Punch you ate !@#$%^&*

The internet is a vast virtual space. Everyone knows that. More people join the virtual world every day. Everyone knows that too. What people DON’T know is that not everyone who joins is a normal person. Yes, I speak of the most dreaded kind of netizen – The Troll.

The trolls intrigue me. They are rude, argue for arguments sake and basically do undesirable things. They are irritating to a fault. When you are a person who loves correct punctuation, they can be your WORST nightmare.

But is that it? Are they just wasted souls who don’t give a damn about what others think of them and simply spam or irritate others? We can bear with that. Hell, every social networking site has a feature to block them. You need never hear from them again. But trolls, being trolls, will create another profile and come after you. This, on the other hand, cannot be resolved. Not unless websites start taking biometric data for each account from every user. But I digress. Our question was – is that all trolls are? A minor nuisance to the society who can be ignored if we so choose? Frankly, I believe not.

Why? I will take a long winded scenic tour through the world of what is and what-nots and then reach the point. No, you can’t skip to the section where I start making sense. Yes, it is my wont.

Anyway, let us start. I made a post on storage media recently. As we all know, the digital data in the whole world is now in zeta bytes (according to Cisco, anyway). There are server farms for every major company out there which store all the data it can find about any of us. Though it can be misused, they are only aimed at bombarding us with ads. The amount of data stored is almost incomprehensible. Those companies which do not have these server farms can avail one from web based companies like Amazon etc. My point? There is a flow of information like never before seen on Earth (unless Atlantis existed).

This information is transported through wired and wireless connections to your mobile, tablet, laptop, desktop, iPod, any other damn device you can think of. Now, consider this. You have the official Facebook app for Android installed on your phone and your tablet. You have the iOS version on your iPod. You can access Facebook from your browser in your desktop and laptop. With me so far? Good.

Now, consider (heart patients and easily excitable people, please skip) a troll being on your friend list. Let’s say the said troll has a tendency to type “……….” instead of a simple period. As the more observant of you may have counted, you have 5 devices in your possession. Each device updates it’s application independently. Imagine (again, excitable people, careful) that the troll spams your post with one of his signature 10 period punctuation. Replicating this information on every device implies you have to send 10 times as much data to each device (10 full stops instead of just 1). 5 devices => 50 full stops instead of just 5. You get my point, right?

Let us assume you have 500 friends (a safe assumption) to whom this post is visible. Assume each friend has each of these 5 devices. If you do the math (correctly), you will see that 25,000 full stops are sent on the whole instead of just 2,500 which would have been enough to get the meaning  across. Now, considering Facebook, we set your privacy to public on all your posts (don’t freak out, just consider it). Let’s say you use some very common word in your post (like spoon?). Let us say there are a meager 1000 people searching for “spoon” on Google, Bing, Yahoo and any other major search engines. I will consider only Google and Bing for this example. Let us say you are a famous web 2.0 journalist whose technorati, Page Rank and whatever ratings are through the roof (or way underground depending on which is better). Your results will definitely rank higher. Let’s say each of these 1000 people click through to see your post in it’s entirety (with the comment from the troll). Again, doing the math (correctly), we see that 20,000 full stops are sent instead of just 2000.

Does all this data seem farcical to you? Maybe you are not convinced? Ok, check this out. Each troll makes more than one comment every day. Each comment contains more than one unwanted punctuation (!!!!!!!!! is a good example). Even if your compression rate reduces ALL of these punctuation blocks to a single byte, at the rate of 25,000 possible bytes for every person, you have 25 KB of wasted data. Seems small doesn’t it? Ok, here is some *more* math for you. On an average (from my experience), every one in 50 friends for every person is a troll. At that rate, from your imaginary 500 friends, 10 will be trolls. Each troll may/may not post troll-ish comments every day. Let’s assume they do. This means 250 KB of data is sent for just punctuation. Agreed? Now, there are 700 million users on Facebook. At the rate we previously assumed, we have 14 million trolls. Since this number seems too small to be true, we shall consider that all 14 million trolls post the signature 10 period punctuation every day. That is 14 MB of data wasted. Now, since this data is viewed by, let’s say, all 700 million members (it’s a safe assumption that every member will have ONLY 1 troll on their friend list), we have 7 GB of data (10 x 700 million).

