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IT magazine for the contemporary woman







Vol. 1 Issue 12
Gaming Technology in Medical Imaging
Artificial Intelligence in Games
Advantages of
Online Games

106 Profile
Multimedia Technologies for Gaming
The Digital World of Barbie
PAN Technologies in Video Games
75 Thrill & Excitement in Action Games

tech tip
contents 60 Kiran’s Typing Tutor
61 Crayon Physics
september 2009
62 FlickrSync to Sync Photos

Gaming Technology
& Entertainment

63 Listen to BBC Radio on your Reliance Phone

64 Google Enhances SMS Search in India
65 LEGO Digital Designer
66 Scratch
67 Tux for Math Command

41 68 Stream Movies in your Home

with New Cisco Router
Style IT 69 Listen to Movies on Mobile Phone
70 Waterproof Gadgets for
the Monsoon
Mobile Gaming
71 Cool Alternatives to Skype
how to
Star Diary
Vishwa Nath (1917-2002)
84 Merge Pictures to Create a Panoramic Image
Editor, Publisher & Printer
86 Snipping Tool in Windows Vista Paresh Nath

88 Downloading Facebook Photo Albums Editorial Office

E-3, Jhandewalan Estate,
Rani Jhansi Road, New Delhi-110055
90 Using LiveScribe Phones: 41398888, 23529557
92 Ripping DVDs Effortlessly Advertisement Department
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Phones: 41398888, 23529557

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News compiled by Priyanka Dey

in n ie, D o n a ld & G o o fy …
TATA SKY BRINGS ALIVE ind ini tia tiv e, Tata Sky Ltd., the JV bet
ween the TATA
In a firs t-o f-it s-k ance with The
p an d ST AR , an no un ced a special content alli
Grou al world of
ia to bring alive the magic
Walt Disney Company Ind ctiv e pla tform,
characters on its Intera
Disney and its favourite
tve Wizkids.
ActveTM Stories and Ac scribers, especially
ma gic al wo rld of Di sney offers Tata Sky sub
Th e stories from fairy
of all age gro up s, the very best of Disney
childr en Pooh’ to the new
nd rel la’, ‘Sn ow White’ and ‘Winnie the
tales like ‘Ci on Actve Stories
ou rite s suc h as ‘Ca rs and Lilo’ and ‘Stitch’
Disne y fav Children are sure
ext rem ely int era ctiv e and fun-loving manner.
in an e of the day.
a bra nd new Di sne y story everyday, any tim
to enj oy games featuring
tve Wi zki ds als o off ers children a wide array of
Ac nge’ or ‘Holiday
ey Mouse Tennis Challe uced to fun facts about
the most popular ‘Mick ldren will also be introd n
d tha t’s no t all, chi ds. These pages have bee
Hunt with Chip and Da
le’. An
titi al pa ges on Ac tve Stories and Actve Wizki as Tic an d Ta c in
racters through int ers le are know n
the Disney stories and cha l hel p bo ost the ir kn ow ledge, i.e., Chip and Da sua de chi ldr en to
g factoids that wil r II to help per
designed to offer interestin ma sks we re ma de in England during World Wa
Mickey Mouse gas
French and the fact that ce with
d to enter into this allian
carry them! rke tin g Of fice r, Ta ta Sky, “We are very excite ain me nt alo ng with
Mehra, Chief Ma ng our subscribers unint
errupted entert
Acording to Mr. Vikram uta inm ent ’, by off eri the ir fav ou rite Disney
y as ou r foc us ha s alw ays been on ‘ed nd erf ul, edu cat ion al experience with
Disne subscribers a wo d fun
tures will offer our young and other interesting an
education. The new fea iet y of eng agi ng op tio ns from stories to games
it covers a wide var
stories and characters as at Disney is
ies .” Gr ou p sai d, “At the heart of everything we do
activit eractive Me dia ough
ive Director – Disney Int y fans in unique ways thr
Mr. Nitin Chawla, Exect vid es us a wh ole new platform to engage Disne
ce with Tata Sky pro
our content … this allian h their family
t in cla ss con ten t.” ed eve nin g wh ere you ng subscribers along wit
our bes nth at a fun fill
y was announced last mo s and Actve Wizkids.
The alliance with Disne Di sne y off eri ng on Tata Sky Actve Storie
exp eri enc e the
had an opportunity to

As the world is str ug glin g ha rd to com e to grips with the flu pa
ndemic, game
curb it online.
a special game to help you
developers have designed le online for free, ‘The
dical centre and availab
Developed by a Dutch me to choose their viral allows players
Great Flu’ (www.thegrea and then control how to
of the world it spreads in,
adversary, pick the part funds and resources.
en a limited amount of
manage the outbreak giv wa s the same month the H1
N1 swine flu
in Ap ril thi s yea r, it
First launched to some 180
a ful l pa nd em ic in Jun e and it has now spread
declared H1N1 game based on the virus,
rld Health Organization other humorous online
virus emerged. The Wo on firm ed dea ths. An
st 1,462 laboratory-c
countries, causing at lea earlier this year.
fig hte r (ww w.s win efig, was released
Swine 8 September ‘09

ON IPHONE PHONEe, theWwoITrldH HTC will now
’s largest mobile carrier,
Takin g in view the China Mobil n as a
es with HTC. This is see
tremendous growth of be developing smartphon ing to
ple Inc’s iPhone, accord
smart phone users, the bid to compete with Ap
online collaborative Taiwan media. the
its Ophone running on
encyclopedia Wikipedia China Mobile will launch C, the
stem) platform with HT
announced their iPhone OMS (Open Mobile Sy ina Mo bil e chairman
ed, citing Ch
application last month. Economic Daily report a
Mobile could also set up
That means Wikipedia wil Wang Jianzhou. China Taiwan
l raise its purchases from
now be available for officia procurement center to suppliers, the
download Apple’s iPhon Commercial
The free application, Times reported.
called Wikipedia Mobile, Wang will kick
can be downloaded from off a nine-day
any iTunes App Store.
According to foundation trip to Taiwan
spokesman Jay Walsh,
“Everybody recognizes wit starting Friday,
h the growth of mobile too
globally that this is how ls
people access informatio visiting the
mission is to spread free n. Our
knowledge; we want to do chairs of HTC
everything we can to me and Mediatek,
et and embrace that aud
The Wikimedia Foundatio ience.”
n said the application wa the island’s top
easier to use than having s
to browse the web on the chip design
to find a specific fact, and ir phone
also had the advantage of house, it said.
the user’s search history. saving


A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Government of
Maharashtra and Microsoft India to enhance ICT adoption in schools and
build the employability readiness skills of the future workforce in the state.
The Honble Chief Minister, Ashok Chavan, and the Honble Minister for
Education, Government of Maharashtra, Shri Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil
witnessed the sealing of the agreement by Sanjay Kumar, IAS Education
Secretary, Government of Maharashtra and Rajan Anandan, Managing
Director, Microsoft India Pvt. Ltd.
The MoU aims to take ICT adoption further, and bring in a focus on
employability. Microsoft India has already set up three state-of-the-art IT academies, in Pune, Nagpur and Aurangabad, and
trained over 92,000 teachers.
As per the agreement, in addition to the three academies which will, over the next two years, train 6000 teachers as well as 100,000
pre-service teachers, Microsoft will also help build last mile capacity among educators. One educator from each cluster will undergo a
10-day training and each of the trained resources can then further build ICT readiness among others educators in the cluster.
Additionally, the initiative will also focus on building employability readiness amongst students of classes 11th and 12th.
Another unique aspect of the MoU is the development of a single login through Microsofts Live@Edu initiative, which will
enable all students and teachers across the approximately 85,000 schools in the state to acquire email with school-specific
domains, provide them with applications aimed to enhance collaboration (through Office Live Workspace), and give the school
tools for creating an online community.

September ‘09 9



Writing an e-mail to a friend in the U.S.? Well, nothing new or extraordinary about that. How about shooting off an e-mail to a
distant place? How about sending your greeting to another planet? An Australian website is giving texting an intergalactic touch
and allowing users to send short mobile phone-type messages into space.
From Wednesday and until August 24, people from across the world were given the opportunity to post their messages for an
out-of-this-world experience. A website,, was designed especially to post messages no longer than 160
characters that would be transmitted to Gliese 581d, the nearest Earth-like planet outside the solar system likely to support life.
The expected delivery time, however, is some 20 years, the website said. And, of course, there’s no guarantee of a response.
“It’s like a ‘message in a bottle’ cast out into the stars. What’s interesting is not just whether there's anyone listening, but what
the public will say to intelligent life on another planet,” said project spokesperson Wilson da Silva.
“Hello From Earth is our way of showing that science can make the impossible possible. We have been to the moon and now,
we can speak to the stars,” he said in a statement.
The messages, to be transmitted from the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, with the close cooperation of U.S.
space agency NASA, is part of Australia’s National Science Week, which celebrates the country’s scientific achievements and
creates awareness of the importance of science.

We last heard in July thi
s year that Vertu had an
nounced a
ge. Now
part of their Ascent ran
Carbon Fiber handset as le fun kier than
another handset, a litt
reports are talking of yet Ti Ne on . The
s, the Vertu Ascent
any of the previous model t Ti mo dels is
and the previous Ascen
difference between this rea r in pla ce of
h a rubber top in the a matching set.
that the Neon comes wit in- screen menu is designed to be ing:
g. According to the col ou r, the e would include the follow
the original leather backin n the pre vio us mo del s. The specs of the phon
on it to be slimmer tha
Some reports also menti
/GPRS capabilities
G 4GB of intern
al memory
l camera kup
G 3 megapixe ure data syncing and bac and pink. It is
d, of cou rse, acc ess to Vertu Fortress for ultra sec le in fou r col ou rs: green, orange, white
G An e an d wil l be ava ilab
for an October releas
The phone is scheduled like a fortune!!!
Rs. 4,83,218. Now, that’s
priced at approximately 10 September ‘09

Bid adieu to computer for BE RELEASED
IN 2010
making Internet calls. Be
is here with their innova lkin India
tive desktop and handheld
Skype phones, which allo WiFi
w you to make free Skype
calls without having to tur
n on BMicrosoft and Lionhead
the computer.
Studios announced Fable
The phones come with in- III
for Xbox 360 only at the
built Wi-Fi facility, which
are GamesCon 2009, in Colog
designed especially to wo ne,
rk Germany. Peter Molyneux
anywhere in the world. On ,
e just Creative Director of Lio
needs to have access to a nhead
Wi-Fi Studios, confirmed that
network in any home, off the
ice, Fable series’ next game,
public hotspot, or munic Fable
ipal III, is under development
wireless access point tha and
t does is expected to be released
not require browser-based in
2010 holiday season. Th
authentication. With sto e story
rage of Fable III is set five dec
of up to 500 Skype and ades
Skype after events of Fable II.
Out contacts in the contac
t The new series of the gam
list, the phones come wit e is
h the third installment of the
special built-in TFT screen highly acclaimed and po
s Fable game series. This gam pular
offering extra visual clarity e is set in Napoleonic-sty
of Albion period and allows le
vibrant, colourful text; player to rule Albion like
The player becomes a kin a king.
outstanding sound qualit g or queen after stepping
y; of hero’s child from Fab into role
wireless security through le II.
The player is required to
WEP and WPA-PSK; make tough decisions and
compatibility with 802.11 judgments considering the
b/g Wi-Fi standards; and tougher moral choices, wh
software updates achieved decide the destiny of the ich will
wirelessly, without requir player and also the Albion
USB cable. Backed with ing a Some characters from Fab land.
the Call history, Clock and le II will also feature in Fab
List Import features, the Auto Apart from this, Microsof le III.
hand-held Skype phone t also said that it will releas
(F1PP000GNakSK) is ava II game in episodic for ma e Fable
ilable at an MRP of Rs. t. Fable II: Game Episodes
and backed with a one yea 9,712 debut on Sept. 29 with a will
r warranty. free download of first epi


Pearl India Electronics made its foray into the netbook market with the
launch of the nano netbook series. Small, light and incredibly functional,
stylish nano netbooks will easily charm passers-by. The netbooks will be
available in a choice of stylish and vibrant colours, which include pearl white,
3 cell
classic black and unique metallic colours. Weighing just 1.300kg (with a
(1024 x 600)
battery), the nano netbooks incorporate a stunning 10.2 WSVGA
easier to
LCD screen and 85-key ergonomic keyboard that make them even
type in comparison to other keyboards.
The pricing is cool, too. The netbooks come with a one-year warranty and
price starting from Rs 14,999. I

September ‘09 11

Did You Know

he game of snakes and ladders was created September 11. He was called Darkel, a homeless
T by the 13th-century poet saint, Gyandev. It
was originally called ‘Mokshapat.’ The ladders in
guy who’d get you to rig buildings with explosives.

the game represented virtues and the snakes n 1986, Nintendo released a special Disk
indicated vices. The game was played with cowrie
shells and dices. Later, through time, the game
I System peripheral for the NES in Japan.
Among its features was a microphone in the
underwent several modifications but the meaning controller, which certain games used, including
is the same, i.e., good deeds take us to heaven and an updated version of the original ‘Zelda’. You
evil to a cycle of re-births. could only destroy a certain enemy by shouting
into the mic.
ichael Jackson, in some form or other, has
M appeared in ‘Sonic the Hedgehog 3’, ‘Ready
2 Rumble-Round 2’, ‘Space Channel 5.1 & 2’, I n the video game sequel to John Carpenter’s
seminal sci-fi horror film, The Thing, the
‘GTA: Vice City’ and, obviously, ‘Moonwalker’. legendary director made a cameo appearance as a
character called Doctor Faraday. He also oversaw
n 2001, a pair of art students created a version the production of the game to make sure it was
I of Pong known as the PainStation, where losers
could be inflicted with genuine whip, heat or
faithful to his original vision.

electrical damage.

intendo’ translates as ‘Leave luck

to heaven’.

d U k
di I n ‘Pilotwings 64,’ the character Lark is
actually the mascot for famous American
games magazine Nintendo Power, Nester.
His name was changed at the last minute,
probably because PAL gamers wouldn’t
he first ever product released by Sony was a know who he was.
T rice cooker.
scar-winning actor Marlon Brando

F inal Fantasy got its name from the fact that its
creator, Square co-founder Hironobu
O recorded dialogue for EA’s ‘Godfather’
game shortly before he died, but it was deemed
Sakaguchi, intended it to be his last video game, unusable due to the bloated thesp’s ageing,
using up the remainder of Square’s money after a mumbly voice. Instead, they hired in a sound-
number of unsuccessful projects. alike. What a waste of money, eh?

n the US release of Gameboy RPG Final n the original arcade ‘Donkey Kong’ game,
I Fantasy Legend II, Nintendo’s censorship
guidelines meant that a band of opium smugglers
I Mario was called Jumpman and he was a
carpenter, not a plumber.
became banana smugglers instead.
he ‘Baily Bridge’ is the highest bridge in the

R ockstar removed a character from Grand

Theft Auto 3, although this time it was said
T world. It is a portable pre-fabricated truss
bridge for over 30 years and is a great example of
to be because of the terrorist attacks on engineering technology. I 12 September ‘09

Buzz Byte
Buzz Byte
ow well do you about the gaming technology? Most of us live our life

H on the Internet and among technologies of all kinds. Here are questions
about the games that we play either from the Microsoft package to
fight off boredom or the various innovative gaming software. Are you keeping
with the evolving game tech culture? Take this quiz and find out yourself!

Q ‘Warcraf t ’
II, one of the best real-time stra
tegy games ever?
Who designed the
A. Westwood
B. Microsoft Q sc in at in g bo ok w rit ten by Frank Herb
ert, ‘Dune’
C. Blizzard Inspired by the fa not one of them?
three hous es to play with. Which is
A. Ordos
B. Atreides
C. Corrino

Q akes you jump ar ound islands, speak with the loca

ls and solve
g main character?
‘Monkey Island’ m occupation of the funny lookin
is the
the mystery. What
A. Soldier
B. King Q ho regu larly plays online must
have played ‘Diab
C. Pirate Anyone w esses the Zeal sk
r in the game poss
II.’ Which characte
A. The Barbarian
B. The Paladin
C. The Amazon

Q ings Nintendo ow
What are three th
do DS
ger, and the Ninten
A. Gamecube, Voya ll phone
ecube, and every ce
B. Gameboy, Gam
ii, and PSP
C. Nintendo DS, W

Q e of ‘Spider Solitair
e,’ you only
In the Normal mod you play?
. Which two suits do
play with two suits
A. Diamonds and
B. Hearts and Spad
Q he re you lead a group of specialist
s, attempting to
Name the game w
ub s
C. Hearts and Cl World War II?
pl ete da ng erou s missions during
A. Command & Co
B. Wolfenstein
Check out the next page to
C. Commandos
see how well you scored!

September ‘09 13

Buzz Byte

You finished the quiz! Now, calculate your score. A carries 1,
B carries 2, and C carries 3 points. Did you check mostly A, B, or C?

If your score is able
0 : o st of th e b est games avail
a n d 3 ged m f
Between 21
m e a fic io n a d o. You have dig m in g w o rld and your kind o
You are a ga v ast knowledge of
the ga
en v io us. Great going
o u h a v e th e fie ld
out there. Y w e ll make the oth
ers in
IT ’ to retain the c
ea k co u ld f the ‘Liv e
gaming fr issue o
re yo u fo llo w up with every
Make su

Between 11 a
nd 20:
Not bad. You se
em to have go
there are place od knowledge
s you might ne of the gaming
ed a bit of bru world. Howeve
who do not ne sh-up. While y r,
cessarily consi ou are one of th
casual gamer) der yourself to ose
, you do spend be a gamer (i.e
playing or learn much of your le .,
ing about diffe isure time
‘Live IT ’ may ce rent games. A
rtainly come in copy of the
handy for you.

Less than 10
a n d a t th e te st? Well, you
u even tr y you
rh since
What? Did yo s. B u t th e n d on’t lose heart
w expec tation w issues and
scored far belo e . P ic k u p a fe
to your rescu
‘Live IT ’ is here u t g a m in g b ut a lot more.
st abo
more – not ju 14 September ‘09

Care IT

Safety standards for

game-addicts. Mehak Siddiqui

etail sales in the PC game spine. Never slouch while playing
software industry reached a games, or lean forwards towards the
whopping $911 million in 2007, screen or play in a lying down position.
marking a notable 40 per cent Also, avoid playing on laptop computers as
increase from 2006 in the total console, portable their design facilitates the development of
and PC game industry. repetitive strain injury.
This clearly illustrates the phenomenon that computer Another frequent gamers’ complaint is pain in the
games have become today. From expensive high-graphic ones hands, which is induced by constant repetition of certain
loaded with special effects to free and simple online games, game moves. This can also cause damage to certain joints
there is something for everyone to enjoy. But, as is the case with as well as skin irritation. There has been a case of a young
most technologies, games too have several spillover effects on boy who ended up in hospital because of using a force-
health. These effects can be divided into physical and feedback controller for seven hours a day, which severely
psychological, and special care must be taken so as to avoid or damaged his wrists, knuckles and hand nerves. The best
minimize them when playing for long hours at the computer. and only preventative measure one can take against these
To start with, one of the most common problems arising out problems is to maintain the right kind of posture and take
of playing computer games is crooked posture. This occurs frequent breaks. Limit your gaming time to one or a
due to prolonged irregular sitting position in front of a maximum of two hours a day.
monitor or TV screen. A growing number of children are Another obvious effect of long hours of gaming is
developing crooked posture due to long hours of playing vision deterioration. Computer games command intense
computer video games. In order to protect oneself, one must staring at the screen, which can cause or worsen existing
sit in a straight-backed computer chair when playing games vision problems. Hours of watching the monitor,
and take regular breaks so as to minimize the strain on the especially in a darkened room, can strain the eyes as well

September ‘09 15

Care IT

Research by psychologists, Dr. Anderson and Dr. Gentile

shows that children are spending increasing amounts of time
playing computer/video games – 13 hours per week for boys,
on average, and 5 hours per week for girls (Anderson,
Gentile, & Buckley, under review; Gentile, Lynch, Linder, &
Walsh, 2004).
Such negative psychological effects on children can be
controlled by parents. Psychologists have found that when
parents limit the amount of time as well as the types of games
their children play, children are less likely to show aggressive
behaviour (Anderson et al., under review; Gentile et al., 2004).
Other researches suggest that active parental involvement in
children’s media usage, including discussing the
inappropriateness of violent solutions to real life conflicts,
reducing time spent on violent media, and generating alternative
non-violent solutions to problems, can all reduce the impact of
the violence on children and youth (Anderson et al., 2003).
Another adverse psychological effect of too much gaming is
Limit your gaming time.
problematic social interaction. When a child spends a lot of time
lost in an imaginary world on the computer, it becomes harder for
as damage the delicate retinal cells. Therefore, it is crucial that him/her to engage in more traditional real-life activities like playing
you play in a well-lit room (brightness of the screen must with other children or reading. Studies conducted at Stanford
match the brightness of the room) as well as take regular University and Tohoku University in Japan indicated that excessive
breaks from the gaming session. playing of certain computer/video games halts the process of brain
Many people like to wear earphones while gaming so as to development, which may eventually lead to brain damage.
fully enjoy the sound effects. The continuous blaring of the Research has shown that computers supplement and DO
game music/sound into the ears damages the delicate hair cells NOT replace other highly valued early childhood activities and
and may lead to irreversible hearing loss over a period of time. materials, such as art, blocks, sand, water, books and dramatic
Therefore, it is crucial that one avoids using earphones as much play. Therefore, it is crucial to limit the amount of time your
as possible (by using speakers instead). If you must use them, child/teenager spends playing computer games. Do not restrict
keep the volume at a moderate level. Again, give your ears them completely, but instead take time to educate them about
regular breaks from the loud sound. the associated health effects and guide them towards limiting
In the last ten years, the number of hours a child spends their gaming time.
playing computer/video games per week increased from 2.8 to Computer games can be great fun and are also stress-busting,
4.3. Many children spend far more time trapped in virtual so go ahead and game away but do it the safe way and protect
worlds than ever before, which is why it is extremely necessary to your physical and psychological well-being as well! I
educate them about the precautions to take.
When it comes to gaming, the effects on mental health are far
more significant than those on physical health, especially with
reference to children and youth.
Considerable research has pointed out that the high level of
violence depicted in many games has an adverse effect on
children leading to an increase in violent behaviour exhibited
by them. The interactive nature of games desensitizes people
to violence – they can take actions to bring about a death,
which is often depicted very graphically with ‘blood’ spraying
everywhere on the screen. The fact that the game rewards
such violent behaviour, by taking the user to the next level for
example, leads to aggressive patterns of behaviour. Children
playing such games begin to think that violence is right and
consequently adopt it into their behaviour. The interactive
element of point-and-shoot computer/video games lets
children practice their shooting skills, which eventually
become reflexes. Don’t get lost in the virtual gaming world. 16 September ‘09


Letters to the Editor

AUGUST 2009 G RS. 50
Hi to the whole team! The August issue gave me a new
perspective of the concept
The online storage and back-
‘wireless’. I must say, your
up issue was simply magazine is not only useful for
IT magazine for the contemporary woman

outstanding. There’s were quite the women out there but also for
a few things that I thought their counterparts. Great efforts
would be extremely helpful not by the team!
CLOUD only for women at home but Arun Dey, Consultant
TRENDS also for small business units.
THE AIR Live IT definitely lives up to my It’s a great effort you people are
CELL PHONES expectations. I waiting for more. putting to compile this kind of
Do keep me posted. Also, I a magazine.
GLOBAL ROAMING would be subscribing to your I would like to congratulate your
team for bringing out a beatiful
magazine very soon.
magazine in the form of ‘Live IT.’
SOCIAL CHANGE Rashmi, Publisher Ashok Prabhu, Mumbai

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Live IT or Leave IT

Burning Flame Bookmark

What do you usually use for a bookmark? A thick piece of
sheet off that old book cover? Or, do you simply
memorise the page number? Use a flame for a change! It
reminds you of the exciting page you stopped at and all
for the price of a cup of coffee or two. Try it.

