Monday, May 31, 2004

The end of the world? Oh I sure hope so. I've had enough. Let's pull the plug, boys.
What you say? We get signal. Main screen turn on.

Friday, May 28, 2004

I miss deep sleeps, so much so that I forgot it was possible to have one. It is probably symptomatic of a mind too busy worrying about every little detail in life, that it loses the ability to shut down, even if only for 8 hours or so. The wonderful thing about a deep sleep is that you're able to wake up not thinking about what you were thinking about yesterday. A clean slate - that's the only way to go. Alas, I should probably cherish this while I can, for tomorrow will surely see a regression to the vicious cycle.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Saturday, May 22, 2004

It is of some interest to me that I am excited about Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines. If you've played Quest For Glory IV, like I did all those years ago, then you will probably be familiar with the scene with the little girl inside the castle - the little vampire girl, who's friends with the monster Toby. The first glimpse of her in her vampire glory is with the lines "Who is it Toby?", lines surely immortalized in my memory. Anyhow, the experience was quite traumatic, for some unknown reason. At that young, impressionable age, I was completely terrified of that girl (what was her name? Anna? Ah, Google reveals it was Tanya. Good old Google!) and her little friend, and ever since I've been completely terrified of vamps in all forms.

But of course, it's like a horror movie - even if you're really spooked you want to watch it anyway (most of the time). Same thing with vampires - whenever they're involved, I want to avoid them, but at the same time, I don't! So with Bloodlines, it's much the same thing. Depending on how spooky it is, I'll probably be terrified, but at the same time, I'll probably play anyway.

As a game itself, it seems fairly interesting. Being based on Half-Life 2's engine is a positive sign, judging by all the oohs and aahs HL2 is generating nowadays (I haven't had a chance to see the video, perhaps I should do so soon?). The action/RPG component, well, now about that I'm not too sure. I guess it depends on the mechanics of the gameplay, largely - the concept itself sounds like it could work, but execution will be critical. It's also dependent on the balance between action and RPG elements - I am an RPG fan, so more action than RPG would be a turnoff. The primary elements of an enjoyable RPG for me would be character choices and good dialogue - I want to play any role I feel like, darn it! Even the brilliant Baldur's Gate series offered many redundant choices, in that they would end up with the same outcome. This was not ideal, but oh well, at least you were able to mock people and still get information from them!

It seems like they are concerned with the RPG aspects, which is good. If what they say is true, and the clan you choose affects gameplay, then that's great. The different ways of solving a quest would make the game quite replayable, and replayability is quite important to me, since RPGs are one of the only game types that can motivate me enough to play the game a second or third time. Baldur's Gate is a fine example of this, in that not only are there the different character parts, but also there's simply so much stuff in the game that you can't possibly explore all of it a first time. I haven't even begun my epic scourge of the Forgotten realms with an evil character yet (that's reserved for sometime soon)!

The graphics, well, they look good, but not great. Not that graphics should become the definitive milestone for judging a game, but poor graphics can certainly destroy any merits of gamepley in the modern world. We're all spoilt by these screenshots of the latest, greatest FPSs, and as a result anything not up to that standard is automatically disadvantaged. At the end of the day, of course, I think that gameplay should win out. But at the same time, graphics are important, though perhaps not as much. Anyway, Bloodlines has nothing to worry about here, its graphics are no Doom 3, but they're good enough for me.

Interestingly enough, I wonder if the QFG IV saga predates Dracula The Resurrection, a game done in FMV that was pretty gory and featured a sleuth of psychotic vamps that were out to get you. The fact that you had to do everything right in a day to survive provided many scenes when you simply did not know whether you had done the right thing, or whether that innocent looking person was about to bare their fangs. I ended up cheating to win that game, if only because it was too hard otherwise. If I can tolerate the (by today's standards) low quality video, perhaps I ought to give it another try.
It is ridiculously easily to lose touch with reality. I am living proof of this fact. I am not sure I can tell the difference between fantasy and reality anymore.

Dreams are neat. The only problem with dreams is that they often confuse me and I end up not knowing whether they really happened or not. It's easy to start to question whether dreams are real. To answer that we'd have to define real in the first place. I'm not sure I can do that! So, essentially, I have nothing useful to say, as always. Yet another "X is interesting" post; wow.

