Silicon Valley Virtual Reality Show

SVVR

 

Today I finally got to dip my toe into this frontier technology called Virtual Reality (VR) at Silicon Valley Virtual Reality (SVVR) show in San Jose. To be fair I did get a cardboard VR headset last year from DoDo Case, but never got around to trying it. I rectified that glaring oversight today  and got to try a bunch of VR headsets that left me a bit disoriented and light-headed. I also got to hear about how VR is used in storytelling, advertisements and health. This is a whole different world.

Here is 360 view of what I saw at SVVR.

 

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TiECON 2016 IS BACK WITH IoT, DATA ECONOMY & DESTINATION INDIA

tieconFor over 2 decades Silicon Valley’s The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) has held its annual conference in Santa Clara that brings entrepreneurs, technologists and investors. This year marks the 23rd year of TiECon which will feature panels on innovation, social entrepreneurship, Internet of Things, data economy and Destination India. Here is a list of featured speakers at this year’s conference.

Adobe System’s  President and CEO Shantanu Narayen will give the opening keynote speech on May 6, 2016. Nobel Peace Prize Winner Kailash Vidyarthi will give the closing note speech on May 7, 2016.

What caught my attention in this year’s conference is the Destination India track that will highlight the growth and investment areas in India. Defense, electronic system design manufacturing and Digital India are some of the key areas for investment in India.

TieCon 2016  is from May 6-7, 2016 at Santa Clara Convention Center. For tickets and information on TiECon 2016 visit their website.

MY PICKS FOR 59th SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

The 59th San Francisco International Film Festival is underway from now till May 5, 2016. With over 170 films showing at the festival it is always a challenge to figure out what films to watch and invariably you end up missing some really good films. That is my constant dilemma during film festivals, but the important thing is they make it my radar and makes it to my list of films to watch.

Here is a list of films that I watched and liked them for various reasons. Some films delighted me, while others put me in a pensive mood and got me a bit dejected about our species and the way we live. Then there were films that had me completely absorbed and I came away learning something new and interesting.

This list is presented in no particular order: Morris From America, Indignation, Weiner, Love and Friendship, The Lobster, Maggie’s Plan, The Man Who Knew Infinity, Weiner, Our Kind of Traitor and Radio Dreams.  And here are some films I would like to see like Nuts, The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble, Thithi and Salero.

Let me confess that I may have missed out quite a few good films.

 

THANK YOU FOR YOUR MUSIC PRINCE

Prince is gone. Earlier today Prince (57) the musician was found dead in his home in Paisley Park.Minnesota. His death was confirmed by his publicist, but the cause of his death remains unknown. He reportedly fell sick  last week and was hospitalized, and got well and returned to his home in Minnesota  according to LA Times. Prince was recently in Oakland for his Piano and Microphone tour and brought the house down according to a live review on KQED.

Here is a wonderful interview with Prince on Tavis Smiley’s show, where he spoke about his childhood and how he suffered from seizures.

Born Prince Rogers Nelson in Minnesota this talented musician and songwriter leaves behind a rich legacy of his music. Like many people around the world, I was drawn to his music. Purple Rain and When Doves Cry were couple of his tracks that I played over and over again.

Thank you for the music Prince. Rest in Peace.

Here is a playlist of Prince’s music.

 

VIDEO: RACHEL ROSEN ON 59th SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

The 59th San Francisco International Film Festival starts today and continues till May 5, 2016. We sat down to speak with Rachel Rosen, director of programming at San Francisco Film Society to find out about the highlights of this year’s festival.

The opening night film today is director  Whit Stillman’s sharply funny film LOVE & FRIENDSHIP with Kate Beckinsale in the lead role. The film is based on a Jane Austen novel.

This year’s festival has are over 170 films that include features, shorts and documentaries. Guests at this year’s festival include Academy winner Tom McCarthy, Coen Brothers, Mira Nair, Kate Beckinsale, Whit Stillman, Stephen Fry and others.

For program and ticket information on the 59th San Francisco International Film Festival go here.

 

BOLLYWOOD’S VISHAL-SHEKAR’S CONCERT IN SAN JOSE

Bollywood live concerts are back in a big way this year in San Francisco Bay area. And kicking off the season was a live concert by Vishal Dadlani and Shekhar Ravjiani or Vishal-Shekhar on Sunday, April 17, 2016 at San Jose’s Civic Center. The musical duo ended their whirlwind tour of the US with their final concert in San Jose. Interestingly, I spotted quite a few kids in the audience. Clearly, Vishal-Shekhar’s music is a big hit with the younger audience in this part of the country.

