Sunday, November 28, 2010

Nowhere to go

movie review

Movie: Frozen
Director & Writer: Adam Green
Rating: 2/5

What would you do if you, along with two friends, got stranded on a ski lift at a resort, run by careless staff with improper safety measures? Keep in mind that the resort has closed for a week and there are no chances of rescue as no one knows where you are. And to top it all, you don’t have a cell phone or any other communication device either!

As you might have guessed, the unfortunate subjects of Frozen - Dan (Kevin Zegers), his girlfriend Parker (Emma Bell) and best friend Lynch (Shawn Ashmore) - are stuck on a ski lift and have nowhere to go. At one point, the movie starts to feel like watching people sitting and arguing and whining and bickering while slowly getting frostbite, while you wait for something to happen.

When something does happen, it’s not a thrilling horror fest but more of a nitpicker’s dream come true. While the initial series of unfortunate events and misunderstandings could’ve been written off under the “it’s just a movie” rationale, the trio’s actions and reactions to their predicament quickly lead to disbelief territory. However, despite all its flaws, the film still has the whole “what would you do if” aspect to it. If you possess an awesome suspension of disbelief skills and a lot of patience, you might enjoy some of the drama that ensues. On the whole, while the premise had potential, the writer could not come up with enough material to create a captivating full-length film and the execution exhausted that brief idea and left its potential unrealised. Oh and be warned, the film is rated R for some disturbing images and language and is not recommended to those who can’t stand gore.

- Sameen Amer

The Express Tribune - 28 November, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Local developers take on antivirus market


Two Pakistani IT students – Hafiz Usman and Syed Imran Ali – have developed the Instant Virus Killer (IVK), a program that has been touted as Pakistan’s first antivirus software.

The duo were motivated to create the software after their own computer fell prey to a virus. “We ended up installing the operating system several times in a single day in order to fix the problem,” explains Usman. “That was when we decided to develop our own antivirus. Initially, we didn’t plan to release it as a product; however, when our friends and family used and appreciated it, we were motivated to launch it professionally. Afterwards we worked on it more consciously, tested it, and got it registered with the Government of Pakistan Intellectual Property Organization. It took almost two years for completion.”

The developers claim IVK continuously protects the operating system and data from viruses, immediately detects USB viruses, can repair corrupt files and can recover a failed PC in 10 seconds, a feature that the duo consider unique and extremely important. It also protects against worms, trojans, and rootkits and offers dual virus protection.

In a market where free programs, like AVG, Avast, and MSE, are easily available, IVK’s PKR 5,000 price tag seems steep. “We are providing lifetime protection with an additional recovery feature with no annual renewal charges,” says Usman, defending the pricing. “Most free antiviruses do not provide all their features in free versions. Moreover, they have no recovery functions.”

At present, the program only works with Windows – versions for other operating systems are planned for the future – and from everything that its creators say about it, IVK seems promising. In the absence of a trial version, however, one has no way of evaluating the product and can therefore not assess its effectiveness. The developers say they are aware of this issue and have received numerous requests for a trial version which is under consideration.

- Sameen Amer

The Express Tribune - 21 November, 2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hot colours for cold weather


Each season, fashion addicts the world over are faced with the same dilemma — what to wear? Colours and fashion seem to change too quickly, making it hard to stay up-to-date. Thankfully we’ve trawled the fashion world to find out what the best-dressed Pakistani women will be wearing this season.

Black & Gold
One of the most stunning colours that are popular this coming season are black and gold. Metallic colours have been making an impression internationally and the local trends seem to be leaning towards a marriage of gold with black. This is a look that works especially well during the working week, where sombre suits can be brightened up with just a flash of gold. If yellow gold seems daunting, something a little more sophisticated, like old gold, almost a light bronze, with a hint of platinum, would be more suitable. Enhancing a black dress with a touch of gold accessories gives plenty of opportunities to create appealing outfits.

Navy blue
This blue isn’t what you wore to school. Instead, it’s a deep, elegant navy. It suggests seriousness and stability in the office but as evening wear, it makes you stand out, yet without being too obvious. For an up-to-date spin on navy, try teaming it with ice blue. This is a popular colour on the runway and looks beautiful with navy.

This is another stand-out colour. White is used so abundantly that it’s easy to take for granted. The trusty white shirt can team up with any suit and the same shirt can also work well with casual attire. It’s both reliable and trustworthy. White is more than just a business shirt. Think of an elegant white silk dress. It’s the epitome of purity and innocence.

One might think it’s hard to carry off red but think again. There’s a shade of red for every complexion; it’s just a matter of finding that perfect tone. Runways have been vibrant with red, with designers revisiting this classic shade. A red blouse or scarf can brighten up an insipid outfit. For special occasions, a red dress can never go wrong. It highlights the whole “lady in red” factor and makes the person wearing it the centre of attention. This warm colour can overpower everybody. Wear a red dress and you’ll find yourself standing just that little bit taller and smiling a little bit more. After all, who doesn’t want to feel special?

Dull orange
Finally we have muted orange. In the west, they are all about camel this season. From camel coats to tan suits – it’s everywhere. But here in the east, we’re brightening things up just a little bit. After all, it’s cold and dark and there’s no reason why one should settle for drab colours. Dare to wear orange! It’s not an over the top shade. Think sunsets, not tomatoes. If you’re nervous about this colour, team it with black or navy blue. Blue and orange are opposites on the colour wheel and each brings out the best in the other shade. Kind of like that good friend of yours that really tells you how that dress looks on you and gives you the courage to apply for that job. Orange might sound scary, but this shade is actually easier to wear than, say, yellow. An orange ensemble can look amazingly elegant. It’s just a matter of finding that right shade and once you have it in your wardrobe, the cold wintery days won’t seem so freezing.

