First of all, I wish you all a happy new year and hope this year started well. Let’s talk about what we did with our allocated time in 2017. If you minus the average sleep time of 8 hours out of a day, it gives us 16 hours of awake time which results in 5840 hours to be precise in a whole year. This is the time that you and I have spent the year watching movies, reading books, surfing the internet and doing all kind of stuff. I don’t know about you but I used part of that time to watch a lot of movies and read a lot of stuff. Some of them were great but not all of them resulting in hours that felt like wasted. Based on my 2017 experience, here’s a select few I wholeheartedly recommend if you have missed or haven’t explored yet.
This movie was simply spectacular for me. The last time I got to see Hugh Jackman with the Wolverine claws and I was not disappointed. For a kid who grew up watching X-Men, this marks the end of an era for me. Aesthetically speaking the film was brilliantly executed. Every little detail was taken care of; the color tone, the costumes, make-up, and soundtracks all were perfect.
This is a beautiful movie about an intellectually gifted child that focuses little on intellect and more on the subject of living a meaningful life. It is the story of a child and her uncle’s struggle to protect the child from the burden of overexpectations. The film sends a brilliant message that there is more to life than simply knowing to do perfect maths or having the strongest memory; human connection matters and no matter how gifted a child is, they need to develop the ability to bond, understand morality and ethics, make friends and enjoy life.
I first watched Dear Zindagi in December 2016 and technically it’s not a 2017 movie but it still remains my favorite. Unfortunately, I haven’t found any Hindi movies that I enjoyed as much as I enjoyed Dear Zindagi (based on what I have watched so far, there are a lot I did not watch). Dear Zindagi is the story of Kaira and her accidental encounter with an unorthodox psychologist Dr. Jehangir. Kaira is struggling and that is harming her personal life and professional life. Dr. Jehangir through therapy helps her heal and take control back over her life. The film carefully approaches and depicts the subject of mental health which is often seen negatively and a taboo in many parts of the world in a very non-judgemental way.
A Bollywood movie wouldn’t be one without songs so instead of the trailer here are the soundtracks for this one.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The book is narrated from multiple perspectives. Right from the start, Anthony connects you with the characters. The same war, the same tragedy, the same story but through several eyes and for one without eyes. I took my time, read it slowly but enjoyed it. The simple fascination of life for some birds, radios, waves, the cloud or the sea feels genuine and deeply relatable. Highly recommend reading if you like to be in a different world for a while and see the world from various perspectives.
For the french readers, I recommend le voleur dombre. Once again here’s the review I left on Goodreads:
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Je voulais lire un bon livre français;J’en ai lu un excellent! Marc Levey raconte d’une manière qui vous fera vous rappeler ce que sa fait d’être un enfant. Il est impossible de ne pas se laisser emporter. La beauté et la tragédie de la vie, l’amitié, les sentiments romatiques, l’affection, la famille vont de pair dans ce livre.
For those who do not know about Manga, they essentially are the equivalent of comics in the Japanese culture. Mangas themselves can be broken into a plethora of categories but for simplicity let’s leave it to simply manga.
What if the enemy isn’t who you think they are? What if what you think you know isn’t the complete truth? The story theme is very strong and very real. It a cruel world where fear, dissent, and hatred are used as tools just like it happens in the real world. It makes you question the fabric of society. Titans are huge in the series but I think of them as the equivalent of what nuclear weapon is in our world. The theme is abstract, what if we are trapped in a cage like animals? what if we no longer are at the top of the food chain? What if we no longer enjoy freedom? Will merely surviving be enough? Suffice to say this manga is not for children. I will stop here, no spoilers from me.
Anime is another gem from the Japanese culture. Unlike cartoons, some anime have very serious and adult based themes even better than some movies.
If you like to question concepts like society, norms, meaning whether in the form of job or life, the justice system, good versus bad then you will love this thriller. The story revolves around the implementation of a system called Sybill in society that analyses everyone and determines who should work where, who is likely a danger in a society and basically who gets to lead a good quiet life. A criminal is judged before a crime is committed based on intent by the system essentially eliminating all crimes. But what exactly is the origin of the Sybil system? All hell breaks loose when Shogo Makishima shows up, the officers know he is dangerous to society but are unable to capture nor judge him as the Sybil system sees him clean and harmless, sounds familiar?
