A guide to online forum posting

Filed under: Humour and Nonsense by Hari
Posted at 11:38 IST (last updated: Wed, Jul 16, 2008 @ 20:17 IST)
Here's my own take on some common online forum expressions. All in a light-hearted manner. And of course no offence intended :P :mrgreen:

When they say:I don't mean to offend anybody, but... They mean: Offence is certainly intended, you idiots, if you're smart enough to understand what I write.

This is going way off topic... I've run out of meaningful things to say on this topic.

This is a great discussion. Here's what I feel on this subject... I couldn't be bothered to read those ten pages full of tripe, people, but I thought I would share my wisdom here. Some moderately intelligent creature is bound to find this jewel of a post amidst all that garbage and praise me.

(in a heated flame war) I couldn't care less who the hell you are and where you come from... If I could find your address, you stinker, I'd post you a package with Anthrax spread all over it.

(in a flame war) Come on folks. This is getting out of hand. Let's all calm down now. I love playing teacher. I wonder why they haven't made me a moderator here yet. Boo... hoo...

I'm done posting in this thread. People just keep twisting all my words... ...the way I intended them to. And... hey, I hope I got under your skin too.

This topic has been discussed here tons of times before. Try a search. I want you to know how experienced and knowledgeable I am in this forum, you poor newbie. In case you didn't notice, take a good look at the post count I have. Go me!

This is a great forum... I want to suck up to the admins here. It might come in handy some time.

Welcome to this forum, [new user]! Hope you enjoy your stay here! I don't know who you are and don't care whether you enjoy it here or not, but I'm desperate to increase my post count and this is such a mindless way to do it, too.

I'm leaving this forum for good... I'll be dropping by every half hour to check the responses. I sure hope at least twenty people respond and ask me to stay, since I'm such a useful member of this community. Go me!

I'm just an average guy and I don't have the time and patience like some of you people to do [something here]... Most of you people don't have a life and are probably online at this forum 24x7... Just like me.

People, please don't feed the trolls... ...as I'm doing right now. I sure couldn't resist the urge to feed him, but then you must understand that I'm a moderator-in-training here. At least I hope I am...

Quite frankly/To be honest... All right. Forget everything I said before. Fun's over: no more Mr Nice Guy. I've been reserving all my ammunition for this... no prisoners taken.

Sorry for the misunderstanding... I'm also sorry for overestimating the average level of IQ on this board which has come down considerably thanks to your participation.

No hard feelings... In a sense this is true, because when I get my hands on you one of these days, you will be left in a state where you won't have any sense of feeling.

My literary blog

Filed under: Site management by Hari
Posted at 21:20 IST (last updated: Wed, Sep 26, 2007 @ 18:20 IST)
My literary blog is now online at my home page, harishankar.org. After much consideration, I decided to continue using WordPress, as it is a familiar platform and I already have a nice, ready-to-use theme (which has been modified slightly for the new blog).

I will be publishing my book reviews in this blog as well as at LiteraryForums.org. Hope you enjoy it.

Over the next few days or so I'll be loading up my already written reviews into this blog.

A brief look at blogging tools

Filed under: Software and Technology by Hari
Posted at 11:38 IST (last updated: Thu, May 7, 2009 @ 21:07 IST)
I am currently looking at various blogging tools available for personal publishing and re-evaluating some of these options. Since I'm planning to create a new blog to publish my book reviews in (I'll still be posting these reviews at LiteraryForums.org), I wanted to evaluate some of the options available and see if I should stick with WordPress or not.

I won't say that I'm unbiased. Once you get used to working on a particular tool or software over a period of time, you're pretty much convinced by its usefulness, partly because of familiarity and partly because you're quite good at customizing it to your needs. But in any case, I decided to share some of my opinions on the various platforms available for personal publishing. Here I've restricted myself to three blogging tools and one blogging service.

b2evolution

Website: b2evolution.net Pros: Quite sophisticated and feature rich Cons: Probably overkill as a personal blogging option.

