PODCAST: ON ROBOTS & ROBOT OPERATING SYSTEMS WITH BRAIN CORP’S DR. TODD HYLTON

Dr. Todd Hylton, Brain Corp

Dr. Todd Hylton, Brain Corp

Ever wondered about the brains of a robot or the robot operating systems (ROS)? Is there a standardized ROS for robots? How do robots learn? How do you teach a robot? And then there other questions about Artificial Intelligence (AI), ethics and the future of robots in our society.

We spoke with Dr. Todd Hylton, Senior Vice President of Brain Corporation to find out more about the world of robots. We also wanted to find out how he developed an interest in science. Was there a teacher that inspired his love for science? Brain Corp develops software technologies for robots.

LISTEN TO DR. TODD HYLTON OF BRAIN CORP

Dr. Hylton worked at DARPA and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) before joining San Diego-based Brain Corp. He got his undergraduate degree at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and his PhD from Stanford University.

Photo courtesy: Brain Corp

 

 

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PODCAST: FILMMAKER LENNY ABRAHAMSON ON “ROOM”

room-ROOM_hires_rgbFilmmaker Lenny Abrahamson’s new film Room is based on Emma Donoghue’s novel by the same name. The film is about a mother-son relationship in a little room, which is where they have been confined for a few years. That little room represents the whole universe for the little boy, and the only visitor they get is Old Nick, who has them imprisoned in that room. What happens in the room, and how mother and son handle the world once they are released from that room is what the film is about. Brie Larson stars as the mother and Jacob Tremblay as the little boy.

We spoke with Abrahamson when he was here for the 38th Mill Valley Film Festival. In this interview Abrahamson talks about his Irish roots, studying at Stanford, why he left Stanford, the making of Room and working with Larson and Tremblay. We also wanted to find out how his notion of a room had changed after he made this film.

LISTEN: LENNY ABRAHMSON ON ROOM, BRIE LARSON, JACOB TREMBLAY & WILLIAM MACY:

Room won the Audience award at the 2015 Mill Valley Film Festival, and the People’s Choice award at the 2015 Toronto Film Festival. Both, Larson and Tremblay have won praise for excellent performance in Room.

Abrahamson’s next project is Civil War story  based on Laird Hunt’s  novel.

  • Title: ROOM (Rated R)
  • Running Time: 118 minutes
  • Status: Releases Oct 23, 2015 in San Francisco & Nov 6, 2o15 in San Jose
  • Country: IRISH-CANADIAN
  • Genre: DRAMA

Photo credit: A24

VIDEO: TAVA INDIAN KITCHEN’S HASNAIN ZAIDI

 

Meet San Francisco Bay area’s Tava India Kitchen’s Hasnain Zaidi, Chief Operating Officer. In this interview Zaidi shares the back story of how Tava was born and what kind of food they serve. We also find out if they were inspired by the success of Chipotle, the restaurant chain that serves Mexican food.

Tava is a casual restaurant chain that serves Indian food, and is often compared to Chipotle. Vijay Brihmadesam, Jason Pate and Zaidi are the founders of the restaurant chain. All three of them met while studying at Duke University.

The idea for starting Tava was born on a flight when Brihmadesam and Pate got talking about food options in the Bay area, especially Indian food. They roped in Zaidi and started working on their concept and also worked at Chipotle to get hands-on experience of working in a restaurant. They decided to start the restaurant in San Francisco Bay area rather than the East Coast, which is where all three of them were working. In 2012 they started their first restaurant in Palo Alto and now have a branch is San Francisco and San Jose. Earlier this year Tava raised $4.5 million in Series A funding.

This interview was aired on TV in San Francisco Bay area.

 

PODCAST: ANUJ VAIDYA ON 3rd i SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL SOUTH ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL

3rd i Film Festival

3rd i Film Festival

Freedom is the theme for this year’s 3rd i San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival. This year marks the 13th year of the festival that takes place in San Francisco from Oct 22 through Oct 25, 2015  in Palo Alto on Nov 1, 2015.

The festival features features, shorts and documentaries from various South Asian countries, UK and the USA. This year the festival has 2 films from Bollywood: PK and Haidar.

We spoke with Anuj Vaidya of 3rd i about freedom, which seems to the theme for this year’s festival. The films explore various aspects of freedom ranging from political to sexual to love.

