Wednesday, August 31

New Music

And so the music begins.

Super Bass - Nicki Minaj

Well I may as well start with the trashiest stuff first. A song that's as colourful and bubbly as the chick who sings it.

Don't Speak - No Doubt

There was actually a time when I wasn't interested in music. This track marked the beginning of a transition to a place where I can't imagine not having it. And oh my: 1995!

Achha Lagta Hai - Aarakshan OST

Sultry and playful, I love this track. And no, not just because it has Deepika in the video.

Saathiyaa - Singham OST

More identikit ballad goodness. I think I prefer this to the other big track on the OST.

Maula Maula - Singham OST

Oh look, and the inevitable qawwli inspired track as a bonus!

Teri Meri - Bodyguard OST

I hate Salman Khan, and every time I have to listen to any song remotely related to him or his films, I hate myself a little too. Tune though.

Friday, August 26

XKCD Click for more info

There are two ways to approach something new - either go for it or start thinking about how it'll all go wrong. Either approach has its merits, but sometimes it's just faster to try than consider things fully:

What's possibly worse in this case is how someone else knows your level of ability more than you do yourself. That's a sign right there, folks.

Tuesday, August 23

The Seven Year Itch

It's a bit sad that of the hobbies or interests I have, the one I've maintained the longest happens to be this blog. I'm still in two minds on whether I should be proud or ashamed of that. Probably a little bit of both.

I think I've past the point where this blog can go back to the state it was in during the early years - you know when people actually liked reading it. As mentioned before Twitter is a cause of this, but a lack of time and inclination are also major factors. I seem to actually, you know, talk to real life people more about the stuff I would have usually written here; it's faster for one, but more than that I seem to have much more patience now and can tolerate a return conversation.

If we add to that my growing general disliking of The Internet (thanks Facebook!), then you could conclude that there may even be a definitive ending to this place. Of course that won't happen for a while - my OCD will keep the reviews and travel logs coming for a few years at least - but the fact that my draft list is well over fifty posts long is quite telling.

I guess the balance between writing and actually being read has tipped to the former. Whether anyone actually cares or not I have no idea.

Sunday, August 14

Game: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3) Click for more info

And finally I get to play the sequel to one of my most favourite PS3 games, Uncharted. I said in the review back then that this is how games should be made, and Uncharted 2 not only doesn't disappoint, but goes even further than the first game.

It's all just so slick and entertaining that it's hard to fault. We still have the simple controls and gameplay, but now with bigger explosions. It's great.

If there is a little niggle it's the final task, but since it'd spoil the game for me to go any further I'll just brush that under the carpet.

So yes, as recommended as the first game - and if you haven't played either now is the time to do so, mainly in anticipation of the third part in the series that will be out soon.

Thursday, August 4

Abstruse Goose Click for more info

We all think we're special, but today Abstruse Goose tells us exactly how special we are:

We can talk about destiny and stuff, but at the end of the day we're just accidents. Move one pivotal variable (here's a clue: they're all pivotal) and we'd be totally different. If that's not a reason to embrace who you are I don't know what it.

Monday, August 1

Ramadhan Reminder

For all non-Jummah workdays during Ramadhan, a different guy will be giving a five minute "Ramadhan Reminder" after each Zhur Jamaat in my company Prayer Room. I've been given the honour of opening this year's session and what follows is what I used as a guide for my talk today.


"There are many who fast all day and pray all night, but they gain nothing but hunger and sleeplessness" (hadith)

As you all know Ramadhan is not just about starving ourselves. It is an achievement to get through a day while refraining from the technically forbidden acts of eating, drinking and having relations and it's also full of blessing and reward, especially in these difficult summer months, but looking around I don't think many people need much reminding on how to carry on with that, and as the saying implies there is much more to a day in Ramadhan than feeling hungry.

There are two further things I feel we can focus on - increasing the good habits while reducing the bad. Most of us manage to do that former to an extent - we pray more, both obligatory and optional prayers. We read more Quran and seek more knowledge as we can see by those sitting here. We pay more charity and generally feel more spiritual. This is all commendable and we should be proud of ourselves and look to increase all these acts as much as we can. But there is more we can do, things which may not at first glance have a religious value and they all involve improving our character - we can be even nicer and generous in character than we usually are, we can look to be more helpful and patient with those around us. These "soft skills" are just as important as any particular act of worship, particularly because they're so pervasive in our lives, and yet they sometimes get overlooked because they're not as seen as explicitly religious.

Where I personally fail is on the other side of the coin; the reduction and removal of the bad habits we form during the rest of the year. These come from both outside and in - we work in an environment that presents quite a lot of fitna and gives plenty of reasons to show bad character and make bad choices. But even putting that aside there are lots of actions that we have only ourselves to blame for - things like gossiping, back-biting, being rude, fighting and arguing, being unhelpful in our work or homes, or not being forthcoming when it's easy for us to.

Ironically sometimes it's our situation itself that is our excuse to behave badly - fasting should bring peace but sometimes the difficulty incites bad temper even when we don't realise it. The most dangerous thing is how these small behaviours and actions can add up - and even jokey and innocent behaviour could be dangerous. Its all the things we take as second nature and harmless which are sometimes the ones which are the most difficult to reduce.

But as with all kind of improvement there is no better excuse than Ramadhan to try and nail these habits. Yes we should continue to focus on the the improvements we've established - the prayer and seeking of knowledge, but for me there is real value in using the sense of goodwill and hidayat to reinforce the good behaviours and battle the bad ones. We should use the spirituality and god consciousness to build and improve our conduct; use our hunger to remind ourselves to be nicer and patient people. Hopefully this will then become habitual and a part of your overall character both during and out of Ramadhan.