Saturday, April 25, 2009

My Open Source Nightmare

A couple of months back, I started gravitating towards free and open source software. I started using free anti-virus like AVG & Avira instead of Kaspersky & Norton; I downloaded 7Zip instead of WinRAR & WinZip; I even tried Gimp instead of Photoshop & OpenOffice instead of MS Office. It is not valid anymore to mention Firefox here since IE is now free, since version 8, but still I’ll mention it for obvious reasons. Most of them were good & I loved the idea of replacing most if not all of the software in my computer with freeware. That is how I decided to try Linux.

You know very well what Linux is all about unless of course you were living under a rock for a decade. So, sparing the usual introduction, I’ll get straight into it. Linux is not exactly a single Operating System, it is instead a name used to refer to Operating Systems that are based on the Linux kernel, whatever that means. So, there are many distributions tailored for specific purposes. Ubuntu is currently the most popular desktop Linux distribution and it has an interface very similar to Windows. So, I thought I should give it a whirl and in the process learn about this impressive initiative in open source collaboration.

At this point, I would like to mention that I didn’t try Ubuntu in my main computer since I simply didn’t have the courage to experiment with my main system and risk having to manage without my computer for a couple of days. So, my plan was to use the second computer (which I’ve grown to hate) as the scapegoat. Besides, the idea behind Linux was that it doesn’t need a high configuration and I also thought that it would be easier to maintain with less errors & problems.

With this pretty picture drawn in my head, I started downloading the software. I immediately ran into a problem as the download somehow discontinued before it was over. Then, I turned to my trusty torrents to complete the rest of the download. I burned the image on a CD, called up my classmate (a devoted Linux user) to get some tips/advice and then started installing it. I ran into problems straight away as the installation simply got stuck mid-way, a couple of times. But I eventually managed to get it installed.

The interface looked pretty good and the system on the whole was lightning fast. All the basic software, most of which I use like Pidgin, Firefox etc. along with OpenOffice, Gimp etc. were installed by default. I didn’t even raise a finger to install the network, but the computer was not only connected to the internet but also able to access the files in my main Windows system. At this point I was hugely impressed & I wondered why I hadn’t tried this sooner. Then, I checked for updates & there was a 2 hour worth update. So, I turned on the update & left to the cafĂ© to brag to my friends about how cool Ubuntu is.

When I returned home (after a couple of hours), the system was stuck & I couldn’t even move the cursor. I restarted the computer & fiddled around a little. The next day, it continued to get stuck a lot. So, I came to the conclusion that the problem was with the graphic card drivers & so, I removed the graphic card & installed the whole Operating System again. This time, I managed to finish the update, but the computer still got stuck for no reason.

After a couple of days, I plugged in my old printer & turned on the computer. It didn’t boot. After several attempts, I unplugged the printer & tried to boot the system. After a couple of tries, it reached the login screen, but instead of a GUI, the screen was in command prompt. I tried entering my ID & password, but it wouldn’t work. I tried recovery but that too gave some error. I reported the error to my friend & he said its gone, you’ve to re-install. I tried to re-install & it still gave some error. Even a pirated copy of Windows with a bunch of Trojans pre-installed into it wouldn’t give me so much trouble. I mean, come on, I know that Linux ain’t exactly user friendly, but this is ridiculous. All I wanted was a trouble free operating system that was open source, but I guess I’ll have to wait for a few more years. For now though, I’ll stick with my Windows..

Update: Just tried to install Windows & it still got stuck half-way through. I guess it is some hardware problem. None-the-less, Ubuntu totally crashed in a week, so, I guess I'll still stick with my decision.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Guitar Hero III vs Frets on Fire

I recently entered the world of metal music. Metal, hard rock, heavy metal, death metal etc. are simply hard to distinguish especially for an amateur like me. In fact, I typed the title of a song in google to find out the genre it belonged to & weirdly enough, one link classified the song as metal while the other called it hard rock & another called it something else. So, I guess it is really hard to classify them. Even Wikipedia didn’t help. So, lets just call it the headbangers’ music, coz that is what the fans of such music are called. Basically, you just can’t dance to these songs, but you could bang (violently shake) your head. Anyway, lets move on. Me, being a gamer, my thoughts instantly went towards games with metal music as core & I got the urge to try out such a game. That is how I decided to try Guitar Hero III.

