Humour, comics, tech, law, software, reviews, essays, articles and HOWTOs intermingled with random philosophy now and then
Bits and Bytes by
Posted on Wed, Feb 7, 2007 at 09:29 IST (last updated: Wed, Jul 16, 2008 @ 20:29 IST)
I must confess that after writing a series of articles over a period of time, I usually run dry on ideas. When ideas dry up, it's time to scratch the bottom of the barrel in the hope of finding a worthy subject to blog about. To be honest, I'm now scratching it in the hope of finding some inspiration. But in reality, I find that inspiration, wit or humour cannot be forced. It has to come naturally. When it doesn't, I usually get stuck on the first sentence and keep reworking it over and over again almost mechanically. It happens. The mind just stops controlling the flow of words.
To counter that effect, I've tried to vary the pace of blogging as much as possible. Writing on the same subject over and over again can quickly exhaust my idea-tank and I start fumbling around for topics to cover. Naturally I've expanded the scope of this blog in the past by including more areas to cover. My cartoons are a good example of this change of pace. Drawing relaxes me. So when I do find that writing becomes a chore, I naturally post a cartoon or two. I've also tried to use humour occasionally with mixed success.
On the whole I'm not one of those people who can write volumes and volumes without ever running dry on inspiration. I don't even update this blog regularly. Regular readers would have noticed the slackening of pace frequently. As I've mentioned one of the reasons I decided to stop contributing to third-party websites without adequate compensation is the fact that I've really neglected this blog over a period fo time.
So what's this post in aid of? It's to ask you, the reader, for more ideas. I always want a fresh perspective on issues. Do you think there are any new subjects I should cover? Do you want to see more frequent updates or would you rather wait for a while to see a well-written, meaningful article? Do you prefer lengthier essays or shorter posts? Do post your thoughts and ideas here.
Site management by
Posted on Mon, Feb 5, 2007 at 09:44 IST (last updated: Wed, Jul 16, 2008 @ 21:09 IST)
I've decided that I will no longer be contributing articles or essays to third-party websites without monetary compensation. There are a couple of reasons for this:
- I've been neglecting my own website and forum to an alarming degree over the last one year and I intend to focus more in building up content on LiteraryForums.org and this blog.
- I don't think I have the motivation necessary to write really quality articles (which takes time and effort) for third party websites. It's not fair on myself and it's not fair on the website owners who expect me to deliver quality material. Without motivation and inspiration, results can be pretty poor in spite of effort.
This decision of mine is probably a long-term one and I do expect that I can focus better on my goals and objectives if this policy is implemented properly. Of course, I will continue participating in third party forums as well, but only in a strictly limited manner. As it is, I've seriously cut down my forum activities in the last year and a half and I want to continue along the same direction this year as well.
I don't think of this as a way of earning money. Far from it. I hardly expect many offers and I'm sure there are better writers than me who write for free. But if I allow my energies to fritter away without proper compensation, I do feel that I'm not doing justice to myself or the people who read my articles. That is the crux of the issue - I need the time and I need the motivation to write better. I also need freedom from the pressure of a serious writing commitment without a feeling of getting something in return. A well-written article eats up a considerable amount of my time - going through several revisions in a period of time before I deem it fit for publication. So if I do ask for payment, it's for compensation for that effort and not for any perceived quality in my writing. However, I do expect that this sort of focus will actually help me write better, thus benefitting everybody involved.
I'm pretty sure that most people wouldn't want to pay for articles, which is just fine with me because that'll mean less work, but if somebody does want to pay me for writing, it'll have to be on a per-article basis as I'm not willing to commit to anything long-term.
Posted on Tue, Jan 30, 2007 at 10:51 IST (last updated: Thu, May 7, 2009 @ 21:02 IST)
Here's a special edition of Cartoon Corner! I've tried to portray Mahatma Gandhi in this picture. This one took the longest among all the cartoons I've drawn so far. Had to draw quite a few times since I didn't get the shape right the first couple of times. (and yes, like all my toons so far, this was also drawn entirely using the mouse). Hope you like it!
