Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, May 18, 2006




The Meltdown

Review by Gokhra

Cast & Credits (Featuring the voices of) Manny: Ray Romano Sid: John Leguizamo Diego: Denis Leary Ellie: Queen Latifah Eddie: Josh Peck Fast Tony: Jay Leno Crash: Seann William Scott


Movies and cartoons are known to take great liberties with fact. In fact thee liberties can be so great as to compress thousands of years into a few months. Yep, that's what you get with the latest Ice Age flick that is the end of the ice age and hence it is named Meltdown. How appropriate.

In this sequel we have all the characters form the frst one that we all loved so much. There's including Manny the woolly mammoth (voiced by Ray Romano), Diego the cool saber-toothed tiger (Denis Leary) and Sid the excitable tree-hugging sloth (John Leguizamo). I was talking about taking great liberties right? Well, whereas a real ice age lasts 100,000 years or so the one that descended on these characters seems like a winter storm. You see, the ice age is gone and the characters are still alive and un-evolved into anything else. But such liberties are forgiven for the sake of continuity.

We still have the antics of the toothy squirrel-cum-rat called Scrat who is always after that elusive acorn. Scrat observes the first danger signal of global change. As usual he is after his acorn for which he has to climb a mountain face. The squirrel climbs a vertical ice wall with his claws, almost falls, is saved when his tongue freezes to the ice, and then has to pull himself up by its own tongue, paw over paw. That's when a jet of water washes him out in eensy-weensy spider style. Yep, the glacier is melting.

This in turn threatens the the icy dam that protects all the character's valley home. This makes all the other animals start high-tailing it to a distant ark pointed out by a helpful vulture.

Along the way to the ark, Manny who fears he is the last of his kind falls in love, sort of. The object of his affection is the lovable form of Ellie (Queen Latifah), another mammoth, but one raised by possums Crash (Seann William Scott) and Eddie (Josh Peck). Problem is that Ellie needs to be convinced she is not a possum. Her delusion is encouraged by her “brothers” who find having a mammoth as a sidekick is a great comfort. That is they do not get eaten by small carnivours. Now what are the odds of that? Well, what are the odds of a boy being raised by apes I say?

Other new characters include Fast Tony the turtle (Jay Leno) and Lone Gunslinger the vulture (Will Arnett).

So after the introductions are done and over with the animal family moves on to avoid drowning as giant chucks of icebergs and the polar ice cap fall off into the sea, the water levels rise, a temperate climate begins to emerge.

The trek is often punctuated by adventures. Theirs is the thawing of two pre-ice age sea monsters who will possibly evolve into sharks.

The verdict:
The movie is beautiful to look at with elegant colours and detail. The CGI animals are fast paced as is the action. It's a very fun movie with Scrat providing the greatest attractions although the scenes are few and in between. Additional attractions included Leguizamo's great voice job as Sid. This guy does a brilliant job being a whiny funny character. In one word 'terrific'.

Top 10 GSM Phones That "Really" Matters

By, M Saquib Hussain

It started small, but today cellular phones have got the interest of nearly anyone in our society. With thousands of models to choose from and hundreds of different combination of features and price, it has become really tricky to spend money “properly” on buying a new phone. In this article I'll go through top 10 phones based on my experience, surveys and reviews all around the globe.

#10: Nokia 6310i: Switch back to the days when people used to buy phones to use it as a phone; and still today there are plenty of people among us, who rely on solid performance of cell phones; and that's why Nokia still manufactures this 4 year old gem. Its looks and performs like an 80's muscle car. It comes with Bluetooth, IrDA, GPRS, 500 (x3 numbers) entries, Timed Profiles, 150 SMS Storage etc. But what makes it a must have is it's extremely powerful Tri Band Antenna which gives you the best signal reception barely available even in the latest phones and an ultra slim Li-Ion 1050mAh battery, which has a stunning record breaking standby time of 17 days. The phone is purely meant for professionals seeking features related to a phone and staying linked to everyone no matter which part of the country or planet they travel to. The phone is very rare and uncommon, but sold widely abroad. It's still priced at around Tk 10,000: which is seems a bit high for a Black & White screen phone but regarding its reception and in-call performance, the price is still justified. You really can't play games, use multimedia, watch video, or control your microwave oven with it you do what you were supposed to do with a proper phone: talk without worries.

#09: Nokia 6101: Nokia 6101 evokes mysterious feelings in people. It is a middle-class phone with a brilliant equipment and attractive design can be considered as the best charm-shell phone ever produced by Nokia. Priced around Tk 12,000 the phone provides all the basic features of a color phone with a touch of a nice VGA camera and executive looks. The phone has Nokia's renowned standards for good battery life, reception quality and excellent built quality. It also features EDGE, GPRS, polyphonic ring tones, short duration video recording, IrDA etc. The lack of Bluetooth is indeed shocking for this phone. Of course, the phone has a very formal outlook, and a fresh and clean design that's rarely seen in phone these days, and could be more attractive to people who wants a nice built phone with a modest amount of extra features.