Kitty Digital Camera

Lose your heart to Kitty, this cute digital camera suited
especially for the cutie-pie gal age group. The shutter of
the camera is located in the left ear and the lens is hidden
in the bow tie. With a 2″ LCD display and support for
SD cards, it features a 4 time digital zoom option and a
32 MB memory capacity. It measures 85 x 25 x 71 mm
and weighs about 80 grams. Ideal for a gift.

Bliss Noise-reducing Earphones

It is pink and shocking but a real blessing when you want to be
away from all the shocking noise. The glam gal will love its
colour and will enjoy the freedom she feels from sound all the
more. It’s bliss for your ears and comes at a price, but peace
always has its price doesn’t it?

Sorapot Teapot
Want to brew your tea with a modern sense of beauty?
Sorapot teapot does just that for you; it changes the
concept of tea making, but it makes the same great
brew. Watch the stainless steel, borosilicate glass, food
grade silicon created aesthetic teapot unfurl tea leaves
and change the colourless boiling water in the pot into a
golden concoction, for two! 18 September ‘09

Rocking Alarm Clock
Don’t ever be late because you got got up late
from bed. Use this docking station with two 2.5″
speakers inside your iPod and kick start your day
at the right time with this good-looking alarm.
What’s more, while you sleep, the docking station
will recharge your iPod so you won’t miss your
music for the day at all.

Butterfly Speakers
for iPod
Looking for a new iPod dock? Here is one which will
work with any model of the iPod or iPhone. It comes
in shades of three – green, blue or pink, so that your
speaker style won’t be a constant. Use it with 4 AA
batteries if you want, and it’s surely worth the moolah
you shell out.

Rape Alarm
Lady, is your commute long, lonely, and/or at
odd hours? Scared of those grey areas along
your way? Then this rape alarm is what you
should carry, just in case. If help is a teeny wit
late, then you could try this as a whacking
companion; it looks dangerous enough.

September ‘09 19

Live IT or Leave IT

Rat Robots
Looking for a better rat? The French lab is
getting just that ready for you, and it’s a robot.
So, you don’t need to fear that fever epidemic at
all! It has two cameras for eyes, two microphones
for ears, and tiny wheels, driven by a battery-
powered motor, to provide movement. A couple
of dozen whiskers measuring around a dozen
centimetres (four inches) stretch out impressively
on either side of its long, pointed snout. In fact,
this super robot has everything going except the
rat-smell power … but so far so good aint it?
Watch out for the Rat Robot!

The Wall-E Toy

Still nostalgic over Wall-E? Get one for your kid or
even yourself and recreate the Disney Pixar magic of
the last robot on the earth that someone forgot to turn
off. This M-O robot actually rolls up his sleeve and
uses his bristles to clean and you can even watch the
waste collected in the garbage bin he carries. So, what
are you waiting for?

Computer Corner Frame

How would you like a better organized workspace? And
stop yourself scampering away with that mug or this
pen or post-it note? Get your own things and organize
yourself with the Computer Corner Frame. The frame
attaches to your monitor with three fastener tabs, and
lets you store pens, paper clips and photos easily. Now
all you have to do is to watch out for those guys who get
away with other’s stuff. 20 September ‘09

Olympus Pen
The E-P1 is, essentially, an Olympus E-620 crowbarred
into a compact, rangefinder-style body. Aside from the
removal of the mirror and optical viewfinder – and a
slight firmware upgrade – it is as fully fledged as any
mid-range SLR.

Lock Out Memory Sticks

It’s wow all the way with Swarovski’s crystal memory
sticks. It’s a trendy-looking USB drive with up to 1 GB
of storage space, and will hold all the one thousand
songs of the music buff or up to two hundred and fifty
photos of the shutterbug. Grab one for yourself !

USB Fragrance Flowers

Miss the garden and its fresh blooms? And don’t even
want to make up with air freshener sprays? Try the USB
Fragrance Flower, which when plugged in will perfume
your surroundings like you just had a bloom season.
What’s more, you can also choose your bloom, instead of
settling for the typical rose or jasmine.

Karaoke Microphone
The karaoke with the ‘band in your hand’ and two
thousand odd great songs; the diva in you is going to
love this. Convert that iPod or home stereo into an
authentic karaoke-club-at-home and get drowned in
the music in your veins.

September ‘09 21


chatroom Do yo u p lay o n line games? W

hich ones kee p yo u h ooked for hou
Santosh Kum
ar Biswal

Social Worker
I am very choosy whether it
is a profession or game. My
schedule in the day involves
looking after the children
and ensuring they don’t miss
out their studies. Also, I play
various online games with
the slum children. In this
connection, I like to play the
game called ‘Sherkhan’,
which I feel is a cool option.
I think it is one of the best
stuff for children as it helps
them in moral education.

Heena, Student
I like to play the games, which
can be beneficial to my
Sabnam, Front Desk
studies. For instance, there are
Executive games like ‘My Puzzle’, which
Whenever I get free from needs much concentration.
the day’s work, I move to Even though sometimes it gets
the games corner. Here I a bit tough, I feel relaxed after
would like to mention the the gaming session.
game, ‘Khanna unlimited’
which involves food making.
I keep comparing my scores
with the previous games

and try to improve upon
them. It’s really cool and It’s really cool “
fun playing games online.
and fun playing
games online 22 September ‘09

“ Online games are
great stress-busters

Online Editor
Online games are my
favourite mode of killing
time and they are great
stress busters also. I love
to play ‘Cat and Rat’,
which is simple in
nature. It is one of the
coolest games, which
paves the way for
relaxation. Considering
the nature of my job, I
am left too tired and
stressed out by the end
of the day. Suffice to say,
I often play this game in
the evening hours with
my siblings to de-stress.

Rubi, Student
Even though I am a
student, I like to travel Ruchi, Student
extensively across the I like to watch action
country. There is an online and horror movies,
game called ‘My country, especially in Hindi. As I
many places’. Here, the love biking and car
user gets to play with riding, I like to play the
various tourist places and game called ‘Road
scores as per his/his Race’. It is one of the
interest and intellectuality. I coolest game and
rate it as one of the coolest interesting games
games around. available. This game
provides some great
voice and visuals as well.

While surfing, when you are led from one page to another through interesting links, how well do you
remember all the links? Share your internet adventures with other techies. Send us your entries, with
your photograph, to

September ‘09 23


hen I was setting out for Seattle in 2007, everyone had the same question for me, “You are a

W doctor, right? But you play games?” And I would be rather surprised. Doesn’t everyone? Can
you think of anyone who has never played games? And I am not referring to the
psychological types referred to by Eric Berne in his book “Games People Play”. We all love
& Entertainment
Rajesh Bijlani

Take a tour through the world of online games

& gaming platforms!
to play games, right from the time we are old enough to do so. Only as we grow older, some play less
and less of them. And, of course, we adapt to the mode of game playing depending on our resources.
Right from the slum dweller spinning a cricket ball in his hand to the hardcore internet gamer, games
mean fun and entertainment.

Gaming is a big industry, with an annual turnover in the USA

itself being more than that of Hollywood. It is no wonder then that
we have come a long way from playing ‘Pacman’ with just four
cursor keys to playing ‘Counterstrike.’ The primary reasons for the
evolution and advances in gaming technology are:
 Older games were very predictable. As you played a few times,
it was obvious what the computer was going to do and hence
easy to act in accordance. I remember my favourite car racing
game, ‘Test Drive’ and within a week I had mastered all the
tracks and was through with the game. Obviously, more was
needed and one just has to see the current versions of the car
racing games like ‘Need for Speed’ or ‘Project Gotham Racing’
to experience something closer to real life driving.
 The need to compete against tougher opponents or humans.
Playing versus a computer or a machine all the time is boring.  Role Playing Games (RPG). Here, one usually takes on a
And if you are good, you need to showcase your talent. Hence, fictional character role. There are a myriad of games available.
as games advanced, they started to go multiplayer. You could There are many MMORPGs (Massive Multiplayer Online
play versus your friends on the same console and then over a Role Playing Games) where one takes on fantasy characters
LAN and, finally, you could have a global human challenge like wizards, elves, knights, etc. and you basically play in your
over the Internet. world of fantasy and your character gets stronger with time.
 Man is a social animal and hence current gaming There are innumerable such games available online and many
technologies are now involving more and more personal of them are available to play for free. However, they do have
interaction between players and the opportunities to make options where you could spend a little money so your character
friends globally. Some of my best online friends have been gets an advantage over the others playing for free. This keeps
acquired through gaming. the server going and makes some money for the developers.
Okay, so now that you are ready to go in for the ride, let’s explore ‘World of Warcraft’ is one of these and is immensely popular.
what options you have and what technologies are available to you Though many of them involve attractive 3-D graphics, quite a
for the gaming experience. The reason there are such a wide variety few are played within just the browser window and do not need
of options is because every one of us has a different mental and very high-end computers to play.
physical makeup and obviously we would have an aptitude only for  Real Time Strategy (RTS). This is for people who like to use
certain types of games. The currently available technologies are, their wits to win in a situation. These games need quick
hence, best discussed under two major headings, the ‘Game Types’ thinking and formulation of strategies to win. ‘Starcraft,’
and the ‘Gaming Platforms.’ Let’s look at the game types first. ‘Warcraft’ and the ‘Command & Conquer’ series have a huge
 First Person Shooter (FPS). This is the classic shoot ‘em up following in this category. Most of these are high-end and need
scene. Your character carries a number of weapons and pretty good system configurations to play.
basically goes about shooting the enemy. He may use simple  Sports games. Here you have games like ‘Brian Lara cricket,’
hand-held guns, sniper rifles or even rocket launchers. The ‘FIFA,’ ‘NFL,’ ‘PGA Tour Golf ’ et al. Almost every popular
warfare may be and is usually in teams. One of the commonest sport has its electronic version. With the increased computing
games of this type is ‘Counterstrike.’ power available now, these games are getting as close to the
real thing as possible in terms of not only graphics but game
play as well.
 Racing games. Car racing, bike racing, snowboarding, even
truck racing. All the driving fanatics can get their daily fix here.
 Puzzles. There is a puzzle type available for everyone. ‘Chess,’
‘Scrabble,’ ‘Bejewelled,’ ‘Alchemy’ ... the list is endless.
Though this is a broad classification, the Internet and the
advent of Flash games have brought in so many types of games
that it is nearly impossible to have a comprehensive list. Even
simple school games like ‘Hangman’ are there to be played in
your browser online.

Gaming platforms
The demand for games has made available to the avid gamer a
vast variety of options to select their gaming platform. Electronic 26 September ‘09

gaming has fascinated individuals of all ages. Can you recall a tiny motion sensors are mounted atop the display television to detect
tot playing the bricks game on a small hand-held box with the the player’s movements as well as audio inputs and hence he can
beeps informing you of his presence? control the game. This is still far from perfectly developed but gives
The most widely used gaming platform is the personal an insight into what’s coming. Something like Tom Cruise
computer, either the desktop or laptop. For the casual gamer, the managing his computer in ‘The Minority Report’ does not seem so
computing power of the average desktop is more than enough but fictional after all.
for hardcore gamers, a much higher-end PC might need to be If this still doesn’t quench your thirst, there’s more in store. The
assembled with extra components like cooling systems to keep it all dedicated gaming consoles. Broadly, these are of two types: the
stable. For someone who just wants to relax a bit after work, portable and the not-so-portable. The portable game consoles
technology has reached a level where you do not even need to go competing now are the Nintendo DS and its Lite version and the
looking for games to bring and install. Just get online and visit any Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP). The PSP has incorporated
of the sites like technology that not only lets you play games but also allows you to
view pictures, watch movies, browse the web and even buy games
online. The power in these tiny devices is amazing. Even the
Nintendo DS is a far cry compared to its first hand-held ‘Game &
Watch’ devices like the ‘Donkey Kong.’
But the real monsters of gaming are the three consoles vying for
the crown – Microsoft’s Xbox 360, Sony’s Playstation 3 (PS3) and
the Nintendo Wii. I am not going to comment on which one of
these is the best. There’s one for everyone. The plus point of the
Wii is its unique remote that has an accelerometer and an optical
sensor that lets it be used as if you were actually playing in real life.
Like swinging your arm around to play a tennis shot or moving
your wrist to let your on-screen sword slice through your enemy. It
is so exciting to play with, that a strap is used to anchor it to the
Another alternative is to log in to Yahoo! Games and play. The
miniature games are, however, not enough of a serving for the
ravenous appetite of the more dedicated gamers and they would
rather step out, buy a DVD of the latest version of their favourite
game and get going.
We have come a long way ahead in using a PC as a gaming
machine. The keyboard and mouse are no longer the only ways of
controlling your game characters. Complex multifunction joysticks
and for the racing enthusiasts, even steering wheels can be plugged
into the system and a more realistic gaming experience obtained.
After all, what’s the fun in racing a car if you have to press the
cursor keys on your keyboard to drive it? And going by the latest
news, Project Natal by Microsoft is being implemented to
introduce controller-free gaming. A camera, microphone and

player’s wrist lest it goes out flying and causes more destruction off-
screen than on it.
The other two consoles have their legion of followers and both
have a very strong online gaming experience built into them.
Hardcore users of these consoles would be seen not just with a
game input device but with a headphone and mic set screaming
out to their team mates and collaborating at unbelievable skill
levels. Gaming at these servers on a broadband connection can be
an awesome experience. One has to feel it to believe the thrill of
gaming technology that is available to us today.
So, the next time you are getting bored, leave that fly swatter alone
and count kills on your PC instead. Oops ... I just finished building
my castle in my RPG. Better head out for battle. Till next time. I

September ‘09 27


t was the latter half of 1950. William Higinbotham, an

illustrious American physicist, had already seen two World
Wars in his lifetime. While he was hardly a kid of ten, the
first happened; his involvement was active in the second.
William was a prominent face in the nuclear non-proliferation
group, even serving as its chairman and first executive director.
mo ping t
But as ironic as it may sound, history still remembers him as the
creator of the first video game. Little did Higinbotham know
that the game of tennis that he created on an oscilloscope to
bile he
gam best
entertain visitors at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, would
belittle everything else serious that he did in life.
It was a monumental time in the life of the world; and it was
ing of
more than a decade later that Higinbotham’s creation would
eventually catch the fancy of the populace. America was
slowly clawing back to savouring the lighter aspects
of life. Jack Kerouac’s beat generation had
all taken to the road and either found
the answers or given up hope. The
hippy culture was still reeling from the
high of Woodstock 69; and the sore wounds of
Vietnam were still fresh and hurting. The common
man needed some fun and games. And that is when
Higinbotham’s creation really came to the fore. Pioneered
by a US company named Atari, home video game systems
became increasingly popular in the mid-1970s. A sporadic
boom and bust cycle followed in the early 1980s but a
resurrection was soon headed by a Japanese company
named Nintendo.
Round about the same time, a Motorola researcher and
executive named Martin Cooper had filed a patent for what
was to become the first practical mobile phone for hand-held
use. The researchers at Motorola were excited. A new
technological highroad was in view – wireless communication
products that could be used outside the home, office or
automobile. And a communication device that had no strings
attached. Quite literally! The potentials were immense and
competition aplenty. Little wonder then that the first mobile
phone call made by Cooper was to his rivals at Bell Labs.
The first steps are always monumental. The rest of it is hardly
noticed and fleeting. Technology was making rapid strides with
the semi-conductor industry setting pace to the laws of Gordon
Moore. There was no looking back. Devices were getting
smarter as they were getting smaller; ‘accomplishing more with
less’ was the going mantra and science fiction novels of
yesterday were turning to be real life happenings of today.
Mobile phones proliferated like mushrooms. It somehow
seemed like mankind had suddenly realized the obsessive
compulsive need to talk endlessly. Box-like clumsy handsets
morphed into ‘candy bar’ style cell phones. And with it came
enhanced features and calling capabilities. Cell phones ceased
being merely communicating devices. There was a need to do
more with it. Nokia for the first time in 1998 pre-loaded their
mobile phones with a video game called the ‘Snake.’
Suddenly, waiting for a dentist appointment or waiting for the 28 September ‘09

i n g o g y
a m n o l
G ech
8:30 tube was not boring any
longer. A generation had been hooked.

A new revolutionary industry, it soon became
apparent, had been spawned.
And why wouldn’t it be? With over one billion mobile
phones in use today, the mobile gaming industry is akin to the
Gold Rush; there is money to be made and lots of it. But

industry insiders swear by one irrevocable truth – mobile

re et gaming is not child’s play. Budgets are always smaller;

P memory is perpetually at a premium; processor and power
are substantially lower; screen sizes and resolutions are very
often different and interoperability issues a constant
challenge. Add to it the fact that mobile games have very
small shelf lives, the technology is very niche and we are very
much on challenging terrain.
Despite all said and done, the industry continues to make
money. In a recent technology special report by Paul
Korzeniowski of Tech News World, mobile gaming has been
hailed as the latest wireless cash cow not just for game
manufacturers but for online carriers alike. Little wonder.

Of all the available modes of classifications of

mobile games, the simplest one would be into those
that are pre-embedded into your phones and the
family of others that can be downloaded. The buzz
around mobile gaming quite predictably is around
the latter. With a WAP (Wireless Application
Protocol) browser pretty much ubiquitous in any
phone today, the most interesting of games is just the
game provider’s URL away.
Mobile games are developed on platforms that enable mobile
game programmers to interact with the underlying hardware.
The ones ruling the roost at the moment are Qualcomm’s
BREW (Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless) and J2ME

September ‘09 29


(Java 2 Micro Edition). While BREW is a C/C++ based API tool that is widely being used for advanced graphics embedding,
that facilitates several different languages to interact with the to make games even more realistic.
mobile device, J2ME is a toned down strain of Java tailored for Software-based gaming consoles are also gaining considerable
smaller devices like the mobile. While both these technologies traction. Sony Ericsson integrated the Mophun games engine
are equally popular, they do have their unique propositions. onto its mobile devices not so long back. And industry experts
BREW is known to provide developers with greater end-to-end predict software consoles and related technologies are sure to
support and is also widely known to be an industry accepted play a significant role in the days to come.
certification and distribution model for getting applications to The mobile development world, as is evident, is a different
the end consumer. J2ME and the Java bandwagon, in the beast altogether. Even programmers with expertise in bread and
meanwhile, have the backing of some of the powerhouses in the butter languages like C++ and Java, often find their task cut out.
industry and are ever popular with the hundreds of Java Programming calls for exercising frugality in the usage of objects
programmers who swear their allegiance to these. as memory is expensive. And programmers with a knack for
In the world of telephony, there has been little that has been writing compact, efficient codes are always in great demand.
common between Europe and America. Much like the GSM- There is another aspect to mobile games as well – visuals. The
CDMA divide, the two continents have different favourites in game artists, who are responsible for this, bring a whole suite of
platforms as well. Symbian OS, a C++ based API has tools and technologies with them.
considerable traction in Europe. What adds credibility to Unlike in game development, most of the tools and skills
Symbian is the fact that Nokia’s flagship gaming mobile, N- needed is pretty much the same as used in other games. The
Gage is based on the Symbian OS. With Symbian all set to quintessential Photoshop continues to be the artists’ favourite
become the standard operating system of ‘smartphones,’ its tool. The other tools in a game designer’s arsenal are the usual
credibility is sure on the upswing. suspects – Paintshop Pro is a commoner, as is ACDsee, the image
But the fact remains that mobile games are consistently a viewer. Programs such as Debabilizer, which creates/matches
generation behind modern day video games. If you ask me why? colour palettes equal to or lesser than 256 colours, are also
Well, there is something called the technology frontier and all commonly used. But with newer mobile devices moving towards
said and done, lest we forget we are still talking about a hi-colour displays, their usage is sure to reduce substantially.
communicating device where games are nothing more than a The mobile gaming technology arena is like the wild west of
value added service. But over time, the games have gotten better the technology space. The skills are niche and the
and it is no longer just ‘Tetris’ and ‘Snake’ on mobile phones. opportunities are manifold; the stakes are high and the
With increased emphasis on 2D/3D graphics, APIs, like propensity to lose very likely; the technology is challenging and
OpenGL ES, have become a part of core mobile gaming the potential ever increasing. Whatever the scene, for a techie,
technology. This low-level, light-weight, cross platform API is a the lure of the mobile gaming world is like that of a cotton
candy to the toddler.
Amidst all this, mobile phone
penetration in the emerging markets
is rising rapidly. The Boston
Consulting Group in an interesting
study identified the next billion
customers at the bottom of the
pyramid and explored the possibilities
that lay buried here. The mobile
phone, incidentally, is expected to be
an important cog in this wheel of
opportunity. Imagine a mobile in the
hand of the next billion. And imagine
the possibilities this might well open
for mobile gaming. Will technology
continue to push the frontier to help
discover new opportunities? Will
some entrepreneurial idea bring
online gaming to the masses? Only
time will tell. But when it does, it will
have wireless carriers and mobile
gaming companies alike, laughing
Mobile game addiction is instinctual.
their way to the bank. I 30 September ‘09


Gaming Technology
in Medical Imaging
Ritu Goyal Harish 32 September ‘09

Game-based medical simulation (MRI) and computerized tomography (CT) scans, for example.
Patients stand to benefit from the greater power gaming
has made it possible for surgeons technology is bringing to the medical imaging world.

to practice their procedures When three dimensions and millions of pixels are involved, the
task of deciphering image data becomes exponentially complex.
virtually ! Here’s how. Within this scope, the need for higher processing speeds is

essential. And this is precisely where the cost-effective benefits of
he strides technology makes in the world of computers gaming industry technology are starting to make an impact.
makes them powerful modes of change in medical With the use of the Cell Broadband Engine (Cell BE) processor
advancements, speeding up their implementation and the first implementation of the Cell Broadband Engine
reducing their costs substantially. Architecture used in Sony PlayStation 3 (PS3), with its highly
One way medical images are being improved is by using visual parallel architecture and its high memory bandwidth has the
images from more than one source – magnetic resonance imaging possibility to take medical imaging a step forward in performance,
with real gains to be had in improving services to the patient.

