Saturday, June 16, 2012

10 Great Blogger Themes You Should Check Out

I wish Google had done more and add maybe something else to Blogger's customization. Blogger is such a great and easy way to blog but, simply loses out to Wordpress when it comes to the themes and the customization department.

Although CSS customization is brilliant, not everyone is comfortable using it. Anyway, while I was looking on the internet, I found some great themes for Blogger. Below are these themes in no particular order. Hope you like them ;)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

System of a Rat?

I'm 24 years old. It feels awesome to be 24 years old. In the world's eyes, you're an adult capable of achieving many things while in your mother's eyes, you're still a kid. Uhm.. Just that you've grown a couple, ready and willing get around the challenges the world has to offer.

Just like you, I've seen and experienced life's journeys, scaled the ups and downs, breezed past many events. I'm glad and happy that I've had to experience many things. While there have been situations that I regret being in, situations that I regret creating and situations that I'm glad I've experienced. Ah, might sound dramatic but, hey, I'm being honest.

So, considering the very memorable events that have happened lately, I've considered recording them in this form. I won't be able to write about what actually happened but, I just wanted to record my takeaways from everything that has passed since.

The last few months of my life were consumed by philosophical references and preaching to a person I loved very much. Events transpired in such a way that we had to break up. Not only did that create a deep impression in my life, it just crumbled everything I had so strongly believed in. Most of it - my fault.
Well, love does that to people. It did it to me too. I was lost, lost in thoughts, lost in darkness and the disbelief that all my effort had been reduced to ashes. Although it doesn't really matter now, it was an important part of my life and what I believed was "an important phase."

Truth about Iran and it's Nuclear technology

Iran is a signatory of the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and has had over 3000 surprise inspections that resulted in discovery of no nuclear weapons in the country. US allies, Pakistan, India (my country) and Israel are not members of NPT and unlike Iran, are all armed with nuclear weapons. No sanctions or threats are made against them. 

According to reports on the internet from independent press, Iranian nuclear technology for industrial grade processing of Uranium is about 5 to 10 years away. Iran has never possessed or used Atomic weapons and for that matter, the only country in the world that has ever used an Atomic Bomb, that too on civilian targets (Hiroshima and Nagasaki) is the US. Yet, no one seems to call that a war crime. Thousands of people had died, their homes and cities destroyed. Even today, these cities carry ripples of the inhuman attack that US ordered against Japan.

As for the threat from Iran that the US government so much parades about in the media, Iran has neither attacked, invaded nor made war on another country for over two centuries. It has not used any sort of chemical weapons against Iraq even when the latter used Weapons of Mass Destruction (supplied by the U.S.) including chemical warfare against Iran in its 8 year war starting September 1980 to August 1988.
The Iran-Iraq war, Picture Courtesy, LIFE.
Now, various US administrations on the other hand have been at war, bombed, strafed, organized a coup, etc. in at least 20 countries over the last 60 years. Iran does not possess the technology to deliver even a conventional weapon to Europe. Iran's military budget is $5b a year, less than 1/100th of Pentagon's spending and about 1/100th of what the US has already spent in Iraq. 

So much for American diplomacy and major media bullshit that people believe to be true about Iran. You need to watch this video to understand what is really going on,

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Finally, Finally on DotA 2 Beta!

Yea, maybe it's a lame thing to say but, I've loved DotA and I've played DotA for quite sometime now. But, since the time Valve took over the responsibility of advancing it forward, I've not been in touch with DotA whatsoever. Although, the wait for DotA 2 and the beta has been exciting, although I've posted news about it, I've never really been keen to play DotA 2 for some reason. Okay fuck you. I never got a key :-/

But anyway, since my best buddy, PlayDotA chief of staff- Wykrhm Reddy has been actively involved in the DotA 2 awareness campaign in India for so long now, I've finally managed to use special sabotage techniques to acquire a beta invite. Coool, no?

Anyway, check out all the brilliant art he does for DotA 2 on his Facebook Page. Read up more on what's to come on DotA 2 on his Blog- WyksBlog.

