Monday, December 1, 2014

So Long 2014!

That’s it then. But before we bid you good bye this year, we thought we would write about something worthwhile. Since this blog mostly focuses on photography, poetry and general rantings, we thought we would write about all these three subjects in this post! Let us start with photography.

On this fine sultry day, let me show you what MICE is good for. Even those who suffer from the genetic disorder that makes their stomach upset at the mention of the word ‘Microsoft’ – so severely that they have to replace ‘s’ by ‘$’ in order to continue living in this world bombarded with MS softwares / products / services / news / ads – have to be aware that MICE is one piece of software that doesn’t have ‘s’ in its acronym. Even the hugely popular Photosynth ‘app’ now uses the advanced MICE stitching engine to generate panoramas.

Moving on with the tutorial now, let us take this scene as an example.

Test Scene

Do you see something wrong here? Yes,  of course! There is that long antennae (outlined  in red), dish & tank (blue) and the roof (green), which shouldn’t be there in the photo as they obstruct the view of the otherwise ‘pretty’ landscape in the background. In order to correct that we zoom in, and take shots of the scene from different angles while avoiding the problematic elements. In the above example, I took these 6 shots:

Shot 1 Shot 2Shot 3 Shot 4Shot 5 Shot 6

4 from left side of the tank and 2 from the right. (I didn’t have much room to move around so the roof couldn’t be avoided.) After that I let MICE do its magic on these 6 shots and generate this pretty landscape ‘panorama’.

After MICE had its say!

I leave the blank space at the bottom to stress that some parts of the scene may not be totally avoidable! But in most cases, it should be possible to crop sensibly and showcase what is important.

Now let us talk about poetry. Poetry is an integral part of ‘Hasya Kavi Sammelan’ (for those who are not familiar with this Indian tradition, it is a grander version of ‘stand-up comedy shows’) and there are poets who recite as well as sing their creations. A decade or two ago, there used to be a great supply of audio cassettes of HKSs. One such cassette is owned by one of my uncles and I like to listen to it whenever I visit them in SDGH. During my last visit, we were listening to it and a suggestion cropped up to record and make a digital copy of the cassette. Somehow, making an audio CD was not feasible so we recorded 2 (out of 9) performances and we share one of them below. This is the last recital on that cassette by Prabha Thakur, which emphasizes the irony in our struggle to survive. The first two lines sum it up as follows: Our desires lead us throughout our lives as if enchanted by mirages, this madness is so strong that our hunger is never sated. For the first time we try to embed an audio on this blog via SoundCloud… let’s see how it goes (the usual Hindi text for the poem follows after that).

भटकाती रहती हैं तृष्नाएँ जीवन की
फिर भी हसरत बाँकी हद है पागलपन की

सुख बोया दुःख काटा हर सौदे में घाटा
सारा विष खुद पीकर मैंने अमृत बांटा
अनजानी लगती है देहरी भी आँगन की
फिर भी हसरत बाँकी हद है पागलपन की
भटकाती रहती हैं ⋯

मन को समझाऊँ तो तन बागी हो जाएँ
और तन सिंगारूँ तो मन बैरागी हो जाये
आँखें ही बरसे तो कीमत क्या सावन की
फिर भी हसरत बाँकी हद है पागलपन की
भटकाती रहती हैं ⋯

जितना सुख सौरभ था किस्तों में दे डाला
मुरझाईं जाती है रिश्तों की वरमाला
अर्थहीन लगती हैं बातें अपनेपन की
फिर भी हसरत बाँकी हद है पागलपन की
भटकाती रहती हैं ⋯

– प्रभा ठाकुर

Finally, we do a big fat quiz of the year… err… general rantings regarding the last year. As in that TV show, we will talk about things that made our anxieties bearable, weekends merry and kept us looking forward to the next week, month and year.

  1. TV Shows: We followed a great number of British shows – 8o²10C, HIGNFY, MTW, NMTB, OC, QI, Sherlock, WILTY, ⋯ Apart from these, we also watched a Swedish show, few stand-up shows of various comedians like Alan Davies, Bill Bailey, Eddie Izzard, Trevor Noah, ⋯. We prefer these shows because their humour is subtle, deep, has a way with wordplay such that once you get used to it, everything else feels amateurish.
  2. Movies: We tried watching some of the movies that made it to top of the ‘charts’ (and also some that did not) – From Up On Poppy Hill, Gravity, Guardians of the Galaxy, How to Train your Dragon 2, Interstellar, Transcendence, The Wind Rises, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Chennai Express, Highway, Queen, ⋯. We like these movies not just for the entertainment they provide but also for how they make you think with their portrayal of various aspects of life like dreams, emotions, relations, survival, technology and so on.
  3. Music: Some of the songs we liked in no particular order – Hamdard & Banjaare ko ghar (Ek tha Villain), Main tenu samjhavan ki (Humpty Sharma ki dulhaniya), Sunona Sangemarmar (Youngistaan), Bang Bang & Meherbaan (Bang Bang), Tum Naraz Ho & Nadiya par par karke (Coke Studio), London thumakda (Queen), Kashmir to Kanyakumari (Chennai Express), Baby doll (Ragini MMS 2), Hangover (Kick), ⋯. We did not discover another A.R. Rahman in the Indian music industry this year but there were definitely many new Playback singers and some of them are truly brilliant.
  4. Books: We read some old and new books this year like The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Half Girlfriend, The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Nature’s Futures 1, The Devil and Miss Prym, Moving Day, ⋯ (in some order that you need to figure out).
  5. Mangas: The major event in this year was the completion of ‘Naruto’ and what an end it was! (I’m not going to divulge anymore, you are welcome to discuss in the comments…) I also read the reboot of Rurouni Kenshin manga and watched its first live action movie, which is quite enjoyable. Though different from the original manga at significant story points, it doesn’t leave a sour taste in one’s brain as watching just the first 2 minutes of ‘Dragonball: Evolution’ does. For other ongoing manga, look at the relevant tab above.
  6. Programming: MATLAB got on to a new start by updating its graphics engine ‘drastically’ and in the process broke almost all of my programs. I have restored all of them except Polorama Generator for which I have a different plan, like incorporating the Keystone Correction that I demoed here. Let’s see if PG v3 sees the light in the new year.

That’s all for now. To all those souls who made this year enjoyable, Merry X-mas and a Happy New Year (in advance). Since this is a month full of festivities,

Happy December

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