Happy New Year !


Random thoughts on 2008

Just a meangerie of thoughts on the year that was. 

Bikes / Touring

My rides have gone down :( . Ridden only 2 overnight kind of rides this year. One to Guaghar and another to Dandeli with BN. BN now has grown to more than 800 people, and was featured on Yahoo group blog as well as bagging a most interesting group title at the Yahoo Moderators meet in Mumbai. 

BN calendar for the year getting delayed :( . Since all activities are volunteer activities, it all depends on the amount of time people have. This year, we ran short of time.

Yamaha made a huge impact in the market with the launch of the R15 and the ZF16 bikes. Both have amazing build quality and look great too! 

No new bikes in the highly anticipated 250cc sector. :'( . Bajaj was going to bring the Kawasaki Ninja 250, but with the worsening Economic scenario, those plans may never see the light of the day. 

Gaming

On the gaming front , Crysis is probably the only FPS that i finished in less than a week. Amazing graphics ( well, my 8800GT helps ;) ), and a gripping storyline. Getting my cousin to leave the comp so i can play was the bottleneck ;)

My world of warcraft character reached level 80, taking only a month after the release of the WoTLK expansion. Levelling has become easy in WoW , and the new quest storylines are quite involved. For the indian players out there, you can either join Deathwing (FTH) or Frostmourne (FTA). At 80 usually one starts to raid - the most amazing experience of the game. But with work and home activities taking up most of my time, I doubt I will be raiding. Which may finally mean bye bye to WoW. I also created a google group  wow-india , to find out if there are more nut-cases like me, and I was not disappointed.

Mass Effect looks to be like KoTOR saga. I have just played a bit - and it is nice. Not overly gripping. 

The game which was the most different one i have ever played has to be Patapon on the psp. Just the concept is amazing. You need to take your army of 'eyes' and make them attack, defend etc based on drum beats. I don't know who was goofing off so much, but it sure was a good goof! 

Politics

Obama became the first black president of the USA. It took them a lot of years to elect a black and they still haven't got a woman as president. Looks like the glass ceiling is still there. I don't mind , as long as the leadership is effective (which it wasnt in the last few years). 

In indian pre-elections, people voted mostly for politicians who had been performing. Shela Dixit in Delhi for example - she got another term. People were complaing that people are still voting for the same party, but having seen the changes in Delhi in the last few years, I am with the verdict. Best roads in India, a good mass trasport system with the metro, to just name a few of the achievements under her rule. 

Terror

The most graphic attack on India - at the Taj and Oberoi in Mumbai. It shook everyone up because , instead of being the usual bomb them and pick up the pieces, it was a long drawn out fight. It also showed that the police is quite ineffective , and the politicians will try to point the fingers anywhere. VilasRao was removed after public anger. Now the new minister is keen to keep out of sight. 

War clouds gathered for a brief hours, but nothing has happened. Pak is good at political rhetoric.

Movies 
Some good movies this year  : Quantum of Solace, Rock On! , The Dark Knight
Some forgetable movies this year : transporter 3

Gadgets

Apple launched the iPhone in india. Costing 31k for the 8GB model, it is just outside the reach of most people. The device has amazing responsiveness - better than any other phone I have seen. 
Google launched the first Android based phone. Waiting for this to become available in India. 

Work

Not much to write about my work. Somehow another year goes by. 
Economic situation crashed drastically. From the sensex being at 21k in Jan , down to 9k now. Major ripples due to the economic meltdown in the US. Hiring freezes almost everywhere. Which means that if you float your resume now, there is a slim chance of getting jobs, and the jobs that are tere , the big bosses squeeze you for the compensation given to you. 

What else ? Do you have a vivid recollection of any event which I don't ? 

Office ho to Aisa !


Just going through my bloglist, and i see an update by Joel from FrogCreek, about their new office space. Man, I am simply blown away.

What kind of thinker are you ?



Your Thinking is Concrete and Random



You are naturally inquisitive and curious.

You're excited by new ideas, and you are a true independent thinker.

You are interested in what is possible. You like the process of discovery.

You are often experimenting, challenging old ideas, and inventing new concepts.

Rules, restrictions, and limit don't really work for you.

You have to do things your own way, and you can't be bothered to explain yourself.

