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A Lifetime Without Commericial Software

Money on keyboard

IT was only a few days ago that I came to ponder an interesting fact: I have never,ever in my life paid for a piece of software. I have never paid for a Web service either. I had some computer games bought for me as a gift while I was a teenager, or even younger than that. I was primary using freeware as a child and I do not think it ended up quite so miserably, despite my habit of relying on free and/or Open Source solutions.

The are a few exceptions to the above statement. Admittedly, I may have bought computers that had Windows pre-installed and thus a licence paid for. Anything commercial that I ever use nowadays, the University pays for (MATLAB which runs on Linux, for example). My Web host pays for cPanel too, I presume. Palm handhelds which I have owned have some programs bundled, but I never purchased any softwere for this platform where so much is already free.

Is it all something to take pride in? I do not believe so, but the observation is an interesting one nonetheless. Frankly, I can never recall pulling out a credit card for software purchase or a paid service on Web. On the Internet, if I ever pull out the CC numbers, it is for groceries, various items (primarily gadgets) and Web hosting bills. Never have I paid for a licence key or a binary file.

Bottom line: expensive proprietary software is not a necessity. That, however, is not what commercial software vendors would have you believe. Freeware and Open Source software are their greatest enemies and, given experience and orientation, they can achieve anything. They also have the merit of being transferable and readily available in abundant numbers.

Why I Gave up on Games

Super Mario

MY habit of playing computer games has slowly faded over the years. There was a ‘hiccup’, however, last year: A particular game that I played very heavily, almost for entire days at a time. The game to blame: Enemy Territory (photographics evidence). Then emerged the effect of obsessive compulsive addiction (see a collection of previous write-ups on the topic). The fact that I installed and re-installed the game twice or thrice meant something. It penetrated the mind and its negative effects are best realised in retrospect.

I use the computer as a tool that simplifies life, whether it is a PDA that rids me from the need to remember or an application that helps me communicate with friends, family, and a variety of new and interesting people.

Computer games have not seen any dramatic change for many years; nothing on par with the exciting revolutions in the 80′s and 90′s at least. CPU capabilities, as well as memory capacity, frequently doubled as Moore’s law suggested and games are of course built to exploit the resources available to the extreme. Apart from graphics cards, hardware has not had the opportunity to extend much. A certain barrier has been reached. Having said that, only a couple of days ago, a graphics card with 4 CPU’s was announced. Issues regarding heat dispertion have been omitted. Will such hardware lead to yet another breathtaking leap in terms of gaming? I hope not. [cynical /]

I have played enough for one lifetime. I feel as though any genre of games and any type of actions or strategic games was played many times already. Rendering more polygons or having a few extra inches on the screen do not help. They do not excite as much as growing up to see groundbreaking resemblances to reality approached year by year.

Final advice, which is motivated by personal opinion: Use the computer primarily for work. If you wish to play, better stand up and enjoy our real world rather than escape by entering the fantasy world of your choice. Nothing can be as stimulating as reality, yet. In circumstances when the reality is harsh, however, I can see justification for gaming. Addiction to games can be harmful nonetheless and is inevitable. Let us be careful.

Text to Church Sign Convertor

A funny church sign
An example output image from the simple text-to-sign generator

Check out this on-line church sign generator. You need only enter some text to get an image generated ‘on the spot’. Notice the nice embedment of the letters in the sign. This page was brought to my attention by Dr. Scott Tobkes.

Image/text generation tools:

Xbox 360 Off to a Slow Start in Japan

Sonic
The days of Sega and Sonic are sorely missed
and appear irreplaceable in its Japanese place of birth

XBOX 360 is a gaming console from Microsoft, which has hit the streets just weeks ahead of Christmas. The Xbox 360 brought with it great anticipation among games enthusiasts, so sales were expected to be exceptionally high. Nonetheless, it has been revealed that Japan is reluctant to embrace the Xbox 360:

“It’s not going to be a big hit in Japan,” said 26-year-old Kentaro Okamoto, one of the first Xbox 360 buyers. “I buy every new game console… but normally Japanese customers only buy a machine when it’s made by Sony or Nintendo.”

In a similar article which comes from the BBC:

Microsoft has launched its Xbox 360 games console in Japan to what seems like a more subdued response than it received in Europe and North America.

[...]

Sales of the first Microsoft Xbox in Japan have always lagged behind Sony PlayStation 2, which was launched two years before it.

It sound as though this model will make a complete 360, having solved none of its previous shortcomings. As a publicity stunt perhaps, it is understocked on the shelves though.

On top of it all, we recently heard of some serious bugs and great trouble surrounding the Xbox 360, which perhaps was unready for prime time. Consequently, lawsuits begin to loom over, which put the product’s reputation in jeopardy.

Open Source enthusiasts might be happy to hear that a “Linux on Xbox 360″ project has already been initiated. Microsoft are actually losing money for every unit that they sell. Profit is expected to be made using games sales. Having said that, units that are sold in vain give game programmers the illusions that the Xbox is popular, which urges more involvement. It is a similar case to Windows workstations that are wiped clean to give way to Linux, yet are still counted as Windows sales.

Related item: Is Nintendo Dying?

Spherical Display

Spherical monitorI happened to find these astounding monitors, which reminded me of spherical desktops. Put in the words of the vendor: “The Elumens VisionStation allows for a fully immersive display of 160°. The VisionStation’s ultra-wide FOV creates an amazing sense of space and depth, without need for goggles or glasses“. All the same, such a display would of course be quite pricy. It doesn’t appear to offer substantial and pragmatic benefits unless one uses simulators.

Also see: Another odd use of a dish

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