Monday, January 23, 2006

A couple of movies I recently saw....

Rounders is a movie about Poker. It starts off with Mike(Matt Damon) losing miserably in a game against a Frenchman "KGB"(John Malkovich) and thereafter vowing never to play again. But the guy's a genius. He comments he can even defeat a group of judges at Poker blindfolded, after having figured out the exact hands each one was playing. His friend Lester(Edward Norton) , having just gotten out of jail, is shocked to find his old friend has quit. But soon, the two friends start playing together, after Lester insinuatingly persuades Mike to start up again. But, Mike soon finds out Lester is ripping him off and ends up owing $15,000 to KGB. Meanwhile, his girlfriend's left him when she finds out he's started gambling again. This is not an underdog story. You don't feel ecstatic at the end of the movie ; you feel comforted and satisfied, after having seen Mike suffer for something that's not even his fault and finally overcoming it, by playing an unbelievable last game against KGB. You cannot get away from what you are, no matter how hard you try - that seems to be the moral of this movie. And it's stylish ; Matt Damon excels in his scattered monologue and can really deliver that I-don't-give-a-damn-I'm-a-genius character, that he played in Good Will Hunting. The movie had some appealing visuals too and overall, was entertaining. Definitely worth watching.

eXistenZ is a movie about virtual reality(VR) - Reality being simulated in a game. Allegra (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is a game designer, who's spent the last 5 years developing a 38 million-dollar game. The interface to all such VR games is a bio-port - A hole at the back of the spine into which a cord is attached. The other end of the cord goes to a game-controller ; which is actually an organism, with its own neural system, built from parts of various animals and engineered to simulate reality. Everything goes haywire from the very beginning. An assassination attempt on Allegra leads her and Ted(Jude Law), a PR guy for the company promoting the game, to go into hiding. They soon plug into the game Allegra developed - "eXistenZ", and start playing. Some interesting observations are then realised. The game has a start-point, where a character tells you what you should do next. From there, you're on your own. Your character has it's own motions and instincts, which are displayed as the game progresses. An ingame character goes into a loop, if not confronted with the right dialogue. A loop is similar to a program loop, where the character blindly moves his eyes up and down and stares, dumbfounded at the floor or the ceiling. Soon, Ted cannot distinguish from the game-world and the real-world. They all seem the same ; the same texture and ambience rots through everything he sees. Even after pausing the game and returning to the real world, he still feels it's a game. How do you know where you are, if you can't tell the difference between what's real and what's not? Simple, you cannot. Having looked closely, I realized that eXistenZ can itself simulate another game environment and set up VR games from within itself. Forget VR controllers simulating reality ; this is VR simulating VR. And you can go as deep as you can, you can have a VR game running from within a VR, which is under another VR environment. The movie depicts exactly this, and saying anything more would give away the ending. I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone, even though the visuals are forgettable at best and the acting just so-so.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Ooga Mooga Ga

GNU's list of funny "C" declarations are hilarious indeed. Some of these are ingenious, actually. Personally, I think code, especially the ones that are a little difficult to understand or even otherwise, should be written in such a way that, people who happen to come across it should find it curious or amusing or even plain funny; 'cause if they do, then they might atleast take the effort to learn and understand it. Of course, writing obfuscated code is taking it a bit too far. I mean, seriously, any programmer worth his hat, should atleast take a glance or even a sideways teensy-weensy peek at any piece of code that appears interesting; even if it is not in his or her area of expertise, it would'nt harm to take a look at it. It's happened to me tons of times. One line, one lousy, stinking, good-for-nothing line that has a wierd statement, or a function declaration, or the name of a variable, that's all it takes to grab my attention. That's partly why reading the Linux source code is quite enjoyable at times. And that's also exactly why you should code a bit differently, or humorously, if possible, 'cause if you think you've written something interesting, then you better grab all the attention you can get to it. After all, there's a gazillion lines of code out there, and not as many programmers. So, put on you thinking cap and start writing code, "code that boldly goes where no code has gone before." May the source be with you.

As a sidenote, this is something I came up with as I was writing this post:
struct on_you; /* You know....the movie???? "Stuck On You"?? Ring a bell????...Oh, come on.... */
void aleehooo; /* would have made a yodeller proud */
float er_ahoy;
[courtesy digg]

Three To Tango

The 3 movies I saw over the weekend.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


What would happen if someday, someplace, you met yourself?
A question that is hypothetical at best and better left that way; at least till we find a way to hitchhike in the fourth dimension. But, what would happen if, one day, we somehow came face-to-face with our own self? Now, I don’t mean the physical self, but I’m rather more interested in the mind, or the spirit, or the karma….you get the drift. So, how will you feel if you met someone who thinks and behaves exactly like you do? I mean, this person, except for his or her appearance, likes everything you like, hates all the things you hate, dresses up exactly like you and basically has all the niceties and oddities that you might possess. What’ll be your first impression of this person? Will you be elated at having discovered something; something that feels so personal, like finding a toy you’ve hidden in your childhood?
Well, for me at least, I know it’ll be quite an astronomical shock. As far as I can remember, I’ve never met anyone who share all their passions with mine, who get irritated at all the miniscule and irrelevant things I get irritated at, who laugh at all the things I find funny and also hate the things I positively despise. Suppose I met myself, say at a coffee shop and we start talking. Now, I obviously don’t know the other guy is actually me and neither does he. So, we chat for a while and suddenly discover that we have almost everything in common, overlooking all the facts of life, like parents, schooling and stuff. We both love the same kind of music (mostly new-age, rock and alternative), the same authors (Crichton, Rand, Christie, Austen, Woolf, Tolkein….), the same sit-coms and also the same genre of movies (Surreal, Horror….). We also love technology and have lately taken up an interest in classical music and fine art ( we also quickly realize that neither of us understands what exactly art and music is, but want to find out exactly how it’s worth millions of dollars). Having extinguished this initial high-intensity flame to a cinder, I finally settle down and briefly sip my tea. Now, I always feel like an outcast when I’m in a coffee shop, ‘cause I don’t like coffee at all. I’m a tea guy and always will be. So, having ordered whatever basic tea that this joint had to offer, I immediately realized that the guy in front of me had also ordered tea. “Tea in a coffee shop. I feel like an idiot, but I can’t help it. I hate coffee” – he tells me. “Amazing. I was thinking the same thing” – I say. Wow, this person likes everything I like. Fun!!!! So, for the next few days, I meet up with this guy a lot and discuss everything I’m working on right now, talking about all the crazy stuff that I'm trying to implement. I also discover this guy loves Linux and has a keen interest in the same areas that I just enjoy working on. So, I come up with some good solutions and insights to most of these problems. But, very soon, I discovered that I never felt completely satisfied with the way I’ve solved it. There’s no sense of anticipation or discovery anymore. No sense of excitement or the realization of having done something wrong, or overlooked a minor detail. Everything felt so dull and dreary. It took me a while to realize why. I figured out, I cannot learn anything new from this guy ; I know nothing that I’ve not known before I met him that day. Moreover, hearing the same thoughts, like an echo, both from within my head and from his mouth, was beginning to get boring. It sounded both monotonous and repetitive. The next time we met, he told me that he was feeling the exact same thing. Whatever he was thinking came out of my mouth and he felt it best that we both go our separate ways. I agreed. We shook hands. We left. Opposite Ways. As I was walking home, it started drizzling. I stopped and looked up at the sky. Water ran down my hair and face. Strangely, I felt warm and fuzzy inside. I immediately knew he was feeling the same thing. We wished each other and resolved to meet up in the future.