Of course, most of this data is just numbers I pulled out of thin air. But, that is not the point. What I’m trying to put across is that trolls are not just harmless, irritating online avatars whom you can ignore and be done with. They are a true menace to the developed world since their idiocy leads to wastage of data, bandwidth and ultimately, more pollution (data centers generate a LOT of CO2 apparently). How do we rid the world of this problem? Do we need to form a convention for dealing with trolls? Just as we have for dealing with climate, nuclear wastage and terrorism?

My brainwave? Simple. Make them use Twitter. Limit their idiocy to 140 characters. If there exists a fool who will actually waste 10 characters from 140 for punctuation and then continue his tweet to the next one, people will hate him. They will not follow him. Hence, his data will not be distributed onto their various devices. Unlike Facebook or G+ where a comment on a post from a famous personality will be visible to one and all who view the post, Twitter posts are visible to those who wish to see them. There are no comment forums. It is the bare backbone of intellectual communication. Trolls will be weeded out with efficiency. Their data will not be distributed among the unwise netizens. The world shall be a better place.

Yeah, I’m still pro-Twitter 😛

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Requiem for Better Storage

Disclaimer: This post is a musing. You may/may not like it but the title will give you a fair idea of what I want to say.

The world has completely turned digital. All my memories (parts of it which my brain can no longer store) are in the form of 1’s and 0’s spread out over the vast cloud of the Internet and in the 2.5 inches of space my external Hard Disk takes in one of it’s dimensions. As all things that change, it is for the better and for the worse.

How it is for the better is quite obvious. Reason enough that almost all the world now talks to each other in 1’s and 0’s when not face to face.

How it is for the worse is something only those with the experience and the means can tell you. You have all heard of hard disk crashes. Happens all the time. People around you lose loads of data – Movies, TV Shows etc. But they’re all bright and sprightly the next day. In a hostel with 600 guys, there are no movies, games, TV shows, unwanted videos, music videos etc which cannot be found. It is when you lose something very precious that you know how fickle life in the digital world can be. I found this out … the hard way.

I recently bought an external HD. After debating with my parents, friends, my conscience and with people online, I decided to settle with a 1 TB itself. I bought the HD on the last day of the vacations and immediately backed up almost 465 GB of data on to it. I felt liberated. No longer was I constantly running out of space. No longer will I have to think before installing a new OS when I have so much free space to spare. No longer will computer crashes worry me because all my data is outside. No, I wasn’t stupid. I’ve seen people lose data. I backed up all my files and songs onto my computer hard disk because although the chances of the external HD getting corrupted are almost as minimal as an internal HD getting corrupted, there was still the possibility. What I did not think about was backing up other stuff which was just as important to me.

I connected 2 Seagate HDs (mine and my friends) to the laptop at the same time. Result? Both crashed. My friend’s HD got its headers corrupted (at least that’s what I think) while mine got totally screwed. I tried everything I possibly could. My first priority was my own HD. I had to recover truck loads of data and it was gonna be corrupted – I knew that the minute I realised the HD had crashed.

I first removed both HDs and then plugged mine back into my linux OS. No use. I unplugged and went to friends comp and plugged it into HIS linux OS. No use. Plugged it into his Windows. No use. Took it out and gave it a day to cool off (you know, one of those age old things .. hitting an electronic device may make it work, giving a computer time may magically make it boot even though it’s BIOS is totally screwed). No use. Then, I got really techy and downloaded a Hex Editor (took me a whole day) so I could dabble around with the headers and make them right (hey, who knows, right?). The next day (after the Hex Editor had been downloaded), I realised the HD wasn’t even getting detected. Forget the fact that the partitions table had been corrupted, the computer was now recognising it as an un-allocated 931 GB of space (which also made me realise that we’re cheated out of 97 GB of space on every 1 TB hard disk).

