Hari's Corner

Humour, comics, tech, law, software, reviews, essays, articles and HOWTOs intermingled with random philosophy now and then

Random Linux games for your enjoyment

Filed under: Software and Technology by Hari
Posted on Mon, Nov 20, 2006 at 20:43 IST (last updated: Thu, May 7, 2009 @ 21:15 IST)

Ok, I'm writing a column at LinuxQuestions.org about Random Linux apps and games, but I decided that I'd share them here as well for your benefit, since the LQ.org articles section is kind of hidden and out of the way.

First of all, who says Linux doesn't have great games? Some of the most addictive games I've played are on Linux and not all of them are graphics-rich either. Enjoyable games don't need to be heavily loaded with rich 3d graphics and sound -- they just need to have fairly easy control mechanisms and involved gameplay. Here are some of my discoveries featuring a few lesser known but very enjoyable Linux arcade games.


Website: www.wormux.org

A FOSS game along the lines of the classic Team17 game, Worms, Wormux recreates some of the fun and enjoyment of tiny creatures blasting each other on a 2d map. Although far from complete and lacking the polish of the originals, it looks promising to fans of this genre.


Website: ri-li.sourceforge.net

A toy train game where you have to collect all the wagons on the map with a concept very similar to Snake Race, it is an easy to play, yet extremely addictive game. While it's controls are very simple, it is deceptively engrossing and has nice music as well.


Website: supertuxkart.berlios.de

A very nice Kart racing game featuring many tracks and players to choose from. Fun and addictive for fans of cartoonish racing games.


Website: none (?)

Part of the KDE games package, it is a very involved running and digging action/puzzle game which involves collecting all the gold pieces in a level and escaping the enemies who relentlessly pursue you. This is a very addictive game and can vary from very easy to extraordinarily challenging, based on the level design. Also comes with an integrated editor which allows you to create new level sets.

I will be covering more FOSS apps/games in the future, both here (in the blog) as well as in my column at LinuxQuestions.org! In the meantime, if you have any suggestions for apps/games to be featured in my column, please post a comment here or send me an e-mail.
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Insightful sayings to improve your Soul

Filed under: Humour and Nonsense by Hari
Posted on Mon, Oct 30, 2006 at 09:42 IST (last updated: Wed, Sep 26, 2007 @ 15:33 IST)

Here is my own, original collection of sayings particularly designed to improve your inner Soul. Enjoy!

The attitude of wisdom is the profundity of the harbinger of reason. -- Saint Paanah (Circa 100 B.C.)

A rich man can lead a life of luxury in the heavenly uncertainty of faint principles which give him a reason for life as expressed in the mind of the eternal mother of all wisdom. -- Saint Paanah II (Circa 10 A.D.)

Attitude is the pre-emptor of jealousy and pain while the reason of wisdom brings mankind to the point of assurance within that painful realization of the emptiness. -- Lord Labak Daas Senior (Circa 1300 A.D.)

Give a man a reason to fish and he will discover the soul of Wit of his inner Self glowing amidst the embers of life's very meaning as expressed in the collective hearts of the deprived millions. -- Anonymous

Mankind's perspicacious perambulations amidst the unknown terrains hitherto unexplored is the father of the clearing of sickness in the plane of Truth which heals all wounds of the Self. -- Lord Labak Daas Junior (1687 A.D.)

Pretention is the mechanical governance of a diseased philosophy parading as the profound expression of the very existence in the mentality of a wolf in sheep's clothing. -- Saint Moolah (Circa 1000 B.C.)
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Tech savvy but not empowered

Filed under: People and society by Hari
Posted on Thu, Oct 26, 2006 at 17:03 IST (last updated: Wed, Jul 16, 2008 @ 21:15 IST)

I belong to a previous generation of computer users who actually attended training courses to learn the basics of computers. Back in the early 90s, computers were still a novelty for most of us and owning a PC was a matter of immense prestige. The course I attended taught MS-DOS, Lotus 1-2-3, dBase and the basics of file and directory manipulation. They conducted tests at the end and participants were given a certificate. The fact was that in those days, we used to see the computer as a special device that required a certain set of basic skills to operate. And accordingly, we never had a problem adapting to the rapid technology changes as they occurred simply because we were thorough in the fundamentals. School was also a great place to learn - we were taught computer languages from BASIC to Pascal and finally C. We didn't fiddle about with fancy GUIs or use the computer to play games. In fact, our school computers those days were equipped with the bare minimums - the Operating System (usually Novell Netware) and the compilers/IDE (Turbo Pascal and Turbo C++). As students, we didn't treat the device as a plaything but as a learning tool.