Allright, I've got 10 minutes for the game to finish downloading. See you in-game :D

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Internet and Social Media - Being Responsible versus Government Censorship

If you're reading this, then I would presume that you're concerned just like me, just like one among the 100 million internet users in India today. You may have heard about the Indian Government using policies and laws to have ISPs block websites or use the police force to conduct unwarranted raids and arrests against people who've vented their frustration online, drawn cartoons of a politician or share information about some influential personality? What do you think is going on? Why do you think this is going on? Read on to find out.

Firstly, we need to understand something that is very simple and logical - The Internet is a tool built BY the people, FOR the people. The Internet has grown to become one of the strongest mediums of communication and this of course, just like science, is a boon and a curse when used the right or the wrong way.

While the internet can be a great tool for learning and sharing knowledge, research or communication and so much more, it has also turned out to be a strong tool for individuals spreading false information, causing distress and unrest among people by sharing disturbing pictures or videos, defaming individuals, polarizing people to fight for their motives and so on. 

While we have seen how internet has helped spread awareness about cancer, there is also clearly a group of participants who have created hate communities, extremist religious groups to name a few. Considering all of this, the Indian Government has all the right to worry about issues like defamation, politically conjured falsified information, hate communities driven by religion or other sentiments for national or personal Security of the government and its framework's personnel. The Indian Government has all the right to worry about certain groups that have great networks and influence, groups that have been able to usurp a country's government, cause instability and generate riots based on falsified information, manipulated images and footage using the power of social media or online press.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, you need to know that there are intelligence agencies and institutions, media agencies, political groups, corporate groups, espionage experts and many other groups who have mastered the art of mind control via Social Media. The Israeli Mossad, the United States CIA and FBI, media agencies like Fox and CNN and so many more. While there is evidence of this all over the internet, by the time you reach the end of this article, I'm sure you'll be looking for information on your own. "Conspiracy" is another word that media outlets or stakeholder agencies use quite often when the reality of evidence stares at them in the eye. Thus, most such evidence (some of which are pure theories) are simply cast aside in categories in a folder labelled "Conspiracy."

Anyway, most groups are made for a sole purpose. That purpose could be to rally people, influence government policy and use other carefully researched strategies to create tension in places of question.

As we speak, Syria, a victim of false information is currently struggling to gain control over terrorist groups (who call themselves rebels) using social media, press, mass media to spread false messages about people "wanting freedom." I strongly urge you to do your own research on this. Of course, these terrorist groups are aided and funded by bigger powers. This is part of a completely different picture anyway.

Supporters of  Libyan Leader and African Ambassador Muammar Gaddafi. Framed as a Dictator and War Criminal by certain Groups, they fueled NATO-led bombings, killing innocent children and civilians. They destroyed the Libyan Government using falsified information via Mass Media and Social Media. Just like Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Egypt, Somalia and Libya, they're currently destroying Syria as we speak. All with the power of Media - Social, Internet and Mass Media.
Now, anyway, getting back to the issue at hand, it is important that we understand that we need work with the government to fight messages of hate, defamation and technically any content that our common sense considers nonsense. Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or any social media platform for that matter have "Report as Abuse" buttons that can be used to report objectionable, questionable, offensive content. 

Of course, although all of those feelings depend on perception from person to person, you have to come to a societal understanding, a common ground if you will. While a nude picture of Goddess Lakshmi is offensive to some, it may look like a work of art to someone else. So, there are ethical dilemmas everywhere, but a common societal understanding is required to find a way to understand the impact of content on people.

The internet has pictures of important people with tags that may or may not be true. For example, there could be a picture of Mr. Narendra Modi against a backdrop of dead muslims with the tag - "This man killed them." A photo like this could quickly pass over a social network if not controlled. This piece of information has not been proven to be true and sharing it with your friends only confirms the fact that you "believe" this to be true. Of course, there is no evidence to prove that Mr. Narendra Modi has done anything like that. If you find something that you think should be shared with someone, please verify sources like Wikipedia. It is incorrect to spread false information or encourage spreading false information. It is also our responsibility to steer the internet in the right direction and ensure that the internet only holds the facts and the truth.

