thumbnail style and you magazine for most popular news and the left and sites. There are arrows at nails to let the right side of the thumb es like a you flip through the pag that is regular magazine. Now rks more certainly unique and wo pages one quickly than opening the by one.

e er before. Named Googl share news articles as nev sides, users can ere users can search and Be ed a Web application wh p’ through pages online. Google Labs has launch es, and enables users to ‘fli application is bines Print and Web featur und searches. The Web com magazines aro Fast Flip, this application t and create their custom ics, discover new conten also follow friends and top


November ‘09


e cumbersome glasses. Fujifilm India, ges and movies without wearing thos can enjoy three-dimensional (3D) ima Now you ing imaging technology – the FinePix panies, has launched its groundbreak ial the largest photographic solutions com one of enjoy 3D images without wearing spec digital imaging system that lets users 3D System. It is the world’s first 3D REAL 3D V1 (an eightREAL 3D camera), FinePix m includes FinePix REAL 3D W1 (a production 3D glasses. The revolutionary 3D syste a 3D Print (Fujifilm’s high-precision be displayed) and er on which spectacular 3D images can inch view t 3D images). technology that enables users to prin believes in bringing the latest aging Director, Fujifilm India, “Fujifilm ording to Mr. Kenichi Tanaka, Man Acc to become one of the top digital rs in India. In tune with our strategy gical innovations to its discerning buye technolo continue to introduce digital camera market share in three years, we shall brands in India and acquire 15 per cent camera exclusive and innovative aspects, award winners or based on our which are either world’s first in some models technologies.” also added. Moreover, the RP (Real are installed and a 3x optical zoom is click a 3D image, two Fujinon lenses To the years, synchronises the data it gy marvel developed by Fujifilm over Processor 3D, another photo technolo Photo) itions such as focus, brightness and ors. It then determines shooting cond from both lenses and two CCD sens receives into a single symmetrical image. I tonality, and instantly blends the data ing Fujifilm stores across the country. Rs 39,999 and is available at all lead FinePix REAL 3D W1 camera costs The
November ‘09 11

Did You Know
round 210 million handsets are manufactured by Nokia every year, which means the company produces up to 6.6 phones per second.



ompuServe, currently owned by AOL Time Warner, was the first Internet Service Provider. ccording to Mercury Research, over 80 per cent of the world’s computers have Intel processors.

he name Joomla is derived from the Swahili word ‘Jumla’, which means ‘all together’ or ‘as a whole’.



he first hard drive available for an Apple machine had a capacity of five megabytes.


round 6,000 new computer viruses are released every month.

he 216 hues, rendered on Windows computers and Mac operating systems, are called Browser Safe Colours.


? ow kn id U d
uring their historic first flight, the Wright Brothers covered a distance less than the wing span of a jumbo jet. ewlett-Packard was the first corporation to move to the Silicon Valley in 1938. rkut, Google’s social networking service, was named after its creator Orkut Büyükkökten who was a Google employee. Initially, Orkut accounts were available by invitation only. But in 2006, it was opened for all – so that everyone can easily create an Orkut account. n average computer user blinks seven times a minute.


f the National Science Foundation had not announced paid domain services on September 14, 1995, we would still be enjoying zero domain registration charges.

highly educated chief priest of Daioh Temple in Kyoto performs memorial services for lost data through his online virtual temple. Lost data, rest in peace.


H A B R 12

s number ‘4’ is considered unlucky in major regions of Asia, Nokia has never launched any phone model in this continent that begins with the digit ‘4’. oeing was the first airline to discover the Y2K problem in 1993.


n 1998, Satyam Online became the first Internet Service Provider in India.

he World Wide Web had 50 million users in around four years while the television took 13 years and the radio took 38 long years to reach out to as many users. acebook has taken three years to reach out to 50 million people. I

obert T. Morris (Jr.) created the first Internet worm, which attacked more than 6000 Internet hosts.

November ‘09

Buzz Byte
oes the world of digital entertainment amaze and enthral you? Do you love to tinker with the latest gizmos and bring to life your very own concepts? Digital tech is changing at lightning speed and you need to stay up-to-date about the latest happenings. So try out these SEVEN brain teasers to test your ‘digitainment’ knowledge. All set to take the quiz now? Let the show begin …

Buzz Byte




e can play website so that w les us to extend a enab A programme that more is called: usic and Spades A. Diamonds and es B. Hearts and Spad s C. Hearts and Club l camera, cture with a digita When you take a pi rmat? stored in which fo the picture will be


A. gif file. any mentioned, how m B. bitmap or bmp. ecifications According to the sp ct disc (CD) hold? C. jpg or jpeg file. can a compa minutes of music A. 90 minutes B. 60 minutes. design, d clip in a website C. 76 minutes. When using a soun you should it does not stop. ntinuously so that ays make it loop co A. alw e cannot hear it. n looking at the sit e it so that the perso B. always mut it on or off. the option to turn C. give the visitor



DVD? about a dual-layer What is so unique d increase. layer to offer a spee A. It uses a second tive sound tracks. B. It creates alterna e data. C. It can hold mor


)? Good Privacy (PGP Who created Pretty n. A.Marc Andreesse . B. Ken Thompson an. C. Paul Zimmer m


to a horse, what ure of your dog in t to change a pict If you wan u use? software should yo
are. A. Animation softw B. PowerPoint. are. C. Morphing softw

Check out the next page to see how well you scored!
November ‘09 13

Buzz Byte


You finished the quiz! Now, calculate your score. A carries 1, B carries 2, and C carries 3 points. Did you check mostly A, B, or C?

If your score is

ut to make it Driven. Go all o tween 16-21 ry Be the D – Digitally Ve r footprints in are the true DV You and leave you nology space big in the tech virtual world!
Between 8-15 Your k nowled ge of the tech terminology is good but a litt le Photoshop e n h a n ce m e n t would make it picture perfec t. Double -click th e effort button and see the re before your ey sult pop-up es!


a bytes but B etween 0-7 dge is in meg ch k nowle rade it to giga Your current te t yo u c a n u p g h promise tha nstantly and there’s enoug e hardware co g your k nowled bytes. Add to n ce ! feel the differe


November ‘09

Beat that Throbbing Pain

Care IT

Mehak Siddiqui


ccording to a recent survey, more than 10 million people visit their doctors every year because of headache complaints. Some of the commonly reported maladies are migraine, cluster headache (frequent headaches of short duration) and tension headache. The last one is a medical condition that may affect even teenagers, although those aged between 20 and 50 tend to suffer most. Around 69 per cent men and 88 per cent women fall prey to tension headaches at some point of time or other.

Tension headaches may be caused by various medical disorders, but one malign factor behind the throbbing pain has already been diagnosed. It is the growing use of computers and other electronic devices that seems to be key reason. Tension headaches range from mild to severe and usually manifest as a tight band of discomfort around the head. The tension normally results from tense muscles around the eyes, head and jaw bones. Those constantly stuck to their systems, cell phones or even televisions are most likely to get
November ‘09 15

Care IT
this kind of tension around the eyes, as well as in the neck and shoulders – leading to terrible discomfort and annoying tension headaches. An effective way to keep the tension headache at bay (or preventing it from getting worse in case you already have an attack) is to adjust the ‘refresh rate’ settings of the monitor. Although we cannot notice it physically, the computer screen refreshes itself hundreds of times a second. To understand the concept better, think of the old blackand-white movies where one could see each frame flash on the screen and the characters move in a jerky manner. This is due to a slow refresh rate, which makes the screen flicker like a fluorescent light and gives many people headaches. The default setting on most computers is set to a slow refresh rate, which triggers the problem. In order to change the settings and minimise the strain on your eyes, follow these easy steps: Go to Start menu and choose ‘Control Panel’. Now click the ‘Display’ icon (located below ‘Appearance and Themes’ in Windows XP). In the window that opens, click ‘Settings’ followed by ‘Advanced’. Now, click the ‘Monitor’ tab. Under ‘Monitor settings’, there is a pull-down menu that says ‘Refresh rate’. Choose the largest number there. Then click the ‘Apply’ button and close the window. In addition to resetting the refresh rate, you can also try these useful strategies to prevent computer-related headaches. Try and place the monitor right in front of you. Keeping the monitor off-centre results in neck and shoulder pains as you have to twist your body to see the screen. Keep the monitor at an arm’s length when you are working. Sitting too close to the system or too far away from it may cause eye strain, resulting into headaches. The screen should be at eye level. So adjust your chair accordingly. Increase the text font size so it is easier to read. Adjust the monitor’s brightness to suit the surrounding light. Make sure that your home and workplace are well-lit as poor lighting can cause severe headache. Place the monitor in such a way so that you can avoid the glare. If that is not possible, use an anti-glare screen. 16 November ‘09

If you still find your head throbbing after spending several hours at the computer, PDA etc., try these simple measures. However, do remember that none of these remedies are alternatives to professional help. If your headaches persist, consult your doctor immediately.

Go for medication
While medicines such as ibuprofen and aspirin are commonly used to treat headaches, there are specific ones prescribed for tension headaches. These pills contain active ingredients such as high doses of acetaminophen and caffeine to relieve muscle contractions and reduce tension. However, do not go for these medications unless you have consulted your physician.

Reduce stress
Stress often triggers chronic tension headaches; so it is important to adopt stress-busting techniques. Do breathing exercises, meditate and hold on to a positive outlook. Also, try and get adequate rest, exercise regularly and organise your work-life more efficiently. Keep anxiety and depression in check, which indirectly improves your emotional well being. Talk to your doctor about anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medications and take natural mood stabilisers.

Massage helps
Gently massaging the temples will calm your nerves and relax the muscles. Every hour or so, close your eyes and slowly massage the temple area for a couple of minutes to ease out tension.

Take frequent breaks
Taking frequent breaks is extremely important. Staring at a brightly lit computer monitor for several hours tires the eyes and causes strain. So take short breaks after every 30 minutes or an hour, stretch yourself, take a brisk walk and keep your eyes closed for some time. All these may help you beat tension headaches.

Adequate rest is required
Lack of sleep or rest can trigger tension headaches. You must sleep seven to eight hours to beat the fatigue and start afresh. If you find it too difficult to sleep or wake up several times during the night, drink herbal noncaffeinated tea before bedtime or take a natural supplement to calm your nerves. This will help you rest and sleep peacefully.

Opt for heat and cold therapy
Heat and cold are both effective treatments for tension headaches. Heat relaxes the muscles and eases tension, whereas cold reduces pain and inflammation. Apply a heated cloth or an ice pack (wrapped in a dry cloth) to your forehead several times a day and you will feel better. I


Letters to the Editor

Rs. 50

IT magazine for the contemporary woman




Dear Editor, The October issue of Live IT was information packed. In the Access Total supplement, Label making was well explained. ‘Different Sites to Suit Different moods’ features a very useful listing. Virtual Card also provides useful information. My best wishes to one and all at Delhi Press and Live IT. Sincerely yours, M R V Nath Chennai

I’m a great fan of Live IT. The Anniversary issue on Lifestyle was excellent. All the sections were loaded with great information. The Best of Style IT pages were simply gorgeous. The Access Total tutorial and the interactive CD were good. Congrats for your good work! Shruthi Rajaram Bangalore


Please mail your comment/opinion to us at or write to us at: E-3, Jhandewalan Estate, Rani Jhansi Road, New Delhi - 110055

Live IT or Leave IT

Little Miss Mobile Socks
Looking for a new outfit? For your mobile or MP3 player, of course. Little Miss Mobile is just the thing you need. It is only 60x100 mm in size and comes in three stylish designs. Choose from Chatterbox, Sunshine or Naughty, or buy all three – these are very reasonably priced.

Terra Magic Revolving Photo Cube
It is a six-in-one photo panel on a cube that takes up the space of just one photograph on your shelf, table or desktop. And it revolves, so you don’t need to lean over to change the snap when you feel like it. All you need is a single AAA battery that doesn’t come with the purchase! But that’s a small issue for this great gift idea.

LED Torch Lantern with AM/FM Radio
There’s a power cut but do you still want to walk in the lawn or the park with a light handy? Want an LED under the pillow at night? Why not a bit of music to accompany the breeze or rock you to sleep? The LED Torch Lantern with AM/FM Radio is an absolutely handy gadget for outdoors and indoors. The gadget includes AM/FM 2 band radio, earphone jack, volume control, LCD clock, torch (5 LEDs), lantern (8 LEDs), siren, built-in speaker, etc. and also a belt. The 4 AA batteries required are not included.

Diet Decision Maker
Are you on a diet and fearful of sudden snack attacks? Grab this Diet Decision Maker and stick it on your fridge to help you keep those false hunger pangs at bay. The size is just right at 4x10x10 cm and the three AG13 batteries required actually come with the gadget. Just push it inside the fridge door and hear size reminders like ‘naughty pickers wear big knickers’ and ‘a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips’. Surely, you would run away after such timely warning!

Sound Asleep Pillow
Hate the headphone in bed, but want to rock yourself to sleep listening to relaxing music? Want to read your audio books in bed? Have to finish that foreign language lesson before you sleep? The Sound Asleep Pillow is just what you are looking for. The speaker is built into the pillow and your partner will never hear a ping. All you need is a music source like a radio or an MP3 player, a 3.5 mm stereo plug to connect your pillow to and the mood to listen. So happy listening folks!

Tripod MP3 Speakers for MP3 Player & iPod
No, it isn’t a teeny weenie satellite you need to launch from your window, but a cool set of speakers that works with any MP3 player (including iPods). It’s really, really light. And with just two AAA batteries, you can keep going for a whopping 10 hours. Of course, the colour is your favourite pink. The truly mobile speaker for your MP3 player is finally here!

Chococlock Chocolate Clock Timer
Are you a chocoholic and feeling guilty about it? Are you gaining ‘prosperity’, thanks to your sweet tooth? Here is the most unique gizmo to control those chocolaty urges. This crazy clock will hold all your smallsized temptations, say 25-30 pieces. And every hour, it plays ‘dance of the sugar plum fairy’ and tantalisingly holds out a piece for you to grab. Take it within 30 seconds or it will be gone – back into the storage room. So now you know what to do. And yes, it has a light sensor; so it definitely won’t wake you up at night by playing the tune.

November ‘09


Live IT or Leave IT

Digital Clock T-Shirt – Share the Time
How about being a human clock? No, this is not a fancy dress ball, but just a set of four AAA batteries, which are discreetly hidden in a small pocket of your T-shirt. Switch the battery pack on and have fun. Get ahead, stop the clock or lag behind and watch the people around you fuss about being late, early or not being there at all! You can wash your T Shirt after removing the batteries, so no sweat, buddy, literally!

Tengu – USB Character Light
Are you a solitary traveller on the PC circuit? Don’t worry, Tengu will keep you company. It is a USB-powered device which responds to any music or sound you hear in the vicinity. This little guy is fun to be with; he matches his facial expression to what he hears and he has a stock of those faces to choose from. When there is no sound, he will simply fall asleep but as soon as he detects some noise, he will wake up again. Bored with what is showing on his face? Blow gently, he changes his face and guarantees your smile. Any free USB port will do for Tengu; he is a standalone device that does not need any software on the host computer. He is a very compatible guy that gets along with any system and a compact one too, at 71x43x15 mm.

Pink Cyber Bank
Saving a bit here and there but have no idea how much? Keep tabs on your savings with this Pink My Personal Bank ATM machine. It adds up your money as you save and tells you how much you have whenever you want to know the amount. There is a coin box with an add machine as well as a note depositor, a password and security system, time and target setting, calculator, alarm and even facilities to withdraw by ATM. So try this wonder machine and also teach your kids the saving habit! 20 November ‘09

No Stink Cloth Kit
Do smelly kitchen clothes make your life miserable? The No Stink Cloth Kit is the perfect solution that will end your kitchen woes. The odour-causing bacteria and mould are almost entirely removed by the patented technology – so that it remains fresh and smells great. The kit includes two nylon sponges, two tea towels and one micro-fibre cloth. What’s more, these are machine washable and can be used again and again.

Invaders Doormat
Who is that on your doormat? Yeah, surprise your guests with this unique mat which blinks a welcome. Absolutely retro stuff and it is sure to be a hit with the crowd. Makes a great gift too and a sure change from the doormat image, right?

USB Digital Microscope
See life kingsize with the USB Digital Microscope! If you have a big enough screen, you can have a magnification of up to 200 times. The software comes along with the gadget and you don’t need any external power supply; just plug in your USB and your digital microscope is ready.

iRecorder iPod Voice Recorder
Ever felt a dire need for a Dictaphone/voice recorder? Then the iRecorder iPod Voice Recorder is just the thing for you. This iPod doubles as a device to record voice without needing any additional software – it is already built in. So go ahead and record that interview, personal memo or note. This features the plug-and-play technology with a recording-indicator LED that shows the recording status of the voice recorder. And it is a very compact device at a size of 38x25x15 mm.


oom hatr c
Sarah Mendonca Bio-tech patents consultant
I have never done any audio editing since it is not required. But yes, I search the Internet for good editing software in case I need it. Once in a while, when I compile my personal video files, I just download some basic video editing software and follow the instructions under the ‘help’ menu.

d your audio an put together ware to eo editing soft . u use any vid ur experience Do yo files? Share yo ar Biswal video Santosh Kum

Nanthini A. Soumitri Media planner Neeti Mehta Student
I use Windows Movie Maker for video editing. It is totally hassle-free and everyone can use it without any difficulty. However, it is a basic application and won’t help you much if you want to try advanced features. I had also tried Adobe After Effects, but faced problems with certain features such as audio rendering. I use Windows Movie Maker for video and audio editing. Also, if my friends suggest some good software, I definitely give them a try. I haven’t done much video or audio editing but made some DVDs from personal videos. And I love to watch them on my LCD television screen.


November ‘09

I enjoy compiling my personal video files

Reni Kurien Student

the I can modify AV files way I want to

I don’t use video/audioediting software as I am not very conversant with relevant technologies. In case I need to get any video editing done, my friends usually help me.

Mayura Athalye Media professional
I used Windows Movie Maker and Sound Forge for college projects. At present, I am using Sonic DVD maker that came with my Sonic DVD writer. It allows me to add videos, music and pictures, and edit them as per my requirements. And it’s really easy to use. Moreover, I can use custom backgrounds and music, and make my personalised DVD/VCD collection. It also enables me to separate bloopers into chapters on the DVD.

Trupti Meshram Student (BA, Animation)
I have done a multimedia course and learnt to work on Adobe Premiere, a professional videoediting software. It comes with a lot of advanced features and I can modify audio and video files the way I want it. Initially, the interface looked a bit frightening; but now I can handle it with ease. I use it occasionally though, as editing is not my key area of expertise. I also use it for my personal works.

With Web 2.0 and advanced technologies, we can now create, customise and organise digital content. Join us and share your DIY experience in personal entertainment. Send your entry with your photograph to
November ‘09 23

Love me, love my gadgets...
Tech must-haves for tech-savvy stars
Uma Narayanan, Partha Mukherjee and Priyanka Mukherjee


elebs pose for gadgets, celebs lend their names to gadgets, but do they love their gadgets, too? The tech age is right here and every time you turn around, some quirky gizmos are bound to hit you or, worse still, take over your life. All is not right with the world if your BlackBerry or iPhone doesn’t ring every alternate minute. And you must check your mail during that 15-minute visit to the coffee shop that offers WiFi as a part of the ware. Go for a drive and you may find yourself in a super car that helps you find the way or alert you when it requires servicing (well, there’s a computer inside, of course). Tech has spread like wildfire and caught the fancy of all and sundry – including the handsome hunks and hot babes of the silver screen. There was a time when the filmy crowd steered clear of all things geek. Bollywood stars wouldn’t know how to use their gadgets and style divas wouldn’t endorse ‘boy toys’ (read complex tech apps) that lacked typical feminine grace. But the digital dazzle of the new millennium has changed it all. The glam brigade is now too busy touting and tweeting that they are right on top of tech. They love to flaunt hot pieces of hardware; communicate via social networks and make sure that the Net revolution would radically change their life. From macho to chic, futuristic to fantastic – every tech toy excites their curiosity and fires their passion. Meet the beautiful babes (and a hunk, too) as they reveal to Live IT how tech is rocking their life and style!

Priyanka Chopra

Geek or glam – What’s her rashi?

