Sep 202017

 Games and Us

We all play various games in our life. Right from the childhood, when we used to play outdoor games way back in the 80’s and 90’s to the indoor digital games which we play currently. The games included Cricket, football, Badminton, Chess etc in those days whereas currently all these games are digitized.

Digitization of games has its own advantages and disadvantages. The main disadvantage is that we tend to reduce the movement of our body, which normally we associate with these games. But the advantage is that we get to play against the world community as against the local community. This can help us develop our skill in a particular game, much better.

This is mostly true for certain indoor games which require more use of brain than muscle. No one can replace physical sports like football with digitized games and yet maintain the level of physical involvement required. Or may be I am wrong, time will tell.

Here in this post, I will help you learn to play Sudoku. Sudoku is primarily a number game. It involves use of basic math reading, no calculation required. If you know which numbers lie between 1 and 9, you qualify for taking this lesson.

Sudoku primarily appeared in newspapers but programmers have digitized this game. They have also added certain difficulty measures to it, one of them being time constrain. Playing Sudoku under time constrain will help you in improving your logical thought process and keeps your brain active. This also helps reduce the chance Alzheimer. And it’s fun too.

So let’s begin.

Playing Sudoku

 The view

Once you launch Sudoku in your computer or mobile phone, the screen will show a square subdivided in to 9 equal sub-squares. Each of these smaller squares are further subdivided in to 9 equal cells. This 9 X 9 configuration is a standard configuration in any version of Sudoku. Refer picture on left.

You can see few digits entered in cells. Note that the numbers are completely random. But still there exists a logic in their placement. You will understand it once we move ahead.

As you can see, the big outer square is sub divided in to nine smaller sub-squares. I have marked one of them in green. Each of these smaller sub-squares is subdivided in to nine smaller cells. I have marked two of them in red. We must fill up the blank cells to complete the puzzle.

 Game Rules

The rules for the game are pretty simple. All you should do is fill up the empty cells with following constrains in mind:

  • Each sub-square(green) must contain the numbers from 1 to 9 without repetition.
  • Also, each vertical column must contain the numbers from 1 to 9 without repetition.
  • And each horizontal row must contain the numbers from 1 to 9 without repetition.

Straight forward,isn’t it? It is if you follow certain tips and tricks. The level of difficulty you select while launching the game defines this. The difficulty level depends more on which cells are pre-filled with respect to blank cells rather than the number of pre-filled cells. I suggest that a new user should start with easier levels, to get a hang of it.

For the sake of explanation, I have numbered the cells as below. If you use excel, you will be very familiar with this cell address scheme. You may or may not see this numbering scheme in the game depending the developer. We refer to the first row first column as a1, first row second column as a2 and so on up to i9.

Game Play Tips and Tricks

This game is played using the process of elimination. First of all, look up for any sub-square which has the maximum pre-filled digits. You can see in our example above that there quite a few sub-squares. Pick up any one of these sub squares and start counting from 1 to 9 while checking which number is missing.

Playing the Sub-Squares

Let’s say the we are playing with the very first sub-square contained by the cells a1 to c3. We see that the number 1 is missing. There are 5 empty cells in the square a1-c3. But when we take in to consideration the rules, only two cells qualify to accommodate the number 1. These cells are a1 and c1. The cell b2 cannot contain the number 1 because the cell d2 contains the number 1. Similarly a3 cannot contain the number on because the cell g3 contains the number 1. If we place the number 1 in b2 or a3, this would be repetition, which is against the rules.

So now we have the cells a1 and c1 where we can possibly place the number 1. But there is no way at this moment to tell where we should place number 1 without having a conflict in future. So we move forward.

Counting ahead, numbers, 2, 3, 4 and 5 are already present in the sub-square. Number 6 is not present. We can place number 6 in either a1 or a3, but we are not sure even in this case whether there will be future conflict. Same is the case with numbers 7 and 8. Number 9 is already present in the sub-square. So we move forward to analyzing sub-square a4 to c6.

In this, while counting we find that numbers 1, 4, 5, 8, 9 are in same situation as previous sub-square and numbers 2, 3, 6, 7 are already present.