#08: Motorola MPx220: Can be considered as the best looking Windows Mobile OS powered charm-shell. Equipped with 1.3 mega pixel camera, mini-SD card support, GPRS, Bluetooth, IrDA, USB and 65k colors screen this phone can be considered the best feature rich, and nice looking charm-shell phone. The phone also features MS Pocket Outlook, Windows Media Player, Internet, E-Mail and 25 MB built-in memory. The phone also features a good battery life and reception quality. The quad-band world phone priced around Tk 25,000 is a perfect tool for fashion conscious business class people.

#07: Nokia N70: The best Symbian and multimedia combined phone ever created. The N70 is among the top of the lines in features and also has an attractive look. With its 2MP camera, excellent screen, good MP3 support, this can currently be said to be the best feature rich multimedia phone available from Nokia. However, its extremely high price tag doesn't equal to the phones performance, as even being filled with features it doesn't have best in class. For example, the over size heavy N70 doesn't really boast the best in 2MP camera, neither doest it have the best sound quality in MP3 playback and sometimes irritating with some old unsolved bugs of firmware. Since Nokia is charging so much for the phone, they should have made it more perfect to justify the phone. Still in respect of overall quality, this should be the best made feature rich Nokia phone to date.

#06: Samsung X150: If a few phone calls are all that's needed, and you're on a tight budget, then this is exactly what's needed. It can be said to be the best value phone currently available on market. Groups looking for a basic phone with simple features, and trying to avoid low build quality should definitely look for this model. Priced around Tk. 6,000 the Samsung X150 is a justified entry level phone. The received signal strength and sound quality is average, the vibration is good enough if kept in pocket, and it ads a sophisticated appearance. The phone features a nice color screen, monophonic ring-tones, SMS, calendar, voice memo, calculator support, and a simple yet nice looking design. It's a quality phone and it doesn't look low-priced. People really can't ask for more at this price range.

#05: Sony Ericsson K700: Priced at Tk 12,500 this phone is the best bargain for its price. The phone has the finest VGA camera, and a very top class display. It also features flash, 42MB of internal memory, MP3 support, GPRS, Bluetooth, IrDA, Email, tone composer, 40 channels polyphonic ring tones, extra theme support and gorgeous designer class looks. It's a small sized, fashionable phone with good features.

#04: Nokia 8910/8910i: There are some objects in this world which set a class of their own. The highly durable titanium made Nokia 8910/8910i is such a phone which is a legend itself. Undoubtedly the best looking phone ever designed is a sign of elegance and pure passion. The phone is still rare in our crowd which gives a pride in carrying this phone. But, looks are not all that matters even in reception quality and in call performance it equips itself with the best in class. The phone uses same receiver performance as found in the Nokia 6310i. Camera, games, multimedia these are excluded to make this phone exclusive for people with choice and attitude who wants to stand out form the crowd, and carry gadgets that defines the pinnacle in rank.

#03: Motorola RAZR V3: Less in features, more in performance and design the slim is definitely in fashion: the most popular phone in world, “Moto RAZR” came in market with a never before seen or expected design and slimness. Don't be deceived by looks, the phone has the best reception among all GSM phones in the world. With its excellent quad-band powerful antenna and good call quality, it easily ranks among the top of every list. It's also equipped by a fine looking screens you'll hardly see in a phone at this range; however the quality is not good under direct sunlight. The limited edition versions of these phones (which are not quite limited anymore anyway) also feature ability to record videos. The recent price drop to Tk. 15,500 of this phone makes it a must have. I myself have tested the phone among one of the worst reception areas, and where all other phones failed, it did kept it signal good enough. But the extremely limited memory space as well as too much popularity makes this phone stop from going to number one. The RAZR lacks in features, but boasts in call quality. The phone can be a marvel for style conscious budget limited teenagers and older people who are less interested in extra features and more into design and performance. Although the phone's not exactly easy to use but don't be confused with its durability because of the slimness, beauty isn't really skin-deep: the aircraft grade aluminum body is a very muscular metal which protects the phone well as well as adds a special feeling in skin while holding it.

#02: Sony Ericsson K750i: You just can't beat Sony Ericsson in price-feature comparisons. Can be said to be the best camera phone in the world (until their K800 comes out); its 2MP camera beats the quality of any other camera phone with auto focus, excellent lens, and flash. The phone's MP3 player's sound quality no less if not better than any MP3 player, and can be compared to the quality of iPod. If you want more music features, simply get the W800i (with better battery life for playback, 512MB card and higher quality headphones). It comes with 38MB internal memory and support for 2GB of memory card (64MB provided for k750i), the K750i simply can't be beaten. It even has a FM radio with RDS tuner. K750i also features display superior than any other phone on market and a solid build quality. The phones fast in response, good in call quality and justified in price at around Tk. 19,500 (or 24,000 with 1 year warranty). Only its looks (although are not bad) doesn't make it look like a phone of this high class, and that's why may be it can't be the number one phone in the list. Users looking for good camera, video recording, MP3 should absolutely go for this remarkable phone. This phone is also enormously parallel to W800i and D750i.