Priyanka Chopra was only 17 when she was crowned Miss World, dazzling the world with her victory and making every Indian proud. Ever since, there has been no looking back for the beauty queen. After making the waves as an acclaimed model, she has carved a niche in Bollywood, proving her acting potentials as well. What’s more, ‘Piggy Chops’, as nicknamed by Jr Bachchan, has been fast in keeping pace with changing technologies. She is one of the first few from the Bollywood brigade to jump on the Internet bandwagon. But the tech-savvy super star has gone even further. From film promotion to fan connection – she does it all with the help of the Web. Priyanka ranks No. 1 on Twitter, the popular micro-blogging site, with more than 65,000 followers. And she has beaten her

contemporaries like Mallika Sherawat, Gul Panag and director Karan Johar in this respect. Her fanfollowing is increasing every day, thanks to her regular ‘tweets’. In recent times, celebrities like Amitabh Bachchan and Aamir Khan have gone all out for blogging as this is an effective medium of communication. But ask Priyanka about her blogging experiences and she replies, “I don’t blog. But I’m on Twitter. My Twitter ID is @priyankachopra. I enjoy chatting with my fans and followers there. It’s a great feeling to be directly in touch with them.” Going overboard with social networking is catching up fast with celebs. So it’s time to quiz her about the new turf and the glam queen expresses her fascination for latest tech apps. “I dote on Web 2.0 applications as these help me touch base with friends and fans directly. Twitter gives me a platform to speak heart to heart with all of them. And I don’t need a spokesperson or the media to do it for me. So I am very happy about it,” Priyanka points out. Her profile on the World Wide Web reflects how active, popular and impactful she is online. This svelte diva regularly updates her profile with pictures from her upcoming flicks and other relevant information. That she is a big-time surfer is, therefore, quite apparent. This actress with oodles of oomph has a fair grasp over the nitty-gritty of technology. Asked about her computing preferences, Priyanka candidly confesses her fetish for the Apple Mac. Even though her MacBook makes a wireless lifestyle feasible, this hottie is just as conversant with the regular PC. Priyanka is not among those who keep their WiFi on 24x7; but
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she believes that WiFi and GPRS help her most to stay connected in spite of her hectic schedule. “Whenever I have time, I try to chat up with friends and family. It is an excellent medium to stay in touch.” While keeping in touch with her loved ones has always been a priority, this smart chic has also used the virtual plane in creating a buzz around her forthcoming movies. Priyanka loves technology and her official website,, caters relevant information about her upcoming projects. Piggy Chops is ready to embrace any technology which promises to make life easier and it is all the better if it comes in a chic package. Would she like to have a robot maid ever? “Certainly,” pat comes her reply. Her favourite piece of gizmo till date is an N95. Nokia is this lady’s first love when it comes to tech apps. “Nokia has been my constant companion throughout. It’s basically an extension of myself and makes life more organised,” she remarks. Whether it’s texting to her friends or responding to a missed call from her near ones, nothing will be possible without her smartphone. However, here is a piece of advice from the lady. Priyanka wants her fans to be prudent in using earphones, which come along with cell phones. In fact, she is not the one to endorse ‘listening’ (or talking) while driving as this may result into a fatal accident. The actor thinks it is “smarter to be safe than to be sorry”. Priyanka is a regular netizen who manages to squeeze some time out of her hectic schedule and replies to most of the e-mail from fans and friends. But she admits skipping the forwarded mail messages that often jam her mailbox. Priyanka deletes most of them except when the header promises some interesting content. She is, however, extremely cautious when it comes to cyber safety and responsible use of technology. Piggy Chops is completely against music/movie piracy and illegal downloads. A key figure from the entertainment industry, she is well aware of the hard work which goes into film-making or creating good music. “I do not download music or movies and appeal to my fans to refrain from such downloads. Being an actor, I understand the efforts that go into making films and music. We must respect the hard work and put a stop to illegal downloads. One should only buy original CDs and DVDs as they do not cost much.” she comments. While films like Fashion and Kaminey have brought her critical acclaim, two of her other projects, Chamki Chameli and Pyar Impossible, are all set for release. So which of these projects has been most exciting? “I have different feelings for each of my movies. Kaminey caught my fancy as it is a path breaking film. And What’s Your Rashi was a huge challenge as I played 12 different characters in the movie; I guess, we have not done it before. But being a part of something groundbreaking can be really scary. Pyar Impossible, again, caters to a different kind of audience – it’s a sweet, cool story where I look glamorous and play a contemporary character. As cliché as it sounds, each one is special,” Priyanka affirms before signing off. 26 November ‘09

Tech’s a ‘guy’ thing, Onida Devil

Remember the hunk from Daddy Cool or that enticing Satan from the Onida commercial? Be it a romantic thriller like Three: Love, Lies and Betrayal or an out-of-the-box TV ad, this young man surely makes heads turn. Starting his career as a model, Aashish Chaudhary is all set to make his mark as an actor à la mode. Ask him what keeps him engrossed besides acting and Aashish confesses his passion for technology. “Technology is to guys what makeup is to girls,” Aashish chuckles over his rather puckish comment. That Aashish is a tech addict is apparent from his love for gadgets. And it is just not regular stuff like a laptop or a cell phone that keeps him hooked. An avid gamer, Aashish has almost all latest games in his possession. “I am a heavy-duty gamer to be sure. Nintendo, PS3, PlayStation and Xbox 360 – you name the gaming console and I have it,” he quips. But his love for gaming doesn’t stop there. This game freak frequents relevant websites and plays games online whenever he gets a chance. Aashish caught this fad while shooting for his latest flick Dhamal. Long breaks in-between the shoots could have been boring otherwise. But thanks to his love for gaming, the actor knew quite well how to keep himself entertained all the time. Ever since those Dhamal days, he has remained hooked to games and gizmos. “Since then, I have flown planes and landed on runways while my friends operated the landing systems,” Aashish takes pride in his fidelity to gaming technology. This upcoming star goes a step further and reveals his deep fascination by saying that gaming is much better any day than the “frivolous flirting” in chatrooms. Our hectic to-do lists often leave us longing for some ‘me’ time, some breathing space to do what we love to or to catch up with old buddies. But for those in a hectic and demanding career like acting, staying in touch with old friends can be quite daunting. Of course, there are social networking sites that can connect you with your friends. So what does the hero of Shaadi ka Laddoo think of these popular sites? “At first I thought only folks who had nothing better to do would visit those,” Aashish admits. But his opinion changed completely when he could actually trace his teenage sweetheart via a social networking site. His childhood crush is based in Australia and ever since he has found her, the actor is all praise for these sites. What impresses him most are the security measures adopted by the networking sites to make sure that nobody’s privacy is intruded upon. He is happy that Facebook programmers have done their bit and provide users with enough ‘filters’ to avert unwanted attention and intrusion. Besides Facebook, Aashish also wants to try out Twitter. “It is quite basic in functionality but I am yet to give it a try,” he remarks. Talk about blogging and you will find Aashish quite open to the idea; in fact, he is really keen to share his views and

Aashish Chaudhary

music and video from my laptop while on the go. Plus there is a GPS device in the car that helps me navigate the crowded bylanes of Mumbai.” And what would be his dream tech toy? Given his passion for driving and technology, it cannot be anything but a flying car. “It’s got to be a flying car. It will save me a lot of time spent in travelling. But yes, you cannot drive and fly at the same time, right?” Aashish laughs as he reins in his imagination from flying higher. With two of his flicks, Paying Guests and Daddy Cool, running smoothly at city theatres, this Bollywood star is all praise for online film promotion. “These days, it is vital to be seen and noticed among the clutter; hence, publicity is the key. If top stars can tattoo movie titles on their bodies for the sake of publicity, online visibility should be pretty cool, I guess,” he comments. Certainly, Aashish. And kudos to you for such wise use of tech apps.

experiences with his fans. But this guy surely knows where to draw the line and his admirers are often left guessing about his real opinion. “I would rather wait for people to get interested in what I have to say. It shouldn’t be like: Hey, let’s get on to the next page,” the actor points out. A prudent user of latest tech applications, Aashish has both Windows and Mac installed on his laptop and enjoys the best of both worlds. “I prefer Windows for routine work while Apple is best for listening to music and surfing,” pat comes his reply. But what is his most expensive tech toy? Well, it’s his swanky Mercedes Benz, the actor professes. If you are wondering whether this is a valid answer (chances are he is just showing off), Aashish is quick to clarify. “It may sound a bit weird but my car has an on-board computer that alerts me regarding servicing and so on. I can also synchronise

Mac is cool, says Jacqueline

Meet Jacqueline Fernandez, the svelte chic who hails from Sri Lanka and happens to be a former beauty queen. She has spent her childhood in Bahrain but returned to the emerald island after graduating from the University of Sydney. A perfect blend of sensuality and sensibility, Jacqueline’s sultry looks and little grey cells are sure to gain a solid footing in Bollywood with time. Jacqueline plays the female lead opposite Riteish Deshmukh in the fantasy caper Aladdin, directed by Sujoy Ghosh. What’s more, she is sharing the screen space with none other than Big B who plays the genie. Looks like a glitzy acting career is awaiting this hottie and she is bang on track. Jaqueline has been a popular face in the modelling world and we have caught up with her in a chit-chat.
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Jacqueline Fernandez

Well, Jacqueline loves her gadgets to be sure, but she is not the one to go bonkers over them as that’s a very “guy thing” to do. So what’s her favourite tech toy? The pretty woman confesses her passion for her phone. “It’s got to be my phone. I just can’t live without it. These days, smartphones offer a lot more than just vanilla voice and text. You can listen to your favourite music, watch videos, play games and even surf the Net – all at high speed (courtesy 3G).” What about her next best tech toy? “It’s the Apple Mac, any day,” she quips. “Once you use Apple products, you are just hooked to them.” Jacqueline is not yet into blogging but she simply loves Twitter, the micro-blogging site. She is new to it, but the smart babe is enjoying every bit of the discovery journey. “I have just joined 28 November ‘09

Twitter and I am still trying to figure things out,” she says when asked about the most popular Web 2.0 applications. The actor passionately supports her peers when it comes to video piracy. She can never endorse piracy movie or music piracy of any sort and thinks of it as something “cheap”. Jacqueline buys “only” original DVDs and CDs for her personal collection and takes pride in saying, “I dig quality stuff.” This graceful actor appreciates the producers’ efforts to promote movies on the World Wide Web. This surely helps in reaching out to a wider audience and gives a flick that extra boost at the box office. “The Net is simply amazing as a promotional medium. It has really helped people from our industry to get that extra coverage and publicity,” she affirms. Jacqueline is happy at the idea of getting a robot maid as that will surely do away with the tiring task of finding a good domestic help. But more than that, she wants to own an Osim massage chair. The very thought of getting a relaxing massage after a hectic day elates this slender beauty. And what is the most expensive piece of technology she owns? Jacqueline says it is her Apple Mac, which is a perfect blend of utility and style.

iPhone is my world: Kkusum girl

The demure and docile young wife of the TV serial Kkusum seems to have come a long way. Once a small screen sensation, the lead actress of Ekta Kapoor’s daily soap has done her bit of tightrope walking and undergone a radical makeover to become a glamorous Bollywood babe. With oodles of oomph and a confident stride, Nausheen Ali Sardar stuns all with her gorgeous looks and is bound to make it big in no time.

Nausheen Ali Sardar

As Kusum, she used to endure her husband in spite of his flings outside marriage. But now there will be a role reversal for Nausheen, as she makes her debut on the big screen and plays an adulterous wife in Three: Love, Lies and Betrayal. But there’s more to come. In Marathon (awaiting release), her second big project, she will be opposite her real-life love interest, Prashant Chainani. As we eagerly anticipate a mushy reel romance between a real-life couple, Live IT catches up with Nausheen and discusses her love for technology. So, is Nausheen a gadget girl? “Absolutely! I love my gadgets – be it my cell phone or laptop,” she gushes. “These gizmos have made our life so easy. I will be totally handicapped in the absence of my tech toys.”

When asked about her favourite tech toy, Nausheen doesn’t even pause to think before she replies. Yes, it’s her iPhone. The attractive techie has a fetish for fashion and it is the chic look of the gadget that keeps her hooked. Her fascination is all too apparent as she details its features. “I just love its sleek look and the touchscreen interface. And thanks to my phone, I don’t need to carry my iPod anymore – my music is there on the phone itself.” The iPhone is surely a charmer to keep Nausheen hooked. But the sensuous siren has one complaint – there is no message forwarding option in the gadget. A regular laptop user, Nausheen sticks to Windows but plans to chuck it soon and go for Mac. But why so? Because Mac is less susceptible to virus, pat comes the reply. She is sure to impress you with her knowledge of latest tech developments. Staying connected with family, friends and fans often seems an arduous task when you are as busy as Nausheen. But the tech-savvy actor manages it well by keeping her laptop WiFi-enabled while on the go. “WiFi allows me to access e-mail messages in hotspot areas without a data card and cable,” she clarifies. However, unlike those who keep the Bluetooth on 24x7, Nausheen prefers not to use it unless there is an absolute necessity. And her logic is quite sound. For one, non-stop use of the Bluetooth can actually exhaust the gadget’s battery. Then, there are greater risks of getting annoying messages from complete strangers, she points out. The diva loves toying with the idea of a robot maid and feels that a properly programmed one will surely be a boon. But when it comes to video piracy, Nausheen is not the one to endorse anything illegal, although a bit of file-sharing is not much of a crime to her. I
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VFX: Eye-popping visuals that thrill
& chill
Viny Velayudhan

The magic of special effects


re you fond of a betrayal-and-revenge tale that comes alive with chilling thrills and a supernatural lacing? And what can be better if Bollywood’s sexiest siren (read Mallika Sherawat) plays the nagin this time? Critics say that she has beaten Reena or Sridevi hollow in Hissss – a movie directed by Jennifer Lynch, daughter of the four-time Oscar nominee and two-time Cannes Film Festival winner David Linch. But in case you think that it is just a remake of Nagin that had taken Bollywood by storm in the 1970s, well, think again. For Hissss features some spectacular visual effects or VFX shots that Indian cinema has never witnessed before. In fact, Robert Kurtzman – Hollywood’s best in make-up and special effects – has been roped in to make it a Hollywood delight in the guise of Bollywood.
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According to a media report, Jennifer is more than happy with her unique creation. “The Americans have never seen such a snake and the Indians, too, haven’t seen a snake-woman the way I’ve designed her,” she gushes. When the incredible metamorphosis happens, Mallika is not the run-of-the-mill tiny snake we almost always find in a horror serial. Instead, she turns into an enormous reptile, viciously bares her fangs, looks superbly natural and shocks you to the core. “Robert is a special effects genius and he fell in love with the snake because it’s something that he hasn’t yet worked on as far as special effects and make-up go,” adds Jennifer and the outcome is, indeed, spectacular.

Watch out for these fab flicks

Hissss is a sensual story and Mallika Sherawat sans dialogues and a lot of butt-show (some say it’s her body double) makes it even more mind-blowing. But the movie is a must watch because you

can experience a lot of splendid special effects in this flick – opening up a world of fantasy that is as good as reality. Another movie in this genre is Aladin, of course, with big stars like Big B (the genie), Sanjay Dutt (he plays a cool villain called Ringmaster) and Riteish Deshmukh (as Alladin). Call it the Indian version of Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, for the visual delights in store will straightaway take you back to the Arabian Nights. Filmmaker Sujoy Ghosh has equated his movie to eating an ice-cream with your eyes. And even Big B runs on and on about the magic moments the movie is capable to create. The big-budget, special effects-laden film also marks the entry of Sri Lankan beauty Jacqueline Fernandez, paired opposite Riteish.

complement the scintillating stunts and action – on land and under water. Among the upcoming movies, we have Rajnikanth’s Endhiran, which promises a rich fare of special effects. Budgeted at $24 million and directed by S. Shankar, the sci-fi flick will feature a robot as the villain while a machine dog plays another key role. Aishwarya plays the female lead and Rajnikanth happens to be the hapless scientist whose robot creates havoc and he is obliged to work out a solution. The storyline may sound like a remake of Frankenstein, but when it comes to striking special effects, we have a clutch of Hollywood biggies working for Endhiran. Hollywood studios

But if you want to move away from the domain of supernatural or fairytale, and want to be a part of the ‘macho’ actions movies, VFX can surely keep your adrenalin flowing. Take, for instance, Blue, the first-ever underwater thriller that promises never-seen-before visuals and stunts. Directed by Anthony D’Souza, who can lead this top-of-therung action film except our good old Akki (Akshay Kumar)? The stunning special effects and underwater photography

The VFX work for Aladin was the most complex of its kind ever undertaken in India. With approximately 1600 VFX shots created over one year and at a quality level never achieved before, Aladin was a huge challenge – both technically and artistically. Moreover, it was created by a new company in Mumbai, EyeQube Studios, which was opened only six months before Aladin got into full swing. There are companies in India who have been in this business for 10 years but who can never achieve the quality we have managed to produce. Personally, I think work can always improve and nothing is perfect. However, I sincerely believe that Aladin shows that India can be taken seriously in the VFX world if it focuses on quality, not just quantity, and the price. – Charles Darby on Aladin. He heads EyeQube Studios, an Eros International company. EyeQube did the visual effects for Aladin while Darby was the creative supervisor.

ILM, Tippet and Café Efx are there, as well as Hong Kong-based studios Centro and Menford. Animatronics will be handled by Stan Winston Studio who has done some amazing work for Predator, Jurassic Park, Iron Man, Pearl Harbour, I, Robot and Terminator. It is rumoured that the studio is creating a robot that will be a replica of the Indian film star. Indian Artiste will co-ordinate the VFX and animatronics for Endhiran. One should also watch out for Priyadarshan’s De Dana Dan and Dharma Productions’ Qurbaan; both have some special effects magic in store and Red Chillies VFX is currently working on them. What’s more, King Khan himself has joined the VFX bandwagon. Shah Rukh’s next home production will be a superhero movie with some spectacular VFX which can turn out to be a benchmark in the Indian VFX industry.

Invisible effects that trick and treat
So what is so special about special effects? Well, we would say that the technology has gone beyond the spectacular but the obvious. Can you ever forget Shah Rukh carrying himself in his arms in Don where he plays a double role? But when you are watching that or the futuristic gadgets of Dhoom 2, you are fully aware of what is real and what is not. The visual treats in these movies surely satisfy your sense of awe and wonder, but cannot trick you into believing that they exist in real life. Hold on! Don’t forget the breathtaking scenes that look as real as can be. You will never suspect that they are totally non-existent in real life, thanks to some neat technological manoeuvres. Remember, when Shah Rukh Khan jumps off the roof in Main Hoon Na? No, you haven’t watched a great
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act of stunt. Instead, SRK was just acting in a studio with the ‘Chroma Screen’ background. The strings that held him in the air were actually placed on him in such a manner that they could be cleaned up during compositing (a process through which multiple layers of effects are merged together). The background, the flames and other visuals were later put together by the VFX team to make it look most realistic. It was the same old story when Hrithik and Ash rode their bike over whirling helicopter blades and missed them narrowly in Dhoom:2. The original police chopper was a rickety wooden dummy whose heavy blades fell off even before the shoot started. But thanks to VFX at work, the rotor-blades managed to freeze our blood when the duo took that scintillating leap. But that’s not all. Do you remember the jam-packed stadiums and the cheering crowds of Chak De? Believe it or not, the stadiums were empty during the live shoot and the rest was created by VFX artists. Crowds were created using background scenes and only 300 artists were required for a day’s shoot. Even the scoreboards and the flying balls in penalty shots were computer-generated. The last 40 minutes of Dil Bole Hadippa was also shot in an empty stadium. The entire crowd was later added by the studio. The benefits? It cuts costs in the first place and also takes care of security issues. Imagine thousands of people in a live shoot with SRK, Rani, Hrithik or Ash. VFX helps prevent that pandemonium which will most surely occur in such cases.

The clean-up act was there, too; all the rigs and wires that enabled the characters to perform some stunning actions had to go off the screen. And who else could help except the special effects team? Want to know more? Some of the mind-boggling VFX by Red Chillies can be seen in Om Shanti Om where Deepika Padukone dances with Bollywood heroes of yesteryear in a retro song. It took six months to scan the negatives from the 70s movies and three songs from Amrapali, Saccha Jhutha and Jay-Vijay were finalised. The old negatives were then restored to the best possible quality while the OSO shots were brought down a little to match the overall effect. The fire scene in the climax of Om Shanti Om was another challenge for the studio, but it came off amazingly well.

Stunned? Well, the same thing happened in Jodhaa Akbar too. The battle scenes of the movie do not lack the grandeur or impact of Mughal-e-Azam. But unlike K. Asif, director Ashutosh Gowarikar did not opt for an elaborate shoot with thousands of men on-field. Akbar’s army was created on-screen, with the help of crowd-replication technology – thus cutting on costs, time and efforts. Visual Computing Labs (VCL), Tata Elxsi’s VFX Division, not only did a commendable job in this area but also created the realistic-looking palaces that wowed the Jodha Akbhar audience.

Location shoot? It’s history now …


November ‘09

The times are changing.The directors, the producers and the writers are now aware of what the VFX artists can do. Earlier,VFX artists were usually called to fix the shots where the damage was already done. Or they were involved at the last stage, post-shoot.VFX was used as a cost-saving exercise as well. But these days,VFX people are called in for the creative part during the initiation of the film.VFX-oriented scripts are being written also. India is almost on par with Hollywood in systems and infrastructure; but we are a little behind due to the shortage of trained manpower.” – Keitan Yadav, COO, redchillies.vfx

Or nearly so, if we may say so. In Karan Johar’s Dostana, Priyanka Chopra’s luxury apartment in Miami was actually shot in Film City, Mumbai. The Miami backdrop was added later – a most convincing touch but make-believe, all the same. Once again in Dhoom:2, the entire fort heist (where Ash and Hrithik carry out their stealing operation) was computer generated in the VCL studio. There was no fort – only a terrace which was 12 ft high with an area of 16 ft x 16 ft. The palace, fort, walls and, of course, the city far below were all CG creations, digitally added to the live action. So in reality, Ash only climbed 12 ft instead of 200 ft to the reach the top of the fort. Similarly, the hair-rising drop of HrithikAsh to the city far below was as safe as possible. New York and Delhi-6 are no exceptions, either. While Yash Raj’s New York was mostly shot in Philadelphia due to certain issues, VCL made the all-important metamorphosis and transformed the location by incorporating the New York skyline in the movie. As for Delhi-6, it was next to impossible to shoot in

Old Delhi and Chandni Chowk because of the crowd. So the UTV crew moved to Jaipur and at least 40 per cent of the flick was shot there – ensuring both cost-cutting and convenience. Delhi-6 might not have tasted success at the box office, but it had some cool visual effects done by Chennai-based post-production house, Prasad Efx.

However, Hollywood blockbuster King Arthur has done it in the most spectacular manner. Forget the misty mountains, frozen lakes or the picaresque bays of the Celtic England so beautifully shown in the movie. They do not exist in reality. Simply put, it is computer graphics (CG) at its best and what you get to watch is an aesthetic combo of great natural elements – Irish cliffs, Scottish highlands, French Alps and English south coast.