LvL 80 in world of warcraft


My main character in world of warcraft reached lvl 80 today. This has so far been my fastest lvling. Probably it helped as I was already 70 and i was running with the wave ( though a bit behind due to office schedules) and also that the quests were very interesting.

Next on, to get to naxx raid.

check out the screenshots in my World of Warcraft blog.

Happy Holidays !

This year, in office we have a year end break. Woowee ! unfortunately, it does not extend to the year end but only for the week of Christmas. Oh well. Whatever ! 

Happy Holidays ! 

A photo shoot

Life changes as you go along. One moment you are the hothead creaming other bikers on the curves, the next moment you are labelled 'too slow' ! Hey ! Amazing how life changes. Gotta take that in your stride or else you start getting all broody about where you messed up , etc. etc. etc. 

Work has been pretty hectic all through last year. Not much time for rides. A 3 day weekend window, i thought screw the work. I am going to relax. So the first call was for a meet for the BNers in Pune to just chit-chat over coffee. 



BN guys at CCD @ Aundh

That was where Nandu chipped in with an invite to take a few pics of 'Rash's Boys' over at lavasa on Sunday morning. Sure , I said, If I can get up :D

The plan was to meet at 8:30am at Chandni Chowk, which we did. Me, Nandu and Chinmay ended up there, and decided to push on before the RSA guys as I knew I was going to be slower than them. So, off we went. 

Took the left turn just after Manas resort. The view was hazy. I thought to myself, how nice it would be if it was clear. Will make for some really nice pics, but the pollution was spoiling it. 

Reached the base of Mutha Ghats and crested it - and presto !  Chinmay was no where in sight, and the air cleared up like magic. The Ghats act like a natural barrier to the pollution from Pune and surrounding areas. The Roads were great, but I went slow :)

Reached Lavasa, or rather stopped at the phatak. Nandu said we were to go back a bit for the photo shoot. So we turned back and met Chinmay. It seems he had stopped at the top of Mutha ghat... while we just swept on by. 

As we were getting in positions and I was taking tips from Nandu, the RSA folks arrived. 

Here's what nandu said to do for pan shots. 
- keep aperture at f16. Uh ! my camera does not allow more than f8. 
- keep shutter at 1/40 . ok. tried with that and f8. got a white screen . damn. a bit of trying on the locals going up and down and 1/100 was what worked out fine for me. 
- keep pics in burst mode. Ok dokey. The first try got me nothing... the bikes were going off the screen ! So, switched to single photo mode. 

and that what I tried all through out. The results as below :


Speed

I need moar muzik !

I have a lot of junk songs. I am looking at getting some great songs. So, folks, what are your suggestions.

Things like aqua, madonna, micael jackson, eminem , I do not like

I like Linkin Park, Rammstein, Doors, Scorpions. As well as instrumentals ( think James Last and not Yanni), world music ( Enya, etc).

You get the general idea. Gimme your suggestions of the albums/songs you like.. i need to get some great music over the weekend :)

Pics from a peace march on 3rd Dec at Gateway of India

Outrage against the politicians over the recent attack. I don't want to forward the emails I am getting, so I just uploaded it here.

At the end of it , I am not sure if all the demonstrations will help. Its just going to simmer down and die out.





















Mumbai under attack


Another terrorist attack. 

But this time was different. 

While the earlier ones were about bombs going off by a faceless association, this time it was like an assault - where you can see the people who were spreading the terror. While earlier it used to evoke images of people in your minds, this time you were seeing their faces for real. 

My heart goes out to the people who died. They were from all walks of life - sucessful people to the waiters. People from all religions. My prayers for the departed. 

What angers me more - at par at the anger for the terrorists , is the people from the media. I also label them as terrorists - as they are also spreading the terror by their non-sensical view of the situation - whether it be showing gory images or interviewing like a moron the people on the streets. Here's what was happening on Star News Hindi channel :

"Sir , what has happened here " - asks the reporter. 

Are you stupid my mind screams. WhoTF made you a reporter. The building behind you is on fire. People have died. People are still hostages and you ask such a dumb question. 

/disgust at the news channels. 

Using spreadsheets for drawing.


nice idea. use each cell as a pixel. Reminds me of the math copies we used to have in our childhood. I used some of them for pixelating a game i developed in my 10th class for the BBC micro. Similar stuff, but with 4 people collaborating.

