Just a thought

My experience with sniper rifle in FPS games

Posted by stringofthoughts on April 7, 2009

aw50-scopeSniper rifle is my favorite weapon in a FPS/TPS  video game. I can’t wait to get my hand on this baby 😀 . I’ve been playing video game for a long time especially FPS (War-WWII / Action genre). Some of the war based games i played are Deadly Dozen, Medal of Honor, Battlefield Vietnam, Call of duty, Conflict Desert Storm, Delta Force: Black hawk Down. Recently I played DOOM 3 and Far Cry. The point is i kept on playing games as games released and never played back. Once i finished one I moved on to another one.

mosin-nagants-scopeA week ago a friend of mine came asking for Call of duty CDs. When i had the CDs i thought let’s install and play once more :). I was really surprised I was having hard time playing it again. You know what the reason was the game itself. I’ve been playing advance games with very informative HUD , complete situational awareness and advance weapons but when i came back to WW-II background i had nothing. It was kind of irritating because you don’t know where the enemy is suddenly you find yourself in the middle of firefight and get shot 😦 . This actually made the game more intense.

springfield-m1903-scopeNow the sniper rifle. In advance games besides having an overall situational awareness the sniper rifle scope itself provides great deal of info. I like the AW50 Sniper rifle in Far Cry. Once i got this weapon I never left it. It’s got great zoom and packs a lot of power. Also here no other snipers are hunting you 🙂 . Now let’s look at the sniper from Call of duty 🙂 the scope had no zoom and the overall background of destroyed building it was very difficult to spot enemy snipers. You think it’s clear let’s move ahead and you got hit in the head.It took me a while to adapt with sniper.

The total experience of playing with a say inferior rifle 🙂 was very different than the first time i used it. First time it was powerful and favorite weapon but after getting the taste of advance sniper rifle it kinda sucked. But then again it’s Call of Duty 😛

Posted in Video Games | Leave a Comment »

T.Sonic 820 Vs iPOD Classic

Posted by stringofthoughts on April 6, 2009

When I started looking for an MP3 player iPOD was around. Actually it was the only MP3 player people knew (Kudos to the marketing team) but it wasn’t for me. I started searching for all available mp3 players i found Creative zen, Sandisk sansa, Philips mp3 player, iRiver MP3 player and Transcend T.Sonic. A lot of people know Transcend from it memory products especially RAM (Random Access Memory) and now the flash drives.

When i looked through the features available in these MP3 players i was amazed. iPOD has got nothing in the name of features. It does one thing play mp3 files and now models are coming with video and photo features.

Let’s take a look at the vast features of T.Sonic 820 mp3 player.

tsonic-8201.5-inch (128 x 128 pixel) color OLED display for playing videos and photos; plays music, video (.mtv), and photos (.jpg, .bmp); MP3 player supports MP3, WMA, WMA-DRM10 (subscription music), and WAV music formats; FM radio (FM radio recording and the ability to preset 9 FM radio stations); advanced digital voice recorder, ability to read e-books (.txt); Karaoke-type lyrics display; Direct line-in recording using an external microphone, or line-in connection; VAD (Voice Activation Detection) for high quality gapless audio recordings; Playlist builder; A-B repeat function allows you to continuously replay a designated section of a track; variable track playback speeds; supports 12 user languages including song/artist name display; USB Flash Drive capabilities for data transfer and storage; included software can be used to lock your computer and setup passwords for your files; 7 Equalizer effects that include a customizable USER EQ setting; powered using a rechargeable Li-ion battery (fully charged battery supports over 15 hours of continuous music operation); hi-speed Mini USB 2.0 port for easy computer connectivity; and fast file transfers; and Real Time Clock (RTC) displays local and world times

At the same time i was looking for a portable radio and a Digital Voice Recorder. I had options like buy a phone with radio+MP3 player and buy a separate Voice recorder. T.Sonic solved all my problems and guess how much it cost me 😀 $70 only 🙂 and iPOD was almost double the price.

I don’t understand why people prefer iPOD so much when there is a lot of alternatives available and having much better features and worth every penny when compared to iPOD. A lot of people says it has better sound quality. Who compared the sound quality I won’t accept apple cuz they have to say it’s better than others.