Tech or art – What makes them tick?
Not all VFX movies make it big at the box office in spite of being tech marvels. Drona is a case in point, where the unique special effects were worked upon by EyeQube and headed by the renowned Charles Darby and David Bush. Consequently, this Abhishek-Priyanka starrer displayed all kinds of VFX – right from set extensions and enhancements, crowd replication and sky replacement to CGI animation, particle animation, wire-removal and much more. Drona came with some aweinspiring shots and the entire movie was done in 4K resolution, which ensured very good picture quality. Yet, the Goldie Behl flick failed miserably because VFX was given more importance than the story and the film eventually failed to connect with the audience. Again, the failure of the much-touted Love Story 2050 proves that a good story is the key to a movie’s success. Directed by

We are getting more challenging VFX work now. Every movie is a new challenge.There are two types of challenges we face – internal and external.The internal challenge is creating the visuals envisioned by filmmakers. But the external challenge is somewhat different. Here, we have to demonstrate how VFX can be used in their movies. For us, the 3D animated movie Roadside Romeo was the turning point and for visual effects, Dhoom and Dhoom:2 were the benchmarks. Indian VFX movies fail when they rely more on techniques than on the story. Story is the most important thing that connects with the audience. If you can’t do that, VFX will be of no use. If creative people write good scripts for VFX movies and animation flicks, it will work for us as well. Our writers may lack experience, but they are not weak. They only need to write more scripts and learn more. They need to figure out what works and what doesn’t work. It’s just a matter of time and we will soon have some good movies with great VFX and animation – on par with international standards. – Pankaj Khandpur Creative Director,VCL,Tata Elxsi

Harry Baweja, the Harman-Priyanka starrer is particularly heavy on special effects and gizmos. In the movie, Mumbai becomes a super-futuristic metropolis while a robot and a teddy bear play key roles. And the result? People were delighted to watch the special effects but the storyline failed to grip them. The message is quite clear, it seems. Today’s movie-goers do welcome special effects only if it contributes to the story-line. It must be an integral part of the movie and must serve a purpose. Instead of being mere eye candy, technology must bring a sense of distinction that will help movies stand out from run-of-themill productions. A good story-line, a meaningful message, a hilarious fantasy, a great adventure – such themes never lose their charm and VFX certainly adds more zing to them. Think of Jadoo in Rakesh Roshan’s Koi Mil Gaya where an alien charms kids and grown-ups alike. Jadoo’s spaceship and other ET-like wonders left the audience longing for more. So came Krissh – with stunts, visuals, effects and gizmos that wowed all, especially the sci-fi lovers. Craig Mumma, VFX director at Prasad Efx, created the award-winning special effects for Krissh. Although science fantasies, both movies come with gripping story-lines and touching messages – key qualities that do not lose way in the complex maze of tech wonders. Soumitra Ranade’s Jajantaram Mamantaram is another interesting flick where theme and technology complement each other. Based on Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, the movie experiments with several visual effects and tells a much-loved tale with an Indian touch. Directed by Kunal Kohli, Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic is another delightful watch with a lot of beautiful VFX shots. Do you remember Rani Mukherjee cycling on a rainbow? Or the God Almighty (Rishi Kapoor, of course) with access to state-of-the-art technology? Well, there are more such scenes with fun, frolic, fantasy and a little melodrama embedded in them. And the overall reception was good. For those looking for a completely new genre (read Disney genre) in Bollywood with suitable special effects, nothing can be more desirable than Roadside Romeo. Yashraj Films was once again in charge of a movie with a fun story, good musical numbers and amazing technical excellence. The full-fledged animation film thrived on the Disney legacy and employed some advanced techniques never used before. Directed by Jugal Hansraj, the spectacular special effects for this movie were made by Tata ElxsiVCL in collaboration with Walt Disney Pictures. Meticulous attention had been paid – not only to the characters, but also to the surroundings. VCL is now working on their second 3D animation feature film, Arjun, which promises to be a treat for the eyes. To wrap things up, it can be easily surmised that movie buffs will have a jolly good time. You will be able to watch some mindblowing flicks created with the help of cutting-edge technologies that will surely redefine your movie-viewing experience. You will be stepping into that unreal yet more-than-real fantasy world of CG – enthralled by great movies with wonderful content and innovative special effects. Let’s go get more popcorn! I Additional input: Sanghamitra Mandal
November ‘09 33


Gurgaon, a tech city that showcases latest gizmos, isthe hotbed of the hi-tech fads. Let us take look to find out the most inthing in this happening city .


Viny Velayudhan
In a bid to promote their wireless products and services, Cisco and Tata sent a mobile van across the residential areas of Gurgaon – showcasing the ease of leading a wireless life. The demonstration focused on combining Cisco’s Linksys products with Tata’s wireless broadband services to help create state-of-theart wireless homes in Gurgaon. Cisco, a market leader in wireless home networking solutions, has developed a plethora of products including wireless adaptors, entertainment routers, networkattached storage and Internet-based home-monitoring cameras. Another objective of this unique campaign was to make people aware of various tech-related topics such as wireless printing, home monitoring, video streaming and Internet sharing.


Wireless home within easy reach?

So what do you think Gurgaon is lacking when it comes to ‘Life after Work’? The city has all the entertainment quotients that one looks for – dazzling malls, gourmet restaurants, decent watering holes, futuristic multiplexes and jazzy discotheques. But those with a penchant for thrill and adventure may find these too tame for their taste. Here is good news for the brave hearts though, especially if you love speed. No, we are not talking about the multi-starrer flick, but the motor sports city that will come up in Mewat district, nearly 60 km away from the city of Gurgaon. The Haryana government has already approved the plan and the proposed Gurgaon Motor Sports City will be spread over an area of 1600-1700 acres. The project will feature a race track and other facilities like hotels, entertainment parks and a golf course. Initial investment has amounted to Rs 2000 crore, and the future projection stands at Rs 6000 crore. The new city will also generate direct employment for 7500 persons. Now, all we need is some fast-track development and a speedy finish.


Live life F1 style

Are you worried about your children’s safety when they are away in school? Take heart and smile, as stringent safety measures will be implemented soon to keep students safe. Delhi Public School in Sector 45 has decided to use GPRS, GPS and GSM technologies for student ID cards. The hardware will be attached to the card and the student’s movement can be tracked through radio frequency identification technology (RFID). If the student leaves the school premises or gets off the school bus, an alarm will ring in the control room and the parents will be notified immediately via an SMS. This innovative move surely testifies that the school is concerned about its students and their well-being. 34 November ‘09


ID card for student tracking


Guess who is getting tech savvy in this dynamic era of digital revolution? The cops, of course, in case you are not aware of it. In a recent attempt to ensure a makeover, the Gurgaon police have decided to go hi-tech with many cool gadgets. To begin with, all standard services are made available on their official website: and one need not visit a police station in person. You can register an FIR online, take a printout of the document and check the complaint status. One can also access all necessary information regarding missing persons, lost/found vehicles, road accidents and so on. And if you want to apply for a driving license, a passport or an arms license, forget the tiresome paperwork and the long queues. Here, you can apply online and check the status, too. What’s more, all important city areas are now scanned by IP and CCTV cameras. There are GPS locators, too, in all police stations and control rooms. Best of all, the police can quickly track the location of a cell phone if someone sends an SMS, asking for help. Senior officers can keep track of the whole system on a broadband-based online surveillance system that is connected to all police stations and CCTV cameras.


Gurgaon police go hi-tech

The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) has set up a solar-powered IT knowledge centre in rural Gurgaon for the first time. And the solar-powered hybrid battery used by TERI is, indeed, a utility item as it can provide an average electricity backup of four to six hours. Using the latest in information and communication technology, the knowledge centre provides a wide range of paid free services to the rural population. In addition to computer training and spoken English classes, services like natural resource management and water testing solutions are also offered. The centre provides agricultural information and serves as an interactive platform so that local farmers can exchange ideas with TERI experts. Solar products and culinary herbs are also marketed by the organisation. Encouraged by its success in Gurgaon, TERI has further plans to set up more solar-powered technology centres across rural India.


Rural Gurgaon gets TERI power

In a bid to control drunk driving with an iron hand, Gurgaon police have come up with the novel idea of defaming the offenders. Now motorists caught in the act have their names, addresses and photographs published on the police website. But who wants that dubious distinction, that bad publicity, which may hound him (or her) for life? Not many, for sure, because the plan has worked well and the number of road accidents have come down considerably. But those who still think that drinking and driving go together and do not give a hoot even after defamation, will eventually lose their licenses. I
November ‘09 35


Drink & drive to defamation

eb Blogs rule Cel CYBERIA
ir persona Why celebs share the

l space with fans…

Payal Shah


o you remember the trend of maintaining a personal diary? Or journals? Where we recounted our daily lives, incidents, feelings, expressions. We locked it with a numeric code in case mom came peeking in and discovered the latest crush or bunked classes. We wrote in there, we coloured in it, we pasted pictures, decorated it with knickknacks. Sometimes when we felt nostalgic, we turned back the pages and reflected upon the moments gone by. And enjoyed it! That was then, when we maintained personal diaries. Today we maintain blogs. We blog in cyberspace, pouring in our experiences and daily dos – as much as we would like to share. We write, we share, we post pictures, we invite friends to read our experiences on the blog. No wonder the blog bug has bitten almost everyone – be it a cyber junkie, a technocrat or a 70 mm superstar. Blogging has become more than a trend in cyberia. From Hollywood hunk Bruce Willis to Bollywood’s own Big B – the celebrities of the world have taken to blogging as a great platform to speak one’s mind. As we all know, blog is the short form of the word weblog. It is a personal online log book which is open to the world to read, react and interact. And that’s what makes blogging a medium to reckon with. A medium which is respected and adopted quickly. Because it is easy, fast, editable, reaches out to the world without any hassle and, most importantly, it belongs to the person who writes it. The owner/creator of the blog has unlimited freedom to post personal views without editorial interferences. It is a personally ‘owned’ media space which has no restriction or segmentation of readership. No wonder then that several celebrities including those in India have taken to blogging as the means to share.

Take the top-of-the-mind example in this field. It is one of the most talked about celebrity blogs currently in the blogosphere – the big blog of the techno-savvy superstar Amitabh Bachchan who is probably one of the most dedicated and genuine celebrity bloggers today ( More than the content, what makes his blog interesting is the story behind how it all started. Big B has been blogging for more than 550 days now. And it all began when the media started to misquote him and use his citations in twisted versions. Controversies piped up and there was a lot of negative media light on him for all the wrong reasons. It was then he decided to take to blogging as his mouthpiece and an effective tool to communicate with his fans and readers across the globe. As the owner and writer of the blog, he can now cite his version of the stories in a true sense. The concept had been clarified in his first ever post ( ‘Here is a question on the reason for repeating my interviews on the blog even though they have been read in print. Very valid, but with a minor difference. Read the print in the newspaper and then minutely, my official written responses and you will discover that all that I have given has NOT been incorporated in the Press. This is not an accusation. Press has the liberty and the right to print, in their assessment, what they feel needs to go on their

Tracking celeblog and more
In August, 2006, Technorati discovered the blog of Chinese Actress Xu Jinglei as one of the most linked-in blogs ( With more than 50 million page views as claimed by the Chinese media, it was one of the most popular blogs at that time. It’s a different thing that China imposed a blanket ban upon blogger-powered blogs early this year. Several celebrities from all walks of life are steadfast bloggers already. 36 November ‘09

paper. But at times I feel, all that I had to say and the manner in which it was said, can and does give a different mentality to the interview. I would in all fairness therefore, want the readers of my Blog, that take the trouble to access it, be privy to facts as they were portrayed by me. And in the true spirit of fairness, allow the reader to judge what he thinks is acceptable or not. The Blog shall, therefore, give all of us an opportunity to interact as freely as possible and not have to wait for, or be guided by, another medium, which may not be as easily approachable as this Blog.’ Blogging for Bachchan initially started as a communication medium to put things into proper perspective. He wanted to counter negative stories and put to rest media-driven rumours that sensationalised the gossip mills. Counter-attacks were on as he tackled the false allegations of ‘Big Bannerism’ published in the Outlook magazine and then went on to clarify the family’s temple visits as a regular act (which was quoted in the media as a way to cleanse Aishwarya Rai’s manglik tendencies). And he had successfully managed to voice his indignant reactions politely, diplomatically. Of course, the media did help in hyping up the space – since both blogging and AB were hot topics and they still are. Readers’ reactions overwhelmed him and in spite of the fact that he was new to this technology, Bachchan got hooked to blogging with some help from the Bigadda team (in whose domain space Big B’s blog exists). He is quite regular and candidly interacts with his readers. There are hundreds of comments on every post, sometimes within minutes of his posting a new entry. And he even manages to reply to a few. Such is the humble grandeur of this man, deeply loved and respected throughout India and across the world. Being on blogosphere gets him closer to his fans whom he refers to as his ‘extended family’. While Big B has started blogging to fight it right against false media claims and directly interact with his fans, other celebrities have taken to it as they feel that it is a better promotional medium than most. Says Avis Dhir, product manager of BigAdda: “A lot depends on the status of the celebrity and what kind of mileage he or she is looking for. Some look to promote themselves, their activities and films; others want to gauge viewers’ response. Again, some celebs simply want to interact with their fans. Since blogging is credible and transparent, it puts these celebrities directly in touch with their fans. Moreover, it’s a simple medium to operate. So once guided, anyone can use this as a platform to communicate,” he adds. But all celebrity bloggers are not as successful. “The success of the blog depends on the stickiness of the content,” comments Dhir. “Amitabh writes himself unlike a lot of other celebs who get their posts ghostwritten or posted by their PR managers. But readers can gauge whether the post is genuine. Besides the content, the frequency is also important. To attract more readers, it is essential to blog at least once a week.” Akhshay Kumar, too, has a blog on BigAdda, and although he writes himself, the posts haven’t been too regular. If you follow the pattern, you will find that his posts have more to do with his

films and current projects. May be blogging helps him highlight things that other media would not do. It might have helped him recount the actual story behind the whole ‘unbuttoning’ drama at a certain fashion show this year. But again, his is not a much-talked-about blog as his posts are infrequent, although interesting. Aamir Khan’s blog on his website (http://www.aamir login.php) is a decent affair, too. But his posts are as infrequent and come once or twice a month. His writing has a personal touch and the star keeps one updated about his current projects, his interests and whereabouts. Do you know that Aamir is a great fan of Roddick and Federer? In fact, he seems like a sports freak. He also loves reading and has given up smoking. Not just film stars, but sports stars and fitness experts like Harbhajan Singh and Anjali Mukerjea blog as well. Controversies have plagued his professional life but just like other celebrities, Harbhajan has used his blog as his mouthpiece to clarify the ‘cameraman’ incident wherein the media insinuated that he had slapped the camera guy in Bangalore.

Why would we read celebrity blogs?
Celebrities are people we look up to, whom we adore and those who have a claim to fame. As a curious species, we would like to know more about these people we like – their work, hobbies and thoughts. In fact, we would like to know the real persons behind the façade. Celebrity blogs are all the more appealing to fans and followers who love to collect trivia and keep themselves updated. Blogging as a personal and universal medium offers both the celeb and the fan/reader a win-win situation where the former gets the selfowned freedom of speech and the latter the content to feed upon.
November ‘09 37

Microblogging: The new trend
For those celebs unwilling to type out a few hundred words, microblogging has turned out to be the best option. It is a new format of blogging in précis and busy celebs now go with Twitter as they fire off 140 words or so. From Shah Rukh Khan to Lara Dutta and Mallika Sherawat, from Pritish Nandy to Shashi Tharoor – a great many celebs are regular ‘Tweeters’. The basic utility of ‘Twittering’ is the same as blogging, but the difference lies in the size of the post. Nonetheless, the ‘Tweets’ enable them to stay connected with fans, update information and express personal thoughts. Thanks to microblogging, Mallika Sherawat can instantly share her experience when she was in Los Angeles shooting for a film. Her Twitter posts talked about herself, the comments she received from a particular director or how she enjoyed at the Twitter Head Office. Again, Priyanka Chopra discussed how hectic her schedules were during her latest film What’s Your Rashee and also ‘Twittered’ happily about her upcoming movies. Karan Johar, too, announces music releases, press conferences and movie releases on Twitter. anything new. A celebrity of that status must retain that aura of mystery,” he adds.

Can celebs use blogging as PR tool?
“We are living in a world where perception is the reality. Stars are what we think they are; we only build their image. If we know the reality, they won’t remain stars,” says Bhagwagar. In a nutshell, celebrities must use blogging discretely and should not tell people everything about their daily life and routine. It may help build a relationship with fans, but it kills the enigmatic aura that a celeb often wears. But all in all, blogging or microblogging does help celebrities manage negative PR rising out of controversies. It is, indeed, a great opportunity as they can personally clarify things and do away with confusions on a public forum like this one. Take, for instance, the case of Dr Shashi Tharoor. The ‘cattle class’ controversy (that’s how he termed the common men) had the parties calling for his head. So he has apologised profusely and continues to ‘tweet’ without losing his fan following. It is because he has built a sound relationship with the ‘common men’ by ‘tweeting’ about his thoughts and activities and they have started admiring him. So the fallout was not as bad as expected. While the mass media spent hours and pages on discussions, his ‘tweeting’ habit helped retain his image. Speaking of politicos, one can hardly forget the blogs posted by L K Advani ( where he tried to do an Obama and garner support. He had talked about the underprivileged female child and other ‘hot’ issues – topics that would gain his party a lot of political leverage. The blog did create a buzz, but it didn’t help BJP win the elections. May be because blogging as a communication tool is still not powerful enough to influence voters. Charismatic politicians should keep that in mind, especially after the blogs of Omar Abdullah and Laloo Yadav failed miserably.

Blogging for brand building
Blogging/microblogging can prove to be powerful brand communication and brand building tools for a unique ‘product’ like celebrities. They are brands in their own right, but people judge them too frequently and too fast. So they are always under the threat of being misperceived. Blogging does help these iconic figures get on a personal level with the world. The world on whose peaks they otherwise reign. They can use the tool to get intimate, build relations and interact with their fans. They can re-make or break the image other people or the media have created. They can bombard people with information about themselves without being misquoted. Simply put, they can communicate heart to heart and cash in on a great many advantages. But PR guru Dale Bhagwagar who has handled image management for Hrithik Roshan, Shilpa Shetty et al, thinks otherwise. “It’s okay for less-known celebrities (say, Ram Gopal Verma or Karan Johar) to blog regularly. But a stalwart like Amitabh Bachchan should refrain from frequent blogging. It would make him too familiar and he would lose that enigma which makes him a super star. In my opinion it’s professional hara-kiri. Take the example of Shilpa Shetty or Aamir Khan. Aamir, for instance, posts something and then just disappears for a while before posting 38 November ‘09

Although the concept of blogging comes from the West, it has become the ‘in’ thing here in India, especially after celebs from all spheres decided to have a finger in the blog pie. The techsavvy brigade has jumped on the bandwagon faster but others are also trying to catch up. In a nutshell, celebrity blogging is here to stay and it will evolve into something bigger, more interesting and more impactful with time, if done in the right sense. Till then, watch out for more of these popular icons making it big on blogging. I


Do you need

Next big thing in home video technology
Sudarshan Purohit
ajal got a call from her cousin in the USA. “I am at a bookstore here and there are some great movies on sale, in Blu-ray format! Do you want me to get them for you when I come next month?” “Let me think it over and mail you tomorrow.” Kajal replied. She wasn’t sure what Blu-ray meant, and didn’t want to admit it to her cousin. So she decided to find out.


What is Blu-ray?
Blu-ray is a recent technology for storing a huge amount of data in an optical disc. A Blu-ray Disc or BD has the same size and shape as a DVD or a CD, but it uses a blue-violet

laser to read/store data while a standard DVD uses a red one. As we all know, a series of pits are burnt into DVDs/CDs to store data. Since the blue-violet laser has a shorter wavelength (405 nanometer instead of the traditional 650 nm), it burns smaller pits on the surface, thus storing more data with greater precision. Blu-ray Discs can store up to 25 GB data on a single-layer disc and up to 50 GB on a dual-layer (DL) disc. Think about it for a second. An average DVD can store up to 4.7 GB data on a single-layer disc and about 9 GB on a DL disc. So the data storage capacity of a Blu-ray Disc is five times more than a standard DVD. What’s more, the image quality of a BluNovember ‘09 39

prints left. Old movies are definitely better preserved in countries like the USA and Japan. But even then, it takes time and money to remaster those movies to Blu-ray quality. Till date, Indian DVD companies have not taken the initiative to remaster old movies. Even DVD releases of old movies lack the required quality. The output is just CD-quality, repackaged into a single disc. The reason for very less Blu-Ray releases is simple – there are not enough Blu-ray players, content and buyers in India! The Blu-ray market is picking up though, as tech giants like Philips and Sony are working together with leading production houses such as Eros, Yash Raj Films and Big Videos. Efforts are on to remaster more than 500 Indian films which will further develop and broaden the Blu-ray ecosystem in the country.

Do you need a Blu-ray – pros and cons
ray video ensures the ultimate cinematic viewing experience – far superior to the traditional DVD output. The first Blu-ray Discs came out in June, 2006; but they were much too expensive and did not sell well. Blu-ray really took off when Sony released its gaming console PlayStation 3 in the USA in November, 2006. As PlayStation 3 came with a Blu-ray player, lakhs of US homes were flooded with these ready-to-perform, high-end gadgets. Keen to cash in on the new technology, renowned studios such as Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, Fox, Disney and Lionsgate started releasing movies in the Blu-ray format. Till date, more than 10 million Blu-ray players have been sold and the number is going up every day.

Who comes first, the player or the disc?
This is the proverbial chicken-and-egg problem. There is not enough content (read Blu-ray videos) for Indian viewers because there are not enough BD players which are affordable and accessible. And there is no point in buying players because there is not enough content! Add to this the high price of Blu-ray discs, players and high-definition televisions, and we can easily understand why the demand for Blu-ray products is so low in India.