We built the internet and I believe that we need to be more responsible. Somebody once said, "We haven't inherited the earth from our ancestors merely just borrowed it from our children." This seems to stands true for the internet as well now. The internet is a thriving platform of many possibilities and it is as important as anything else for our lives. It is certainly our responsibility to eliminate content that is baseless and false. The internet is a place only for facts and truth. The internet is like a textbook of Physics and Maths. Everything can be understood and proven. This is certainly the ecosystem we need to create for future generations.

Now, sometimes, our attitude doesn't allow us to participate in certain activities. We don't usually care about someone who's fighting against corruption, fighting against felling of trees or industrial waste in rivers, fighting against abuse of women and so on. We are hardly informed about petitions like the one that is fighting to have Monsanto's GMO food banned from our country. We are just too busy to care. We are busy having a good life and we cannot be blamed at all.

However, it is certainly essential that we rethink how "10,000" likes on Facebook can cure a baby suffering from heart problems. We need to rethink how a message that is begging you to forward the same to someone else can impact you or someone else. We need to be a little more critical and aware when we come across messages that want to get to your friends and their friends and so on.

There are a 100 million internet users in India. How many of them do you think know about the fact that the government has already asked ISPs like Reliance, Airtel, BSNL, MTNL to block websites like Google Groups, Yahoo Groups, Vimeo, Pastebin, ThePirateBay and so on? It is not until there is a public outcry on the internet that the government or the necessary authorities from the government re-think their decisions.

Massive corporations in our country can also seduce politicians in the Indian Government into "controlling and regulating Internet" just like how the USA has been lured into with SOPA, PIPA and other nonsense they keep innovating. Corrupt politicians can work with anyone to satisfy their corporate paymasters. We need to be a little more aware and critical when we're online.

So, we have two things - The control of Internet and the blocking of websites.

The control of the internet and the regulation of internet is our major concern today. We also need to know that there is a whole new generation of internet users. A generation that can make or break the internet depending on what they are influenced by. Lets not let the government decide what we can do or cannot do on the internet. Instaed, lets use our tools responsibly and actively participate in educating others, share the right information and report abuse when we think it is right.

I strongly believe that the Government should NOT participate in blocking websites that promote file sharing or Peer to Peer sharing- whether legal or illegal. They have no right or authority to block websites that promote file sharing. But, they have all the right to warrant action against individuals, with evidence and prove that they're a threat to national security or peace. There is a fine line between Freedom of speech and taking advantage of personal freedom. 

We cannot let a few rotten eggs screw up the internet for us. Freedom of Speech means you're able to deliver your opinions on anyone, vent your frustration in any manner, but  not causing harm to the person. Cartoons, Sarcasm and funny pictures have always been ways of expressing our responses to things that impact us. But using the same freedom to compile falsified and manipulated information, hate quotes or politically, religion driven messages, passing it on to other people or other networks is bad and misleading. It is criminal and needs to reported to the right authorities - either the website owner or a local law agency.

The internet is for us, built by us. So, let us use the internet responsibly. Lets not let anyone, especially the government, decide what we get to use on the internet. Let us not come down to that. Please.

Sin City 2 - A Dame to Kill For Gets a Release Date

What took them so long!? 2005's Sin City was such an awesome comic book adaptation with a great respect to Film Noir Art. It took them 7 years to decide that they wanted to make a sequel? Check out this Sin City trailer if you want to know what I'm talking about. Then, scroll down for some great news :)

Best known for his film-noir style comics Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, 300, Ronin and such, Comic Book writer Frank Miller and Part 1 director Robert Rodriguez are working on a sequel now titled "A Dame to Kill For" dated 4th October 2013!

The movie is going to be based on the second graphic novel zeroing in on characters Dwight played by Clive Owen and his lovely prostitute sweetheart Gail played by Rosario Dawson. Check out this poster below!