If you look into the device itself Apple doesn’t make the IC’s. It buys and the fabricate the player. It uses ARM7 microcontroller and for audio it’ll need an audio codec IC. Now these audio codecs are manufactured by Texas Instruments, Analog Devices and other semiconductor giants. All the ICs are equivalent in performance and every MP3 players uses some sort of codecs. so sound quality is not that different. I can at least say that for T.Sonic vs iPOD . The real difference comes from the type of headphones you are using, It’s frequency response, impedance. The headphones are the ultimate output devices.  So just use a better headphone 🙂 .

I find T.Sonic way too good than iPOD. Even compared to the new iPOD cuz iPOD doesn’t provide the features i need. T.Sonic is a multipurpose tool iPOD is just an expensive flashy mp3 player.

Posted in Technology/Products | 2 Comments »

TATA Nano (The People’s car)

Posted by stringofthoughts on April 5, 2009

tata_nano12Nano is launched in India on March 23 2009 🙂 . It’s a cute little vehicle. All the buzz about this vehicle is it’s price tag : Rs 1,15,000 (approx US $2300). Tata is aiming for $2000. That would be nice i mean look at the bike prices Rs 70,000 more or less. Put some extra money and bring a 4 wheeler home (sounds like an ad line 😛 ). I read in the newspaper that one family went to do shopping for clothes on weekend and ended up buying a car. Guess which car? Media is giving it so much hype I can’t believ  it.

Here is what i think. I am from a small town where every house has at least one  two-wheeler and it works just fine. There is no traffic in small town. So if everyone buys this small car there won’t be any problems like traffic jam , parking spaces etc. The chances of accidents are very small especially because there are no long roads so there is no speeding 😀 ( small towns are awesome). The towns like Raipur, Gwalior , Bilaspur, Raigarh etc where major population is usually middle class families. So for these towns this car is a very good gift.

Let’s change the scenario, come to Mumbai 🙂 . I’ve been living in Mumbai for past eight years and it feels this city has reached it’s limit. It’s got all sort of problems like dumping trash, water supply,  living space and  guess what’s the condition of traffic. Let me give you and example from Andheri(station) to Powai it takes hardly 30 mins to travel if traffic is normal but in the evening when people are returning home from office it sometimes takes up to 2 – 3 hours. That’s the condition of traffic infrastructure in Mumbai. Ah wait the parking space …ummm… forget about it you are not gonna find one 😦 .

So imagine now from a middle class family perspective they are now a proud owner of a new 4 wheeler. (I believe Tata must be planning to sell  in millions.) And from the city perspective there is no improvement in traffic infrastructure but  there are now thousands of new 4 wheeler on the road :). What’s the point on being in car if you are always stuck in traffic. People should use public transportation but anyone who has been to Mumbai or lived there knows how crowded it is. I don’t understand how this is helpful for a big city.

Important note about Nano’s crash testing :

A lot of people don’t know the whole thing about Nano’s crash testing :). Tata, which has the only crash-test facility in the country, said that the Nano “exceeds current regulatory requirements”. And while it is not a deathtrap – it has crumple zones, seat belts and strong seat anchors – it is worth bearing in mind that total vehicle crash testing (rather than just frontal impact), airbags and antilock braking systems are not mandatory.

Without these, the Nano would not even be considered for approval in Britain. Adding them would double its price in India, which is why they have been omitted. This is why Nano’s price in Britain is approx. US$ 6000 (INR 3,00,000).

It makes me sad how the safety is compromised to keep the price down in India. Passengers might survive the head on collision at moderate speed but side collision ( on square or on T section etc) could prove deadly. This is not being told to people. I hope people know this before buying this wonder car

I think Nano is wonderful for small towns it’s a gift but it’s a curse for metros.

Posted in Technology/Products | Leave a Comment »

Sarah Connor Chronicles is doomed

Posted by stringofthoughts on April 5, 2009

As I was wondering in my earlier post what’s wrong with TTSCC, now I’m certain writers are on drugs or something. I mean WTF they killed Derek just like that. Derek was the one good character in the show. Charlie is fine , kill James Alison , kill anyone else but Derek. That’s just sad. You know what writers of TSSCC, kill Sarah Connor in the next episode and put this charade to an end. This series is now messing with my Terminator taste now. Especially when Terminator 4 : Salvation is so close to release.

There is no action in the series, not anymore anyway. Lena Headey is definitely not Sarah Connor material. I hate her now. I loved her when I first saw in the movie “Imagine Me and You”. Although she was a lesbian florist in that movie so I can’t argue 😛.

I was looking forward to this episode but I was disappointed beyond words. Thinking in real I terms i feel like the show has been cancelled and the writers are just wrapping things up. I know fans are up filing petition for season 3 but do us a favour and kill Sarah Connor :D.