Does movie quality improve?
Movies in Blu-ray format provide sharper images, richer colours and clearer lines. But this is readily apparent only on a television with good enough resolution. Blu-ray viewers must have HD TVs – a new format that promises three times the clarity of normal television sets. However, HD TVs are just beginning to be popular in India and haven’t yet reached the mass market. Samsung, Sony and others biggies have launched HD models that cost twice or more the price of normal television sets. But unlike other countries, Cable TV and DTH do not transmit high-resolution content to justify a super-expensive HD TV at home. The Cable/DTH quality is often on par with average DVD output and the only time you get to see HD-quality video on your HD TV is when you connect a Blu-Ray player. The situation is entirely different in digitally advanced countries like the USA and Japan. The content transmitted there are digital and HD. As a result, you are assured of a better viewing experience even when you are watching routine TV programmes. Then, there are TV screen sizes to consider for good-quality viewing. Studies show that most people are able to notice the difference between DVD and Blu-ray only if the TV screen is 38 inches or more. But in India, most television sets feature 28-32 inch screens and you can only see DVD-quality images instead of the optimum picture quality that your HD TV and Blu-ray player can provide.

Blu-ray products – at home and abroad
Around 2,500 Blu-ray products are available in the USA such as movies, console games for PlayStation 3 and relevant software programmes. Although some of these are available in India, demand for these high-end gadgets is yet to build up. Currently, Sony is the key supplier of this Gen Y home video technology as PlayStation 3 and new models of Vaio laptops come with Bluray players. Then there are companies like LG and Samsung who have also come up with Blue-ray and HD players (the latter is meant for high-definition DVDs). Philips has also introduced a new range of Blu-ray players and home theatre systems for the Indian market. However, most of the Blu-ray products are far too expensive and, therefore, lack popular acceptance. But what matters most is the content or rather, the lack of it. Very few Indian movies are available in this format and all you can buy are the deluxe editions of new releases with extra features and commentary. Although some of the Hollywood flicks in Blu-ray are sold here at a premium, majority of the Indian firms only roll out DVDs and do not seem too willing to opt for a format change due to technology and cost constraints. Converting a movie to a Blu-ray video includes a complicated process known as remastering. This involves scanning a print of the movie at very high resolutions. This is only possible when high-quality prints are available for use. It is, therefore, easy to convert recent movies but not the old flicks, as there are no good 40 November ‘09

Is Blu-ray all hype?
With the right equipment – a large HD TV, the right cables and connectors, and a Blu-ray player – watching Blu-ray

Beyond Blu-ray
Believe it or not, hardware companies are already hard at work trying to bring out Blu-ray’s successor. Hitachi, TDK and Panasonic have revealed demo discs that can store up to 100 GB data. However, it is the Internet and not the larger-capacity discs that can pose the toughest challenge to Blu-ray. Broadband capacities are increasing fast and Netflix, a popular movie rental company in the USA, has already unveiled a service where users can download HD quality movies from the Web server on to a custom hardware device. These can be watched on highdefinition television sets for two days, after which they get deleted. Although the image quality of these movies is not as good as Blu-ray yet, it is proved that consumers are more than willing to pay for downloading movies from a network service if the quality and the convenience match their requirements.

movies is, indeed, a superior experience. But the cost involved in setting up this system is huge. In India, the setup can be used only for Blu-ray content and not for TV transmissions, which makes it even worse. But when you hear about Blu-ray being the next big thing in the world of digital entertainment that will optimise your moviewatching experience, beware! Some of this is just hype, for sure. Media companies, the ones making Blu-ray discs, are also to be blamed. When the CD became popular, people who already had audio cassettes and videotapes were compelled to buy their favourite movies and music in the new format. This was an unexpected bonanza for the media companies as they were able to sell their products twice. The same thing happened when the DVD came out and ruled the market. The companies, therefore, expect that it will happen again with Blu-ray. So far, that has not happened. Blu-Ray discs are doing well, but not as well as the DVDs. It is mostly the latest Bollywood blockbusters that people are buying; old Indian movies already out on DVDs are not being reformatted due to various constraints. So you can hardly watch the old classics in a new form even after paying for fortune. But the hype has to be there to make people feel that they are missing out on something great unless they get Blu-ray immediately.

The storage capacity of a Blu-ray disc is five times more than a standard DVD and it can store data with more precision

In a few years, movie files of 25 GB or more may get stored in central servers on the Internet and buyers/renters can simply download them on to their computers or media players. With an infrastructure like this available, the only purpose of high-capacity optical discs will be to take backups. The actual data will live on hard drives. Similarly, the capacity of flash memory cards is increasing too. These are the tiny cards that we put in our digital cameras and mobile phones to store photos and music. With the prices falling rapidly, it may soon become more economical to distribute movies on flash memory. Also, they are more sustainable than discs and there are fewer chances of data getting corrupted. So what is the best option for the Indian consumer right now? Wait and watch, advise the experts. Better innovations may come up soon, like broadband movies on demand. In that case, Blu-ray may become a transient technology only, without any lasting effect. I

Blu-ray Disc

November ‘09 41

style it

Delighting You Always

Model: Anu Kuwar Makeup: Geetanjali Stylist: Vikram Seth Photographer: Dinesh Gaur Garments & accessories:

Gadgets by: Canon Image Lounge, Ambience Mall, Gurgaon

Tech innovations are impacting life big scale. And consumer electronics benefit most from this fast-paced, future-perfect technology march ahead. A product launch brings forth a new invention and a new vista of technological applications – technologies that are smart, trendy and trail-blazers in style. Be it a digital camera or a sophisticated surveillance equipment, it is all about how innovative technologies are packaged in most contemporary designs to make an indelible style statement. Even mundane office machines like printers have evolved into tech marvels with multiple functionalities and chic looks that complement the workplace décor. Canon India, country’s No 1. complete digital imaging company, has recently launched an amazing variety of gizmos which celebrate the super convergence of technology, utility and design. Live IT showcases some of the most popular Cannovations which have transformed our life.


November ‘09

IXUS 95 IS - Pink
Try this 10 megapixel wonder camera that comes with a host of exciting features such as Smart Auto, anti-blur with motion detection, face detection and i-contrast. You can also frame and review shots with a 2.5 inch LCD screen, which is protected against light reflections, scratches and dirt.

Style IT

It’s green, it’s wireless and offers six-colour printing. The PIXMA MP988 prints on both sides to save paper. And it supports Ethernet & wireless LAN, so that you can take prints from anywhere. Plus there is ChromaLife 100+, a technology to ensure that photos will last up to 300 years.

Legria HF 200
It’s the tiniest and the lightest HD camcorder, bringing you the ease and convenience of Flash memory. Now, record full HD movies straight to a memory card and that, too, for a six-hour stretch. HF 200 also offers great flexibility in file transfer and playback.

Style IT

Camcorder XL2
This feature-packed digital video camcorder is a topnotch performer, thanks to outstanding optics, ultimate control and other value add-ons. Good details, depth of field and superior colour representation are just a part of its capabilities. Never before so much creative power has been put in the hands of film makers and video artists.

Selphy CP780
It sports a chic, simple design and comes with five printing options. You also get exceptional colour gradations and a 2.5 inch LCD screen for easy operation. The printer supports multiple languages and works on both PC and Mac platforms.

Style IT

PowerShot A480
Available in four colours, it’s a fun gadget for taking superb 10 MP photos. Just slip it into your pocket – it’s that sleek. Plus there are great features such as Face Detection, Motion Detection and the power to capture images even from a distance of 1 cm.

EOS 5D Mark II
This superb gadget with HD movie capability marks the Canon initiative to enhance the photography experience. Compact, lightweight and environment-friendly, EOS 5D Mark II features a 21.1 megapixel camera and ensures great video qualities. So it’s time to get going and try out a multitude of new possibilities.



Puja Goyal

to keep

you fit

Fitness applications on your mobile

re you a fitness freak with little time for the gym? Or a struggling individual who frequently fails her date to show off a wonder bod that wows? Don’t worry even if your fitness trainer has given up all hope. Here is the cell phone gym to keep you going – all the way to good health. Get hold of your smartphone now and get to know these fitness applications that optimise your workout, generate personal data and keep a tab on your training. There can be no better way to feel good and look great this festive season.

Calorie tracker
Counting calories and finding nutritional details of any food item is easy now, thanks to the Calorie


November ‘09

Count application on the BlackBerry App World™. Developed in collaboration with, one of the largest free diet resources, it helps you search, evaluate and compare all kinds of food – from apples to zucchini and even those gourmet dishes from popular restaurants, supermarkets and fast food chains. So stay close to your BlackBerry even when you are shopping for food or eating out. A quick scan of the nutrition details and you are not likely to pick up the items that your body will regret. Calorie Count offers much more than popular diet plans. It is a back-to-the-roots weight loss method and focuses on what really matters – eating less than you burn. For people who are trying to lose weight, it does not matter if they are counting carbohydrates, protein or fat. All they need is to keep a check on total calorie intake and exercise enough to fight the flab. Livestrong Calorie Tracker is available on both iPhone and BlackBerry. This application is the mobile version of Lance Armstrong and Demand Media’s health and lifestyle Website. It allows the user to track calories against a recommended daily intake, log fitness activities and chart weight fluctuations. The application syncs with the Website, where users can participate in community fitness challenges, share the results of their food diaries and learn about health issues. For more information, visit This programme is for individuals with sedentary lifestyle but who still want to stay fit. Now, iPhone users can download this nine-week training regimen which will help them run 5 km (3.1 miles) at a stretch. The application offers directions via a computerised (male or female) voice and beeps that are timed to help the user transit between warm-up, workout and interval phases. For more information, visit

November ‘09


MapMyRun is a free application which makes use of the iPhone’s GPS technology and help runners in tracking training data including time, distance and pace. Like the Livestrong application, this mobile programme becomes much more inclusive at the MapMyRun Website. Application users can interact with other users and share their routes on Facebook, create Google maps of their runs and join online groups. The downside: It can be stalling if you are unable to connect to the phone’s server, because it would delay your run. For more information, visit pattern. You can share the same with your physician, so that he can have a better understanding of your condition. There is also a medicine log which allows you to record the side effects you may experience due to medication. This will help you and your physician to work together and manage the bipolar disorder better. Since the bipolar disorder and the medicines used to treat this condition are known to cause weight fluctuations, the weight chart in this application will help enhance weight management by recording any significant change that may occur. This application is also community connected on the Internet. The Mood Journal will connect you to individuals facing similar problems and give you a place to share your conditions, thoughts and insights with others. It also lists quite a few active organisations and resources which may help you control bipolar disorder. The only setback is that this application requires network connectivity.

More for the fair sex
Woman Calendar: First released in 1999, Woman Calendar is a simple yet useful application built around natural family planning practices. The first ever application of its kind on a mobile computing platform, it has become the choice familyplanning organiser for many women.

Mood Journal
Mood Journal tracks bipolar disorder, depression, manic conditions, SAD or seasonal affective disorder and other mood disorders. It is one of the most popular applications used by individuals, as mood swings and depressive symptoms are constantly on the rise across the globe. About 20 per cent of the US population suffer from at least one depressive symptom in a given month while about 12 per cent report two or more in a year. Around 100 million people worldwide are also affected by bipolar disorder. Even in India, people are under pressure and lead a high-stress life in fast-paced, competitive environment. So the utility of such an application is beyond doubt. The Mood Journal helps you recognise the symptoms and patterns of your mood swings. The built-in sleep chart also helps you keep a tab on your sleep 52 November ‘09

Pregnancy Wheel: Available on BlackBerry, the Pregnancy Wheel allows you to calculate the pregnancy due date and gestational age based on last menstrual period (LMP) or ultrasound. The application is provided by QxMD Software and developed by expert physicians. Founded by medical professionals, QxMD Software is dedicated to creating high quality, point-of-care tools for practising health care professionals. It has been the leading provider of free medical software for the BlackBerry since 2007.I

Future phones for fun unlimited
Your chic cell phone has come a long way

Origin of wireless communication
To put things into perspective, it is important for us to understand what happened in the year 1943. Those were tough times and most of the progress made by the human race was for destructive pursuits. But amid all the bang-bang and the megalomania, there was also hope, as well as learning. One scientific discipline that benefited most (well, I am excluding nuclear science and the likes from this list) is human psychology. And it was in this context that a man called Abraham Maslow propounded a paper on man’s hierarchy of needs. While Maslow and his study of human motivation is not the topic of our discussion, I would still need to detail it to make a sound argument. Maslow classified human need into five levels (the famous Maslow pyramid) with the basic physiological needs at the bottom and the highly attained ‘self-actualisation’ at the top. In between were needs catering to safety, love/belonging and self-esteem. Now, if you are still wondering what mobile phones have to do with this, here is the crux of the matter. A decade or so ago, when Lehman Brothers was still a bank and the dot com companies were mushrooming like there was no tomorrow, mobile phones were definitely an object of selfesteem. It was a sure sign of having arrived and making the mark. Making and receiving calls were purely incidental at that time. But communication technology had advanced since and cell phones ceased to be the plaything of the rich and the famous. In fact, with the urban lifestyle demanding that we spend more time away from home, mobile phones transformed into objects that kept the ties of love and friendship alive. Inadvertently, it had transcended the levels of Maslow’s need hierarchy. It was no longer a self-esteem need; instead, it became a love/affection need. Mobile penetration the world over
November ‘09 53


recent coffee table discussion has got me thinking. Is the mobile phone a want or a need? It is a question as profound as it is philosophical. I would even go on to put it on the same pedestal as the thoughtprovoking, quasi-humorous – What came first, the chicken or the egg? At this very minute, if you are not wondering how trivial and unimportant the question, the answer and everything in-between are, you must be thinking about the banality of my coffee table discussions. But quite seriously, there is much to be learned from this question.

grassroot realities. Which gets back to our question – is it a want or a need? For all practical purposes, I am compelled to think that it is turning to be more a need and less a want. For all that has been said to prove the need factor, here comes the twist to the story. Ironically, according to a research, people are not really attached to their gadgets. That explains why urban customers constantly change their handsets and go for newer, slicker models. The consumer, as it turns out, is more a prisoner of the services that his mobile phone offers than the actual gadget itself. A recent joint study in the UK by Henley Management College and Teleconomy, a research consultancy, has substantiated this. During a three-year survey that covered people aged between 25 and 34, 46 per cent of the respondents stated that they used their mobile phones as a means of personal entertainment; 55 per cent to fight boredom and 52 per cent to gossip. So if you have ever considered that the mobile phone is merely a device used to make and receive calls, you may as well rest your case.

continued cancerously. And soon, a mobile in your hand meant that safety was just a call away. Quietly and yet incredibly, it had become more integral to one’s lifestyle that one would have ever imagined.

‘Want’ or ‘need’ – the debate continues
Maslow’s next level is physiological – the realm of the basic. The food, water, sex and sleep domain. I know people who claim they cannot do without their mobile phones and I wonder if that would be a nice place to be. If it were a 20th Century Fox film, mobiles would morph into humanoids and take over the world. But I shall refrain from the lure of fantasy and explore the

Mobile phones have metamorphosed into multi-utility items because they are more than mere telephones. The fact that you can receive and send images, text messages, download ring tones and games, click photographs, stream the Internet and watch your favourite movies/videos are merely cases that prove this point. So it is hardly surprising that they are indispensable and it happens to be an amazing case study for that hallowed technology buzzword – convergence. 54 November ‘09

There is little doubt that mobile phones have shaped up to be the defining gadget of our times. The fact that it is an everyday device has propelled the industry to pack more punch into it – music, video, pictures, games, news and a lot more. However, the curious question remains – what next? By the look of things, the GPS can be touted as the next big thing in your mobile. Siemens has already introduced a phone in the European market that packs a GPS and navigation system and there are talks of similar advancements in the US market as well. The other big head-turner is the initiative to use the cell phone as a media centre. While the challenges in accomplishing this are manifold, there can be little doubt that answers will be found soon. As is the norm in the mobile industry, things are always moving at a fast clip. NTT DoCoMo is planning to introduce 4G in Japan by 2010, which means consumers there will soon have faster data transfer rates and smoother video transmission. What’s more, the current new will soon be old and another new order will be awaiting you.

4G to enhance mobile entertainment
For the uninitiated, it is a safe approximation to state that we are in the third generation of mobile phones, with countries like Japan being at the forefront. Advanced countries have accomplished data transfer rates as fast as 64 to 384 kilobytes per second and have had the rest of the world adopting 3G with no reservations. In fact, the technology divide between Europe and the USA is fast disappearing as 3G is rapidly gaining ground as the unified global standard. The scale and speed of innovation in the mobile communication space has been so rapid that they are constantly making science fiction writers appear more prophetic than they actually aspire to be. With faster connections and cheaper storage, the future beholds much more than what the mobile phone can do. Mid-range and high-end phones from the Nokia and Sony Ericsson cradle can now store and play more than 1500 songs. For couch potatoes, companies like MobiTV in the USA are pioneering the idea of real-time television on cellular phones. Mobile gaming is a rage across the globe and it is spinning as much money as the casinos in Las Vegas. In fact, with better 3D graphics and greater user experience, it will not be long before the PSPs and the Xbox(s) have a serious contender in the smartphones of tomorrow.

What the future holds
A quick glance at the future of mobile phones will show that a lot more can be achieved than we can ever think of sitting in our living rooms. And mobile phones will continue to be even more indispensable than what they are today. For all you know, it may also manage to nudge into the consideration set of Maslow’s physiological needs. But I have one small doubt – can anything stop the pace of innovation from eventually meeting the frontier? Battery life is already posing a seething problem. Powering auxiliary features like a media centre will pose great demands on battery life. Similarly, screen size and the limitation of the visual display will eventually limit what can be achieved with the wonder gadget. Trade-off will have to be made and rationalisation will be called for. But with everything else that the device will be capable of doing, there is little doubt that it will change your life and mine. I
November ‘09 55

Tech Tip

Anoop Verma

here is just one name that stands out when it comes to taking care of Word processing needs – MS Word. Well, that remains the usual pattern for students or for those whose job entails writing essays, reports or articles. They spend a major chunk of their work hours toiling on Word documents. Although MS Word is one of the most popular programmes across the globe, more than 90 per cent computers in China and India are said to be running pirated versions. If those users opt for the authorised version, Microsoft’s profits will definitely skyrocket. Despite the obvious popularity of this software, many users are still not aware of all its potentials. Given below is a list of tricks and tips to help you understand MS Word better and make it more interesting to work with:

Best for MS Word users
an easy away to put the Office Assistant to rest. Click on the Office Assistant and choose ‘Options’. Clear the ‘Use Office Assistant’ check box and it will not bother you any more.


When you copy text from the Web or another document into a Word file, it may appear odd because Word initially preserves the colour, font and size of the original text from the original page. To clear this, click ‘Edit’ from the File menu, go to the option ‘Paste Special’ and choose ‘Unformatted Text’. You can also remove formatting by highlighting the desired text and pressing CTRL+SHIFT+N. What are you going to do when you need to put some generic text in your document? You would type randomly or try pasting from any other document. But there is a better way out – just type =RAND () and press Enter. Immediately you will get three paragraphs of ‘The Quick Brown Fox’.


How do you open Word docs on your system? Most users go to a specific folder where the document is stored and double-click to open it. But that is a time-consuming process. If you need to work on the documents frequently, it is better to create a shortcut on your Desktop. Right-click on the file and choose the ‘Send to’ option to create a shortcut on the Desktop. Now you can access the file directly from your Desktop. Just double-click on the shortcut icon to open the file. There are times when the friendly Office Assistant in the background may feel like an irritating intruder. But there is
56 November ‘09



Want to select a sentence? Just hold down the Ctrl key and click the line you want to select. The entire sentence will get selected.


Changing the case of any text is a breeze. Just select the desired text and press Shift+F3. I


Save notes online using Evernote
onsider this scenario – you are on the go, on a vacation or an office tour and suddenly you are struck by an idea, inspiration or experience you want to capture. Enter Evernote! This versatile Web-based tool is capable of capturing anything – from typewritten text to website materials, from digital photographs to videos and much more. As Evernote offers client software in PC and mobile devices, you can access your notes on a wide range of supported devices. As the final data – consisting of images, text, clips, audio, PDF and other formats – are stored in Cloud, users do not have to go through the rigmarole record it of transferring files while shifting from one system to another. In order to start using the magical tool, you have to sign up at All you have to enter is your e-mail address. Once this process is complete, you are ready to store all your important files in the Cloud. If your note-taking activity is limited to 40 MB, which should be good enough for most of us, then Evernote is free for you. In case you need more than that, you will have to fork out a nominal sum of money. Let us say,


save it

write it

send it

create it
select it
rip it

tweet it

snap it scan it clip it jot it email it
sketch it
pdf it

collect it

keep it

drag-n-drop it

plan it

upload it

you want some text, which you have photographed for posting. Evernote will automatically extract the text for you. At one moment you have a photograph and once you stick it on Evernote, you have the text. The many uses of this Web-based system will really help you. You can even use Evernote to keep track of your expenses. The process is simple – just pen down whatever you spend, or use it for comparing prices at different establishments. But there are more features. How about placing the birthdays of your friends and relatives on Evernote? That way, you will never forget to wish someone on the D-day. And when you want to find anything fast from all the notes that you have taken, all you need to do is to use that innovative ‘Keyword Search’ facility on the opening page. I
November ‘09 57

Tech Tip

s p l i t
and repair

e r g e M



t is supposed that PDF files are like printed paper on which no changes can be made once the initial printing has been done. But if you have access to a versatile tool like the Pdftk, tampering with PDF files becomes a breeze. With this tool merge, you can easily split and repair your PDF files at a fairly rapid pace. And that’s not all – you can also decrypt, encrypt and rotate your PDF files. To start using Pdftk, first download the software from Once the software has been downloaded, you have to unzip and store it at a location easily accessible by Command Prompt. You can copy it to a folder on the Desktop or in the C:/ drive, and in the same folder, you are required to store the PDF files on which you wish to make changes. Now you have to open the Command Prompt Window and type ‘pdftk–help’. This will open a file displaying various instructions on how the tool is to be used in order to rectify the PDF files. If you want to merge two PDF files, this is the command that you will have to use: pdftk 1.pdf 2.pdf 3.pdf cat output 123.pdf. If you want to split the pages of any given PDF file, the command will be: pdftk mydoc.pdf burst. The instructions are too many though, and you will be surprised by the magnitude of things you can accomplish using this tool. From the ‘Help Page’, you will also get a comprehensive list of tasks for which Pdftk can prove to be quite handy: G Merge PDF documents. G Split PDF pages into a new document. G Rotate PDF pages or documents. G Decrypt input as necessary (password required). 58 November ‘09

Encrypt output as desired. Fill PDF forms with FDF data or XFDF data and/or ‘flatten forms’. G Apply a ‘background watermark’ or a ‘foreground stamp’. G Report on PDF metrics such as metadata, bookmarks and page labels. G Update PDF metadata. G Attach files to PDF pages or the PDF document. G Unpack PDF attachments. G Burst a PDF document into single pages. G Uncompress and re-compress page streams. G Repair corrupted PDF (wherever possible). The tool does not require the presence of Adobe Acrobat in your computer in order to function. It is available in versions compatible with Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, FreeBSD and Solaris-based systems. Now you can use the Command Prompt to go to the folder where the Pdftk tool and PDF files are stored. In this folder, you have to perform various commands to make the desired changes in your PDF documents. I

Get more out of your Notebook


ne thing is for sure – in these times of global recession, when well-paying jobs are hard to come by, it is extremely inadvisable to splurge on a new Notebook. Till the job market recovers, we need to tolerate the old system that we have got. Here are a few must-follow tips to enhance the performance of your old Notebook.

through the rigmarole of defragmenting the hard drive, you will experience a significant improvement in your Notebook’s speed.

