Thursday, May 12, 2016

Tony Cozier: the authoritative voice of West Indian cricket

With the passing away of Tony Cozier in Barbados yesterday, the world of cricket commentating has lost a grand, melodious voice.

He was one of the great commentators who made up the BBC Test Match Special team. And, I grew up listening to him, among other like Brian Johnston, Don Mosey, Henry Blofeld, Christopher Martin Jenkins, Johnathan Agnew etc. I still listen to Test Match Special.

Tony Cozier, being from Barbados, had the typical accent of that region, referred to sometimes as the Bajan accent. It was a pleasure always listening to him commentating, be it when a batsman cracked the willow and the cherry flew over the ropes, or when the bowler was right on target and blew the stumps away.

Here is a clipping, via Sound Cloud.

Tony Cozier had a phenomenal knowledge of cricket, and it came through in all his writings and commentaries.

West Indies cricket has a romantic charm about it, the Calypsos just being one part of it. Tony Cozier took us closer to that wonderful land far way from here, and entertained us. He was there when West Indies cricket was on top of the world, with Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards, Malcolm Marshall, Joel Gardner, Colin Croft etc. He was there when the great team began to slide, and plummeted to embarrassing lows.

Tony Cozier's voice will forever resonate in memories.

Rest in Peace. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

More Railway stations get high-speed Wi-Fi connectivity

There are now 15 railways stations in India that have free high speed Wi-Fi connectivity. Interestingly most of them are not the big cities. There is no Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, so far.

Other than Mumbai Central, where the service was inaugurated in January, none of them are very big metros.

After Mumbai Central, the stations which got the service are: Pune, Bhubaneshwar, Bhopal, Ranchi, Raipur, Vijayawada, Kacheguda, Ernakulum Jn, Vishakhapatnam. From yesterday, people passing through five more stations benefit: Ujjain, Jaipur, Patna, Guwahati and Allahabad.

Google keeps it word

It's interesting to note that Google is, not only focusing on mid-tier cities and towns, but also, more importantly, Google is keeping its word; unlike most pronouncements by the governments and politicians.

The internet major promised in December last year that it will in association with RailTel, the telecommunication wing of the Railways, set up free Wi-Fi in 100 railways stations by the end of the year.

This announcement followed an earlier one in September by Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the company's Mountain View headquarters, that the company plans to enable 400 railways stations with free Wi-Fi.

Google now plans to extend the project to cover key suburban Mumbai stations, like Dadar, Bandra Terminus, Churchgate, Thane, Kalyan, Panvel, Vashi, Kurla, Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus, Borivali and a few others.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Uber drivers in Austin have to undergo fingerprint verification

A law in Austin, Texas, regulating the way Uber and Lyft cab services are run mandates, inter alia, that drivers have to take a fingerprint-based background verification, and wear 'trade dress'. It was put in place by the City Council in December 2015.

But there has been strong opposition to this strict security measure, from various quarters.

Proposition 1 -- to take down the law -- was put to vote and the results have come in. The people have voted to keep the fingerprint verification.

In response to it, Uber and Lyft have now suspended their services in Austin. Their argument is that their own screening is good enough, and a screening by a governmental agency will only make it harder for part-time drivers to operate.

Though this is a very local development in Austin, it's interesting, especially in India, where Uber services are very popular, though not always without controversies.

Drivers running cabs for Uber have got into many criminal cases, in not only in Bengaluru, Delhi and some other cities of India, but also in many places in the US, Europe and Southeast Asia. Though personally, I have never had an issue with a Uber driver, I have heard of people, especially women, having problems.

Secondly, Uber and Lyft had jointly spent $8 million in campaign advertisements urging people to support the proposition (against the law). On the contrary, a group that is opposed to the proposition spent just $100,000.

The results show that the people value their security much more than anything. Expensive advertisements may not really help. When it comes to issues that affect people directly they take independent decisions.


In Forbes, Daily News, TechCrunch

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Celebrating Bengaluru's Namma Metro

The way we (Bengalureans) are celebrating the opening of the full stretch of the East-West corridor just shows how frustrated we are about the traffic. It was inaugurated on March 29, and it was thrown open to the public the next day.

Finally, the bogies are running to packed capacity. Not surprising, considering it runs across around 18 km from one end of the city to the other end, touching key spots like Indiranagar, M G Road, Vidhana Soudha, City Raiway Station etc. It's also proving to be a good feeder service for the Indian Railway and Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation,

I only wish the remaining portions of the Phase I are also completed as quickly as possible. The government has said that it will be over by November 1. That would mean the North-South Corridor also be fully functional. And a good segment of the fledgling city will be covered.

Mercifully there are fewer protests against the Metro now, compared to the run-up to the completion of the very first segment from Baiyappanahalli to MG Road, which was inaugurated on October 20, 2011.

After so much dithering and long discussion on the pros and cons of having a metro, the detailed project report was submitted in 2003, work should have begun in 2005, but the final clearance in the form of Union cabinet approval came only in 2006. Then, followed endless protests and court cases. And for the construction of mere 6 km stretch of railway it took five years! Not that it could be done in a jiffy. But lots of time and money was needlessly wasted. Delay means cost escalation.

After the first phase was inaugurated, there was much less protests. Probably, many people understood that the metro is after all good for the people.

But still there are vested and selfish people stalling the project, on some silly issue or the other. Like, who should decide how many trees should be cut.

When we all know that the metro has to come one day or the other, why don't we get the thing up and running fast?