#01: Sony Ericsson P990: The apex of all phones, in both killer looks and wide range of applications. This is the best smart phone ever entered the GSM market. It's big, but its heavy duty looks, speaks of its quality and smartness. Equipped with high quality touch screen, state of the art Wireless LAN (with VoIP support) as well as all standard smart phone support and a stunning 2MP camera, this phone is built with only a sole purpose on mind to be on top of everything else. The tri-band phone has 80MB internal memory with memory card support of 4GB, and standard office application as well as support for download and installation of tens of thousands of Symbian applications, MP3/video player, FM Radio, Email, Opera 8 browser, handwriting recognition and 3G UMTS support. The P990 is posh but not overpriced. This phone is made for industry leading professionals who need every tool and best communication capability regardless of the price tag.

Hope this review will help you get your next cell phone and happy shopping!

Acknowledgement: Manufacture's official web sites, people who participated in my survey and shops in Eastern Plaza, Rifle's Square and Boshundhara City who answered to hundreds of my annoying questions with great control over temper.
Disclaimer: All prices are subject to change according to market condition.

Sci Stuff: Planet Japan

By Ziad

Build fastest supercomputer to build fast supercomputers
The Japanese come up with some very wacky inventions most of the times. They have hands-free toilets that will wash, dry, powder, scent your bottom and even send your stool samples to the doc via internet. And most of the other times they come up with some equally useful mind boggling stuff as well (such as the electronic toilet). Now that's contradictory. That makes it hard to think of them as freaky genius or freaky freaks. A few months ago the Japan Times reported the development of the next-generation supercomputer, some 73 times faster than today's record-holder. According to the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry, the planned supercomputer will operate at a maximum speed of 10 petaflops, or 10 quadrillion floating point operations per second. That would far exceed the current record of 136.8 teraflops held by the United States supercomputer Blue Gene/L, which was jointly developed by IBM and the U.S. government. The total amount for the project is likely to reach $716 million to $895 million by the time the project is completed in 2010, if all goes as planned.

Such high-speed computers are necessary for simulating experiments that are difficult to conduct or take too much time in real life. Researchers hope to use the computer to develop new drugs, to simulate the formation of galaxies and to predict the paths of typhoons and intense rainfall. The United States is also planning to create a supercomputer of petaflop ability by 2010. A petaflop is equal to 1,000 teraflops. Now if only we could use these to play online games. Sigh!

Smart traffic lights
These Japs have a technological solution to everything. Someday they will even replace themselves with machines (made in Japan of course). At present their police plan to develop "thinking" traffic lights to improve traffic across the nation. The high-tech signals will measure the extent of congestion at nearby intersections, transferring information about pedestrians and other cars through roadside sensors. The information will be transmitted through a local area network, or LAN, to other traffic lights nearby, allowing for the adjustment of their timing after analyzing the information. For example, the duration of green lights would be increased if congestion were detected at a nearby intersection. Lights at an intersection will be connected not only with intersections directly before and after but also with those on the sides, allowing them to receive information on every nearby vehicle heading for the intersection. This would make the system localized, not having to rely on a traffic control center. An experimental version of the system was installed at seven zones in the city of Nagoya from 2002 to 2004, resulting in a cut in driving times of between 4 percent and 20 percent. Impressive but heck we Bangladeshis already beat them to the “thinking” traffic system ages ago. We have traffic lights and then we have the cops standing around waving the cars through red lights and making them stop for green lights. The cops also “think” fast as to which car they should stop for gathering bribes. Now beat that.

See Cox Bazar from the moon
If I read one more “Trip to Cox Bazar” article in RS I will scream and, well, that's about as much as I can do in protest. Don't people in Bangladesh go anywhere else? Probably the Japanese have been reading RS too and in desperation decided to offer space flights so people can have other destinations to write about.

Japanese travel agency JTB Corp. plans to begin a partnership with space experience company Space Adventures Ltd. and market the firm's tours in Japan. One tour will take participants around the far side of the moon and back to Earth on board the Russian spacecraft Soyuz for the price of about $100 million. Trial flights will be conducted and launches could begin as early as 2008 as reported in the Mainichi Shimbun (it's a newspaper).

The Soyuz spacecraft can carry two space tourists. From the windows of the craft they will be able to view Earth and possibly Coxs Bazar. Heck, then they will write about the beach al over again. Nope, Bangladeshis cannot be allowed to go. Space Adventures officials said skilled astronauts would accompany travelers and there would be no safety concerns. Other tours include a 10-day stay at the International Space Station and trips that let people experience weightlessness. That should be good for people who complain about their weight all the time.

Some programs will incorporate training at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center before liftoff. In the first year, JTB plans to have one person participate in the International Space Station Program, 10 in a weightlessness experience at an altitude of 60 miles, and 30 in trips on supersonic aircraft. It hopes for sales of $21.8 million.



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