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Geekiness

Back on dialup …

Hmmmm … ( to be read as a very depressed sigh … )
After a month of cruising along in what our govt calls broadband … its that time of the month again when all the past days’ “bandwidth spendthrift attitude” comes back and hits you where it hurts …
I’ve got the BSNL 256 K home plan, which comes with a 1 GB download limit …
1 GB ???
Who in the right head comes up with these plans ?
Aren’t people not allowed to come in to work drunk ? What about doped ?
Seriously …
We have night time free … yeah …
Or call it early morning free … from 2 friggin’ AM to 8 AM …
These timings are making a moron out of me …
Last month, nothing major was happening, so I managed to cut down till about 970 Meg by the month end …
This time with seminars, all the papers to download and research, and by the end of the month, my XBOX got dinked …
More research and frantic searching ensued …
( But I got it up and running finally last night … yay !!! )
But with 940 MB gone and 4 days to take out on a 60 MB, I’m just holding on … for a rainy day …
If any of you’ll will need me, I’ll be on dial up for a couple of days …
( BSNL charges 1.2 bucks per MB of download !!! )
It’s kinda nostalgic you know … That 3 tone buzz that comes out of the modem when you try to connect … the 30 seconds !!! that you need to connect …
And the best things are the ultra variable connecting speeds ( mostly due to the awesome quality of phone lines that the same morons from BSNL put up )
As of now, I have successfully connected after 7 tries at 9.6 kbps !!!
Thats me signing off …
And yeah, if you are from BSNL and reading this, please grow a brain !

BitTorrent Seminar Blues …

BitTorrents … doesn’t that word have a nice ring to it ?
It does, if you ask me …
Okay, it does only to Broadband users with some unlimited plan …
Anyways, I have used and abused that protocol for months now …
Ever since BSNL dataone started and they had the mind numbing plan to give away unlimited internet … hehehe … 🙂
So, when Seminar time came ( something all us BE in Engineering people have to go through ), I chose BitTorrent …
C’mon … I’ve used it for months … I know all the settings … Its not much work …
Right ?
Wrong !!!
I had to slog my ass off … but it’s okay, because the topic turned out to be interesting …
So, 13 papers, hundreds of websites, 3 interviews, 1 webcast and 3 days of gruelling typing later, I finished my 30 page report on the damn thing …
I am so confident … that I already printed out the report without showing a rough copy to my seminar guide …
How this works out, only time will tell …
But, I have this radiant glow by this sense of achievement …
Anyways, have sat to do the presentation now …
And after spending a day doing the graphics at 800 x 600 for the ppt ( b’coz our college comps are kinda screwy and mess up at higher res ), I figured out that powerpoint backgrounds unstretched are at 1024 x 768 …
No matter what the display resolution …
Aaaahhhhh !!!!
Update 04-Jan-2010: Please stop asking me for the presentation / report. I am not going to give it to you.
Please stop being a lazy ass and do your own work!
I am putting up the bibliography below so you can get started, but I am not sharing the ppt with you. Putting your email address here is just going to make it that much easy for spambots to harvest them and spam you even more! (Not that you care, I’m sure!)
The ones without links are papers. You will need to google for it and download the pdf.
(I don’t have the links for them at this time). Also some links might not work as  this was 5 years ago!
[1] Incentives Build Robustnes in BitTorrent – Bram Cohen
[2] Analysis of the P2P BitTorrent Protocol – Abram Hindle ( University of Victoria )
[3] The Bittorrent Protocol Paper – Bram Cohen ( http://www.bittorrent.com/protocol.html )
[4] Network Coding for Large Scale Content Distribution – Christos Gkantsidis and Pablo Rodriguez Rodriguez
[5] BitTorrent Metafile Specification – ApnaOpus ( http://apnaopus.var.cc/wiki/index.php/BitTorrent_Metafile_extension )
[6] Bram Cohen Interview on BitTorrent – Wired Magazine ( Jan 2005 )
[7] Gnutella and the Transient Web – Kelly Truelove ( www.openp2p.com/pub/a/p2p/2001/03/22/truelove.html )
[8] Free Riding on Gnutella – Eytan Adar and Bernardo A. Huberman
[9] Digital Rights Management – Wikipedia.org ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Rights_Management )
[10] How BitTorrents Works – HowStuffWorks ( http://computer.howstuffworks.com/bittorrent.htm )
[11] How Gnutella Works – HowStuffWorks ( http://computer.howstuffworks.com/file-sharing.htm )
[12] How Webservers Work – HowStuffWorks ( www.howstuffworks.com/web-server.htm )
[13] Avalanche: File Swarming with Network Coding – Microsoft Research
[14] DRM Non-News: Microsoft’s Avalanche – DRM Watch