We keep on moving forward among these sub-squares. In sub-square a7-c9 we are able to fill in number 3 at cell b8. This is because it is the only cell which allows the missing 3 to be entered without conflicting with all the already present 3s highlighted in red.

We can keep on analyzing in this way and we come up the final result as below.

Since we have entered few numbered in blank cells in the first iteration, we have to go back and carry out second iteration. Since we have filled up some numbers, they might help us to determine those cells where we not sure previously. We keep on repeating these iterations till we are not able to enter any single number in the entire iteration.

The final matrix after multiple iterations in example above is as below.

Playing the Columns

Since the difficulty level for the puzzle above was easy, we solved this by analyzing the sub-squares. But as the difficulty increases, analyzing the sub-squares alone will not be sufficient and in such case we need to start analyzing using rows or columns method.

Let’s say we tried iterations number of times but were unable to fill up the matrix as below. Then we can go for the next method.

In this case we start analyzing either each row or each column, one by one. Let’s pick up column 1. We again start counting and checking whether the numbers 1 to 9 are present in that column. If any number is absent, we search for the possible cell where we can fill that number. This is done by checking the corresponding row for each cell.

For example, if we want to check if we can fill a missing number, let’s say number 1 in the above case,  in cell a1, we check cells a2- to a9 for the presence of number 1. If number 1 is not present in cells from a2 to a9, then the cell a1 becomes a possible location for number 1. Now we need to check for any other possible locations in column 1 where we can place number 1. If there is only one cell location in column 1 where we can fill the number 1, then we should fill it. If there are more then one possible locations to fill in the missing number 1, we can’t fill it and we should move ahead analyzing the next number.

Once we analyze one column, we analyze the next column in the same way. We can continue this for number of iteration till we either solve the puzzle or we are not able to fill up any number in a single iteration.

Playing the Rows

Once we are not able to fill up any number in a single column iteration but are are left with blank cells, we should start analyzing rows.

Analyzing the rows and filling them ups is same as analyzing the columns as explained above. In this we check the possibility of filling up each cell of the row by cross checking them against the corresponding column. Once done with one row, we mode on to the next row.

Spotting the Numbers

Another method which we can use along with the above three is singling out an individual number and checking their position in the matrix. This method, though similar to analyzing each sub-square, is different from it because in this method, we analyze a particular number. The presence and position of this number in corresponding horizontal and vertical sub-squares determine the position in the sub-square where it is not present.

Let’s take an example of number 5.

You can see that the number 5 appears in each sub-square except in the sub-square a4 to c6. There are four cells empty in a4 to c6. These cells are a4, a6, b5 and b6. Cell a4 abd a6 cannot contain number 5 because cells g5, a8, d6 conflicts. Similarly cell b6 cannot contain number 5 because cell d6 conflicts. So cell b5 is the only cell where we can place number 5.

This analysis can be done starting from number 1 to 9 in sequence.

Mixing it Up

We can even opt for mixing these methods instead of carrying out multiple iteration of each method. For example, we can start with analysis of rows, complete one iteration then move to next method, say column analysis for one iteration and then sub-squares for one iteration and number analysis. Mixing and matching can keep things interesting.


So you see, Sudoku is not a difficult game. It just needs few tricks and some practice.

If this article has helped you learn Sudoku, kindly share it across. Leave comments if any help needed.


Jan 292017

All of you belonging to the middle generation, that’s those born abound the 80’s surely still have the soft spot for radio. It doesn’t matter if there is a bit static but radio gives us something which the stored music cannot give. No matter what algorithm they use, a music player on a “smart”phone will never be able to top the unpredictability the radio offers. You start playing something on a music player and it keeps on looping the same music which you heard yesterday, even with “shuffle” on. Doesn’t matter if you have hundreds of gigabytes worth music on your phone.

But you start radio, and tune in to “Disco Station” and you know for sure that you will hit upon a jackpot of songs, old and new, played one after another to your satisfaction.

The only drawback the radio has is that it is limited by the region in which you use it. How good it would be if you could play any music on the radio around the world. You do have internet radio, where even commercial radio channels stream their content.