I often feel the need, right after writing something here, to delete it. I have a premonition of reading it at a later time and going "What is this rubbish?". 90% of the time, my gut feeling is right, and it is rubbish. Which just goes to show - always go with your gut feeling. Actually that's spurious reasoning at it's finest. Not that it was particularly convincing as an attempt as serious advice. It's just that you can't be sure who reads your blog nowadays, ya know?

Friday, May 21, 2004

A bit of research on wireless networking support in Linux reveals that there isn't out of the box support for a wireless NIC. However, you can download a separate package that solves the issue (here). But it does highlight that the ease of use is ever so slightly below that of Windows - it's gotta work out of the box for lazy and impatient users like me. I understand the predicament, of course - that most companies don't bother to develop drivers for Linux, focussing on Windows instead, which leaves the Linux drivers up to some devoted hackers spread across the globe. It would be unfair I suppose to criticize Linux itself for this scenario, but that was hardly my intent. This was merely a remark on how Linux still has a ways to go before it can truly be a Windows-killer. Then again, perhaps such issues will be solved once it gains popularity; after all, that's why drivers are developed for Windows. Ironic, isn't it? Linux needs to get popular if it wants to get popular. Ouch.

Since Blogger have been kind enough to offer unlimited photo space, I can finally show off my music catalogue program (the one in C#, remember?). As an example of software engineering, it is probably not all that great, but as a program itself I really like it, I don't know why. Perhaps it is just the nice full-colour album covers! At any rate, I am going to try and revamp the catalogue and make it cleaner on the inside. As it stands now, it is far too much of a "code as I go" program for me to be truly content with it. You will of course be informed of the details, gentle reader. Posted by Hello

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Not Trouble Everyday.

The man behind the mystery Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

For some reason, I feel like I should yet again install Linux. More specifically, Red Hat. I don't usually mind things that occur on the spur of the moment..actually, hold on, I do, very much! But anyway, I don't even know why I want to do this. I have some notion of installing it and becoming a proficient Linux user. As if that would make an impact on my programming ability or my all round knowledge of computers. It is perhaps the exposure to other Linux gurus who remind me of a stage that I was once at a few years ago - I would lean towards jealousy then as my main motivation. However, the fundamental issue with using Linux is that there's nothing to do. Literally! It comes to do the question of what you use a computer for. And, essentially, how Linux would offer a better experience than Windows XP! I simply don't see any strong motivation at this point to use Linux. If I were to install it, then it would probably be a full install on one of my old computers, which would invariably mean that I would never use it anyway, it would just be sitting there. And if I were to use it, then it would be for no real reason - again, what could I do better on Linux that I can't do on Windows?

Comfort is probably a large factor then, since we could flip it around as ask what can I do better on Windows that I can't do in Linux? (The answer - everything ;) Heh just joking!) At the moment Linux seems to have decent alternatives for most major Windows apps. There even seems to be a Linux version of MSN messenger, so there you go. But I suppose at the end of the day, a shift to Linux is simply too big to be warranted the way things currently stand. And of course there is the recurring feeling that there are probably small areas of incompatibility that will prove to be a pain (this is just speculation based on past experience of course. The right thing to do would be to actually try it out to see if it is the case, but I am far too lazy for that. I suppose that nullifies this as a rigorous argument then!). Perhaps if something genuinely exciting happens with Linux I would consider it.

The wonderful thing about the split between reason and action is that given all of the above, I am still just as likely to go ahead and install Linux on the spur of the moment as I was at the start. "Reason is the slave of passion"; is that valid here? Makes me sound more important at any rate.
Three items for you to consider. Firstly, remember Child In Time's intro on Deep Purple's In Rock album? Delightful, no? Unfortunately, ripped off from the relatively unknown band It's A Beautiful Day on their self-titled debut album (the track it appears on is Bombay Calling; guess The Clash ripped the name! Poor guys, they were really robbed blind!). The original melody/riff is done with a violin, or so I have read. The band itself look fairly decent, psychedelic prog, if there is such a thing. Yet another artist to consider purely on a whim.

Is it unfortunate, really? I suppose that as long as it fits in with the overall mood of the song, it isn't that big a crime (if we don't consider it from a legal point of view, which isn't that interesting to me anyway). Led Zeppelin of course did the greatest rip-off in history with Stairway To Heaven, taking the universally famous tune from the (again unknown) band Spirit's (again self-titled!) debut album. Zep used to play with Spirit on tour, and heard the song (it's called Taurus, a purely instrumental track) and were enamoured with it, and so decided to use it as their own. Of course, apparently they did get permission for borrowing the tune, but nonetheles, hardly anyone remembers Spirit and their humble little song, whereas the whole world seems to be taken with Stairway. I wonder how that must make you feel, and how it must sound when you mention it to other people; probably like some crackpot! ("But it was me, I tells ya, I made that!" / "Suuure you did").