The beginning
It started when Dutch-based 3mensio, founded in August 2003,
focused on exploiting the capabilities offered by so-called Graphics
Processing Units (GPUs) on graphics boards. Their tremendous
speed and programmability enhancing quickly as a result of the
fierce competition in the multi-billion dollar computer games
industry, to provide the path towards a new level of functionality
and price/performance for advanced 3D medical imaging.
Today, another company using games-derived GPU
technology to speed up radically processing is Canadian
company Acceleware. The company is examining the
possibility of creating hardware (GPU)
accelerated reconstruction algorithms.
The innovative approach by
these ‘early movers’ in
marrying gaming

technology to medical imaging has

been noticed in the multi-billion
dollar market place; and new players
have also joined the bandwagon
of developers.
Jointly developed by Sony, Toshiba,
and IBM, in an alliance known as
‘STI’, the architectural design and
first implementation were carried out
at the STI Design Centre over four
years, on a budget reported to be
approximately US$ 400 million.
Collaborators from Mayo Clinic and
IBM have also exploited parallel
computer architecture and memory
bandwidth to dramatically speed up
the processing of 3D medical images.
The advance significantly aids image
registration – the computer-enhanced
alignment of two medical images
obtained at different dates or by using
different imaging devices, in three-
Computer-aided imaging.
dimensional space. With the images properly aligned over one
another, a radiologist can more easily detect structural changes which also saves money. Sometimes, however, these cost-savings
such as the growth or shrinkage of tumours. are hard to quantify because hospitals are often split into
The popular Wii gaming remote may offer radiologists a sections with their own budgets.
fun alternative method to using a conventional mouse and One way to get around the high cost of medical imaging
keyboard to navigate through patient images, according to a equipment is to have mobile units that can be driven around,
recent study. The remote may also offer radiologists relief allowing equipment to be shared between hospitals. This
from repetitive motion injuries as a result of using a mouse becomes a possibility as the size of the equipment shrinks.
and keyboard. Healthcare frequently relies on the early detection of disease to
The traditional keyboard mouse user interface limits the way employ cheaper and less drastic methods of therapy. To do this,
a radiologist can interpret images and manage an ever- screening tests need to be used that are low cost and easy to perform.
increasing workload. The Wii remote may alleviate those “The student begins with the patient, continues with the
limitations. In addition, repetitive motion injuries may be patient, and ends his studies with the patient, using books
mitigated by altering usage between devices like the Wii and lectures as tools, as means to an end,” wrote Sir William
remote and the traditional mouse because they use different Osler in the Aequanimitas.
sets of muscles. Small movements can manipulate the image The esteemed physician, Sir William Osler, felt that learning
on the screen and buttons can change windows and move was an apprenticeship, and that medical apprentice learners
between different series. needed convenient access to authoritative information to aid
This technology in its nascent stage is developing rapidly and them in their studies.
in the coming few months will see rapid advancements for the How technology has changed perceptions over the years is quite
benefit of patients across the world. evident from the use of medical imaging in medical education that
creates a virtual world of medical simulations to aid the student!
Economy From teleporting students to a virtual hospital where they
A disadvantage of medical imaging equipment is its high price, choose the patient they would like to see, only after all the
but the techniques employed can replace expensive or painful rightful authorizations have been sought, to checking the
surgical procedures. One example is where patients with brain patient’s profile, medical history (through a text file). To make
tumours previously had to endure a painful procedure where air it interesting for students, tests have to be passed that
was injected into their skulls and then they were rotated upside- authorize them to go further, and test diagnosis can even be
down. Now, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed purchased in some cases.
tomography (CT) scans are used to detect brain tumours. Developed recently by the Faculty of Imperial College
Also, because imaging is generally non-invasive, patients do London, this game-based method of medical learning can be
not need to stay in the hospital as they would after surgery, very interesting for students. I 34 September ‘09


1 2

Technology is making waves ... and

there’s no part of the country
that’s left untouched. Here, we
take you through some of the
latest happening in the tech
sphere, in Pune.
Viny Velayudhan

Wannabe India’s first wireless city

1 Pune is gearing up to win the title of ‘India’s first
wireless city’. Pune Municipal Corporation and
Microsense are working together on the Unwire Pune 5
project. The two organizations will launch the first phase
of an 802.16d Wi-Fi and WiMax network that would
provide wireless connectivity covering an area of 25 sq.
A tech forum exclusively for cops
km. In the first phase, the citizens will be offered a speed
of 256kbit/s. 3 Recently, the Pune Police decided to get itself an
edge in IT. NASSCOM and Data Security Council
of India (DSCI) launched the Cop Tech Forum for
knowledge sharing, especially with the city cops. The
Entrepreneurs rising in Pune
2 Pune is witnessing a lot of first generation
forum will help the cops build a stronger cyber security
system by increasing exchange of ideas and knowledge
entrepreneurs with new start-ups. New between the IT industry and the police.
entrepreneurial activities are also initiated by the NRI A meeting will be held every quarter with the
diaspora in Pune. Although the IT industry is the members of the forum and the police.
backbone of Pune’s economy, the new age entrepreneurs The enthusiasm of the cops can be seen from the
are creating a revolution of entrepreneurship. overwhelming response received by the programme.
NASSCOM Emerge, Pune OpenCoffee Club, Komli Around 100 officials registered themselves as members
Media, TiE, Dr. Suhas Patil’s Cradle Technologies, and of the Cop Tech on the day of the launch itself.
Zmanda are some of the notable start-ups in Pune. 36 September ‘09

3 4

IBN’s dynamic infrastructure lab

5 in Pune
IBN unveiled a first-of-its-kind dynamic
infrastructure Lab in Pune. The lab is located at its
software lab in Pune. It boasts of getting more
intelligence, automation, integration and
6 efficiencies to the physical as well as digital world.
This state-of-the-art technology lab will help
them serve their clients in India and South Asia
region with higher valued and cost-efficient services.
SMSONE serves the rural areas
4 SMSONE Media Services Pvt. Ltd. is a unique
newsletter service company that not only caters to Engineering stalwarts of Pune
the rural mobile phone users but also generates jobs for 6 Pune boasts of housing the Kirloskar
rural youth who call themselves ‘mobile journalists.’ The Group, which is India’s largest engineering
company sends SMS newsletters containing local news firm. Kirloskar was one of the early companies to
to cell phone users of nearly 300 communities across 25 set up their manufacturing unit in Pune. To name a
districts in Maharashtra. few companies that add the technological advances
The SMS news service employs the rural youth to of Pune are Kirloskar Oil Engines (the world’s
gather local news giving them a source of income as well. largest genset company), Kirloskar Brothers
It’s been around two years since the company’s Limited (one of the world’s largest pump
inception and it has already gained recognition by company), Kirloskar Pneumatics Co. Ltd. and
wining NASSCOM’s social innovation award for its other Kirloskar businesses.
unique concept.

September ‘09 37


in Games David Welch

Game codes that make the machine think and act on its own.
ust about all video games have other

J digitized characters that interact with

you, the player character. These
digital life forms may be friend or foe
alike; such as a kindly wizard who assists you
on your quest with magical aid; or an enemy
soldier who hunts you through the barrel of
a sniper rifle. The pixelized denizens who
populate a world may even be your pets that
you, the player, must care for, nurture, and
train. In all these possible game scenarios,
nearly all virtual characters possess a certain
degree of artificial intelligence to move,
make decisions, and interact with you and
the environment.

What is AI?
As game play has evolved over the decades
to include richer graphics and faster
processing, game characters have also
grown more life-like in the way they look,
move, and behave. Detailed textures and
countless polygons create realistic-looking
characters, while motion-capture
animation conveys a wide range of actions
and emotions through physical movement
and facial expressions. But, under the
surface of these graphics, game characters
have also evolved a higher capacity of
intelligence, allowing them to make
decisions based on logical processes.
While, even though the most intelligent
virtual characters still fall greatly short of
the intellectual and reasoning power of the
human mind, some artificially intelligent
game characters are now able to react to
an environment, pursue their own needs, 38 September ‘09

goals, and desires, and even learn new behaviours in an example, Pac-Man’s ghost opponents had to possess the
unprecedented mimicry of human intelligence. intelligence to navigate the maze as well as adjust their movement
to concentrate on Pac-Man’s constantly moving location.
The birth of AI
Artificial intelligence stretches back as far as the need for Growth of AI in combat FPS
computer-controlled game characters has existed. The earliest Reactive AI grew exponentially thanks to the need for intelligent
video games were played between human players with human enemies in the first-person-shooter (FPS) genre. In the original
intelligence, like in the early version of Pong, called Tennis for Two. Wolfenstein 3D, enemies reacted to the player by simply moving
In Tennis for Two, one human player controlled a left paddle while and firing at them. They lacked the AI to employ advanced
the other controlled the right as they took turns moving to combat tactics, which gave the human player a significant
intercept a ball that bounced between them and reflect back at advantage. But in later games like Half-Life and Counter-Strike,
their opponent. Tennis for Two posed two humans against each the enemies would learn to dodge, strafe, and hide behind
other in a game of reflex and skill. But, if the game was played by objects for cover while reloading. Eventually, enemies learned to
just one human, then the designers would have had to answer one use teamwork tactics to ambush the player and use the
question – how do you make Tennis for Two into “Tennis for One”? environment to their advantage. Many players who
The challenge was making a computer-controlled object underestimated the enemy’s AI were met with certain doom.
mimic the behaviour of a human by creating the illusion or the Stealth games like the Thief series saw the need to limit the
semblance of intelligence. In Tennis for Two, a human player AI’s intelligence to exclude information the computer could
would anticipate the speed and angle of the incoming ball in access unfairly. For example, since the game itself always
order to move their paddle in front of it and hit it back at the knew where the player is located, all computer-controlled
opponent; so an artificial intelligence must do the same thing. enemies are also privy to that information – even when it was
Since the program itself determines where the ball will end up unfair and unrealistic. After all, the player could only see
by using a set of physics-based algorithms, this same framework opponents in their line of sight. Thief: The Dark Project
is used for the artificial intelligence of the paddle. Thus, an realistically blinded enemy AI when the player was hidden in
artificial intelligence would use logic to predict where they should the cover of darkness. Sudden movement or noise would alert
move the paddle in order to hit the ball, just as the player would. nearby enemies to the players’ whereabouts, and they could
This is an example of a reactive artificial intelligence; the paddle also alert other nearby enemies.
moved depending on the current angle of the ball during the game.
But, many early games were only capable of scripted patterns of AI in conversation
behaviour that never changed regardless of the actions of the Although the FPS and action genres changed the way artificial
player. In the classic arcade game, Space Invaders, the alien ships intelligence responded in combat situations, other genres
descend in the same pattern, line by line, until they either reach the developed the way artificial intelligence communicated and
ground or are all destroyed. In this case, their behaviour does not behaved in other areas of life.
change because of anything the player does or does not do. Given the near infinite ways humans communicate and the
Reactive AI exploded thanks to Pac-Man whose rainbow subtleties of language, games have often struggled to convey
coloured ghosts would follow the titular character in a maze. In this realistic communication between a player and a game character.
Expressing complex thoughts and ideas to an AI has many more
possibilities than anything that can occur in a combat scenario.
The sci-fi action role-playing game, Mass Effect took a worthy
stab at reproducing realistic conversations with game characters.
Players are given the choice of several different responses to give to
other game characters in a conversation. The player’s choice of
response will dictate how the game characters ‘feel’ about the
player and change how their relationship develops. For example, if
the player chooses a response such as ‘Get lost! I don’t like you,’
the game character may react hurt or resentful. Also, inquiring
about certain topics in your response may open up new topics of
conversation and further opportunities to acquire new information.
Of course, in Mass Effect, the player only has a few predefined
ways of responding to another character. But the independent
game Façade experimented with allowing the player to speak any
message they could type on the screen.
Even the simplest game requires some AI. In Tennis for Two, Façade describes itself not as a game, but as an “artificial-
the AI must anticipate the angle and speed of the ball. intelligence based interactive story.” In Façade, the player character

September ‘09 39

are not told to work, they will not be able to pay their bills. If
they are not told to have fun, they become depressed and are
unable to do anything. They even have to be told to go to the
bathroom and conceive a child. Instructing the Sims to pursue
certain activities is the only way to ensure they live rich,
fulfilling lives. In the process, the player adopts a sort of
parental role and concern for their Sims.

Half-Life made groundbreaking strides in combat AI as enemies employed

teamwork tactics to outwit the player.
is invited over for cocktails at the apartment of his/her close
friends, Trip and Grace. The evening quickly devolves into drama
as Trip and Grace argue about unhappy issues in their marriage.
The player has the ability to speak to the couple by typing in any
message they can think of and Trip and Grace will react to this
input accordingly, or to the best ability of their natural language
processing and artificial intelligence routines. Players can then
influence the behaviour of Trip and Grace allowing the night’s
events to play out in practically countless different ways.

Emergent AI
As AI has grown, it has gone from simple scripted patterns of
behaviour, to reacting to a player’s input, and finally to emergent
In The Sims, players poke their nose into the lives of ordinary people and help
behaviours and the ability to learn new skills by observing and them by making them make wise decisions – or not!
adjusting to its environment and the consequences of its actions.
This idea has been explored in Lionhead Studio’s Black and Don’t forget the fun
White series. In Black and White, players take the role of a god The difference between the study and science of realistic artificial
who must take care of a village of worshippers in part by intelligence and artificial intelligence used in video games is that
training a giant beast, “the Creature,” to do its bidding. The games are intended to be fun, so the AI is also used for that
Creature will act on its own but can be told to perform specific purpose. For this reason, fun game play can sometimes take
actions. The player may then punish the beast by slapping it or priority over realistic AI forcing the AI to behave unrealistically in
reward it by stroking it, thus providing positive and negative order to make the game more fun. Often to make a game more
reinforcement for its actions. Eventually, based on this challenging, computer characters are imbued with greater strength
behavioural reinforcement, the Creature will change its in order to compensate for their lack of intelligence in comparison
behaviour to pursue activities that it has learned are good and to the player. This may include having stronger attacks, faster
avoid those which it has learned are bad. A well-trained speed, or more health than the player.
Creature will act according to the player’s wishes independently For example, in many racing games, the winner of the race
so that the player may concentrate on other hands-on processes ought to be determined by the skill of the driver. However, AI
and thus be more successful in his endeavours. drivers lack the sophisticated driving skill comparable to that of
the player and will usually be left in the dust. To compensate for
Taking care of your AI this lack of skill, computer-controlled race cars will ‘rubberband’
Some games intend to portray AI characters as human by giving or unfairly speed up when the player establishes a sizable lead.
them their own unique desires, goals, and habits that are It may not be fair to the player, who must rely only on his/her
independent of the player. In the role-playing game, Elder Scrolls skill to win, but it keeps the game challenging and exciting.
IV: Oblivion, townsfolk have their own 24-hour schedule of
activities and habits, which they pursue independently each day. The future of game AI
This may include sleeping, eating, visiting shops, or conversing As long as fun is the driving force behind video games, it will be
with other townsfolk. This behavioural cycle will not change a long time before game artificial intelligence approaches a level
unless, of course, it is affected by actions taken by the player. comparable to the infinite complexities of the human mind.
The popular life/family simulator, The Sims, game characters But, at the same time, we can expect video game characters to
also have needs and desires. However, in this game, the Sims resemble humans to an even greater extent in the way they look,
are only semi-autonomous and cannot fulfill these goals move, behave, think, and learn. This will create a more
without the guiding hand of the player telling them which immersive experience for the player as they interact with life-like
activities to pursue. If they are not told to eat, they die. If they virtual characters with personalities of their own. I 40 September ‘09


style it Gaming

There’s an increasing demand

for telecom products among
all sections of users. Right from
handset purchase to choosing
accessories including
Bluetooth devices, chargers,
carry cases, and data cables,
it surely calls for intelligent
choice to get the best for
yourself. Soveena Mobile Zone,
located in the heart of the
capital, caters to consumers’
choice of the widest and most
comprehensive range of
mobile phones with special
offers from all the key brands
available across the globe.
Model: Tahira Kochhar
From leading mobile brands
Photographer: Sonhal Nichani like Nokia, Sony Ericsson, LG,
Assistant: Manish Chadha Samsung, Motorola, Apple, HTC
Makeup/Hair: and Blackberry, you can also
Nancy Miglani/Tom shop for state-of-the-art
Gadgets: Soveena gaming products by Sony and
Mobile Zone Mitashi. For movie buffs, there’s
a massive collection of the
latest movies, music et al.
At Soveena, it is a constant
endeavour to provide the best
product at the best price from
the extensive product range,
thereby making it a complete
shopping experience. For now,
here’s a sneak peek into their
select product line.

September ‘09 41

Style IT

Sony F305
mobile phone
The Sony F305 with
Motion Gaming puts
‘fun and
entertainment’ at the
heart of the mobile
phone. Targeted firmly
at a youth audience,
the phone with motion
gaming lets users
control games with the
flick of a wrist or the
swing of an arm.
Portable Sony
Playstn. (PSP)
Game on PSP system
anytime anywhere.
Browse the web,
enjoy RSS feeds, use
Remote Play to
access your PS3
system, or get instant
messages and calls
with Skype
Style IT

Sony Playstn.2
The successor to the
PlayStation, and the
predecessor to the
PlayStation 3, the
PlayStation 2 forms
part of the PlayStation
series of video game
consoles. Stylish, cool,
and a must have for
the gaming freak.
The Racing Wheel
comes with a bundle of
features to deliver a
level of realism and
authenticity previously
unheard of on such a
peripheral. Try it to
believe it.
Style IT

Infrazone wireless
Get ready for
some wireless gaming.
Connect to a TV and play
with wireless gear to get
into action.
Nintendo Playboy
Advance SP
Comes with a
rechargeable battery
and charger with free
10-in-1 gaming
cartridge. You can play
up to 4 to 5 hours on a
single charge.
Style IT

The fun has just
begun. This machine
comes with 48 in built
TV video games sure
to take you on a
fantasy ride in the
world of gaming.
It’s dubbed as
'The Funnest iPod
Ever', and it's easy to
understand why.
Features like the
Multi-Touch Display,
and a built-in
accelerometer, which
automatically rotates
the screen, are just
the beginning of this
ground breaking
device. Comes with a
built-in Wi-Fi along with
an e-mail client.
Special applications to make your game interactive and interesting.
Roli Gupta

nce upon a time, a software programmer in a monsters out to eat up the creature, and the creature had to avoid
moment of boredom developed a software program them, while still eating up the dots ... and that presumably was the
to entertain himself. This consisted of a screen with beginning of the multi-billion dollar gaming industry, an industry
a maze, lined with small dots representing fruits and that provides employment to millions of people worldwide –
a round shape representing a creature that would eat up the small smart, intelligent and supremely creative geeks working away on
dots. To make it more interesting, the developer gave himself their desktops or laptops, trying hard to create that ultimate video
points for each dot that the creature ate up. However, he soon got game that will take the world by storm and get them into the same
bored with this ‘game’. So, he added another level – there were league as good ol’ Billy, dropout from Harvard University! 50 September ‘09

But, for all the riches and creative satisfaction that the field of between the characters and so on. To sum up, it is a detailed,
game development offers, the going is not so easy. Only a tiny comprehensive view of the game. The game developer need not
number of gaming ideas is good enough to get financial backing however use paper to create storyboards. Software like
and of those too, only the very few really viable ones make it to StoryBoard Artist and Toon Boom StoryBoard are easily
the highly competitive market. Game developers have to deal available, which help one create a complete and effective
with a host of issues, all the while retaining their originality. It’s professional, digital storyboard, which is easy to navigate, edit
certainly not an easy task. From the erstwhile ‘Pacman’ and its and link to whatever developer software that one intends to use.
ilk, to the high action graphics and animation intensive games The novice or hobbyist games developer can opt for one of the
of today, games development has become a highly specialized several storyboarding software available online for free download.
field, requiring experts at different level of development.
While a few years ago, game development was a tedious task, 3D or 2D animation software
in which the game engine (the core software which actually Obviously, actually creating the code that is behind the game is
allowed the game to run) had to be coded from scratch, the what forms the crux of game development. Being able to create
process is less cumbersome now. Considering the fact that
graphics and animation have undergone a quantum leap in
terms of the look and feel of the game and the technology
available to really create it, the developer really has a multitude
of options. He is well-assisted by several tools and technologies.
There is a wide variety of software that allows for the creation
of games ranging from the simple ones like those available
online for children (which usually include simple jigsaws or
colouring pages or numbers games), to the moderately complex
games like card games or 2D games like ‘Pacman,’ to the
graphics-intensive games like ‘Need for Speed,’ ‘Grand Theft
Auto’ and the like.
Here then is a bird’s eye view of some of the popular
multimedia technologies and software that are important for
game developers in their quest to create some of the best and
most entertaining games ever.

Storyboarding software games that are high on visual appeal is very important for the
Storyboarding is the not-so-simple first, crucial step in creating success of any game. In-depth knowledge of the relevant
games. A little difficult to define, it basically involves the complete software is almost mandatory. The software is usually powerful,
visualisation of the game, not unlike a movie script, complete integrated 3D modelling, 3D animation, and rendering
with different scenarios, characters, screenplay, interaction applications. Widely used in TV, films and of course in game
development, these offer a complete end-to-end solution for
creating games.
Here are some of the essential tools or software that provide
an entire gamut of features for extensive game development:
1. Autodesk Maya/Autodesk 3D Max:
2. DarkBasic/DarkBasicPro:
3. GameEditor:
4. GameMaker:
5. Role Playing Game Software: RPG Toolkit –
6. Adobe Flash Player:
7. Adobe Director and Adobe Shockwave Player:;
8. Torque 3D, Torque 2D:
9. GameStudio:
10. Unity (for MAC):

September ‘09 51


All these are licensed, proprietary software, obviously very

expensive and extremely useful and essential for professional
game developers. However, there are several open source tools
or freeware, which allow the novice or hobbyist game developer
to create games with minimal or even no knowledge of
programming. Here are some of them:
1. Microsoft’s Kodu:
2. MIT’s Scratch:
3. Stagecast:
4. Adventure Maker:
5. Platinum Arts Sandbox:
Undoubtedly, all of this software is powerful enough to create the
most complex games. The user interface is quite intuitive, allowing
the developer to learn the ropes very quickly. Most come equipped
with detailed tutorials and documentation too. The basic features
that nearly all game development software typically provide include: wears multiple layers of clothing, movement of cloth in
1. Real life simulation of the scenes from the storyboard. breeze or in water.
2. Human body movement, highly precise and accurate 9. Lighting effects such as shadow and sun, shading in various
muscle and skin motion. objects appearing in the scene, how lights interact with
surfaces and how shadows appear in 3D.
10. A large variety of sound effects – the crash of a car,
footsteps, opening and closing of doors to name a few,
which add the desired effect to the game.
11. On the more technical side, the facility to create a virtual
3D wire frame model, which is the base upon which the 3D
figures are built is also provided.
12. They provide for very convincing limb animation
(movement of hands and feet for instance in depicting
various movements like driving, running, walking, cycling
and so on) and motion capture facilities.
13. Emotion representation, i.e., the expressions on the faces of
the 3D humans in the game – fear, terror, smiles, triumphs,
grim and so on.
Truly, gaming today has changed beyond recognition. There
is a mind-boggling variety of games and the game developer
sure has his task cut out. But, as always, technology is at his
3. Fluid effects like lightning, smoke, steam, snow, fire, water, service, giving free rein to his creativity and talents. I
clouds, rain, oceans, ponds, ripples, foam, and waves in
water bodies, thick fog and objects walking through thick
fogs, turbulence, and bubbles in water.
4. Natural phenomenon like swamps, mud, volcanoes,
and lava.
5. Landscapes and elements like mountains, trees, flowers
and so on.
6. Collision between objects and its aftermath, explosions,
blasts, fireworks.
7. Life-like appearance of animal fur and human hair. Animal
fur appearance can be varied as per requirement to simulate
different kinds of animals; human hair of different textures,
colours and styles too can be created.
8. Simulation of cloth in various forms, even depicting
tearing, burning and other damage, appear fitted or loose
as the need is; cloth on cloth as and when a character 52 September ‘09

The Play Barbie games
online & be a part
of her digital world.