This is more than a useful blogging tool and looks quite promising. I downloaded and installed it on my personal server and I only have two problems with this tool. Firstly, its size. It's uncompressed size is around 9 MB or so and for a blogging system, I consider that way too big. It also shows that it is feature rich, but probably way overkill as a personal blogging tool. The second problem, of course, is that it tends to appear far more complex than WordPress, for instance. It's multi-blogging tool, for instance, seems confusing by default and the developers should probably look at changing the default options to install only a single blog. Also its admin panel does require a bit of learning. Overall, b2evolution is quite good and seems well designed and sophisticated.

bBlog

Website: bblog.com Pros: Simple, small and intuitive Cons: Lacks a bit of polish, also fewer plugins, themes and mods than other blogging systems

bBlog would probably be the ideal blogging tool for many reasons. It's pure blogging approach makes it cut down on a lot of excessive features and options, which is refreshing. It's small download size is also a definite advantage. But there are a few hitches on the path to perfection. One is the way its templating system is designed. I am a fan of HTML templates, and no doubt Smarty is a very sophisticated templating system, but what this implies is that you probably need to tweak it a lot more to get it to work the way you want. For instance, when you need to display more link categories on your sidebar, you need to edit the template to get it to display. This took me quite a while to work out. You also need to learn the Smarty tag system if you want to customize the templates. The other problem with bBlog is that you won't find too many pre-built themes, plugins or mods for it. It's level of customizability is quite basic.

Barring these issues I raised, bBlog is probably my second choice as a blogging system after WordPress.

NucleusCMS

Website: nucleuscms.org Pros: Looks slick and professional Cons: Slightly complex admin panel

I'm reserving judgement on NucleusCMS because it looks to be a great option as a personal CMS. Again, like b2evolution, it is a multi-blogging tool, which is a definite layer of complexity which I prefer to avoid when possible, but unlike b2evolution, it is small in size and its features are somewhat different from a typical blogging tool. It's probably targetted at more technical users than WordPress, too.

The only setback, in my opinion, is the admin panel which looks a bit more complicated, I suspect, than it actually is. A bit counter-intuitive and definitely takes a lot of getting used to.

Wordpress.com

Website: wordpress.com Pros: Free, easy to setup blogging service, no web hosting required Cons: Lack of control over plugins, features and skins

WordPress.com is not a blogging tool, but a service, along the lines of blogger/blogspot. The advantage of WordPress.com is that you have a blog up and running within minutes. The downside is that, if you're expecting it to work exactly like it would if you had the downloadable version of WordPress installed on your own server, you'd be mistaken.

It's probably ideal for newbies looking for an alternative to blogger. WordPress is definitely a great blogging option, but to me, its true potential is realized by the ability to plug in a wide variety of features with ease and to customize templates. With WP.com, you are restricted to a stock WordPress install without any plugins or the ability to customize the template. While you get a variety of pre-built themes to skin your blog with, the customizability is minimal. Definitely more suited for new bloggers looking to get a feel of blogging without the complexities of setting up their own.

Rajashekar

Filed under: Artwork/Portraits/Caricatures by Hari
Posted at 21:56 IST (last updated: Fri, May 29, 2009 @ 21:23 IST)
Here's my next cartoon character (on popular demand from my friends :)): "Annan" Rajashekar.

Rajashekar

Occupation: Politician
Positions: Ex-MLA, Councillor
Party: Any, sometimes independent
Favourite quote: "I will sacrifice my body and soul for the people of my beloved country..."
Ambition: To become a cabinet minister in the central government after the next Election.

Don't kill the goose...

Filed under: Software and Technology by Hari
Posted at 19:46 IST (last updated: Wed, Jul 16, 2008 @ 21:02 IST)
There is a certain class of Linux users, particularly of the kind mentioned by Dominic, who irritate me more than anything else. Dominic has very logically, sensibly and patiently addressed these people on what Linux is all about, but my concern goes deeper than their lack of understanding and their lack of appreciation of what Linux stands for.

Let me explain. Linux is one of a kind, evolving, totally free Operating System, of a quality which surpasses most commercial software products, particularly the mainstream OS used by the majority of people. In fact, it's more than the OS itself. It's about the community, not only of users but of developers who've contributed hundreds of thousands of applications to the common cause without expecting anything in return. At least, most of these contributions are Free in both senses of the word (Freedom as well as Free Beer). What drives these people is not monetary returns but the pride of workmanship and the pleasure of giving back something to the community. Of course, there are commercial aspects to Linux, but the lifeblood remains the culture of hacker-programmers who take it upon themselves to create new software, new drivers, new applications and improvements and above all, maintain thousands of existing projects. And probably most importantly, continue doing it over an indefinite period of time.

Well, it's this culture that I'm worried about.