Brian Wilson is going to release Smile after all! Hurrah! Sept. 28 is the tenative release date, and this is certainly something that I'm looking forward to. Although, I must confess, I wonder whether it would have been better to let it remain a mystery and an engima rather than release it now. The very concept of it was striking, a subject for many "What if?"s. If it turns out to be average, then the magic is gone, the legend is shattered, and Sgt. Pepper still rules undisputed!

And finally, bizarre stuff here: Andy Kaufman is alive!? I don't quite know what to make of this, my gut feeling is that it's fake, but stranger things have happened. This is really up there though!

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

A strange experience - the phrase "of course" just caused me to slip into deja vu. Weird or what?

Monday, May 17, 2004

Thanks to WikiPedia (a brilliant site, incidentally) I've found out that backmasking in songs is quite common and that the nature of the phoentic makeup of English means that it's very easy to hear anything backwards as "Satan"; this would provide an explanation for the famous Stairway To Heaven backmasking issue (playing it backwards, you are supposedly able to hear "Here's to my sweet Satan"). Nothing particularly important, of course, but I always felt that there had to be some nice logical explanation of the matter - it was a bit strange to think those wacky Zep boys would want to do something like that.
Having a clean design makes you want to post stuff, but invariably I realize that there isn't that much to say. A shame, really!

I love it when you have flashes where you are for an instant transported, for all intents and purposes, to another dimension in your head. I doubt that's the right way to express what I mean - what I mean is a total sense of detachment from reality, a total lack of the reminder that one does exist in this physical world, so to speak. There is of course the question of whether alternate dimensions exist; perhaps reality is but a projection of our own mind, a dimension that has arbitrarily been chosen by us to be the one true dimension. Even more enjoyable is the reminder that we're stuck here, which is usually greeted with a brief sense of dismay and confusion. A totally random example I experienced a couple of days back was staring at a maths question and then coming back to reality, only to wonder just what in God's name all those x's and y's mean.

It's good sometimes to have this happen to you, if only because it helps put things in broader perspective. It's easy to get caught in the fine details of a matter without comprehending what it all means. Why the perpetual search for meaning? An interesting point. I suppose the fact that humans are blessed with the ability to think and reason automatically implies a desire for knowledge and the rules of logic and rationality to be followed. Hence we always try to make sense of things by analyzing the rationale and figuring out why they are the way they are. Then again, it's probably just us scientists (and those crazy philosophers) who think this way. Not that I'm a scientist, of course - a poor mixture of a mediocre mathematician and an even worse computer scientist.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Blogging spree today! I guess it's because I've given up on life and decided to seek refuge in the taste of strawberries. Did that make sense? I'm guessing it didn't, which is not good because now I've become one of those silly bloggers. And that's not what this blog is about, no sir!

Have you looked at the Unreal 3 tech demo? Amazing. It's catching up with SFX in the movies I tell you. Soon perhaps we won't be able to tell fantasy from reality. And then I will rule the world, because that's something I've become familiar with over the last 20 years.
I spend a fair bit of time scouring other blogs, trying to find something that's interesting, but most seem to fall into two categories. First you have the serious reading ones, usually related to politics, that I just don't have the attention span to read. Perhaps I am seeking to be entertained from these blogs? I can't imagine how a blog would entertain me, but anyway, the second kind is the personal "let me tell you everything that happened in my day" blog, which is ultimately unreadable because well, usually, it's just not that interesting. Come to think of it there are lots more types of blogs, but I like ill informed generalizations. Plus, I like saying that my blog is the missing link, the hallowed third type of blog that's about nothing yet is at the same time a wealth of information on life's mysteries. That makes me delusional, doesn't it?
A new look for the blog, but sadly one that is probably being used as we speak by millions of other people from all around the world. But I am confident that you, my devoted fan, will continue to read this blog to see how low I can go before pronouncing that I am the winged angel of death. Speaking of angels with wings who happen to bring death, this is the funniest thing I've read, possibly ever (paraphrased from a blog): "I'm so tired now. I just want the winged angel of death to come and take my life away". It takes genius to come up with stuff like that. I don't know whether it deserves applause or a few death-metal riffs. Not that there's any difference, right? I mean I could mistake death-metal riffs for applause if I were particularly tired, and I'm sure you could too.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

It's interesting to think that everyone else feels as unmovitated and just flat-out tired as I do when it comes to studying nowadays. It's not that the topics are largely uninteresting, it's a general lack of gumption for some reason. I don't think I've ever really gotten used to the uni style of learning, which is of course a bad thing. I don't know, it all seems so confusing right now, far worse than it was during even the most stressful points of high school.

