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Starcraft 2

Well yesterday Starcraft 2 was finally released. I've actually been excited about this game since they announced it over 3 years ago. I knew then that I couldn't play it on my PC, so I decided that I wouldn't replace my desktop until I knew the requirements for the game. I'm somewhat impressed they aren't that bad (although recommended 4GB RAM on a Mac seems a bit much). I've been looking for an excuse to replace my aging desktop with a new powerhouse, and this seems like a perfectly legitimate reason. :-)

I went to Amazon to save the game in my cart (and my wish list), when I started to read the reviews there. I'm a little disappointed with the complaints regarding the DRM and online account requirement Blizzard has chosen to employ. I will admit that when I played the original Starcraft in college over a decade ago it was widely pirated across the campus networks. But now as a legitimate buyer I'm feel a little frustrated knowing how expensive and annoying the process is - before you can even sit down and play.

I still intend to buy the game (can't wait). But first I need to buy a new computer (can't wait either). Quad-Core here I come!

Posted in: Stuff,

Quick Thoughts About India

Well it has been a few days since I returned from India. Each trip so far has been totally different. These are just some random observations that I want to record for myself.

Rains

This is the first time I ever visited India during the rainy season. There is a reason they call it the "monsoon season". It was just non-stop rain. And during the brief bouts of sunlight, the heat was unbearable. And the mosquitoes, what devils. I counted 76 visible bites on me alone. It was an itchy flight back.

Roads

I have never seen the roads in such disarray. Firstly, even without the rains there are potholes the size of cows cars. Why even call them potholes? During the rains, you really can't even detect the full size of the holes or where they are. I had the bumpiest car rides of my life.

When I went to Mangalore at the end of 2007, I could see the start of the new roads and flyover. The construction has progressed but what a mess. The roads are incomplete all over the area. Where it is complete it has totally eliminated any walking space along the side of the road. There is no room left for anything.

Main Event

We had to attend an engagement which happened to be considerable distance away. Getting there I endured the curviest roads and the scariest car ride of my life. The map shows apx 70km but it took well over 2 hours. Rounding some corners made your heart skip a beat. (route is approximate).

In my previous trip to India I was fortunate to experience what a "typical Mangalorean wedding" would be like. I thought then that the many of the formalities were really unnecessary. Well much to my surprise the engagement event we attended was identical in almost every way but without any church ceremony. It was actually pretty exciting sitting up on the stage, but I think the guest of honor found it a bit overwhelming. Those lights can be blinding you know.

Anyways, with exception of the drive there and the heat, it was actually pretty fun. I'm disappointed all my siblings couldn't be there. Maybe next time (assuming there is a next time).

People

This trip was unique that my brothers and I were all forced to speak Konkani much more than we were accustomed to. It was okay for the most part. It was odd for me near the end of the trip, there was some moments where I could almost hear myself thinking or talking Konkani in my head, as opposed to translating from English. Too bad we were there too short to really test me.

One of the new recruits we took with us happened to be American born (like my youngest brother). I was worried how she might adjust. The following story sums it up. If you are a Muslim please skip the next paragraph.

Traditionally pork ("dukra maas") in Mangalorean cuisine leaves a sizable portion of the fat to be cooked along side the meat. If you've never had this before, you might be surprised when you find yourself chewing on a rubbery blob of non-meaty strangeness. Well our newcomer just ate it all up without any complaint (sometimes that's even a little tough for me). When asked, she revealed: "I thought, mmmmm, that must be some different type of mushroom". She ate pretty much everything and didn't get sick, that's pretty impressive.

Sadly I didn't get to see as much family as I had hoped. What was very annoying was the commute between different relatives homes. What would have taken 30 minutes or so previously was taking us almost an hour. Even where the roads weren't too bad, the traffic has just exploded. There were so many new cars on the roads. Traveling a few miles seemed like a journey on its own.

Conclusion

I conclude, at great cost, that India is still there and is still haphazardly growing at seemingly unsustainable rates. Sad to see.

Anyways I think this may be the last trip I will go to India in big group of people. I think I might go solo next time or with perhaps only one other person. I think I want to see more and do more instead of being caught in traffic or rain.

