Thursday, April 30, 2009


5.6 GB of Hard disk space required.

This has the most advanced graphics and effects among current fleet of gaming titles. World is full of natural beauties and interactivity. Intense combat takes place in tropical forests and various other landscapes. Game music and sound effects gives the true feeling of intense fighting. Crysis:WARHEAD is the sequel to the original game Crysis. The game storyline is pretty cheap though compared to Assasin's Creed. The character wears the Nano Suit which has a significant role in the story.

I was restricted to 1024 X 768 resolution, 2X antialiasing and No Motion Blur with this game. All the other effects could be set to highest detail. Even then the graphics looks astonishing. My system sepcs are here.

Game Music
I loved the in-game music of Crysis:WARHEAD. If you like them, you can find them inside the game installation folder. Go to the "Game" directory inside the installation folder and open the file "Warhead_Music.pak" with WinRAR and extract it. All the audio files of the game are in the archive in ogg format. You can find the long music files by looking at the file size.

It's facinating to see volumetric light effects within the game.

World is full of beautiful sceneries like this.

Sea water is just like the real thing.

Lot of objects in the world are interactive. Trees literally break apart where you shoot them.

You also get to drive military vehicles.

Make your way through dense tropical forests.

Your enemies are these aliens and the Korean military.

Here's a video of the game by Thusitha:

The game may be little bit short compared to other games. But it keeps you going right until the end with the music and heavy fighting.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Assasin's Creed

6.7 GB of Hard disk space required.

Unique and superb story line. Character animation, details, excitement in the gameplay truly superb. They have literally put all the details they can put into those big cities. You can experience a stunning gameplay although the missions get kind of repetitive in the middle. The story alternates between year 2012 and ancient 1191 (read the Wikipedia article here).

I was able to play this with highest graphics details and highest resolution possible. My system sepcs are here.

Detailed costume design plays a major role in the game. It adds to the liveliness and realism of the story.

Character movement and behaviour is truly outstanding.

You can literaly see the whole city from far away when you are reaching them.

Blending with scholars to get past the city gaurds.

Character perfectly mimics human movement when walking, running, climbing buildings and fighting.

Realistic day lighting makes the environment more realistic.

Looking around from the top of the tower.

Avery aspect of the city buildings are highly detailed. Smokes, high quality textures, realistic lighting and detailed city scapes gives you the true feeling of historic times.

The game stunningly ends with an opening to a sequel. Still no source on the release date of Assasin's Creed 2.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Games I've been playing

I thought of putting short posts about some games I've been playing in last few months. So I'll be posting an article per each game with some details and screenshots of it.

My system specs
  • Intel Core 2 Duo E7300 2.66 GHz CPU
  • Intel DG31PR Motherboard
  • 4GB RAM (2GB 800MHz X 2)
  • NVIDIA GeForce 9600GT 512MB Graphics Card
  • Vista 64bit Service Pack 1
  • Vista Performance Index : 5.5

The list of games
  1. Assassin's Creed
  2. Crysis:WARHEAD
  3. Burnout Paradise The Ultimate Box
  4. Need for Speed Undercover
  5. F.E.A.R 2
The articles will be posted within the next few days.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

DialogTV vs SLT PeoTV

This article does not wish to market any SLT or Dialog products by any means.

I have been a consumer of DialogTV and SLT PeoTV for some time now. We have PeoTV at home and DialogTV at my uncle's. Since some people have asked me about their qualities (specially about PeoTV) I thought of putting an article comparing the user experience you will get. I will not discuss about their monthly rentals or initial costs or whatever because there are official ways to get them.

Another thing to mention is that these details are gained from my experience. The details may vary for you or other customers.


As you may know, DialogTV uses a dish antenna and the receiver unit located near your television will get the signal from it. The receiver unit have several video-outs to be received by a television or any display device. Recently, guys from Dialog came and they replaced our receiver unit with a different model. This model basically sucks! It has old-style menus and the previous one was very user-friendly than the new one. I don't know why this happened but if you have a simillar story please do tell in the comments section.

PeoTV needs an ADSL connection to operate though the receiver unit is not directly connected to the telephone line. The receiver has an ethernet port where you can give an output from an ADSL router. Assuming you have another computer at home, both the computer and the receiver can be connected to the router. When we bought PeoTV they provided a 4-port router. But that router model has very limited capabilities compared to a usual D-Link or Prolink router we use. As I remember, its make is UTStarcom.