Story… Priyanka Mukherjee

nce upon a time there lived a young girl in the enthrall her onlookers. She had a fetish for fashion and her
magic world of toys. She was the most beautiful sense of style would often pep up her otherwise lovely
girl indeed. Her cascading mane, slender frame, features. Ever since the day she walked the beach in confident
sparkling eyes and dazzling smile had set many a steps, sporting a zebra stripped swimsuit and a topknot, she
heart on fire. She would exude a charm that would keep her grabbed all the attention, wherever she went. This pretty girl
admirers enchanted forever. This girl had all the oomph to was pert and smart too. She could dapple with careers as 54 September ‘09

varied as being a space walker and a doctor. While men would Over these span of half a century, Barbie has grown with
nurture their secret desire to posses her, women would often time. She is no longer coy and demur as she used to be in her
be envious. For young girls, however, she was their best buddy; initial days. With age she has shred her reserve. Barbie is rather
a friend whom they would look up to. This once-a-young lass a modern lady with no inhibitions about her sexuality. Ever
has now turned fifty and has successfully busted the myth of since 1971, she has stopped looking sideways; her straight gaze
age and waning youth. This svelte lady can still kill with her instead oozes a confidence which inspires many. Aware of her
glance. And guess what, she never had to go for a botox till abilities, Barbie is truly the most perfect representation of the
date. She is Barbie. Barbara Millicent Roberts. new age woman, who is ambitious, self-oriented and gorgeous.
Ruth had often observed her daughter Barbara ascribing Barbie has been a playmate to girls from 150 countries all
grown up roles to her dolls. Her husband Elliot, one of the co- around the globe. With two Barbie dolls being sold every one
founders of Mattel, however, never agreed to her ideas of second, she is undoubtedly the most popular doll ever. In her
marketing an adult doll. It was on her visit to Germany in mass appeal she matches the Hollywood Star. Barbie has been
1956 that Ruth stumbled upon the German fashion doll, Bild the Hawaiian sweetheart to the Pop Prince, Elvis Presley. For
Lilli. Lilli was a German career girl who knew how to use her painter Andy Warhol, she has been his muse. Her fame has

“ Online Barbie
games let the Barbie
aficionados see the
doll in action ... an
animated Barbie is
bound to mesmerize
you with things she

does on her own
Ruth Handler, the brain behind the concept of Barbie.
charisma to her advantages. For Ruth, she was quite like what
she had imagined her dream doll to be. At the end of her earned her the rare honour of a having part of the Times
European sojourn, Ruth returned to the United States with Square named after her for a week in the year of 1974. As it is
Lilli, who would now go through an elaborate session of make- common for the rich and the famous, Barbie too has been
over. It was engineer Jack Ryan who gave Lilli the necessary bothered by controversies time and again. While some call her
alterations before she could hit the American market in her sexist, there are physicians worldwide, who often censure her
new avatar as Barbie. Ruth gave Lilli her new name after her impractical vital stats for pushing young girls towards becoming
daughter Barbara, and ‘Barbie’ made her first appearance on anorexic. All the blame games, however, seem inane as the little
the 9th of March 1959 at the American International Toy Fair. girl giggles with her Barbie, held to her bosom in a tight hug.
Dressed up by Charlotte Johnson, the Mattel Fashion Designer, Barbie has moved beyond being just a doll; this diva is no less
the then “Teen age Fashion doll” would set trends for her than an icon emulated by millions throughout the world. The
admirers to follow all around the globe from now on. Despite craze over Barbie has spread across adults and children alike.
occasional challenges from the younger entrants into the world While the young daughters love taking Barbie to school with
of toy glitterati like the bratty Bratz doll, Barbie still reigns as them, their mothers often indulge in dressing her up during their
the stunning sensation, who surely knows the elixir of free times. Her popularity has led Mattle to introduce product
everlasting youth. lines named after her. She has made her appearance in some

September ‘09 55


commercial flicks as well. With children becoming more and

more tech savvy, Barbie has also made her appearance in compact discs and online games.
Samadrita Sengupta, a first year student of English at
Presidency College, Kolkata takes pride in proclaiming herself
as the Barbie Addict. On being asked about the popularity of
video games on Barbie available in the market, this young girl
pertly replies, “these video games let the Barbie aficionados see
the doll in action, while your doll at home requires you to do
things for her. An animated Barbie is bound to mesmerize you
with things she does on her own and hence the high demand
for such CDs.” Her friend, Jhelum, quips that affordability
becomes a factor too. While a normal doll would cost one
around 600 bucks let alone her accessories and other
necessities, a video game would cost much less. These video
games follow thrilling story lines. And the plots with Barbie
posing in varied roles such as a high school kid or a private
agent or a pretty princess are bound to keep children engrossed
over the computer screen for hours altogether. A shop attendant
from one of the city malls points that these compact discs,
ranged between Rs. 300 to 2000, are bought in high numbers
by Barbie enthusiasts of all ages.
If one is yet to buy one of these CDs, she can try out some of
the online games to get a feel of the Barbie experience. One can
Google up a long list of sites were Barbie games can be played
for free. Sites like and are popular amongst kids who enjoy
dressing up Barbie fittingly for different occasions. There are
other options like, which offer a
variety of activities such as dress designing, painting and even
going out on a mall spree with your dolly pal. Swagata
Chatterjee, a working lady, comments, “These online games
keep my six-year-old daughter engaged for quite a long stretch
in the evening giving me enough time to finish my chores in
peace.” Chatterjee chuckles as she points out that she too seldom
pampers the child in her with these games on lazy weekend
afternoons. Srijoni Bhattacharya, proprietor of a city-based play
school, tells us that she often makes the toddlers at her
Montessori play the Barbie games available on This teacher opines that these games
being interactive are always effective stimulants for a child’s
imagination. Given their attractive content, they are entertaining
while being educative as well. Lessons, when taught by Barbie,
are ought to be remembered for a lifetime.
Even with an option galore available before kids today, Barbie
continues to fascinate generations of doll lovers. She has been in
controversies. Her acts have often been critiqued. And despite it
all, Barbie still remains a girl’s best friend. She has done it all
that a girl aspires to do; she has it all that a girl desires to have;
and she is all that a girl wants to be. As your little daughter plays
with her Barbie, she nourishes her dreams as she fondles her
doll. Her Barbie is as special to her as she is to you. She loves her
Barbie as you love her. In her Barbie she sees herself. Every girl
The fascinating virtual world of Barbie. has a Barbie in her … I 56 September ‘09


PAN Technologies
inVideo Games David Welch
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enrich games with networking options creating
a whole new world of gaming.

ersonal area networking (PAN) has undergone a rapid might include steering wheels, trackballs, gamepads, light guns, and
transition over the last decade as wireless technologies instruments. But each of these personal gaming area networks was
have displaced wires and cables to connect electronic saddled with the inherent impediments of cords, which inhibited
devices seamlessly. Without the need for wires and physical movement and limited the number of connected devices.
available ports, integrating multiple devices into a personal area
network (PAN) is more convenient than ever before. And with the Wireless connectivity via infrared light
ease of connecting devices of everyday use, like phones, laptops, Infrared Data Association (IrDa) was used as a popular means of
printers, and keyboards, comes the added benefit of connecting wireless data transmission in personal area networks in the late 1990s
electronic gaming systems and peripherals in the same way. Thus,
the evolution and transition of PAN technologies, like infrared and This game controller
uses a retractable cord
Bluetooth, have changed the way in which we play video games. to prevent it from
Connecting video game peripherals through cables was the becoming entangled
in other wires. While
standard throughout most of gaming history. Controllers and this is more
joysticks had to be connected through wires to a game console the convenient than a
non-retractable cord,
same way we connected keyboards and mice to our computers. it cannot stand up to a
Game ports allowed for a variety of different peripherals to be Bluetooth-enabled
wireless controller.
connected creating a personal area network for gaming, which

September ‘09 57


and early 2000s. IrDa exchanged short-range data over infrared mobile phone while driving. At the same time, GPS
light. Using IrDa, a user could, for example, connect a computer to functionality of a mobile phone could connect with the car’s
a printer and wirelessly send print jobs from one device to the other. systems to help drivers navigate. Of course, Bluetooth allows for
Infrared was used the same way in video games to allow for input and output devices like mice, keyboards, printers, and
wireless controllers. Players were free from cumbersome wires that headsets to work together seamlessly.
inhibited game play. This was a real advantage to overzealous
gamers who would accidentally pull controller wires from their Bluetooth in
ports in moments of exuberance, or have ever had a house pet or video games
clumsy friend accidentally trip over their cords and disconnect For video games,
them from a game. It also relieved them of the task of untangling Bluetooth allows for
a mass of cords from different controllers and peripherals. several advantages in
Because IrDa uses infrared light, there must be a direct line of sight game play. Wireless
between the devices. If an obtrusive solid object interfered, the IrDa- controllers now allow
enabled devices could no longer ‘see’ each other and thus be unable for free movement The WaveBird
to communicate. This was a drawback in video games since a without the hassle of for the Nintendo
sudden loss of control at a critical point in game play could mean the cords or the line-of-sight Gamecube was
the first official
difference between a ‘top score’ and a ‘game over,’ no matter how interruption possible wireless controller
brief the interruption. These disadvantages would eventually make through infrared. made by a first-party
console gaming manufacturer.
IrDa obsolete in the face of newer technology. However, infrared light Among the three Nintendo had been attempting to create a
would still be used later to capture motion for video games. current generation reliable wireless controller since the
Famicom era with infrared technology.
Other early wireless controllers used radio links instead of console gaming systems, However, the WaveBird succeeded by using
infrared. But they often suffered from transmission delays, which the Nintendo Wii and radio frequency communication.

were more disastrous for players than line-of-sight interruptions. the Sony PS3 both use
Because of the necessity for maintaining complete control at all Bluetooth controllers while Microsoft’s Xbox360 uses a
times in game play, wireless controllers were avoided until the proprietary protocol that uses a 2.4 gigahertz electromagnetic
technology finally improved. frequency. While all three use radio frequencies to communicate
wirelessly, the Bluetooth protocol supports up to seven
The dawn of controllers to be used simultaneously with the PS3 while the
Bluetooth Xbox360 is limited to four.
Bluetooth technology is now At the same time, PCs and game consoles that are Bluetooth-
becoming the standard for enabled can use other Bluetooth devices beyond controllers to
short-range data create a more immersive game experience. Bluetooth headsets
communication ideal for and mics allow gamers to chat with other players online easily.
personal area networks. This communication advantage allows players to coordinate
Bluetooth is an open wireless strategies with team members in games like first-person-shooters
standard and communication and other squad-based games. Or, they may allow human
protocol for interpreting opponents to trash talk each other in fighting games.
radio frequencies among These infrared headphones Increased compatibility is also an advantage of Bluetooth-
operate wirelessly by picking up
numerous devices within a infrared frequencies emitted by an
enabled devices. Bluetooth devices speak the same language, so a
few meters. The biggest infrared-enabled CD player or Bluetooth headset for a mobile phone would also work with a
monitor. They are intended for use
advantage Bluetooth has over in front of a computer or while in a
Bluetooth-enabled laptop and a Sony PS3. This cuts down on the
IrDa is that it uses radio car since the infrared must cost of system-specific accessories.
maintain a direct line of site with
frequencies, instead of light, the emitter in order to function.
Bluetooth is also making waves in portable or hand-held gaming
so devices do not have to be by allowing fast and accurate communication between hand-held
in a line of sight. Bluetooth uses a radio technology called gaming devices. This replaces the link cables of old that we fondly
frequency-hopping spread spectrum where it switches or remember connecting GameBoys together. The iPhone is
‘hops’ among 78 frequencies 1600 times a second. This Bluetooth-enabled, which means two or more iPhone users can
reduces the amount of interference allowing devices to connect with each other for wireless multiplayer gaming without
communicate faster and more accurately, while at the same connecting to a WiFi network. Of course, since Bluetooth has a
time making the signal more secure. short range, the players must be no more than 30 feet apart. A
Creating a personal area network using Bluetooth (often called new version of Sony’s PlayStation Portable called the PSP Go will
a piconet) is becoming more common as more devices are made have Bluetooth functionality as well. The latest version of the
Bluetooth-ready out of the box. For example, mobile phone Nintendo DS does not have Bluetooth so players must connect via
users may use a hands-free Bluetooth headset to use with their WiFi for multiplayer gaming. 58 September ‘09

Infrared and Bluetooth body, eliminating controllers The Wii Remote or
in motion control games and other interface tools ‘WiiMote’ for the
Nintendo Wii combines
The current and future trend for video games seems to be the altogether. advances in infrared and
integration of multiple PAN technologies to allow us to interface The technology for Bluetooth technology. A
sensor bar reads the
with games in multiple ways, including buttons, motion, facial Project Natal seems to build WiiMotes position in 3D
recognition, and voice. upon existing technologies space while Bluetooth
transmits this data for
The Nintendo Wii has pioneered the use of motion controls to used for personal area interpretation to the
manipulate in-game characters and events rather than rely solely networks, including infrared console.
on buttons and thumb sticks on a controller. The Nintendo Wii’s and visible light
‘Wiimote’ controller combines both communications. By using a
Bluetooth and infrared technologies. A ‘time-of-flight’ camera
sensor bar features ten infrared LEDs principle, scenes are illuminated with short pulses of infrared light
(light-emitting diodes) that are from a projector and the camera measures how long it takes for the
detected by an image sensor on light to reflect off a physical surface and reach the camera again.
the Wiimote to triangulate its The camera thus provides a range value for each pixel,
location in 3D space. approximating the distance of each pixel from the camera. This is
Additionally, two dots of the same technology that 3D scanners use to scan objects. Project
light on the image sensor Natal is also capable of scanning in 3D objects, like skateboards, to
can determine the rotation recreate digital versions used within games.
This headset designed for
of the Wiimote with the PlayStation 3 uses Bluetooth At E3 2009, Project Natal unveiled a demo of its technology in
respect to the ground. to wirelessly send audio signals to ‘Milo’ that utilized all its features including voice recognition, facial
the console which can then be
This infrared data transferred online to other players recognition, and object scanning. In development by Peter
processing is then sent to anywhere in the world. The added Molyneux’s Lionhead Studios, ‘Milo’ has players interact with an
convenience of voice chat has allowed
the console wirelessly real-time audio communication to artificially intelligent young boy named Milo and his dog Kate
through Bluetooth. become a standard in the First-Person- through speech, body movements, facial expressions, and real,
Shooter genre.
Sony recently debuted a physical objects.
similar motion controller using their PlayStation Eye technology.
The controller wand uses light-emitting diodes to mark its location The future of PAN technologies
in 3D space. The PlayStation Eye camera then tracks the lights in video games
along the image plane and determines its position in three As the science of electromagnetic frequencies continues to grow, we
dimensions by the wand’s distance from the Eye. The device does can expect more sophisticated applications of such technology in
not use Bluetooth since all the data is collected and sent from the everyday personal area networking as well as video games. Infrared,
PlayStation Eye camera, which is placed above the television and visible light, and other radio frequencies will be used to create more
connected by a wire. The system may be more accurate than convenience in our lives and more immersive, interactive experiences
Nintendo Wii since it is able to capture movement in real-time with in video games. Motion recognition technology is still in its infancy,
‘sub-millimeter’ accuracy. The technology does use light to but as the technology expounds designers will find new and exciting
calculate a position of an object in 3D space the same way as the ways to adapt it to video games. I
Nintendo Wii, but it uses an electromagnetic frequency on the
visible light spectrum rather than infrared. This can be seen by
human eyes as the ball at the end of the wand controller, which
lights up when in use.

Project Natal
and full body motion recognition
Microsoft’s ‘Project Natal’ for the Xbox360 and PC may be the most
complex application of PAN technologies in gaming yet. The device
does not use any hand-held controller whatsoever and instead
detects full-body 3D motion capture, facial recognition, and voice
recognition. The Project Natal sensor can see in three dimensions,
thanks to an infrared projector and monochrome CMOS sensor.
This technology can track up to four users for motion analysis and
identify and interpret 48 points of movement on a human body,
In this demonstration of ‘Milo’ for Project Natal, the player physically uses her hand
including each individual finger. With this system, game characters to snatch up fish from a pond. The infrared projector uses time-of-flight motion
can emulate the same movements that you may make with your own capture to track and interpret the movements of the player.

September ‘09 59

Tech Tip

An easy, interactive way to learn typing

n today’s computerized world, a good typing skill can make
Tech Tips by Anoop Verma
a whole lot of difference to your career and to your social that turn out to be quite entertaining and they also manage to
life as well. This is where Kiran’s Typing Tutor comes in. deliver succinct typing lessons.
This easy-to-use typing program can make you proficient at Kiran’s Typing Tutor is designed to run on all Windows
typing within a matter of days. The program is a freeware and powered systems, from Windows 2000 to Windows Vista, and it
can be downloaded by pointing your browser to this link: needs a RAM of at least 64 MB, but a RAM of 128MB is
ttp:// This recommended if you want to enjoy the rich graphics in this
scientifically designed tutorial begins with basic lessons, program. Naturally, a QWERTY keyboard is a must when you are
which can enable beginners to understand the modalities learning to type. If you have any issues with the program, then you
of touch-typing. can get your query resolved by going to the support pages at
Within the realms of this typing tutor, more than 500 typing It is also possible for you to
practice lessons and more than 500 testing lessons can be found. contact the program’s creators, by visiting the ‘Contact Us’ page. I
So, you can be sure that you are going to learn about all the
hidden nuances of typing and also have ample opportunity to
practice them. There is a finger preview feature that shows what
finger you have to use to strike any particular key on the
keyboard. The Key preview feature shows the key that gets
pressed. The program is capable of recording the accuracy with
which you are typing, and the word per minute. Both of these
details prove invaluable for self-evaluation.
The program also has a Kids Typing module that includes five
different types of typing lessons designed for age groups ranging
from 4 to 8 years. So, it is not just you but your kid too can
become proficient at typing by using this program. However, it is
the typing of numbers that poses as a great difficulty for most of
us. But don’t worry. Kiran’s Typing Tutor comes with a Numeric
Typing module designed to demystify the use of the dreaded
numeric keyboard. Then there are the myriad Typing Games 60 September ‘09

Crayon Physics
ere comes a game that takes
you on a mesmerizing
journey into a world replete
with child-like creativity ...
a world where your drawings can get
magically transformed into two-
dimensional physical objects. The
game can be downloaded from and it is
available in versions compatible with
Windows XP/Vista. Once the game
is downloaded and installed in your
computer, you are bound to have a
scintillating interaction with all kinds
of two-dimensional physics
simulations, including gravity, mass,
kinetic energy and transfer of
momentum. A level editor enables
players to share and download
custom content via an online service.
The thrill quotient in this game
comes when gamers try to get a ball
to a point that is marked by a star.
The best way to achieve this
objective is to draw a number of
different items that can act in a
variety of ways to help get the ball from Point A to Point B. On quick right click, which can make the box disappear leaving
a basic level, the drawings act as ramps or barriers, while more the ball to drop. You might even draw a catapult. You don’t
advanced implementation accomplishes a number of feats like even have to be a great artist like Van Gogh to draw all these
creating weights and levers as well as malleable platforms that things on the screen.
can be affected by other creations. It is almost as if the drawings For instance, in order to make a catapult all you need to have
that you make are taking the two-dimensional shape of a virtual is a simple single-line drawing of a plough-like shape, with a
machine that is geared to obey all the laws of physics. bucket drawn around the ball and a long line stretching over
Let’s assume that you intend to move the ball to a higher your triangular pivot. After that you can draw a boulder above
platform in the game. What you can do is trap the ball inside a the far end of the catapult and watch it propel the ball into the
box, which can be attached to a length of a string that runs air. What makes this game entertaining for gamers is that there
over a tower that you have drawn, and then weigh it down on is no dearth of ways to solve each level, thanks to the fact that
the other side. The weight is going to pull the ball to the no one is going to draw the same things in exactly the same way.
position where you want it to be. After that you will make a But Crayon Physics does require creativity from its players. You
have to solve each puzzle by using your own ingenuity.
But the best thing about the game lies in the aura of innocent
charm that it exudes. The visuals on the screen look exactly like
someone doodling on a piece of paper. Even the soundtrack that
plays in the background has extremely soothing and almost
hymn-like quality. After playing this game, you will actually end
up feeling quite relaxed. To have this super game in your
computer, all you need to do is fork out $20. Now that sounds
like quite cheap, doesn’t it? I

September ‘09 61

f you fall in the category of those who prefer to display each folder and other synchronization options. It doesn’t matter
and every one of their favourite pictures on Flickr, then you how you prefer to synchronize your files on Flickr – whether
are already in dire need of a synchronization tool. Now you by date, by caption or by file name, the program is geared to
need to look no further than FlickrSync. The program can be do your bidding.
downloaded for free at But you You can also specify the permissions-related attributes for your
need to have a system that is running on XP or Windows Vista images. When you open the program, you will find a specific
in order to take advantage of this freeware. Once you have field where you can choose how you want your Flickr
downloaded and installed the program into your computer, permissions for pictures to be set (private, public, friends, family,
synchronization between your local folders in which you place etc). If you choose ‘Flickr default’ then FlickrSync will just use
your pictures and your Flickr site can be established. There is the default permission that you specified on your Flickr account.
support for all file formats. Let’s say, you want to avoid a scenario where images from your
The program will have no effect on the folders or images in Flickr account get inadvertently deleted. For that you can set a
your computer system. But every image in your Flickr ‘Never Delete’ option on your FlickrSync, so that only partial
account will get updated to match the location information in synchronization gets accomplished.
your computer. So, if you change the position of an image The thing about this software is that it takes a little longer to
from one folder to another, its position will change on Flickr get used to, but the convenience that it offers of managing your
too, in order for it to correspond with the new local position. Flickr account locally makes it really worth it. The program
You can use the system to define Flickr permissions for each serves as an exceptionally good photo backup tool too. I 62 September ‘09

id you know that now it is possible for you to listen to begin with news in English and the switch to local Indian
BBC Radio on your Reliance mobile phone? That languages will happen at different times during the day. There
certainly is a great way to get your quota of news while will be a switch to Hindi at 6.30 a.m., 8 a.m., 7.30 p.m. and
you are on the go. It was in the month of June this 10.30 p.m.; to Tamil at 09.15 p.m.; to Urdu at 7 a.m., 8.30 p.m.
year that BBC World Service rolled out live audio service through and 11 p.m. and to Bangla at 5 a.m., 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Reliance’s ‘R-World value added services (VAS)’ platform. To According to a press release, Reliance is specially targeting
access this service, Reliance subscribers have to dial 512344378. Indians in rural areas through this service. That makes sense, as
Once the service gets activated on your Reliance phone, you radio happens to be quite a popular medium in rural India.
will be able to hear news from BBC World Service in five Even BBC is enthusiastic about this service as it allows them to
different languages seven days a week. Every news bulletin will reach a large number of consumers across India. I
Tech Tip

ne thing is for sure, while you are on
the go, a mobile serves as a good
search instrument. An increasing
number of people have started
using their mobiles to search for information.
Their task has become easier since Google de-
cided to enhance SMS search in India. If you
are looking for live IPL scores, current time in
New York, today’s gold and silver prices, avail-

ability of seats or fares for trains from Bangalore
to Mumbai, you can depend on Goggle’s SMS
facility to bring you answers in quick time.
All you need to do is send a simple SMS to 9-
77-33-00000 and that will link you directly to
Google search at the price of a normal SMS.
For finding out scores in international cricket

matches, you have to SMS ‘cri’ to 9-77-33-
00000. But, if you wish to know about IPL
scores, then you have to SMS ‘cri ipl’. Let’s say,

you want to learn about the performance of
the SRK team. In that case, you might SMS
‘cri ipl knight riders’. For domestic cricket
scores, you will SMS ‘cri ranji’.
The service also allows you to keep track of
stock and commodity markets. All you need to
do is SMS ‘price gold’, ‘price oil’, or ‘price cot-

search in
ton’ to know the MCX spot prices for these
commodities. To learn more, you can SMS
‘help commodity’ to the same number. This
service is surely going to be a boon for traders.
Now you don’t have to call a friend in New

York to find out what the time is in that part of
the world. Just SMS ‘time new york’ to 9-77-33-
00000 and you will have an answer instantly.
Then there is the aspect of railway search.
Google is geared to provide much more than
just your PNR status and train schedule on
your mobile phone. You can learn about seat
availability and fare information as well. Let’s
say, you want to check the seat availability for
29th October on train number 7777, going
from Delhi to Mumbai. All you need to do is
SMS, ‘train avail 7777 Delhi to Mumbai on
29-07’. And, if you want to check out the fares
for sleeper class, SMS ‘train fare 7777 Delhi to
Mumbai for SL’.
By bringing such information gathering ca-
pability to the mobile phone, Google is cer-
tainly doing its bit in making life easy for the
average customer. It is quite likely that in the
times to come, more information gathering
avenues will get incorporated into the system.
And that is only going to add to the importance
of hand-held mobile phones. I 64 September ‘09

Let your children learn ... the virtual way!
ids usually do enjoy building new items out of real Lego blocks, and now they can start enjoying the same game in virtual
world, thanks to the Lego Digital Designer. The game can be downloaded for free by pointing your browser to the link: Versions that are compatible with Windows XP and Vista, and on Mac are
available out here. Once the 28 MB program gets downloaded and installed, you and your kid can start designing your own
Lego creations on a PC or Mac.