Observation Powers



This video is amazing. First seen on rearset.

Theological Interpretations

Brahma : Systems Installation
Vishnu : Systems Administration & Support
Lakshmi : Finance and Accounts consultant
Saraswati : Training and Knowledge Management
Shiva : DBA (Crash Specialist)
Ganesh : Quality Assuarance & Documentation
Narada : Data transfer
Yama : Reorganization & Downsizing Consultant
Chitragupta : IDP & Personal Records
Apsaras : Downloadable Viruses
Devas : Mainframe Programmers
Surya : Solaris Administrator
Rakshasas : In house Hackers
Ravan : nternet Explorer WWWF
Kumbhakarnan : Zombie Process
Lakshman : Support Software and Backup
Hanuman : Linux/s390
Vaali : MS Windows
Sugreeva : DOS
Jatayu : Firewall
Dronacharya : System Programmer
Vishwamitra : Sr. Manager Projects
Shakuni : Annual appraisal & Promotion
Valmiki : Technical Writer (Ramayana Sign off document)
Krishna : SDLC ( Sudarshan Wheel Development Life Cycle )
Dharmaraj Yudhishthira : ISO Consultant (CMM level 5)
Arjun : Lead Programmer (all companies are vying for him)
Abhimanyu : Trainee Programmer
Draupadi : Motivation & Team building
Bhima : MAINFRAME LEGACY SYSTEM
Duryodhana : Microsoft product Written in VB
Karna : Contract programmer
Dhrutarashtra : Visual C++
Gandhari : Dreamweaver
100 Kauravas : Microsoft Service Packs and patches

Review : Dostana


Watched Dostana yesterday.

Lots of bodies. Male bodies. Female Bodies.

Abhishek Bacchan learnt how to act. He is hillarious.

1st half is great. 2nd half dragggssss. . .

You can opt to see it or not see it. Wont make much difference either ways.

Chandrayaan I


Amazingly, indian newpapers are not carrying this on their first pages. Where's the euphoria ? Is the scientist community so marketting starved ? 

Take both TOI and HT main pages, can you see at a glance that Chandrayaan is now in moon orbit

This is a monumentous achievement for India. But instead of throwing the limelight on this, people are just not aware of it. Come on folks ! Cheer the mission ! 

And stop reading the stupid newpapers whose only concern is about what politics is going on or whats up in the Page3 space.

Weekend Frustrations

Pune. What is happening to you ??

No electricity on the weekend. First sat - 1pm to 5:30pm. Then Sunday same time. Anyone following me on Twitter would have seen my inconsistent complaining about the lack of power on and off. I had thought that it would go away after the Youth Common-Wealth games , but the situation is not improving.

With no infrastructure projects for power generation in the future, the prospects look bleak here.

This has revised me on my ranking about the cities that I lived in . I now put Hyderabad above Pune in terms of ease for an outsider

Stressed for Time


As people who know me know - I am crazy about 2 things in life ( apart from life and wifey :) ) - gaming and biking.

For biking I have the BikeNomads group. I am quite pleased about the group having grown so much. We had the 3rd annual meet this year in Dandeli. Check out the pics if you have not done so far. Then the assosication with Yahoo - being awarded as one of the most 'interesting' groups in the Moderators conference in Mumbai, and now the featured writeup on Y! Groups Blog. The next plans is to really work on the website and take the group to the next level - Making it easy for people to find groups to travel with. 

The 2nd obsession is not that great going. If I had gone to USofA during/just after graduation, I know I would by now be a developer in a gaming company. That did not happen. So, I spend my time playing games . Here i have done 2 things. 
- Started a google group for the players of World of Warcraft - but focusing on the Indian community. As of today 78 members. 
- Started a game blog. Well, this blog was there for sometime, but it kind of felt limited. So, I have moved it from a specific character blog - to more to do with games in general. Please visit it and leave your comments there :) . 

I really do not know how fast I will be updating the blogs - I am quite stressed for time ;-)

BN on Yahoo Groups Blog

Woot ! 

Epic win ! :D

BN is now a featured group on the Yahoo Groups official blog for India. 