Get a case

The one thing your Notebook needs more than anything else is a sturdy case that can protect it from bumps, scratches and dents while it is on the go. Leaving a ‘bare’ system on the car seat is not a good idea as it may slip and hit the floor if brakes are suddenly applied. These days, most Notebook cases offer space for storing many other things and that is an added advantage.

Every time you boot your Notebook, a plethora of useless programmes load themselves – eating up both the memory and the processing power. It is about time you go to the Start section of the System Configuration Utility and disable those programmes which are not essential for day-today functioning. 

Remove start-up programmes

When was the last time you defragmented your Notebook’s hard drive? In order to maximise system performance, you have to defragment its hard drive at least once a month. Every time you create, delete and download files, your computer splits up and stores data fragments in various locations. A hard drive that has not been defragmented for a long time will have large amounts of scattered data, which tends to slow down the performance of your Notebook. Once you have gone 

Defragment the hard drive

Just as your home or office needs regular cleaning, your Notebook, too, requires a date with the virtual brush. For this, you must go to the Disk Cleanup utility and delete all cookies, temporary Internet files and other data which might have been stored on your system. 

Clean up the Notebook

Are you one of those who prefer to keep their Notebook switched on for the entire day? If that is the case, you must get rid of the screensaver. Most people think that their systems consume less power just because they have a screensaver on. That is simply not the case – the screensaver consumes almost as much energy as a fully functioning Notebook. Remember that your screensaver just prevents your Notebook from fully going to sleep, but you do not get any power advantage. 

Turn off the screensaver

Buying an extra RAM should be your last option. It will cost you at least Rs 2000-Rs 5000. So why should you spend so much money? Instead, you can clean up and defragment the registry – so that programmes will load faster. 

Clean and defragment the registry

If your Notebook is misplaced or stolen, you not only lose a costly gadget but also a lot of valuable data. So you must be doubly careful. If you leave it unattended in a public place, you might as well have a ‘Steal Me’ sticker pasted on top of it. The same goes for a system that is left in your car where people can see it. Your Notebook is a valuable device. You need not be paranoid about protecting it, but you must be on your guard. I
November ‘09 59 

Protect your notebook

tech tip Tech Tip

Defragment your hard drive to speed up your PC


re you plagued by an exceedingly slow PC or laptop that simply crawls and takes eons to perform even a simple task? It may be happening because the hard drive has not been defragmented for a long time. Data stored in any hard drive tend to get fragmented since an operating system usually looks for the nearest available free space to store data. But if the new file is larger than that space, the OS fills it first and then searches for the next free space to store the remaining data. This process continues till the file is fully stored and it results into file scattering in a fragmented manner. When you defragment the hard drive, the fragmented files get saved and compiled together in an ordered manner. This reduces data access time and allows you to use the stored files more efficiently. And the end result? Your files are more accessible and there is a considerable boost in the system speed. Follow the steps listed below to defragment your system: Go to Start –> All Programs –> Accessories –> System Tools. Here you will find a button called Disk Defragmenter. Click on it. 60 November ‘09

The Disk Defragmenter window will open up. You will see your C: drive properties (File System, Capacity, Free Space, % of Free Space). Select the C: drive and click on ‘Analyze’. Now the ‘Disk Defragmenter’ will start analysing your C: drive to check how much free space can be generated after defragmentation is complete. Once the analysis is complete, click on the ‘Defragment’ button. The process of defragmentation will now commence. Depending on the state of your C: drive, it may take an hour or even more than that, to complete. Once defragmentation is complete, you will have a full report on your screen and, hopefully, your computer will start working faster than it did earlier. As defragmentation may require some time, it is best to leave your system on at night and let the programme run. In case of Windows Vista, the process of defragmentation is automated; so you don’t have to go through the rigmarole of defragmenting your system manually. But for earlier versions like Windows XP, you will have to run the process manually. I

Torrent to search multiple
Use Scrape

torrent sites
here’s no question about the rising popularity of Torrent sites these days. They have become the very backbone of P2P (peer-to-peer) sharing. We use them to share files, software, games, video clips, movies, music and a lot more things. But searching for authentic Torrent files is a problem that most users must have faced. This is where the ScrapeTorrent website ( can help you. The site allows you to search for Torrent files in a simple and seamless manner. ScrapeTorrent works by collecting Torrent search results from the biggest Torrent indexes across the Web. Once collected and compiled, the data are made available to users for free. The good thing about ScrapeTorrent is the usability factor – using it is as simple as making a Google search. There is a box on the top of the website where you can key in the file name you


want to look for. Just below the box are placed four buttons – Seeds, Date, Name and Size. You can select the one most suitable for your search. You can also select whether you wish to have ‘Zero-Seeders’ or ‘Duplicates’. There is a drop-down list as well, from which you can select the most likely search category. Once you have keyed in all the data, all it takes is to click the ‘Search’ button. In a matter of moments, an exhaustive list of Torrents matching your query will appear on the screen. You can search here for the relevant file and begin the download. The best thing about ScrapeTorrent is that it presents its search results with necessary Torrent statistics like file size, ‘seed’ and how many times the file has been downloaded by other users. So if downloading Torrents from the Internet is really your kind of thing, you are going to enjoy life on ScrapeTorrent. I

November ‘09


Invest in IPOs with HDFC Securities


or those who want to invest in IPOs (initial public stock offering), it is essential to begin by opening an account with HDFC Securities. You will be required to open a trading account as well as a banking account, both of which will be linked. The amount you intend to invest has to be deposited in the HDFC banking account. Once you have opened your accounts and deposited the money, you will be ready to start investing in various IPOs. Here is a step-by-step guide for you to follow: 1 Point your browser to 2 Click on the ‘Trade Now’ button. 3 A new window will open where you will have to input your login ID before pressing ‘Enter’. 4 In the new window that opens, you will have to input your password before pressing ‘Enter’ again. 5 Now you will reach the trading platform of HDFC Securities. Here you can buy/sell shares and invest in various derivatives and IPOs or corporate fixed deposits. 6 To invest in IPOs, press the button at the extreme left-hand corner that says IPO/FD. 7 A new window will open showing a list of IPOs on offer at that time. If no new IPOs are there, the page will return the message: No issues are currently available. 62 November ‘09



10 11

12 13



The IPO investment system at HDFC Securities is designed for small investors only. So you can invest a maximum of Rs 100,000 in one IPO. If you want to invest more this amount, you will have to apply under the HNI (High Networth Individual) category. Click on the IPO that you wish to invest in. A trading page will open in which you have to enter the number of shares you wish to apply for and the bid amount. Input all the details before pressing ‘OK’. Next, a window from your banking account will open. Here you will have to authorise the capital required for the purchase. You will get a confirmation of the transaction made. Now, you will have to press the ‘Confirm’ button to finalise the deal. You will get an online receipt confirming the completion of the entire process. If the shares get allotted in your name, you will get your allocation on the day the IPO gets listed on the stock exchanges. In case your IPO application fails, the money you deposited into your trading account will be transferred back to your banking account. I

Search in
hen it comes to search engine war, Google beats all others hands down. But there are times when you need to hit the Yahoo! page to find that elusive link. Hopping from one search engine to another can be a real pain in the neck, especially if you are working under time constraint. On occasions like these, Twingine can prove to be really handy. When you point your browser to, you get directed to a starkly bare site that is quite similar to Google. As the name suggests, this website is a twin. Once you enter your search term in the given text box, you can avail results from both Yahoo! and Google. Enter any keyword in the box and press the ‘Search’ button. The new page that opens is vertically divided into two frames of equal size – on one side there are search results from Google while the other half displays results from Yahoo!. You can increase or decrease the size of any window by moving the vertical barrier left/right with the help of the mouse.


Now that you have search results from Yahoo! and Google pitted against each other, you can really compare them and find out which one is better suited for your needs. You will be amazed to find that many of the search results will differ since both Google and Yahoo! are known to use different technologies for search result display. To be fair to both the search giants, Twingine randomly keeps changing the sides on which results from Google and Yahoo! appear. If you get results from Google on the right side and Yahoo! on the left during your first search, they may swap positions in the next session. That is Twingine’s way of ensuring an unbiased attitude towards any particular search engine. This website can prove to be very useful when you need to do an in-depth search on an abstruse topic. Try it today to find out just how easy searching on the Internet can be, especially when a handy twin search engine such as Twingine is around. I

November ‘09


Tech Tip

Cradle for BlackBerry A
re you a gizmo lover with a penchant for creativity? Just look around carefully and you will always find some inexpensive items which not only look artistic but also have great utility value. Take the case of the BlackBerry cradle, for instance. Most of us find it quite difficult to find a cradle that can safely house a large phone like the BlackBerry. Good-looking cradles for iPhones and smaller Nokia phones are easily available; but with the BlackBerry, there is no easy solution. So, how about a soap dish? Not the tacky plastic soap dish we are so familiar with. Nowadays, it is easy to find bamboo soap dishes which look quite chic. These soapdishes are large enough to carry large bars of soap, as well as your precious BlackBerry. You can also stick a patch of Velcro (nylon fabric for fastening) at the bottom of the bamboo soap dish and also on the table top where you would like to place it. There you have it – your own BlackBerry cradle that is firmly tied to the table. Your favourite gizmo is now safe from being accidentally knocked off the table and it is well within the reach. The soap dish can also store other models, but due to its large size, it is especially suitable for a BlackBerry. And the best thing about this new holder is that it brings a natural touch to your gadget-laden workplace. Just imagine what you can achieve with a simple soap dish made out of bamboo. I 64 November ‘09

Turn your soapdish into a

Download Accelerator Plus
for speeding up your

been developed into a suite of products. Once the software has been downloaded and installed on your system, you will find a simple, tabbed interface, so that you can easily switch among three applications – an FTP connection tool, a download dashboard and a Web browser. The next time you want to download a file, the DAP will automatically start using multiple threads to accomplish the task, leading to a faster information flow. The software is capable of looking at other websites for the same file and pulling from them as well. While the download is in progress, a multicoloured bar will appear, showing myriad file connections. Users are allowed to select one or several streams for the purpose of stopping and starting file transfers. If you wish to pause an active download, a small icon next to the selected transfer will do the needful. This icon is located in the ‘Status’ column and is viewable while you are in the ‘Download’ tab. Until the ‘Resume’ icon is clicked, the paused status will remain on the DAP interface. A premium version of the software is available for $29.95 on the same link where the free version is found. With this version, you can preserve your privacy as it is capable of removing all download traces by using an advanced ‘Trace Cleaner’. I
November ‘09 65


hen every moment counts, even an extra minute spent on a download may seem like an eternity. It is very annoying, indeed! But there is help out there. DAP or Download Accelerator Plus is a software programme that can speed up things considerably. It works by boosting your file-grabbing speed and improving your download connection quality. In case you face a broken link problem, DAP will pause your download and restart it once the link gets restored. In order to download DAP, you have to point your browser to Earlier, DAP was available as an add-on for the IE (Internet Explorer) browser, but now it has

Tech Tip

Parrot Minikit Slim to dial

carrying the parrot logo should help you communicate with your mobile contacts; after all, parrot is one bird that possesses the ability to mimic humans. The Parrot Minikit Slim sports a sleek look and makes use of Bluetooth to synchronise its phonebook with the contacts listed on your cell phone. So, the next time you need to dial a number while you are engaged in cooking or working on your laptop, you can use the Parrot Minikit Slim’s text-to-speech function to do the trick for you. This is how it works: You simply say the name of your contact and the Minikit will recognise the name and start dialling. In situations where several numbers are associated with the same name, you can specify which number is to be dialled – mobile, landline, office, residence, etc. The voice recognition function is another feature worth mentioning and it will always lead you to the right number that you wish to dial. The high-end microphones and speakers built into the system ensure that you have a great conversation even though the phone is not held close to your ear. When you receive a call, the Slim will match the incoming number with the contact in its memory (only if the number is from one of your stored contacts, of course), and use the text-to-speech functionality to announce the name of the caller. Therefore, you do not have to look at the cell phone screen to identify the caller. The voice announcement will save you the trouble. This is really one of those feature-rich gizmos which are designed to be fun and make your life easy, as well. I

voice command

rying to dial someone’s number while you are furiously typing away at the laptop may not be an agreeable task for many of us. But you may not mind it after all, if you are armed with a versatile gizmo like the Parrot Minikit Slim. It should come as no surprise that a gizmo


Track Online Behaviour with

netizens across the world have increasingly searched for this term between 2004 and 2009. Below the graph, there is a list of regions and cities from where searches have been made. And here is an interesting piece of information extracted from Google Trends. “Bollywood’ seems to be as popular in Pakistan as it is in India – at least the search data confirm it. However, the majority of the searches conducted are in English. Similarly, you can find out how other topics fare on the Net – the Google Trends will provide you the necessary data. Search for ‘sex’ in Google Trends also yields interesting results. India ranks second in the world when it comes to Net surfers searching for ‘sex’. Sounds unbelievable, doesn’t it? That the ultra-moralistic Indians are searching for ‘sex’ on the Internet in such large numbers! May be it is time that you install ‘parental control’ software and keep a tab on your family’s search trends. And here is another piece of news. Maximum number of ‘sex’ searches actually generate from the Capital city of Delhi. So that is the kind of interesting information you can glean from Google Trends. What’s more, this information is available for free. There is no software you need to download; the application runs on the Web itself and delivers results at lightening speed. If you have not tried it already, it is time you should. Google Trends can be a healthy tool for researching human behaviour and it will also help you understand new perspectives. Media professionals can also use this application to garner a broad overview of popular geopolitical and economical topics. Currently, Google Trends is providing information on search trends from the year 2004 to 2009. I
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t is possible to have a glimpse of the future by simply looking at today’s trends. What people search today may influence their actions tomorrow. And that is one of the key reasons why Google Trends is considered such an important instrument – for gaining insight into the world’s preferences. You can access Google Trends by pointing your browser to The page that opens is very similar to what you have on a Google search page. There is a box in the middle of the page where you can input your text. Next to it, there is a button that says ‘Search Trends’. At the bottom of the page, you will find a list of ‘Hot Trends’ for the day which will go on changing depending on the number of clicks they receive. Let us say, you want to find out if the term ‘Bollywood’ has made waves on the Internet during the past few years. Just type ‘Bollywood’ into the text box and click on the button. A new page will open up displaying a steadily rising graph. One look at the steeply rising graph and you know for sure that



he bus trundled down the suburb, leaving behind the stretch of verdant greenery. The greenery had vanished to a large extent, replaced by a long row of picturesque houses, double-storied, with large glass windows and spacious lawns in front. Finally, the bus stopped next to a large hoarding displaying an advertisement of a newly opened shopping mall. Neena, Rakesh and their three kids stepped out of the bus. Seven-year-old Mohit looked ahead excitedly along with his twin sisters, Sanjana and Rekha. The bus trundled ahead. Just then, a nine-year-old boy came running down the road dragging a mangled kite behind him. “Hey, did you hear about the spaceship that has landed somewhere in the forests nearby,” asked the boy excitedly, his eyes focused intently on Mohit. “Cops are currently on the lookout for aliens who they think have escaped from the spacecraft.” “Really?” said Mohit. “We were out of town so we didn’t get to hear anything about these aliens and their spacecraft.” “Just ignore him Mohit,” Sanjana instructed looking disdainfully at the boy with the kite. “As usual, Sanju is lying.” “I am not lying,” Sanju replied sharply. “Check out the news channels; they are all flooded with stories of the alien landings in Dehradun.” Having said these words, he didn’t bother to wait for a riposte and took off dragging his mangled kite behind him. “Don’t you think Sanju was speaking the truth?” asked Rekha. “I think that is quite likely,” replied Neena. “What if the aliens turn out to be like ET? That would be fun,” Mohit chuckled. “Do you really believe in this alien stuff ?” Rakesh smiled at his son. “Well, I was just wondering that this town will be lot more fun to live in if some aliens were to arrive.” The family walked down the street and reached their twostorey home. As they stepped in, Mohit and his sisters made a beeline for the TV. “Let me check the truth behind the whole alien thing that Sanju told us,” he said eagerly. “It has to be a lie,” said Sanjana tersely, settling herself down on the couch. “I second that,” agreed Rekha. But the news channels proved all the sceptics in the family wrong. A local reporter was walking through what seemed like a burnt and utterly decimated section of the forest in the vicinity of Dehradun, while breathlessly dwelling on the rumours that the damage had been caused by the crash of an alien spaceship. She was interviewing some locals who claimed to have seen the spacecraft drag through a large swath of the forest flattening many trees and shrubs before coming to rest against the huge boulder. Plumes of smoke and flames were still spewing from the debris. This was enough for Neena and Rakesh, along with their three kids, to remain glued to the drama unfolding on the small screen. “If the spacecraft came to rest against the boulder in the forest, why are they not showing it,” Neena’s voice was a hushed

sort of whisper. As if on cue, the reporter on TV came up with an explanation to that crucial question. “According to locals, after the spaceship crashed against the boulder, it started contracting at a feverish pace,” the reporter said pointing towards the group of locals who supplied the information. “I know this sounds unbelievable but this is what these people claim to have seen. When the spaceship had contracted to the size of a small sparrow, it flew away once again and disappeared in the sky. If anything, the technology these aliens have access to is mind boggling. It is quite possible that the spaceship may already be on its way to the planet in space where it came from but it is also possible that it might be lurking somewhere in these forests,” she concluded. The entire area was teeming with cops, government officials and reporters from various media fraternity. The government officials were silent on the happenings. It seemed as though they were trying to cover up something. “My God!” exclaimed Rakesh. “This is unbelievable.” “Alien spacecraft in Dehradun! Who could have expected that?” ejaculated Neena. “What are these aliens doing out here?” “What if they are here to kidnap us?” said Sanjana frightfully. “We should keep all the doors and windows locked to ensure our security,” Rekha suggested with alacrity. “Relax girls,” said Neena. “Even if these are real aliens, I don’t think they travelled hundreds of light-years just to abduct my family. We are not that important.” “Hey, I have an idea,” said Mohit, jumping to his feet. “Let us all go to the forest where this alien craft is said to have landed.” But his sisters would have none of it. “Are you out of your mind?” Sanjana snapped. “Of course, he is,” agreed Rekha. “Only a crazy person would want to there to look for aliens.” “Not all aliens are evil. They may have good intention,” Mohit ejaculated passionately. “How can you say that?” Rekha challenged. “I have a feeling that the aliens are here with a good intention. Like mother said, they could not have travelled across hundreds of light-years just to abduct our family. Since their technology is so great, their intention must also be good. It can’t be otherwise.” “Very good, Mr. Philosopher,” Mukesh smiled at his son. “But it is dangerous going to the forest right now.” He pointed towards the TV. The three kids looked intently at the TV screen that showed cops barricading the area with ropes to prevent public from walking all over the site where the spacecraft had crashed before it got miniaturized and took off again. But Mohit was adamant. “But dad,” he protested, “we can always find a way to slip past the barricades if we try hard enough. Both of us can go to the forest and leave mom and the two girls here. Just think of it, if we get lucky we might meet some aliens.”
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Mukesh was happy to see his son’s enthusiasm but that didn’t mean obliging him by taking him to the forest. “We will go there some other day definitely but not today,” he said quietly. “But we may never come across the aliens then. It is not as if they have arrived in Dehradun to stay on forever,” “I hope they are already gone,” Rekha added. “I definitely don’t like the idea of a freaky alien spacecraft loitering about in the forest so close to our house.” “What if these aliens try to attack as like they did in the film, Independence Day,” Sanjana shuddered with horror at the thought of her house coming under alien attack. Mohit jumped to the defence of his favourite aliens. “You should not believe everything that they show in movies. I believe the aliens are fundamentally nice guys. They are here to make earth a better place.” “Maybe they will help you with your homework,” said Sanjana sarcastically. “Who knows, they might,” Mohit reposted sharply. “It is foolish of you to think this way,” Rekha chided. “Dad, tell them to stop or I will beat them up,” said Mohit threateningly. “I would like you to try,” challenged Rekha. It was clear that the three kids were now itching for a fight. For all this time Neena had been mostly watching the exchange between her kids with amusement writ large on her face but now it was clearly time for her to intervene. “That’s enough. Stop this cat-fight,” she reprimanded. “But Mohit is acting stupid,” Rekha remonstrated. “The problem with you, Rekha, is that you talk too much,” said Neena. “But …” Sanjana began. “No ifs and buts,” Neena interrupted. “I want all of you to go to the study room and finish your homework. No more talk about aliens. There aren’t any aliens.” “But all news channels are flashing stories about the aliens landing on earth. They can’t be lying,” Mohit jumped in. “I can afford to disbelieve whatever I want to disbelieve,” Neena said peremptorily. “This news story is completely false. There is no question of an alien spacecraft ever landing in the forest or anywhere else on earth. There aren’t any aliens out there. I am sure they would soon come up with a perfectly logical explanation for the devastation in the forest.” It was clear that Neena was worked up with frustration at what she considered to be frivolous reporting by the TV channels. She picked up the remote and switched off the TV. “You are quite right,” Mukesh said. “The TV channels have no right to telecast unsubstantiated rumours. There are nothing called aliens. Human beings are the only intelligent species in the entire universe.” However, the kids were not convinced. “Why aren’t all of you going to the study room?” Neena glared at her kids. This time they got the message, loud and clear. They marched out of the room with their heads hung low. 70 November ‘09