Posted in TV Series | 1 Comment »

Search commands in Linux (Ubuntu)

Posted by stringofthoughts on April 5, 2009

File searching is one of the very important task and also very frequent task.  Fortunately for us there are few very awesome shell commands available to achieve this. locate, find and grep. locate has improved implementation in different distributions like slocate, mlocate and rlocate.

Locate:

locate command doesn’t really search the disk for your query. It search in a database which keeps the PATH info of the files in the system.  whis is usally available in /var/lib/slocate/slocate.db or /var/lib/mlocate/mlocate.db . This database is automatically updated on a regular basis by cron, a small program that runs in the background, performing various tasks at regularly scheduled intervals.  You can update the database manually by issuing the command

$ sudo updatedb

The problem with locate is that it could give you wrong results because database is not updated in real time. Files added to and deleted from the system after database update will not show up in locate query. so in this sense this is not very good tool.

slocate:

slocate is security enhanced version of locate. It works the same way as locate except it also stores the file permission in the database. so when a user calls it I’ll only show the file in query user has permission to access. This is good feature for a multiple user system.

mlocate:

mlocate is another implementation of locate. mlocate is quite similar to slocate in the security sense the difference comes in updating the database. The m stands for merging. mlocate keeps the timestamp on the files and while updating database it uses the existing database. This makes update much faster and less demanding on HDD. This feature is only available in mlocate.

rlocate:

rlocate is the ultimate search tool. It works the same way as locate work, it uses a database but the awesome thing about this database is that this database is updated in real time. What does that mean? Well it means if you delete, add, copy of move a file inside the system the database will be immediately updated. It achieves it using is kernel module that intercepts all paths modifications and a daemon that logs those operations on a differences file

Locate usage:

$ xlocate <options> <file_name(s)> // x = s/m/r

It also displays the files which contains the queried string. let’s say you are searching for a file “task” and the system has other file like “task1, task2, your_task etc” it’ll print each of these file.

Find:

$ find <directory_path> -name <file_name>

$ find / -name msp430 // searches system for file with string msp430

$ find /home/geek/ -name msp430 // searches /home/geek/ for file with string msp430

Find works very straight forward way. It searches the whole <directory_path> one file at a time. so it’s slow but it’ll never give you wrong result like locate/slocate/mlocate could. It’s little slow but works fine for me.

Grep:

Grep is awesome and also one of the reason i love Linux. Grep is a command line text search utility. It’s very useful for example you use the simple command ls quite often but let’s say the directory contains hundreds of files then you’ll have a hard time looking through the list. This is where grep comes in. Let’s say you want to search for files which contains the name JAVA in it.  here is what you ‘ll do

$ ls | grep -i java

Pipe [ | ] combines commands in Linux shell.  ls generates the list it gives it to grep and grep looks for the word java in each line and prints only lines that contains java. -i makes the search case insensitive (grep is case sensitive by default) let’s say checking your nVIDIA graphics card model number (in case you forgot or you are using a different machine).

$lspci | grep -i nvidia  // lspci displays pci bus info and devices

So these are the useful search commands in Linux. New Linux users start using shell more often. It’s confusing at first but it’s the most powerful tool.

Posted in Linux | 1 Comment »

Installing nVIDIA drivers in Ubuntu (short)

Posted by stringofthoughts on April 3, 2009

This is the short version of my earlier post on the same topic with a lot of explaination. If you want the full explaination click here.

The system i’m using is a Dell XPS M1530 laptop with nVIDIA Geforce 8400M GS Before you go through these steps remove all the nvidia packages that you ‘ve installed while trying to make the driver work.

Download the nVIDIA driver package NVIDIA-Linux-x86-180.44-pkg1.run . This driver support these graphics cards. ( Always check nVIDIA driver page though)

$ sudo apt-get update

$ sudo apt-get install linux-source

$ sudo apt-get install linux-headers

$ sudo apt-get install gcc build-essential

$ sudo apt-get remove xserver-xorg-video-nv

Restart the system.  When the login screen comes type Ctrl+Alt+F1 . It’ll take you to command prompt. Log in and execute these commands

$ sudo /etc/init.d/gdm stop

$ sudo sh NVIDIA-Linux-x86-180.44-pkg1.run

Follow the instructions. Say No when it asks for downloading the precompiled kernel from it’s ftp site and choose to compile the kernel. Update the xorg.conf

$ sudo reboot

Posted in Linux, tips 'n tricks | 2 Comments »

Installing nVIDIA drivers in Ubuntu

Posted by stringofthoughts on April 3, 2009

‘ve been trying to install nVIDIA drivers in my friends laptop ( Dell XPS M1530) for quite sometime. Tried a few months back but no luck and I gotta tell you there is not one simple step by step procedure written anywhere out there. Everybody is writing about it but i guess those people are Linux experts but for a new user it doesn’t help much. when I failed once again 2 days ago i brought his laptop to my room this morning and after a few trial and few hours of reading README files and other crap on net. I was finally able to install it correctly. So I’m gonna write a step by step procedure for installing nVIDIA drivers in Linux.

