Memoirs of a Geisha

Set in Japan around the turbulent World War II period, Memoirs of a Geisha is the story of a geisha named Sayuri (Zhang Ziyi). Sold off by her poor parents to an okiya (geisha house), she is put into training to become a geisha. When she gets on the wrong side of Hatsumomo (Gong Li), the geisha of the okiya, she is made the servant of the house. In the midst of her troubles, she meets a man called the Chairman (Ken Watanabe), who comforts her. Luck changes for Sayuri when Mameha (Michelle Yeoh), a bitter rival of Hatsumomo, buys her off and trains her as a geisha. Sayuri learns well and debuts as a successful geisha. Just when her dreams are coming true, Japan gets embroiled in World War II and she is sent to a distant rural province. When she returns back after the war, Japan has changed. The cities are filled with American soldiers, businessmen and geisha has turned into a lecherous word. Sayuri tries to gain a footing in this world while looking to win the heart of her Chairman.

Directed by Rob Marshall, this movie is based on a book of the same name. Though I had seen Japanese women dressed as geisha during my visit to Kyoto, I must admit that I was confused about their profession and role in Japanese society. The movie clears the air, portraying them as they were in traditional Japanese culture: female entertainers. The movie draws on the fantastic Asian female trio: Zhang Ziyi, Gong Li and Michelle Yeoh, each owning every one of their scenes. The same goes for the males, with riveting performances by both Ken Watanabe and Koji Yakusho. The most striking feature of the movie is undoubtedly its cinematography. There are some unforgettably stunning scenes here, like young Sayuri running through a temple gateway and the climactic scene set in a Japanese garden in spring bloom. The scenes are well complemented by a moving score by John Williams. There are some melancholic cello pieces played by Yo Yo Ma that should not be missed. On the downside, the movie is quite long, feeling much like an old Bollywood movie. Memoirs of a Geisha takes the viewer back to a magical place and time in Japan and this experience is not to be missed!

Windows Sysinternals Administrator’s Reference

I have been a huge fan of the Sysinternals tools ever since I switched to Windows for my work. These tools give the ability to peek into every heartbeat of Windows, and you develop an appreciation for the beauty and complexity of this operating system. So, it is no wonder that I eagerly awaited the Windows Sysinternals Administrator’s Reference once Mark Russinovich announced it earlier this year. Written by Mark and Aaron Margosis, this book helps readers use the Sysinternals tools effectively to understand the working internals of Windows, and to diagnose and fix problems.

Part 1 talks about the history of Sysinternals tools and gives a brief description of administrator privileges, user-kernel mode, processes, threads, jobs and handles in Windows. Though designed similar to other operating systems, Windows is a different beast. This chapter is a highly educational read to understand just how it differs and to catch up on the Windows OS jargon. The first 3 chapters of Part 2 are worth the price of the book itself — they go deep into the capabilities of Process Explorer, Process Monitor and Autoruns. Having learnt these 3 tools one can start to live comfortably with Windows. (Well, almost!) The rest of Part 2 covers the other Sysinternals tools, most of which I do not use. Part 3 is a compendium of many troubleshooting mystery cases, which were solved by using Sysinternals tools. Followers of Russinovich’s blog or talks will be familiar with most of these since he has written and presented about them before. Written like a detective mystery, each of these are sure to be engaging to geeks.

Windows Sysinternals Administrator’s Reference is a good companion to the Windows Internals books, providing the much needed practical information and tools to get down-and-dirty with the internals of Windows. Like his blog and talks, Russinovich’s narrative here is entertaining and educational to read. The book completely pays for itself with just Part 1 and the first 3 chapters of Part 2. This book is a must for everyone who uses Windows as their primary operating system.