Startup Time

Both DialogTV and PeoTV has an initial delay to display the TV channel on screen. For DialogTV, this is only a single phase. You switch on the device, it scans the signal then it starts displaying video.

For PeoTV, there are two delays. Assuming you haven't connected to internet already, the router needs some time to connect to internet through ADSL. Then the receiver unit needs some time to connect to the PeoTV server and begin downloading channel menus and the video stream.

Intial delay for PeoTV appears significantly larger than the delay of DialogTV.

User Experience

This is the most important aspect of any commercial product, but there are significant shortcomings of PeoTV in this area.

Navigation in Channel Menus
Basically the PeoTV receiver unit is an internet video streaming device. It connects to the video server through internet and display video outputs on the TV screen. Channel menus are merely web pages (and poorly designed ones too) which takes ages to load. I know this because some times it displays "Web page unavailable offline" error message on the TV screen. Even when the menu is fully displayed it's very hard to navigate and select channels. The device is very slow to respond to key presses from the remote. For example, when you press the arrow key it takes like half-a-second to move the selection rectangle to the next item. It's like browsing the internet in a very slow computer!

Before you jump into any wrong conclusions, I have to say there's no problem with our ADSL connection. It operates really fast as expected when browsing the internet and we can watch YouTube videos straight away without waiting for buffering.

Jumping Between Channels
As most of us do, another way to change channels is by using the Channel Up-Down keys on the remote. This is faster than going to the channel menu since there's no need to load and display a web page. You just jump straightly to another channel. Although this is possible on PeoTV, the device literary gets stucked if you do it too much! By "too much" I mean the normal usage pattern of any user. We tend to change channels frequently and we don't have to think about the strain it puts on the device!

You don't have problems like this in DialogTV. When you need to change the channel you go to menu and just change it. That's it. It very much responsive than PeoTV.

Video Quality
There's not much to whine about video picture quality in PeoTV. In fact it is pretty good. There's an initial shuttering for few seconds just after you switch to a channel but that's excusable since the video stream needs some time to be buffered.

With DialogTV you have these occasional glitches of squares appearing and stucked video which is pretty annoying. This maybe due to effects of the ionosphere on the singal transmitted from the sattelite. Other than that, the experience is the same as PeoTV.

Time-Shift TV

This is a facility solely provided by PeoTV. Despite all other shortcomings, PeoTV can get ver useful with this facility. Time-Shift allows you to go back in time (up-to 48 hours) and watch any program that was telecasted within the last 48 hours. You get fast-forward and rewind capabilities when you are watching anything. Even if you are watching a live cricket match you can rewind the video and watch the places you missed. (Of course you CANNOT fast-forward into future!)

There's no alternative provided by DialogTV for this facility.

My Favorite Channels

This part is fairly personalized. Some of my favorite channels are missing from PeoTV. Although Discovery and National Geographic are available on both, I miss AXN, Pogo and ZeeCafe from PeoTV. PeoTV does not provide any other channels worth watching either.


Considering all these facts, it seems DialogTV provides a better user experience. On the other hand, PeoTV provides the time-shift facility which maybe loved by some users. In short, DialogTV is simple and responsive while PeoTV is complex and bloated. This is a good example showing that when we incorporate more and more featured high-tech devices into our lives, we have to face the overhead they puts on us. Nor DialogTV, nor PeoTV is as simple as classic television we get from the good-old RF antenna!

Please put your experience on the comments section.


There's another very disturbing fact about PeoTV. If you have both PeoTV and ADSL, you HAVE to use the same crappy router they are providing to access internet as well. If you plug your own router, you will be able to access ADSL, but PeoTV won't work. PeoTV receiver unit requires the provided router in order to access PeoTV server.

This is inexcusible since their so called router has very limited functionality. It requires "dialing" (PPPoE) to connect to internet which has few drawbacks including single-user limitation and lack of support on Linux platforms! So if you are a heavy internet user with multiple computers you might be better off with DialogTV.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Tweet Tweet!