After you have managed to create something special with your different age group. There are different kinds of Lego activity
virtual Lego blocks, you can also upload the image on the Lego planned for different age groups. Children in smaller age groups
website and then order the ‘real’ pieces necessary to build the can design simpler items like a toy train, cement mixer, etc.
structure, along with step-by-step instructions. However, a Older kids can attempt things like space shuttles, robots, etc.If
custom Lego Kit turns out to be quite costly, so you have to anything, these virtual Lego games pose as a good
check out your budget before you start ordering. For example, a way for helping kids unleash their
model of the house or a police station, or a spacecraft might cost creativity. I
you in excess of $100 in Lego. Despite the price, it is still fun
designing your own Lego toys on the computer and then have
your creation delivered to your house.
Even if you don’t want to order anything, you
and your kid can have fun by designing
Lego toys of your ima-
ginations on the colourful
screen. You can also download
designs that others have created
and edit them according to your
own tastes and sensibilities. You
can point your browser at to
check out a cornucopia of virtual
Lego designs. Their prices in real
Lego are also listed, so you can find
out what these toys cost in real life. In
the virtual world you can choose from
over 763 brick types, which is much more
than what you get in a normal Lego kit.
A click on the ‘Parents’ link at the Lego
website will take you to the URL:
gb/default.aspx. Here, you can find plenty
of suggestions about the kind of designing
that can be attempted to enthuse children of
Create your very own animated cartoons, video games and interactive artworks
ere is a good way of helping your kid to create his own animated cartoons, small video games or even his own interactive artworks.
You can do all this even if you don’t know a bit of Flash and coding. All you need to do is visit this site:
Scratch has a set of innovative tools through which people without any computer programming skills, and that means most of us,
can create animations. It is not just standalone animations that you and your kid can create, but Scratch will allow you to dish out
animated stories, small games and much else.
Before you can start using the tools available on the website, you need to download and install the program by pointing your browser to: And all this for free. With its comprehensible menu-based system, using Scratch is
eminently simple. You can either upload images from your own computer or you can use the ones that already exist in the Scratch library.
Once the images have been imported, a number of blocks can be assigned to each one of them.
Now you have to assign various commands to these blocks. Scratch lists all of the most commonly used commands for any animation film
in the form of buttons. Let’s say, you want one of the blocks to move. Then you have to press the ‘Move’ button. And after that you can
specify the type of movement that you wish to incorporate. Let’s say, you want your character to move by ‘ten steps’ or turn in a clockwise
direction, or in an anti-clockwise direction. There are simple buttons that help you specify such traits. To create an animation, just assign the
commands and stack the blocks together.
If you want to make the character play drum as it moves ten steps, then first click on the ‘Sound’ tab and then specify the type of sound
from the options available. Let’s say you want the character to keep going back and forth while playing the drum. To do this you will need to
add another ‘Move’ command that will entail a movement back by ‘ten steps’. You can also put a commencement sign to your animation so
that the animation starts moving only when you click on something. It could be a ‘Green Flag’ for instance. Similarly, there can also be a
‘Stop’ button, clicking on which will make the animation come to a halt.
There is also a button called ‘Looks’ that proves very suitable for adding many other special effects to your animation. You can switch
costumes, change colour effects and do much else. Once your masterpiece is complete, you can share your creation on the web by uploading
it on the Scratch website. Some of the members of Scratch have even created their very own ‘Mario’ and ‘Pac-Man’ based games! You can
go to the ‘Gallery’ page on the website to take a peek at some of the latest animations and games that have been created using Scratch.
They even have a Scratch concert on the gallery page. Michel Jackson continues to groove in the virtual realm of Scratch. There is no
dearth of games that you can enjoy at this gallery. However, before you and your kid are able to come up with this kind of advanced
creations, you will need a lot of practice. Now is a good time to start. The website itself is a pet project of Massachusetts Institute of
Technology’s (MIT’s) media lab and it is targeted mainly at youngsters. I 66 September ‘09

The penguin is here for some basic maths

f you are a mother of a young child, you already know how difficult it is to teach math
to your young one. But now you have Tux to depend on. But, hey who is Tux? Well, he
is a penguin who resides in a virtual video game type of world and yet he manages to do
a pretty fine job of teaching basic math to kids. The best thing about Tux is that his
tutorials are available for free. You can download the free software by pointing your browser
to this link:
It doesn’t matter whether you use Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Mac or Linux, this versatile
math tutorial is available in versions that are compatible with almost every system used in
household computers or schools. Once you have downloaded the software, it will take less
than two minutes to get installed. After that all you have to do is make your kid sit in front
of the computer and start interacting with the friendly virtual penguin, who is so good at
dishing out lessons in basic math.
The game play of this math tutorial is based on arcade style video games that are proving
to be so popular with kids these days. Comets falling on cities, which are inhabited entirely
by penguins residing in cute little igloos. The players, your kids in this case, have to protect
the cities from the falling comets and the only way they can achieve their objective is by
solving elementary match problems. Cool, isn’t it? Kids are going to enjoy this tutorial.
Once they solve the math problem, the comet gets destroyed and the city is saved.
The game also includes a multiplayer mode, in which more than one kid can participate.
There is also the provision for factor-fraction activity called Factoroids. The game features a
training mode, where the kids can hone their game play skills. It also has a score table,
where children can keep a tab on how they have been faring with their game, or more
precisely their math lessons. Numerous schools around the world have already started using
Tux, whose tutorials are available in many different languages, including English. The
game has also been mentioned in numerous school newsletters.
Once you the game downloaded on your computer, you will know just how good a math
teacher Tux, the penguin, is. 
Movies in your
Home with New
or movie buffs the new Router from
Cisco, the dual-band wireless router
(WRT320N), will prove to be dream
come true. This is clearly the router for
next generation of extreme networking and is
ideal for users who demand more from their
wireless networking. The installation process
is relatively easy – all you need to do is hook
up a couple of wires, run a small program on
your laptop and PC and the system gets ready
for use. You can then start streaming video
movies immediately.
However, when you are hooking the router
up, you must make sure that you create a strong password and connections and 802.11n grade wireless operating in either the
do not let the device remain at its default settings. This is for 2.4 GHz wireless band or the wider 5 GHz band. The truth is
your own online safety against identity theft. With the new Cisco that operating the router in the 5 GHz band is ideal as it is less
router, setting up a password is a breeze. The range of this crowded than the 2.4 GHz band and hence is better suited for
router is about 1000 feet and that should be enough to cover the carrying latency sensitive data like video and audio. The
entire area of most houses and a little bit of outdoors too. You WRT320N is shipped with Linksys EasyLink Advisor (LELA),
could work or watch movies comfortably in your verandah or which helps users to get their network up and running and helps
balcony. You can get recipes at the kitchen or even check mails keep their network updated and secure. Incorporation of Wi-Fi
anywhere in the house. Protected Setup (WPS) support proves great for making devices
The location in your house where you have the router on wireless local area networks more secure and to make the
installed is important. For best results, the device has to be setup easy.
placed at a central point of the building so that the signal gets To have this system in your house, all you need to do is fork
spread out in all the directions. The signal is quite strong, so out is a sum of Rs. 8,999. Now, that’s definitely not much
even if you put the router inside a closet to keep it out of sight, it considering the benefits you get in return. Think of the time and
will continue to work. And once the system gets installed, you money that you can save with home networking by sharing files,
are ready to start streaming movies directly to your HDTV or printers, storage and other peripherals. Once you have the
home theatre system. That should be a treat. system in your house, you will soon realize that you can’t do
The WRT320N is equipped with gigabit ethernet for wired without it. 68 September ‘09

Listen to Movies
on Mobile Phone
his is just the kind of service that movie buffs have been waiting for. Now

T even your mobile phone can act like a version of the movie theatre, but
only for the audio part of it. UTV New Media Ltd. has now announced
the launch of its Audio Cinema, which happens to be first of its kind
movie-on-your-phone service. By using this innovative service, you can listen to
an hour-long audio version of your favourite movies. The dialogues, narrations
and the gist of the story emerge out of your mobile phone. Imagine the delight
of listening to the dialogs of ‘Sholay.’ How about having a tryst with the lines of
the latest film, ‘Fashion.’ If you are Tamil movie fan, then will enjoy

But what if you get a phone call, or have to make a phone call, while you are
enjoying your movie experience. The service comes with a pause/resume feature
that will take care of the problem. Refreshing audio versions of movies are being
released every Friday. Users can access the service through all the major telecom
players in India, including Idea, Vodafone, Airtel Mobile and Reliance. Thus,
you enjoy the freedom to pick up movies from a long list of titles, in accordance
with your preferred language option. So, wherever you go now, your favourite
movies will be following you closely. However, the service is not for free. You have
to pay a small amount to enjoy movie experience on your mobile.

If you are carrying a Vodafone or Airtel mobile then you have to pay Rs. 6 per
minute. From Idea Cellular you have to pay Rs. 6.99 per minute. But Reliance
mobile is only going to cost Rs. 30 for a monthly package. For enjoying a movie,
those sorts of charges don’t sound like too much. I

September ‘09 69

Waterproof Gadgets
for the Monsoon
f you are living in Delhi, then you might not have much
reason to worry about the rains, as it has hardly rained this
year, but if you are settled in a place like Mumbai, where it
has been raining cats and dogs, then you must be having a
tough time trying to protect your gadgets from the vagaries of
the monsoons. Maybe your mobile phone, to which you are so
addicted, is already malfunctioning after it was exposed to a
severe bout of Mumbai rains. That’s just too bad. Had you
chosen a mobile phone like the Sony Ericsson C702, then you
wouldn’t have had to worry about the rains at all.
Sony promises that the C702 is splash and dust resistant and
that naturally means that this phone can withstand exposure
to all kinds of torrential rains. Monsoon season in full swing –
no problem for the C702! Along with being rain- proof, this
phone also bundles up HSDPA 3.6 Mbps, MP3 player, FM
radio with RDS, Media Centre, Bluetooth v2.0 with A2DP
and the respectable 160 MB of built-in memory. It also fea-
tures a 3-megapixel camera that takes advantage of geo-tag-
ging, and features face detection, red-eye reduction,
auto-focus and dual LED.
But what if you prefer to carry your iPod and Blackberry
every time you venture out of your house? These gizmos are not
being offered in a waterproof avatar as of now, but you can still
find protection for them by getting hold of a waterproof case
made by Otterbox. These rugged, plastic cases are waterproof
to a depth of 3 feet and so they are able to withstand any
amount of rain. In order to learn more about these boxes, you
can visit They even have boxes for the newly
launched iPhone 3G. The box will enclose your iPhone 3G and
provide the most perfect protection against rains.
There can also be a scenario where the rains re-
ally inundate your city and as a result of which
you find yourself wading through few feet of
water. For such occasions, the Oregon Scientific
MP120 waterproof MP3 is a great option. This MP3
player is capable of dishing out excellent music even when
it is under few feet of water. The 128 MB of space that this
gizmo has may not sound like much when compared to an
iPod, but an iPod is not going to work under water. The device also
offers its users the option of switching on to FM radio at a simple
press of a button.
Then there is the EGO Waterproof Sound Case from At-
lantic, which poses as a good way of keeping your iPod running
when the city is knee-deep under rainwater. The device is water-
proof enough to withstand the kind of monsoon rains that India
experiences and it can operate an iPod for 30 hours on just four
AA batteries. The case even has a slim surface click-wheel mem-
brane that allows you to control all the iPod’s functions from out-
side the plastic. That sounds cool. Definitely worth a try. I
Some cool alternatives to Skype

kype may be the most recognisable name in the VoIP field, but there are many established competitors as well
as start-up companies ready to compete for customers. In order to attract you, these companies are launching
faster applications as they continue to lower their prices. Don’t waste a fortune to stay connected with family
and friends abroad when these VoIP companies offer a cheap alternative: not to mention the added benefit of
video chat! The only people not smiling at these advancements are the telephone providers who are surely minting
money. Take a look at these seven great VoIP alternatives to Skype and see which one best suits your needs.

1. Vbuzzer countries for free. In addition to sending an SMS for a low rate,
( you can also use SmartVoIP for phone to phone communication.
While Vbuzzer does offer a free download, you need to buy
credit to access its premium features: $10 will get you started 6. iChat
and from there you can pay as you go. The service offers free (
internet faxing for US and Canadian users only and low cost iChat is the instant messaging application for Mac users
calling starting at 1.5 c/min to both landline and cell phones featuring everything from custom buddy lists to invisibility on
anywhere in the world for all of its users. A convenient instant other’s buddy lists to multiple logins. Tabbed chats and SMS
messaging application is also available. forwarding make chatting easy even with friends and family
who use a PC. The iSight video camera allows for video
2. VoIPBuster chatting as well.
VolPBuster features free calls to a number of popular
destinations, but only after you have established a line of credit 7. Jajah
with the company and additional limitations also apply (check (
out for details). Over 15 million people around the world use Jajah and with the
Sending an SMS within the US to another VolPBuster account savings surely explain why. The VoIP service allows you to save
holder also in the US only costs 8 cents per message so the up to 98% on international phone calls. No contract, unique
company is still offering a great deal. software or headset is needed to use Jajah and the service can
work on any phone. Simply start an account and your first five
3. Smart VoIP minute call is absolutely free. In addition to its basic service,
( Jajah offers an IP platform that calls itself ‘the world’s only
Yet another VoIP service provider, SmartVoIP, also offers free complete data communications platform.’ With this service,
calls to a number of countries. After joining the service, you will established companies can offer Jajah’s VoIP services under their
be given 120 free days during which you can call any of the listed own name. I

September ‘09 71


Online Games Partha Mukherjee

an, by design of nature, is a gregarious animal.
However, by the first decade of the new
millennium much of man’s social skills have
withered. The reasons are not far to seek. Like
many other social malaises, the root of a man’s dwindling
interaction with another fellow human being lies in the
shrinking family unit. Even in the traditional societies prevalent
in the East, nuclear families have virtually become de rigueur.
A cartoon that has been in cyberspace for a while comes to
mind. A child sitting in front of his computer screen reading an
e-mail message from his Mom, “If you have finished your
homework, come downstairs. Dinner is ready.”
This Bradburyesque picture is sadly not far from the truth
in the context of urban India. As expected, this setting builds
up bottled emotions which may find an outlet, albeit
somewhat unnatural, in online games.
Child psychologists accept that there is a cruel and vicious
trait in a child’s psyche. It is not a bad idea, after all, to let
these violent streaks to have a controlled expression
through an online game. The emphasis, however, is on
control, which unfortunately is forgotten by many designers
of online games for children. Some of the games are having
bad impacts on the mind of the players like for instance,
violent games. So, it is good that we know where to find
good games, which are challenging, educational and
fun. The most common disadvantage of these free
online games as we all know is that, teens prefer to
come online rather than doing their homework
or studying their lessons.
This, of course, is just one genre of online
games. To cater to a wider clientele, there
are others like adventure games, mystery
games, quiz games and so on. They can
stimulate the child’s power of imagination, 72 September ‘09

reasoning ability, mathematical skills, deductive skills, analytical There is yet another set of popular online games that start by
ability, skills of observation and many other desirable attributes, giving the player a package of resources and then challenge him
which will go a long way in shaping the mind of a well-rounded or her to build a prosperous town or a successful business or to
young adult. I’ve come across well-designed online games, which become a military strategist or to perform a particular task by
can fire the child’s yarning to learn more about history or overcoming obstacles. Games like word puzzles, visual puzzles
geography or science. Developers have created a slew of games, and trivia are just some of the ideal categories that can help
covering a wide spectrum in action, board, cards, and adventure. children become more sharp and bright.
One reason behind the popularity of free online games is that
a player can access them whenever they want to. Although the
objectives of these games are primarily to amuse the gamer,
there are others that exercise your brain. Sudoku and Mah
Jong have easy-to-follow rules and yet demand analytical
ability. Jigsaw puzzle games are fun. Arcade games are good
fun too. In a Role-Playing Game, the player can play with or
against other players. Several platforms have a rating system,
which further enhances the experience. Many games offer a
‘save’ option and you can resume it another time.
There are game portals like that offer chat
rooms for discussion. A chat room is like a social gathering.
Recent developments make the future of online gaming
look promising.
All of these apply just as well to an adult. As the wit
says, “A man never grows up and a child lurks
somewhere inside a man’s mind. As per a recent survey,
as much as 66% of online players are between 8 to 21
years of age and a major chunk of gamers are over 30.
Online games are fast turning into a major form of
entertainment not only for the younger generation but for
grown-ups as well. These games are addictive, and yet, free!
Online games can provide benefits such as improved
visual perception, hand-eye coordination, mental acuity
and memory. Once you go online, you will find a whole
world of games to suit your taste.
And then there are hundreds of mindless games
that are little more than pointless pursuits of brownie
points, where the objective of accumulating points is
an end in itself. The less said about them, the better.

Online games: Manna

from heaven
To the teenagers, free online games are manna
from heaven. With the growth of high-rise
apartments making inroads into almost
every available space that once offered
youngsters many a healthy afternoon, the
concept of online games certainly proves to be a
great response to an urgent need. Needless to say,
an affordable panacea indeed! Now teens can not
only update themselves with information on
science, geography, literature and what not,
but also fill their leisure with adventure,
analytical approach to reveal a mystery,
solution of a puzzle, a plan to build up a
business strategy, a diagram to lay out an

September ‘09 73


architectural wonder, a gameplan to win a limited over cricket

match and so on. All they have to do is to mildly press on a
computer keyboard sitting at home. And voila! The world is
yours and that too without drilling a gaping hole in your pocket.
As it costs nothing, people join the fray in large numbers and
this contributes on quite a sizable number of net users who can
afford to play online games for free. Besides, one does not need
to hang out to take part in an online game; rather, he or she can
play any version of the game sitting at home. If you have your
own computer (which is a necessary item in every household
nowadays) and if you have an internet connection, then all you
have to do is you-know-what. You need not stick to a particular
kind of games, if it seems to be a boring lot to you; there are enticing for the gamers. It is reported that in some of the best
slew of other games to offer you as exciting as cliff hanging. You land casinos, the minimum stake may be to the tune of $100,
simply switch from one to another. You do not have to hang on whereas in the top online casinos one can gamble the night away
till the game is over, as you may have experienced while waiting for less than $100. In many online casinos the table stakes begin
for long in a game-parlour of token-operated game machines. In with less than $1 and slot machines can be set to whirr with
online games, you can always exit the game anytime if you don’t nickels. People no longer have to save for years to plan a casino
feel like continuing. Just click exit or close the window. outing. The best online casino gambling can be enjoyed for a
TeenWants ( is highly recommended to sum one splurges at an upper class restaurant.
play free online games on their site. They have a bouquet of free To talk about the innovativeness of online casinos, it deserves
games, ideal for teens with loads of options which are good, fun, mention that land casinos are nowhere near it. While games
challenging and educational. They are matured enough to played at land casinos are hundred years old, online casinos
ensure what kind of games are worth the time teens spend on change the pattern of games every week. Gaming companies like
playing them. And also, they have avoided including violent Microgaming and Playtech usually flood markets (sites) with new
games which can have a negative impact on the mind of the and exciting variations of old games with rapid frequency. Now
young player. They have games that are easy to play and some Microgaming blackjack comes with a progressive jackpot and
that are not. Some games are such that with little manipulation Playtech slots have features, which are way ahead of those
of your fingers you can win, while some need a little available on land-based slots. Online casinos are a boon for
brainstorming. As for change, you can also choose to play sports novice as freshers can maintain their anonymity; on the other
game, puzzle games or arcade games. They have more games hand, they can avoid mocking glances of the pros for their very
under each category so that one can really extract fun from low wagers or mistakes they commit. In fact, the best online
those games which fascinate you. So, visit TeenWants. Loads of casinos enable novice players to learn the ropes without wagering
amusements await you there. real money. The best casino games come in free play versions and
players try out their hand at these till they mature themselves for
Advantages of online gaming wagering with real money. In addition, there are demo games
Almost everyday, new online games pop up in the cyber space. and tutorials to hone player skills in top online casinos.
They are classified in different categories – from simple mind games It is not that one can make lolly only through winnings from
to arcade games, racing games, shooting games, dress-up games, wagering; there are other frills too. The best online casinos offer the
online virtual games, sport games and many more. But, online best casino bonuses. The deposit bonus is probably the best online
casino games, among all others, draw attention of the gamers. It casino bonus. When a player makes an initial deposit, the top online
has more advantages rather than the bad effects. While visiting casinos match that deposit with a bonus to the player. The player is
Casino is rather a risky proposition, considering an unknown then free to use that deposit for wagering subject to certain rules to
premises and people, playing online Casino in the company of prevent the misuse of the bonus. The best casino promotions are
friends at one’s residence ignoring any dress code (which is a must in another attraction at the Internet casinos. The best casino slots offer
any aristocratic casino hub) is hassle-free. At home, before your the best promotions with multiplied payouts on certain games
friends, you need not be an expert overnight but you cannot simply during festive occasions like Christmas or Valentine’s Day.
afford to be a novice while playing at any outside Casino, as that Online gaming is quickly becoming popular, which is why
would result in a massive loss of your money. millions of individuals, regardless of age and location, are
Over and above technological edge over other modes, online playing for hours on end. There are myths and facts surrounding
casino has another plus point, which is its accessibility. Could the topic. Is online gaming really good for you, or is it just as it
anyone even dream of accessing ten casinos at a time on a single was initially viewed by parents ages back?
evening and that too sitting at home, before online casino was Still, one should learn more about the possible risks and
available? Even stake-moneywise online casinos offers are more benefits before taking the plunge. I 74 September ‘09