Anuj has been involved with 3rd i Film Festival for 9 years. He is an artist, educator and media curator.

LISTEN: ANUJ VAIDYA ON 3rd i SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL SOUTH ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL

The opening night film on Oct 22nd is  Jai Ho is an intimate portrait of  Oscar winner AR Rahman. Dheepan, PK, Labor of LoveKaakka Muttai, Silence in the Courts, Petals in The Dust, Om Dar Ba Dar  are the some of the films you can catch at the festival.

For tickets and information about the festival visit 3rd i Film’s website.

VIDEO: SAMANTH MOITKE OF MAYFIELD BAKERY & CAFE

Meet Samantha Moitke of Mayfield Bakery and Cafe in Palo Alto. We caught up with Executive Pastry Chef Moitke at the first food and technology event called BiTESV at Santa Clara.

Moitke was part of the original team when Mayfield Bakery and Cafe opened. In this interview we spoke about the food served in the bakery and cafe, a typical day in her life at the bakery and her favorite places to eat in Silicon Valley. Manresa Bread of Los Gatos was on the top of her list.

 

PODCAST: CARY FUKUNAGA & ABRAHAM ATTAH ON BEASTS OF NO NATION

Abraham Attah & Cary Fukunaga

Abraham Attah & Cary Fukunaga

Filmmaker Cary Fukunaga’s new film, Beasts of No Nation, releases today in theatres and on Netflix.This is the first time that a feature film is releasing simultaneously in theatres and streaming  online. With this film could Los Gatos-based Netflix became a key player in the film industry?

We spoke to Fukunaga and Abraham Attah, the young actor who makes his debut in Beasts of No Nation in San Francisco. They were here to attend the 38th Mill Valley Film Festival.

As usual I had lot of questions, wich I had to pare down to a few key questions. How was Attah selected for the film? What drew Fukunaga to make this film? What was it like to shoot the film in Ghana? Did Attah get a chance to rap with Idris Elba? Was he surprised at winning an award at the recent Venice Film Festival? How did Fukunaga develop the cadence and rhythm for Elba’s character? And we asked him about Sam Pekinpah’s influence. Of course, we had to ask Fukunaga about the Netflix deal and what it means to the future of films, especially when it comes to distribution in theaters. Will Netflix’s involvement in feature films alter the game? Tune into the interview and find out what Fukunaga and Attah have to say about Beasts of No Nation.

LISTEN: CARY FUKUNAGA AND ABRAHAM ATTAH ON BEASTS OF NO NATION

Beasts of No Nation is based on Uzodino Iwaela’s novel by the same name. Set in an unamed West African nation, the film traces the journey of a young innocent boy to a life of war and brutality. When Agu (Attah) suffers the violent loss of his family in the ongoing civil war, he is left without any family moorings. While hiding in the jungle he stumbles upon a group of child soldiers and finds himself inexorably drawn into the group. He is initiated as a child soldier under the charismatic and brutal leadership of the Commandant (Idris Elba). As part of this small and tight group of child and teenage soldiers, Agu finds himself perpetrating the very violence from which he had tried to escape. How Agu survive the ordeal and what happens to him is what the picture is about.

 

 

VIDEO: IDRIS ELBA ON HOLLYWOOD, BOLLYWOOD AND BHANGRA

Is Bollywood listening? Idris Elba is open to working in Bollywood films as he tells us in this interview we recorded in 2010. Fast forward to 2015 and Elba is a sought after actor and has garnered praise for his work on the small and big screen. Right now the buzz is around his role as the charismatic and powerful Commandant in Cary Fukunaga’s Beasts of No Nation. Set in an unidentified West African nation the film takes you into the world of civil war and child soldiers in Africa. The film is based on a book by the same name written by Uzodinma Iweala. Beasts of No Nation releases in theatres and Netflix on Oct 16, 2015.

 

PODCAST: CARY FUKUNAGA & MIA WASIKOWSKA

Cary Fukunaga

Cary Fukunaga

Director Cary Fukunga and actress Mia Wasikowska talk about their film Jane Eyre that released in 2011. This is Fukunaga’s second feature film. His first feature film was Sin Nombre (Nameless) that he wrote and directed. The film was received well and won him a clutch of awards.

