August 29, 2006

I discovered YouTube today

I vaguely knew about YouTube from all my coworkers looking for funny clips or clips about cats but today I discovered that it is also a place to showcase all sorts of talent , saw some great improvisations on Paganini's 24 Caprice , found some great jazz recordings and discovered that I can embelish a blog with video without sweating a bit , just click on the object embed link and presto , your blog comes alive . Here is a sampling . I added a video to the Bismillah Khan blog as well .

August 28, 2006

Free anti virus software

This is good news for all users of free software. AOL is offering a free version of the Kaspersky anti-virus program for download. It's been re-branded as "AOL Anti Virus Shield" and it's available to everyone . Kaspersky AV is one of the best commercial AV programs available and a clearly superior product to other free AV scanners such as AVG and Avast!
The only nags are the license requires a valid email address which AOL may utilise to send promotional material and it installs toolbar in Internet Explorer . The last one you can get around by using Firefox. The software can be downloaded here

Dubai continues on it's Quixotic march

Dubai continues to march ahead recklessly , irreverantly , exponentially creating shocking , startling , awe inspiring , Jesus Christ architecture . Of course a lot of is downright crap and a garish display of wealth but hey that always attracts people .

The World Bank reckons that the reconstruction of Iraq is going to cost $53bn. In Dubai, along the strip of sand that stretches 25 miles along the shores of the Persian Gulf, there is about $100bn worth of projects either underway or planned for the near future.

Apparently the Palm Islands , the world and a multitude of high rises were not enough to quell the real estate appetite and technological razzmatazz , Dubai now gives us the
Rotating city. The idea is that every floor in everybuilding rotates independantly of the other giving every flat a 360 degrees view .

August 21, 2006

Wah Ustad no more

Ustad Bismillah Khan , shehnai maestro is no more .Read about it here, here and here .

It is sad to hear that somebody whose name was synonymous with shehnai would come to his end virtually penniless . At the same time there are rumours or at least Ustadji's apprehensions that he never played the shehnai due to his religion . It is indeed sad that in a secular state we haven't been able to dispel the fear that being in a minority would make one a less equal citizen .

August 03, 2006

Wah Ustad

Ustad Bismillah Khan one of the finest exponents and a name synoonymous with shehnai I read a few months ago was living a life of penury . It is quite shameful that an artiste who was once the toast of numerous mehfils and represented the country in numerous forums to be in such a stat . So it was heartening that finally he recieved some sort of financial help from the govt. The story here
Read the maestro here and here

August 01, 2006

Megastructures: Dubai's Palm Island

Palm Islands
Another in the series about Megastructures from National Geographic . The premise is that Dubai is seeing the end of the barrel as far as oil barrels are concerned , ie in a few years oil will be gone . In this eventuality Dubai needs to reinvent itself as a tourist destination . With its limited coastline there isn't a lot that can be done . So enter the artificial islands to increase the coastline and create more area for development .

The Palm Islands, also referred to as The Palm Dubai and The Palms, are the world's three largest man-made islands, which are being built on the coast of the emirate of Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The project is being handled by Al Nakheel Properties (Nakheel Corporation), which will increase Dubai's shoreline by 120km (72 miles) and create a large number of residential, leisure, and entertainment areas. The idea was first announced in May 2002 and the two manmade freehold artificial palm tree-shaped resort islands are expected to maintain Dubai's position as a premium tourist destination. The Palm Islands has also been named 'The Eighth Wonder of the World'.

The two Dubai islands, The Palm Jumeirah and The Palm Jebel Ali, will be built in the shape of date palm trees and consist of a trunk; a crown with 17 fronds; and a surrounding crescent island - the back of which forms the breakwater. Collectively, the island will support more than 60 luxury hotels, 4,000 exclusive residential villas (sale), 1,000 unique water homes (sale), 5,000 shoreline apartments (sale), marinas, water theme parks, restaurants, shopping malls, sports facilities, health spas, cinemas and various dive sites.

Its Development
The project took four years of methodical planning and exhaustive feasibility studies in Dubai, ensuring that the islands would not disrupt the environment. The first stage of the development of The Palm Islands, includes the construction of the land foundations, which involves sand transfer and rock placement. Following this, the next stage will involve the building of infrastructure and services, as well as the 300 meter (990 feet) bridges linking the islands to the mainland. The final stage consists of the construction of homes, townhouses, and apartments.

What this doesn't mention what exactly this grandiose plan entails . The Sheikh who is the progenitor of this plan wanted the whole contruction to be as natural as possible . So the engineers devised method of rock and sand as opposed to a concrete structure to create the islands . It has been a feat in engineering of proportions probably unparalled in the world with technology being created on the fly . For instance how does one ascertain that the substructure is in place , obviously satellite imaging and extensive use of GPS on the ground .

But in this euphoria of man's success over nature one thing has been forgotten completely , the damage it does to the ecology .It doesn't really concern anyone that entire cliffs have been blasted to acquire the rock and sand has been siphoned up from the middle of the ocean to create this superstructure . It doesn't really take a lot of imaginination to come to the conclusion that immense swathes of marine life were probably siphoned off in the process. Widespread quarrying has repurcussions on the land ecology as well . There is an instance in the documentary where they mention that the new landmass is destroying the existing beaches , but no problem we can fix that . Everything fits in like a glove , if the film is to be believed , the new landforms are attracting new marne life , great coral reefs and everything is hunky dory . Well maybe it is and I am the skeptic . After all this image is quite seductive .

But on second thoughts who wants to live in suburb which replaces the roads with waterways , who wants to pay millions of bucks to be huddled next to their neighbour . Well maybe somebody does but then if you want and you can you can have your own island in the WORLD .