It was late in the evening. The sun had started melting behind the horizon and it was turning darker by the minute. Neena was preparing dinner in the kitchen and the rest of the family was in the living room watching a movie on HBO. Suddenly the lights in the house began to blink. At the same time, the television lost its signal. “What is happening?” exclaimed Mohit. Sanjana and Rekha seemed to be on the edge by the phenomenon of strangely blinking lights. “I hope it is not the aliens who are doing this to our house,” whispered Sanjana prophetically. Rekha shuddered with terror but didn’t say a word. “Relax. I think there is something wrong with the electric supply,” said Mukesh pressing the remote to switch off the TV. “I will check the electric meter. It is possible that one of the switches may have malfunctioned.” Suddenly there came Neena’s scream from the kitchen. “What happened?” cried Mukesh and rushed towards the kitchen. The kids were too afraid to remain alone in the living room so they followed their father blindly. The kitchen was awash with red light that seemed to be beaming in through the kitchen window. In the midst of this red light Neena stood frozen with terror. She was pointing hysterically towards the window. “There is something moving outside the window,” Neena panted, “some kind of a strange creature.” “What strange creature?” Mukesh said with alarm. “I can’t see anything due to this infernal wall of red light.” Meanwhile, the two girls had started crying hysterically. “I know it is the aliens who are behind this red light. They are coming to get us,” cried Sanjana. “They will surely wreck our house.” “We are doomed,” cried Rekha. Even Mohit seemed afraid but at the same time he looked forward to an encounter with the aliens. “I hope the aliens are the peaceful type,” he said fervently. Suddenly five green-coloured alien creatures, with about five feet tall humanoid body, walked in through the kitchen’s wall. It was obvious that conventional walls didn’t pose much of a barrier for aliens who were capable of using the intermolecular space to cross any physical barrier. These creatures had bald and rather elongated pear-shaped heads with two large eyes devoid of eyelids. They were snub-nosed, without any ear and their mouths consisted of a mere slit. They were dressed in green-coloured spandex type of dress that was so tight-fitting that it seemed part of their body. They wore a logo of some kind of an alien dragon on their sleeves. They had three fingers and their feet were encased in tight-fitting boots. Naturally the family was horrified by the sudden appearance of these strange looking aliens in their kitchen. They tried to scream but no word came out of their mouth and in a matter of moments, they went into some kind of trance. When they woke up, they found themselves in a strange chamber with its roof beaming down an amazing array of colourful lights and around whose walls there lay

intricate-looking scientific instruments. There were fivestretchers laid out in the chamber, one for each member of the family. As they lay still on their separate stretchers, the aliens were keenly observing them. “Where are we?” Neena murmured with fear. The aliens did not bother to answer her question. One of them, perhaps their chief, replied telepathically. It was clear that the aliens used their mouth only for fulfilling their dietary requirements and they could speak only in the telepathic manner. Soon a running telepathic conversation was being carried on between the five members of the human family and aliens. The family was convinced that the aliens were peaceful by nature and did not mean to harm anyone. The aliens did not even need to walk. They levitated one inch above the ground and so it was easy for them to move around by floating in the air. Neena, Mukesh, and the three kids were no longer frightened of the aliens. Instead, they felt calm and composed. Even the two girls, Sanjana and Rekha, were regarding the aliens enthusiastically. Mohit, of course, had always been enthusiastic about them. When Neena expressed her wish to leave the stretcher on which she was lying, the aliens said that every member was free to walk around the spaceship. The family was now on their feet and they were gushing at the intricate instruments that were arranged in the chamber. Even the floor of the chamber felt strange – it was not carpeted but was covered with some kind of velvet that felt very soft to the feet. The three kids and their parents took off their shoes as they preferred to walk bare feet on the soft floor. Communicating telepathically, the aliens told them that the floor in the spaceship was not only comfortable to walk on but it was also outfitted with diverse kinds of sensors that could collect data from the body of humans and aliens. After checking out the diverse properties of the chamber, the family decided to explore the rest of the spacecraft. The aliens promptly learned about their desire and by using mere thought, they opened in the walls of the chamber a portal through which anyone could move in or out. It was clear that the alien spacecraft was unimaginably large. In response to a pointed question from Mohit, the aliens replied telepathically that the spacecraft was more than 200 sq km in area from the inside but from the outside, it was only 2 inches in diameter. “How can something only 2 inches in diameter from outside have an interior that is so large?” exclaimed Sanjana. “Space, like time, in the universe is relative,” the leader of the aliens replied telepathically. “Latest cutting-edge development in science has made it possible to have a very large area inside a very small container.” “Then your technology must be really advanced,” said Mukesh, “because we can’t do this kind of thing on earth yet.” “Yes, it will take about 4 billion years for this kind of technology to reach earth,” replied the leader of the aliens. “Our civilization is 4 billion light years older than your civilization.”

“You people have been all over the universe, how many other intelligent civilizations are out there?” eagerly asked Mohit. “The universe is teeming with life of all kinds,” replied the leader of the aliens. “But as the universe is still quite young, it is only about 13 billion years old, most of the life is still not evolved enough to be called intelligent. No one knows the exact number of planets that are supporting intelligent civilization but their number may well run into billions.” “Billions of intelligent civilizations,” exclaimed Rekha. “Could we visit them all?” “The civilizations are flung so far apart in different galaxies that it is nearly impossible for anyone to reach them all in their lifetime,” said the leader of the aliens. “But where are you people from?” asked Mukesh. “We are from a civilization located in the Andromeda Galaxy. We have been visiting earth for the last 10,000 years.” “That is a lot of time!” exclaimed Neena. “In that case, you may have goos knowledge of human history.” “That is true,” the aliens answered telepathically. “We saw the two great wars.” “By the two great wars, I guess you mean the First World War and the Second World War?” injected Mohit cheerfully. “We did witness the World Wars,” nodded the leader of the aliens, “but that was not what I was referring to when I talked about the two great wars. I was referring to wars that were fought in a much earlier era and were more devastating in scope than any war ever fought on this planet.” “Which wars were those?” asked Mohit. “The wars that happened during the Ramayana and the Mahabharata era,” replied the alien. Hearing this, every member of the family came up with many more questions about the life and society in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata era and the leader of the aliens was only too pleased to acquaint them with facts that would satisfy their curiosity. After about a long session of Q & As, the aliens could sense that their guests were hungry. “I must apologize for bringing all of you here when you were about to have your dinner,” said the leader of the aliens telepathically. “Now we would like to invite all of you to have dinner with us.” “That is very kind of you,” Neena simpered. “The children are hugry and so are we,” she looked at Mukesh, who nodded in agreement. “Please follow me to the dining room,” chief aliens. The family hardly needed any second invitation and eagerly followed the aliens down the corridor leading to the dining room. Soon they reached a large hall in the centre of which stood a large dining table that could accommodate more than 100 people. “Wow!” exclaimed Sanjana. “I have never seen anything so lavish as this. The walls of the dining hall were warm with pale blue wallpaper embossed with floral designs. The floor was made out of some kind of gleaming white marble which somehow felt soft to the feet. A sparkling chandelier fitted with real diamonds, emeralds, rubies and pearls hung from the roof.
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Even the dining table was studded with precious metals. The chairs were incorporated with state-of-the-art alien technology capable of adjusting themselves to the size of the person placed on them. With utmost politeness, the aliens escorted the family of five to their seats. “It is an extraordinary feeling,” said Neena. “It is our pleasure to play host to your wonderful family,” said the leader of the aliens. “Now what would you like to eat?” Neena and Mukesh looked at their kids and all of them seemed somewhat confused about what kind of food could be available on this spaceship. Once again the aliens read their mind and the leader of the aliens said, “The kitchen in this spaceship is more advanced than any kitchen on earth. Out here we can prepare more than 1 billion kinds of recipes from all over the universe. Whatever food you order, our robotic chefs will be able to create it for you within minutes.” “One billion recipes!” Neena exclaimed. “This is unbelievable.” “So what do we order?” asked Rakesh. “We can let our imaginations run wild – almost every food that we can think of is available on this spaceship.” “How about letting our alien hosts decide the menu for us?” ventured Mohit. “That is a good idea,” chirped Rakhi merrily. “I agree,” laughed Sanjana. Now that the kids had made up their mind, the parents too preferred to let the aliens order for them. “You can already read our minds so you are the best people to decide what kind of food would be best suited for us,” said Mohit looking at the leader of the aliens. “You have been coming to this planet for the last 10000 years so more than anyone else, you know what kind of food will be good for humans. We will have something as per your choice today,” said Neena.


November ‘09

“Well then, I will order top-class food from all over the universe for all of you,” said the leader of the aliens. Telepathically he placed the order and within a few moments a stream of robots came in carrying different kind of dishes in silver cutlery. In no time the food was served before them. “Won’t all of you be eating with us?” asked Mohit looking at the aliens who were seated at the table. The aliens looked at each other in surprise. “We don’t take food like humans and many other creatures in the universe do. We get our sustenance from the air and from sunlight,” replied one of the aliens. “Astonishing,” said Rakhi. “It’s too bad that you cannot enjoy this delicious meal,” said Sanjana, smacking her lip. “That is true. But watching all of you eat gives us just as much pleasure,” said the leader of the aliens. “One thing comes to my mind,” said Neena, “if you people don’t eat, why do you have such a state-of-the-art kitchen built into your spaceship.” “The kitchen is there to serve the needs of our guests whom we keep bringing to the spaceship from earth and other planets.” The family had now started eating the delicious food that was unlike anything that they had ever tasted. Most of the ingredients that went into the making of the dish had been collected from planets from the farthest reaches of the universe. Even the recipe in accordance to which the food had been prepared was extraordinary. After each member of the family had eaten to their satisfaction, the aliens took them to a special lounge equipped with comfortable sofa sets. It is quite natural that the five humans were eager to have a glimpse of the civilization from which these aliens had arrived. The aliens belonged to a civilization was four billion years older than the civilization on earth. But it was only after Neena, Mukesh and their children had a telepathic glimpse of their civilization that they learnt how these billions of years translated into advancement in science and technology. They were electrified and bewildered by what they saw. There were skyscrapers more than 5 km high. There were expressways where vehicles flashed past at 5000 km per hour. There were Cyborgs much advanced than anything Hollywood can ever imagined. There were knowledge clinics where knowledge could be directly downloaded inside one’s brain within a matter of seconds. Life on this planet was a glaring example of the old adage, “truth is stranger than fiction.” After a whirlwind telepathic tour of their own civilization, the aliens introduced the humans to other advanced civilizations of the universe. With their mind’s eye, the humans saw the planet Seroseum that was completely covered with water. The process of evolution had taken a watery route here. The Seroseumites looked like the hypothetical mermaids of earth. They lived in huge and intricately planned underwater cities. Another planet, Geldis, was too far from its sun with the result that it was constantly frozen. The process of evolution had imparted its inhabitants with thick

white fur, which enabled them to survive the cold. The Geldisians lived in cities built of frozen blocks of ice. Neena, Mukesh and their three children were swept off their feet as their minds woke up to the amazing array of intelligent life that existed in the furthest reaches of the universe. Humans were not alone. There were other intelligent beings around whose science and technology was much more advanced that anything that was available on earth. However, time was running out. It was going to be midnight soon and postmidnight the spaceship was scheduled to take off for another planet located in the furthest reaches of the universe. The leader of the aliens communicated this fact to his human guests. “I am heartened by the hospitality you have shown,” Neena smiled. “We would not want to delay your departure to another fabulous planet for any reason.” “You can drop us off to our home,” said Mukesh. “We are so pleased to have spent all this time with you all,” said Mohit. “I hope the next time you are back on earth, you will visit us again. I am itching for a sojourn on your fabulous spaceship,” said Sanjana. “Absolutely, repeated Rakhi, it will be fun being on your spaceship again,” said Rakhi. The aliens too seemed to be equally enchanted by this human family. The leader of the aliens promised to visit them again. Then the family was put into trance once again so as to be transported back to their home on earth. When Neena woke up again, she found herself lying on the bed in her home. Mukesh was lying beside her. Her head felt heavy and she vaguely remembered the tryst that her family had with the aliens. But the thought struck her mind that she might have dreamed about going to an alien spaceship while she had been sleeping. She raised her hand and shook Mukesh from his reverie. He sat up on the bed drowsily rubbing his eyes. At the same time, the children came running into their room. “Mom, dad,” shouted Mohit enthusiastically. “The aliens dropped us back home.” “Was it all a dream? But then why would all of us have the same dream?” Mukesh said circumspectly. “I have no idea,” uttered Neena. “But it did happen,” ejaculated Sanjana. “We were with the aliens till a few minutes ago.” “We had dinner at their spaceship,” said Rakhi. “Well, maybe …” Neena managed to utter. “But I find it hard to believe. One thing is for sure, all of us had an adventure of a lifetime today.” With these words, she broke into a hearty laughter. While the family of five was celebrating their encounter with aliens, the spacecraft had picked up speed and was out of sight in a less than a few minutes. From the earth’s atmosphere, it entered a wormhole capable of bending the universe. By navigating through the wormhole the spacecraft could reach the Andromeda Galaxy, which is billions of light years away from earth, in a matter of moments. I
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Ageing the reverse way with technology
uriouser and curiouser,” exclaimed Alice, as she began to grow smaller and smaller after eating some portion of a cake in Lewis Carroll’s classic, Alice in Wonderland. And she might have felt just the same after watching The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, a flick with multiple Academy Awards to its credit. Indeed, the title and the content, the filming and the technology are just too offbeat, to say the least. One look at the film and you cannot but agree that it richly deserves the three Oscars for art direction, make-up and, of course, visual effects. Now that your curiosity is aroused, here’s a close look at the technology used – making the movie a veritable culmination of all that present day special effects encompass.

Roli Gupta


Capturing the essence
So, making such a movie should have been simple, shouldn’t it? All the director (David Fincher) had to do was to get different actors with the right make-up to play Benjamin Button at different ages ... right? Wrong! Besides the

So, what is the movie about?
The film is based on a 1921 short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. At once tragic and comic, frightening and emotional, the tale features a protagonist (Brad Pitt) who ages backwards. Benjamin Button is born with the face of an octogenarian and the body of a newborn. As his biological age increases, his face gets younger and the body gets older ... a curious case, indeed! Mentally, he ages the conventional way. The movie depicts his life from birth to death – a life that is curiously different from the rest of us. Unlike a baby who ages gradually – both physically and mentally – Button ages in the reverse way. Even as he becomes younger in looks and older in body and biological age, his lover Daisy (Cate Blanchett) ages the regular way – a great premise for a love story with plenty of fantasy and drama. 74 November ‘09

intricate and uncommon plot, the other aspect that wows movie buffs is that the character of Benjamin Button is portrayed by Brad Pitt alone throughout the film; no other actor plays the lead role regardless of the curious age evolution that happens on-screen. While make-up was essential to achieve the desired effects, one could not overdo it as subtle expressions would be totally lost under heavy prosthetic make-up. Technology had to be brought in, of course, and the very best in computer graphics and visual effects were required. And all these should have eased up the process of recreating Brad Pitt at different ages. However, when it came to selecting the software, the wrong choice of technology could have marred the film, turning it into a dud – devoid of the rich range of emotions that its lead character had to experience.

Technology had to be brought in, of course, and the very best in computer graphics and visual effects eased up the process.

It may seem that we are exaggerating the ‘portraying emotions’ bit. However, most digital performances or computer-generated characters lack the full range of emotive expressions that an actor can render. For a movie like Benjamin Button, it is important that each character, especially the lead role, should be able to emote and capture the subtle nuances. Such a movie requires a high level of animation, or else it could end up like an all-too-obvious digitally generated film, incapable of bringing out the emotions and the drama that would be integral to the story. So the real challenge lay in using the right technology, and using it well.

So how did they do it?
To put it simply, a series of well-planned, detailed steps went into the creation of this movie – a process that involved months of hard work and the best in technology to digitally create Brad Pitt from the neck up. And the result? A stupendous visual effect, a jaw-dropping experience quite unmatched till date. Without much ado, let us tell you what was actually done. The initial task was to create a Brad Pitt emotion library. Wearing fluorescent make-up, Pitt conjured every possible

The expressions that Brad emoted at this stage were mapped to those already in the emotion library. The corresponding expression from the emotion library was then aged digitally and superimposed on the actors who were doubling for Brad during shoots. As these actors had worn blue hoods, the digital erasure and superimposition became easy. Together, they created an eerily real Benjamin Button who had the body of a seven-yearold and the face of an 80-year-old. Although the face was entirely computer-generated, the creation was replete with the tiniest of details and portrayed the entire range of Brad’s expressions. In fact, the movie’s official website has some really good graphics and videos that explain the technology behind Benjamin Button. It is definitely worth a dekko (

And the Oscar goes to …
With prestigious awards, rave reviews and accolades coming its way, one unsung hero (besides the technicians) of this path-breaking film happens to be Contour ( – a system that captures facial performance. Simply put, Contour tracks an actor’s (in this case Brad Pitt’s) facial movements in three-dimensional

human emotion and each facial expression was recorded by high-definition cameras. From joyous smile and boisterous laughter to unbearable agony, crippling grief or red-hot anger – you name it and they recorded it. It was a unique and exhaustive library that mapped Pitt’s emotional expressions as accurately as possible. Next came the part where several other actors with Benjamin’s physical characteristics stood in for Pitt on the sets, shooting the portions of the movie where Button is physically a child or a teenager. All these actors wore a blue hood, which was to be erased digitally and superimposed with Brad’s face at a later stage. After this filming was done, Brad lent his voice and facial expressions to the scenes (rather like dubbing). This ‘visual and sound dubbing’ was recorded from four angles, ensuring that even the tiniest change in the actor’s facial expression was not missed.

space and in stunning details – gathering up to 1,00,000 motions and points. All the details that make a face human – laugh lines, crinkling of the eyes, wrinkles, crow’s feet, dimples, eyebrow movements, trembling of the chin and so on – are tracked and reproduced digitally, allowing the technical artist to play around with digital effects on these mappings. Thanks to this technology, the aged Brad Pitt looks like a ‘really’ aged Brad Pitt and not just a detached, digitally generated image. While several movies use special effects, it is only in this film that the technology has been stretched to its limits. Amazingly subtle in its use, its beauty lies in the fact that most movie-watchers would not even realise the painstaking effort that has gone into making Benjamin Button an extraordinarily realistic juxtaposition of the real and the digital. As always, this is technology at its best that not only entertains but also inspires awe and wonder! I
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When it to

Fantasy fictions make way to real-life technology

sci-fi makes real life
Suneetha B.


s necessity the mother of invention? Nope! The phrase can be easily changed to ‘Fiction is the mother of invention’ when one takes stock of the concepts which have made their way from fantasy fiction to real-life technology. Believe it or not, most of the mainstays of modern life had once been the idea buds that took shape in the imagination of sci-fi writers. Just look at these illustrations and you will realise it soon.

Sure enough, humans followed the concept of flying and space travel without much delay. The invention of the airplane by the Wright brothers was soon followed by Yuri Gagarin’s pioneering space tour and the actual moonwalk by Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin. Undoubtedly, it is one giant leap for mankind and the journey of discovery continues till date. But just remember, we have first read it as a piece of fiction.

Cell phones: No wire, no tire
Can you imagine life without cell phones? You can hardly remember it, let alone imagine, one would surmise. In those days, you booked a trunk call and waited for hours before it came through; or broke your journey to make a call from a phone booth and waited in the queue. We accepted it and were content till Star Trek was beamed. Captain Kirk’s ‘communicators’ in Star Trek used to talk to the crew of the Starship Enterprise. And that precisely inspired and influenced Martin Cooper while he was developing cell technology at Motorola. On a fine April day in 1973, Cooper walked down a New York Street and put across the world’s first ever cell phone call from a handset that weighed all of two pounds and more. The call was made to Joel Engel, the research head at Bell Labs, incidentally Cooper’s rival.

Robotics: Will Man play God?

When Czech writer Karel Čapek introduced the word ‘robota’ in his play in 1921, little did he think that the word was going to be etched in gold. Robota means forced labour and the play is about a factory where artificial people are created to work for humans. Finally, the machine-man rebels and the humans meet their end.

Space travel: Winging a new world

We all remember the humorous science fantasy From the Earth to the Moon (French: De la Terre à la Lune, 1865) by Jules Verne or the 1901 sci-fi romance The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells. Taking a cue from these, Marie-Georges-Jean Méliès made the first science fiction movie, A Trip to the Moon (Le voyage dans la Lune, 1902). This was a 14-minute movie about six astronomers who build a bullet-shaped ship; it is then fired from a cannon and reaches the moon. Isaac Asimov made it sound even better in 1942 with a slight twist and coined the word robotics in his short story, Runaround. And Asimov fans are sure to remember the three rules for robots. Later on, Blade Runner, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Terminator and the sci-fi TV flick Battlestar Galactica made us marvel at the rebelling potentials of the robots. But so far, our robots are emotionless and the farthest they have ventured is the ramp in Japan where they have catwalked as fashion models.