Thrill & Excitement
in Action Games
Fascinating storylines in games that keep Preeth
you busy during your leisure time.
At a suburban apartment:
I walk noiselessly down the dangerous alley. I can feel the blood racing through my veins and my heart pumping like there is no
tomorrow. It’s a treacherous demon- infested world. And for all I know they could be right down that corner; waiting to tear into me.
Courage was something that I was born with – half demon that I am myself. And only the very brave and the very dangerous will risk
the glistening sword that I am brandishing in my hand. I have my two custom pistols, Ebony and Ivory (yes, I have names for them)
strapped to my holster; and if truth be told they have never let me down. Damn. This conversation has made me take my mind off the
lurking danger. In a flash, a burly mean monster is leaping at me with claws that can kill. I evade him; and then leap into the air raining
the monster with a barrage of bullets from Ebony. There is blood on the tarmac and then there is silence. But it is just the beginning for
there are many more to come. For me Dante, the demon hunter this is just another day in the office.

ell, if you thought I lived a paranormal existence The puritan approach notwithstanding, there a slew of games in
then I am sorry to disappoint. This was just me the market today which traditionally fall into the action-adventure
playing the popular action game – ‘Devil May Cry.’ genre. These games mesh the story line and situational problems of
With sedentary desk jobs and hectic work schedules, an adventure game with the reflexes and fast pace of the action
people like me find it increasingly exciting to spend the weekend genre. Games like the ‘The Legend of Zelda’ and ‘Tomb Raider’
killing demons and fighting crocodiles the size of a building while series typically characterize this genre.
staying afloat in a wooden dingy. And the fact that you can have Interestingly, there is a school of thought who sees alarm bells
lunch when you want to and watch the English Premier League ringing in the soaring popularity of action games. For them, the
once you have finished killing enough demons is incentive enough gun totting, demon killing game player is a manifestation of a
to be hooked onto action games. larger community that is increasingly becoming more aggressive.
‘Why so serious?’ questions the billboard advert for a popular But, side-stepping the validity of that opinion, one of the more
automobile. And it is a refrain that is increasingly representative fundamental reasons for the popularity of action games today is its
of the voice of the new generation. With manic lifestyles and a accessibility. Most action games are available online and can be
stressful work life, the younger generation is increasingly looking played without really paying a penny. With advanced animation
for avenues that are enjoyable, relaxing and act as a great stress and graphics and a superior storyline, there is little wonder why
buster. So, whether it is jumping off crane tops with a these games are so popular with the new generation.
suspendable rope tied to their feet; or signing a lengthy ‘I am In a lighter vein, and in further defence of action games,
responsible in case the unfortunate happens’ release form before studies have demonstrated that people can improve their eyesight
zorbing down the grassy slopes of a hill, it is all fair game. But considerably by playing action video games. In fact, it could be
for the ones, for whom the excitement is better enjoyed in the just what the doctor did not order for your perfect 20/20 vision.
warm confines of the home, there is no looking beyond the Researchers at the University of Rochester conducted this
splurge of action games available in the market. interesting experiment on college students over a one month
The action games genre is probably the oldest video game genre period and concluded that subjects who played action games
with games like ‘Space Invaders’ (1978), ‘Asteroids’ (1979), and ‘Pac- improved their eye performance by as much as 20 per cent as
Man’ (1980) being iconic examples. The fact that action games were against those who played good old games like ‘Tetris.’
a versatile variant was proven
when the game, ‘Paperboy’
(1984) made even a mundane
task like newspaper delivery
into high action. Ideally for a
purist, an action game is one
that emphasizes physical
challenges and puts the hand-
eye coordination of the player
to test. Typically, such games
will have the player playing the
protagonist navigating various
levels with each progressive
level getting more difficult than
the ones preceding it. The life
of a hero is never easy; so most
games will either have a time
constraint or limited
ammunition to further
complicate matters. 76 September ‘09

Incidentally, action games are so much more challenging that gaming circles. After all, machismo is not something restricted to
there are interesting economic angles to it as well. For instance, the ‘Hell’s Angels’; it is also a gaming thing.
have you ever wondered why most arcades have more action With the rising popularity of action games, one is obviously
games than any other? Well, the answer is not in customer bound to wonder who the traditional action gamer is. While it is
delight and providing uninhibited entertainment to the arcade not true that women do not have a fancy for such games, it has
visitor; it is simply because action games are so much more been evidently proven that males tend to enjoy action-adventure
difficult that a large number of unskilled players end up as games more than females. And the loyalists in particular are the
sitting ducks making it an easy avenue for arcade owners to younger ones. But having said that it is known that games are a
smile all the way to the bank. personality choice and there are as many avid women action
The advent of gaming mediums like the Xbox and PlayStation gamers as there are men.
has taken action gaming to the next level. And with it, the number
of available gaming options has sky-rocketed. For instance, close to Meanwhile, at the suburban apartment:
50 new Wii action games have been released in 2009 alone. August My ammunition is running out. And danger is now lurking at every
will see the release of six new games including ‘G.I.JOE: The Rise turn and cross. I am now in a zone where the demons are meaner
of the Cobra,’ ‘Super Star Wars’ and ‘Overturn.’ Like movies, than ever before. They almost make the demons from the earlier
action games are also known to go the sequel route. So, games like levels seem like West End comic artists. My heart beats like it were on
‘Devil May Cry’ apart, there are eternal favourites like the ‘Prince fast forward mode and I don’t know or don’t care what the rest of my
of Persia’ series and ‘Ninja Gaiden.’ While the former is credited family is up to. I just have Ebony and Ivory for company now. I did not
to have gifted the gaming world the coolest protagonist ever, it also see him lunge at me until the very last moment but I deftly manage
featured some of the best platforming around. ‘Ninja Gaiden,’ on to escape his grasp. I leap and fire at the beast as he recovers and
the other hand, made for the Microsoft Xbox is regarded in makes my way. But this is the end; my only friend, the end. There are
gaming circles as the best action game of all time. Apart from all no bullets. He is on me in a flash and I die my virtual death.
the amazing fun factor of the game, it is also often regarded as one
of the hardest games of its kind. In fact, the game was touted to be Phew!!! But you know what the good thing about gaming is?
so difficult that a bonus packed re-release came with a ‘ninja dog There is always a next time.
mode’ that made the game a tad easier to negotiate. But if you
ever used the ‘dog mode,’ it was something you never mentioned in Happy gaming. I

September ‘09 77


t was a rather small chamber, with walls, roof and floor made Rakhi realized that the bright light was coming through a
out of shiny metal, in which Rakhi Sinha woke up. Her body glass wall. She looked out and was momentarily stunned by the
felt stiff, her head was throbbing as if a thousand needles had spectacular view of millions of stars arrayed in a close proximity.
stabbed it. She sat up slowly, swinging her feet over the side “What is the meaning of all this?” she panted. “Where are we?”
of the bed. Slowly she lowered her feet down to the metallic A woman seated nearby raised her head, and said, “Don’t you
ground, which felt as cold as ice. She felt a dire need for her already know? We are at the Event Horizon. Outside that glass
shoes, but her feet were naked and she was dressed in strange wall, there is the final boundary of our universe. We are at the
blue coloured dress. When did she change into this dress? Where final boundary of space-time.”
were her own clothes and shoes? More importantly, what was It suddenly dawned on Rakhi that the face of the woman was
she doing in this strange metallic chamber? melting and there were needles stuck on her head. She looked at
Suddenly she realized that the chamber was not stationary; it the other men and women in the room; their faces were melting
was swirling about in an insane manner. But staying on the bed too. “What is happening to all of you?” she screamed. “You are
was not an option; her mind was being racked by the desire to melting in front of my eyes. Who drove those horrifying needles
explore what lay outside the chamber. She forced herself to in your heads?”
stand on her own legs and walking gingerly, she exited the “This sort of thing is expected to happen in the vicinity of
chamber through its door. She found herself in a large room Event Horizon, the final boundary of the universe where time
awash with bright light. Everything in the room was completely stops moving forward or backward. Enjoy the ride,” creepily
bathed with a thick cloak of light. replied the same woman. 78 September ‘09

Anoop Verma

Rakhi peered at a mirror on the wall and she realized that her “Yes, please.”
face was also melting and there were needles stuck into her head. The vehicle slowed down immediately. Rakhi could now enjoy
Rakhi was feeling very anxious. Ever since she had her mind the view better. The vista outside the Maxi-Cab’s window so
updated with a virtual vacation about two days ago, the back of her clearly resembled the Delhi of a previous era – an era when
head had been feeling kind of heavy. When she was being discharged technology had not made such deep inroads into people’s lives.
from the Virtual Vacation Tourism Center, she had complained to Even though the scenery of this area never failed to touch her,
the scientist about the feeling of heaviness. But he did not find that to Rakhi was also filled with the realization that the world around
be a cause of worry and assured her that she would be fine. her was fake. The deep blue sky dotted with picturesque looking
Now 48 hours had passed, but there was still no improvement clouds was actually the city’s dome. In year 2160 majority of the
in her condition. The Maxi-Cab on whose back seat she was human beings lived under huge domed cities that provided
ensconced was passing through the India Gate area of New pristine living and working environment. The entire city was
Delhi. Even though this was the year 2160, this area still fully air-conditioned; its air and water quality was always
retained its old name. monitored by thousands of state-of-the-art computers. Every bit
“Can you slow down please,” said Rakhi to the robotic driver, of the city was networked to a central server.
“I wish to enjoy the view.” Even the way in which people enjoyed their vacations had
“The minimum speed limit on this road is 60 miles per hour,” changed. No one wanted to leave the safe environment of a
said the robotic driver. “Would you like me to bring the speed domed city anymore. That is why entrepreneurs had launched a
down to that?” product called ‘Virtual Vacations.’ Instead of going for a

September ‘09 79


vacation to a dangerous locale, people could just go into a secure “By the way, I can see that you are not feeling well. Your head
laboratory and for a price they could get their minds updated is feeling heavy and your blood pressure is higher than normal.”
with memories of a glorious vacation to any place on the planet Being a cyborg, Brenda was capable of diagnosing abnormal
and elsewhere in the universe. If anything, these virtual vacation conditions in any human being immediately.
laboratories were quite innovative in coming up with myriad “I am glad you noticed,” said Rakhi with a sigh.
scenarios for vacations that their customers could choose from. “I will inform the cyborg doctor to give you a full body scan as
Rakhi took a new vacation almost every week. So, when the new soon as you are in your room,” said Brenda, putting her hands
tour to Event Horizon was launched, she signed up immediately. close to the keyboard as she planned to punch the keys that
But things did not turn out too well this around. would have alerted the cyborg doctor.
By now they had passed through the India Gate area and “Please don’t do that,” Rakhi said, gently pushing Brenda’s
were crossing through a road that was lined with many high-rise hands away from the keyboard.
buildings. This was the commercial district, where most denizens “But why? I know that you are in need of medical care.”
of the city made a living. Rakhi did not like this area too much, “The heaviness I feel in my head is not that bad at all. I will be
as she preferred open spaces. She told the robotic driver to start fine after resting for a couple of hours. Right now I am too tired
driving at his normal speed. The Maxi-Cab’s driver nodded for an invasive full body scan.”
silently and the speed of his vehicle went up instantly. These “Ok, as you wish. But I will check on you after three hours. If
days no one drove a car in Delhi. In fact, very few people even you are not feeling better by then, I will inform the doctor.”
bothered to learn driving all over the world. It simply made no “Thanks. I will now be on my way to my apartment. See you.”
sense to drive your own car, when robotically controlled Maxi- Rakhi walked to the opposite side of the lobby that was lined
Cabs were so easily available everywhere. with a series of elevators and pressed a button. The door of one
Finally, the Maxi-Cab reached the residential area of the city of the elevators opened, into which she entered. She pressed the
and parked itself in front of a high-rise residential apartment. button for 135th floor. In less than five seconds, Rakhi stepped
Rakhi placed her thumb on a touch pad installed in the panel out on the floor where her flat was located. The feeling of
dropping from the Maxi-Cab’s roof. In a moment, a ‘transaction heaviness was now getting more acute. She knew that she
completed’ sign flashed on the small monitor above the touch needed rest, but somehow she could not make herself walk
pad. “Thank you for your payment,” said the robotic driver. towards her flat. A mysterious instinct made her walk in a
Rakhi stepped out of the cab holding her handbag and direction opposite to where her flat was located. It was Putul
marched into a building’s large compound. She next peered into Rastogi’s flat. He lived here with his girlfriend, Monica. Rakhi
an iris scanner that was affixed to the wall. Her identity was knew that at this time of the day, both Putul and Monica would
confirmed immediately and the glass door slid open. A robotic be out of their flat.
receptionist was manning the reception desk inside. Her name No one bothered about locking their flats, as burglaries were
was Brenda and she was actually a cyborg, part human and part virtually unknown. When Rakhi pushed at the door, it opened
robot. Robotic technology had advanced to such an extent that directly. As she entered the sparsely furnished living room, her
cyborgs could look, behave and feel emotions like any normal heart started beating like a windmill. She knew that what she
human being. was doing was illegal, but she could not stop herself. She quickly
Brenda looked exactly like any normal 25-year-old girl. She moved towards the large virtual calendar, displaying the design
used makeup and she used to dress in latest fashion. These days of a snowy landscape. When she tugged gently at the virtual
she was dating a young guy called Vipin Saigal who was 100% calendar, it moved aside to reveal a specious cupboard inside
human. Both planned to get married in near future. Of course, which all sorts of household items were stored. With a great
the conservatives in the society used to frown upon relationships sense of urgency, Rakhi started riffling through the contents of
between a cyborg and a human. But Rakhi was not like that. the cupboard. She found some gold and diamond jewellery,
She was quite liberal in her attitude and was eager to see which she placed in her pocket. She also found some old-
Brenda and Vipin married. Despite the heaviness in her head, fashioned pens, and notebooks from the era when people still
she managed to conjure a pleasant smile for her receptionist used to write on paper. The pens, a couple of notebooks, a
friend. “Hi Brenda.” bottle of perfume too ended up in her pocket.
“Hi there,” Brenda smiled back. After that she rushed out of the flat leaving the cupboard open
“Vipin and I are planning to get married on the coming behind her. She looked around suspiciously to make sure nobody
Friday. Both of us would be extremely delighted if you could had seen her. She marched to her own flat with hasty steps and
accompany us when we leave to get the marriage license.” once she reached her door, she noticed the large cartoon. From
“Congratulations,” Rakhi said cheerfully. “I will be glad to the label stuck on top of cartoon she learned that it had arrived
accompany both of you to the marriage bureau.” from a company called ‘Futuristic chemicals’. But why should this
“Great!” said Brenda. “I must say, you have always been a company send her this packet? She never ordered anything from
pillar of support for me.” them. The veil of suspense shattered almost immediately and the
“It’s my pleasure,” Rakhi smiled back. realization dawned on her that she had indeed placed an order 80 September ‘09

for these chemicals. She needed these chemicals to produce a sick? It was a strange sickness that was inspiring her to steal from
concoction that she would mix in this building’s water supply to her neighbour and soon it might inspire her to pollute the water
cause sickness in its residents. How evil of her! Why should she supply of this building. But she could not think beyond that. A
want to make innocent residents of this building, many of whom hidden force inside her mind was prodding her to start working
were her friends, feel sick? with the chemicals to create the concoction. Despite herself, she
One part of her mind desperately wanted her to get rid of rushed out of the bedroom and soon she was sitting at her
these dangerous chemicals, but there was the other section that workstation. On the LCD screen connected to the Internet, she
wanted her go ahead with creating the poison. Ultimately, it was was browsing through an anarchist website that divulged
her desire to create mayhem in the building that prevailed. She information on easy ways of creating a product that when added
opened the door and pulled the box of chemicals inside. She to drinking water would make people fall sick.
clapped once and the lights came on instantly. In one corner of Few minutes later, the jars containing the various chemicals
the room, a colourful sofa set was arranged around a glass- were lined up on the mahogany table in front of her. She was
topped centre table. On the other side there stood a large wearing protective nylon gloves as she poured the chemicals into
mahogany desk with three computer screens. This was her a large plastic thermos. The room was filled with acidic fumes
workstation. The windows had thick velvet blinds drawn on that were arising out of the final mixture; it was making her feel
them, because she preferred to use household bulbs. Leaving the nauseous. She felt as if her head was about to explode. But she
carton full of chemicals there, she went into the adjoining continued to stoically labour at mixing the chemicals.
bedroom and threw her handbag on the bed. She then emptied Suddenly there was a knock on the door. The sound was
the pockets of her overcoat of all the things that she had pilfered enough to suffuse her heart and mind with apprehension. “Who
and dropped them on the bed. is it?” she cried in an agonized voice. “I am busy. I can’t receive
It made her feel ashamed to find the evidence of her you right now.”
kleptomania lying in front of her. It had never been her habit to “It’s me, Brenda. I need to talk to you. You are in
steal from other people. Why was she doing this today? Was she terrible danger.”

September ‘09 81


The sound came through the speaker installed outside “We were not there physically,” snapped Rakhi. “We travelled
the door. in the virtual realm, through our minds.”
“I don’t care about any danger. I can’t see you now. Please go “But something happened in the Event Horizon, something
away,” replied Rakhi. that changed the way your minds work. All seven of you became
From other side of the door came the sound of a security card different people after returning from this virtual vacation. You
being swiped. Rakhi knew instantly that Brenda was using the went to the Event Horizon as decent law-abiding citizens, but
building administrator’s master key to open the door. She picked when you returned, you had developed the mindset of a killer.”
up a kitchen knife lying on the table and like a hungry tigress she “I … I …”
eyed the door, which opened in a quick motion. “I don’t want you to die the way the other six have died,”
“My God!” blurted Brenda putting her fingers on her nose. Brenda said compassionately. “There must be a way for you to
“What kind of chemicals are you using in your flat?” get cured. Come with me to the tourism centre from where you
“Get out of here,” hissed Rakhi. “Get out before I hurt you took your virtual vacation. They will know how to help you.”
with this knife.” But Rakhi stayed put on the sofa. “I want you to calm down,”
There dawned a look of complete surprise on Brenda’s face. Brenda said soothingly. “Calm down and come with me. I will
“Rakhi, you are not feeling well. Put that knife down. I know find a way to save you.”
you don’t want to hurt me.” Suddenly Rakhi lunged at Brenda, but this time Brenda was
“I am not in control of my mind,” Rakhi cried desperately. ready for her. She caught hold of Rakhi and forced her to sit
“Get out of here, or I surely will hurt you.” down on the floor. “Let me go, please,” screeched Rakhi. “I have
But Brenda walked into the centre of the room; now she was to create this chemical. This is my mission in life.”
standing close to the mahogany desk on which Rakhi’s “No way,” Brenda shouted back. “I am not going to let my
paraphernalia of chemicals was lying. “You have been engaged best friend get destroyed.” She was holding Brenda’s hands in a
in creating a dangerous chemical,” said Brenda suspiciously. vice-like grip. Being a cyborg, she was much stronger than
“Haven’t you?” Rakhi just stood there, few feet away from Rakhi. The very next moment the door to the apartment burst
Brenda, weeping silently. “There is enough chemical on this open and armed cops barged in. They instantly saw the two
table to make every inhabitant of this building fall sick,” Brenda women fighting on the floor of the apartment.
continued. “Is that what you intend to do?” “Please don’t shoot. I have managed to subdue her,” Brenda
“I told you to get out, but you won’t listen,” screeched cried to the cops. One of the cops moved forward and placed a
Rakhi. “Now the inevitable must happen.” She lunged at handcuff on Rakhi’s hands.
Brenda and thrust the knife into her chest. Brenda gaped at “We are here to take you to the virtual vacation tourism
Rakhi with eyes full of shock and disbelief. The knife had centre,” said a cop. “I hope you will cooperate.”
managed to cut through the fabric of the dress she was “I am her friend. I would like to accompany her,” said
wearing and enter her chest. Brenda. The two women, escorted by three cops, moved out of
“What have you done,” cried Brenda. “I am your best friend.” the apartment. Two cops stayed back in the apartment to take
“You should have heeded to my warning when I told you to control of the dangerous chemicals. Rakhi was clearly
leave,” Rakhi shouted back. traumatized and she was sobbing bitterly as she walked towards
The truth was that Brenda was a cyborg; she could not be the elevator with lethargic steps. Brenda supported her friend by
killed with a knife or even a bullet. With one quick motion, she holding her arms around her waist.
pulled the knife out of her chest and placed it back on the A high-speed police cab managed to transport them to the virtual
mahogany table. By now Rakhi had slipped down on the sofa vacation tourism centre in a couple of minutes. The cops had
and was weeping bitterly. already sent an advance notice to the scientists at the centre and
“When you went on that virtual journey to Event Horizon, they were already waiting for Rakhi to arrive. Soon Rakhi and
you were part of a group of seven people,” said Brenda. Brenda were seated in the cabin of chief scientist at the centre.
“What has that got to do with what I am going through now?” Rakhi’s hands were still cuffed. “We have gone through the tapes of
cried Rakhi. the virtual vacation to Event Horizon that you and seven others had
“Six members of that group are now dead. Four of them experienced two days ago,” said the head doctor. “At first we could
committed suicide within a couple of hours of their virtual not detect an anomaly of any kind but after examining the tapes
journey, and the other two were shot dead by the cops to prevent under the lens of an electron microscope, we found that while the
them from committing some heinous crime.” virtual spaceship was stationary at the border of the universe, it was
“What?” Rakhi gaped at Brenda. struck by a short burst of particles of unknown nature.”
“You are only one from that fateful group who is still alive.” “Where did these particles come from?” asked Brenda.
“But that was a normal virtual vacation that we took.” “From the other side of the universe, perhaps.”
“It was not a normal virtual vacation,” said Brenda “But how is that possible,” Rakhi said with amazement.
emphatically. “No one has ever gone to the Event Horizon, “Nothing exists beyond the borders of the universe. The Event
which is the boundary of the universe.” Horizon is the final border beyond which nothing can exist.” 82 September ‘09

