Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, September 20, 2012




By Orin

Weirdness is a good feature in gadgets. Here're some more.

ApriPoko: Ever gotten annoyed with remotes these days? There are just so many buttons and most of them don't even work. You'd think you can operate a spaceship with that many buttons! To come to the aid of those whose lives are insufferable with remotes, Toshiba came up with ApriPoko, their new universal robot remote that also makes you go awww. This cute robot works with voice command and has a memory system remembering what you did last time. And those eyes are there to melt your heart.

Cobra Tag: Going out but lost your keys. Found the keys then lost your wallet. If you are human, this has happened. Cobra Tag is the sensor attached to any items that you want to stop losing, and it will communicate with your phone's app and will remind you if you lose those items. What happens when you lose your phone? Well, Cobra Tag lets you find that too. Tap the sensor in any one of your valuables to ring your smartphone. It's pretty cool, but we Dhaka folks need something that protects against our 'friends' in the streets.

In-tent, the solar powered tent: We Bangladeshis aren't a bunch keen on camping out. We prefer to stay in, sip our teas, and 'talk' about politics. While that is quite fun, going outside and actually enjoying the nature can be pretty exciting. Or at least with the new solar powered tent that charges your phone, acts as a Wifi hub and glows in the dark, it will be. After Vodafone came up with the solar-powered 'powerbella', Orange came up with this concept. Hopefully by the time they launch it, a couch and TV will also be included. Just for Banglalis.

Logitech Washable Keyboard: If someone ever cleans a keyboard in front of you, you'd be surprised to see the brilliant variety of gunk there. From nose boogers to cheese to cat furs, the insides of the keyboard bears the mark of your existence and evolution. If you are a germophobe, then it might be a little issue, so Logitech came up with their washable keyboard called K310. It has the usual keyboard-y things, and also includes drain holes for keeping it dry. The keyboard can be submerged up to 11 inches and as long as you keep the USB cable dry, it doesn't matter.



By Moyukh

My first reaction to Bob Dylan's new album was “This is very, very different”. Having always associated Dylan with a raspy voice, half singing, and half prophesying; accompanied by guitar and sometimes the harmonica, Tempest was something I did not expect at all. With piano, mandolin, banjo and accordion in the tracks - this was very far from Knockin' on Heaven's Door or Tangled Up in Blue. That being said, different does not mean bad, although it is by no means the five stars Rolling Stones has offered the album.

The album is very bluesy, not the typical Dylan country singing. Dylan seems to have experimented a lot but still kept to his prophesy like lyrics. The album starts off with Duquesne Whistle, a song which you would nod along to while tapping your feet - a good listen but nothing you would remember for long, unlike Dylan's older stuff. Songs like Narrow Way and Early Roman Kings are very bluesy with typical classic rock-blues riffs repeated throughout the tracks. While Early Roman Kings has the lyrics to make you think, the riff is way too common and sometimes oddly reminiscent of ZZ Top's Bad to the Bone.

But the album does have its highs - the tracks Scarlet Town and Tin Angel are brilliant. Scarlet Town is a haunting, brooding track that will definitely be the one to be listened over and over again - with its dark lyrics and soft music that's perfect for Dylan's voice. Tin Angel on the other hand is the one that reminds you of his older Frankie Lee and Judas Priest. With a not-so-original story of a romantic triangle and a Shakespearean tragedy, the song stands out for the way Dylan executes it.

Reviews across the internet talk most of the title track Tempest, which is about the sinking of the Titanic. It has been described from tastefully executed to uselessly long; the most important thing about the song for me was the blandness of it. Not a bad track, but nothing special - maybe I expect too much from the guy who wrote All Along the Watchtower.

The album ends with a tribute to John Lennon - Roll on John which, if not great, is a pretty good track. With a reference to a Beatles track and not going overboard with anything, the song is something you would listen to at least a number of times.

Overall, Tempest is not the best Dylan album and definitely not the one for the first time listener. But it has its perks and tracks to redeem itself - although fans of Dylan might be hard on it, because it's Dylan. Point to remember is the guy is 71 years old and he is still rocking. The album is still a good listen; an average album with two really good songs.


By Sarah Nafisa Shahid

Movies these days quite evidently portray how Hollywood is running out of money and you can add Brave to the list. The animated movie is Disney Pixar's effort to win its young viewers back by trying to offer them something new but they ended up producing just another passé movie.