Monday, May 21, 2012

My Tribute to the Legendary Jesper Strömblad of In Flames

Swedish Melodic Death Metal outfit In Flames grew from the roots and foundations that Founder and Guitarist Clas Håkan Jesper Strömblad laid for the band in 1990. Since then, they've grown from the being pioneers of the unique Scandinavian Melodic Death Metal sound to bringing some of the most unique and pleasing tracks that we all have come to love and enjoy.

It's been 2 years since announcing his departure from In Flames on 12th February 2010. When I hear In Flames' new albums, I wish Jesper was part of their success.

Jesper, I wish you all the very best with your current projects Dimension Zero and The Resistance. Here's my tribute to you.

Max Payne Comic explains Max's Childhood and more

With Marvel's partnership, Rockstar developed Max Payne 3 is getting more awesomely good with a comic. Apparently, the comic is going to explain more about Max's childhood and expand a bit on the elements that make and complete Max as a person in a troubled world.

I still remember the first game, the atmosphere it built and the feeling it delivered. There was something about Max, something dark and mysterious that we always wanted to know.

It's being written by Rockstar's Creative Vice President - Dan Houser and Remedy Entertainment's Co-Founder and lead writer - Sam Lake. They're bringing Max' Childhood back to life. They've also promised to tell us what happened in the 8 years between Max Payne 2 and 3.

Sounds good to you? What's even more better? I've got some scans :)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Pictures - The Love for the Great Natives of Americas

I love Native Americans. They've taught us many things that conventional and modern education has failed miserably at. Anyway, I can go on and on about it. I'd rather just leave you with some great pictures.

NVIDIA brings Cloud GPU Technology to the World, Re-Defines Gaming and Graphics Industry

NVIDIA, Graphics Technology Manufacturer kicked off the 2012 GPU Conference by unveiling an all new ground breaking “Cloud GPU” technology. The Cloud GPU features technology that allows accelerating cloud-based applications by utilizing the enormous computational power of the Graphics Processing Unit or GPU in short.
After having spent five years in the making, NVIDIA showcased the power of the new tech based on their new Kepler GPU Architecture designed for use in large data centers. The Virtualization capabilities of the new architecture allow multiple users to share GPUs. NVIDIA has developed a system that allows cloud services to be powered by these GPUs that allows anyone to play games on just about any device without having to bother downloading games or worrying about performance capabilities of the device they are on.
“Kepler cloud GPU technologies shifts cloud computing into a new gear,” said Jen-Hsun Huang, NVIDIA president and chief executive officer. “The GPU has become indispensable. It is central to the experience of gamers. It is vital to digital artists realizing their imagination. It is essential for touch devices to deliver silky smooth and beautiful graphics. And now, the cloud GPU will deliver amazing experiences to those who work remotely and gamers looking to play untethered from a PC or console.”
The Enterprise Implementation of the Cloud GPU Tech allows providing seamless remote computing capabilities allowing even the most demanding applications to be streamed to a notebook or a mobile device via the NVIDIA VGX Platform.
The Gaming Implementation of the Cloud GPU Tech features the all new NVIDIA GeForce GRID technology that enables anyone to play just about any game on any device on any display without having to worry about the graphical or performance capabilities of the device. Cloud Game service providers like Gaikai or OnLive can use this technology to remotely deliver magical gaming experiences, with the potential to surpass those on a console.
Check out this video below showcasing the power of the GRID technology powering Cloud-based gaming service providers. Video courtesy, The Verge.

It'll be really interesting to see what AMD is going to do with the 8-series cards. Apparently, AMD is to release their 8000 series cards in 2013. AMD has been at the forefront of Cloud computing and I personally believe that they've contributed more than just processing power to Cloud Computing. There could be a chance that AMD may lose out on the share that it built for itself with cloud computing contributions due to NVIDIA's entry into Cloud GPU tech.

Although there is not much that is known about AMD's thought process with the 8000 series cards, I hope they make something nice! Anyway, Check out this image talking about the upcoming Tenerife 8000 series GPU.