Submarines: For under-ocean odysseys
William Bourne in 1578 and Cornelis Jacobszoon Drebbel in 1620, as well as Leonardo Da Vinci during the Renaissance,
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Feature Back to the future
As a fun discussion, we have asked a group of sci-fi enthusiasts to open up on future-tech ideas which will change our life in the time to come. So take a look at what they have to say. Rohith Jyothish, an Economics student and an avid sci-fi reader living in Thiruvananthapuram, was all for teleporting and jet packing. “If there is a way we can fly from one place to another at the click of a button, I would say ‘WOW’,” he exclaimed. I guess the poor guy is as tired of the traffic as we all are! talked about and envisaged submarine designs. And once again, Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea opened up the possibilities of under-ocean odysseys. That was in 1870, of course. But submarines came up fast and were rampantly used during the World Wars. Next came the nuclear-powered subs but alas, it is not the Navy alone that now enjoys all the underwater fun, adventure and secrecy. The first tourist submarine came up in 1985 and luxury submarines happen to be the latest fad among the uber rich. According to a media report, an estimated 100 or so luxury subs are out there in the deep seas, ranging between $12 million and $80 million. Sudhindra Mokhasi, author of the best-selling BPO Sutra and CEO of e-Sutra Chronicles, Bangalore, would ideally look forward to “a notebook PC shaped like a pen, with a projecting virtual keyboard and a screen to keep it on the table and bang away.” Won’t it be great when this actually happens? Himanshu Gaur, an Ad man and sci-fi writer from New Delhi, was all enthusiasm when it came to generating futuristic ideas which might change our lifestyle dramatically. “Every advancement in science and technology changes our life. Today, it’s most natural to chat with our loved ones who are on the other side of the globe. Or we can fly and meet them in less than 48 hours. Things can only get better in the days to come and we can expect a lot more. Like amphibious and flying cars, computers that we can control by thought, Internet spectacles we can surf by thinking, backpack for human flying and most importantly, an increase in the average human lifespan – let’s say 350 years, for a start!” And once this happens, we will have to emigrate to other planets for sure! Dr. Amarjeet Nayak, a sci-fi writer and a college teacher was all for the invention of a vaccine so that hunger pang would cause no pain. When pressed further, he dived deep into imagination and foresaw the annihilation of mankind. Would you like to know the cause? No, it’s not nuclear war or global warming, but flu – the hate flu epidemic, to be precise. It begins with mild symptoms of

Geostationary satellites: Moon-making for a cause
Science fiction buffs know that Arthur C. Clarke had predicted the possibility of geostationary satellite in the Wireless World magazine in 1945. Today, these are being launched left, right and centre for communications and weather observation. These are artificial earth-orbiting satellites (you can say, fake moons) placed directly over the equator at an altitude of 35,800 km. They revolve in the same direction as the earth rotates (west to east), take 24 hours to complete one orbit and appear nearly stationary in the sky when we look at them from the ground. The orbital path has been named the Clarke Belt, in honour of the visionary.

Food supplements: Survival made easy

Do you remember The Jetsons, a popular sitcom originally made in the 1960s and remade in 1980s as the space-age counterpart of The Flintstones hailing from the Stone Age? It features humans in a futuristic utopia in 2062 and shows several concepts which may become a reality soon. For instance, food supplements are something most busy house managers with multiple careers long for, at least on a workday. The people in the flick pop in tablets for breakfast, lunch and dinner instead of sitting down to meals. No one can deny the value of food supplements in this jet age; but will it make us long for the good, old home-cooked meals? Such ideas are aplenty, but let us now go fast forward and look at the future for a bit. 78 November ‘09

‘jealousy flu’, then turns into intolerance flu, and finally acute hate flu would occur. And the symptoms? Red eyes, irritated mental state and murder frenzy. Should we now seriously consider changing ourselves and get over such mental blocks? Anil Menon, a well-known sci-fi author and a techie residing in the USA, had a list of 10 innovations jotted down in a jiffy. His fertile imagination flew from bene markets to exoskeletons and climate engineering in rapid succession. Anil spoke of bene markets where financial instruments would convert social goods into market goods and investors would be able to invest in social changes. Climate engineering, on the other hand, focused on techniques that would tweak the climate and curb the greenhouse effect. But what I liked best was the nictitating membranes. Present in reptiles, birds and some animals, this is the transparent or translucent third eyelid, but Anil wanted it in humans for another purpose. It would be very useful to carry around a computer display in the eyes. Need a screen? Drop an eyelid. Then there is the new behavioural genetics, where some parents will tweak their kids to give them a better future. Imagine a kid designed to like mathematics, to concentrate, to have no interest in the other sex till a pre-set age. Another idea was finding the cure for most viral and bacterial diseases. It has only taken 20 to 40 years to crack the HIV virus, perhaps the most complex one in existence. So in another 50 years, most ‘natural’ germs would surely be destroyed by modern medicines, he felt. Anil, you definitely have the future mapped in your mind! Vaibhav Rathi, a tech student at IIT Jaipur, looked forward to one comprehensive scientific study that would span all branches and enable individuals to communicate better. “Major scientific breakthroughs involving collaborations from varied fields such as Physics, Neurology, Biotechnology and Psychology have actually opened up new possibilities in the area of communication,” he said. “So let’s have a newly developed ‘brain supplement’ that will ensure mind-to-mind communication – making the use of language totally obsolete. The new technology will allow two individuals to share their respective ‘thought pools’. There’s a logic given by scientists and technicians in this respect. Not all thoughts

can be converted to words without losing their meaning. And during the communication process, words, too, tend to lose some punch. Consequently, the ideas conveyed fail to carry the real meaning – they are either distorted or we get them totally wrong. Either way, the intensity or the meaning will get lost,” Rathi added. “The social implications of this new ‘brain supplement’ will be debatable though, as the boundaries of the ‘thought pool’ concept are not clear yet. This is being branded by some as the new ‘toy’ to forgo privacy while others think that it may help the disabled or the linguistically challenged,” he opined. Pervin C, a writer and English language consultant from Pune, fervently wished that “we should never fall ill or become obese. And when one has to die, one can just fall asleep and die – not because of heart attack or any such illness. Why should we tolerate such a prolonged period of misery, aches and suffering before death? Why are we made that way? It will be awesome if at 70, someone can just fall asleep and die painlessly!”

It was great to hear a feminine comment at last when she wanted “forever contact lenses that need not be washed and rinsed and cleaned every night! And how about a way to set hair permanently so that there are no bad hair days? Want it in curls? You set it and it stays that way whether you shampoo, shower or sleep ... until three months later when you prefer straight hair.” But she also wished for an invention that would ensure world peace for ever. Perhaps that was the best suggestion! But I did wonder why nobody thought of the holodeck? A hangover of the Star Trek days, this is a big room that can simulate any number of environments and/or experiences for the user, and can trick all five senses into believing that it’s real. That’s the ultimate, isn’t it – a switch from one reality to another and find out what resonates with us? Much like Richard Bach’s One that offers parallel worlds and endless lifetimes for us to savour! Believe it or not, you surely may experience it one day. Like those things which were concepts once, but are realities now. I
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Achieve academic excellence with
Spearheaded by IIM-IT alumni, the foundations of Career Launcher were laid in 1995. Ever since its inception, Career Launcher (CL) has focused on academic excellence, technological innovation and domain expertise to make education accessible to all. What initially began with a vision to set up a worldclass education services corporate, CL today is one of the leading education corporate in South Asia. CL is led by top business and engineering alumnus from IIMs and IITs. It has learning centres spread across 130 cities in India and has an international presence in the US, Dubai and Abu Dhabi offering various services to students. With its focus on students’ needs, its foundation firmly set on its ‘Core Values’ and technology as a key driver, CL strives to enable people to realize their potential. Career Launcher is also actively involved in the field of mainstream education, mainly through its growing network of playschools and secondary schools. Currently, CL runs eight schools in Indore, Hyderabad, Raipur, Bhiwani, Mandi, Ahmednagar, Gurgaon and Noida under the brand name ‘Indus World School & Ananda’. CL also runs a business school based out of Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh. The business school offers a Bachelor in Business Administration (BBA) and a PostGraduation Programme in Management (PGPM). Currently, CL is in the process of setting up a university where, besides academic, technical and business courses, a major focus will be on vocational training. With this project, CL aims at generating direct employment for 3500 people and employment opportunities for 50,000 students over the next five years. A pioneer in the realm of personality development programmes (PDP) in India, CL has been running exclusive soft skills, communication and job readiness courses to help candidates get jobs in IT, banking, insurance, retail sectors. CL is actively involved in pre-hire training and skill upgradation for manpower requirement of corporate and MNCs, especially in the areas of sales, retail, IT, etc. It provides comprehensive services in this sector ranging from sourcing, assessment and training to placements and out-sourcing. Graduate Finishing Schools (GFS) is another domain where CL is involved in soft skills development and job readiness of college students/passouts. CL has initiated its GFS work focusing on banking and IT sector and engineering graduates. With tie-ups with leading IT giants like Oracle and HCL, Career Launcher is all set to establish academies/hubs for technical training and IT skill up-gradation. Besides, CL has also tied up with ICICI Bank and NCDEX (National Commodities and Derivatives Exchange of India) for joboriented courses in banking and commodities sector.

Inaugural function at Indus World School, Ahmednagar.

re you an incurable television addict, a selfprofessed couch potato who is forever glued to the small screen and cannot let go of the remote? Chin up and cheer up – you are not alone. Modern homes claim to have at least one TV set per family member as all of us have our own preferences and want to enjoy our private space. Times have changed since that bulky, black-andwhite ‘idiot box’ made its first entry to our drawing rooms in the 1940s. Today, the average television set is capable of showing 100-plus channels and tends to drown us in an incessant shower of infotainment. Nestled in the comfort of your sofa, you can admire the grace of Russian ballet, savour the fine art of


Forget the idiot box…
French wine-making, admire the haute couture on display at the Oscar Red Carpet or have a face-to-screen darshan of Baba Ramdev – all in 15 minutes flat. Watching television has always been fun, thanks to the fastevolving content. But why don’t you watch your favourite programme on a laptop, mobile or PDA? “No way,” says Kiran Ranjan, a quality analyst by profession and a die-hard sports fan. “One can hardly enjoy the world cup soccer final or even a movie on that kind of screen. Televisions are definitely here to stay.” But before you buy a hi-tech TV amounting to thousands or even lakhs, let us take a close look at the dizzying array of new terminologies and decide which television will best suit your requirements and budget. So here we go …

Sleek, chic, light and wide – you cannot take your eyes off these tech wonders …
inches. Up to 32 inches, images will definitely be sharper but you may not be able to find much difference. Next comes the contrast ratio that measures the brightness difference between the darkest and brightest spot on a display. But do you really need a TV with highest contrast ratio? There are several ways to calculate contrast ratio and as per VESA (Video Electronics Standards Association), a contrast ratio of 7000:1 is the best possible one. Unfortunately, the specifications provided by various manufacturers are just a marketing hype. It simply refers to the gadget’s ability to reproduce different levels of brightness and it is much better to judge things with your own eyes. Go to a store and check how a particular television looks. Your eyes can better recognise contrast than resolution, which is why a full HD TV of 1080 pixel resolution and low contrast may not look as good as a 720 pixel with high contrast. Now that you are shopping for a digital, high-definition television, there will be options galore in terms of technology and display which we will discuss below. But here lies a small catch. Not all digital televisions are high-definition as per the above standards. So it is always better to find out if the DTV you want to buy comes with standard picture resolution and screen size.


Anuj Agarwal

Choose a digital, high-definition TV
Great picture, vibrant colour, reverberating sound, wide screen – all major manufacturers are now working on future technologies to ensure these and much more. Picture quality depends on two basic factors – the number of horizontal lines on the screen and the number of pixels or colour dots (that make up the picture) in each line. Most of us have grown up with standard-definition television (SDTV) that can display 480 horizontal lines and 640 pixels per line. High-definition TVs are much better, of course, as they can display 1080 lines and 1920 pixels per line with better refresh rate and high contrast ratio. However, sets that display 720 lines and 1280 pixels are also considered high-definition. You also need to consider the shape and size of the screen. Instead of the regular, nearly square screen, high-definition TVs come with wide screens like the ones we find in movie theatres. Any good set should feature a screen above 32

The world on the wall – Plasma versus LCD
Are you craving for one of those sleek, wall-mounted models which are bound to give you the home-theatre type look and feel? Go for the flat-panel sets then – the LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) and the Plasma are the best buy. Both look quite similar and come with full HD resolution (1920x1080), but they differ in technology. Technologies: Plasma screens consist of numerous pixel cells, each filled with a mixture of rare natural gases – usually xenon
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and neon. This gas mixture is located between two electrodes and contains both positively and negatively charged ions. Every pixel of the Plasma TV acts as a source LCD Plasma of light and is coated with phosphor, a fluorescent material, Better home-theatre image quality Sleek, less bulky than Plasma sets which displays colour when it reacts Wider viewing angles Available in a wide range of sizes with light. Also, each pixel consists Deeper black levels High contrast and bright pictures PROS of three smaller areas – again Superior motion resolution Matte screens keep down reflection Big screens (40 inches and above) Less power consumption coated with phosphor materials cost less than LCDs of equal size Better lifespan than Plasma screens that produce red, blue and green colours. These smaller areas are Smaller screens are not available Picture quality is not as good as Plasma sets known as sub-pixels. Heavier than LCD sets and fragile Poor black levels When hit with an electric charge, Lower native resolution Motion blur caused by display CONS Burn-in problem the ions collide with each other as Relatively narrow viewing angle Short lifespan Bigger screens (40 inches and above) are priced they try to move towards their Less energy efficient higher than Plasma sets oppositely charged electrode. Such Glass screens reflect light in brightly lit space collisions produce ultraviolet light rays or photons which subsequently What you react with the coloured phosphor, Movies, sports, gaming. Best for Regular TV shows and gaming which can watch movies on DVDs. produce static images on the screen. coating the sub-pixels. The subbest pixels then release different amounts of red, blue or green light the other hand, generates typically brighter pictures. If you and colour images are produced. prefer watching daily soaps or news, go for an LCD display as LCD or the liquid crystal display technology works in a different Plasma screens tend to glare in brightly lit rooms. Also, Plasma manner. Here, liquid crystals containing pixels are pushed in the displays are generally heavier and more delicate to ship. So if space between two pieces of polarised glass. When power is you need to relocate often, think again before shelling out your switched on, a cold cathode fluorescent lamp or CCFL at the back money on the Plasma. of the screen emits a white light that passes through the liquid Another concern with the Plasma TV is the ‘burn-in’, where crystals. Meanwhile, a matrix of thin-film transistors (TFTs) static images like a channel’s logo would leave a permanent supplies voltage to the liquid crystals, so that they can reproduce imprint on the screen. Although measures have been taken to just the ‘right’ colours by blocking out other colour wavelengths minimise it, you must be careful and should not pause your Plasma from the spectrum of white light. for a long time. Plasma is still considered the best by movie buffs, Let us also consider FLCD or Ferroelectric Liquid Crystal fond of large-screen viewing. Samsung’s 50 inch B550 full HD Display, in this context. FLCD is quite unique compared to the model is one of the top-rated products, but a wide range is out traditional LCD, since power is required only for the initial there to choose from. switching on. This leads to substantial energy-saving, to say the least. Moreover, FLCD has very fast response time. It also offers full colour and full motion for video applications, high contrast Buy LED LCD, get brownie points value and a better resolution – thus improving the image quality. Technology: The latest on offer is the LED backlit TV which is Pros and cons: Plasma comes in bigger sizes and normally similar to LCDs but comes with LED (light-emitting diode) starts from 40 inches, while LCD sets are also available in less than backlights instead of the white fluorescent light used in traditional 40 inches. But the biggest advantage of Plasma is its price when it LCD televisions. Made of semiconductive material, LEDs have comes to really big screens. Larger LCD sets do not abound (of many advantages over traditional lighting sources including less course, there is a 65 inch set manufactured recently) and they will energy consumption, better lifetime and smaller size. surely cost you a fortune. However, LCD tends to consume less There are several ways of backlighting an LCD panel using power, is lighter in weight, provides sharper images and is believed LEDs. These can be positioned directly behind the LCD to have a better lifespan than Plasma screens. panel; or you can opt for the latest edge-lit LED where LED There is another plus for Plasma as it is better equipped to units are placed at the right, left, top and bottom of the panel. render deeper blacks. Colours appear richer and more natural Each unit contains a row of tiny white diodes and a thin on a Plasma screen. Viewing angle is undoubtedly superior, and screen-sized plastic sheet known as a light guide plate. The it also ensures better motion tracking for fast-moving pictures. combined light output is funnelled and redistributed evenly So Plasma is best suited for movie and sports lovers. An LCD, on across the screen. 82 November ‘09

Better picture quality than LCDs, almost as good as Plasma displays Super sleek,High refresh rate Deep black levels,Better motion resolution Less power consumption Wider viewing angle Higher cost

Super sleek,High refresh rate Brighter images and higher contrast ratios Deep black levels,Better motion resolution Wider viewing angles, Less power consumption,Supposed to be more cost effective than LCDs Short lifespan Easily damaged by water

features, an LED LCD set will be ideal for you. It can produce immensely bright images and deeper blacks compared to the traditional LCD. LED displays have higher refresh rate, so you will get better motion images than the LCD. The only drawback is the price, as LEDs are more expensive than those with conventional lighting systems. LED is as good as Plasma; all you have to do is to shell out some extra bucks to get this beautiful, slim wonder.

Technology: If you are wondering what’s next, we have more good news. Another wonder gadget is on its way to hit the market soon – the OLED TV to be precise. Simply , put, OLED (Organic Light Emitting Display) is an organic LED that does not require a backlight but emits its own light. It is also supposed to be more cost-effective Movies, sports, day-to-day programmes Supposed to be ideal for gaming with very low and gaming. response time. Very good for movies, sports than LCDs. and regular TV programmes. So, what is so great about OLEDs? Everything, you may say. This futuristic display comes with lightning fast response time (less than 0.01 ms), Pros and cons: So, what are the pluses when you get an very high contrast ratio, outstanding brightness, wide viewing LED LCD? The brightness is better, for one thing, and the angles, exceptional colours and very little power requirement. black level has gone up to Plasma-like quality. The viewing The technology is simple enough, though. Instead of liquid angle has also improved, thanks to the ‘most sleek, all screen’ crystals, a layer of organic material is pushed between two concept. Use of LED in LCD TV consumes less power and conductors – an anode and a cathode. It is then put between two hence, is good for environment. It has better contrast ratio with glass plates (a seal and a substrate). When the conductors are hit by high response time and is pretty much sleek, even slimmer than current, the organic material produces a bright, electrothe LCD TV. In fact, the innovative spin-off can really add to the grace and space to your living room. For example, a 32 inch luminescent light. OLED generates amazingly pure colours (red, green and blue) when relevant pixels are stimulated and these are LCD TV will occupy around 80 mm of your living space in further refined by a colour filter to ensure great image quality. terms of thickness while the latest LED TV occupies less than Pros and cons: As OLED TV claims to have very high refresh 30 mm. It means more than 50 per cent space saving – a boon for those who either love ‘size zero’ or suffer from space crunch. rate, watching fast-moving images and playing games will definitely get a boost. OLEDs can also be used to create flexible and LED TVs are available in India and the most visible brand is Samsung. Sony and LG have also introduced their products in the transparent displays, thanks to their simple design and sleekness. They can really replace the Plasma and the LCD if the manufacturing cost Indian market. Very few models are available though, and you of OLEDs gets reduced along with improved lifetime. may not find them at every retail outlet. LG does not have a large OLEDs have already found success with mini-displays (mobile viewing angle but claims to be a full back-light LED LCD TV , phones, MP3 players, digital cameras, etc.) and manufacturers are rather than Samsung’s edge-lit LED LCD. Samsung claims to now working to achieve the same on bigger screens. As of now, have mega contrast ratio, which means you will get a perfect efforts are on to enhance their lifespan and ensure better product picture with highest colour quality and improved refresh rate. sealing as intrusion of water can destroy the organic material. Sony is somewhat expensive, but it is the slimmest of all with only 9.9 mm thickness. Samsung is a medium 29.9 mm while LG is the Samsung and Sony have already showcased several products based on OLED technology. Sony has started marketing its 11 inch thickest with 94 mm. OLED TV in Japan and the USA. And the latest product Sony’s latest ZX series 40 inch LED LCD model costs around demonstrated by the company is a 21 inch prototype. Rs 200,000; Samsung’s 40 inch model is priced at around Rs 125,000 while LG’s 42 inch set is just Rs 90,000. Sharp has also introduced a few LED LCD models with 2,000,000:1 contrast Surf and tweet – on small screen ratio, but these may not be easily available in the Indian market. Believe it or not, technology convergence is happening If you want a television with latest technology and better lightning fast. And your small screen is getting Web
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OLED – The new wonder

connectivity. Leading manufacturers like Sony, LG, Samsung and Vizio have tied up with Yahoo! to build small applications and widgets – so that you can surf and tweet while watching your favourite programme. Right now, only a few models come with Internet connectivity. Samsung has released a 55 inch Series 8 LED LCD TV so that , you can be online any time and access a number of Websites such as Yahoo! News, Yahoo! Finance, Twitter, Flickr and many more. All these can be done from the sidebar using various widgets while your favourite programme is on. You can also have a news ticker and a stock ticker on display. And that should be able to put a stop to the eternal bickering you have with your spouse or kids. Now, they can watch the latest stock quote or cricket score on the ticker while you watch your favourite show. But all this comes for a price and you need to shell out some Rs 350,000 to get this wonderful television from Samsung that has increased the frame rate conversion to 240Hz. LG has also introduced Internet@TV the LG LH50 series. This is a 47 inch , model and the price is very competitive – just Rs 95,000. But it has only 150,000:1 contrast ratio while Samsung has mega contrast ratio. But you can still use various Yahoo! widgets, YouTube and other such applications.