Vishal-Shekar & Neeti Mohan

Vishal-Shekhar have carved out quite a niche for themselves in Bollywood with a string of high-energy songs. The concert started off with a string of fantastic songs by Neeti Mohan. Sadly, the sound system marred her performance. The music bed was way louder than her voice. “What is she saying,” was a refrain I heard from more than one person. Mohan warmed up the audience for a good one hour before Vishal-Shekhar made their appearance and turned up the energy level.

Ravjiani had his father join him on stage and the duo performed a medley of classical songs with an emphasis on music from Raj Kapoor’s songs.

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PODCAST:BEHIND THE SCENES OF SOLD WITH JEFFREY BROWN AND SUSHMITA MUKHERJEE

SOLD is a feature film about human trafficking and is based on the novel by the same name by Patricia McCormick. In this interview director Jeffrey Brown and actress Susmita Mukherjee take us behind the scenes. Brown shares how he read the book in one sitting and optioned for it the next day. He was keen to work on a project on human trafficking and the ordeal that thousands of young teenagers go through as sex slaves. Continue reading

VIDEO: JEFFREY BROWN & SUSMITA MUKHERJEE ON “SOLD”

Director Jeffrey D.Brown and actress Sushmita Mukherjee talk about  SOLD, a film about human trafficking. SOLD is based on a novel by the same name by Patricia McCormick.The film is told from the perspective of  Lakshmi, a 13-year old Nepali girl, who is sold to a brothel in Calcutta, India.  Mumtaz (Mukherjee) plays the role of a powerful and determined head of the brothel, who is focussed in getting Lakshmi to work for her.

We spoke with Brown and Mukherjee on the making of the film and how the film changed them. 13 is the typical age of children that are trafficked points out Brown, who shares on the different initiatives and ways in which  you can help bring awareness and help resolve the issue.

SOLD is currently running in theatres in San Francisco Bay area.

SOLD stars Susmita Mukherjee, Niyar SaikiaGillian Anderson David Arquette Seema Biswas and Parambrata Chatterjee

  • Title:SOLD
  • Running Time: 109 minutes
  • Status: Released in the USA  
  • Country: USA

 

VIDEO: MEET SOCIAL ROBOTS NAO AND PEPPER

Meet social robots Nao and Pepper, who are unlike anything you may have seen. Both these humanoid robots are studded with all sorts of sensors and are able to interact with users. For instance Nao is equipped with HD cameras, microphones and an array of sensors.

Nao is used in American schools to help children learn how to read and do math, science and computer programming. Pepper was introduced in 2010 and is used to make people happy. In one instance, Pepper is used in a retail scenario and help customers select the right outfits to fit their body type.

 

JAZZ APPRECIATION MONTH: ELLA FITZGERALD AND BARDU ALI

April is Jazz Appreciation Month. Hot music or jazz traces its roots to New Orleans in Louisiana. It was in New Orleans that Bardu Ali or Bardou Ali or Bahadur Ali was born in 1906 to an African-American mother and a father who came from India. Interestingly, Ali’s father Moksad Ali is believed to have come from Bengal in India. Sometimes Ali’s father is described as being from Arabia.

Ali was a musician, bandleader and an actor. Ali’s name might not ring a bell, but the singer he helped promote will most certainly ring a a bell. She was Ms. Ella Fitzgerald –  who became the first lady of jazz. She helped change the face of jazz, and became the first female singer to join a mainstream jazz band.

By all descriptions Ali was a charismatic person, who knew how to negotiate. He was the frontman for Chick Webb, a well-known musician, who played regularly at Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom. Webb was known as the “king of swing,”

Ali heard Fitzgerald sing at a talent contest at the Apollo Theatre in New York. He was captivated by her voice and wanted her to be a part of Chick Webb’s band. But, Webb, according to this article in Ebony, “disliked” having girls in his band. Ali is supposed to have smuggled Fitzgerald into Webb’s dressing room and had her do an audition. Webb reluctantly agreed to have Fitzgerald in his band and pay her a weekly salary of $12. Webb and Fitzgerald played at the famous Savoy Club. Webb took Fitzgerald under his wings. And when he fell ill  Fitzgerald  stepped in to become the bandleader of Chick Webb’s band.

One of the early songs Fitzgerald recorded with Webb was A Tisket, A TasketHere is Fitzgerald singing It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing.

During the 1940s Ali moved to Los Angeles, where he worked with the Rhythm and Blues (R&B) singer Johnny Otis, who inspired musicians like Frank Zappa and Beach Boys. Ali then went on to become the manager for Redd Foxx, a comedian. Ali died in 1981.

You can read more about Ali in Vivek Bald’s book Bengali Harlem and the Lost Histories of South Asian America or watch this clip on Savoy King: Chick Webb and the music that changed America. It should probably read Chick Webb and Bardu Ali, who changed the music of America.