The story is pretty cliché which circles around the difficulties a young princess called Merida (Kelly MacDonald) has to deal with while growing up with her mother Queen Eleanor (Emma Thompson). Merida is an outgoing and freedom-loving teenager while her mother is the opposite: perfect and composed. And when the princess comes of age, she is burdened with the dilemma of marrying the son of a duke and uniting the four clans of Scotland when all she wants to do is practice archery in the forest. Quick with her judgement, Merida makes a rash decision while trying to solve her problem which puts everyone into a troubling situation and the rest of the movie continues from there with Merida seeking reconciliation with her mother.

The story works with a rich background of Scottish mythology but unfortunately fails to put enough of its magic and mystery into the story. The worst downside to the movie is probably the Scottish accent which seemed a little stretched even when voiced by an entirely English cast.

If you are under the age of 10, yes this is a great movie for you with a lot of lame jokes and a beautiful cartoon princess with flaming red hair. The animation in the movie is pretty good and quite detailed in fact. And the soundtrack is enjoyable with a little Celtic touch here and there.

All in all, Brave doesn't really make the cut as a brilliant animated movie like earlier Pixar movies such as Nemo and Up, but it's all right as a pop-corn film for kids.

Fun Fact: If you are watching this in the theatres, a short film named La Luna will be featured before the movie starts. Yours truly thought the short film by Enrico Casarosa was what made the movie ticket worth it but unfortunately, the short film is nowhere to be found on YouTube.



By Shaer Reaz

Hong Kong: The neon lit capital of the East, the financial hub of the South China Sea and further beyond, constantly teeming with life and energy and the vibrant hum of a densely populated mega city. Another ex-British Colony ravaged by wars with Japan. In World War II, it used to be a prime spot for opium dealings and gang violence. With its emergence as one of the major cities in the world, the gangs have found new outlets and ways of expanding their business as drug peddlers and extortionists.

In that unique way in which everything Oriental is different and awe-inspiring, organised crime in Hong Kong (and almost all South Asian Countries) get things done very differently from their Western counterparts. The Triads operate here, a ruthless and highly influential group of criminals who get rich off drugs, gambling and prostitution, not to mention extortion.

Frustrated, without any leads or clue about how to stop the Triads, the Hong Kong PD turns to Wei Shen. A daring but arrogant cop whose childhood days spent in Old Prosperity gives him an entry point for going undercover, Shen is ordered to infiltrate, blend, and investigate, by any means necessary. In an effort to bring down the Triad inside out, Shen must BE the Triad. References to Kung Fu Panda stop here.

Actually no, it goes on for quite a bit. Sleeping Dogs, Square Enix's latest market conquering game, puts you out on the dangerous streets of Hong Kong with your bare fists and lets you sling it out with thugs carrying knives, pipes and cops carrying guns. Although you can disarm your enemy and use said knives, pipes and guns on whoever's attacking you, the gun and weapon element is very sparse.

Hand to hand combat is rarely so complex and simple at the same time. The camera is hard to control amidst combat, making quick direction changes quite hard. The two buttons on the mouse seem overused - landing punches and kicks with the left mouse button and using the right for countering attacks and getting in and out of vehicles. But stringing together combos and breaking an opponent's nose with a heavy kick has never felt so satisfying. Environment damages, like shoving a thug's head into an air conditioning unit, look spectacular and give you extra points, which can be used to buy upgrades and improve skill.

You can't carry weapons permanently, but make-do weapons like tire irons and kitchen knives can be found scattered about, or obtained by disarming an opponent. Guns play a very limited role in this game, so don't expect to wreak havoc on helpless bystanders because they looked at you funny. You have GTA and Saints Row for that.

You can also train in Karate and master your skills as a guard dog and protector of the Triad, all the while relaying valuable information back to your superiors in HKPD. The game transports you into the world of being an undercover cop in one of the world's most ruthless crime organizations, making the gamer feel like he is leading a double, double life, where the gamer is playing Wei Shen and Wei Shen is playing fiddle with fire.

The best part about the game, though, besides the amazing storyline and the entertaining combat, is the realism of the whole thing. It's the tiny details scattered around in the gameplay that makes you feel what Wei Shen is feeling. The option of using your flat's toilet and flushing afterwards seems pretty redundant on the surface, but it adds to the whole realism of the game.

If you like cars, you're in for a treat, as the game has some very highly detailed cars with which you can enter races, powerslide around town, or just go for a drive. They aren't licensed models, but they are based on real life vehicles.

This is a game that is superbly suited to PC's, as a high end configuration can bring out all the beautiful details of Hong Kong to life. Download the free high-resolution texture pack and you're good to go.

This is undoubtedly one of the best games to be released this year, and until GTA V comes out, will be the unchallenged champion of open world crime games.


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