Though the game is meant to be played with an electric guitar, I obviously played it on my keyboard. Even worse was the fact that the game doesn’t support 64bit OS & I’m on 64bit. I managed to install it, but at times the frame rate would just double for no reason & the speed changed randomly. But I fell in love with the game & so, I didn’t mind these occasional spikes in the speed of the game. I’m the guy who spent hours in Orkut’s TypeRacer to beat the score set by an old friend of mine. That, combined with my degree in typing meant that I was comfortable with hitting the key combinations at high speed. After playing the game for a day or two, I was impressed by a couple of songs which I wanted to play again & again.

After a week though, I completely fell in love with more than half of the songs in the game. The sheer thrill you get when you pull-off a complex bunch of notes playing at full speed is like hitting six sixes in an over. And when you hear the music play & when you realize that it is you playing that awesome tune, it really is a completely satisfying experience. The best part is probably when you learn to play subconsciously; to hit a set of super-fast key-combinations by just playing as fast as you can without thinking about it. I finally reached a stage where notes were too fast & too complex for me to hit. Like any gamer, I decided that the fault wasn’t entirely mine & that the problem with the random frame-rate was ruining my game. So, I decided to look for alternatives & I found one called Frets on Fire.

Frets on Fire was an open source, free game but came only with 3 songs & the users have to add the other songs themselves after charting the guitar notes, which again is a complex procedure. So, I obviously headed to their community where users had uploaded the charts for various songs & I could just import them into the game. But the users obviously didn’t have guitar track separately & so, if you miss a note, the whole music would stop instead of just the guitar track. The game also had an option to import songs from Guitar Hero & so, I went for it.

But sadly, the game still wasn’t accurate, it was slow, it was visually very inferior & it was even hard to apprehend whether I missed a note or not while playing a fast combination. The game was also buggy & I’m not sure whether it was because of my 64bit or in general. I also realized that I was missing a lot of notes compared to Guitar Hero III even when playing the same song. It simply wasn’t as much fun as Guitar Hero III. If you try Guitar Hero III before playing Frets on Fire, you couldn’t possibly settle for Frets on Fire, unless you are very interested in charting the guitar notes for your favourite songs. Thanks to the hours I spent in Guitar Hero III, I’ve also developed some taste for Rock & Metal songs. I’ve also been introduced to some great bands. If you are a Rock’n’Rolla, do check out this awesome game..

Monday, April 20, 2009

MYM.DotA Disbands

Ks.Int played a match against eSuba today in the Pick League XI tournament. To even everyone’s surprise, MYM|H4nn1 was playing Mirana for Ks.Int. After an hour, TheMaelk (captain of MYM) posted in the dota-allstars thread that his team had disbanded. Earlier, MYM lost its sponsors to the economic crisis, just after Loda had joined them. So, the brand MYM seized to exist, but the team was still there & it was one of the best teams in the world & was looking strong with their new addition Loda. Then, they lost a couple of matches against not so famous opponents. Finally, the inevitable has happened.

Though Ks.Int is my favourite team, there is nothing better than watching Ks.Int play against MYM. MYM has always been a team that I highly admired & the team is regarded by the community as the most successful team in the DotA history. MYM has been there since the SK & VP days. Neither of those teams are here anymore & now, MYM has followed suit. After losing their brand, the team used names like dJooks, [K] and Kingdom for a while. Their captain said that they had received some offers for sponsors but they are yet to make a decision. Sadly, they decided that it was time to dissolve the team.

Here is what TheMaelk had to say:

We have decided to shut down the team.

Kai has had a desire to play with for a long time. Their playstyle fits him perfectly and they have his longtime friend, Levent, and of course KuroKy who is also German, so its an obvious move for him to take. Personally I find them stronger than ever, and with their current form it's probably the strongest lineup there has ever been.

As for the rest of us, Pusher, MaNia- and I have been focusing on the upcoming Europeans Nationscup and playing with an all Danish lineup has rekindled the fun of the game. One of the reasons why we weren't performing in the end, was probably because each of us played and practiced with different teams. Kai with the Germans, Loda with his Swedes, us with our Danes whilst Ben has been more or less busy with school, meaning we had three to four different opinions on how the game should be played, which didn't work out as it has in the past.

As for Loda, I am not sure what he is going to do, but our focus is mainly on the Danish team and our actual lives over the course of the summer, so I doubt we'll be building up anything together.

Was a great ride, but it all fell apart with MYM coming to an end. I wish all of the guys the best of luck in their future teams.