Sunday, March 28, 2004

Darn uni, it sucks out all your creativity, and makes you unable to post witty stuff on your blog. When I come home I'm too tired but on the weekend I'm frantically finishing homework. And to think of all the days in the holidays where I did absolutely nothing. What a waste! Actually, not really, because doing nothing is in itself something, as it's something of a luxury that I don't often get during the working year.

I have to be the epitome of temporary obsession, I think. When I start listening to music, I can't get enough, and swallow multiple CDs a day. It's frightening, really, how I seem to need a music fix during those periods. Yet at the same time I have dry periods like this, where I can go months without listening to a single thing. Abstain, obsess, rinse and repeat. Let it be known that at this point in time, the last thing I've heard is Neil Young's On The Beach. Why? Well, it's a fact that may prove interesting a few years down the track, ya know?

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Amusing, but sadly as good as it'll get for me.

I hate having a cold, it feels like you can't do anything. And to top it off, I've got to spend 8 hours at uni tomorrow. Woohoo.

Monday, March 08, 2004

An interesting site about outsourcing is this one, where the forums appear to harbour many resentful Amercians. Not that that's a bad thing, necessarily - it is after all one of the perspectives on the whole matter. The issue of outsourcing is one I'm not able to produce a final judgement on. Being an NRI (non-resident Indian), I seem to be stuck in the middle somewhere. There have already been heated debates from an ecomonic point of view, citing globalization as being one of the reasons why outsourcing is A Good Thing, only to be fiercely countered by arguments from the other side. I can't claim to understand either argument very well, quite frankly. My knowledge of economics is truly rudimentary, and I don't really understand "how the world works", as it were. But ignorace has never stopped me before, now has it?

It's always interesting to see the perspective of the workers on both ends. The Americans are forced to watch their jobs, one by one, be usurped by people on the other end of the world, whereas the Indians are grateful to be getting large salaries and a steady job. Objectivity in this case is particularly hard, I think. For instance, Indian top-makers (or some other toy-makers, I can't remember) were recently being crippled by cheaper competition from China. The knee-jerk response I felt was of course "That's not fair!". Why is that? Perhaps it's because I've seen how these people live, and how their small income is the only thing that allows them and their families to stay alive (a bit of a hyperbole). I guess that makes me automatically assume that what's happening is "wrong". However, my ignorance of what's going on with the Chinese toy-makers means that I can't really judge the situation at all.

I think the above was basically an exercise in the obvious.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

I decided to indulge myself in a bit nostalgia while I still can (before uni starts, that is), and so tried running my old version of Quest For Glory 4. Unfortunately, of course, it couldn't run out of the box on Windows XP, even with compatibility mode set up for Windows 98, because of sound issues. However, I found that there is a neat way to make old DOS games run properly, and it's called VDMSound. It emulates the sound drivers that DOS games are used to, thereby making them think that you're running the games under true DOS. Nifty! I got QFG4 running with no problems in a matter of minutes, full music and voice (and my sound card is an Audigy, by the way). Of course, I did also download Sierra's driver update from here, which gives you an AUDBLAST.DRV file which I used for the voice (audio) driver. But otherwise, the whole thing was a piece of cake. Now I've just got to try some other DOS games that were horrendous to try to get to run, such as Ultima 8, and if they work..well, even if I never fully play the games again, at least I can rest assured that it is possible to have my nostalgic memories relived.

A related program is DOSBox, which emulates DOS mode (or at least that's what it looks like it does - I'm not sure about the specifics of how it implements its behaviour) and lets you run your games from its command line. Now, this did let me run QFG, but it gave me problems with sound - of course, QFG4 is apparently notorious for being one of the buggiest games Sierra made, and also one of the hardest to get running on a modern computer. But it's definitely worth checking out, because it seems to support a lot of old DOS games.

Of course, I am reminded of Paul Simon's Kodachrome:

"If you took all the girls I knew when I was single
And brought them all together for one night
I know they'd never match my sweet imagination
Everything looks worse in black and white"

I've found that my olde DOS games sometimes don't live up to the memories I had of them. Whether that somehow diminishes these memories, I'm not sure, but it is certainly something to keep in mind. Speaking of which, it's interesting which memories that are formed now will soon become tomorrow's fond nostalgia. Perhaps the marathon Morrowind and Baldur's Gate gaming hours? Heh, I am now reminded (what can I say, I'm in that kinda mood) of a Calvin & Hobbes strip, which ends something like

Hobbes: "You're going to wish when you're older that you had fonder memories than this tripe (watching television)"
Calvin: (Watching TV) "Quite probably"
Hobbes: (Sits down and watches TV)

Wonderful, simply wonderful.

Friday, March 05, 2004

It's somewhat sad to think that in a couple of days, when uni starts again, I have to get back to the routine of early morning starts (relatively, of course - nowadays I'm used to waking up at pretty much any time I want) and actually doing something constructive during the day (of course, that is debatable, what with the multitude of pointless lectures and boring tutorials I had last year). There is a slight element of excitement which I always feel when I start something afresh. You might say that I look forward to even the most painful thing after taking a break from it, even if it this looking forward is overshadowed by a feeling of ominous doom. I guess the fact that my timetable is decent is a small victory, at the very least meaning that I have no more 12 hour at-uni days which were followed by wake-up-at-6 days.

As always, it's nice to reflect on how it feels like only yesterday that it was the start of the new year, and so on. Unfortunately, that is a lie, because it doesn't feel like yesterday, it feels more like a couple of months ago, which just so happens to be perfectly accurate. It is strange however that my birthday was at the start of the holidays, because I can't remember a darn thing about it now. I only have the vaguest of memories of playing Baldur's Gate for most of the day at the start of the holidays, which was of course a nice way to waste time, not to mention a sure-fire way to sound cool in everyday conversations ("Yeah, I had a pretty rough night, you know, what with the dragons killing my level 19 paladin. Luckily for me I had a priest who cast Quivering Palm with +2 roll"). I don't think I'm quite that nerdy, but I may well be soon enough.

A constant feature of any holiday seems to be a never-ending sense of regret and a distinct feeling of non-accomplishment and failure. For instance, I never did get around to finishing my webpage, which was something I was saving for the 3 months of freedom. Not to mention that I didn't learn Python, again something I had intendend on doing a whole year ago. Let's not even talk about finishing reading Code Complete, The C++ programming language, ... Speaking of reading, I read virtually nothing these holidays, save I think The Great Gatsby, and maybe Coming Up For Air. Sigh, a truly wasted time it was. I seem to save things for the long holidays, but when they come, I truly squander the opportunity. Even though I'm aware of that, I never seem to be able to avoid the trap the next time around. At least now I have this blog to highlight all my failures, right? Perhaps that will be some small incentive.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

In other news, chatting with Alice is a lot more interesting than talking to real people. Most of the time.
The truth is out there..unfortunately, a lot of the times, the truth isn't particularly interesting. For once, I would like to see a paranormal story which can't be refuted. Then again, that would probably scare the daylights out of me, so let's forget that.