More of the story at : 
Please leave a comment on the writeup on Yahoo. 

Happy Diwali !

Diwali has a special place in the minds of people all over India. This year, I just had to go to my hometown, to Dehradun. It was my first time to the house after it got completed - and the feeling was just fantastic. 


Home
With my sister also having taken a week off from her work, it was a super family get-together. 

As usual, I will not bother you with family detials, but share with you some pics ... 



Let there be Light


Lighting the Diyas


anaar


Flame

The following pics are general pics taken around the House :)


Good Morning says the Dew Drop


A Hand-Pump in the backyard


The road leading to the House

BN Annual Ride to Dandeli

Day after tomorrow I start on a ride for the BikeNomads annual meet. This year it happens in Dandeli. 

The route and distances are going to be as follows :

Place
Hop (kms) Cumulative(kms)
Pune
0 0
Shirwal
41 41
Khandala
26 67
Satara
33 100
Karad
50 150
Peth
28 178
Kohlapur
46 224
Nipani
38 262
Sankeshwar
19 281
Yamkanmardi
17 298
Belgaum
32 330
Khanapur
27 357
Londa
23 380
Dandeli
30 410

So, thats it then. 410kms one way. 4 days of a meet. 

EvE Online - 2nd and 3rd impressions

2nd Impressions :

The 2nd impression was fraught with failure.

Last time I started off as the Minmatar race. A republic. Followed the training sessions. And then continued from where I had left off. This lead to another 'Agent' (basically the quest givers) and I had to wrap in space to another solar system. Pretty cool... until I figured out that damn ! I had to load the quest item given to me (it was a courier mission) into the ships cargo hold ... oh damn ! warp back again, and back again. nothing to do - just put the ship on Auto Pilot and do something else.

Its boring after a few times.

The next mission I got said it had to be done in 24 hrs ! huh ! A time limit ?? :(

Unfortunately that does not work for me - with erratic office schedules - there is no way I am sure whether I will be online the next day or not.

There endeth the 2nd session. Not something I wanted to play.

3rd Impression


This time I started on the Amarr Race. An Empire race with a cool looking ship. The MinMatar ships looked unfinished while these ships look good !

This time I figured out that I did not need to take up the mission if I forsee not having enough time the next day. I just don't accept it - and leave my ship docked in one of the stations. I also figured out that almost everything is menu driven (shame ! bad game design !) and that once I warp to a solarsystem where I have a quest I need to warp to the quest location in the drop down menu. phew ! Much better.

The last mission I did was about meeting a rebel ship who asked me to join his side ! nice ! :)

On the whole a nice space simulation. I am still not clear about how good a game it is though. Things are confusing at most times, and this game requires me to lvl up skills - which take days. So, the longer one is subscribed to the game, the better he can potentially become. This seems to be a money gathering option for the game studio.

next blog will do a comparison with WoW - as both games , inspite of being similar are quite different.

oh .. and yes .. I play this on Linux !

EvE Online - First Impressions

After a discussion in the office about Homeworld, World of Warcraft and then EvE-Online, I decided to try out EvE.

EvE is similar to WoW that it is an MMORPG. After that the distinction ends.



So, last night, after office, I created a trial account and logged in. I had approximately 1 hr of time before i slept, and I thought I would get some action before that. In WoW you can level up 5 levels in that much time pretty easily. Thats about some 15 quests. 

The start screen in EvE is quite daunting. While WoW provides one screen for choosing a character, EvE has multiple screens to go from one to the other. Anyways, the comparison is for a later date. 

After spending 20 mins clicking , i chose a race and other attributes. I was reading all till about 10 mins, then i got bored, and just click-click-click to the next screens. 

Then the game starts with a tutorial - played out with a sulky woman's voice. I am looking for a way to shut off that audio. 

3d space is quite difficult to navigate. But the game mechanics make it quite easy. Most of the interface is based on clicking on things either in space or in the different boxes which litter the screen. The interface is quite cluttered. 

The interface

Its also lonely. 

Usually in WoW the starting areas does have atleast a few people who are questing in the same space - but in EvE - in space, you are alone. As far as you can see you have lots of ... space !

The tutorial is long - and I have not yet finished it. Hopefully, the next few days should see me progress a bit. Right now - the game looks very complex and daunting.