This is a very detailed version with a lot of explanation. If you want a short version of this click here.

System : Dell XPS M150 with Ubuntu 8.04 LTS (Hardy Heron)

Graphics card : nVIDIA GeForce 8400M GS

Steps ::

1) Update the system. This is very important step (especially for new users)

$ sudo apt-get update

or you can use the graphical update manager.

2) Go to nVIDIA page and download the file  NVIDIA-Linux-x86-180.44-pkg1.run . This driver support these graphics cards.  For your reference use this README file on nVIDIA driver installation.

3) The nVIDIA driver installation script needs a precompiled Linux kernel ( of the version you are using). If you don’t ‘ve a precompiled kernel it’ll try to download from ftp://download.nvidia.com , just say NO. It’ll say something like it couldn’t find any precompiled kernel interface so it needs to compiles the kernel 😀 . It is for this step you need the GCC compiler (latest version of-course) and the kernel source (for the image you are using). This was one of the the reason behind running updates 🙂 but you should always keep system updated.

4)Open synaptic Package Manager and download the source for your kernel. or from command line

$ sudo apt-get install linux-source

$ sudo apt-get install linux-headers

Tip : Ubuntu repositories only keeps source for the latest kernel so once again don’t start without running update

4) Although you updated the system, Check if you have GCC compiler installed but if you don’t have it just run

$ sudo apt-get install gcc build-essential

After these steps you ‘ve the files need for installing nVIDIA driver . 1) The driver file NVIDIA-Linux-x86-180.44-pkg1.run .2) The Linux kernel source 3) The GCC compiler.

5) Now we need to remove the remove the  driver for X.Org X server, which is currently running your system :). This is very important that you remove this package before installing new driver.

$ sudo apt-get remove xserver-xorg-video-nv

Restart the system. In the next boot you would get a very low resolution like (800 x 600 ) 🙂 but don’t worry about it. When the login screen comes type Ctrl+Alt+F1 . It’ll take you to command prompt. See before you can run nVIDIA driver file you need to stop GDM (Graphical Display Manager). so Log in and execute these commands.

$ sudo /etc/init.d/gdm stop

$ sudo sh NVIDIA-Linux-x86-180.44-pkg1.run // be in the same directory

6) Follow the instructions. Say No when it asks for downloading the kernel from it’s ftp site. Say YES when it asks for compiling the kernel. It’ll do the magic and in the last step say YES when it asks for updating the xorg.conf (Otherwise you ‘ll have to do it yourself and I know you don’t wanna do that 🙂 )

7) Reboot the system

$ sudo reboot

And you are done 🙂 . See that was not that difficult, If only someone would ‘ve explained in this much detail 🙂 ….. Now Have fun with Compiz 😀 .

Posted in Linux, tips 'n tricks | 23 Comments »

DOOM 3

Posted by stringofthoughts on April 2, 2009

I am big fan PC games especially FPS (First Person Shooter) and Sci-Fi / Horror. I have to say DOOM 3 is the creepiest game I’ve ever played. DOOM 3 is a horror masterpiece.The more i played ahead in the game it was like crawling inside my skin. I used a nice headphone instead of speaker which made is more awesome.

doom3

The first thing you would notice about the game is that it’s too dark. So dark that sometimes you might be standing right in-front of the creatures (in dark) and you see ’em unless you use your flash light. The use of flash light is another new thing in the game. You can’t attach it to your gun, meaning either hold the gun or the flash light. This changes the game play drastically. If you had a flashlight mounted gun you wouldn’t mind going inside a dark room but when you have to switch in between it really sucks and it’s scary. you go inside with flashlight, you are making your way through and suddenly a creature jumps in front of you, you immediately switch to gun and now you can’t see it. you see why this game is so scary.