Today, computers are so familiar they breed contempt. Today's generation of youngsters grow up on a steady diet of eye-candy and 3d shooters. Kids are exposed to so much more at such an early age. This is the generation of gadget buffs. The explosion of consumer electronics has pretty much ensured the availability of cheaper and even more powerful devices for every household. But are we really more empowered?

The point I'm making is that today we are far more tech savvy than we were a couple of decades ago. But that hasn't necessarily made us more educated or empowered. Sure, everybody knows how to operate an iPod, but is that really a case of being empowered? More people use computers today, but how many of them really know the fundamentals? Do people really bother to find out what makes 64-bit computing better than 32-bit computing? Is it just a case of being impressed by all those fancy jargon? And more to the point, how many really care about what happens under the hood of all those cool gadgets they flaunt around? People mistakenly refer to themselves as "geeks" when they really should refer to themselves as "gadget-buffs". For that's exactly what they are. In the face of the smallest problem, they choose to throw away good stuff rather than getting them fixed. Devices have become smaller and smaller, but also more fragile than ever before.

Of course, it can be argued that people do not have to know their technology to use them. This is precisely why huge consumer electronic giants like Sony continue to prosper. They would rather have a generation of gadget buffs who fall for fancy jargons and colourful packaging rather than a bunch of people who understand how stuff really works. More to the point, they don't want a generation of people who can differentiate between useful really technology and meaningless hype. They don't want customers who are empowered to probe behind the constant cycle of technology upgrades which keep forcing people to throw away perfectly useful stuff just because it's become "outdated." They don't want people who will rebel against restrictions placed on fair-use... hell, they don't even want people who will understand the meaning of the term "fair use." They just want people who are addicted to buying the latest and greatest technology without considering anything other than their desire for instant gratification.

Maybe the answer lies in the fact that the previous generation grew up with the technology and was in a better position to assess its merits as it evolved. Today's generation has reaped the full benefit of the semiconductor revolution but never really saw its development and growth. So everybody wants a computer that works, but most don't want to ask how it works in the first place.

Oh, for sure, the common man today is now much more tech-savvy than a few decades ago... but tech-empowered? Not really.
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Pathinettupatti Zameendar Ramaraajapandiyan

Filed under: Artwork/Portraits/Caricatures by Hari
Posted on Tue, Oct 24, 2006 at 13:38 IST (last updated: Fri, May 29, 2009 @ 21:24 IST)


Name: Ramaraajapandiyan
Job: Pathinettupatti Zameendar (landlord and village elder)
Mannerism: Chewing paan and spitting it into a golden bowl
Always found: Eating, chewing paan or attending 'katta' panchayat.
Quote: "Dey! Andha naaya kambathula katti podunga daa..." (Tie up that dog to the post!)
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Why software development is not for the masses

Filed under: Software and Technology by Hari
Posted on Fri, Oct 20, 2006 at 19:42 IST (last updated: Wed, Jul 16, 2008 @ 20:42 IST)

I recently posted this message in response to a thread at LinuxQuestions.org and thought I would share it here as well since it kind of explains the pressures and pulls, the frustrations and the never-ending debates between users within the FOSS community. As such I think it applies generally to anything in life that involves considerable skill, know-how and talent.

Slightly edited for context's sake:
There is no irony in FOSS development being more controlled. Nobody said that FOSS is for the masses. You assume that because it's freely available, it's for you. Nobody said you have to use it. Nobody benefits by you or me using FOSS. They (the developers) appreciate the fact that we use it of course, but they are by no means obliged to include each and every feature you and I want, nor do they think that's a good idea too.

Because software development cannot be a democratic process. Developers need feedback of course, but they cannot take a popular vote to include features in their system without considering the technical merits of ideas and the possibility of them fitting in with their philosophies and goals. Projects which try and cater to every single end-user requirement end up in a mess because there is always a conflict of goals - different people need different things out of their software.

You have to understand that it's not a question of closed and open at all.

Life works that way. People who are knowledgeable are empowered to make things work. People who don't have the know-how will always depend on them...

Simply put, your empowerment in the community is in proportion to your level of ability and knowledge. You can choose to be empowered or not, that's up to you. Most of us choose to be users and are happy with that status of course, but any time you're not happy with some piece of code you don't see FOSS gives you that power to change it and make it your own... provided you have that skill.
On a general note there will always be dissatisfaction when knowledge, technology, wealth and empowerment are spread out unevenly in a society. I think that about sums it up ;)
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A new forum launched

Filed under: Site management by Hari
Posted on Thu, Oct 19, 2006 at 20:42 IST (last updated: Wed, Jul 16, 2008 @ 20:12 IST)

I've created a new community for the discussion of Indian classical music. I've not found too many communities of this nature on the web, so I thought I would fill that niche. You can find it at music-forum.harishankar.org. Feel free to join and discuss. If you are interested in classical music, please spread the word to your friends and relatives. I look forward to seeing you there :)
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