May 26, 2009

Roku rocks! Netflix streaming video, right to my television!

When Netflix launched their video streaming service, I was ecstatic. Being able to watch a movie on my computer anytime I wanted to, was spectacular convenient. And having been part of a generation, who are more than used to watching movies on our tiny laptops, this form of media delivery, with its smaller screens, overheating laptops on our laps, and terrible sound, did not bother me at all. (On a side note, I still remember how shocked I was to see commercials while watching Family Guy for the first time on TV. The reason being, I was part of the vast number of people who had only seen Family Guy and other shows like it via P2P networks.) Of course the convenience of instantly watching needs to be offset by something, and that something is a reduced library of movies and shows which can be watched instantly. So Netflix doesn't offer its full range of media, but it still lets you watch about 50,000+ things. And it's unlimited viewing via streaming for $8.99 a month.

Sp recently my brother told me about his latest purchase, the Roku player.This player streams the available Netflix movies and shows via the Internet right to your television. It can use your wireless Internet as well, is sometimes in high definition depending on the movie, and moreover, it requires no subscription, just a one time cost of $99, plus of course a monthly Netflix subscription. However, I would buy the HDMI cable from Amazon or something, as its about 10 times cheaper than buying it from the Roku website.

Anyway, I love this device. It's so much better to watch stuff on my television than on my laptop. Plus some movies are in HD, so the picture is a lot better. And the amount of shows available are more than enough for someone like me, who is always about 5 seasons behind everything. Plus I'm into independent and art house movies, and recently I've been obsessed with re-watching the classics, so I'm more than happy with the variety that Netflix and Roku provide. The Roku player for streaming Netflix movies is one of the most affordable and useful pieces of tech out there right now. I can't see myself ever living without one.

Movie recommendation: The Man from Earth

"The Man from Earth" is a fantastic science fiction movie touching upon arguably the most sensitive topic known to man, religion. The screen play is brilliant and though its a short film, it is unnervingly captivating, and does not come off in any way, as cheesy or ridiculous. The story is about a protagonist professor, John Oldman, who is leaving the university he works at and moving away, out of the blue. When pressed by his friends as to why he is leaving, he reveals for the first time to anyone, that he is actually about 14,000 years old and was once a caveman, and since he doesn't age, he needs to keep on moving along from one point to another every 10 years or so, to avoid suspicion. Thus the entire movie is an intellectual discourse amongst the skeptical guests at his going away party. These guests include a historian, a biologist, an anthropologist, an archaeologist and a religious scholar and they all grapple with the remote possibility that someone might actually be able to live this long, yet have no way to prove it, be a part of history as well, and more importantly, be a religious figure. In a shocking twist, Oldman reveals that he became a follower of Buddha after meeting him in India. After Buddha's death, he decided to spread Buddha's teachings of tolerence and peace and travelled across the world preaching. People didn't listen to him, they spited him and so on and eventually they crucified him. But John just let his muscles relax and pretended to die, using meditation he had learned while traveling through India. His audience is flabbergasted as, incredibly, Oldman had just claimed to actually be Jesus Christ!
Anyway, I certainly cannot explain this movie as well as wikipedia or the movie itself, so I'm not going to even going to try. But I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys science fiction, or who thinks about religion and the meaning of life. At the very least, this movie has the ability to spark discussions.

I certainly felt this movie was thought-provoking, I was frightened at some points, inspired at others, but at the end, I was aching to talk to someone about it.

May 10, 2009

Community targeted advertisements - Only in New Jersey...

Check out this flier I got in the mail the other day. I was so amused to read "TASTE KI BAAT HAI!" on top. I was even more surprised to see that it was from McDonald's, who are currently in the midst of promoting their new coffee drinks.

So for those of you who don't speak Urdu, "TASTE KI BAAT HAI!" means something like "It's about the taste".

I guess they probably found me through my name. But the concept of targeted advertising is quite interesting nevertheless. I don't know if community targeted advertisements are supposed to work better than just ones in plain English, but one thing is for certain. This can only happen in New Jersey!