So what are you waiting for? It’s time to solve those colour dilemmas and know which shades you need to be looking for. Now just think of all the fun you’ll have buying the shoes and accessories to match!

- By Anny & Sam

The Express Tribune - 14 November, 2010

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Pakistan's pop princess


Whether you love it or loathe it, you will have to concede that Annie Khalid’s debut song Mahiya was hard to ignore. The tune not only launched her music career in Pakistan but also propelled the starlet to national fame.

The 23-year-old singer was born in Lahore and raised in Britain. “I’m from a family of four children. I have two brothers and a sister. My elder sis is married and lives in Karachi; my elder brother is also married and settled in Canada; and my little brother is in university. My mum is a housewife and dad a psychiatrist and forensic surgeon with Scotland Yard.” Regarding her education, she explains it is currently on hold. “I have not completed my degree in psychology but plan on going back to it some time in the future. As for now, I am concentrating on my music career.”

Annie was drawn towards showbusiness from a very young age. “When I was a child, I knew I loved the stage. I had figured out what I wanted to do but wasn’t sure whether it was going be in dancing, acting or music.” She recorded her first song in her late teens and had no idea how it was going to turn out. “I just did it because I’m an impulsive person and at that time that’s what I wanted to do. I thought to myself, leave the rest to God and see how it goes.”

Her first release, Mahiya, from her debut album Princess (2006), was a huge success in Pakistan and even introduced her to Bollywood. “I wasn’t expecting Mahiya to be as successful as it is today,” she says. “I am a very optimistic person. I was just happy and felt really lucky because I know how people struggle for years and are still unable to gain recognition. I did a song and it became an overnight success. I just count my blessings.”

Annie feels that she has enjoyed recording her second album, Kya Yehi Pyar Hai (2010), more than the first. “Recording my first album was a good experience, but I enjoyed the second one more because I was really involved in the album. I had full control of everything and the entire process was amazing. Writing the lyrics, getting the compositions, doing the music, making the videos — it’s all been so much fun.”

As for the criticism directed towards her, she takes it with a pinch of salt but she does appreciate constructive criticism. “If you want to be competent at what you do,” she reflects, “then you have to understand, listen, and learn from what your well-wishers, fans and critics say.”

She thinks “performing live is way more fun than recording in a studio” because it gives the singer a chance to interact with the audience, something that hasn’t been possible recently because of the situation in the country. “The current music industry situation is disheartening because we are unable to perform and do as many gigs and concerts as we used to a few years back, simply because of the political situation and safety issues. Obviously, if we have a large crowd at our shows, we have a higher risk. For that reason, people are not taking the risk, and rightly so. However, artists are suffering because they are not able to interact with fans directly. If we release a new song, we can’t really get direct feedback.”

In her spare time, Annie loves to read, spend time with her family, socialise with friends, sleep, eat and has a weakness for chocolate. If she was given the chance, she would like to play the role of Cinderella in a film because “it brings back memories of my childhood,” and collaborate with pop princess Britney Spears and record a cover version of As by George Michael and Mary J. Blige because she finds the lyrics of the song to be beautiful. Annie would have loved to meet Anne Frank because of “the struggle she went through, living in the secret annexe, so secluded and isolated from the world but still managing to enjoy every moment and loving every second of her life.” “I’ve been writing a diary since I was about eight years old,” the pop star reveals. “I write columns in my spare time but I don’t publish them. I write them for myself. Sometimes I share them with my fans, friends, and family; they love them and like the way I write. I think I have a really good flair for writing.”

Annie picks “being appointed as the Red Cross ambassador for the Pakistan flood relief” as her biggest accomplishment and says she feels “honoured to be part of such a noble organisation.” The singer has announced that she will be donating all the proceeds from her single Be My Baby (mixed by DJ Judge Jules) which recently launched her pop career in the UK, to flood victims in Pakistan.

As for her future, Annie wants to further excel in her music career at home and abroad. “I want to represent my country all over the world and make use of my fame in a positive way,” she says. Besides being a singer, Annie hopes she can start acting. “Somewhere down the line I do hope to get into acting because I really enjoy it and I’ve had my taste of what it’s like to act through my adverts, so hopefully one day.”


If I could have a super power, I’d choose…
To fly. I have these dreams where I’m flying in the air, and I would just love to have that power and be able to slide and soar through the skies and the clouds.

If I could destroy the master copy of any song so that nobody could listen to it again, I would pick…
There isn’t really any song - not mine or anyone else’s - that I loathe with a passion. If a song’s not nice I just don’t listen to it. And I would never destroy the master copy of any song because the song that I dislike might be someone’s favourite or someone might really like it and enjoy listening to it.

If the chair I’m sitting on right now could talk, it would say…
“Damn girl, you’ve gained some weight on your bum/hips!” The other day I was looking through some pictures of a recent concert I did, and I thought wow, I have gained some weight on my bum and I wasn’t really happy about it. So if the chair could talk right now it would say, “lose some weight!”

If I had to pick another career, I’d choose to be…
A choreographer, because I enjoy dancing. I’ve been into dancing and have been taking dance classes for so long; I’d love to do it professionally.

If I could go back in time, I would…
Spend more time with my grandma, because I didn’t get to spend enough time with her. I was always travelling and she was such a lovely person; I just miss her.

- Sameen Amer

The Express Tribune - 7 November, 2010