So, I finally resorted to recovery software. It took the software 6-7 hours to scan and make a list of files that could be retrieved and another 13 hours to retrieve them. Yep, almost a day. I was very happy though. The recovery had been done. All my folders were back in place. All my files seemed to be there and except for some 3 files, everything had been recovered (according to the software). I didn’t care what those 3 files were since I couldn’t see them in the important places.

It was then that I realised that all my movies had been corrupted. I didn’t care though. Movies could always be re-acquired. I felt a little unease and started going through the folders one by one to see what else had been corrupted. Then, I realised it. All my pictures, videos and books were gone. Kaput. Like they were never there. 45 GB of data, or more importantly, 6 years worth of memories went away in a second all because a small sequence of 1’s and 0’s couldn’t set themselves right and so told their digital master (my computer) that the rest of the 1’s and 0’s didn’t exist. Their digital master then told me that I had been fubar’d 😦

I am mostly a very hyper guy. I can move my considerable weight around and act goofy, not because I want people to notice me, but because it’s the way I am. That day, when I realised what had happened, I moped around in the room without going out. People thought I was sick. I didn’t talk much because my mind was buzzing with possibilites as to how I could ever recover my data. I have lived through disheartening board marks, seeing an accident, getting operated on, getting rejected by most top institutes but this … this hurt me where it mattered.

I have always been a strong proponent of technology. Everyone around me knows that. I have fought long and hard with my parents to digitise their photos, which they still stolidly refuse to do. I have taken the time to acquaint myself with shortcuts, softwares and general knowledge in things most people around me don’t know exist. My friends think I’m some sort of genius when I fix their computers. Truth is, if they took some time to google it out, they’d be just as savvy. Witness to the fact is how woefully uninformed I am about most things that are concerned with art and extra curricular activities. But this .. This made me feel like an agnostic. I started doubting what I’d put all my faith into. If the world of 1’s and 0’s was so fickle that a little shizz of electricity could make it delete almost everything I have of value, I have to believe that there is something better out there. Some medium of storage that would unfailingly make sure my data does not corrupt itself.

In the aftermath of the moping, I started taking random trains of thought to see where they lead (my favourite time pass). Unwanted crap put aside, I realised that most of my data is now digital. Movies, books, photos, videos .. anything and everything is in the form of binary data. My personal journal is now on the computer. My public journal is on WordPress. Thanks to the world shifting completely to digital cameras, I now have 40 GB of personal pictures and videos which got deleted entirely. My text books and fictional book collection is now in PDFs, which have also been deleted. There is nothing left on my hard disk. I still retain the pictures, videos and books in hopes that SOME recovery software will be able to get it back (it makes no difference whether I keep them or not, I know, but it’s just me being a little humane).

I have almost NO record of any conversation with my school friends. I keep track with messages, emails, chats. All digital streams of data which have every chance of getting corrupted one day or the other. I have never written a real letter in my entire life. I have never seen a telegram ever. Any record of my very existence has chances of getting erased within seconds. Is our existence so fickle? Is there a possibility that the minute we are ushered into an era with totalitarian rule, the ruling power will have all the infrastructure in place to assert themselves on us? Is there no way in which our memories could be stored more permanently? Is the world of digital data here to stay? Because if it is, I must start creating strategies to save all my data if the inevitable armageddon or loss of privacy does happen.

All of mankind has reduced to a bunch of binary data. Implying that if we somehow die out and someone releases several EMPs just before the apocalypse, all data of our existence would be wiped out. No time capsule would be saved considering we’re getting our life so much into the digital sphere, time capsules will probably have pen drives in them. That said, I’ve always believe any remaining copies of Lord of the Rings (which was written long before the digital age was even considered a possibility) would become gospel. What clue would future civilisations have that the world was any different that what Tolkien had written? Maybe Sauron really existed. Maybe the Ainür still existed in this unknowable land the book called the West. I’ve always had the feeling the Bible was some epic work of fiction from a previous civilisation that just happened to be found and made the gospel for all Christianity and Jews.

