Showing posts from June, 2011

Text based interactive games in an age of extreme graphics

In the 1980s, when I started using a computer, I had to program my own games in BASIC on my SHARP MZ PC (featured in this post). Dad had brought three fat Japanese gaming manuals from a trip to the country.  Since the manuals were in Japanese, I could not read the descriptions of each game. I would have to look at the name and any accompanying visuals and decide which ones I wanted to program. Entering the code for games took up half of my summer holidays - and checking and correcting code took up the other half. When you enter hundreds of lines of code, there is ample scope for error. Even back then, it never struck me that I hardly got time to play the games that I had so painstakingly entered. I was triumphant if they just played correctly!

Most of the games that I played were arcade games. But there was one, which was my special favorite, took the longest to enter and enthralled me like no other game. It was a text based game called Bannockburn Castle. In terse 1 line sentences of…

Can I get back my library memberships, this time on my iPad?

I have been a fan of libraries all my life. Growing up, it was Easwari Library in Chennai, where I first got introduced to Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie, Alistair MacLean, Dorothy Sayers and a bunch of other authors. When I was in college in Pune, I was very proud of my British Council student membership. I found the best books of literary criticism, great magazines, and best of all, beautifully bound hardbacks for sale at cut-price rates.

When I went to work in Bengaluru, a colleague introduced me to Eloor Library. I credit Eloor with introducing me to a wealth of non-fiction writers such as Fritjof Capra and Douglas Hofstadter.

Then I came to Mumbai, and it was goodbye libraries, forever more. I did not have time, I did not have patience, I was glued to a computer screen and frankly, I ran out of excuses to avoid commuting to the British Council Library in Nariman Point. I don't know exactly why no flourishing libraries have come up in the city - maybe the retail economics does n…

Android phones rule, for a little longer!

With Apple not committing to a release date for iPhone 5, the spotlight shifts back to the slew of Android launches with cutting edge hardware. Among the manufacturers of Android phones, HTC and Samsung in particular have always raised the bar on hardware specs, keeping geeks' salivating and interested in the platform. Let's be frank - the hardware has often compensated for the buggy OS, or even for the sheer frustration of waiting for updates.

But now, more than ever, seems a good time to spring for an Android handset. The platform is stabilised and Google has begun to work on measures that reduce fragmentation, including regularising of updates across manufacturers, and checks within the Android market place to ensure compatibility of apps with your phone.

Here are some of the hottest handsets that I have had an eye on:

1. The Samsung Galaxy S2
The S2 is a successor to the popular Samsung Galaxy S, whose sales crossed 10 million units this year. While this may pale in compari…