Thursday, July 31, 2008

Me the Gamer

I've been a computer gaming-freak for as long as I can remember. I was introduced to this monstrosity called a Computer back in 1993, when we bought a 386SX-33Mhz that had 2MB RAM with a 113MB Hard Drive. SVGA monitors used to be cool back then and possessing one drew your friends and cousins to your place to check it out. Kher, it started with that game Dangerous Dave, LOL! Yes, that little guy jumping around dodging creepy spider-like enemies on its way to the door out of each level. I remember I used to copy games from other friends on 14inch-floppy disks, now extinct of course (but I've still got those disks stashed somewhere!).
Prince of Persia 1, Skyroads, Wolfenstein 3D (The first 3d-shooter ever!) were some of the highlights of those early days.

After a couple of years, we upgraded to an 8MB RAM just so that I could play Mortal Kombat 3 :P. It was totally worth it, the game was awesome and had me glued to it for many days. Crazy Cars 3, BC Racers, Wolfenstein 3D extensions, Warcraft 2, Duke Nukem 3D, DOOM, Lemmings, NFS, Starcraft you name it I've played it! FYI, you can find a lot of these classic games up for download on In terms of 3D gaming genre, the next breakthrough of sorts was when Quake was released. Fast, beautiful and realistic (for those times), it was an instant hit! and with multiplayer support and several patches/mods, it was there to last.

So, as you can imagine, the list is endless :). Some games that have occupied me for the least couple of years include Unreal Tournament, NFS Series, GTA Series, Warcraft 3, Call Of Duty series, Medal of Honor series - again, to name a few. Right now, I'm playing Assassin's Creed, a bloody fantastic game with enough detail to put your graphic card in overdrive!

You'll notice the ever so famous Counter-Strike missing from the list. That doesn't mean that I haven't played it ... it's just that I haven't developed quite the liking for it that has others glued on it for hours and hours no end. I used to play it a lot too back in the college days, but there came a point when it became too addictive, not to mention a total waste of time. Do you find the time to still play a few games every now and then?

Friday, July 25, 2008


I just finished watching the Star Trek Enterprise series (previously referred to here). This series had the misfortune of being the first to be canceled by the network airing it rather than it being ended by its producers. And now that I've seen the whole thing, I must admit I could see where they were coming from. Enterprise Season-1 went on air in 2001, and its last season (Season 4) aired in 2005.

The total flop of Star Trek - Nemesis movie didn't help matters at all, and to this date, I haven't a clue about exactly what they were thinking when they made that movie. Given it had extraordinary special effects, yes, but it also had a very ordinary storyline and worst of all, they decided to kill DATA! Horrible! Anyway, back to Enterprise: ratings for the series in question took a plunge after Nemesis debacle and Paramount decided to pull the plug on it, making it the first trek series to meet this fate and ending a 17-year run of trek shows on tv!

If you ask me, it just didn't live up to the high standards set by its predecessors. There were no captivating story-lines of DS9, fantastic acting of TNG and Voyager nor the character-development of all three. It just lacked in all departments and even though it was still good in its own right, but, like I said, not good enough. Incidentally, the next trek movie is being produced by J.J. Abrams (of LOST fame), and its set to be released in May 2009. Although I'm not a great fan of LOST, but here's hoping that J.J. Abrams would do a good job of directing it and hopefully bring back the glory-days for the franchise.

Dr. Randy Pausch passes away

Dr. Randy Pausch, whose last lecture I posted here on my blog, has sadly lost his battle with pancreatic cancer and has passed away today. Rest in Peace doctor, your last lecture was something truly worth remembering.

Read MSNBC Story

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Girl Runs Away from President Bush

As some on Digg said:

She's not scared, she's just allergic to concentrated stupid.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Hasna Mana Hay

Need I say more? :)

Waisay, this would be perfect for a photo caption contest!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

GRE Preparation Tips

Following on my post earlier on TOEFL iBT Preparation tips, I'm penning down some helpful links and tips for doing good on the GRE. I managed to rake up 1350 in GRE last April, with 630 in Verbal, 720 in Quantitative and 5.5 in Analytical Writing. While I was pretty satisfied with my verbal score, my quantitative score was pretty disappointing. Read on and you'll find out why. Btw, this post also includes excerpts from my post on TestMagic forum here.

Beating the GRE isn't exactly easy. You need to put in some time in the preparation before you can expect a real good score. Preparation-wise, the books I consulted were Barrons, NOVA and ARCO (for the Analytical Writing section). Besides these, there are some pretty cool websites out there you can use to prepare including, (funny name I know),, Peterson's free online practice test, to name a few. Then there's PowerPrep ofcourse whose tests offer a real measure of your prep - at least for Verbal.