Please Note: This is a cross-post from where I write.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Square Enix India and the Future of Indian Game Development

Japanese Game Development Giant and Publisher Square Enix recently announced their plans of expanding to the Indian subcontinent following which they announced a Game Development Contest in the hopes of unearthing some of the best talent for developing games.
The idea is to find talent, nurture talent and to work with them in the future to develop games for the growing handheld and smartphone market. For this, the Square Enix team, captained by Mr. Fukushima has been conducting roadshows in New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai. The roadshow is to help Square Enix connect with many students, indie developers, free lancers and game companies.  This base in India is to act as an active participant in the Japanese Giant’s active participation in the handheld segment. Square Enix’s current plans are to setup offices in the cities of Hyderabad, Bangalore and Mumbai, with each of these subsidiaries (probably) focusing on specific needs of the studio’s game projects.
In his visit to Hyderabad, India, Square Enix Co-Founder and Honorary Chairman, Yasuhiro Fukushima organized a roadshow offering Game Development Contest participants more insight into the company and explained rewards on offer for the contest. Accompanied by Mayank Mathur, India division team member, Fukushima explained and offered insight on why Square Enix was so eager to hop into the Smartphone development bandwagon so early.
In a candid exchange of words, where Mayank’s fluent Japanese offered to play the part of a translator, Fukushima poured his deepest thoughts on why he believed Square Enix’s foray into the Smartphone, Handheld market was necessary to add to their contribution to the game industry and also on how it could help Square Enix grow from a hardcore games company to an entertainment service provider across various platforms.
In 2003, Square Enix was formed as a merger between Masafumi Miyamoto’s Square and Yasuhiro Fukushima’s Enix – two big players in the Japanese entertainment industry offering books, manga, games and more. Since then, the company has been known and applauded widely for it’s beautiful RPG titles like Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest and the Kingdom Hearts series. Mr. Fukushima offered that Enix came about following a PC game development contest called “Game Hobby Program Contest” in Japan. Apparently, during his time, if a PC game sold more than 800-1000 copies, it was considered a blockbuster. Fukushima worked with game developers who built games for the contest that sky rocketed Japanese PC game sales to over 20,000 copies helping him start his company’s foray into Gaming. By bringing this idea to India, he predicts that the same process will repeat itself.

He believes that instead of working with established studios, it is essential to find and unearth talent – people who are passionate about playing and making games, people who are not caught in the procedural functioning of an established studio, people who still have ample creative zeal. He believes that contests build strong groups through which these people can tap their hidden potential in creating some of the most unique and engrossing game ideas that can be transformed into a great gaming experience.
An Architecture Degree drop out, A 22 year old Yasuhiro Fukushima travelled across the world in search of  many jobs for survival with a dream of starting a Company. From Japan to the United States, Cambodia to Africa, Singapore to India, Fukushima has traveled extensively and learnt many cultures and tastes. By building a strong team, he would love to pour his thoughts, ideas and cultural experiences to facilitate building fascinating and interesting games that the audience in India and other parts of the world will come to enjoy.
When I asked him about how Square Enix planned on combating the problem of Piracy that is predominant in the Indian Game Market, he said, “I travelled here in November 2011 and shared ideas during a Nasscom Round Table conference. We’ve decided on building a Unified Payment Model that will allow gamers of all ages to pay for games or products without having to borrow credit or debit cards from their parents.”
He also offered that this Unified Payment Model could be used by other companies on the platform to turn piracy into incoming revenue. More details on the Unified Payment Model will be revealed soon it seems.
Currently, The Indian Games Development industry offers a host of services across various platforms to major game development giants across the world. Although, their services are exceptional, it gets extremely difficult for these highly talented studios to build their own games. The fear of taking risks is high in addition to which, a major problem is funding and sustainability. Fukushima predicts that in the next 2 or 3 years, India is to witness a game development boom that will allow major fundraisers to participate with companies to build games.
There is going to be a major change in the gaming space that will bring gamers and developers closer with more forums, game communities, fan-created content and so much more. More importantly, due to the amount of innovation, advertising, availability and purchasing models, he predicts that taking risks is going to be fun and rewarding.
Although Fukushima took a 5 year break from Square Enix’s operations, he has closely observed the game industry play out the paradigm shift from hardcore gaming devices to casual and handheld spaces. While we’ve seen a strong rise or drop of software and hardware sales for legacy platforms, Smartphones and Handheld sales, entertainment software for these platforms have grown very strongly. Having Square Enix make games for the casual and hardcore audiences on handheld devices will allow the company to offer their products to a growing audience on these platforms across the world.
“Studios and development groups associated with Square Enix are to benefit greatly due to the it’s brand presence and quality of content that Square Enix has delivered over many years. Hence, the fear of funding or sustainability can be easily put to rest.”
I asked him if he had any advise for students or budding talent who’re looking to make it in the Games industry, “If you are a Student, I have to tell you that it might look big and difficult initially. You might not know where to begin. The trick is to make friends who are very passionate towards gaming and game development. The amount of learning that is gained out of discussion, debate and projects is greater than any other in this world. I urge that you create your own path. It will get very difficult to establish yourself in a market that is thriving with competition but, remain dedicated to your passion because dedication will automatically make you learn and master the skills required to become a successful artist,” he advised students before he left for the day to get some rest and prepare for his roadshow in Bangalore and Mumbai.
I left the venue honored that I had the opportunity to talk to a very influential man, a man who helped build gaming from a very young age, a man who’s currently counted as the 40th  richest man in Japan, a man who is single handedly, actively funding over a 100 villages in Cambodia, providing them money so their children can go to school and grow up to become great individuals, a man who’s humbleness is outstanding, a man who’s continuing vision for Square Enix is allowing the company move forward in style. A man who is full of inspiration. wishes Square Enix all the very best with their Indian Project and wish success in the days to come. As for you, fellow gamer, be prepared to meet some great experiences.

