Monday, June 25, 2007

Desktop Tower Defense - One more Game Worth Getting Addicted to...

Today when i dozed off in the class room, the images of creeps with decreasing lives - moving through the maze came alive before my eyes.. [Even now(while typing), I am seeing them in the middle of the editor]. No Deja Vu or Trance. Just the effects of playing another addictive computer game - Desktop Tower Defense all through the night.

Desktop TD is a fun flash based puzzle / strategy game where you have to protect your desktop from invaders by spending money on attacking pieces and building a maze for them to follow. Strangely addictive yet stress relieving... Just try and find out how many levels can you survive?.. I am still struck up at 'Hard' Mode.

Goal: Creeps enter from the top and from the left. You must stop them from reaching the other side or you will lose lives. You start with 20 lives, and when they are gone the game is over. Towers are used to attack creeps and also to block their path.

If you have never played a Tower Defense before try the Quick Start Tutorial.

For those new to the DTD game, here's how Rafe at CNet describes it:

Our desk is under attack by invaders coming from both land and air. Your only solution? Defend it at all costs, using tiny turrets. Fight off waves and waves of attackers that get more challenging with each onslaught. Use your victory winnings to fortify and buy more defensive units. Losing this battle means losing your humanity.

Another interesting game sure to make you addictive. If you want to scold somebody for introducing this game(that made you to lose precious time), put a word in "Desktop Tower Defense 1.5 leaves the building" who introduced the game to me. :)

P.S: You can't download Desktop Tower Defense offline - the Flash swf file requires an active net connection.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Week that Was - 'Record Breaking' [Shivaji & Campus Placement]

Shivaji, the Craze

"Where are they releasing Shivaji @ Tirunelveli?". This was the first of the series of questions that i bombarded the autowallah who was taking me home after my 2 month internship at Pune. Not only me, the whole Tamil blogging world has been set on fire with the pre-release Rajini mania. Even the English news channels were not able to keep this important news(!) from their headlines.. [Surprisingly such extensive coverage of 'Shivaji' was not even seen on any of the Tamil channels.. :)].. Just the fact that a Tamil Movie 'Shivaji' was able to make the whole India sit up and take notice of it - amounts to a record breaking incident for me. Add to that, the following record breaking achievements by 'Shivaji, the boss' in Tirunelveli
  • First time, a movie is getting released in 3 theatres in Tirunelveli.. [Do you want any more proof that Tirunelveli is a city????]
  • 50 lakhs was the amount paid by the theatres in Tirunelveli
  • Official rate of First Day, First Show Tickets - Rs. 1000/- [Just reminded of the famous Periyar comment - "There are fools everywhere"]
  • 'Daru' was not available in any of the wine shops in Tirunelveli on June 17th & 18th. [Everything was bought by the Rajini fans. Truly A Rajini Movie release = 10 times Diwali for Rajini fans]
Jobs rain at Anna University

While the media was going gaga over 'Shivaji', jobs have started raining at Anna University, Chennai [comprising of 3 colleges CEG, A.C.Tech & MIT]. Out of 2300 students elgibile for the Placement process, around 1006 were placced in the first company - Tata Consultancy Services. It has now become a practice for Anna university students to set up the 'Record for Highest Single Day Placement in a college campus' for that academic year in India. Present Batch has also maintained that reputation by beating the last year Highest of around 800 offers in CTS in Anna university. Read about "TCS' record recruitment at Anna University".

Friday, June 08, 2007

Are Pyramid Schemes (Questnet, GoldQuest) Easy Way to make Money???

During my engineering days, I immediately rejected the idea when one of my friends tried to make me a member of a pyramid marketing scheme - a new way of making easy money without any sweat or hard labour. But most of my friends who joined it either burnt their fingers or were just able to break even.. that too after efforts and persuasion that could have easily turned around a mountain... :) To hide the fact that they have made a wrong decision(against the advice of a few level headed friends), they usually came out with a reply that they learnt salesmanship – a useful business skill.

This was something that was bygone. But when i recently heard about a similar scheme from my friend in Bangalore, with a initial investment of Rs. 30,000+ [During my engineering days, it was Rs. 5,000/-], i knew a post was long overdue.

"A pyramid scheme (also known as "Pyramid Scam") is a non-sustainable business model that involves the exchange of money primarily for enrolling other people into the scheme, usually without any product or service being delivered. " - From Wikipedia

In the scheme for which i was approached in 2003, I was asked to pay an initial payment(Rs. 5000/-) to become a member of this group. Then for every pair of nodes/members joining underneath me, I would receive Rs. 1000/-. It is easy to explain this with a diagram.

For every pair of identical colour nodes joining under Person No - 1, he collects a thousand. You get a thousand rupees even when an identical pair is joined at the thousandth level. So if u were able to join a few members underneath you, then their efforts would ensure that u get a pay check ever week. It looks simple and easy but the trouble starts when u find that others are not as willing as you to join this scheme.

