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Archive for May, 2006

This post is coming after a fairly long time – and for good reason too…
The last week was pretty hectic – I was very busy studying for my exams and more busy in trying to get our Final Year Engineering Project done and released.

Well, I am happy to inform you that we went live today at 5:30 pm (thats when our faulty registration page got fixed) :p

Presenting … ActiveCiti
(clap clap clap clap … )


Unlike so many other Final Year projects that we had seen – which mostly are very, very niche and no one ever seems to use them, we decided to go and do a complete product from scratch – however insignificant it might be, or no matter how many people use it.
We wanted to go through the entire site of developing a product …
So we wrote our own spec document, did our own database designs, did all our own interface designs, chalked out flow diagrams and made our own mistakes (which are quite a lot actually)

And to tell you frankly – the feeling is brilliantly awesome.
At the other end of the road, seeing the number of registered users increase by the hour is damn awesome :)

As of writing this – 7 hours into launch, we now have 50 registered users.
I know that this will now decline exponentially, but we hope that we make 100 atleast.

Something about the project
The entire project is a web application which makes planning a piece of cake.
It removes all the hassles of calling so many people back and forth while planning anything – a movie, a trip or even just planning to hang out at a local coffee place.

Though the content on the site is Pune Centric – that should not be a drawback and everybody anywhere should be able to use it – as we let users customize and add to the already existing content.

The entire application is done up in ASP.Net 2.0 with SQL Server 2000 as the backend database.
It took us about 4 months to get this done – working part time, managing college and stuff.
But it feels awesome now …

We did have some anxious – adrenalilne pumping moments when 2 hours into the launch (we actually did it at 3 pm) we found out that the register page was not working.
Then later quite a few pages started acting up and were not working as expected … but we managed to fix them and as of now everything seems to be chugging along nicely (touchwood)

We still have some way to go before this is finalised and polished.
Have got tonnes of feedback and our list of todo’s has already gotten filled.

Anyways, please do visit the site and register there.
The address is : http://www.activeciti.com

Any feedback would be deeply appreciated and you can drop it off at : http://www.activeciti.com/contact.aspx

Yay ! ActiveCiti is LIVE :)

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I’ve always used Windows Media Player 11 because it has got awesome library management capabilities.
Yes – it may not be the lightest or the fastest players – but its library is plain, simple, clutter free and very effective.

I got to try out Windows Media Player 11 beta for Windows Xp – for a couple of days now and here are some screenshots.

In short, it is much sleeker, looks a lot better and takes its library management duties more seriously.

This is the main interface screenshot.
As I said, it is sleeker and more pleasing to the eye.

Different things to notice are the controls in the bottom of the screen and to the bottom left, they have some sort of graphic equalizer display kinda thingy which looks cool.

On top you will notice a button called URGE – which is an online music store that microsoft has tied up with. Something that iTunes is to the iTunes Player.

This shows the Albums that I have on the player – it displays any album art very nicely and looks damn nice.
The albums are categorized alphabetically with each letter getting its own group.

This is one very nifty feature.
You can select an album, right click>Update Album Info and it downloads the album art and album details from the internet and updates the stuff on the fly.
Damn cool.

This is another interesting feature – the artiste view shows CDs stacked for artistes having more than one album.
And the number of CDs depicted here equals to the number that actually exist on your PC.

Very nice.

I heard the Vista version allows you to fly through the stack – though I could not manage it on the Xp Version.

And finally this is the mini player which comes onto the taskbar.
Its all black.

Though the installation was smooth – it installs over your Windows Media Player 10 and updates the library – it took a hell lot of time (maybe coz its still Beta)

Also one main feature that its missing is the Auto Playlist feature from Media Player 10.
Hopefully it will make a comeback in the final release which is scheduled for the June 6th.

Surprisingly, the player was just taking 7 MB of RAM in the minimized mode and 13 MB in the full screen mode while playing mp3s.

The beta version was a 23 MB download.

Another first time feature in this release is a “Search as you Type” feature.
Overall, its worth an upgrade if you are a Windows Media Player fan.

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Remember, remember, the fifth of November, gunpowder treason and plot.
I see no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot. Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, ’twas his intent to blow up the King and the Parliament.
Three score barrels of powder below,
Poor old England to overthrow:
By God’s providence he was catch’d
With a dark lantern and burning match.