Yes, I know .. Random rants and digression. But this is my blog and this is where I let loose. Anyway, I shall return to the bunch of recovery software I’ve downloaded and give everything a try. What I’ve lost is not something that can let me sleep in peace. Adios, world. I shall now drift off into forced subconsciousness and take other trains of thought to follow (seriously brilliant exercise, I assure you).

The beast!

People nickname a lot of things. Their friends, themselves, their stuffed toys, teachers, college subjects, places, hang outs and finally their “little” selves 😉 😛

I nicknamed my laptop. No, not the old one. But my brand new laptop. Yes, congratulations are in order, jealous looks are anticipated, slander to be borne but its all worth it for this veritable beast that I almost tricked my father into buying 😀

But, let me relive my boorish awesomeness and my steadfast nature which facilitated me in getting this new toy.

I really needed a new laptop because I didn’t have enough power in my old one. I mean, it looked cool, downright cute and was very handy but it had an Intel Atom processor which made it about as powerful as my old home PC.

I brought up the subject in summer of 2010. Dad agreed immediately when I told him I needed it for studies. But I didn’t have the heart to give away my beloved netbook. So, I leave it at that.

Then, around October, my dad tells me to get a new laptop since he needs my netbook. I agree. But again, my love for my netbook stopped me from taking further action. Around November, my dad gets really frustrated and asks me to get one or he will buy one himself and it will be another netbook. I fought a little but left it at that since I had lost all need for a new laptop by then, what with Matlab no longer being part of my core syllabus.

In December during my holidays, my dad gets his frustration to peak and threatens to take my netbook away without buying me a new laptop. I get my legs under me and go shopping. I know what I want – an i7 core processor with whatever else can fit in the budget. I didn’t look far. I browsed the Dell site and ordered it online.

 

 

YES! I got a Dell XPS 😀

The specifications? I’m only too happy to tell you:

Processor – Core i7

Speakers – JBL 😀 😀 😀

RAM – 6GB

Graphics Card – 2GB Nvidia GT series 😛

HDD – 500GB (Sad, I know 😦 )

3 USB ports; 2 of them being USB 3.0

Blu Ray Drive 😀

That’s about it I guess. Although I made a mistake of not buying a 9 cell battery with the laptop, the rest of it is well worth every penny. Its worked like a charm till now. Oh, btw, the screen is LED 😀 😀 😀

Yes, I miss my netbook but this is more than a good substitute. Downsides? The bloody weight of course. But the absolute raw power it gives is so satisfying to the absolutely deadened brain receptors which give a gap of almost 10 seconds to check the screen after clicking Firefox to check if it finally opened.

Oh well 🙂

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 😀

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.

Yee Haw!!

Yes, that’s what I feel like saying. Why? This is why:

John Marston seeks revenge!

That’s right … I have FINALLY acquired the much talked about game. How is it? I’m not sure, really. I will get into my groove with the game tonight. Sandeep and Vikku came to my house today and totally spoilt the save point for the game. So yeah, I’m gonna start all over again.

Apart from that, I have been trying real hard to get the PS3 to connect to the internet. So far, it has not been a success. The major problem with the PS3 (as with my phone) is that it needs an access point network and can’t connect to an ad-hoc network. Why? I don’t know.

So basically, after some googling (they should make that a proper verb), I came across this software called Connectify which is able to do what I want. The problem? It STILL doesn’t work with my PS3 (although my phone is able to connect to it)!!

I need to get some DLC for the game (it’s paid, I believe). I also need to desperately get a PSN ID. Oh well … Hopefully, I figure it out by tonight.

