Archive for August, 2005

Ban/Restriction on Online Gaming?

Friday, August 26th, 2005

Theres no doubt in anyone’s mind that games are addictive. Easy availability of games, access to online resources, gadgets, cheaper games- be it legitimate or pirated copies only make the gamoshpere bigger. The problem arises when gaming becomes an obsession. Gaming sessions turn out to be so addictive that people forget their daily life and get immersed in gaming as if its THE thing in life. Such things have been rampant offlate in major parts of Asia and more importantly China, Taiwan and South Korea in particular. That only makes me think about the possble situation in India after we get through this phase of transition in both Internet Connection Speeds and more bigger gaming crowd in the future. As a result, incidents such as these should be well taken note of, to avoid such issues in India.

Cases:

A couple of weeks back, the incident which caused this whole issue of online gaming in limelight was when a 28-year-old South Korean, who apparently quit his job just to play more games :| ( ? ), began a life threatening and rather shocking gaming sessions which almost lasted 50 hrs which later on became a cause for losing his life. So immersed was he that heonly left his online simulation gaming to go to the bathroom and to take short naps on a makeshift bed. And now if u think that was a one of a kind incident or the man was a freak, theres another incident which happened some time ago in Korea where in it was not one, but both the parents having gross negligence on their daughter. The mother and father of the victim had gone to a nearby Internet cafe, deeply immersed in playing Blizzard’s massively multiplayer World of Warcraft online, returned home only to find their infant 4 month old daughter dead from suffocation.

Measures Taken:

Owing to such cases, just like our Indian Government would be forced to in the Parliamentary sessions, The Chinese Govt. have already decided to implement a system where in the no. of hours of gaming of a particular gamer are recorded. “The system reduces the ability level of a player’s online game character if the game is played beyond the three-hour limit. Basically, play more than three hours and the system cuts a game character’s ability by half. Play more than five hours and the system reduces a game character’s ability to the lowest level possible.” A three hour online game play is what has been implemented to curb the no. of incidents arising out of the same.

Lookover:

As always, legal legistation against a particular thing doesnt necessarily help in curbing the wrong. Moreover, it serves as a notice to people who havent already indulged in the same and gives them a free license to try these things. Same thing is what I feel would happen with such legislations. Are such restrictions going to have any regulation over the no. of hours gamers play online? Certainly not. Such is the nature of the Internet, there are loopholes in everything in this virtual world. Mutliple game accounts and connection to servers via proxy to cheat their original identity to name a few.

Personally, I dont think any amount of legistation on these thing would affect anyone. Its not what the world does about the issues prevalent in the society but its the rational behaviour of each individual which would help address this issue. Hope there are no such issues to be seen in India any time soon, I can only imagine the whole ga-ga in the media, the newspapers and the parliament which would go on..hehe..Fingers crossed so that these are not a sign of the things to come in the future.

Review: Google Talk- First Impressions

Thursday, August 25th, 2005

After all the speculations and rumours that had been going around in the tech-world about Google entering the IM arena, its not too much of a surprise when Google entered this sphere of the Internet early this morning. Many would agree like me that this was on the cards and always bound to happen some time in the near future. Over the last one year, Google has really come of age with its new, revolutionary and vast range of services like a whooping free 2Gb of email space through Gmail, maps, shopping information, news, desktop search, and now IM and VoIP. And more aptly the service has been named Google Talk.

Brief Lookup:

The installation file of the Google Talk is a mere 900 Kb and can be downloaded from here. The new IM is based on the Jabber/XMPP protocol. Currently the new IM has native support only for Windows users. But since its based on the Jabber/XMPP protocol- GAIM, Trillian, iChat, Adium and Psi can be used to connect to the new network. However the Voice chat services would for now be natively only for the Windows users. The Gmail Id and Password are used to sign in the the Google Talk Beta.

Installation and Interface:

The installtion of Google Talk doesnt take anything more than a few seconds. The OS supported are from Win2k onwards as a result those stuck with Windows 98 wouldn’t be fortunate enough to try this new Instant Manager. The Google Talk beta interface is very clean, sleek and appealing for starters. The very first thing that I noticed with the Interface was it wasnt bloated with features and advertisements. The interface has no ads, stock ticker, news info, weather info, even links to allied Google services. The Messenger in its first beta installment is pretty much low on features and provides only text/voice chat services. Google Talk beta does not include emoticons (unlike Yahoo and MSN Messenger), video or file transfer support, conference and smileys as yet.