Another thing that makes it more scary is the audio effects. It slowly builds a psychological state of mind that you start to feel that you are really there. Whispers, sounds of insects crawling, sounds of spiders attacking you. growling. Sound is everything what makes this game so damn scary.

doom3-spide-head

There were time in the levels that I was actually afraid to play ahead or I would at least remove the headphone or reduce the volume. Kudos to the design team and whoever came up with all those scary creatures like burning flying skulls, spider babies, skull spider etc and these are small but they always attack in large number 😐 . There are also a lot of huge and very huge monsters and the sound they make….. it just stays inside your head all the time. here checkout this link for DOOM monsters 🙂

Whispers, it makes things very spooky. for example your going through a hall way and suddenly you hear whispers of a women and then babies crying and lights starts to flicker. Whispers are so real with headphone it feels like the spirit is just by your sides. They show you what happened there and they also guide you.

doom-flying-head

A noticeable thing is that DOOM 3 uses a lot of daemonic symbols made out of fire  like crosses , pentagon, star inside a circle.  These symbols are mainly the entry point of monsters. The moment you hear a scary voice/sound and these symbols stars to appear on walls and floor you better prepare yourself. I feel these symbols have a psychological effect on the player and from the games perspective it really helps to notch up the horror environment besides the skeletons, blood everywhere and flesh sticking all around 😐

There is so much more about this game that can’t be described in words. You can’t feel it unless you play it.

PS. Doom 4 has been announced

Posted in Video Games | Leave a Comment »

Network Manager (Ubuntu 8.10)

Posted by stringofthoughts on April 1, 2009

Ubuntu is one of my favorite Linux distribution. I ‘ve been a happy user with Ubuntu 8.04 LTS (Hardy heron) but when i changed to Ubuntu 8.10 i was not impressed. There are a lot of bugs like this one in it’s network manager. You setup a static IP and it works really well until to reboot the system and the whole setting is gone. It’s kinda annoying. The good thing for me from this bug is that i learned how to setup network manager manually 😀

You nee to update 2 files for this /etc/resolv.conf and /etc/network/interfaces. resolve.conf contains you DNS (Domain Name Server) and interfaces contains your network information like IP, netmask and gatewy.

So here are the step

$ sudo apt-get remove –purge network-manager

Now update your DNS server

$ sudo gedit /etc/resolv.conf // open resolv.conf

Enter your DNS

nameserver 10.200.1.11      // Change with your DNS
nameserver 10.200.1.12

Save the file

Now update your network interface

$ sudo gedit /etc/network/interfaces // open network interface

Enter IP, Netmask, Gateway

auto lo eth0
iface lo inet loopback
auto eth0
iface eth0 inet static
address 10.5.1.7                  // Change with your IP
netmask 255.255.0.0      // Change with your netmask
gateway 10.5.250.1          // Change with your gateway
Save the file

Now, just restart the networking:

$ sudo /etc/init.d/networking restart

And that’s it 🙂 . Now you know how to change network settings manually.

Posted in Linux, tips 'n tricks | Leave a Comment »

Power of Open Source (CAELinux)

Posted by stringofthoughts on March 31, 2009

This distribution is one of the reason I love Open Source. This live CD, CAELinux is a gold mine for students, researchers, colleges or anyone who wants to do Finite Element Analysis.  CAELinux is Computer Aided Engineering Linux.

Some features of CAELinux

  • Dedicated to CAE and more specifically to finite element simulation
  • Includes the integrated 3D pre/post / FE solver package SALOME_MECA 2008 which  represents the fusion of Salome v3.2.9 GUI and Code-Aster v9.2 finite element solver
  • Offers a complete solution for CFD with OpenFOAM 1.4.1 , Gerris , Code-Saturne and Openflower solvers
  • Contains several 2D & 3D CAD/pre/post packages: Paraview, Visit, OpenDX, Netgen, Tetgen, GMSH v2 (updated), Salome v.3.2.9 & QCad
  • Includes other simulation softwares for multiphysics simulation: Elmer v5.3 (updated), Calculix v1.7, Tochnog, Impact (updated), MBDyn (updated)
  • Offers several scientific tools like GNU Octave (+ Koctave GUI & Forge), R & Rkward, Scilab, wxMaxima and a full set of development tools / compilers.

Here checkout the screenshots.

CAELinux is based on PCLinuxOS and all the softwares are released under GPL so it’s all free 😀 . See Students now you don’t need to pay hefty licence fee for softwares like “Ansys” . Promote open Source Softwares by using it for free.

Posted in Distributions, Linux | Leave a Comment »