About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

24 December 2016

Roland Garros

The namesake of the tennis stadium hosting the French Open, was a famed aviator and WW1 fighter pilot. Born in Saint Denis, he is probably its most famous son, and consequently there are quite a few things bearing his name (the airport, a road and a restaurant just the ones i have come across in Saint Denis). His statue is near the canons end of Le Barachois.

Le Barachois

Surrounding the city along the coast, Le Barachois is a paved promenade punctuated by a few attractions such as statues and canons. The statue commemorating a slave uprising in the mid 1800s is poignant; and the views are awesome.

Cathedral of Saint Denis

Over 150 years old, the Cathedral of Saint Denis is one of the landmarks of the city. The cathedral is surprisingly rather plain, although the mural of Christ is quite beautiful and strange (holding a cross while blessing worshippers?) and there was also a cute nativity scene on the side.

Church of Saint Jacques

The plain and simple exterior hides a simple, but beautiful interior. The church is a located a Km or so from the town centre, so it is not featured in most travel guides etc. but is well worth a visit for its stained glass windows and statues of various Christian saints.

23 December 2016

Air Austral's Tail Fin

One of the most beautiful tail fins I have seen ...

22 December 2016

The Grand Tour

Take the recipe of Top Gear (before the relaunch in 2016), remove the annoying celebrity interviews, add even better production quality (I didn't think it was possible for a car show), and you have The Grand Tour. 

There is not much new - and in fact, the segments that are frankly not needed. There is no need to have a chat sideline in "The Conversation Street" - the in-between segment banter is sufficient. "Celebrity Brain Crash", which replaced the celebrity interviews and instead manages to kill off interviewees in weird accidents is getting boring and nonsensical. 

The stand out is off course the cars and the fantastic test drive scenarios. Some segments - such as the Jordanian Special Forces in episode 2 or the environment cars in episode 4 have been weak; but overall the spread of cars, and the locations have been great.

Grand Tour can certainly run for the next 3 seasons - but the formula is ageing and I don't know how much longer it will make sense. But Top Gear itself, I think is now dead an buried.

19 December 2016

Amazon Prime Video

The Grand Tour is not the most pirated show ever - but it certainly is one of the most pirated shows ever. That is not too surprising - Top Gear in the days of Clarkson was also one of the most pirated shows. Some years back, I wrote a paper on digital piracy (also related to a presentation at Indicare 2005) where I proposed that a key cause of piracy was availability of media and convenient format of media - and while factors such as price matter, digital piracy would remain an issue if availability in the right format is not solved for. The Grand Tour is the perfect example of this proposal - launching a highly popular show (well at least Top Gear was) but constrained to a few locations instead of the global reach.

Amazon's Prime Video service has now taken the leap of bridging the availability conundrum with its global launch. The key attraction - shown prominently on the web page - is off course The Grand Tour; but it does offer more than that. Amazon's own original series - Mozart in the Jungle, Man in the High Castle - are also on offer; and the price is phenomenal at USD 2.99 for the first 6 months followed by the standard price of USD 5.99. Oh, and there is a free trial also for a month.

However, the breadth of content is quite underwhelming. Starting with Amazon's own content - the content available is not all the content produced by Amazon. Furthermore, not all the seasons are there - I have access Mozart in the Jungle's first season, not the second for example (and the same with Transparent). Outside Amazon's own content - there are very few other top TV series, and the catalogue for movies is equally bare. 

Catalogue of content aside, the other big annoyance is the lack of Apple TV support. At this moment, I am downloading content to my phone and then playing via Airplay (and I am very impressed with its power efficiency). But what I would rather prefer is to queue content download on Apple TV, instead of relying on downloading when I am at home.I have tried the streaming - and have been generally quite impressed with the quality and speed. My Internet connection is flaky so prefer the download approach - but generally I have been impressed by the app.

I expect that the catalogue will grow with time - and there is enough right now to keep me interested and subscribed. I just need the Apple TV app ...