Here is a pic depicting the actual messenger Contact List. The Inbox, Settings and the Help tabs are seen at the top-right of the messenger window. The Add Friend tab is seen at the bottom right. The Whole color combination is the same typical Google style as seen in their search engine and other sites. Sadly the links in the Status cannot be linked to actually open the webpages as seen in the Y!M. You can also find a Search Contacts tab in here.

Talk1

This is the status side bar seen to change the status. Besides the common status messages you can have custom status and other two features as seen below.

Talk2

The in-comming voice calls and the actual voice chat menu showing the speaker and microphone volumes are as seen below.
Talk1

call2

Now lets talk about the actual Message window. Its a plain, simple and tiny little square window. It seriously lacks the feature to show whether the particular person is online or not. When you get a couple of messages to gether the message windows stack together and adjoint themselves.

messageadjoint

The add a new contact to your list and approval to add are quite simple too.

Settings:

Lots of controls and settings can be found in the settings box. Here you can add people to your blocked list so they will not be able to contact you via Google Talk beta. You can also choose if you want Google Talk beta to launch at Windows startup or not, manage notifications (such as new Gmail email), and save your recent chat history. Due to the presence of an inbuily Gmail notifier which checks for new mails you no longer need the same and it gets uninstalled if you had it installed previously during the installtion.

Tweaks/Hidden features:

At first glace, the IM from the search engine biggie seemed to be plain same text mode and soon to be monotonous in looks due to no text formatting. However as yet, I have found *TEXT* to be displayed in bold as TEXT and _TEXT_ to be displayed as TEXT. So atleast there are ways to get Bold and Italics in our messages. I am quite sure that there may be many other hidden features which are not quite apparent to change the font color/enable smileys, and other formatting but only time will let them unreveal themselves. Or mebbe the following versions to this beta . would feature them.

Final Words:

So is Google Talk, Just another IM client? Probably yes in my opinion as of now. Lets accept that there is nothing great in it which sets it apart from other IM/VoIP Services. Apart from undistorted voice chats on a 64kbps connection there isnt anything to crib about. But the status and legacy which Google enjoys, no one can have second thoughts about the fact that ‘ Whatever they touch, would turn into Gold’ due to the kind of fan-following it enjoys. There is no doubt that if Google wants they can surely come up with a Instant Messenger client that can very well challenge the likes of Yahoo, Msn and AOL counterparts. Other thing to be looked out is, Whether its gonna be the same old story with the Google Messenger too – ‘ The Forever Beta’ strategy. To end it on a positive note, I would be very happy if the subsequent (ofcourse beta :p ) versions have smileys, Conference support, File transfers and I wont for sure not mind google ads, as they would benefit both the people using messenger and ofcouse Google. Only time will tell what we have in store and whats the possible future of Instant Messengers.

New Mantra: Remake of old movies in Bollywood

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005

I have read about a couple of news articles in the newspapers which focussed of the plans of some directors to remake the old classics from Bollywood. It was only today that I saw on Star News, that there aint only a couple of them, in plans for remake but quite a few actually. To name a few which i recollect- Sholay by Ram Gopal Verma, DON by Farhan Akhtar, Umrao Jaan by J.P. Dutta , Sahab Biwi aur Ghulam and if I am not mistaken a couple more. Remake of old classics isnt something new to both Bollywood and Hollywood, but the way we Indians do it is quite amusing for my likings. I have nothing against directors who plan remakes of old classics coz each director has his own style to present the story and the movie overall.

The way the Indians jump to a new formula for successful movies is what strikes me the most. Just like the time when all of a sudden we had 3 or 4 Bhagat Singh movies releasing at round about the same time. What explanation can be given? Has the Bollywood all of a sudden been inspired by Bhagat Singh back then or its just a rat race. Same thing has been the trend with the current remake of old blockbusters. It just appears to me as if one director plans to do something, others follow their trail. Its sad to see that Bollywood movies rely on a particular formula for a movie to be a hit. Even I would like to see the remake of these movies, in a new, happening way to suit the viewers of present generation. But I am very skeptical in these remakes if they arrive at the same time. This just shows the lack of belief which film makers now have in their scripts and have no option other than to remake the old movies. Hope we get a refreshing change in the Indian Cinema.

Digit – Mumbai Meet

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005

For the starters, this was first of a kind meet where we met fellow members from the Digit forums which we were long part of. The scheduled of the meet was long slated to happen but due to the torrential rains and some other reasons, it kept on postponing. Finally everyone decided to have the meet on the 21st August itself.