In spite of some of the nuisances in traveling, I think this was one of the more comfortable trips I've taken. But I don't measure a trip in how comfortable I was, rather, was the experience worthwhile? Yeah, I would definitely say: yes.

Posted in: Life, India, Travel,

Quick Trip to India

Well "quick" means a little less planned than my usual excursions, and of course, a bit shorter than the past few trips.

This should be quite the interesting experience with many "firsts" for a few different people, and I hope they all manage, seeing as they're not a seasoned desi like me (jk).

I will be intentionally disconnecting from the internets for the whole duration (unlike some BlackBerry toting brethren). So email replies will be a few weeks delayed. Hopefully I won't have any 3G withdrawal symptoms.

Anyways, will report when I get back. Happy start of summer!

Posted in: Life, India, Travel,

Google, Apple and Smartphone Progress

In a half filled lecture hall in the fall of 2000, I heard an enthusiastic Compaq (now HP) engineer talk about his work with IPv6. He said eventually every single tiny device you own will have an IP address to connect to the internet. Most of the students passively dismissed this idea. I was among them.

I was fortunate to have the time and the means to attend Google I/O last month. This is Google's yearly conference known for engaging software developers on a deep level to both promote Google's technologies as well as openness on the internet. The demo for "Froyo" - Google's next update for their Android cell phones - is what really caught my attention.

I honestly beleive the the new features introduced are really what the customer wants and NOT what the manufacturer wants you to want. This is quite revolutionary in this age. Things in Froyo will deeply offend the cell service providers (who might charge extra $20/mo for hotspot) or even the media companies (who want to charge you to stream music). And the sad thing is that these things aren't really revolutionary take so long to get to the people.

When reviewing Apple's iPhone 4 presentation last week, it was pretty clear to me that the iPhone will be a dominant product for some time to come. But outside of the typically bigger and faster - I failed to grasp the features that make it so much better. Limited multitasking? Changing backgrounds? I don't see how iPhone users are much better off than they were one year ago. And even worse in some cases with Apple's strict limitations on what you can do on your phone.

I'm not a Google fanboy (I'm still using my Palm Pre - soon to be also purchased by HP *sigh*). I don't even care much for Flash. I'm just a bit disappointed by complacent Apple customers whose very purchase only contributes to denying progress in this market.

I am however making the plunge to Android. In a few weeks when I get a chance, I will be switching over to my new HTC EVO 4G. How to describe this phone? Impressive! And the best part? The "Froyo" update soon to come will only push that further.

When the Google I/O keynote emphasized how openness will rapidly progress evolution in smartphones - virtually no attendee dismissed this idea. I am among them.

Posted in: Internet, Technology,

My New Site Design

I had not put any real work in over 3 years. I knew a lot of things needed some cleanup, but it wasn't until I bought a new monitor that I realized how ugly everything looked. I started the styling from scratch. I know the "blue" has got to go, but I didn't have time to pick a new color scheme.

I was going to cave in and switch to WordPress for blogging but I had been working on a new back-end for over a year now and I didn't want to throw that away. I'm now running on CodeIgniter which I am incredibly happy with. I'm finding adding functionality much easier now. And I personally find my site incredibly faster than before (or maybe that's me). I gave up way too much sleep over the last few weeks for this!

I know there is a big push for web standards now, so you'll notice a much nicer experience in Google Chrome 4, Firefox 3.6 or Internet Explorer 8 ... or anything newer than those. I used some cool CSS3 effects.

There is a significant amount of quirks yet to be resolved but I really wanted to go live so I can really test things out. Right now my contact still accepts spam :( ... and my landing home page is incredibly bland. The category and archive views either are broken or don't exist yet.

Majority of my URL's have been remapped which should re-direct but I am guessing there will still be plenty of 404 page not found errors. So if you see some please let me know. Also my primary blog feed now exists at the following url:
http://www.mjmwired.net/feed/blog
If you are using a Reader it should automatically redirect, but resubscribing is recommended.

It will be 7 years at the end of this month, I still suck major at blogging, but that's the fun of it.

Thanks for reading.

Posted in: Website,