Memiary has been getting some great traction in the teaching community lately. Mark Warner, a primary school teacher from the UK, has been using it extensively with children he teaches to record things they learn everyday, and recently made a fantastic presentation about his use for the Teachmeet Sussex conference. The presentation was so well received that it got on SlideShare’s most tweeted list and has noticeably brought Memiary on the radars of many teachers around. You can read Mark’s blog post here.
As the creator of a utility, this is way way way beyond what you could hope for. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the service being put to such use, let alone a teacher making a 12-slide presentation for a conference to show other teachers how to use it with their own respective classes.
The iPhone app has sold thousands of copies so far, the website has tens of thousands of users of which thousands still use it daily — even a year after launching — and yet I’ll openly admit the biggest reward for me so far has been hearing that primary school children are using it to better their outlook at education. Now that’s something.
It’s easy to get a few users and sell a few apps, but reaching that golden demographic? It’s a challenge even to attempt, which is why I am so glad that it has reached the most fantastic userbase, and one who believe in helping turn good ideas into good utilities.
These days I’m finding that my procrastination levels have decreased significantly after I’ve learnt to make myself constantly aware of the following two facts:
Once I start it, I won’t feel this way.
By not doing it right now, not only will I put off the task, but give myself an excuse for the next time I think about doing it.
And as it happens, I find that I rather enjoy certain tasks, ones I procrastinated about before doing. Showering is a good example: it’s a tough thing to wake up early in the morning and get into, but once you do, you don’t feel like getting out.
Also, “living in the moment” is another great way to take on a big challenge. For example, visualize your day in the morning, but don’t think about it again. When you’re showering, don’t think about getting dressed and in the car, when you’re in the car, don’t think about what awaits you at the other end. Instead, just savour the moment and do it.
“If you bought MSFT stock when Ballmer became CEO in Jan 2000 and sold it now, almost 10 years later, you would be down -36%. If you bought APPL stock when iMacs were flying off the shelves in Jan 2000 and sold now you would be up +580%. End of story.”—
Kind of crazy how the stock market is almost a real representation of public perception and actual performance. Ballmer by all means hasn’t done a bad job of leading Microsoft for the past 9 years, but he hasn’t been no Bill Gates, either. If you were to put a number, you’d say his time at Microsoft has been around 36% worse than Gates’. Microsoft is in worse shape than it was in 2000, but not by too much.
On the other hand, if you were to put a number on how much Jobs’ return to Apple has benefited them from the disaster they were in the ’90s, you’d say it’s around 580%. Apple is drastically better than what it was, and that 580% accounts for everything from sales to campus area.
Despite all the cheating and insider back-and-forth that goes on, you’ve gotta admit there is some sense of righteousness in a free market.
“There’s a great story about Pablo Picasso. Some guy told Picasso he’d pay him to draw a picture on a napkin. Picasso whipped out a pen and banged out a sketch, handed it to the guy, and said, “One million dollars, please.”
“A million dollars?” the guy exclaimed. “That only took you thirty seconds!”
After seeing the movie a week ago, I rewatched it today, once again, in the theatre. If you know me, you’ll know I rarely do this kind of a thing. Infact, I think this would be the first time I’ve ever done so in my life. Why? Because I’m convinced this film is a masterpiece — on par with classics like The Godfather and The Shawshank Redemption — and I want to live every moment of it while it is playing on the big screens.
Before offering my thoughts on the film, let me give a brief pre-cursor so you’ll know where I’m coming from and why I need to blog this. Before a week ago, when I first saw Inglorious Basterds, I despised Quentin Tarantino. Hated. Loathed. If there are any Tarantino fans reading this, you’ll probably kill me for saying this, but a few months ago, I fell asleep watching Pulp Fiction and couldn’t stand Reservoir Dogs because of the sheer boredom it made me experience (I had to switch it off half way through). This is why, whenever I heard people praising Tarantino, I couldn’t help but think of him as the most over-rated director in the history of cinema.
I got his movies — at least the parts of them I watched — in that they had great dialogue, stylistic shots, cool references, and classy credits. But in terms of story-telling, I thought they told some of the most uninteresting, why-should-I-care stories that cinema has to offer (again, this is my pre-Inglorious opinion and I’ll have to revisit those old films, so don’t kill me yet.)
So, coming to Inglorious Basterds, the last line of the film aptly sums up what Tarantino has created, and that is, a masterpiece. Why? Because it’s everything a film should offer and why cinema exists. There are 1-dimensional caricatures, like Hitler and Aldo Raine, and there are multi-dimensional people, like Hans Landa and Shosanna. It has ass-kicking action, and it has profound, deep, implications. It has reality, and it has fiction. It is incredibly suspenseful and unpredictable at times, and funny and charming at others. The dialogue is impeccable, the acting is top-notch (Waltz gives, I think, one of the best performances captured on film), the music is appropriate, and the story beyond told on screen is relevant, important, and interesting. Rarely does a film come along that does so many things at once, and does them so beautifully.
And don’t get started on the main villain, Hans Landa. He is the most horrific, disgraceful, but true character portrayed on screen. He is smart, charming, charismatic, and at the same time, heartless, selfish, and inhumane. The worst thing about him is that he is real. If not Nazi-occupied France in World War 2, one can’t help but imagine him as a money-hungry big shot on Wall Street today, a racist Republican Senator, or blood-thirsty serial killer. Infact, forget the position, but I can bet glimpses of his very character can be be found in each and every corner of society today. The realism with which is he is portrayed along with the fictional situations his character is put in is where most of the genius in this film lies.
I’m an avid podcast listener, and more so than any other film this year, I couldn’t do anything but hear people talk about and discuss this. I listened to about 2 hours of the /Filmcast, an hour of Fresh Air with Tarantino, half an hour of Filmspotting, and I still can’t get enough of it. Some of the great films have the tendency to ignite discussion and conversation, and boy does this succeed in doing that. I dare anyone to walk out of the theatre watching this and not want to watch it again or listen Tarantino talk about why he shot a scene the way he did. The experience of this film doesn’t end when you walk out of the theatre — it begins there. And when you watch it for the second time and know where it’s heading, that’s when the genius of Tarantino starts to show.
There are some films which are first-time-only going experiences, and some which need repeat viewings to get the grasp of. Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds is both. You can cherish the unpredictability of the plot the first time you see it, and the genius of every dialogue, camera angle, scene, shot, lighting, score, actor, the second and subsequent times. Inglorious Basterds. Go for it.