My Firefox ate my bookmarks …

Okay … I use firefox …
Have been using since the day it has been released and in my opinion … it is the best browser to date … ( sorry MS )
The thing I really love about it is the tabbed interface … the ability to add enhancements ( otherwise called extensions. Plugins are different things ) …
One of the better features ( taken from Mozilla ) is the ability to search a document while typing … on the fly …
No need to hit CTRL + F … like you do it in IE …
But today, after I restarted my Comp, all my bookmarks had disappeared without a sign …
The bookmarks.html file which was about 73 Kb, when I last saw it, reduced to 1 K
I tried many things … searching for deleted files, even did a system restore … but to no avail …
On searching, realised that many people have gone through this dilemma …
Luckily, found a backup which I had taken in Jan 05 … so I am almost back to normal …
But this is a serious flaw and I am hoping they’re doing something about it …

The LAN partiee …

Dreams do come true …
On the 16th of this month, we had our last day at college – which was sort of an unnecessary extension due to the ‘genius’ of some stupid people from my class.
If life would be perfect, 13th would be the last day … but anyways …
Having a LAN party had been on our agenda for months … we even almost had it 4 months ago … but the stupid college got in the way and everything was washed off …
So, this 16th, with a do or die attitude … I left college at 10:30 and headed for the Comp Stores.
Most of the guys were already at my place and were setting up their comps ..
I had cleared the entire drawing room of its belongings and had put 3 large tables – edge to edge to house the 8 computers which were gonna come …
Anyways … so I went to the comp guy and purchased 30m of LAN cable and 20 crimps and headed home.
A friend of mine has a crimper and also a switch.
According to plan, we should have finished crimping the wires and setting up the Network by 12 and started playing by 12:30 .. but this was not to be …
After a lot of loose connections and bad crimps and a lot of mess … we finally got everything in order by 2pm
We then played CZ ( Condition Zero ) with a few bouts of Quake III thrown in till 7 – a good 5 hours of continuous gaming …
The plan could have easily extended to an over-night affair .. but for a particular person who left early .. grr :@
Anyways … we had lots of fun … and if you would have walked alongside my house in between those 5 hours … you would have heard all the expletives that have ever fallen on your ears in your lifetime … and even more … just in the span of 30 seconds !!!
Good times 🙂
Anyways, the thing is that its not amazing that we played for 5 hours and stuff .. but that we managed to pull it off …
The first time – our first ever LAN party with a network of 8 different computers …
Now that we have all the wires crimped and stuff … next time shouldn’t take more than 30 mins to set up.
For any help on how to set up a LAN gig … feel free to contact me 🙂

Those darn spammers …

Actually, the title should have been … “Those spamming bastards … ” … but I thought it’d draw a lot of attention …
I don’t really get it …
I mean, what is with these people ?
How can anyone in their right mind, send millions of emails to people daily and expect to sell a product ?
I’ve been using email regularly since the time I knew Internet existed … and still have my very first email address at yahoo … which is n…
I get about 50 junk mails a day on that account … which Yahoo mostly filters out …
But, Yahoo’s filtering rejection ratio is pretty high … and sometimes, legitimate messages get thrashed out …
I primarily use gmail now … which is an awesome service … with tonnes of free goodies ( which I hope stays that way ) and also another service called myrealbox …
Both give me POP access ( which lets you download messages to your Outlook Express )
Sometime ago, when I had my own domain name ( tidesigns.com ), I would get about 170 spam messages a day … that too in a mailbox which I was paying for …
Had to use a filtering software and most of the time, was just deleting all the email …
I cant believe, people still post their complete email addresses in posts or websites …
If at all necessary … put your email up like : abc_at_yahoo.com …
This way, there are less chances for email reepers to get your mail and you to get spammed …
Also, report spam if your mail service provider allows … so that everyone is benefitted …
And the best precaution is to use a completely different email address for signing up …
Sigh …