But I just discovered a website which offers you a true world FM reception online, all at one location. Literally brings the radio, mapped on a globe, at your fingertips.




Radio Garden provides this service. You can now shuffle across any streaming radio station across the globe, visually. Its makes selection a lot easier. Just rotate the globe and place the crosshair on the particular city from where you want to stream you radio feed.To change the feed, just move the globe around. You can zoom in/zoom out to assist in precise selection.

And the coolest part is the sound of static when there is no feed.

Go ahead, try it out.

(Found not working on google chrome on laptop. Works well in microsoft edge and internet explorer. Works well in chrome on smartphones)

Jan 292017

This is India. A country with a special meaning to the word Family. We have many types of family setups in India. A nuclear family has its own set of living styles. It is small, it keeps to itself and handles its own problems. A large family meanwhile is totally different organization in chaos. It works on its own different set of rules and principles which are unlike a nuclear family. In a large family, all the members stay together with an important part to play in the smooth functioning of the family wheels. But what happens within a large family which has broken up to go nuclear, but is still bound together by a frail thread called relations? Ventilator, a Marathi movie depicts exactly that.

Though it’s a bit late for this, as I had seen it quite some time back, it’s never to late to log a review. Especially a movie with a region constrained viewership. And one never “wastes time” writing.

A renowned film maker, RK(played by Ashutosh Gowarikar) is called up from an important film screening to attend to his uncle who is hospitalized and attached to a ventilator, probably breathing his last. The hospital is filling up with the relatives, but many more are yet to come. The film depicts the various scenarios, intentions, agendas which pull the relatives to the deathbed of a relative who holds an important place in the family tree.The intentions could be to get the last glimpse of  the “alive him” or it could be a far more selfish motive of finalizing the property distribution. Whatever be the case, relatives start flocking the hospitals, and bring along their usual din. The lobby fills up with the relatives, grouped by intents, few chatting away discreetly while other announcing their presence to the world.

The immediate family members meanwhile are weighing their own decisions. The decision to pull the plug and let God take over or to keep the hope alive. They have to make it quick so as not to inconvenience other during the ongoing festival. But its a hard decision for the son to make, given the evidently strained relations between him and his father. The relatives add confusion to the matters. The doctor presents his practical point of view which doesn’t help much except that and ultimatum for the decision is set. He has support of the close relatives who have been in constant touch with him but the decision is his to take. His sister and his mother meanwhile cling to the thread of hope.

It all boils down to the final minutes of the movie, where the son is brought back to his senses through some poignant insight to his early life provided by his uncle. The decision is finally taken.

If you read again, the above, you will note that a renowned film maker is mentioned earlier, but with no worthwhile reference to him all along. That’s because he himself is not the center of the storyline though the story is loosely seen from his vantage point. It’s about the strained relations amongst family members. He himself has issues of his own and the events at the end of the movie help him solve those.

Priyanka Chopra in her in her production venture has managed to make a good one. Directed by Rajesh Mapuskar with another hit, Ferrari Ki Sawaari under his belt and association with other hit Bollywood movies like Munna Bhai MBBS, Lage Raho Munna Bhai and 3 Idiots, this film provides him with the crown he deserves.

This one deserves a 4.5/5.

Aug 252015

In my constant endeavour to watch good foreign language films, I have taken the support of subtitles to understand them, and I find myself comfortably placed to keep pace with the plot while carrying out the dual tasks of watching the movie and also reading the subs. The list of such movies may not be huge but I am very glad that I have not missed watching them. One such movie happens to be a Turkish one, and I wouldn’t shy away from it, especially since it had high ratings on IMDB. Mucize (am unable to home on to how its pronounced, though one website lists it as Mu-ji-za), meaning Miracle, is based in a rural Turkish backdrop with all their problems and pleasures, rolled and presented in to one.