Holloa boys, holloa boys, make the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
Hip hip hoorah!

A penny loaf to feed the Pope.
A farthing o’ cheese to choke him.
A pint of beer to rinse it down.
A faggot of sticks to burn him.

Burn him in a tub of tar.
Burn him like a blazing star.
Burn his body from his head.
Then we’ll say ol’ Pope is dead.
Hip hip hoorah! Hip hip hoorah!

V for Vendetta” is an excellent movie.
Apart from the brilliant acting, direction, cinematography and everything else which made it such a treat to watch, it had a very, very strong message …

“People should not be afraid of their governments … The governments should be afraid of their people …”


PS: The following blog contains references to the movies “V for Vendetta” and “Rang De Basanti” … Though the references might be obvious to the plot of the movie, it may turn out to be spoilers for the majority of the people who haven’t seen the movies.

So, if you do intend to watch the movies, I must sadly ask you to skip this post … else, please carry on …

Though, we as Indians cannot relate to the movie a lot, I think most of the americans will be able to …

Michael Ironside who does voice acting for Sam Fisher – an NSA agent in the game “Splinter Cell” says that there are only two primary emotions that every animal understands : more so human beings – “Love and Fear”

What America is going through or went through (atleast from what we hear or see here) corresponds in some way the Britain in the movie “V for Vendetta” is going through …
I remember – after the 9/11 attacks, people were petrified beyond belief …

In the movie, “V”, which is an analogy to the Guy Fawkes incident, V (Hugo Weaving) successfully bombs the parliament building (without killing innocent people).
Though actually blowing up a building does not solve much of a purpose practically, it does bring hope and faith to the people and shows the government that people are not to be taken for granted.
According to him (V), its not the act of destroying a building, but the ideology behind it and what it (the building) stands for that you are destroying.

Strength through unity! Unity through faith!

Anyways, the problem with the government in the movie was that it was bullying its people and using fear as a method of controlling them.
That got me thinking whether a similar scheme of things would work for our country …
The problem with India is that its not bullying its people in a way that blowing up a building (parliament maybe?) would solve .

The problems that India faces (from its government) is mainly of corruption and apathy and having incompetent fools who don’t know what they are supposed to do.
Unlike the U.S, there is no restriction on the number of times someone can come to power, so the main agenda of the politicians is to please the majority voter bank before the elections so that they can be elected again.

A prime example is the government trying to impose another 27% reservations for the OBC (Other Backward Classes) (taking the total reservations to 49.5%) in the Education sector. The main reason for doing this, as blatantly mentioned by many of the politicians is to please a section of the society.
Thanks to the election commission, this matter has been halted for the time being and now the government is giving thought whether the move would be politically feasible for them.

In such a scenario … another movie comes to mind which I recently caught – “Rang De Basanti”.
In the movie, some college students go and assasinate the defence minister of the country because he was corrupt.
Again, the movie was brilliantly made and a treat to the eyes.

In the movie, after they have knocked off the defence minister (which is a relatively easy thing to do) – and not get caught, the government puts the assasination blame on terrorists (India has plenty of them to pass the blame around) and work of Pakistan’s ISI.

However, our protagonists go to a radio station and broadcast saying that it was them and not some terrorists who knocked off the minister – also giving complete reasons as to why they did it. This is the best part of the movie and apparently brings the government down to its knees.
However, unfortunately, these unarmed students are gunned down by the special task force with orders from higher authorities that there should be no survivors left.

Again, though going and knocking off corrupt politicians one by one may seem to some – an excellent method to rid the country of idiots, it will take a very long time and is not at all feasible. (because India has just so many politicians … we are the largest democracy in the world)
Besides, you also run the risk of getting killed soon…

This actually got me thinking and being the conspiracy theorist that I am … what if … just what if … the Parliament Attacks on Dec 13, 2001 were not actually done by millitants, but a couple of kids who just wanted to change something …
(some sort of a Rang De Basanti meets V for Vendetta)

But the bottom line is … change by the constitutional means … going to vote, electing a new government, etc etc … takes a very long time …
We need a V ;)

Remember, remember, the fifth of November, gunpowder treason and plot. I see no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.

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