“That is what has been popularly believed till now,” said the She heard the sound of footsteps, but was unable to turn her
chief scientist stoically. “But in light of new evidence, we now head and look in the direction of the sound. However, the
know that the Event Horizon is not the end of space. Something person behind her did not choose to keep herself hidden for
exists beyond the outer boundary of the universe. That thing long. She walked in front of the chair on which Rakhi was
managed to send a burst of particles, which altered the minds of strapped. “I am glad that you have finally woken up,” said
seven human beings.” Brenda. “In 5 minutes we will be at the Event Horizon.”
“All this seems unbelievable to me,” said Rakhi desperately. “I “Let me out of this chair at once,” snapped Rakhi.
was not at the Event Horizon physically. I was there only in a “I don’t think so, you are safer strapped to the chair. Once we
virtual form, so how can these particles alter my living brain.” are at the Event Horizon, I will excise the mysterious particles
“We need more research to find an answer to that question.” from your head.” Rakhi made a futile attempt to break the
It was left to Brenda to ask the most crucial question. “But straps that were holding her to the chair, but the bonds were too
then, is there a cure to this?” strong. Meanwhile, Brenda’s eyes were fixed to the vista that was
“We tried to isolate the particles virtually, but were unfolding on the giant LCD screen. They were now seeing the
unsuccessful,” said the scientist. Rakhi was shocked. If she could first lights from Event Horizon. The final boundary of the
not be cured then she would have to spend the rest of her life in universe was exuding a circle of light, which was brighter than a
maximum-security psychiatric ward to prevent her from trillion suns. Rakhi had already experienced the glory of Event
harming others. Brenda too seemed depressed. “However, I Horizon once and now she was panting with awe and fear as her
believe that if the process of removing the particles from the eyes became fixated to the LCD screen.
mind is attempted when the infected person is virtually located “We are at the Event Horizon,” shouted Brenda. “Now I
in the Event Horizon, then we might succeed.” will start the system that will excise your brain of the
“You mean to say that the only option Rakhi now has is to go mysterious particles.”
back to the Event Horizon,” ejaculated Brenda. “Please don’t do it,” whined Rakhi.
“Yes. But due to her current state of mind she cannot be “That is the problem with you. You don’t know what you
allowed to go on this virtual journey alone. Someone must want.” Brenda pressed a few knobs on the control panel. The
accompany her. I am planning to send one of my technicians ….” helmet that enclosed Rakhi’s head started vibrating making her
“There is no need for your technician. I will accompany shake all over.
Rakhi to the Event Horizon,” injected Brenda. “I am a cyborg, “What is happening to me?” Rakhi screamed.
so I can be programmed instantly to tackle any situation.” “Calm down, your brain is being cleared of foreign particles,”
In less than ten minutes, Rakhi and Brenda were in the soothingly said Brenda.
state-of-the-art laboratory at the Virtual Vacation Tourism Soon the vibrations had increased to such a degree that Rakhi
Centre. They were donning spacesuits and were seated on fainted. But Brenda was not too worried about her friend’s
white chairs that were attached to a giant machine outfitted fainting; she was busy managing the virtual controls that were
with myriad LCD screens displaying intricate data. The engaged in removing the foreign particles from Rakhi’s brain.
room was completely sealed and there was not a speck of Within a few moments she had a hit, the particles were sucked
dust to be seen anywhere on the pure white floor made out out of Rakhi’s head and channeled into a secure virtual
of transparent glass. Outside the glass enclosure the compartment, where myriad sensors analyzed them and their
scientists were working on various computer terminals properties were relayed back to the laboratory on earth.
installed on different desks. By the time Rakhi regained her consciousness, she and
On the IVR system an announcement was heard, “reverse Brenda were already back on earth. She found herself perched
counting to send Rakhi and Brenda to their virtual vacation will on the chair in the glass-enclosed laboratory. Brenda was seated
now start. 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1.” The two chairs started on another chair. The glass door of the laboratory opened and a
rotating at great speed and by the time the rotation stopped, the couple of technicians, covered from head to toe in airtight dress,
two women had fallen unconscious. Their minds were now walked in. They helped the two women arise from their seats
locked inside a highly advanced virtual spacecraft that was and removed the spacesuit that they were wearing. Finally,
soaring at billions of times the speed of light towards the edge Brenda and Rakhi could look at each other directly.
of the universe. “How are you feeling now?” asked Brenda with concern.
Rakhi opened her eyes and looked around incredulously. She “I no longer feel the heaviness in the back of my head,”
was strapped to a heavy seat and in front of her there was a smiled Rakhi. “You have saved my life, Brenda.” She stepped
control panel outfitted with many intricate looking controls. forward and hugged Brenda. “I will never let anyone tell me that
Beyond the control panel there was the LCD screen showing a cyborg is incapable of being loyal to a human being,” she
strange views of outer space. She tried to get up, but her hands continued. “I don’t think any human being would have taken the
and legs were strapped. Even her head was locked inside a kind of risk that you took for my sake. Despite being a 50%
helmet from which there flew out many wires. “Where am I?” robot, I think you are more human on an emotional level than
she cried. “Get me out of here.” most people that I know.” I

September ‘09 83

How To

Image 1 Image 2

Merge Pictures to Create

ou have a folder bursting with great pictures that you Here’s what Photoshop can do. It can help you create a
clicked on your vacation last week. Perhaps pictures of panoramic image with just a few, quick steps. You don’t have to
verdant forests, turquoise oceans, and historic places. All worry about angle and scale anymore. Just use this great
of these are great scenic pictures, but there’s just a small technology and save those prayers (that you would have used
problem. You’ve got a series of sceneries, pictures of the same while gluing it on a piece of paper) for greater calamities.
place, taken shot by shot, covering every angle of the view. You
know for sure that if you placed these shots next to each other, like Getting the perfect panoramic view out
a perfectly solved jigsaw puzzle, and glued them onto a sheet of of pictures:
paper, they would make for one great panoramic image. But then This is how you can create your own panoramic images.
pasting them would take the fun and the finesse out of the • To begin this simple exercise, you need some raw material. And
photographs. And you don’t want to create a cheesy panoramic that raw material is a series of photographs taken with appro-
photograph by stitching or gluing the shots on. ximately 40% overlapping details. This will help you merge them 84 September ‘09

Image 3 Image 4

a Panoramic Image Chandana Banerjee

automatically with Photoshop. If you want to automerge to Cylindrical, Spherical, Collage, and Reposition. Choose
create a panoramic picture, we are also assuming that you did the layout you feel will look great for your photograph.
not zoom in and out your lenses while taking the pictures. • When you press Ok, your photos will automerge.
• Now that you have a series of photos to merge, open • If you feel that the edges of the picture are jagged or they
Photoshop, and then click on the File menu. do not match, try cropping the non-matching sections with
• Choose Automate from the menu and then go to the cropping tool.
• Under the Photomerge window, browse for the files that Tip:
you want to merge then check the boxes at the lower part Next time you go on a photo shoot, try to take the pictures
of the window. from a greater distance.
• Choose a type of layout and then click OK. Speaking That was simple, wasn’t it? Now dig out all your picture series
about layouts, you can choose from Auto, Perspective, and create your own panoramic pictures. I

September ‘09 85

How To

How to use the

Snipping Tool

Chandana Banerjee

he Snipping Tool is a great option for those of you paste them into the word processor or any other image
who work as technical writers as well as for those who manipulation program.
like to play around or work with images and Include URL below snips (HTML only): If you save
screenshots. This particular tool is part of the Vista your snip as a Single File HTML, or MHT document,
Tablet PC Optional Components feature. You can use the and the snip was taken from an Internet Explorer browser
Snipping Tool to snap up selections of your desktop or window it will show the URL of the page that you took
windows, and save them as screenshots or snips right on the snip from.
your computer. Prompt to save snips before exiting: This will remind you to
Earlier, if you wanted a screen shot program with all the save the shots that you worked on.
features, you would have to buy it. And for basic screenshots, Display icon in the Quick Launch Toolbar: When you use
you had the ‘Print Screen’ option in the past versions of this, the icon for the Snipping Tool will be clipped onto your
Windows. So, the Snipping Tool in the Windows Vista is not Quick Launch Toolbar.
only versatile and free, it also lets you take screen shots of Show screen overlay when Snipping Tool is active: If you
only specific sections of your screen rather than the entire click on this, the Snipping Tool interface will vanish while you
window or screen. are working on your snips.
Understanding the Snipping Tool options: Before we get on
with the step-by-step guide about using the tool, let’s first Selection options:
understand the Snipping Tool. Ink Color: This will change the colour of the selection border
The options are broken up into ‘Application’ and when you create a snip.
‘Selections’ groups. Show selection ink after snips are captured: The selection
border will be shown, using the colour selected in the Ink
Application options: Color option, around the snip.
Hide instruction text: If you enable this, it hides the Types of snips: While using the Snipping Tool, you can take
instruction text in the main Snipping Tool window. four types of screenshots.
Always copy snips to the clipboard: This will help you copy Free-form Snip: You can draw a shape around the object.
your screenshots to the Windows clipboard, and then you can Try a circle, triangle or an irregular shape. 86 September ‘09

Rectangular Snip: You can draw a precise rectangle around • You can modify the screenshot by adding brushstrokes
the object by dragging your cursor around it. and highlights on this window.

Window Snip: The Snipping Tool will capture the entire After that, click ‘Save As’ to save this file as an image. As a
window that you select. default setting, it gets saved as type PNG. You can save space
Full-screen Snip: As the name suggests, the Snipping Tool by changing it into JPEG. However, for better quality, stay on
will capture the complete screen of your computer. with PNG. I

Taking snips:
• To begin, click on the Windows logo. Now click on
Snipping Tool.

• Once the Snipping Tool’s window opens, click on ‘New’

to begin snipping a part of the screen.

• After that the window of the Snipping Tool will

disappear and you can begin marking the screen
using the rectangular cursor. As mentioned above,
you can take four types of snips, namely, the free-form
snip, rectangular snip, window snip, and the
full-screen snip.

• Go ahead and mark that part of the screen that you want
to snip. After you’ve taken your screenshot, the captured
part will appear on the window of the Snipping Tool.

September ‘09 87

How to download
photo albums Chandana Banerjee 88 September ‘09

bet most of us spend a substantial amount
of time on social networking sites like Facebook.
In fact, quite a few are addicted to the world of Facebook, a
place where we can catch up with the latest, know what our
pals are up to, search for long-lost friends, make new buddies,
and discuss things we probably last spoke about in college.
Facebook is the virtual version of our college canteen, where we
spent hours gossiping over cups of tea and soggy samosas. Here
at Facebook, we may not be sitting across a table with our
friends, but they’re just a click away.
Apart from the chit chat and the messages on the Wall, the
albums that our pals post on their profiles are a great way of
catching up with what’s hot and what’s not in their lives.
Someone rightly said, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
Don’t we all like thumbing through albums bursting with
pictures of birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, wedding
shots, picnic pictures, baby mug shots and more? And all of us
are constantly uploading pictures.
When our family and friends upload pictures, we save them
locally to view them at leisure. Now with Facebook Photo Album
Downloader, we can download these albums easily and quickly.
How to download Facebook photo albums: Instead of right-
clicking on every picture and saving it on the hard drive, we can
download a complete Facebook album with a single click. This
can be done by using a free Firefox add-on called Facebook
Photo Album Downloader or FacePAD. You can download it
from here:
This feature helps you download an album from Facebook by
sorting through each page of the album and downloading the
pictures individually. The program had been initially written for
Firefox 2, but now the code has been updated for Firefox 3 as
well as the latest version of Facebook.
• First install this add-on to Firefox to begin downloading
photo albums from Facebook.
• Then go to a page that has a list of photo albums, and
right-click on any of the photo albums that you want to
• You’ll get a new option called Download Album with
• The photos will start downloading to the default location
you have set for downloads in Firefox.
Remember that this add-on will not create folders for the
photographs, and there are chances that your computer may get
cluttered (in case as a default setting, Firefox downloads all the
photographs onto the Desktop). To avoid this, go into the
Firefox options panel and change the download location
temporarily to a specific folder and then download the photo
album. I

September ‘09 89

How To

aner jee
da n a B

ver the last few years, there have been many

Getting it working
O attempts to create a product that could easily let
you capture handwritten notes in digital format,
but nothing really worked that great.
When I first heard of the LiveScribe digital pen, I was
initially skeptical … but finally decided to give it a try. Here’s
At first, figuring out how the whole thing works can be a bit
tricky. Can you start writing immediately or should you install
the desktop application first? Basically, each notebook has
special paper that the Smartpen can read using the camera, so
the really short review: you can turn the pen on and start writing immediately.
If you have the need to write a lot on paper, this is by far Note that you can only write on proprietary LiveScribe
the best product for capturing any kind of handwritten notebooks; if you try to write on a plain piece of paper, nothing
notes. Not only that, it links audio with your handwritten will be recorded. This is one downside to the product, but it’s
text, so you can jot down notes and record what is going on also why it works so well.
around you. Everything will be recorded as long as the pen is ON, which
It is perfect for students and people who have to attend a large means you can see something on the display window, such as the
number of meetings. time. Note that you should install the LiveScribe desktop
software before connecting your USB cradle to the computer.
What’s in the box Apparently, the Smartpen will only link with one computer,
Here’s what you get when you first open your new Pulse which I’m not too kicked about. That’s probably the other major
• Pulse Smartpen (the pen has a headphone jack,
microphone, OLED display, speaker, infrared camera, and
removable ink cartridge)

• USB mobile charging cradle

• LiveScribe starter notebook

You also receive a 3-D recoding headset, Smartpen case,
and interactive demo card inside the notebook that helps you get
started. 90 September ‘09

Simply click on the green text and you will hear all the audio
that was recorded while the text was being written! Cool, huh?
The other great feature of the Smartpen is that all your
handwritten text notes can be searched instantly.
And this was probably the most impressive feature of all
because my handwriting is horrendous. However, the desktop
application was able to find just about every word I typed. For
example, I searched the word ‘again’ and it found it and
highlighted it:
The search feature is
excellent and very useful if you
take a lot of notes, but can’t
remember where you wrote
what. If you can remember one
word, you’ll be able to find the
notes using LiveScribe.
To record audio while writing
something in the notebook, just
click the Record button that is
at the bottom of each page in
the notebook. They are
basically special controls that let
you navigate all the pens’
features and applications.

downside I see in the product. If I spend $250 on a product, I

should be able to use it on as many computers as I like.
Anyway, once you write in your notebook, simply connect the
Smartpen back to the USB cradle and watch the magic happen!
The software will automatically recognize that you connected
the pen, will check for any new additions to the notebook, and if
so, will upload them into the software for you!
As you can see, I’ve only used one page and the rest are
empty. As you write on the pages, more will show up You can also create a bookmark anywhere in the notebook
individually. Simply double-click on a page to view the digital and then use the controls at the bottom to skip to previous or
version of it. next bookmarks. You can use the Jump To Position control
on the page to move around the page quickly when listening
to audio.
The pen can hold up to 100 hours of audio and if you ever
run out of space, you can delete them from the pen, but still
have them stored on your computer. Of course, you won’t be
able to listen to the audio by just using the pen if you delete an
audio session, but it will remain on the computer.
But that’s not all. You can also upload your notes along with
audio and create what is called a ‘pencast’. A pencast is basically
a replay of your written notes along with the audio.
You can even create your own pencasts and share them
on your blog or website. This is great for teachers or anyone
who wants to explain an idea or concept to someone using
There are a few things to note in the above image. Firstly, pen and paper.
you will notice that some text is black and some is green, Overall, the LiveScribe Pulse Smartpen is an excellent tool for
namely, the circle. What does that mean? Anything green anyone who writes a lot. It’s simple to use, works very well, and
means there is recorded audio linked to that text. has a lot of great features. Enjoy! I

September ‘09 91

How To

How to Rip
Effortlessly Zahid H. Javali 92 September ‘09

ith so many videos
available for free on
the web, it’s now
become a necessity to
rip DVDs and store them for future use.
One such application is the popular
VLC player that does the needful for an
MPEG-1 file. But then, with technology
morphing ever so rapidly, there are
others that come along and shoo away
the old guard. One such application is
Since storage is cheap, this performs
better than VLC. And how? Simple.
This service retains the full image
quality and size as well as all the menus,
languages, subtitles and bonus material
from the original DVD. And, what’s
more, ImgBurn is free ( Look in the window on the right; the value for Size is how many
bytes the disc contains (this disc is 4.6 Gigs). When you are
The procedure ready, click the button at the bottom with the green arrow. The
With ImgBurn, you can rip the entire disc to an ISO file and ripping process will begin and the screen will give you a progress
then use the VLC player to watch the DVD just like you would indicator including the estimated time remaining. This will take
have if you had the physical disc in your drive. After some time, so you might as well occupy yourself with something
downloading and installing ImgBurn, a wizard will appear and else! A dual layer disc can hold more than 8 Gigs and you should
offer you a few choices. You will need to choose ‘Create image rip at the lowest speed you can bear for best results. When it’s
file from disc’. Before you start ripping, you have to prevent done, you will have a file called ‘Name of the disc’ .ISO.
ImgBurn from splitting the file into multiple parts. This is
because you want a single ISO file of the entire disc. Go to Play along
Tools¡Settings and click on the Read tab. Under Options, Start VLC player and select Open¡File. Navigate to the ISO file
change the value of File Splitting from Auto to None. Click OK and select it. VLC player will start playing the file and the result
to go back to the main screen. The main screen shows you will be the same as it would if you were playing the physical disc.
everything you would want to know about the disc. Under Now you can enjoy the full quality and functionality of the DVD
Destination, click the folder and navigate to a location where without having to lug around all the discs. ImgBurn is a very
you want to store the image file. Be sure you have enough space. powerful piece of software that does a lot of other things, including
burning image files to disc. It runs on all versions
of Windows, including Vista and all 64-bit
versions of Windows.

Note …
If you happen to obtain a copy of DVD
Decrypter, you will see that its interface and
operation is very similar to that of ImgBurn.
But why DVD Decrypter? Because ImgBurn
does not rip encrypted discs (discs with CSS
and/or Macrovision). Here is where this tool
can help. However, the developer of DVD
Decrypter no longer works on the software due
to issues with the Macrovision Corporation and
the obvious violations that the product brings
with it. So, it wouldn’t be wise to rip protected
material or commit DMCA violations.
However, if you already have a DVD
Decrypter, nothing wrong in using it. I

September ‘09 93

Chandana Banerjee

ll you need is Photoshop, oodles of creativity and a bit • Move the text by holding down the left mouse button on any
of know-how to create a plethora of bright and beautiful selected area (surrounded by the selection line, which looks
things for your family and friends. In this capsule, you’ll like marching ants) and dragging the text to its position.
be able to get a lowdown on how to add text to pictures, • If you want to delete the text, then just press the Delete button
and once you know that, you can create greeting cards, logos, on your keyboard or select Clear from the Edit menu.
posters, photo brochures, websites, flyers and a lot more. • Once, you’ve completed your creation, save the edited picture
So, dig out those adorable photographs, sketches and doodles by selecting Save or Save As from the File menu.
from the folders in your computer, and get going with this ‘How-to’
capsule. From catchy captions to interesting thought balloons, Tips:
snappy headings to random words floating through the picture, this • As mentioned earlier, use a contrasting colour for the
Text feature in Photoshop will let you do all. text for it to stand out over the picture. If your picture
is dark, then you might like to use light colours, like
Adding text to the picture: yellow or white. For lighter pictures, use darker shades
• First, start Photoshop. Then go to the File menu and select and black.
Open. • To retain the original picture and save the new one, save your
• Choose a cute-as-a-button picture from one of your folders in edited picture under a different name. This way you won’t lose
the computer, and select Open. Alternatively, you can double- your original picture.
click on the picture. • Click the vertical alignment option to vertically align the text
• Then click the Text tool on the toolbar. You can easily spot the on the picture.
Text tool by the uppercase T. • If you are planning to use clip art or pictures from another
• Click the uppermost of the two squares at the lower portion website, permission is the word of the day. Get permission before
of the toolbar. The top square stands for the foreground you use copyrighted clip art and pictures from someone else’s
colour and this will be the colour of your text. portal.
• Depending upon the colour of your picture or photograph, The fun part: This feature in Photoshop enables you to move
choose a colour for the text that will stand out on the picture your text around the picture. Whether you want your letters to
from the palette. Select OK. float around the picture or march in a straight, tight line, you can
• Click on the picture where you want to place your text. A position your text as you wish for the best composition. You can
dialog box will open. even give your text a 3D effect with shadows behind the letters or
• Select a font, style, size and alignment from the lists. Click in give it texture.
the dialog box and start writing your text. Click OK when Well, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and create your very
you’re done. own communications material. 94 September ‘09

for Life
Making a career in the
gaming industry.
Viny Velayudhan
expected to increase from 63 per cent in
2008 to 71 per cent by 2012.
Some of the prominent national and
international game companies in India are Ubisoft,
India Games, Trine Gaming Studio, Game loft, Dhruva
Interactive, Jump Games, etc. Besides, there are ample other
game companies coming up in India.
In pre-production, a game idea is conceptualized and a game
document is created once the concept is finalized; thereafter the
storyboarding, art guide and a prototype are created.
In the production stage 2D and 3D Art Assets are created.
Programming is done and various elements like graphics,
animations, and sound are integrated with the code in the game
engine. Testing, De-bugging and balancing the game play is
carried out in this stage.
In the post-production stage, quality testing, packaging,

row Up!” Is this what people tell you marketing and deployment of the games are carried out.
regularly just because you love gaming? Different companies follow different processes to create a game.
Not anymore. Because there is a fruitful Ninad Chhaya, VP, Jump Games emphasizes, “The most
career for you die hard gamers out there in important thing is you have to follow the industry standards.”
the gaming industry. We all grew up playing games like ‘Mario,’ Career options are available in four departments of gaming,
‘Prince of Persia,’ ‘Brick games,’ etc. And it’s a good idea to stay namely, Game Design, Art, Programming, Sound Design and
in the gaming world as grown-ups now. Quality Assurance.
Firstly, do you know a career in the gaming industry is one of In Game Design, you can be a creative writer, technical
the hot careers of the future? It’s growing in India and is already writer or game designer. For jobs in this department, you
one of the major sectors in various parts of the world. Research should be very creative with a good command over the English
reports show that 80 per cent of total outsourcing market is language. The creative writer writes scripts. Many people
taken over by the game development making India a gaming prefer story-based games, so writing scripts is also a good
hub. And the game development market is expected to grow at career option. The game designer creates the storyboards, the
37 per cent p.a. and achieve a whopping 14 million INR by pre-production artwork, etc. The technical writer writes game
2012. Also, the mobile gaming market, which leads the gaming documents, which carries the storyline, the game’s goals, level
industry, is expected to rise from 63 per cent in 2008 to 71 per designs, game mechanisms, etc. You should have the ability to
cent by 2012. In short, with more work come more jobs. think out-of-the box. You should have the ability to see a
India has emerged as a one-stop destination for game project through the whole process. Besides, you should also
development with outsourced services constituting 80 per cent have a structured approach to thinking and writing. This
of total market. The market for gaming development in India department mainly works in the pre-production phase.
is expected to witness growth of 37 per cent p.a. and reach In the Art department, you have career options like concept
INR 14 million by 2012. Mobile gaming is likely to dominate artist, texture artist, level designer, animator, and character
the market with its share in the total Indian gaming market modeler. For jobs in this department you should have a good