You see, the problem is that the current generation of Linux users take all this for granted. They don't even begin to understand what has gone into the making of Linux, but are very quick to point flaws in Linux. Most of these people do not realize that the value that Linux brings them is nothing but so many other people's time and energy for which they've not even compensated monetarily. These people think that every time something goes wrong with Linux, there is always some developer out there who will put it right. They are always ready to offer a thousand suggestions for improving Linux, but hardly have one word of praise for what is already given to them. Most of these critics probably haven't written a single line of code all their lives and maybe haven't even written a simple shell script. Their contribution to the Linux community is almost nothing other than hot air (and probably bad breath at that!) But one thing they do is to assume that these developers have nothing better to do than to constantly keep working on Linux and improving it for their benefit. Reading their words, one would imagine that without their opinions, the community is so much poorer and we should all thank God that they chose to use Linux for a couple of hours and offer their rich advice to the community. They probably imagine that their qualifications and expertise in using another OS will be so useful that even the kernel developers can take a hint or two from them. All I can say is that it probably doesn't even occur to them that even a commercial Linux distro like SUSE or RedHat doesn't make so much money as to pay a large group of developers to continue working on Linux just to implement every one of their bright ideas. And those who are lucky enough to work on commercial distros and get paid for it are comparitively few in the community.

These developers who form the core of the Linux community aren't anywhere as big as the Linux community itself. If anything, they're a very small fraction of it. When you actually count the number of developers working on the core aspects of Linux itself, namely the kernel, this number dwindles down to the hundreds. Now it's all too easy to assume that this group will continue to work on Linux forever. But beyond Linux itself, can we think of any other Open Source OS that will create the same impact and have such a huge community? I'm not for a moment saying that the community is fragile, but when you think of the level of expertise required for the development of core Linux, you begin to wonder...

No doubt these developers aren't all going to quit one fine day, but do we as users take them for granted? These people are human beings and even assuming that they aren't looking for motivation all the time, there is a point beyond which they might start thinking "it's not worth it anymore." It's highly unlikely, yes, but when these new Linux users start criticizing Linux all the time, won't these developers start finding it a bit tiring to keep up their enthusiasm in the long run? Isn't there a point beyond which these freeloading critics in Linux community start harming the development of Linux itself? Isn't it the moral right of every supporting Linux community member to shut these critics up when their whining and moaning goes beyond a level?

I'm not jumping to conclusions here. The percentage of "freeloaders" (in my sense of the word) in the Linux community is probably small at the moment. But the numbers are growing as more people start coming over from the world of Microsoft. To be honest, I'm not sure how the Linux community can handle this growing influx of Microsoft refugees. We all know what happens when refugees outnumber the natives in a real world situation. Tensions grow beyond a point and lead to widespread hostilities. The refugee population in the Linux world will probably never grow so large as to upset the community balance we have at the moment. But can we just grow complacent in this belief?

As Linux users, then, our job is to ensure that this group becomes a genuine part of the Linux community and not remain on the fringes. The only way is to remain friendly and helpful to new users and hope that we make converts. It's a long, hard road ahead, but it is something we owe to the developers and maintainers of Linux, the various distributions and all other things FOSS. Without the majority support and enthusiasm, I don't imagine that the developers will remain interested in the long run.

Criticism is good up to a certain level, but too much of it can kill interest and kill the goose that laid the golden egg. Every genuine, wholehearted Linux user is an asset to the survival and growth of Linux. Sure, money is a part of it, but if we cannot donate that, at least we can contribute in terms of moral support.

Category: Games and Entertainment

Filed under: Software and Technology by Hari
Posted at 18:40 IST (last updated: Thu, May 7, 2009 @ 21:17 IST)
This is probably the toughest category under the top 50 Linux apps list, simply because gaming is such a subjective issue. However, here are what I believe are some of the best in this particular category.

Frozen Bubble There is a certain addictive quality in this colourful, amazingly simple game. The music is also good and it finds a place on my top 5 list as far as Free games are concerned.

SuperTux This is a classic sidescroller game in the mould of SuperMario, but with a penguin as the main character. This kind of game has an almost universal appeal. Definitely on my top 5.

Cube Cube is not just an Open Source 3d game for Linux. It's also a one-of-a-kind 3d engine that is entirely targetted at Linux and is fully Open Source. I definitely think it deserves a place in this category.

lbreakout2 Another very playable "bricks" like game with several addon levels as well as an editor to build your own sets of levels.

Stratagus This is a real-time strategy gaming engine which allows you to play Warcraft-like games on Linux. Of course, you need a data set to play this game, but there are quite a few of them which are playable, most prominently Battle of Survival. I thought this deserved a place here, because there are not too many RTS style games available for Linux and this one looks quite promising.

I'm sure I've left out a lot of worthy contenders in this category, but since I cannot have them all in a list of 5, I picked out a few which I felt really deserved a spot here. As usual feel free to discuss this list and also give your own recommendations in this category.