Just when I had agreed for the meet, it was only the next day I realized that we had out extra Concrete Technology practicals in college. So what started as a obvious ‘Yes, any day of the week’ attitude for the approval of the Mumbai meet, it soon turned to a ‘ Sorry, there’s always a next time’ disapproval. So I was all-set to skip the meet and be a part next time when the same happened in future. So on the scheduled day- Sunday all set to go for my College, Half of the pracs had been completed by 1’o clock in the noon and we were given a break for 1 hr. At that point of time, it was only 1 hr for the Mumbai meet. I just don’t know how it happened, what struck me in my mind, I felt that I should not skip the meet knowing very well of the consequences. Making a obnoxious reason to the incharge lab-assistant of a bad stomach, headed straight to the Mac Donalds- CST, venue of the Mumbai meet. Boarded the local train from Matunga to CST, rushing my way through – managed to reach my immediate destination with 5 mins to spare.

What happened at the meet was hilarious to start with, I guess i was the second one to arrive there. And within no time there were 4 guys looking at their watches, Mac’s entry gate having no clue that the persons we were waiting for were right in front of us. All my plans of pretending as babumuchala or someone ( coz i had pulled out of the meet earlier) backfired. In the end, came Deep to save the day for us. It was quite fun to meet fellow digit members personally rathen than checking their posts in the forums or chatting in the Y!M.
For the first hour we din order anything and mebbe that made the waiter come over to us personally to take our orders. Anyways we din mind coz we were in no hurry. After our small munching at the Mac, went to the Hanging Garden and spend an hour or so there and returned back home.

Here are some of the pics we took. Starting with the one with the names of people etched at the bottom. I am the one in the Blue stripped tshirt.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

More Simpler Blogging

Thursday, August 18th, 2005

No one can deny the increasing number of blogs worldwide. If records are to be believed, there is one new blog created every second. In an effort to account for even more simpler and convenient way to blog, all this is now possible with a new toolbar for MS Word.

Google/Blogger Launches Blogger For Word Toolbar

In an effort to reduce the amount of step between writing and publishing your latest blog entry, Google/Blogger has developed a new toolbar that was designed to do just that.

It was revealed in a post on the Google blog that bloggers who use Google’s blog service and Microsoft Word in order to write their latest posts now have a toolbar that will reduce the amount of work required to post an entry written in MS Word: the Blogger for Word toolbar.

What makes this tool so attractive to those who like to ensure their copy is properly spelled and punctuated is the ability to push the “Publish” button on the toolbar and see their work actually posted on their blog. Not only can users publish their word document, the toolbar also allows users to select the “Save As Draft” button to save their work for a later date. Users can also edit their previous 15 posts by selecting the Open Post option. This opens the selected entry in Word, allowing you to make the necessary changes.

As with most Google-based products, the Blogger for Word toolbar is free to download. All that’s required to run the utility is Windows XP, a Blogger account, Word 2000 or higher. To download the Blogger for Word toolbar, visit here. You can also read their FAQ if you need further information.

Source: WebProNews

Windows & Linux Run On The PSP

Sunday, August 14th, 2005

Whoever you are, one thing cant resist is the Sony Playstation Portable. The idea of a sleek device which is powerful enough to be an entertainment system playing games, movies and your favorite music on the move and qualifying to be a hand-held itself seems to be a good reason to buy. In an effort to de-throw Nintendo from the handheld market and be a better choice than the Nindendo DS, we were pleased to see the pricing of the Sony PSP being very competitive and would be the first choice for anyone at a price of 249$. If you were wondering what would be the price in India, believe it or not its available in India at a street price of nearly 11-12k.

Never mind about the fact that you need to buy legit copies of the game UMD which cost a bomb which ranges anything from 2-3k INR. If you ever wanted another reason to buy the Sony PSP, here it is – you can now run Windows/Linux on it. This is indeed true and has opened the door for a wide range of options that the PSP can now do, not limited to but including the running of: FreeDOS, Linux, DLX Linux, NetBSD, OpenBSD, PicoBSD, Pragma Linux, Debian 3.0r0 and 2.2r5, and any other disk images with pre-installed systems on them.

PSP running Windows 95

Find the whole story here

If you were wondering how would you work on Windows? Here are the controls slated

Directional keys – Mouse movement (press repeatedly)
SQUARE – Left mouse button
CIRCLE – Right mouse button
CROSS – Middle mouse button
START – Opens the windows start menu
SELECT – Quits immediatly (though you should shutdown windows instead)

Lookover:

I agree, all these things are only for the fanatics who wont mind wasting their time to make their gizmo be able to have one more feature on their ‘Device capable to‘ list.