I did the entire prep thing in 2 months time. I had just graduated, and wasn't working so had ample time to draw up a schedule for this duration. During this time, I did the entire Barrons master word list (3500 words), quantitative prep from the books mentioned above, and not to mention writing practice from NOVA, ARCO and Like I said, I did the entire Barrons list in 2 months time, averaging roughly 1 word list per day. Initially, it took a lot more effort to memorize the words but once I got used to memorizing, it wasn't overly difficult at all. Be sure not to break your momentum though, for e.g., if you go 3-4 days without doing a list, you start to struggle. In other words, draw up a schedule and stick to it. Also, the important thing is to keep revising! I revised all the lists done in the preceding 7 days at every weekend. I finished the entire list 20 days before the test, and revised 3 times more before the big day, and every time the cycle of revision was less. The result of all this effort was that I remembered 99% of the words. I scored 670 in verbal in my first PowerPrep and was overjoyed! I guess it wasn't to be in the real thing. Still, this should get you into the 90% percentile on verbal like I did.

Speaking of PowerPrep, I scored 1420 and 1400 on the two powerpreps I gave a couple of days before the test. I thought the quantitative questions on Powerprep are a lot easier than the actual test. After the initial Writing section, I had quant. and it went horrible to be honest! (in terms of time-consumption that is!) , and for that I think ALL books are useless because none of the questions there were remotely as difficult as the ones presented in these books. They were, however, extremely complicated and time-consuming! I couldn't manage my time very well and ended up guessing on the last 7! Yes, last seven !! I honestly believe I could have scored more in the verbal section that followed had I done quant. better! So take my advice, don't rest assured of the fact you've done Barrons quantitative prep, YOU NEED TO DO MORE!

The tension level invariably rises as the big day comes closer. I had stopped studying 3-4 days before the test and would do 1-2 exercises per day at most. This helped me relax leading up to the big day where the most important thing is to stay calm and not to panic. If you can manage to hold you own in the test center, you'll do just fine otherwise if you panic, time flies at warp speeds and you'll be guessing on questions before you know it. I guess I don't need to emphasize the importance of getting the first 5 questions right in GRE's Adaptive testing format. You are allowed to take your time on the first few questions as their importance cannot be stressed enough, but after that you need to pick up the pace and work your way towards the end before time runs out. It really is a time-management test as much as it is a test of your verbal and analytical skills. So, good luck and remember it's not the end of the world even though it may feel like it. Just stay cool and you'll be fine :)!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Some "Democracy"

So, it's been over a 100 days since those elections that were reveled as if they were a panacea, as if they were supposed to solve everything. Oh how terribly wrong we were! This is not a pro-Musharraf post by any means, but you can't help but think if things would be just as bad had he been in charge. I mean, we're still fighting the militants in FATA, we still have a puppet PM, and to make matters worse we have just witnessed the highest rise in inflation in Pakistan ever! And where are our political leadership when needed the most, in London? Dubai? Washington? Why are they there in the first place? What is wrong with staying in PK and solving long-standing disputes vital to the stability of the country? Is everything to be blamed on the past government?

I don't know about you but I think this government's days are numbered if they continue to act like muppets appeasing god-knows-who and acting in everything but Pakistan's interest. Good riddance, if you ask me.

Of Religion and Ignorance

There are many educated people who have ruined their future on account of their ignorance of religion. Their knowledge did not prove of any avail to them.
Hazrat Ali (A.S)

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Dr. Israr's Blasphemy

Readers of this blog will vouch for the fact that I tend to stay away from religious debate, as we seem to have different interpretations and after all, everyone is entitled to their opinions and beliefs. But this time, Dr. Israr has really crossed the line for me. His comments, aired on June 12th on a QTV program, are shockingly sacrilegious and leaves one wondering: what the ?#@$ was he thinking?! I addressed the following letter to PEMRA and sent it to the editor of DAWN. Hopefully it'll get published.

The recent deplorable comments by Israr Ahmed on QTV are a cause of shame and disgust for all Muslims. One can only judge the true intentions of a speaker by the selection of issue. By narrating a highly controversial tradition from a dubious source that contradicts the very essence of Islam - as Imam Ali (as) embodied whatever Islam is - Mr. Ahmed has shown an incredible lack of rationality and objectivity. Mr. Ahmed deliberately tried to put doubts in minds of the unwary and stoke flames of sectarianism, in pursuit of fulfilling his satanic agenda. However, the responsibility of this act does not end with Israr Ahmed. The team of QTV responsible for producing this program share equal blame for their severe lack of competence in screening this venomous content, which has the potential of causing great social strife. Subsequent apologies from the ARY Network notwithstanding, this is a case-in-point for taking measures against incompetence of a media outlet by PEMRA.

In this regards, we ask the regulatory authority to severely reprimand the administration of QTV along with imposing a hefty fine as a reminder for the channel to rectify it's conduct. We also demand the QTV administration to name-and-shame people involved in broadcasting the program in question. Furthermore, speakers/preachers such as Israr Ahmed should be barred from writing or voicing comments through the electronic media, in view of the disturbance of public order these people can and have caused. We sincerely hope that by taking such strong measures in view of the controversy created by the speaker will restore public confidence viz-a-viz the credibility of the media and governance credentials of the people in power.
The damned video in question: