Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood

I’ve been a great fan of Ubisoft’s astounding platformer since the first iteration came out sometime 2 years ago.

Assassin’s Creed is a beautiful game. In both design and story, I can see no parallel. In gameplay, it is somewhat similar to Prince of Persia for all the jumping around even though this is a free roam.

I found Assassin’s Creed 1 stupendous. The major reason for Assassin’s Creed 1 was that the story was different. So different that it stunned me into bowing to its awesomeness. I realised that the convenience of having another device within the game – *spoiler* – the Animus, gave any faults that the game had to lend blame to the Animus rather than Ubisoft (or at least, that I guess would be their argument). Gameplay I found quite awesome what with climbing places and all but there was quite some similarity with Prince of Persia. Graphics were simply stunning. The different aspects of the game like Leap of Faith, counter attacks and all that were equally good. The ending was superb.

I found Assassin’s Creed 2 absolutely phenomenal. Story was, yet again, top class. It equalled if not exceeded expectations that AC1 set. I personally found it better than AC1. Gameplay largely remained the same although since the protagonist changed, the environment was recreated to pure pitch perfect awesomeness. The difference now was that you had levels in the game in terms of developing your hometown. Graphics actually exceeded AC1 even though it was the same engine far as I could tell. The new weapons in the game were well crafted and the introduction of Leonardo da Vinci as the eternal genius maverick was a clever move. The ending was just … stunning. There is no other word for it. It was just too good to be true.

I found Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood mildly boring. Yes, I’m not kidding you. The major problem was that Ubisoft clearly did not intend this to be Assassin’s Creed 3. They intended it to be Assassin’s Creed 2.5 or something.

The story still revolves around the spoilt noble’s son – turned awesomesauce killer assassin – Ezio Auditore. Although the game shifts focus entirely to Rome (which is HUGE in the game), it has basically very few differences. The story progresses a lot (in the real world and in the Animus) and the ending was very very very good. But it left a lot of unanswered questions (definitely intentional). The last 2 dialogues after the credits start are so enigmatic that some really awesome theories have cropped up.

The story mode ends with the usual amount of gameplay.. I guess a solid 5 or 6 hours would do it. Then come the side missions. There is no other word except “hell frickin lot”to describe it. It starts from Romulus Lairs, goes through Assassination Missions and contracts, encompasses thief and courtesan assignments, and finds a real niche in Leonardo Machines. I will explain none of that since the ingenuity of Ubisoft would be lost. They are numerous as HELL. Too many to count and too many to finish. So much so that hitting 70% of “synch” is turning out to be really tough (though I suspect not getting 100% synch in the smaller missions makes a difference).

No new weapons from what I could see though a ton of new tricks like horse to horse assassination, kill streak accumulation etc are superb. The best part of the game (gamers will LOVE this) is that the guards no longer attack you one at a time and they are no longer easily disposable. They can get REALLY tough and *spoiler* calling in assassin recruits sometimes becomes a necessity rather than an afterthought *spoiler end* . There are things like the guards grabbing you while the other guard hits you and all that. So yeah, you will definitely enjoy the level of fighting in this game. Obviously, you will get used to this one as well and it’ll look a lot easier later but that point is moot.

Leonardo da Vinci makes his appearance again as do many of the characters from AC2 including Rodrigo Borgia (who I found out was actually a Pope in öur”universe .. s#!t Ubisoft, what the hell were you thinking?), Ezio’s mother and sister, La Volpe and the dude who attacks France and calls his sword Bianca (I forgot his name).

There is also the “Virtual Training”mode in the Animus where you can go and earn medals for doing what you do best in video games – KILL. You also get medals for running around and all that but hell, who cares 😀

Consensus: If you worship the series (high-five btw) or simply liked the last 2 games, this is a must-buy. If you’re new to the series, please check out the first 2 games for 2 reasons: 1) They are a much better representation of the series’ awesomeness; 2) You will not understand the story of this game as it starts very abruptly from where it last left off.

PS: First post from new laptop 😀

Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood

I’ve been a great fan of Ubisoft’s astounding platformer since the first iteration came out sometime 2 years ago.

Assassin’s Creed is a beautiful game. In both design and story, I can see no parallel. In gameplay, it is somewhat similar to Prince of Persia for all the jumping around even though this is a free roam.

I found Assassin’s Creed 1 stupendous. The major reason for Assassin’s Creed 1 was that the story was different. So different that it stunned me into bowing to its awesomeness. I realised that the convenience of having another device within the game – *spoiler* – the Animus, gave any faults that the game had to lend blame to the Animus rather than Ubisoft (or at least, that I guess would be their argument). Gameplay I found quite awesome what with climbing places and all but there was quite some similarity with Prince of Persia. Graphics were simply stunning. The different aspects of the game like Leap of Faith, counter attacks and all that were equally good. The ending was superb.

I found Assassin’s Creed 2 absolutely phenomenal. Story was, yet again, top class. It equalled if not exceeded expectations that AC1 set. I personally found it better than AC1. Gameplay largely remained the same although since the protagonist changed, the environment was recreated to pure pitch perfect awesomeness. The difference now was that you had levels in the game in terms of developing your hometown. Graphics actually exceeded AC1 even though it was the same engine far as I could tell. The new weapons in the game were well crafted and the introduction of Leonardo da Vinci as the eternal genius maverick was a clever move. The ending was just … stunning. There is no other word for it. It was just too good to be true.

I found Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood mildly boring. Yes, I’m not kidding you. The major problem was that Ubisoft clearly did not intend this to be Assassin’s Creed 3. They intended it to be Assassin’s Creed 2.5 or something.

The story still revolves around the spoilt noble’s son – turned awesomesauce killer assassin – Ezio Auditore. Although the game shifts focus entirely to Rome (which is HUGE in the game), it has basically very few differences. The story progresses a lot (in the real world and in the Animus) and the ending was very very very good. But it left a lot of unanswered questions (definitely intentional). The last 2 dialogues after the credits start are so enigmatic that some really awesome theories have cropped up.

The story mode ends with the usual amount of gameplay.. I guess a solid 5 or 6 hours would do it. Then come the side missions. There is no other word except “hell frickin lot”to describe it. It starts from Romulus Lairs, goes through Assassination Missions and contracts, encompasses thief and courtesan assignments, and finds a real niche in Leonardo Machines. I will explain none of that since the ingenuity of Ubisoft would be lost. They are numerous as HELL. Too many to count and too many to finish. So much so that hitting 70% of “synch” is turning out to be really tough (though I suspect not getting 100% synch in the smaller missions makes a difference).

No new weapons from what I could see though a ton of new tricks like horse to horse assassination, kill streak accumulation etc are superb. The best part of the game (gamers will LOVE this) is that the guards no longer attack you one at a time and they are no longer easily disposable. They can get REALLY tough and *spoiler* calling in assassin recruits sometimes becomes a necessity rather than an afterthought *spoiler end* . There are things like the guards grabbing you while the other guard hits you and all that. So yeah, you will definitely enjoy the level of fighting in this game. Obviously, you will get used to this one as well and it’ll look a lot easier later but that point is moot.

Leonardo da Vinci makes his appearance again as do many of the characters from AC2 including Rodrigo Borgia (who I found out was actually a Pope in öur”universe .. s#!t Ubisoft, what the hell were you thinking?), Ezio’s mother and sister, La Volpe and the dude who attacks France and calls his sword Bianca (I forgot his name).

There is also the “Virtual Training”mode in the Animus where you can go and earn medals for doing what you do best in video games – KILL. You also get medals for running around and all that but hell, who cares 😀

Consensus: If you worship the series (high-five btw) or simply liked the last 2 games, this is a must-buy. If you’re new to the series, please check out the first 2 games for 2 reasons: 1) They are a much better representation of the series’ awesomeness; 2) You will not understand the story of this game as it starts very abruptly from where it last left off.

PS: First post from new laptop 😀

Curtain Call

Yes, yet another of my last few holidays comes to an end. Only .. hmm .. about 3 more to go. Wow! To think there will be a point in life when there won’t be long stretches of lazing around and hanging out with friends. I definitely need to become an entrepreuner to enjoy life. Or a coder .. basically holiday time since I can do that 25/8 😀

These holidays were just as unproductive as the last few, if not all that boring. My college decided to shorten these winter vacations as compared to the last 2 years. Where it was a solid 30 days last year, it came down to simply 27 this year (Sad, I know) 😦 … But all that apart, I spent most of those 27 days doing something or the other to rid myself of boredom.

There was the PS3. I finally finished Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood in story mode (review coming soon) and most of the non-story mode as well. It’s time to go back to some RDR again. Man, that game never gets boring 😀

My book reading took a back seat though. I bought 3 books – Life of Pi by Yann Martel, Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynmann (Yes :D) by Richard Feynmann (the man himself) and Nine Lives by William Dalrymple. I’ve started reading Life of Pi and seem to be crawling through the book even though I can see that it is one of the most interesting stories I’ve read in a very very long time. The other 2 books will have to take a backseat. I finished 2 of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot novels – Death in the Clouds and Hercule Poirot Christmas. There is really nothing to say – Agatha Christie is the best crime writer I’ve read in a very long time. Although when you look for pattern in her novels, you find one concerning the killer and the motive, the modus operandi is completely different each time. I have a feeling she wove her tale backwards from how the murder is staged. Also, I got some Isaac Asimov reading done. I finished the third book in the Robots in Time series and am in the fourth one. It is fairly engaging but not exactly something to keep you hooked.

The TV shows have been caught up with. They have been put on hold thanks to the holiday season but no worries .. They shall start again in January. i haven’t seen many movies these holidays either. Of worthy note was Scott Pilgrim  vs the World which was frankly speaking, a very weird movie but it was funny as hell, no doubt about it. And also, I went to the theatres and saw Ratha Charithram or some similar named movie. It basically sucked. And then, today ..

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 : The movie was actually pretty good compared to its predecessors. Apart from the usual extravagance a story with “magical” potential gives special effects a chance to have, it was directed with just enough action and emotion to keep it from becoming complete crap .. but I didn’t enjoy it. I can impartially rate movies since one part of me is always attentive to something so big going on in front of my eyes. The other part made it hell, considering I was sitting near an ABSOLUTE douchebag and the fact that the theatre had a lot of local crowd who basically came there to gawk at Emma Watson and make comments about a movie they could’ve hardly understood beyond the Harry Potter part.

After the movie, douchebag and another friend of mine revealed that they had about 1350 bucks worth of free gaming left for Blur 😀 .. Starting from Air Hockey (which I own’d) till playing car race on LAN in an Arcade (which I own’d as well) and playing Tekken 6 (which douchebag obviously own’d) and other minor arcade games, we had a lot of fun for the money.

Apart from all the fun and frolic, I’ve been preparing for CAT *snorts* , learning python (holy crap, whatte language) and trying to start on writing stories.

The holidays will end this Sunday when I shall leave for college early in the morning. And then, another semester will begin where I will yet again pretend to struggle for gaining academic merit when I know it hardly matters anymore and will develop my hacking skills to another level entirely (hopefully).

Ah well, adios 2010, welcome 2011 and all that. Like I read in a tweet last year .. “The universe is 15 billion years old and we celebrate  every new year. Seems like having a fuckin parade every time I piss” 😀

The #WikiLeaks Furore

When you are an avid Twitter user, you realise that within seconds of anything happening anywhere across the globe, you are appraised of the event – possibly with photos and a good footage – provided you “follow” the right people, of course. Twitter is very very powerful in that aspect. So powerful, in fact, that the top brass of the company don’t even have a goal as to what the site intends to be.

But, if you’re an avid Twitter user, much like any source of information that is user controlled and free, it tends to be misleading. There are many instances of this happening. The most recent that comes to mind, though, is the WikiLeaks drama that has been escalated from a small regular incident of the freedom of press being violated into an international drama involving most of Europe, the inevitable US of A and the Interpol (?)

So, what is all the furore about? Yours truly went investigating online yesterday out of pure boredom and found out many interesting facts.

WikiLeaks was a site founded by this fellow called Julian Assange – who has been in the news for the last few days without a break. It’s what they call a whistleblower site. The site believes in Right to Information for the common man and the Freedom of Press and did anything from shady deals to honest over the table payments to get their hands on classified documents which were not meant to be seen by the general public.

Now, the inherent problem with these sites that believe they serve a “higher cause” or the “greater good” is that they never realise the repercussions of their actions. So, instead of analysing whether the documents had information that nobody should EVER see, they leaked all of it – albeit in batches.

There are some people you can piss off and get away with, some people you should never piss off and then there is the US of A. An epitomisation of power gone wrong, in my opinion – I’m still surprised the country manages to hold together as a supposed “superpower”. So, the dudes in the government of USA were really pissed with documents reaching WikiLeaks and they couldn’t understand who the “mole” was in their organisation who had such top level clearance. They became even more pissed with the latest batch of documents which contained cables of diplomatic conversations. Now, talk all you want about freedom of press,but that is some serious shit to put out for the world to see and can lead to wars.

Since they were not sure they would succeed in finding the rat, they started using all their political clout against WikiLeaks, trying to heap allegations on the site and shut it down. They tried a variety of attacks ranging from “This is just wrong! Hmph!” to “Dude, seriously man, stop putting all our shit out for the world to see!”.

Most of the companies which were supporting WikiLeaks indirectly – Amazon.com was providing servers, EveryDNS was providing the … DNS; Visa, MasterCard and PayPal were allowing transactions online to the wikileaks website – started calling off their support. EveryDNS took down the DNS entry for the site. Amazon stopped providing servers to the site – thanks to this US Senator called Joe Lieberman. Visa, MasterCard and PayPal went ahead and cut off their ties with the site as well. This series of support-withdrawals led to a mass media coverage and outrage from every reporter worth his weight in paper or digital media.

But the site survived since there were still servers willing to support it and it didn’t matter any longer if it didn’t get a DNS (clarification – DNS is what your URL is called from the server side of things). At one point, Twitter had updates which gave IP addresses as to where the WikiLeaks site was located. I guess that was fine with the world since they now had something to protest about and also, their favourite whistleblower site was still up and running. Some people didn’t like it though.

Chief among them was a group of hackers called just “Anonymous” who presumably met on 4chan. Pissed over what these sites did to WikiLeaks by withdrawing support, they started organising DDoS attacks on the site servers. DDoS – Distributed Denial of Service attacks are simple to orchestrate but difficult to synchronise. The idea is that you simply overload the servers with so many simultaneous requests that it either shuts down or times out all other requests temporarily. This basically means the site is no longer usable. They became so audacious as to post when exactly they would attack. For instance, they took down the MasterCard site and then, about a few hours later, put up an update saying that the Visa site would be down in an hour. yours Truly checked a minute after the said hour and lo and behold, the site was down. They gave warnings of an attack on Amazon servers as well. But later on, they called it off citing that it was too huge right now and the attack would be done in future. Sweeeeet!

So, coming back to the site, it was up and running. Now, US of A was still perturbed because those Diplomatic cables were there for the world to see as were their dirty little secrets. So, instead of attacking the site, they went after Julian Assange, the founder. Out of nowhere, Assange gets a reward on his head because he is suspected in a case of rape. Now, here comes the best part – it seems the sex was consensual but once the condom broke, the woman wanted it to stop but Assange didn’t. I laughed so hard when I heard this 😀 .. pathetic, these allegations. Seriously, I thought the guys behind it would come up with something better. Now, the whole drama has become a cheap Bollywood movie and I hope TR becomes part of the judge panel 😀

t-rajendar

Man, does he crack me up! 😀

Anyway, to get back to the point, Julian Assange has been arrested and the whole of twitter is following his every move right now. The media, when misused, is the most dangerous weapon on the planet. But when misused over a certain extent, it starts to get boring. Whenever something new pops up, it splashes the headlines for a week and raises the TRP of all news channels. But it dies out as other things replace it. The social media, though, is where all news can be followed through every update. For example, the #wikileaks channel is buzzing with news and will still be, long after the news channels stop reporting on it and moving to something else.

Basically, I feel the purpose of Twitter is that the social media gets free rein – which is the best way to spread news anywhere on the planet.

Pissed!

I will start this philosophically. I don’t care what anyone says about my mental health. It’s just that sometimes, I NEED to let things out. And I hate doing so to other people. I’d rather that an unknown server somewhere stored this information and some random viewer see it and pass on. Yes, my social skills are that bad. So sue me 😐

In a person’s life, there are good times. Then there are bad times. Then there is the phase I’m going through today. It’s called “Oh crap”. It’s like I’m Arthur Dent. That the universe felt that it should maintain the (good luck : bad luck) ratio and came up with the brilliant idea of dumping all the bad luck on one guy to balance the rest of the world. Guess who the guy was 😐

I usually don’t bother putting effort. I know that unless I go all out on something in particular, it never works out. I found out today that if I don’t go all out on something, it turns out f**ked up as well. So, what do I resort to? I resort, with all my conscience and contemptuous attitude, to show the finger to the universe. Take all you want, you bitch. I will definitely not respond to any societal pressure from now on. Nope. None of it.

There are some rules of the society I absolutely do NOT understand.

#1 : You’re hitting puberty. You should gawk at girls your age.

_|_ … I don’t give a damn. I know I’m not gay. Also, I don’t have the slightest interest in gawking at girls. Save me some time. And STOP poking fun at me for it.

#2 : You should keep in touch with friends and family.

I’m definitely not a great fan of social networking. I quit Facebook (No stupid comments) for a reason. I don’t make calls for a reason. I text, rarely. Unless you’re as close to me as to know what’s going on in most aspects of my life, I don’t WANT to talk to you. Yes, I’m a social misfit, I’m a recluse, I’m an asshole. So WHAT? What are you gonna do about it? You wanna know? You can’t do SHIT! Yep, that’s right.

#3 : You should score marks.

My greatest bane. My biggest nightmare. And my most IRRITATING conformation rule. I will show the finger to the society. The rest of the world may care about marks. I DO NOT! I don’t give a damn. Do marks define you? No. What those articles say are true. People will tell you that those articles are for making the losers feel better. I’ll tell you .. They’re for making the people who score in subjects they have ZERO interest in to feel the intensity of their stupidity. I hate those kinds of people. They’re not nerds. They’re not geeks. They’re what we call in India, as padips. They have no reason to study a particular subject but to get marks. Their existence has no meaning. But, for the world out there, they define the above average intellect people. They are the ones who work like workhorses and put in 60 hour weeks. If you classify yourself into this category, I’m not going to say sorry. But PLEASE! GET A LIFE!!

#4 : No Vices.

I have nothing against this particular rule. I mean, it’s all for your own good. But when I’m 20, I know how harmful any vice is. If I STILL opt to go ahead and say I’m not addicted, it does NOT mean that I’m in denial. It means I can handle it. I’m not a bloody child for the love of god!

#5 : No “bad words”

Oh yes. Civilised society does not entitle you to have the freedom of expression to speak out your mind. Expletives are frowned upon. People look at it as a mindset of an individual rather than just a way of taking out all your frustration. Have you ever noticed how most expletives are bi or tri-syllabled? Also, if you observe, repeating them continuously makes you take out all your frustration by simply emphasising on particular syllables. For example, fu-kkk is the best way to take out most of your frustration.

Yes, I hate civilised society except for one aspect – “Survival of the fittest” is no longer a lifestyle for homo sapiens. If it was, I wouldn’t have made it to 20 years of existence.

yes, I hate life right now. Like I said before .. So sue me 😐

BarCamp Chennai 5 – #bcc5

For reasons of hashtagging search results leading directly to my blog, I included that in the title.

Why post so soon after the previous blog post? Because I promised I would to a bunch of like minded geeks.

Today, I attended BarCamp Chennai 5. It’s an unconference – which is another way of saying it’s the most free forum on the planet. The participants are the ones who conduct all the sessions and with whom all the interaction takes place. There is no greater authority asserting itself and taking centre stage all the time. I absolutely loved the concept.

It takes some time to understand what an unconference is and how much freedom you have in there. Actually, you have zero restrictions and some minor monitoring in case things get out of hand for the sponsors – PayPal.

I went to BarCamp with my friend, Abishek. Believe me, getting to that office is not a piece of cake considering all areas beyond Thiruvanmiyur are memory blocks you can’t access (The influence of assassin’s creed is evident, sorry 😛 )

But we made it to the PayPal office and after fumbling around the maze they call the parking area, we got to their registration desk and to the 6th floor into the Main Camp. We took quite some time trying to wrap our heads around their schedule. Once convinced we’d got it right, we proceeded to our first session – BrainNook.

BrainNook is an online multiplayer game – for kids. It was an eye opener as to how an online multiplayer is generally designed. I mean – this is nowhere close to the complexity that MMOs like WoW or others possess but the basic underlying architecture is the same – server handling, client handling, server-client communication and all that. BrainNook is an educational game and can be accessed here. I never bothered trying to play it because I know I have no interest in these things. The session anchor – Abhijeet Vijayakar – explained to us the major components of the game design. The game seems fairly simple on the in-game quest designs part (hardcore gamers will know what I mean by that term) but still amazes me on how much resource is needed for such a simple idea. Starting from a server having 2 server management softwares – PHP+MySQL and Flex – till the feature-rich client and the custom analytics code for data collection, the game took 15 months to design and while not a visual treat (it’s for kids – so what the hell), it certainly brings out some design perspectives. The games in BrainNook are designed from a few prototypes to which specifics are supplied so that the Flex server can supply the required game on demand. It’s like keeping a substrate and either adding or removing stuff to get the desired product. One valid question was the design inconsistencies when it is laid open to developers who want to create a game with a different base prototype. Although the answer was not satisfactory, the game is only in its developing stages. So a lot can be overlooked right now.

After that, we moved on to the NoSQL session. Now, considering I’m not at all knowledgeable in RDBMS or any type of data management system, this was a no-brainer for me. But the session was really interactive and I came across a lot of tech jargon like JSON, schema etc. The basic thing I understood was that instead of data management that SQL does, NoSQL aims at decentralisation of data management and a more flexible data storage structure. Querying for patterns seems to be a problem to deal with. Although some explanation was given, it was beyond my plane of knowledge to grasp it.

After a little loafing around since we had no other session which was interesting, we went to the TEDTalk given by Siddhartha Jayakumar. Siddhartha suffers from Cerebral Palsy and has no coordination with this movements but still managed to get a job into RBS and get a CDCS certification and go into the documents checking section. Very inspiring talk, all in all.

The most interesting session was the next one – On the Android OS by Mr. Gajendran. The last time I attended a session on Android was in college and the ex-Amrita Motorola employee was not exactly very knowledgeable. Fortunately, when you are given a session by a man who hacked the bootloader of his nexus one on his own – as a hobby – you are lucky because he knows everything about the OS. The session was basically about how the Android framework is built and the interaction of applications within the android environment. Very very interesting to say the least.

After getting a T-Shirt (which I’m wearing right now 😛 ) and taking a look at who won the PayPal award for an innovative money making idea using the PayPal API, we left the building back home.

I was tweeting the whole while I was there and checking random laptops plugged into the #bcc5 stream in twitter to check my own updates appearing 😀

All in all, a very fun and productive day – definitely what I predicted it to be .. Or not! 😛

BarCamp Chennai 5 – #bcc5

For reasons of hashtagging search results leading directly to my blog, I included that in the title.

Why post so soon after the previous blog post? Because I promised I would to a bunch of like minded geeks.

Today, I attended BarCamp Chennai 5. It’s an unconference – which is another way of saying it’s the most free forum on the planet. The participants are the ones who conduct all the sessions and with whom all the interaction takes place. There is no greater authority asserting itself and taking centre stage all the time. I absolutely loved the concept.

It takes some time to understand what an unconference is and how much freedom you have in there. Actually, you have zero restrictions and some minor monitoring in case things get out of hand for the sponsors – PayPal.

I went to BarCamp with my friend, Abishek. Believe me, getting to that office is not a piece of cake considering all areas beyond Thiruvanmiyur are memory blocks you can’t access (The influence of assassin’s creed is evident, sorry 😛 )

But we made it to the PayPal office and after fumbling around the maze they call the parking area, we got to their registration desk and to the 6th floor into the Main Camp. We took quite some time trying to wrap our heads around their schedule. Once convinced we’d got it right, we proceeded to our first session – BrainNook.

BrainNook is an online multiplayer game – for kids. It was an eye opener as to how an online multiplayer is generally designed. I mean – this is nowhere close to the complexity that MMOs like WoW or others possess but the basic underlying architecture is the same – server handling, client handling, server-client communication and all that. BrainNook is an educational game and can be accessed here. I never bothered trying to play it because I know I have no interest in these things. The session anchor – Abhijeet Vijayakar – explained to us the major components of the game design. The game seems fairly simple on the in-game quest designs part (hardcore gamers will know what I mean by that term) but still amazes me on how much resource is needed for such a simple idea. Starting from a server having 2 server management softwares – PHP+MySQL and Flex – till the feature-rich client and the custom analytics code for data collection, the game took 15 months to design and while not a visual treat (it’s for kids – so what the hell), it certainly brings out some design perspectives. The games in BrainNook are designed from a few prototypes to which specifics are supplied so that the Flex server can supply the required game on demand. It’s like keeping a substrate and either adding or removing stuff to get the desired product. One valid question was the design inconsistencies when it is laid open to developers who want to create a game with a different base prototype. Although the answer was not satisfactory, the game is only in its developing stages. So a lot can be overlooked right now.

After that, we moved on to the NoSQL session. Now, considering I’m not at all knowledgeable in RDBMS or any type of data management system, this was a no-brainer for me. But the session was really interactive and I came across a lot of tech jargon like JSON, schema etc. The basic thing I understood was that instead of data management that SQL does, NoSQL aims at decentralisation of data management and a more flexible data storage structure. Querying for patterns seems to be a problem to deal with. Although some explanation was given, it was beyond my plane of knowledge to grasp it.

After a little loafing around since we had no other session which was interesting, we went to the TEDTalk given by Siddhartha Jayakumar. Siddhartha suffers from Cerebral Palsy and has no coordination with this movements but still managed to get a job into RBS and get a CDCS certification and go into the documents checking section. Very inspiring talk, all in all.

The most interesting session was the next one – On the Android OS by Mr. Gajendran. The last time I attended a session on Android was in college and the ex-Amrita Motorola employee was not exactly very knowledgeable. Fortunately, when you are given a session by a man who hacked the bootloader of his nexus one on his own – as a hobby – you are lucky because he knows everything about the OS. The session was basically about how the Android framework is built and the interaction of applications within the android environment. Very very interesting to say the least.

After getting a T-Shirt (which I’m wearing right now 😛 ) and taking a look at who won the PayPal award for an innovative money making idea using the PayPal API, we left the building back home.

I was tweeting the whole while I was there and checking random laptops plugged into the #bcc5 stream in twitter to check my own updates appearing 😀

All in all, a very fun and productive day – definitely what I predicted it to be .. Or not! 😛

Return of the Satti

Guess who’s back … Back again .. 😀

Finally, my holidays are here. FINALLY! I dunno how long I’ve been waiting for this one.

So .. I thought about when and if I should blog again. I thought a lot and then, I thought, let’s do it.

What does a holiday entail to a hyper active teenager who is going to be not-a-teenager in a matter of months? For me, it means gaming (a lot), some book reading, some movies and trawling the net and wikipedia alternatively for internships and random information respectively.

This might be the one vacation that I truly plan on using productively. But, when you think about the fact that this may be the LAST vacation I ever have, I feel I should rethink that particular stratagem.

So, a report on my progress:

First, the book reading. I’ve finished 2 books since the last time I blogged – Shantaram and H2G2 part 6 of 3 😛

Shantaram, as I typed before, is about a heroin addict who escaped from Australia and came to India and fell in love with the country. To say the book was good would be an understatement. It actually left a profound impact on me. The highlight, as I mentioned before, was it’s deceptively simple language. The other highlight I found upon further delving into the book, was the fact that the author was very philosophical in the way he looked at the world. In fact, there are some particular lines in the book – parts in which the narrator is pondering over some worldly aspects of life – when it gets really profound and then you realise, the author is actually right about what he is saying. My tweet about the book being awesome got a –1 on a RT (thanks @shridharama) which I partially deserve because I mentioned that it may be close to LotR, which, now I come to think of it, is just absurd. The book tracks Roberts journey from coming to India and living in a Marathi village, moving to the slums of Bombay, opening up a free health clinic there, acting in bollywood, working as a street soldier for the Bombay mafia, fighting alongside the Mujahideen in Afghanistan and a lot more. Should you read the book – Hell Yes!

H2G2 was a very funny book. I’ll be frank though – it wasn’t even close to the reboot I thought the series would get. Instead, it turned out to be a pretty funny sequel-prequel … If you read the series, you’ll know why I can’t call it either. The amount of inconsistency and blatant stupidity the story deals with sometimes gets on your nerves – fair examples being the bistromathic drive, the tender moment – horrible accident juxtaposition (or the lack of it) and some others. Also, DNAs final books leave a big question mark as to where in the space-time region, the protagonist actually is and which dimension he still exists in. But, since the story is meant to deal with absurdities and the notion that a lot of stupidity can couple together to create a great, meaningless and yet, quite an enjoyable story, you can forgive all its faults. Scratch that, you’re actually expected to praise them 😛

Now that those 2 books are ticked off my reading list, I’m getting back to Isaac Asimov and books in his series that other authors have written. Following the chronology can get really boring with this author considering that his science and his stories make perfect sense – unlike any of the H2G2 series. Right now, I’m reading a book written by William F Wu about Robots in Time. It’s the third book in a series of 6 where robots get lost in time and a team of 3 humans and one advanced humanoid are sent in search of them. The reason all these books fall under the chronology of Isaac Asimov, is that the robots in the books always obey the 3 laws he set down. Those 3 laws are so famous, in fact, and so quintessential that all AI systems are planning to be made on their basis. But Asimov’s interpretation of his laws was a lot different than what this author does. William Wu goes so deep into those laws, you sometimes wonder if such complex AI systems aren’t human in themselves and if the paradoxes and difficulties they encounter will simply not lead to a machine rebellion that so many movies depict.

Heavy pondering on trivial and completely abstract issues apart, I have also covered up a lot on the movies front 😀

I’ve seen only 2 good movies since the last post – “Stranger than Fiction” and “Tron”.

“Stranger than Fiction” is a superb movie. Having a storyline unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, the movie was very well taken. All B Grade actors except for one guy who looked remotely like Alec Baldwin. I expected a better climax but I could’ve settled for this one anyway. Must-watch!

I watched Tron mainly because I wanted to be able to follow the storyline in the sequel coming up called “Tron: Legacy”.

“Tron” had a story unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It was definitely created by a computer nerd from the 80s. But the graphics are absolutely, phenomenally, totally sucky! When I say, they suck, I mean they S-U-C-K! To put it in perspective, I found the graphics of that epic arcade game – Skyroads – to be slightly better than what this movie offered. Yes, it sucked that much. You want a glimpse of what’s got me so wound up? Here, see for yourself:

Yep, that’s how the majority of the movie looks like. That, btw, is the game of “Lightcycles” which is a very very important part of the movie. No spoilers though. For true nerds, the movie is an epic. It marked a totally different type of out-of-the-box thinking.Giving personalities to programs and creating protagonists and antagonists in a plot that concerned the internal workings of a computer was a major breakthrough in unconventional thinking. Consensus: If you’re a nerd, I beg you to watch this. If you’re not a nerd, give this a miss.

The holidays have also marked the return to the world of TV Shows. I’m still following Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Dexter, Chuck and Lie to Me. To say the least, Dexter seems as epic as ever and Chuck seems to be getting better and better guest stars – what with Linda Hamilton, Timothy Dalton and all that.

Tomorrow is my first productive activity for the holidays. I’m attending this unconference called BarCamp Chennai – 5th Edition. Sounds like fun. But considering I have stage fear and this being an unconference, I have some trepidation about going there. It’s in Shollinganallur. So we’ll see. Abishek is coming here and mostly Ashwin may make it as well. Will be fun, hopefully 🙂

Surprisingly, I still haven’t touched the PS3 since coming back. I guess it was due to the lack of games. No worries – the issue has been solved. Today. With this:

😀 … Yes, that’s right. I got the epic awesomesauce game. Sadly, I still haven’t played it. I’m waiting for the TV to get free so that I can let loose my awesomeness 😀 … I don’t think anything this childish should excite me so much at this age. But what the hell 😀

I also went out with the buggers today. Where did we land up? In citicentre. I dunno why we keep returning to that dilapidated, good-for-nothing mall again and again. But we do. I purchased AC3 there, ate a sub, a veg zynger and a chocolate ice cream 😀

Also, I’m getting my C++ programming back on track. Just finished a permutations program which was eluding me for quite sometime. Should get started on the others 🙂

Apart from this, life is just the usual. I’ve got a thing for Opeth’s jarring death music now. I guess it’s a passing phase. Also, I’m trying to be productive and prepare for my CAT entrance next year. Yes, I’m a very padips and studious fellow 😛

Until tomorrow (when I update the blog concerning #bcc5),

Adios!

PS: Hashtagging should be made a search engine base for the whole internet, I swear. Metadata tagging is so yesterday.