On Installing "Licensed Software"

Now, how does that feel ?
Yup … I installed Windows Xp Professional today on my comp … Licensed …
Now, most of the people might say that I am crazy … having spend some thousands on procuring a licensed copy … me still studying and all … but I have my reasons …
Planning to earn some moolah … and thought that I’d better get legal software, if I am going to make any money;
Anyways, that is beyond the topic for this discussion …
This is my experience … first hand …
I have installed Windows Xp … a million times … so much so … that I can guide you through the installation in my sleep …
But this time, it was different 😉
So, in the morning, I backup all my important stuff and put it on another partition … email and bookmarks and address books and stuff …
And once, I am sure, everything will be alright, I go ahead and format my drive …
I tear the Microsoft Packet and extract the CD …
Its a nice, holographic CD … shimmering … nice 🙂
Anyways, they had already slipstreamed ( integrated ) Service Pack 2 in the installation, so I wouldnt need to install it later …
So, I pop the CD in the tray and boot up …
Somehow, I was expecting this to be different … more cooler … after all, its original you know …
But no such luck …
Anyways, after 45 mins or so, I had my system running …
I also activated the OS … and it wasn’t such a pain, as so many people ( not in India ) have complained … just connect to the internet, and click activate …
Takes 2 seconds and it is done …
Anyways, this was all the good part … then the problems started to emerge …
I installed some bad drivers … and the PC booted about a million times in one minute …
After a lot of installing and uninstalling, I finally managed to get my PC working …
But somehow feel, that my earlier, non original copy was better :p
The problem with all this activation is that next time I need to reinstall, I’ll probably have to call MS … and tell them why I am installing it again …
What these people dont realise is that they make life difficult for the people who buy the real thing …
The earlier installation didnt have anything to do with activation …
Whatever microsoft spends in time and skill, in trying to make their software non-pirate-able, there are thousands of people out there, smarter, who are doing just the opposite …
I have yet to see a software, which cannot be cracked …
There will always be a way …
What I am trying to say with all this is that software companies should realise, that people, home users especially, will never SPEND more than a few hundreds ( in Rs ) on a software … even if they DO spend any money …
Spending 7000 bucks … that too for an OEM license … even for an operating system is very steep …
And piracy in India is just too rampant … so much, that when I asked my computer dealer to give me a licensed copy, it took him 5 mins to realise what I was saying … and then he took the next ten minutes trying to convince me that the pirated copy which he was willing to sell me for 200, worked in exactly the same way …
What software companies should do is this :
1. Any software should be free for non-commercial and home use.
Only when it is being used in an industry, or company which is making some money out of its products, should they pay …
Most of the software that is installed on your comp is copied … and hence free anyways …
The more number of people using the software, the better is it for the manufacturer …
Maya, which sells for lakhs, has a free PLE ( Personal Learning Edition ) which has all the features … only you get a watermark on all the rendered images … fair enough …
2. The other thing they can do is charge a yearly licensing fee for the use of the software …
Something like Rs. 300 – 500 for the OS and maybe Rs. 2000 for a software such as dreamweaver or photoshop which are the tools which are used directly …
Photoshop sells for 38,000 bucks and Dreamweaver for around 16,000
Though their price justifies their products, most of the people who freelance like me, cannot afford these rates …
I would not mind paying even 3000 bucks a year to be able to use Photoshop legally …
In this way, atleast people who dont pay and still use the products for commercial purposes, will, I think, definitely pay …
I settled for a cheaper alternative … Ulead’s Photoimpact …
This sells for around 5,200 … its no photoshop, but I think will get most of my work done …
I think its about time, the software and gaming industry took the path of the Music industry and cut down their prices …
This will allow more people to buy their software … and hence will be easier to recover the costs ….
It is a typical “hen and egg” thing … but they will be the ones who will need to do something …
People will not just start buying software overnight … no matter how much policing …