The film starts with the transfer of a school teacher in to a remote village, a settlement rather, disconnected from the rest of the world save for the blue transport. A bus which stops two mountains away from the village since the government didn’t make any road further. The problems do not end when he reaches the village, baggage in his hands. The village has no school and all the efforts to wake up the administration to this fact are futile, largely due to the instability in the government. The children of the village are forever destined to illiteracy as the teacher thinks he is not up to the task. We live under the will of God for eight months(when it snows) and at the mercy of the government for rest of the four months. These words from the village elder, sums up the harsh reality of their community life.

But things change. And they change in a big way when the teacher and the villagers take up the task of building the school themselves. The education starts.

But there are other issues too.

The village chiefs son Camilo has fled to the mountains a decade back, from the fear of being caught for a murder he committed back then. His son and his wife wait for him endlessly. Is it time for him to finally come back and make peace with his destiny?

The youngsters in the community get married one by one, to a bride chosen by the elders. The bride selection ritual is quite interesting and funny at times(Apologies to anyone who takes offense here. I just meant that the scenes are funny and not the actual ritual). The groom humbly accepts the bride chosen for him. But how will such a pair fare?

The eldest eligible bachelor is handicapped and not fit for marriage as thought by his father. But destiny had another course written and the most beautiful girl is married off to the handicapped man, on account of a promise made by the girls father to the grooms father. Life gets difficult for Mizgin(the wife) and Aziz(the handicapped husband) as the community thinks that they are not a fit couple. Will this couple overcome the taunts and prove their love for each other or will they break apart. That’s what remains to be seen.

Finally, will the teacher fulfil his duty here, or will he fall short?

The location and the scenery in the film is breathe taking. Just like the dream getaway village. The dresses are colorful and the traditions rich. The film has a soothing effect on oneself.

Initially it seems that the movie is centred on the school teacher, Mahir. It doesn’t take much time to realise that the film is centred on the village and the villagers their culture and traditions, their humility,  their problems. The film is a kaleidoscope in to the life of the community and the individuals who make up the community.

My Rating : 4/5

Feb 222015

I am still confused. Should I give a positive review or a negative review.

What was it about this movie that gave it the 4 star rating in various reviews. I just don’t understand why the story felt so complicated but without any closure. The script writer builds up many a climaxes but fails to deliver them. The directions feels pretty good, but then it must have been quite a task to get thing together.

The silver lining in the cloud is Nawazuddin Siddiquie.

And now I understand what’s bothering me. The Protagonist for this movie may mistakenly be considered as Varun Dhawan. Nay not so. For me, its Nawazuddin. The story revolves around him, or should have actually been that way but is potrayed otherwise.

Then there is a sad waste of Vinay Pathak, who really wasn’t offered any role at all. The director would as well have asked him to appear without speaking. A waste of talent.

Huma Qureshi plays her role they way she should. There’s nothing much for Yami Gautam though.

But its Nawazuddin that shines. It reminds me of the film Talaash. The character is ditto and played to perfection. Such roles are custom made for him it seems.

Varun needs to learn how to speak convincingly on screen. He’s just not there yet. That’s why he appears last in this review

And also to remind. If you live in Badlapur, don’t get your hopes up to create a connection between the film and your town. There is none.

And then there’s this police officer who keeps on appearing without being important. What a shamble. It feels like the story was a rough draft, finalised in haste under the fear of plagiarism. 

Full marks to Nawaz.

My Rating 3/5. All go to Nawaz

Jan 092015

Reality is Ugly.

Anurag Kashyap’s endeavour to thrill and portray reality of life succeeds.

A kidnapped girl. Her father a struggling actor attempting to fulfill his weekly duty of entertaining his daughter. A mother unhappy with her second marriage. A stepfather/supercop whose constant desire to establish his superiority over others making the matters worse. The complicated history of these three characters. The fathers close friend who’s also his support during his hard times. The Mother’s smuggler brother’s desire for quick big money. The father’s new girlfriend. And the Police.

Everyone successful in botching up the girls rescue to the point of tragedy.

Life is not the beautiful “KK” soap they airs on television all along the day. Life is the misery faced by the characters in this movie. Misery, frustration, helplessness and wicked desires of proportions which compel everyone, including the father and the mother of the kidnapped girl, to try and gain out of the situation. There’s no one who really cares for the little girl. She’s on her own. Kidnapped. Left for dead.