Big is beautiful, but …
Many people wonder whether a large screen will be suitable for their bedroom or should they get a larger one for their living room. Actually, the rule of the thumb is you should not sit closer than twice the width of your TV display and no farther than five times its width. So if you want to purchase a 40 inch Plasma or LCD screen, your room length should be somewhere between six and 16 feet. An average bedroom also has that much space. So you can enjoy your favourite programmes and movies on a big screen with your family and loved-ones.

Size zero is not that good
In 2008, Samsung showcased world’s thinnest OLED display, which measures just 0.05 mm (thinner than paper) with a contrast ratio of 100,000:1. Then, there is the world’s largest OLED television which has a 40 inch screen with full HD resolution (1920x1080) and a contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1. But we need to check whether 0.05 mm display is feasible for our living room or not. It is not too difficult to guess what will happen if somebody touches it with a heavy hand. May be we need to have a caution message up near our TV saying: Please handle with care; this TV is very sensitive.

3D TV – Future tech comes home?
Do you remember watching Chota Chetan or the 3D version of Meet the Robinsons on the big screen with special glasses on? Well, now you may not have to visit cinema halls or wear those glasses to enjoy the 3D effect. Sony has already demonstrated a single-lens camera that captures 3D images and expects to come up with 3D TVs by the end of 2010. Research is also on to introduce 3D television with an in-built camera that will capture viewer’s movements and adjust the picture accordingly. And once that happens, you won’t have to wear special glasses to enjoy your favourite 3D show. So how far are we from a three-dimensional television? To get the 3D effect, a fast response rate is required and the high refresh rate of the current LCD and Plasma televisions may soon make it a reality. Philips is working on this technology for the past 15 years and has demonstrated several 3D applications. The global giant is confident of creating effective 3D solutions based on its WoWvx technology. So when you own a 3D-ready TV all you need is 3D content for , an evening fun, thrill and adventure. However, companies must come up with a device to send 3D signals to 3D-ready televisions. You can also connect the 3D TV and your system using an HDMI cable and then stream your favourite 3D content for small-screen viewing. Mitsubishi has already come up with a model (Laservue HDTV) that has a standard 3D port and the 3D content can be viewed by wearing active 3D glasses.

The ‘P’ factor
From CRT to LED LCD and Plasma, from flat screen to flat panel – a dizzying range of models are out there which come with different price tags. Of course, you buying decision may get influenced by various factors – looks, features, power usage or, most importantly, PRICE. But Savvy buyers like Kiran Ranjan often choose to wait and watch before opting for a new technology. “I prefer to wait a few months, or even a year, for reviews and market reaction,” the 34-year-old quality analyst confirms. “By that time, the price also comes down a little and you have a fair bargain.” Also, keep in mind the cost of TV furniture and suitable installation. Unlike your old set, televisions today do not come in freestanding cabinets. So you may have to buy a brand new stand which will cost you quite a few extra bucks. Installation costs will be there as well, especially if you are wall-mounting your hi-tech set. You may also require new power points, new wiring and extra-strong studs for hanging up your TV As for those looking forward to a real . home-cinema experience, more shopping will be on the cards in terms of additional audios such as surround-sound speakers.

Ensure tech support
No, we are not talking about warranty and after-sales support, although you should have a clear idea about what the company is offering and how you stand to gain in case things are not working right. But it is even more important to understand what tech support you can expect from your cable/satellite service provider, once your new television set is safely home and correctly installed. Make sure that your set is able to capture high-definition signals and go for an upgrade if it requires additional equipment. Now that you are all set, it’s time for that phenomenal click of the remote. Happy viewing! I

And finally, points to ponder
Now that you are more or less conversant with the existing technologies and ready to take your pick, here are a few pointers to ensure the best buy. 84 November ‘09

o, never ever would I approve of your joining the school of multimedia,” roared the father, “better you join the coaching centre as it will equip you with all the necessary skills to clear those competitive tests to secure a job.” He would not like any deviation from it. Even a decade back, such was the common reaction if a young member from a family wanted to opt for some off-beat profession. However, days have changed and so has people’s idea about career. With the advent of technology, things have changed like what it has been in the entertainment field. Initially entertainment primarily meant cinema where an actor or a musician, an editor or at the best a sound engineer ruled the roost but it is a different story now. Considering time, money and competition, a production needs the involvement of experts at every stage to make a mark. While a sound engineer or an editor could earlier manage the post-production process with only a couple of assistants, today a group of technically skilled persons are working round-the-clock to give shape to the director’s ideation. Today an actor can rehearse before a video camera to shed his imperfection, if any, before he goes for the final shot. The


s In y itie ustr tun Ind or t pp en r O inm ee rta rjee ar te ukhe C n aM E riyank

well in harmony with the storyboard, before preparing the final layout. The advantage? Well, anything and everything can be changed, if required, with the click of a mouse in a jiffy. Also, any addition or alteration, even omission or retrieval of clips can be made quickly. Those stressful hours of editing on Moviola or Steenbeck have given way to latest digital editing. Jump-cut, matching of frames, montage effect, separating (segmenting; editing,

director, in this case, can better explain where the actor fails or succeeds to portray a particular emotion or how he should use the available light by watching the recorded frames. The presence of an expert cameraperson cannot be ignored. Not only actors but even editors are extremely benefited if they are equipped with the latest technology and know-how of video editing. This process certainly helps control time and money – two important aspects of filmmaking. Then comes the role of a sound engineer, who must be well acquainted with latest techniques and familiar with modern gadgets. Even a make-up artist can obtain enormous help from computer graphics; he can create a virtual image of a character onscreen before he puts make-up on the artist to get the actual ambiance of the character. A set designer can chalk out a plan on his console,

making subclip), linking (sequencing, adding), selecting (select, activate, mark in/mark out), inserting (substitute, splice in), removing (eliminate, extract), replacing (permutations, replace, overwrite), expanding and compressing (trim, slip, slide) on AVID media composer have become an experience to cherish. Digital video editing can do wonders, provided one is thoroughly conversant in the process. A career in this field can be an interesting option for creative people to prosper in the entertainment and media industry. But what is digital editing? It is a process of modifying or re-arranging segments of video from one or more video tapes to create a final piece of video. The primary role of a video editor involves editing of soundtracks, video and film for motion picture and broadcast visual media industries. Video editing is categorised as ‘linear’ and ‘non-linear’ editing or digital video editing. It involves the use of computer technology for onscreen editing. In non-linear editing, audio and video data are captured and then edited using various software. A career in video editing has become lucrative with the arrival of movie clips and videos. The growing popularity of online video clips has resulted in increased video editing activities by Internet users. There are numerous job opportunities in this avenue and video editors can find good placements in film and television production studios, advertising and multimedia firms, and Web design studios. They can also try their luck in motion picture studios and independent production companies. Most of the video editors work as freelancers or on short-term contracts for television companies, post-production studios and corporate employers. A career in video editing is open for all, as no specific educational qualification is required to enter this field. Yet, for a good payoff you may enrol for video editing courses such as Diploma in Video Editing, Diploma in Video Editing & Sound
November ‘09 85

Tech Career
Recording, Certificate Course in Non-Linear Editing, Post Graduate Diploma in Post-Production (Editing), Diploma in Film Editing, etc. For digital video editors, it is an added advantage to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in media arts or animation. Video editors should possess high level of self-motivation, creativity, keen eye for detail and the basic knowledge of cameras and digital camera technology. Of course, commitment to the work one does is most essential. Another lucrative career option may be animation effects. The advent of cable, DTH and video as well as groundbreaking technology in computer graphics has generated a host of animation marketed to all ages. Now, that certainly means more job opportunities and better scope in animation.
Information Courtesy:

Animation is fast emerging as a multibillion dollar industry, generating a great scope of employment for creative bugs. The art of animation came to being with the caveman drawing pictures on rock surfaces. Remember Walt Disney creations, especially the lovable Mickey Mouse? In the present times, it means linking the series of drawing and simulating their movement together. There are numerous B-schools that provide courses in animation.

Animation awaits the present generation with a sparkling career option even though it is still at a nascent stage in India. Though this profession seems low-key but for a dedicated individual, it must make hay as the sun of fortune shines on it. Those not good at sketching/drawing or having poor choice of colours should not venture in this direction. For diploma or bachelor degree in animation, one needs to clear at least 12th standard. For Post-Graduate programmes, one must be a graduate in any discipline, preferably in arts. And basic knowledge of computers is also essential. As a newcomer, it is a good idea to keep a portfolio with samples of your best artwork. As an alternative, you may send your work samples to various studios you are interested in working for. Institutes where a fresher can apply for, include Zee Institute of Creative Arts (ZICA), Industrial Design Center (IDC), IIT Mumbai and Guwahati, Arena Multimedia, Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics and TOONZ Animation India Pvt. Ltd.
Information Courtesy: for_growth_3713/


November ‘09

Hang on! There is more …
So far we have talked about only two prospective options, but there are more. Have you ever tuned in to those radio stations? Let me rattle off their names – Radio City 91.1 FM, Radio Mirchi 98.3 FM, Red FM 93.5, Big 92.7 FM, Fever 104 FM, etc. If the strains of music haven’t put you asleep, give a thumbs-up to the radio jockeys who will remove your day-long ennui with a click-shut by matching beats of songs. So you realise the need of a DJ (Disc Jockey) in the present world, set on a war-footing pace where you need to be rejuvenated at every step. With the boom in entertainment industry, DJs have proved their worth to add to the zing of city life. Visit any metro and you will find it going gaga over the signature beats of the most popular DJ. Many pursue it as a part-time opportunity to earn extra lolly. DJing has now become a considerable career option. But there are a few things you need to be familiar with. Say, the concept of timing. A DJ’s basic job is to first listen to the beats of a song and internalise the same. The songs can be divided into a particular number of beats per minute (for the sake of convenience) and, thus, essentially the DJ must match the BPMs (beats per minute) of the songs to play properly. One mismatch and the whole rhythm can go awry. Basic mixing involves two tracks, one on the left and another on the right. Hardcore DJs mix four-five tracks together, but you better stick to basics first. Women, too, are joining the fray and a special coaching centre is being launched to train youngsters. “We DJs enjoy our job as we get to liven up parties by mixing tunes, forming beats and creating the right ambience in the club,” says a local DJ in Kolkata. “There’s party happening all around and with an increase in party hoppers in metros, I must encourage others to join this profession,” she cheers up newcomers in this field. The radio industry in India has truly come of age. With the growth, expansion and increased reach of the radio industry, a variety of FM channels have come up offering diverse content. With renewed zing (DJing), let’s switch over to the field of Mass Communication. With India’s media and entertainment industry opening up multiple avenues, there are many job profiles open to a fresher now – from radio jockeys, actors, musicians, dancers, journalists, video technology creators and managers to cameramen and editors, soundmen and public relations managers. These are high-profile jobs and help earn huge remunerations. Some of the profiles talked about are as follow: The media industry is one of the most versatile industries. Mass media, as it is called theoretically, is one of the most influential industries today as it is directly connected with the masses. The primary role of the media industry is to provide information and generate public opinion. The industry started with the mass distribution of newspapers and magazines. Today, the definition of media has

undergone sea change and includes many sub-forms like broadcasting with the help of TV and radio; entertainment with the use of audio-visuals, films and videos; Internet with the inclusion of blogs, forums, music and news; and publication of books, journals and magazines. Thus, the scope of a career in media industry is vast.

Media institutes in India
Bangalore University, Gnana Bharati, Bangalore, University of Calcutta, Senate House Calcutta, Stella Maris College, Cathedral Road, Chennai, MA Mass Communication and Journalism, University of Calcutta, Senate House, Calcutta, Mangalore University, Mangalore, University of Madras, Chennai, Kodaikanal Christian College, Paradise Hill, Kodaikanal, University of Pune, Department of Communication Studies, Pune, Manipal Institute of Communication, Manipal, MCRC, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, Mudra Institute of Communication, Shela, Ahmedabad, SNDT Women’s University, Nathibai Thackersey Road, Mumbai, Asian Academy of Film and Television, Noida (UP), Dr. Harisingh Gour Viswavidyalaya, Gour Nagar, Sagar (MP), Indian Television Training Institute, New Delhi.
Information Courtesy:

It can best be described as the ‘high tide’ of technology, as every day a new career option is opening up. A career in game designing is one among them. It is one of the most complex parts of software development. Game designing involves designing the content and rules of the game. The principles of game designing are applied to various forms of games such as board games, video games or card games. Video game designing requires the co-ordination of game mechanics, programming, visual arts, production process, etc. Usually, the purpose of games is to entertain, train or educate. The game designing job sector is booming in India and it is considered a hot career option. There are numerous established companies that offer excellent job opportunities in game designing. Synapse, Smackall, Ishir Infotech and Csharks are some of the popular game designing companies in India that cater their services to the mobile phone industry, online games and video games sector. Aspirants may enrol in courses like Advanced Diploma in Game Design, Diploma in Game Design & Gaming, Video Game Design and Development Certification, and Video Game Design and Development to step up their market value. Some well-known institutes in India include Colorchips Animation Training Centre in Hyderabad, National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, Digital Academy Film School in Mumbai, Image College of Arts, Animation & Technology in Chennai, and Asian Academy of Film & Television in Uttar Pradesh. These institutes offer courses with genuine study material and assured placement service. Let these be enough for the time being. More information may leave you head-in-the-clouds and slewed off your dreams. I
November ‘09 87


Meet Sunny Vaghela the ethical hacker
Suneetha B.


is is the world of e-mail hacking, data theft, call forging, phishing, credit card fraud, ID spoofing, terror e-mail and Orkut hacking. He can easily send an e-mail from your account but you will never know anything about it. And yes, you can find that mail ‘you’ sent in the send folder. No, don’t dial 100; he is with them. Yes, he is on the right side of the law. Meet Sunny Vaghela, a 22-year-old computer engineer from Ahmedabad. And he is on a mission to make people aware of technology hazards. His classes on ‘Ethical Hacking’ and ‘Web Security and Mobile Security’ are in huge demand, and his lectures on cyber security and allied topics simply wow all, even the non-technical audience. His simple words pack a punch and help explain most complex concepts. Vaghela has conducted more than 140 workshops across the globe. Sunny Vaghela is a pioneer in his field. A consultant in the field of information security and cyber crime, he has several feathers in his cap and used his expertise to serve the nation. The police achieved a major breakthrough in the Ahmedabad blast case when Vaghela managed to track some incriminating email messages. Similarly, during the 26/11 Mumbai case, police were able to use his expertise for accessing crucial information. At present, Vaghela is the director and CTO of TechDefense, a rapidly growing security services and investigation consulting organisation with focuses on cyber crime investigations, cyber law consulting, vulnerability assessment and penetration testing, and information security training. What’s more, he will soon open an NGO to help the people solve cyber issues. Knowing that only five to six per cent of Indian Web users are really cyber-savvy, this is a much-needed step in the right direction. Live IT met Sunny Vaghela and our conversation took an interesting turn. So, here we go… Live IT: What is your background? Do you have any formal qualification in your field of expertise? How did you come to be interested in the cyber world and then become an expert in Internet security? Sunny Vaghela (SV): I have graduated in computer engineering from Nirma University. I finished the course in 2008 but I had active interest in cyber issues even before 88 November ‘09

that. It actually started when I was in Standard X and fell victim of a phishing attack. I was quite disturbed and made the effort to learn all about hacking. This became a passion with me and I used to spend nearly 12 hours a day learning the nitty-gritty. Later, I took up computer engineering and wanted to unique projects because they totally engrossed me. In fact, I had presented quite a few research papers during my college days. During my first year in college, I took up ‘hacking’ as a project. No one else in the group attempted the topic; so my project got a lot of attention. In the second year, I took up a project on SMS control systems and came across several loopholes in mobile networks which might lead to SMS and call forging. The project won national recognition and I came into the limelight at a very young age. At this point of time, most of us in India started using social networking websites like Orkut. So I got interested as well, and found two major loopholes in Orkut which meant that anybody’s ID could be hacked. My work was appreciated a lot and the Orkut people met me at Ahmedabad to discuss the issue. And next year, I did a project was on Internet protocol techniques. My work brought me the Rajiv Gandhi Young Achiever’s Award when I was in my fourth year of college. So, I would say that my interest in the technical aspects of Internet and its peripherals had been quite rewarding even as a student. I have always yearned to do something different, and that’s how I live even now. Be different, that is my motto. Live IT: What are the common Internet security failures in the Indian context? How can one ensure minimum safety on the Net? SV: In India, people are not all that aware of Internet security and its loopholes. So unless you educate yourself and follow certain ground rules, life on the Net can be tough and stressful. Here are a few pointers to help you out: Don’t disclose your password if it’s a non-secure site. For instance, you may be signing up and have to provide your e-mail ID, along with a password. Create a new password for that purpose, so that none can access other accounts or vital information even if it is hacked. In other words, don’t use the same password in all your e-mail accounts. Also, use strong

Live IT: Tell us about your NGO. What do you propose to do? SV: The aim is to put up a website which will deal with complaints of the cyber variety. But we are still looking for a name. The name we want has been taken already; so we must finalise another and get it registered. The site is in alpha testing and will be launched soon. If you have been a victim of cyber crime, you can approach us via the website. Register with us and post your problem here. We will try our best to help you. You can also check out similar incidents happening to other people. Live IT: But how much will it cost? SV: You don’t have to pay anything. Best of all, we can send the information to cyber crime cells and alert them on time. Once they start monitoring things closely, those crimes won’t be repeated. Since fake profiles and other related cases abound on Orkut, there should be a separate section for them. But right now, we are working on some legal formalities regarding jurisdictions. All Indian states don’t have cyber crime cells and we are not entitled to jump borders, either. So, it is really necessary to clarify things. Also, In India, most in Orkut cases, most people don’t want to the people are not approach the police as they fear bad publicity.

passwords which aren’t guessable, like your of date of birth, phone number and so on. While aware of Internet Live IT: What worries you most when it downloading files, be very careful. You must security and comes to cyber issues? install a good anti-virus programme and opt SV: The most worrying thing is ‘e-mail for a daily system scan. This is because its loopholes header spoofing’. This is how one can access malicious software programmes often make any e-mail ID and send e-mail messages from backdoor entries during downloads. Also, use the hacked account. You can also find these mail messages in up-to-date, licensed software which can protect your system your ‘sent mail’ folder. Although it takes a lot of effort, from latest threats. In India, pirated software is commonly used authorities can determine whether the mail ID has been hacked by the majority, which increases the risk. and used for fraudulent purposes. However, it is extremely difficult to track the origin of that mail. So it can easily turn out Live IT: Tell us more about your cyber crime probes. to be the new hotbed for criminal activities. Also, the evidence of SV: When I was in college (in my third year, to be precise), ‘sending’ the mail is right there in your mail box and it tends to I helped the crime branch solve three long-pending cases. be a dangerous situation for you. Be careful, therefore, as Then I went on to help them solve 15 cyber crime cases in hackers can hack your email ID while chatting and use it for just seven months. We dealt with almost everything – a their nefarious purposes. phishing offence, one of the biggest data theft cases, an espionage ring, a credit card fraud and several profile Live IT: Do you have any future plan regarding cyber sleuthing impersonation cases on Orkut. I was also able to trace the and cyber security education? location of the terror e-mail used in the Ahmedabad blast SV: I plan to get a master’s degree from a foreign university, may case. Then there was the Mumbai attack, of course. I helped be in two or three years’ time. Meanwhile, I am very much into the authorities by providing confidential information related Internet security consultancy and plan to continue it. Another to the cyber part of the crime. scheme on the cards is to hack websites (with due permission, of course) and find the vulnerable points. Based on our findings, we Live IT: So what are you doing right now? will offer customised Internet security packages which will plug SV: I am an independent Internet security consultant and all security loopholes. running a consulting and training firm. We are based in As for teaching cyber security, I am already conducting Ahmedabad with operations across the country. I am also invited training sessions on ethical hacking and getting quite a good by many to speak on my field of expertise. What’s more, I have response from all verticals, not just the computer aficionados. So started a certified training programme on ethical hacking, cyber I would definitely like to pursue it further and help people more crime investigation and forensics. Training sessions are held at – so that they don’t become cyber crime victims in the future. I Ahmedabad and various other centres across Gujarat.

November ‘09


How To

Chandana Banerjee

Get back missing Calculator in XP


t often happens that when you are busy at your laptop, you suddenly begin to speculate about the household budget or wonder about the neat sum of money that some freelance assignment may bring home. In such cases, all you need to do is to access the calculator tool instead of rummaging your bag for the pocket calculator or using all your fingers and toes to add up the numbers. But what if you go to the Calculator icon in Windows XP and realise that it is missing? This may happen due to a number of reasons but there is no need to panic. You can easily restore it if you follow the simple steps given below.


Click on Accessories and click the Details button again. Make sure to check the Calculator box. Click OK and Windows XP will reinstall the calculator.

Method 1
This is the easiest method and you will only require the original Windows CD. G Insert the CD in the disk drive and go to the Control Panel. G Go to Add/Remove Programs and click on Add/Remove Windows Components. G Go to Accessories and under the Utilities option, click the Details button.

Method 2: In case you do not have the CD, try this method
to get back your calculator. G Here you will have to copy the calc.exe file from another system to your PC. Try the C:\Windows\System32 folder to copy calc.chm to your system. G Now create a shortcut to the calc.exe file on your Start menu. This should take care of the problem. Now that you have your calculator back, go ahead with your calculations. I
November ‘09 91

How To

Encrypt your USB Flash Drive

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