Friday, July 13, 2007

Higher Education??

I am quite astonished to learn that Mr. Christopher Paolini, author of renowned novel Eragon is 19 year old teenager. I am more surprised to learn that he had decided not to pursue college after high school. You sure need great understanding parents and hell lot of believe in yourself. Sure I am damn inspired.

Mr. Paolini was always good at writing and has taken inspiration of works like "Lord of the Rings". There is a very good comments and advices here http://www.teenreads.com/authors/au-paolini-christopher.asp

If you are hard working has passion for what you want to do... impossible is nothing. I am damn inspired.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

PS2 Hacks

Alrighty! I know Playstation-3 is talk of the town and every child's dream. But there are many people out there (including me) who bought their Playstation-2 last year and hasn't got it milked completely.

Very recently I came across some interesting PS2 applications which opened doors to multitude of options. One thing lead to another and at end of the day this is what extra I can do with my PS2

1) I can play DivX (man they play way better than PC)
2) I can play MP3s
3) I can load programs from my USB drive (no more burning DVDs, hurray!)
4) I can load stuff from network

Following are some utilities and links which should get you started on getting all this and possibly much more from plain old deprecated console. Most of the information is already there. What's missing is these very softwares. (HINT) But you can get nearly all of them from torrents (/HINT)

1) SMS Player: Plays DivX, MP3, provides support for both PAL/NTSC. Provides virtually every feature you can think of while playing a DivX. Can load movies from USB drive. After getting it I have stopped playing movies on my PC. Playstation plays it more smoothly and gives better resolution. I have configured my PS2 with my TV Tuner card. While playing a DivX on a PC media player most of the times I get to see movie in only two-third or less of the screen. Rest is cut. But SMS players allows to gobble up entire screen without any lose in quality. You must see it in action to understand the difference. Not sure how much PS2's hardware capabilities contribute in this. You can get it from here http://sms.ps2-scene.org. They have disk images but I recommend that you burn the latest release yourself.

2) Swap Magic: Magic? Huh! What can be magical about a PS2 utility which is not even a game? Well embrace yourself. Good (read Great) things do come in small packages. This nifty little piece of genius can play pirated PS2 games without modchip. Apart from that it lets you play video format of other regions (PAL/NTSC selection). This is how you use it.
  1. Boot PS2 using Swap Magic disc.
  2. Select appropriate options.
  3. Eject Swap Magic disc (now you know why it is called Swap Magic)
  4. Put in the game disc.
  5. Enjoy :D
3) uLaunchELF: Its pronounced as mu-LaunchELF to be precise. This utility lets you boot PS2 homebrew from network or USB storage. Apart from simply saving you from burning lots of DVDs it can help keep you up-to-date with latest release of any software without burning new discs. For e.g. you can chose to run SMS player from USB drive using uLaunchELF. So no more burning a new disc when a new release is out.

4) UsbExtreme PS2: This is the software you need if you want to play games using USB hard drive as storage medium. This suite has a windows based utility using which you can format a particular hard disk partition and transfer multiple PS2 games onto it. Secondly it has a bootable CD using which you boot your console. This utility can than load the game from hard disk. Cool! right?

I have used all these utilities very recently. Reason I am so excited about them is that I never knew they existed. I am sure there are many more PS2 softwares out there (PSLinux for one) which can add an entirely new feature to an old new console :).

In any case I will get a Playstation-3 by next year. Assassin's Creed demos are amazing.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Bystander Effect - This May Save Your Life One Day

Courtesy a fellow redditor (reddit.com), I learned something bizarre today. When I think about it, it makes total sense. Bystander effect is simply the name given to crowd behavior in a tense situation. More information here

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bystander_effect

According to wiki page and real life cases shared by people on reddit, you are more likely to get assistance if you are with a single person than when you are in a busy marketplace. Its not like people do not want to help but they look for direction i.e. initiative by someone. According to wiki they may think they are less qualified to help or are afraid because of social shame (what?).

I personally think any help is good help when someone in front of you is stabbed but well this is human nature and I may not be as much in control when I am in front of my computer as compared to in a place full of strangers watching something that I have only seen in movies.

So in scenario like this, according to studies people tend to take action by taking clues from others present there. Problem is others also trying the same and situation is sort of a deadlock in computer science terms (ohh, couldn't stop pointing this out :D).

So remember, in such a situation instead of asking for help from a crowd, single out someone and ask for help. This way that person will feel responsible for the situation and is more likely to assist you out or direct onlookers present on the scene on what to do next.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

First Experience - Torrents

I am not new to torrents as in I know what they are and how they work but I never downloaded one.

Why?
Simply cause I always used to think without ever trying that they be slow, very slow. Primary reason was the thought that I be uploading simultaneously while downloading so at the max I be getting half the available bandwidth. That on a 256kbps connection makes it impossible to download movies, games etc. Direct link on HTTP would be way too faster.

Right?
Wrong! Firstly I never realized that I have 256kpbs upstream together with 256kbps downstream. So uploading will never have any effect. Secondly, big files are available on sites like Rapidshare in chunks. If you are a freeloader (like I am :)) than RS will ban you after every download for certain period. Also you will have to visit site again and enter captcha for all the file chunks. So it is slow. In fact very slow.

While downloading torrents I download from multiple hosts and utilize complete bandwidth. I can simply schedule all downloads in a single interface.

So here is how I download torrents.

1) I goto torrentz.com and search for game or movie I am looking for. If multiple results are returned for the same file I chose one with max available up hosts (torrentz.com provides this info)

2) Thats basically it. I use ĀµTorrent as BitTorrent client. Its small but feature packed. So far it had every feature inbuilt I thought of using. Some are scheduler, priorities, custom bandwidth settings per download.

It generally takes me 10 hours to download 1GB worth of data. So pretty much everything all shows, movies, games are in my reach 24 x 7 :)