Author: shantesh (page 1 of 4)

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Yellow Billed Blue Magpie

I don’t usually try to capture birds on my pocket camera as this is usually an exercise in frustration. No matter the 30x optical zoom that it offers you need an insanely steady hand or a tripod to capture something like this. It took multiple tries but I just didn’t want to move on without a good shot of this beautiful bird.

Riverside

Outside the Park

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Lone Fox Dancing

I have always loved Ruskin Bond’s stories ever since I read his very first one that had appeared in one of my school books. His love for nature always came through. At the same time I was always intrigued about what he was as person. The magic of Ruskin’s writing for me was always its simplicity, charm and ability to transport you to the very time and place he is talking about. A British man who gave up his easy chance of settling down in a first world country yet choosing to come back to India intentionally is a real revelation. Reading his autobiography felt like I was sitting across from him while he regaled me with tales of his entire life. As an added bonus I happen to have an autographed version of the book.

Escaping the City

I’m returning from a weekend trip out of the city. The air has begun to lose it’s freshness. I begin to wonder. When we think of heading out of the city, what we are looking to do is escape the limits of the city. As the years have gone on however, I realize that we need to travel farther and farther to escape the city. As even more years pass us by I wonder if the limits of city will ever end. Will we ever be able to escape it’s confines.

What is the reason for this? Am I the only one who feels this way?

Is our burgeoning population finding it harder to secure a place to live within the city. Is there truly no place left in our city? The vast number of homes lying vacant in the city would indicate otherwise. Is the average family being priced out of the city?

Or is it the desire to have a house to call your own, no matter how much it burdens us for the rest of our lives. Is this collective fever dream actually turning the city into a nightmare?

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

I’m a self-confessed dinosaur nerd so any movie with dinosaurs in them is essentially review proof. It’s been 25 years since the first Jurassic Park was released and one thing we can agree upon is that there will never be a dinosaur movie as spectacular, wondrous and unforgettable as that one. Not even Steven Spielberg could top that one if he tried.

When the first Jurassic World was released in 2015 no one expected that it would break the all-time box office record. It showed us how much pent up demand there was for a Jurassic movie. It also meant fun dinosaur movies could still attracted a sizeable audience other than dinosaur fans like me.

The one time, I was looking forward to watching a movie in 3D, I couldn’t because only the 2D version was released here in India, owing to some issues between the distributors and the multiplex owners. Curse them.

That aside the movie has some decently mounted set pieces. The dinosaurs are awesome as ever with the humans taking away their screen time for not very interesting reasons. The most disappointing aspect of the movie was the ratio of dinosaur deaths to human deaths. Far too many of these magnificent creatures were lost. That aside it also surprised me with the ending and the direction that the trilogy was going to take for its final movie. I thought it was a great setup and I am very much looking forward where they go from here.

The Price of Digital

While this post is written from an Indian perspective some of it applies irrespective of where in the world you are. I was recently in a conversation with someone, let’s call him Mr M who asked me “So, from where do you download music?” “I subscribe to a music streaming service” I said. He looked at me with an incredulous expression on his face. He also proceeded to admonish me, for paying for it, because I could have easily got a hacked APK of the service, that would let me use it for free.

What he was actually asking me was, which site do you download your free music from. Now, I am no saint or rich man who subscribes to a music streaming service because I feel entitled to do so. I do it because it’s simple, convenient and incredible value for money. In India subscribing to a music streaming service costs Rs 100 or for global reference ($1.56) a month. For less than what a coffee costs at Starbucks, I have access to 40 million songs. Even if we put the coffee aside for a second, I know people who drop upwards of Rs 50000 ($800) for a phone almost every year but will refuse to spend even Rs 10 or 1/5000th of that on an app.

Now the thing about the Starbucks or phone analogy is, drinking that coffee with that fancy phone in the other hand maybe a matter of pride. Most importantly however the coffee is a physical object. Unless you managed to somehow steal a Starbucks coffee, your not getting one without paying for it. You can’t watch a movie in the theater without paying for a ticket. Some of you may have managed to accomplish that in the nineties, but I’m pretty sure it’s next to impossible these days. So a physical object like a coffee or a physical experience like a theater movie that requires you to be present in a physical location will inherently have some value associated with it. Try as hard as you can. If you want it, you, or somebody else is paying for it.

Since the advent of the internet and the mp3 format a whole new generation of listeners at least here in India grew up believing that music is free. To even think of paying for it is considered foolish. The generation I grew up in is sort of a bridge between the two. We experienced the joys and sorrows of cassettes, CDs, Napster and dial up internet. What also happened is that I got into the creative field of video games. Also a form of digital entertainment. Equally hard to put to a price on.

When your livelihood depends on people paying for something digital that you create, it also makes you conscious of what you consume. When I go out to eat I could easily spend Rs 500 for a single person’s meal. So to spend Rs 500 for a game that I will easily enjoy for at least 10 hrs seems like a bargain in comparison. Just as a cook worked hard to prepare that meal for you, a bunch of hard working folks toiled away for years to make the game that you enjoy.

People assume sometimes that when it comes to the entertainment industry, most of them, whether singers, musicians, movie actors or video game developers lead an exotic lifestyle as visualized on TV or in magazines. The truth is very few earn the kind of money to support that kind of lifestyle. Even a media conglomerate like Disney earns a substantial amount of it’s revenues from it’s theme parks and resorts.

Sometimes people ask me how we earn money from the games that we release for free. I smile and say nothing. It wouldn’t be worthwhile to explain to every person who asked me that, the concepts of Free to Play game design. If I feel like the person deserves an answer I simply say “For every 100 people who play our game, there are 99 who believe that they deserve the game for free, there is that 100th person who gives us enough to compensate for the first 99”

 

It truly saddens me that we don’t do enough to support the creators of this world. Unlike food maybe, we can live without arts and entertainment. The question is would we want to live like that? So the next time you hesitate to spend money on something digital take a pause. Try to put it in perspective. Whether it lasted for a few minutes or hours, for those brief moments made your life a little bit better. Give a little back to the creators. All they really want to do is create something more for you.

 

Dilbert

I don’t read any particular comics regularly, aside from a very special one called Dilbert. Creator Scott Adams insight into the workplace culture and all of his characters biting social commentary on everything is incredible. How he has managed to come up with something unique and fresh every single day for the past so many years is astonishing.

Though it does require some familiarity with tech company culture it’s still enjoyable by others too. While the comic is often laugh out loud funny what sticks with you it’s scathing commentary about what are often ridiculous but true workplace practices.

It’s not always easy to say something meaningful in a single strip but besides a few rare occasions most of the daily comics are self contained.

This one is one of my favourites.

 - Dilbert by Scott Adams

http://dilbert.com/strip/2017-12-03