I just came back from Bangalore, btw. The trip was … fun. It wasn’t worth it for the In Plant Training, or for the accommodation, or for the worthless hours spent roaming the city. It was just worth it to be back with friends. Sometimes, I look forward to college for this particular reason.

The reading I got into so voraciously has not been coming along well. The last book I started with – “Sea of Poppies” by Amitav Ghosh still isn’t over (not even half over, come to think of it). I desperately wanna finish it before college reopens (which is next week 😐 )

Next thing to look forward to? Artemis Fowl – Atlantis Complex … releasing on 20th July. I won’t be here. But my mother will be. I will make sure she buys it.

The Artemis Fowl series is really awesome. For a book targeted at the juvenile reading market, it keeps me very very hooked. Eoin Colfer has made the first chapter for the new book worth the read. I’m just looking forward to his version of a sequel to the EPIC (yeah, E-P-I-C) Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy!

Mom is hogging the TV now, so yeah, I need to get back to that book.

Adios!

Back and Gone Again!

Travelling is supposed to be really awesome. I believe in that age-old dictum (rephrased to suit the modern times). But then, too much travel is tiresome. I have been travelling – a LOT! For the past 15 days, I have not known much rest except for the last 2 days of it, I guess.

This trip to Bombay was really something – I actually moved around so much that my whole time table changed. I also understood, in true sense, the meaning of the word hectic.

Giving a full summary of the trip is a pain in the hands that type and on the brain that reminisces to collect enough memories to put into the post. So yeah, I’m basically NOT gonna do that. Suffice it to say that the Inplant Training was basically OK. Not that you expect much from it in any case. The certificates are still pending though.

On the other hand, there are some other more interesting news that I would like to share. I found some true love in life after a long, long time. I am so happy and so sad that my ex will now not be treated with the same reverence. Yes, it is pretty obvious that I’m using metaphors here. But then, here is the real thing:

Isn't she beautiful? *sniff sniff*

Yes, I am now the proud owner of a PS3 – The latest edition as well. After putting tantrums, reasoning and shouting at my parents (all of which I am NOT ashamed of in any way), I have got it!

I also got THIS free:

Yes, that is Kratos - The king of badass!

Yes, I feel all hazy and dream-like 🙂

Anyway, I got the PS3 a day before I left. I played as much of the game as I possibly could. I played it in easy mode (I just wanted to finish it, see?). I got back yesterday and now, about an hour ago, I officially finished the game. It was absolutely phenomenal and TOTALLY worth the ratings.

I can now go to Bangalore with a clear conscience 😀 … There are some more things to do though – search for new games, a HDMI cable at a cheap price (It is absolutely UNBELIEVABLE how much a cable can cost these days) and hopefully another controller. All in good time.

Now that the game is over, I need to get back to some reading. Yes, I have taken up the age-old hobby. I am trying to get a membership card at Crossword so that I can get some discounts on future purchases … but I’m just too busy at the moment.

Read this new book by an Indian author called “The Immortals of Meluha”. It’s about how Shiva may have actually been a human whose karma recast him as God in the books of history. VERY well done book – a little too amateur in some senses but then, it was well worth the read. It is part of a trilogy and I’m waiting for the other 2 parts – “The Secret of the Nagas” and “The Oath of the Vayuputras” … Strikes me that the author – Amish Tripathi – has really outdone himself with the titles 😀 . Thinking of reviewing the whole series once the other 2 parts are out.

I also finished a 4-novel omnibus edition of Miss Marple cases (Agatha Christie is da best!) . I need to get back to “Sea of Poppies” by Amitav Ghosh which was a nomination for the Man Booker Prize of 2008 (yep, that DAMN good!).

I leave for Bangalore tomorrow for a training at BHEL. When? At frickin 4:30 in the morning *shakes head in disbelief*

Oh well, hopefully the net works there. In any case, until I come back, adios!

PS : Did you people see the Apple iPhone 4 signal strength problem? *laughs his head off at Apple Inc* 😀