Ah well, stuff it.

Friday, May 14, 2004

What have we descended to? The events of the past few weeks are very disturbing. The culmination of a surreal set of events, and one that makes me confident there is no hope for humanity. We are doomed.

If we are to ignore the conspiracy theorists, Saddam was a tyrant who performed atrocities against his people, but does that justify a war? A war where 20,000 civilians die? 20,000. They're just numbers, no? I can't imagine it, 20,000 people with lives, stories, family. 20,000 people with a consciousness much like my own, all dead. 20,000. Wow. And for what?

But of course, sometimes you need war to bring about peace, right? What about Hitler? Was WW2 justified then? Surely the civilian casualties there were overshadowed by the evil that was stopped?

Or do the "you can't place a value on a human life" arguments hold? "Life, woman, is God's most precious gift, and no principle, no matter how glorious, may justify the taking of it". Isn't that just hiding behind pretty prose? An intellectual approach that doesn't hold in the real world? I don't know, probably.

But of course, you have to ask, was war the only way out? Was there not another way? I truly don't know. Perhaps war was the only option if Saddam was to be removed. Perhaps diplomatic channels were all doomed to failure. I don't know.

And if the war was justified, are the US any better than Saddam? But the abuses are not indicative of the whole US army. Yet the growing number of reports suggests a fundamental lack of preparation and comprehension of the seriousness of war (something I don't presume to have). There doesn't seem to be a moral centre anymore, it's a free-for-all. Maybe the war makes you crazy. Kill enough people and you can't tell friend from foe.

"Who cares?", asked a US soldier. Indeed. I wonder.

Does Berg's horrific killing overshadow the abuse? Surely abuse is one thing and murder another. But the abuse held particular shame due to the culture over there. And yet, murder is murder is murder. It is understandable that the abuse would be reacted to unfavourably. But murder is a sickening retaliation. But what if it's the only way they'll learn? But it's murder.

Questions, too many questions, and no answers. Perhaps both sides are right. Or perhaps the truth lies in between. Whatever. To hell with reason and logic, I've had enough.

I want to read the history books of tomorrow.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

I don't think I've ever been as obsessed with a game as I was with Ultima Online. Amazingly enough, I've never once experienced such a level of addiction (then again, there was the one day Diablo marathon, but with UO it was a sustained addiction) - I used to have dreams about the game, for chrissake! I like things like that, which you have a bittersweet memory of, but will always remain in your mind - not necessarily something that you exactly cherish, but it's just something that's there. It's not like I remember too much of the game - I vaguely remember party members like Golian Nigh (Knight? Night?) and Mystic (sweet 10 year old, or so she claimed!), but everything else is pretty much a blur. Yet the legend lives on!

It's interesting actually that other games which have had me stuck at the computer for whole weeks at a stretch haven't managed to have the same effect on me. Perhaps that was my first exposure to a truly addictive game? I was largely a fledgling RPG player back then, so that is plausible (considering how most RPGs are unbelievably addictive!).

What's simply remarkable about this blog is that it manages to capture thoughts and feelings that, although being a couple of months old, I have long forgotten. Reminiscing over the entries before the start of uni, I simply can't imagine being back in that situation again. And yet it wasn't that long ago at all! I suppose in another two months I'll think the exact same thing, reading over this entry, trying to place myself back in this period of time..what an ephemeral existence we lead.
Systems analysis (not to mention its good friend, systems design) is surely the creation of the devil himself. I bet you anything the person who invented it made it up as some sick, twisted joke. "So Ashwin, what do you have for us today?" "Actually yaar imagine some person making up all these funny diagrams that annoy you really badly and show you how stupid you are and how bad you are at being a systems analyst" "What the heck are you talking about? You're one messed up @!#*&" "Hah. My Egyptian God card will show you". That got very silly very fast. But I like that Ashwin guy.

And that ends today's rant, children. Stay tuned for more hilarious tales of me failing all my units next week!