Advertisements in Games

Saturday, August 13th, 2005

This is not the first time that we have been hearing about the existence of ads in games. Although I have seen a game like NFS Underground 2 carrying the ads pretty well in a game, but imagine ads tracking you during online gaming? This post has been in reference to what i read in here where the latest 1.1 patch in SWAT 4 has a ‘ Massive Streaming Ad Support’. Certainly its not what you would like in a game which you pay so much for.

What exactly is seen in the game after the latest patch is that there are real well monitored ad posters shown within the game. These are quite apparent from the thumbnail pics seen below. During online play, the game sets up an connection with the ‘madserver.net’ and directs images/posters to the game client(Checks?). What is even more shocking to see is that its just not mere showing of ads at programmed locations within the game.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

What information do the advertisers get?

Till the game is closed, game client sends a message to signify that the game has ended. The game-client contacts madserver to tell the advertisers how long the gamer was with each advert in their view. This is mapped to the gamer id, so they know which player in the game saw the advert, and when, for how long, and from how far away (by virtue of the size attribute). Even the average viewing angle is passed back.

Lookover

No one would mind ads in free game. This gives them the necessary bread and butter to earn some money. I wont mind ads in games if the games are free or if they sell for very cheap rates. We see ads on Television, because TV channels are near free and we dont have to pay too big sum to subscribe to these channels. Not only the gamers get reemed for the cost of games, but now developers are seeking out more under the table ways to fill their pockets. Putting ads in games is essentially making us pay for spyware. This whole deal may just be a tip of the iceberg and bigger scams may already be going on. If a game which retails at 50$ resorts to such a thing, what can be expected from smaller game developers. Gamers who buy this have every right to be annoyed, they didn’t pay good money to see advertisements in SWAT4 , they paid money to play a good tactical shooter not an advertising tactial shooter. For me this is as simple as moving to a paid host to get rid of the ads. If you still get the ads, whats the use of paying money? If strict guidelines and specifications are not laid, this may be a sign of bigger things to come. Buyers of the same too should be informed about such types of ads which can collect user information.

Go India go!

Tuesday, August 9th, 2005

Just returned from college now. I would have loved India wining the toss and having the first go by batting first but thats not the case to be. Nothing to loose hope after all, we all want India to win don’t we? I guess we have made the right choice leaving Laxman out. But that has put extra pressure on the Indian top order and I just hope they don’t tumble in the finals again. Lets see what the inclusion of both the top spinners Kumble and Bhajii does. I always believed that one should play to ones strengths and pick the team based on current form. I wouldnt have liked either of Kumble or Bhajii being left out. Lets see what the Men in Blue have in store for us today. And lets hope Jayasurya doesn’t cause us too much problems this time.

Winning the series is what India badly needs, not only to make our records in Finals of the series better but to give some much needed confidence back to the Indian team. Hope we have a great game of cricket in front of us. Hopefully the match gets over before 9 p.m as I was looking forward to check ‘Enemy at the Gates’ on Star Movies.

KBC-2 First Impressions

Saturday, August 6th, 2005

The impact and success which KBC achieved needs no introduction. It was a show which changed everything for Small Screen and the Tv ratings for Star Plus, and to Amitabh Bachchan in particular. What KBC acheived was least expected by anyone. The Big B had some not so good experiences in films like Lal Badshah, and Sooryavansham. A new show on the Small screen featuring the Big B was the only hype the television show had that time. Since it was a unique, novel and never seen before type of a Quiz TV show in the prime-time, the success can be credited to everyone linked with KBC. But after KBC, people were always looking forward to the anticipated sequel for the same. Some months ago, it was confirmed and that opened doors for the KBC-2.
(more…)

Tata Broadband Billing woes

Saturday, August 6th, 2005

Just when I thought everything was going fine with my new Tata Indicom Broadband Connection, something always comes up and spoils the whole deal. It hadnt been more than 20 days for this connection, as i got the connection on 15th July. And here I am within 20 days getting my first bill mailed in the morning by courier. What was shocking though is that the plan I am enrolled in costs 800 rs. Per month . The installation Charges were 2606 rs. for the router connection which I had paid them in advance. And now i get a bill for 20 days usage claimed to be a 1 month bill charging me as follows: (more…)