This may be fiction. But it doesn’t get any real than this.

Anurag Kashyap gets full marks for this movie. So do the actors.

My Rating : 4/5

Oct 052014

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I went to the theatre to watch this film as I heard that it was critically highly rated. Even IMDB rates it to 9/10 with 5,664 votes(and counting).

I literally had to sit through it for 3 hours since i had paid. The only beauty in the movie is the snow clad Kashmir. I may be wrong since this is my personal opinion(and also the opinion of my friends, total 5 others who accompanied me for this film)

I read somewhere that the movie was a poignant love story in the disputed Kashmir. I assumed that it was about Shahid Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor. Later I realised that it was about Tabu and Kay Kay Menon.Though the actors were at their best, it was a waste of their talent(I speak of Tabu, Irrfan Khan and Kay Kay Menon).

The storyline may be based on Hamlet but the the director is confused whether to stick more towards Hamlet or towards the Kashmir dispute. Here again I would hope that the production house has done enough research into the truth of what has been depicted. Lots of messages are circling the social media asking people to abandon this movie since it has shown the Indian army in bad light. People have questioned the censor board why this movie was  passed at their end. I actually went to see the movie after I read one such message. I would say that I didn’t find the controversy. I just ask censor board why they didn’t stop the movie so that people like me wouldn’t have been tortured.

At times, the film feels more of a comedy genre and not drama. I remember couple of decades back when comedy, unrelated to the plot of the film, used to be the essence of a bollywood film. Since then I’ve felt that bollywood has come of age. But the makers of these movie chose to stay in early 90s. What’s with the Salman, Salman and Salman, or the word Chutzpah, or even Shraddha Kapoor unable to pronounce “Loved”, or for that matter any verb in past tense, in a proper way?

I would have been more happy if Kulbhushan Kharbanda was given few more dialogues.

Too much of unwanted suspense since the storyline had been tilted onto one side from mid-film itself. The songs were nothing to speak about(I remember Maniratnam making good use of the locations in Roja).

In the end I would say, I was happy when I saw the theatre staff opening the exit gates. The time I spent on this movie in a theatre felt longer than the time I spent watching Titanic(At the least I am much wiser about Einstein’s “Theory of Relativity”)

My Rating 2.5/5(2 for the scenic locations and 0.5 for the trio of Irrfan, Kay Kay and Tabu)

Sep 092014

For a person with limited linguistic capabilities, watching a film of an unknown language with subtitles can be an ordeal. More so if the film has been rated a lot, but after viewing it, turns out to be flop. I rarely venture into watching films of languages I don’t know, unless it had been appreciated by the critics. Another such movie which I had reviewed previously was Hemlock Society.

Bangalore Days, mind you, is not a Kannada movie but a Malayali movie. Setup in the beautiful Bangalore and for some small parts, in Gods own country, Kerela, the film at times is enchanting in its beautiful location. It is a story of three cousins and childhood friends, whose lives have ever since parted but come back to meet again at the age of maturity in the city of Bangalore. The friendship has stayed on but with age, the complexities of life have engulfed all three. This is a story of three friends helping each other in solving those problems and coming off age.

Kuttan(Krishna P P), the narrator of this tale,  is a new recruit software engineer who has left his beloved hometown to make a career out of his education, unlike his father who choose to be a humble farmer back home. Now the time has come for him to marry and his search of the dream wife is not going to be that easy unless he renegotiates the idea of a dream wife. Will he find his dream wife……………?

Kunju(Divya) is good at studies and hopes to complete MBA, but a superstitious mother wouldn’t have any of it and finally Divya has to marry Das. The marriage isn’t seen going well and is heading towards a breakup as Das is later found to have someone else in his life. A girl named Natasha. Will the marriage last………….?

Aju’s(Arjun) doesn’t have a stable life. A vagabond by nature, finally seems to have some stability in Bangalore working as a race bike mechanic. But there is no acceptance from the cultured society. Meanwhile he falls in love with a Radio Jockey Sarah, but has second thoughts when the moment to proclaim his love comes  as Sarah has bigger plans for her future. Arjun needs to reclaim his place in the society by staying in Bangalore while Sarah needs to leave Bangalore. Will one of them sacrifice for the other…………?

