Japan from A to Z

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Just before leaving to Japan, here's a presentation I made for the Misses about Japan. It's a fun sort of presentation, with facts and curiosities about this weird and wonderful country.

Japan from A to Z

For credits for the pictures in the presentations click on the pictures

Award in VAST 2008 Competition

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

vast_logo.jpgI won an Award for the best node link animation in the VAST 2008 Competition. The competition consisted of a data set of phone calls between the families of the people running a controversial religious organisation, living on an island. The phone calls retrieved from the island's phone company, provided enough data to extract the social network of the families on the island. In addition to this, each phone record had the time of the call, the duration of the call, and the location of the cell tower from where the call was made.

The tool developed with Processing, was designed to allow easy exploration and interactive animation of a dynamic network. The network can be represented at different levels of detail. At an overview level, the whole network can be visualized using a matrix representation. From this overview, interesting detailed parts of the network can be zoomed upon, and explored, using a node-link representation. Finally, the individual nodes can be studied at an instance level.

The award was given due to the "innovative visualizations, excellent analysis, and outstanding functionality demonstrated in the visual analytic environments" shown.

P.S. Guess this explains why I was so quiet in June.

Sushi Japanese Tradition

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I remember I posted this some time ago on GeekBaazar, but this is a good time to post it again.

The Olympics start today ... but are they a trap?

Friday, August 8, 2008

The onion investigates ...


The Beijing Olympics: Are They A Trap?

On a more serious note, check out these photos from the opening ceremony. As my German house mate says, Ammmazzing!

Virtual Street Tour of Tokyo with Google Street View

Friday, August 8, 2008

Google have added a feature to Google maps that lets you take virtual walks in a city. You can literally follow street paths on a map and have a 360' view of all your surroundings. This feature is called Street View. Click on the images for a quick preview.

tokyo_google_street_view.jpg

From some superficial searches on the subject, the images were taken with video camera mounted on a car, going around the streets. Not all countries have this feature enabled but on August 4th it was introduced for Japan.

ueno_view.jpg

This is really amazing stuff! It gives a whole new dimension to travel planning. Images and news about Google Street View found via Japan Probe.

Some sites with interesting street view collections:-
Top 15 Google Street View sightings (Mashable.com)
Google Street View gallery

Movie Reviews

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Once (3 stars) - Once is an amateur shot, Oscar winning (2008) musical shot in Dublin. If you've ever visited Dublin you’ll easily recognise most of the spots where the film was shot. I think the film portrays life as a young immigrant in Dublin quite well. Apart from that though there aren't many other reasons to watch the movie. The music is kind of ok, but it's enough if hear the Oscar winning song on myspace. I found the plot a bit lame and quite anti-romantic, but then the movie wasn't plot oriented.

Ratatouille (4 stars) - A cute relaxing Pixar movie about a rat who likes cooking. Apart from the usual high standard Pixar got us used to, the story can be enjoyed by kids at a simple level, and by adults at a higher level.

My neighbour totoro (4.5 stars) - Brilliant anime. This is probably the equivalent of beauty and beast, or the lion king for Asians, everyone saw it. The movie is directed by Japan’s most famous animator Hayao Miyazaki (who also did Lupin III, Spirited). The movie is about 2 young sisters who find a strange new world, similar to Alice in Wonderland, with cute furry magical creatures. Great stuff!

Lost in translation (2.5 stars) - I had very high expectations for this movie, but was left disappointed by the story. I liked the portrayal of Japanese culture and customs in the film, which was very evident and consistent with what I read about Japan till now. The film is about culture shock, which admittedly is very difficult to capture on film. However, I think that this aspect was dampened by the subplot of potential romance between Scarlet Johansson and Bill Murray. This might be an Oscar worthy movie, but maybe not an enjoyable one.

The Dark Knight (5 stars) - I honestly can't remember the last time I gave 5 stars to a movie, but probably it was fight club. This movie is just fantastic. Class! Perfect! I can keep going on and on with superlatives, but I think you got the drift. If you're unsure about it because it's a batman movie, don't be. True batman can fly just a bit, but his super powers are very limited compared to other superheroes. This could have easily been a fast paced, high tech, highly polished action movie with no super powers. Not entirely unlike a James Bond on steroids. There are super cars, super bikes, great action sequences, plot twists, ethical dilemmas, what more can you pack in 2.5 hrs of film. Probably nothing!

Pictures of Loch Dan

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I've added the pictures of the trip to Loch Dan.