Site management by
Posted on Tue, Jan 30, 2007 at 09:34 IST (last updated: Thu, Jul 17, 2008 @ 10:47 IST)
WordPress 2.1 has been released recently. I upgraded today and as always, it was a more or less a painless procedure. Merely overwrite your existing WordPress files with the new package and then run the wp-admin/upgrade.php
script. It's as simple as that. Even if you use a few plugins you needn't be too worried. I guess most plugins that work in 2.0.x will work in 2.1.
Traditionally WordPress upgrades have never been radical. Most changes and enhancements to this extremely popular and stable blogging platform come in slow, incremental steps and this upgrade is no different. If you've been using the 2.0.x version, you'd not notice too many external changes. However, since there are more than 500 bug fixes, it would probably be a good thing to upgrade anyway.
Software and Technology by
Posted on Sat, Jan 27, 2007 at 10:01 IST (last updated: Wed, Jul 16, 2008 @ 21:29 IST)
Have you ever heard of Seven Kingdoms
? Chances are, you haven't. It's not a particularly popular game and I guess most mainstream Real Time Strategy gaming fans wouldn't have heard of it. It's a fairly old game and its graphics aren't really flash, but till date I've not found a single RTS game that matches Seven Kingdoms in terms of sheer depth and playability. It's truly a unique game in this genre. Here are some of the reasons why I keep coming back to Seven Kingdoms ahead of so many other more recent RTS games with flashier graphics.
- More sophisticated economic system than the usual food/wood/gold resource gathering technique used in more popular games like the Age of Empires series. There is less micromanagement in this game than the typical RTS game, allowing you to concentrate on the really fun aspect of strategy gaming - expansion (peaceful or military) and conquest. Fun to play and doesn't overwhelm you with too many details to manage.
- Dynamic diplomacy with AI opponents. You can create strategic alliances, trade treaties and friendly treaties with other AI opponents and then cancel them at any time. Also has a very good espionage/counter espionage system where you can recruit spies and send them out to the enemy camp to achieve a variety of sneaky ends.
- Building an army involves more than merely recruiting soldiers from your villages. You actually train them in forts using "Generals" and they become hardened and elite warriors over time. This makes for some excellent games where you cannot go to war straight away and makes you think about expanding your empire simultaneously.
- Concepts like "loyalty" for individual units as well as villages which depend on a variety of factors including your reputation as compared to rival empires and military might. These add a level of depth that most modern RTSes severely lack.
- AI opponents are very sound and doesn't "cheat" allowing you to play normally and yet offers enough of a challenge without becoming overwhelmingly difficult. I've seen too many RTS games lack a decent AI. This game really shines in this aspect.
- Primitive combat system, but fun to play. Unlike some modern RTS games, combat just means massing up your troops in overwhelming numbers and crushing your foes with pure brutality. It doesn't have finesse, but you'll love the clash of swords, spears and clubs, the torrent of arrows and the boom of catapults and cannons.
- And here's my most favourite feature. This game can also be played in a completely revealed map with no fog of war. To me, this is a great feature that allows you to actually watch what the opponent is doing and then plan your game accordingly. Too many modern RTS games enforce the fog-of-war concept which often renders you blind to your opponent and you end up groping in the dark most of the time. Trust me, the "strategic" aspect of this game will truly shine when you are able to plan the mode of your expansion based on the moves of your rivals.
Seven Kingdoms is a rare gem in an otherwise formulaic RTS gaming scenario. If you are tired of the modern RTS genre with its primitive economic system, lack of dynamic alliances and trading/diplomacy, do pick up this game. You're sure to get it fairly cheap somewhere.
Life and Leisure by
Posted on Tue, Dec 26, 2006 at 11:31 IST (last updated: Wed, Sep 26, 2007 @ 15:21 IST)
Well Merry Christmas, Happy New Year or whatever festival you celebrate at this time of the year. It's usually the time when most of us are in a festive mood (no matter what our religions) so enjoy your time off from work (or study).
I have been writing a lot of reviews of late (on harishankar.org
) and so, if you have a bit of time, feel free to send me your feedback either here or discuss them at literaryforums.org