I am not completing the story for you as is my policy. A good film ought to be seen and not read in review sections. To all the film loving malayali community, this is a must watch watch. To others, I recommend it with subtitles.

I have no knowledge of the actors/directors/producers or their careers. But I would say that they have done a great job.

My Rating 4.5/5 (I still reserve that 0.5 for movies like The Shawshank Redemption. Hard to get anymore)

Aug 172014

A Lucky break from the un”entertainment” weekend.

Inspector Bajirao Singham, from Colva, returns as DCP Bajirao Singham of Mumbai Police. It was all about stopping the gundaraaj in Goa. In mumbai, its not all together a different scenario. Just some added complexity. Politics funded by black money belonging to self proclaimed saintly man, and the related criminal activities. All being taken care of by Singham and his team of vest clad policemen. And then there has to be the girlfriend(a new one this time) as usual to sing the songs and extend the movie to a standard 2 hours+.

Apart from lots of fireworks and lot more damaged cars(there’s something about Rohit Shetty and cars which is difficult to understand) there is also a new inclusion of “”Daya”. Yes the detective from the “famous” television serial CID. Along with all the police work in this movie, Daya also gets to break a door when Singham shouts out the now famous dialogue, “DAYA, DARWAZAA TOOD DO!!”. Most hilarious part of the film I would say.

Don’t lookout for any floor breaking music in this movie. Couple of unwanted romance songs and a Yo Yo Honey singh number at the end after the end of the movie.

I am not going to ruin the story for you since its not a suspense thriller. Its a simple entertainment movie and has to be viewed thus. This is not a must watch, but if you have finished your daily chores and have some time to spare before your evening walk in the garden and dinner thereafter, head over to the movies and let the action sink in. You may not be fully satisfied but you wont regret. Atleast while watching the movie, you will let Bajirao say the dialogue, “aata maazi satakli” instead of you saying it out in frustration.

My Rating to this film 3/5

(Its actually 2.5/5 but I give 0.5 extra to Rohit Shetty for not asking Bajirao to perform unimaginable, indigestible action sequences)

Aug 112013

One two three four…get on the dance floor. Set to get a lot of people on the dance floor. Rohit Shetty’s new release starring Shahrukh Khan and Deepika Padukone, high in action (yes, lots of scorpios and mahindra classics involved too) is a signature Shetty movie. Nothing much in the story here. Same old man, women, meet, love, opposition, struggle etc etc. crap. I don’t reveal movie stories. It’s for the people to watch.

The moment Meena(Deepeka) opens her mouth to say a few Tamil accented hindi dialogues, I pray that the wise saying “This too, shall pass” comes true. Rahul(Shahrukh, when will he abandon that name?), when he’s being funny, is kiddish funny and when emotional, he is his natural overact. But later on, “this too, passes”, and though the movie doesn’t glue you to the chair, you won’t feel like not seeing it through. You realize that this movie too, needs to be seen as an entertainment with brains kept aside. That will get you through the end.

One Two Three Four …… and Kashmir Mai….. are two songs with catchy tunes, which we will keep on hearing for sometime now. There are no spectacular dance moves in any of the songs to run wild among people. But there is this lungi dance at the end. After the end infact. Strategically placed, with enough pre-release hype, people are bound to watch the movie through the end. And then there’s this special thanks to Rajnikanth. This entire strategy will surely generate huge revenue in southern states where the Rajni fans are located. The film is said to have crossed 31 crore rupee collection mark on the first day itself and 28 crore on second day. Quite a feat.

The most important thing I loved about the movie was its location. You get  2.5 hours tour of the most scenic parts of southern India(if at all this movie was shot in southern India). And second important thing is the abundance of the colors used in then movie. The movie displays colors in…well…I must say all colors. Which is very pleasing on the silver screen to eyes.

About the starcast, its Rohit Shetty team and you will easily relate important characters from his other movies.

On a scale of 1-5, I give it 3 for being an entertainer. If you got nothing much to do on weekend, watch it at the theatre.

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