Getting life back on track …

I need to turn the steering left … until it gets back on the road … let the steering go and let it auto rotate to center itself … and then just push gently on the accelerator … and let it cruise …
Only, I am not driving a car … its my life … and there is no power steering …
The past couple of weeks were just hectic … as I had said before … single minded, rodent like obsession … about the … game !
And it did pay dividends in the end … If I may be allowed, a little chest thumping is in order … “First in State
Now, that does really sound good …
Anyways, the entire journey wasn’t very smooth going and us winning was very unexpected …
Here is the rundown …
We made this “Foosball” game for this “game development contest” held annually at the Sinhagad College of Engg. which is renowned for two things : One of the most picturesque campuses you will ever see … and the ultimate, back wrenching, pot holed filled 20 km ride to get to the college …
We were informed about the contest one week late by these Sinhagad College guys, and so, just had one week to come up with a working model of the game …
After a lot of deliberation and killing a few of my fellow classmates, we decided to make the “Foosball” game of the “Friends” fame …
So, after a week, we finished … and submitted 70% of compiled code to these people for the elims … only to have learnt we have been disqualified … as more than 2 teams ( 3 according to them ) had participated from our college …
This was very strange … and I was to later realise that they had conveniently confused us with a Modern College … whereas our college was Modern Education Society’s College of Engg.
So, after killing a few more people at Sinhagad … and explaining to the others … that we were in no way related to the ‘other’ Modern College, we managed to get our entry cleared …
We qualified for round 1 …
During this period … we coded a bit more … type type type type … and the code reached the magic figure of 2500 lines of code …
We then took our copies and headed towards the beautiful and picturesque campuses of Sinhagad …
Once there, after explaining our game to 3 judges … who were least bothered … and I believe, slept through our presentation, we underwent, one of the most grueling rounds of cross examination ….
These judges might have been taking out all the ‘khun-nas’ which their external examiners took out on them … and really killed us …
Here is a part of a conversation …
( Seeing a game option : Ball speed )
Judge : What is this option for ?
We : Sir, this option controls the speed of the ball in the game …
Judge : What is the default value ?
We : Sir, 6 … gives you good game playability …
Judge : What data type is it ?
We : … umm … Integer …
Judge : Ok … put 32,000 there …
We : huh ? ( never expected that to come … )
Judge : Lets see what happens in your game …
( So we put 32,000 in the ball speed which had a default speed of 6 … how were we supposed to expect a maniac entries ? … and the game goes for a toss … no collision detection … all the players and the ball just vibrate on the screen )
Judge : What is this happening ?
We : Umm …. um … huh … hmm … Sir, the ball is moving so fast … that it is not coming in contact with the players … and therefore there is no collision detection …
Judge : Oh … that way …
Surprisingly, he bought that answer …
But the other judges also took our case … We were sure of not qualifying …
Other teams had made Contra type shooter ( ripping all the bmps from the original game itself ) and another team had made a proper football game …
Surprisingly, we came 2nd in the elims …
We came home that night … coded … coded … and coded …
Implemented tonnes of new features … including letting the player customize his own field … select playback music track … and put all the maniac error checking …
Went again next day for the finals …
The judges were different and two were actually from IBM …
However, they didn’t take our case …. but didn’t show any interest in our program either …
The IBM guys slept through our presentation … and we predicted our doom …
However, when the results were announced, we came first … the Contra guys who had come first in Round 1 came third … and the Football guys came second …
I later heard .. that the judges were really impressed with the way we had made the game …
Everything modular .. classes …
We had thrown in some interrupts also … were able to play music in the background … along with foreground music … and everything …
The rest is all history …
The trophy is in the showcase, money in the bank … and I might have finally something to put on my resume …
This entire incident has restored my faith in the saying “If you can dream it, you can do it”
Nothing seems impossible anymore …
After 10 days of mad programming, 3000 lines of code … and a very playable game … just have to get my life back on track … complete a few overdue assignments … and study for some orals …