2017 was the year where a lot of my thoughts went into what constitutes a good, progressive society. What are acceptable behaviors? Are we really going in the right direction? What changes are technological advances having on humanity, on the younger generation, on our morality, our norms, our perception and judgment of acceptability?What impact will social media and other technological advances have in our society in the long term? Such are the themes that are explored in the tv show I chose.
It is set in a more advanced/futuristic world that is ours with better technologies. With its standalone episodes, It can shock, and make you question your own thinking and behaviors. I believe the whole Idea of the show is to make us question the direction in which we going towards and to be more careful with technologies. Although it is true that the show makes a case for the most extreme scenarios, It does not take a genius to figure that we, humans, have messed up so many times and in that process we have messed up this whole earth, species on it and our own kind so much that we could potentially do it again, at least a group among us might! Watch the show but keep in mind, don’t become a paranoiac or too pessimistic. As much as some of humanity have shown aggression, greed, and hatred, the same species has also shown its capability for compassion, empathy, and kindness.
I discovered overwatch in 2017, played for a while, got into the silver category for a while in the competitive play and then I stopped(temporarily). Electronic sport is becoming a huge and very lucrative entertainment industry right now. Initially, I dived into the world to understand it, I learned about gamers signing contracts and receiving more money playing video games compared to what I make working. It’s an industry currently undergoing a revolution, tournaments are organized, players are flown over, merchandises are sold, sponsorship and endorsement deals are signed. Here are some examples:
- Razer accessories
Both Razer and overwatch benefits from a very loyal fanbase which often overlap. Such collaboration benefits both parties. They both have exclusivity and the added value means they can charge a premium price. Here are 3 examples of such products:
- Exclusive Mechanical keyboard
- Dedicated themed gaming headset
- Exclusive mouse designed for overwatch gamers
- Overwatch sponsoring and exclusivity
HP branded its HP Omen as the official partner of overwatch world. The device and brand benefits from high exposure among gamers in that way. Gamers form part of a very lucrative segment for companies like HP who produce high-end PCs.
Fair warning, It is very very easy to get addicted to games like Overwatch. Unlike the traditional finite games like Contra, Mario and even Fifa where you eventually win the game and decide to stop, current games like overwatch are infinite in levels; they are built to scale. The more level you complete, the more level is added and the less likely you are drop all the accumulated expertise and just stop. The creators have figured the trick to keep us hooked on the game and guaranteeing long-term sustainability. Of course, this trick is not limited to gaming only, a variant of it is now common practice among most software company. It is known as the subscription-based pricing model and is replacing the more traditional non-perpetual licenses pricing. A business can’t simply buy a software nowadays, it’s can only loan it, in a way they keep you hooked and paying instead of a one-off purchase.
According to pocket, I have read the equivalent of 42 books through its app, earning a spot on its list of 1% top readers. I spoke about pocket in an earlier post and how it is one of my favorite apps. Here are my best picks out of all that I have read in 2017:
- The story of nani and srinu, an immigrant couple aspiring a better life, with ambitions and dreams like all of us. This is a true account of how fragile our lives are.
- We have a real issue at hand with the current way Terms and conditions are handled. When it comes to software and online services nobody reads them but everyone agrees to it. Here is the story of how a company got people to click agree to use their wifi while at the same time actually agreeing to clean toilets.
- Panick attacks and anxiety issues are real. Sometimes we fail to address them properly out of shame and sometimes we resist acknowledging them. But it does not need to be that hard, here is a list of ways that can help according to Olivia Remes, a Ph.D. candidate from the University of Cambridge.
- Carl Rodrigues went against the normal convention and faced criticism by leaving a well-paying job of IT consultancy, shut himself in his basement and developed a product. His firm became very successful and profitable. Here’s how he did it.
- Are we heading towards a more fragmented internet? The author raises some very interesting points about how we might end up in that situation especially with so many different laws governing different countries. It is an issue that currently has no substantial solution.
- The author of this piece talks about “neophilia” which is the obsession with novelty in relation to nutritional contents that are found online. Overall it is a very interesting read that answers why the internet acts the way it does when it comes to food or anything else as a matter of fact.