How is it financed?

If you look at the diagram, the business works in a very simple logic. New members always pay for the profits of the old members. So the good part about these schemes is that at least a few members i.e. early joiners in the regions walk out with huge profits.

Why is it a scam?

  1. Great majority of participants lose money. You could have easily understood from the diagram that the schemes replicate a binary tree. One interesting property of binary trees is that the number of nodes with two children is always less than half the total number of nodes. So, no matter how many people join, more than half of them will lose money. In practice, in these organizations it’s not enough to have only two other people beneath you – to make a profit, you need more. So the number of people profiting is actually far fewer than half.

  2. Reports about Goldquest, a company that uses the pyramid marketing technique being shutdown in the countries - Ethiopia, SriLanka, India

But the worst part of this business is that, it makes you look at your friends, colleagues and relatives as potential sales targets rather than as people you love and respect. Another sad thing is that the yearly inflow of new graduates from various parts of India to the software cities - Bangalore, Chennai, etc. provides these companies potential fresh targets year after year.

P.S: If you want more details regarding these Pyramid schemes, Peter Jayaraj has a few posts on his blog - Digital observation - Label(Questnet).

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Things I never Knew - Eve Teasing

I never knew it. I was ignorant of it. I was shocked when I came to know it - "Silicon Capital of India - One of the prides of India - Bangalore - is unsafe for women" . I was dismayed when my cousin explained - "Why can't she go to certain places in Bangalore?".. "Why can't she even go for booking tickets alone?".. "How tough it is for women to be women in cities?"..

"Eve Teasing".. For some of us, it is fun.. According to some of us, the victims deserved it.. Some of us are not even aware of it.. But for most of us, it is something we read in newspapers or something that only some skewed people mostly from the lower strata of the society do.. For me, Eve Teasing has always been associated with 'Death of Sarika Shah' rather than as an social evil that my sister or friends daily face. [Here 'Us' is people who may read this post]

If you belong to my category of men - who are not aware how rampant Eve teasing is there in the very own cities you live, please read wish list of women. It is really an eyeopener. [But also be aware that the wishes were collected through Internet so they are mostly from an urban crowd - where the Internet penetration is high].

Blank Noise is the organization behind collecting these wishes. Blank Noise is a public and participatory art project working both online and on the streets of Bangalore, Mumbai , Delhi, Chennai and Hyderabad. It also has some innovative campaigns against Eve Teasing like "Collecting & Displaying clothes that women wore when they were sexually harassed in the street". You can visit their blog at BLANK NOISE PROJECT.

"Eve teasing may be normal, but is it acceptable?"

Monday, June 04, 2007

India indebted to Karunanidhi for his 'unmeasurable' love for Tamil

This post was invoked by the wish list of an old man who knows he won't live long enough to see them - "Strive to make Tamil an official language, Karunanidhi tells youth".
Wherever i go outside TamilNadu, one of the questions popped up by my friends & strangers alike is 'Why u Tamils never learn Hindi?'. So let me answer that question before i move to benefits that country has reaped of 'Tamils never learning Hindi'.
  • One of the key reasons is the man who is presently the esteemed CM of TamilNadu - Read "TN ready to fight against Hindi dominance - Karunanidhi". This great man while ensuring that his children & grandchildren learnt Hindi, made sure that the other Tamils were ignorant of the fact that your life is tough in India without knowing Hindi.
  • If you want to know the historical reason, you have to go and read the newspapers of January & February - 1965. It was during these days Tamils - a 30 million crowd stood up as a single unit to fight against the implementation of "Hindi as the only official language of India". We, Tamils have always believed that "You could be a patriotic Indian without knowing to read or speak Hindi". But the men at the centre during those days thought otherwise. This led to one of the greatest protests led by the student community in free India. If you are interested in History or would like to know about the sad demise of a national party in TN, read the editorial - 'Hindi against India'

What has this protest of 1965 ensured?

  • It ensured that English stayed as one of the official languages of India. It prevented the quick death of a large number of regional languages - Tamil, Telungu, Marathi, etc. More importantly, it stopped the further advance of the Hindi extremists. With hindsight, this protest ensured that most of the Indian students learnt English leading to a huge pool of English speaking graduates. It prevented India going the China way with regard to languages. Benefits are plain and simple. Without the protests of 1965, the software boom would have never occurred.

So whenever you meet a Tamil who does not know Hindi, just remember that he is still paying the cost for the prosperity that is being unleashed in India by the software boom. And if you meet a Tamil 20 years from now who is still does not know Hindi, remember - 'Havoc that an impossible dream by an old man can cause?'.

- By a Tamilan who still does not know Hindi

P.S: If you feel otherwise, I would like to hear from you. Post a comment or mail me at srobinb4u[at]yahoo[dot]co[dot]in