Please Note: This is a cross-post from where I write.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

India Gaming Carnival presents Dummies Guide to Scamming Indian E-Sports

Indian E-Sports continues to stand the test of time thanks to people from WTF Eventz and others who’ve successfully managed to sabotage the pride of Indian E-Sports and any future of large scale events.
Earlier this year, we reported the Indian Gaming Carnival (earlier called GameCON) as the biggest event in this part of the world. Yea, the event was big and so was the promise. The event was one of it’s kind and many involved directly or indirectly with the professional gaming scene in India had a lot of expectations from the event. However, it turns out that it was actually the biggest fail Indian E-Sports rendezvoused with.
The event touted the following,
-Spanning over 21.8 acres at Ayatti a super premium property in Greater Noida.
-Over 200,000 expected attendees with 20,000 gamers in a period of 3 days.
-Prize money of Rs 1.5 Cr (USD 300,000) in total.
-After Party each day with category ‘A’ performances.
-Various international teams and players participating in the tournaments.
-Gaming across all verticals – PC, Console, Mobile/Tabs.
-Celebrity Visits.
-Exhibit space for over 200 brands.
-Attempt to break Guinness world records.
-Seminars on various aspects of Gaming.
-Dress as a Gaming/Anime character and win prizes (COSPLAY).
-Product launches and various other activities.
Not only has this event failed Indian E-Sports and anything to do with the phrase “large event,” the event also destroyed the sand castle that Indian Professional Gamers have tried to fortify for so long. We’ve got some information to help justify the argument.
The venue, Ayatti convention center in Noida, Greater Delhi, neither had electricity nor internet on Day 1. Apparently, Battlefield 3 and StarCraft 2 gamers were even ticked off by the organizers who were not sure if they were to host or cancel these games. Fortunately, BF3 and SC2 gamers got together at a friends place and organized their events much to the surprise and satisfaction of pro-gamers from these two game communities. Karthik Gopal, StarCraft 2 professional gamer from India had to write, “We went and ran a tournament completely out of a friends place. 14 pc’s linked with the internet and ran the WHOLE SC2 and BF3 Tournament without your help (IGC).”
“Lies, bullshit and more lies. Now what I put down as the story is what I heard. I don’t know how much is true and how much is not, but this seems the popular opinion,” he adds.