In this 2011 interview we talk to Fukunaga and Wasikowska about the making of Charlotte Brontë‘s famous novel into a film. What was it about this novel that drew Fukunaga to make the film? When did Waskikowska first read Jane Eyre? We also spoke about the notion of home, family and companionship. Michael Fassbender and Wasikowska were his first choice as actors for the film.

LISTEN TO CARY FUKUNAGA AND MIA WASIKOWSKA

We spoke to Fukunaga about growing up Oakland and the kinds of books he read. Alex Haley’s Roots was one of his favorite books.

Fukunaga is back with his new film Beasts of No Nation that is releasing in theaters and on Netflix on Oct 16, 2015. We have an interview with Fukunga and Abraham Attah, the teenager actor, who acts as the child soldier.

 

PODCAST: MANRESA BREAD’S AVERY RUZICKA

Avery Ruzicka, Manresa Bread

Avery Ruzicka, Manresa Bread

We caught up the talented Avery Ruzicka, head baker and partner of Manresa Bread in Los Gatos, CA at the BiteSV conference in Santa Clara. BiteSV was the first food and technology conference that was held in June 2015 in Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara.

Chef/Owner David Kinch heads Manresa, a Michelin-starred restaurant that consistently gets rave reviews.  About a couple of years ago Ruzicka started selling her bread at local farmers market in Campbell and Palo Alto. Then about a year ago Chef Kinch and Ruzicka decided to take the plunge and open a bakery right next to the restaurant. Manresa Bread opened in February 2015 and has already acquired devoted followers.

LISTEN TO AVERY RUZICKA OF MANRESA BREAD

 

In this interview we talk to Ruzicka about how she got into baking  and what led her to start a bakery? We also wanted to find out about the artisanal bread trend in the San Francisco Bay area. We were also curious to find out how she gets her loaves is such perfect shape? We also wanted to find out what tips she had for bakers, especially those that are just starting off. Don’t be afraid when it comes to baking and bread dough is very forgiving were some of her tips. And yes, we did talk to her about Chef Kinch and what is it about Manresa’s food that draws so many people to its restaurant? Finally, we could not resist – we had to ask her about Superbowl 50 since we were recording the interview at Levi’s Stadium, the venue of Superbowl 50.

Manresa Bread is located at 276 N. Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos,CA.

Here is a short video interview with Avery Ruzicka.

 

THE FAIRMONT HOTEL IN SAN FRANCISCO

Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco

Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco

A couple of days ago during a visit to San Francisco’s The Fairmont Hotel I finally got to meet  Thomas Wolfe, Chief concierge of the hotel. Elegantly dressed in a suit and a bow tie he graciously answered all my inquisitive questions about the hotel’s rich history, Alfred Hitchcock and Ella Fitzgerald. We got talking about 1920s and Art Deco. Turns out there is a famous Art Deco room in the hotel that I had not seen. He gently suggested I may want to take a peek at the room before I left the hotel.

I  eagerly trotted off to see the Cirque Room, a beautifully appointed room and the first bar to open in San Francisco after Prohibition was lifted. I took a couple of pictures and then ambled back to thank him for his suggestion. I coud not find him. He was probably busy helping other guests with their questions. I shall thank him in person the next time I am at the Fairmont.

Cirque, Fairmont Hotel San Francisco

Cirque, Fairmont Hotel San Francisco

For those who don’t know – The Fairmont Hotel is located on Nob Hill, a tony neighborhood in San Francisco. You can’t help but notice the imposing  facade of the historic hotel that opened its door for business in 1907.  Over the years, I have picked up little tidbits about the hotel and its rich history. And every time I discover a new piece of information about the hotel. For example, Nabob Hill is where the rich nabobs (or nawabs to be precise) of 19th lived in their lavishly appointed mansions.

At the end of World War II the hotel played a key role in the creation of  The United Nations (UN), a new organization to help promote peace and cooperation between nations. San Francisco was the place where world leaders congregated to create the UN and the charter of the UN was drafted in the Garden Room of the Fairmont Hotel.

The next time  you are in Nob Hill neighborhood pop into the hotel and take a peek. It is worth it. Oh, I forgot to mention you can follow Thomas Wolfe on Twitter.