- Monopoly was invented to demonstrate the flaws of capitalism. While the game still exists, it seems it is just a fun game now. People seem to have forgotten the meaning and purpose of its creation. You can read the whole piece about its origin from BBC.
- What if you were genetically predisposed to love everyone irrespective of who they are and how they treat you. This condition is rare but real and is known as the Williams Syndrome.
- A mystery illness that is not contagious but heartbreaking. Imagine how awful it must feel for your brain to literally decide to shut down and recoil away from the real world. Such is this mysterious disease called “resignation syndrome” that has been affecting some asylum-seeking children in Sweden.
- Times have changed, hanging out is more done on chats than in person. The current generation does not know how life was without a smartphone. Is that a boon or have we sabotaged their childhood and life? If the question makes you wonder, you will want to read this one.
- James Somers makes the case for “designing on Principle”. The article makes a very valid point on how we need to modify our current approach in the software industry in order to improve things and stop a looming catastrophe.
- Sleep is very very important. Enough said.
- A lot of minds that helped create the social media application and virtual universe we know of, we love and hate are now pulling the alarm. They maintain that we should be wary, that excessive use affects our attention span and has multiple repercussions including addiction. Most of those who created the system themselves have strict rules when it comes to usage. Read more.
- This one is long but it is worth reading. The topic itself is complex. The article adresses issues such as hate speech and misinformation and the battle to ensure that platforms like Facebook takes responsibility to ensure a safe space online.
- It might sound surprising but streets were not built for cars but for people. But then cars came along and accidents happened and then car makers started a public shaming campaign that reshaped history. People were taught that they were wrong to walk on streets and thus the term “Jaywalking” was coined. Travel back in history with this piece.
- Here is a paradox for you to ponder upon. Humble leaders are better yet the majority of us gets swayed by the most enigmatic, charismatic individuals which get endorsed. The current rule seems to reward narcissistic traits such as grandiosity and over glorifying. Such is the point that Professor Mayo makes on Harvard Business Review based on studies conducted.
- Food has become more about aesthetic than taste. Instagram has played a huge role in this change in behavior. Read “Instagram food is a sad, sparkly lie” if the topic interests you.
- When the results of a study showed that usage of social media affected us in a negative way causing mental and social harm, people became skeptic and were unconvinced. So a more rigorous study was done and comes to confirm what was already said. The more you restrict your interactions to the virtual such as Facebook, the worst you will feel. Written by Nicholas a. Christakis on Harvard Business Review.
- As someone who aspires to go towards education as a career, this article is very dear to me. Here is an extract from The Myth of “I’m Bad at Maths”
“Is math ability genetic? Sure, to some degree. Terence Tao, UCLA’s famous virtuoso mathematician, publishes dozens of papers in top journals every year and is sought out by researchers around the world to help with the hardest parts of their theories. Essentially none of us could ever be as good at math as Terence Tao, no matter how hard we tried or how well we were taught. But here’s the thing: We don’t have to! For high-school math, inborn talent is much less important than hard work, preparation, and self-confidence.”
- If like me, you are interested in education then read this one called 100% is overrated. It makes a point not to call a child smart but rather actively encourage them on their efforts in order not to sabotage them. here are the first two paragraphs:
At whatever age smart people develop the idea that they are smart, they also tend to develop vulnerability around relinquishing that label. So the difference between telling a kid “You did a great job” and “You are smart” isn’t subtle. That is, at least, according to one growing movement in education and parenting that advocates for retirement of “the S word.”
The idea is that when we praise kids for being smart, those kids think: Oh good, I’m smart. And then later, when those kids mess up, which they will, they think: Oh no, I’m not smart after all. People will think I’m not smart after all. And that’s the worst. That’s a risk to avoid, they learn.“Smart” kids stand to become especially averse to making mistakes, which are critical to learning and succeeding.
And then there are YouTube Channels and my discovery of Podcasts in the year 2017 but that’s a more elaborate post for another day else I won’t be able to do them justice. So that’s it for now. Thank you for reading and for those who encourage and support me. That means a lot. Happy start of the Year.