Twitter! It's the latest explosion in social networking. (and probably the most simplest one as well!). It's becoming so large even its servers can't handle the load. The idea is to follow other people's status updates while others are following yours. But the beauty of this is you can transform it to any use you want. David Pogue puts it nicely, Twitter? It’s What You Make It (link from @akilakalum). I will try to explain the force behind Twitter using technical concepts that we learn in Computer Science, so I can better understand it myself!

In my opinion, the reason behind the abilty to transform twitter into anything you want, may be the "Policy and mechanism separation". (Those who know my 4th year project know what this means!) Unlike Facebook or other social media, Twitter doesn't implement so many policies (other than that 140-character limit!). It only provides a simple message multicasting mechanism to share your ideas. You can build your own policies on top of that mechanism.

As I see it, the only core rules that twitter enforces are,
  1. You have a queue of messages. (Your twitter account)
  2. Messages (you can call them status updates if you want), are limited to 140 characters each.
  3. You publish messages to the queue. (by updating your status)
  4. Others people can subscribe to your queue. (by Following your account)
  5. You can subscribe to other people's queues. (by Following them)
  6. When a message is added to a queue, subscribers also receive it. (Those who follow you, receive all your status updates)
That's it! Although it took me 6 points to write it, you can see it's just a publisher subscriber queue. Twitter is just the middleware hosting all the queues of users! There's a lot you can do with a publisher/subscriber middleware like this. You can use it as a news feed, notification service, advertising or even propose marraige!!

User-based Policies
  • In addition to the core policies enfoced by twitter, the community have developed some policies (or standards) over time to make it more user friendly. Speaking of terminology, Messages are reffered to as "Tweets".
  • In addition to publishing a public message, you can publish a message targeting a specific user. For that, the message is prefixed with @[username]. These directed messages are known as @replies (pronunced "at-replies"). But since @replies are just ordinary messages, other subscribers also receive it. (remember, only core policies apply! all others depend on how you interprit them) But everybody knows to whome this message was sent for, so they will ignore it if they are not interested.
  • You can pass a message you received from another, to your followers by prefexing the message with RT @[original-sender] (RT stands for "re-tweet"). This is like saying something you heard, to your friends while crediting the original person who said it. Again, remember, these are just ordinary messages. Users themselves have adopted these standards on their own.
Companies are using Twitter to advertise about their products. This includes technology giants and even Bakeries (link from @akilakalum). Some people have automated tweeting through the use of sensors and mobile phones so a new message is published every time an event occurs. Even really famous people are on twitter and anybody can follow them. Some I found are Mandy Moore (@TheMandyMoore), Demi Moore (@mrskutcher) and Senator John Mchain (@SenJohnMcCain) and Ravin Perera (@ravinsp) :-P

I have just begun using Twitter. So right now there's no use for me from it other than receiving good links and intersting info from other people I follow. Time to time I also put interesting things to be received by people who follow me. (I don't have so many followers actually!) So if you really don't have anything else to do, follow me on

Finally, a one comparison with facebook:

If Facebook is a global directory service, Twitter is a global notification service.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

NS2 - Network Simulator

We got an assignment which required us to write and run a script on NS2, the popular free and open source network simulator. This is what I followed to do it on Ubuntu 8.10.
  1. Download and install NS 2.33 on Ubuntu according to instructions shown here:
  2. When you run ns from the terminal you can enter an ns prompt. But I didn't use this prompt to run scripts. I simply ran ns with the script file as the command line argument. (for example ns myscript.tcl)
  3. You write ns scripts using a language called Tcl. This tutorial: is really great for learning Tcl scripting from the begining.
The tutorial walks you through creating network topologies, data flows and even drawing graphs with Tcl. See images below.

After runnnig a script, you get this visual simulation where you can analyze in detail what is hapening on the network

A graph drawn using output files and X Graph. Output files are also compatible with GNU Plot


This image shows the same data file drawn using Excel. Two output files were created for two test cases.


Ubuntu NVIDIA Control Panel

Ubuntu 8.10 now has a control panel for NVIDIA graphics cards. My graphics card is NVIDIA Geforce 9600GT. This control panel has almost all the features you have in Windows NVIDIA Control Center. You can access it via System -> Administration -> NVIDIA X Server Settings

It includes settings for screens, color correction, OpenGL settings and even GPU statistics which shows processing power and the core temperature. See images below.