September ‘09 95

Tech Career

understanding of arts and aesthetics. Knowledge of editing tools You can join some short- or long-term professional courses in
and software like 3dsmax, etc. is essential. If you are interested gaming to enter this industry. Some of the games designing
in character modeling, it is important to have a good foundation courses available are: Advanced Diploma in Game Design,
in anatomy studies. Diploma in Game Design & Gaming, Video Game Design and
The level designer designs the various levels of the game. For Development Certification, and Video Game Design and
example, in a particular level the character is confined to a Development. You must choose a course depending on which
particular environment and space, etc. The level designer also department in the gaming industry you wish to enter. Check the
decides how hard or easy the game level should be. The texture game curriculum for art or programming or animation
artist creates textures for the games. Game art relies heavily on depending on your choice.
textures. It is very crucial to get them right. The rough patches, Some of the prominent gaming schools in India are Whistling
the mood and feel of the concept into the 3D product are given Woods International, Digital Academy Film School and IDC-
by the texture artist. The texture artist should have a very IIT in Mumbai, Srishti School of Design in Bangalore,
balanced sense of art knowledge and should be well-versed with Colorchips Animation Training Centre in Hyderabad, National
the nitty-gritty of the software to get the desired output. An Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, and Image College of Arts,
animator animates the game characters. 2D and 3D artists work Animation & Technology in Chennai, Asian Academy of Film
in the animation department. & Television in Uttar Pradesh, etc. In foreign universities you
Next is the programming department for IT freaks who love can study for a gaming degree.
to write programs and find solutions. Career options in this In the gaming industry, show reels with content-related to
department include the profile of engine programmer, physics gaming are evaluated. Also, while interviewing a person his
programmer and Artificial Intelligence (AI) programmer. For software and technological knowledge are assessed.Employers seek
jobs in this department, you should have a strong command over knowledge of software like Adobe Photoshop, Paint Shop, Pro
physics and mathematics. You should also be well versed with Painter, 3D Max, Maya, etc. Augustine John, Sr. Technical Artist,
programming languages and tools. India Games Ltd., suggests using software help documentation to
Sound design is another important area in gaming. Game learn on your own. You can also learn by yourself by joining online
audio is a highly specialized discipline that requires no small gaming forums and asking questions in these forums. Another
degree of skill and intuition in order to correctly manage. And good way to learn is by using DVD tutorials.
yes, you should also have the necessary training in sound design. The pay package is similar to other entertainment industries
Finally, there’s the quality assurance department. This is a like animation. You can join in as an intern or a trainee and
fun section but serious work also happens in this department. with experience your pay package will increase. You can also
Here you can become a game play tester, code tester or a sell your own mini games on freelance basis. The industry is
quality analyst. In this department, you can play games that huge because these days you have games for cell phones, PC
the companies develop and evaluate how good or bad they games, TV games, Internet games, educational games, hand-
are. It is a serious job since it is one of the most important held devices, etc. So, the requirement for people in this
stages of game development. To be in this department, you industry is also good enough. There are good opportunities
need a keen eye for detail, and the ability to spot visual & abroad as well.
game play related bugs. You need to convey the game issues If you have learnt some software on your own and are
properly so that those bugs are fixed. You should also be well planning for an interview in a game studio, then in the show
versed with the industry standards of quality assurance. The reel you can put architectural walkthroughs, mini games, etc.
most important thing in this department is you should love to Recruiters will evaluate your knowledge of software, games
play games and decide whether the games you are playing will and technologies.
be thoroughly enjoyable by the target audience without any In the gaming industry, strict guidelines are to be followed
bugs. If a bugging game is out, then it will affect the to meet the necessary quality standards. There involves a lot
reputation of the company. Most entry level coders and of hard work, patience and co-ordination to succeed in this
designers join gaming firms as testers. industry. When you enter the industry, try to gain as much
Apart from these major departments, the other job roles are experience as you can and develop your skills instead looking
producers and assistant producers. The assistant producers work for heavy pay packages. You should work towards making
as an interface between the programming and the art team. your work portfolio strong. This will help you in the long run
Then there are senior roles of art directors and supervisors. and will also earn you better pay packages later when you
The job requirements in a game company depend on the size have good experience.
of the company and the type of games it develops. The top You need a passion for games to survive in this industry. And if
gaming studios mainly abroad use the expensive motion capture you love games then this is the best place to be in.
technology for capturing realistic motion of humans and use Gaming is another popular form of entertainment that is here
them in game characters. This opens job prospects in Motion to last forever. People will never stop playing games, so why not
Capture Artists who know how o use the technology. get involved in making some? I 96 September ‘09

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Tech Cartoon

Santa went to meet Bill Come Santa, let me show

Clinton in the U.S. to you how technically
Santa see technical
advancements there.
advanced we are.

goes to
the U.S.
Yes, Bill. I got
What is it Santa?
Ok, Santa, start digging the something that
Did you find
earth … more … more …. looks like a wire.
something there?

After digging about 100 feet of earth, Santa was

exhausted but the hard work did not go in vain.

You, this shows even 100 When Bill came, Santa took him to More ... more ...
years ago we used to a dense forest. a little more. C’mon.
have telephones here Don’t give up so soon.
in the U.S. Now I want to Keep digging.
show you our
Dig the
ground here.

Santa got angry. Now, it was his turn to prove

Bill goes up to 400 feet ... yet finds
that Indians were no less. So, he invited Bill
nothing in the ground.
to India.

So, my friend Bill, did No, I’m afraid, Well, that shows even 400 years
you get anything? absolutely nothing. ago, we used to be ‘Wireless’.
Illustration by Dinesh Rawat

September ‘09 101

Star Diary

Nauheed Cyrusi
Bollywood actress, Nauheed Cyrusi who will soon face her worst fears in Colours’s

‘Fear Factor Khatron Ke Khiladi Level 2,’ says that she is quite tech savvy as far as gadgets go.

am not too much of an Apple Mac person and mière social networking site allows me to stay in touch
other advanced stuff though BlackBerry phone with my friends. We exchange photos, jokes and wish
and PS3 would be my favourite tech toys. each other on special occasions.” Unlike other celebs,
Though many people dig the iPhone (its design this Parsi babe, who is awaiting the release of three films
is definitely slicker), BlackBerry is certainly easier to type (Kissan, Qurban, etc.), does not feel social networking
with my long nails. I prefer to text than talk. The touch- sites are harmful. “You get to choose which people can
screen interface of the iPhone does not work due to the access your profile.” She also does not shop online. “I
am not a credit card person. It’s not that I am scared of
above reason. I also sadly miss the music and gaming
safety concerning online transactions, but I just don’t
functions of the iPhone. This business class phone is just
like to spend extra moolah.”
like having a laptop in your bag. I can easily access my
Nauheed also loves to shoot video/click pictures with
e-mails on the move. Having said that, I love my privacy, her camcorder. “Whenever I go on a vacation or outdoor
hence I don’t prefer to keep my phone ‘ON’ always. I location, my Sony digicam always accompanies me. I like
like to be available, but on my own terms and condi- to upload videos/pictures on my Facebook, so I can
tions,” says she. share the same with my friends. “I clicked a lot of pic-
Coming to her second tech love, gaming, she says, “I tures on my recent ‘Fear Factor’ trip to South Africa.”
dig on the ‘Grand Auto Theft’ on PS3 platform.” Re- She also thinks that tech toys work as wonderful gifts
membering her childhood days, she says, “Mario Bro items. “If I know that a particular friend loves cell
was the best video game we played back then.” phones, I might think of gifting a snazzy model he/she
This model-turned-actress does not, however, spend has been eying for a while. But yes, I will spend good
too much time over the Internet. “I use the Internet to money only on somebody really close.”
check my mail, download music and find out the latest In closing, we asked her to comment on the age-old
happening in Bollywood. I love Facebook. This pre- adage that tech is a man’s domain and she promptly
replied, “Says who? I know of some women whose
tech knowledge will put most male techies to shame.
It’s jut like saying only guys should wear trousers and
not girls.” I

Back in the
Game Room

From designing, which could be termed as the most popular

word game for the masses, to relaunching it in the shape of, the
Agarwalla brothers have come a long way. Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla share with
us their journey.

Q.Do you play scrabble yourselves?

Yes! Lots of it actually. My brother and I have been playing
Although the charge wasn’t too high by any standards, people
generally tend not to pay for anything on the Internet, and we
Scrabble since childhood. Even our family members show keen were no exceptions. So once I completed my high school, I
interest in the game and play it with full enthusiasm. Exposure to joined RJ Softwares (Rajat, Jayant) and created BingoBinge with
the game for such a long time helped me to win the Statesman my brother. We soon shifted to (re-launched as
Scrabble Championship 2007 for my age group in Kolkata. in 2005) with the sole purpose of keeping such a
lovely game free for everyone forever.

Q. What inspired you to create the Word

game, Scrabble?
Well, we played Scrabble religiously at a website, sometime Q.How would you differentiate
from other game websites?
around November 2004. However, things changed when the Lexulous is pretty unique in that it focuses on just one game,
website started charging a fee. We didn’t have too many options. Scrabble, and offers a few variations of the game as well. The 104 September ‘09

site has not been cluttered with annoying advertisements and
other smaller games. The interface too is of top quality and
very easy to use. Plus, we do not collect any personal
Q.Do you have any particular future targets for
the website? If yes, then what are they?
Lexulous was created with the objective to make Scrabble
information from users except their e-mail ID which is available to schools and institutions across India and even in
necessary to prevent false accounts. The game rooms are great foreign countries. We shall bear the cost of creating private
fun; people can practice alone, play against the computer, and room for the children and manage the servers. It is just an
even over e-mails. Lexulous is the destination for everything effort on our part to make sure that the next generation is in
Scrabble. The best part about the site is the speed it offers touch with this legendary game and gets easy access to it.
which remains unbeaten by most of the other paid sites. We also hope to add newer features to Lexulous in weeks
to come.

Q. Since your website has gained so much

amount of traffic, why not make it a paid website? Q.long did it take for you to design the whole
popularity and is receiving such a huge Lexulous has got a lot in very less time. How

website? And what type of hurdles did you face

That’s because we left the other site! Had it not started charging,
Lexulous would not have happened. Our primary goal is the while creating it? How do you work out the
satisfaction of every Scrabble lover. Lexulous was started not as funding for running the website?
a business but as a hobby. And even though it is surely possible We started work on a Scrabble site in April 2005.
to monetize it, for example by selling e-mail addresses or was launched in Beta mode in August 2005.
showing hundreds of ads, we would be happier to see a smile of The problems we faced initially were tremendous. We were
content on the faces of our users more than anything else. inches away from pulling off the site due to rising server costs
and regular breakdowns. However, our determination paid off

Q. Why only “scrabble” and no other games

like crossword or monopoly? What is so
special about this game?
and once the server crashing problems were fixed, we shifted to
the then in July 2006 and have not looked back
since then.
Scrabble has a charm of its own, the beauty of which has only
enhanced over the generations. Scrabble and Monopoly are
perhaps games played in every home across the world. However,
many people find it hard to get a group together for a game of
Q.How do you work out the funding for
running the website?
The few unobtrusive advertisements that we display on
Monopoly (2-player Monopoly is perhaps a bit boring). But in Lexulous are enough to cover our server costs, so funding was
case of Scrabble, it’s a lot faster and can be thoroughly enjoyed not quite necessary.
by a couple. And while Monopoly is a huge deal of luck,
Scrabble requires strategy as well. In fact, we offer Strategy
Scrabble at Lexulous where users get to see the tiles in their
opponent’s hand which requires a lot of thinking to be done
Q. You offer a 24x7 support to your users, and
promise a response within 12 hours. However,
most websites do not offer such type of service.
before playing a move. We had implemented this feature based What according to you is the need to do this?
on a suggestion sent by one of our users. There is no need as such, because people are happy even if
they get a response within 48 hours. It’s our immense love for

Q.What type of security measures does the

website take?
We do not collect any personal information like name or location
the game and because the Lexulous community is so
wonderful that makes us feel it is our responsibility to give
them a little more than what they bargained for. When users
of our players. So besides an e-mail address, no other personal express their bewilderment upon getting a quick reply, it
information of the user is disclosed. Our servers are provided by seems like a pat on our back!
reputed firms and till date there have never been security concerns.
Lexulous is free from adware and spam. We also encourage our
users to get the Firefox browser for general safety on the Internet. Q. Your website sends reminders to people who
do not play the game very often even after
registering with the website.This is more like an

Q. Do you have any paid services on the

website? If yes, please mention. If no, please
tell us if there are any plans to do so.
encouragement.What makes you think of something
like this out of the box and how have people
reacted to a service like this?
At present we do not have any paid features besides that of We got a mixed reaction to this. Some felt that we were keeping
purchasing a no-quitter badge, which too is free if one plays a check on them while others were really thankful to us for
2000 games. We do not have plans to offer any paid features in taking so much care of them. As the majority of users are
the near future, but if we ever do, the basic functions of the site positive about this, we do send out the e-mails but unsubscribe
shall always remain accessible for free. the user if they so desire. I

September ‘09 105


olitical language is designed to make lies sound truthful
and murders sound respectable, and to give an
appearance of solidity to pure wind. But the language of
business is all about survival of the fittest. Ask Dewang
Neralla, the 40-year-old Director of Atom Technologies and
Director Technology of Financial Technologies that creates next
generation financial markets. He is now spearheading a
revolution in the mobile payment eco system. With atom, you
can now pay through an application on your mobile, through a
voice call over IVR or at the point of sale at the speed of a bullet.
Neralla started small to make a big impression. The year was
1992 when the wind of liberalization was sweeping the Indian
landscape like no other. “I was on the brokerage and exchange
side and part of the IT scene at the Bombay Stock Exchange for
four years,” he reminisces. Later, life offered him an option to
either stay back in India or go abroad; either be a programmer

Just Atom It
with one of the multinationals or be an entrepreneur.

The future of mobile payments is now, says Dewang Neralla of Atom Technologies
in an exclusive interview to ZAHID H. JAVALI
Boring labour is a threat to humanity. It follows therefore that Digest this. Atom’s services have processed more than $150
interesting labour can be a form of redemption. Like fixing million of transactions with a merchant list spanning the best in
motorcycles. Or starting something that you like. No wonder, it the industry. Some of them include DTH majors like Tata Sky,
didn’t take Neralla much time to figure out his calling in life. He Dish TV, Sun Direct; movie cinemas and entertainment players
teamed up with friend Jignesh, set up Financial Technologies in like Fame Cinemas, Cinemax, 70 MM; insurance majors like
1995 and became his own boss. “The scope was only just ICICI Lombard, Reliance General Insurance, Royal Sundaram;
opening in India at the time,” he recalls. “There was a huge travel agencies like Paulo Travels, Redbus and in-shopping
deficit for any kind of transactional backbone. Our focus was to outlets of Dell, Disney World, Asian Sky Shop, Deccan
create a product-based company rather than a pure service- Chronicle, eBay, IFB, Indiatimes Shopping, Living Media,
based company.” Rediff, TVC and Readers Digest.
He started with trading software ODIN, named after the Greek Atom’s vision and mission is to create a convenient and secure
god of wisdom. “We licensed the software to brokers,” he explains. mobile payments platform for the masses, establish a social goal
“From 1998 onwards, more than 100,000 trading terminals with for providing delivery of financial services for the ‘unbanked’
more than 300,000+ licenses were sold to brokers.” and emerge as India’s number one service provider for
In 2003, his team developed an exchange trading solution payments. “The company’s products and services span the
called DOME that is used by exchanges promoted by complete vertical for payments,” explains Neralla. “There’s the
Financial Technologies. And in late 2005, Atom was born to voice-based payments solution that is easy to use for both the
focus on payment processing with a special focus on new age end-consumer and the merchant. It’s a change from a call
payment gateways like mobile, IVR as well as traditional point centre-based solution to an automated Interactive Voice
of sale terminals. Response solution that eliminates human intervention and
The hard work shows. Today, there are over 100 merchants customer insecurity. The mobile payments platform is targeted
signed up by Atom on mobile and IVR and more than a million at the end user who has to download an application and make
customers have already made their payments using Atom. No payments on the fly.
wonder, the slug line ‘don’t just pay it, atom it’ rings so true. Atom Sewa is for the ‘unbanked’ sector. “Many people have
Holding a bachelor’s degree in engineering and computer no access to banking facility, so using technology to get them on
science, Neralla is with a company that is as good as it can get. board is the fastest way,” says Neralla. “We use technology to 106 September ‘09

create a framework for micro finance institutions and banks and For prophetic visions of the future, some people turn to
enable bank’s business correspondents across the country to horoscopes. But if you want to know what the future holds,
efficiently perform their banking tasks.” What this means is better to ask a scientist, or an entrepreneur like Neralla. He says
enrolling customers and monitoring their transactions at a the day is not far when all your financial transactions will be on
mobile branch, which in this case is the business correspondent the mobile. “Person to person mobile transfer for payment of
of the bank. The customer only has to walk up to him to either any kind of services, be it face to face or remote, will be a certain
withdraw or deposit cash. Using m-collections, micro finance reality,” he says. “Right now, we are looking at cash and card,
institutions can track loan repayments to self-help groups as but there will be an inflection point where a mobile will change
most of them happen to be weekly recoveries and quite a that behaviour itself.”
logistical nightmare. The scenario isn’t complete yet. Adds Neralla, “In the future,
One pilot project with a large bank is gaining momentum. your cell will become your personal lifestyle assistant and not just a
It’s local language support for receipts as well as voice mobile. You could have a card on the phone or some sort of tracker.
intimation in the local language for regular withdrawal and With just a tab, the phone could act like a debit or credit card.”
deposit banking transactions. So, if a non-English or Neralla’s typical day goes something like this. He wakes up at
illiterate speaking customer walks into a bank, he gets a 6 a.m. and goes for a one-hour walk. By 9.30 a.m., he is in the
voice prompt on deposit or withdrawal in the local language. office, attending meetings, scheduling things and planning
The customer hears and obliges. Even the receipt gets strategy and marketing. His work day ends at around 9.30 p.m.
printed in the local language. Back home, he spends time with his nine-year-old son.
Safety is ultra crucial to Atom’s work. Which is why Atom We fly today and arrive yesterday. That’s technology for you. So,
has certified its products and services for PCIDSS & PA-DSS. how does he keep pace with it? “I read newspapers and magazines
The PCI DSS certification ensures that Atom always keeps the and interact with people and internet companies.” So, what’s the
customer’s account data protected while PA-DSS applies to buzzword today? “Everybody is focusing on software as a service
software vendors who develop payment applications that store, and there is much talk on Web 3.0 and how to maximize it.”
process, or transmit cardholder data as One look at his office and you know it is

part of authorization or settlement. minimalist and functional. Besides the
Among the many services on offer, mobile Our focus was mandatory laptop and a couple of landlines,
payment is dwarfing the others. “Over a there is a bookshelf staring in front of him.
period of time, the mobile payment market to create a product- Not to mention, glass doors, wooden finish,
easily should be 60-70,000 crore per annum based company rather flowing carpet, a drawing board and a three-
in India overall based on the current card
spends of same size,” says Neralla. “It will than a pure service-
“ seater conference table.
Democracy needs to know the serious
carve out a new niche and we should based company. reading of books. Long books. Hard books.
capture 25% of the market share in the Books with which we have to struggle. Take
next three years on both voice-based and Neralla. When he’s not working, he’s reading.
mobile-based payments.” “I catch up on reading, but on the Internet only,” he says. There are
Innovation is the key to survival and more business. three books he is reading right now. There’s “Killer Differentiators:
And no one knows this better than Neralla and his team. 13 Strategies to Grow Your Brand” by Tai Jacky; “Creating a World
“We have developed a 2D bar code for face to face Without Poverty” by Muhammad Yunus and “Predictably
technology,” he begins. “The customer selects the card and Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions” by Dan
payment which generates an image. The optical scanner Ariely. Clearly, Neralla has his heart and mind in the right place.
reads the 2D barcode image (that contains the payment and After all, a person can be judged by the books he keeps.
card details), making it secure and quick. We are piloting this Conspiracy theories remain the pastime of crank groups. But
project at a few locations. We are also focusing on voice conspiratorial thinking, the idea that someone out there is to
biometrics for authentication, so instead of an image, you use blame for every misfortune, has become respectable. But that
a voice print.” isn’t Neralla’s mantra in life. “Mine is dream to dare and dare to
Charles Darwin’s voyage on the Beagle aimed his thoughts at dream,” he says. Case in point? “When we were setting up
evolution and gave him both the facts and intellectual stamina to Financial Technologies, there were non-believers who said this
work toward his magnificent goal. So, what has Neralla’s technology will not take off and tried to de-motivate me saying
journey so far taught him? “The biggest is that you need to be there’s no future in it,” says Neralla. “However, if you believe in
committed and have the perseverance to drive your idea all the your convictions and stick to it, it will happen. Within a few
way. And for this, you need to have the patience and the will to years, we were No. 1 in that domain and there are still people
achieve. If there is no fire in the belly, come what may, you won’t trying to catch up with us.”
be able to achieve anything. And yes, it takes a strong team effort That’s Neralla. He can turn any business into an adventure and
to see things through.” any risk into an opportunity. Truly, the mark of a businessman. I

September ‘09 107

Peek & Pick

Product Reviews: Anoop Verma

HP Elitebook
With its brilliant magnesium alloy
finish, the new HP EliteBook does
manage to make a great first
impression. Once you open this laptop,
you will find that the keypad is quite
comfortable and there is a 14.1-inch,
1280x800, matte display, which is a
good thing, because matte displays don’t
reflect light and hence are much easier
on the eyes. The device is powered by
Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 (2.4 GHz). It
has 2 GB of RAM and 160 GB hard
drive. Currently, the laptop is running
on Windows Vista, but it is fully
compatible with Windows 7, which is
set to be released later this year.

Available at: All HP and Compaq stores

Price: Rs. 30,000 to 45,000 depending
on configuration selected. 108 September ‘09

Ray T65
It is quite surprising to find a mobile store
franchise announcing the launch of its own
mobile phone, but that is exactly what ‘The
Mobile Store’ has accomplished. The Ray T65 is
now out in the market and it is boasting of
impressive features: 3-megapixel camera, a 262k,
1.8-inch display, music player, Bluetooth and
much else. The phone has a touchscreen as well,
so it might not be too off the track to term this
gizmo as the iPhone’s smaller cousin. In any case,
the Ray T65 is worth a try. Either you can walk
into their store in any Indian city or town, or you
can buy it online from their portal.

Available at: (The Mobile Store)
Price: Rs. 6,489

Altec Lansing T612 Digital Speaker

for iPod and iPhone
Music buffs are especially going to like
this product. Its speakers are geared to
offer rich, distortion-free sound from your
iPhone and iPhone 3G without your ever
having to miss a call. The device is fully
compatible with all versions of the iPod
and iPhone. It also has a built-in dock
through which you can recharge these
two devices. Another good feature is the
provision of auxiliary stereo input that
lets you connect to any another MP3 or
CD player.

Available at: (Rediff)
Price: Rs. 11,220

September ‘09 109

Canon D10 The unique thing about this camera is that it is
completely waterproof up to a depth of 10 meters.
So, even if the waters rise drastically during this

monsoon season, and your camera gets completely
drenched, it will still keep clicking quality pictures.
The D10 boasts of 12.1 million pixels (CCD), and
it has a 3x zoom. It is incorporated with face

detection technology, automatic White Balance
and much else that will make the clicking of
professional quality results a breeze.

Available at: (Gadgets Guru)
Price: Rs. 23,849 110 September ‘09

Moov 300
Navigating roads in India can be a
nightmare, especially if you are new to
any city or town. Signboards are
invariably missing from most of the roads
and you might have to ask directions from
20 different people before you reach your
destination. But once you are armed with
Moov 300 PND, such vagaries of travel
might become a thing of the past. The
device has a 4.3-inch screen and it is
capable of providing step-by-step
direction through most Indian locales.

Available at: Asian Sky Shop

Price: Rs. 15,990

Apacer Handy Steno AH325

USB Flash Drive
The new flash drive from the ensemble
of Apacer is as stylish as it is
technologically advanced. With its
clean classic look, embellished by
smooth lines and distinctive cool grey
and arctic white tones, the AH320 is
the kind of gizmo that you can flaunt
whenever you want to make a style
statement. As it comes with a 4 GB of
capacity, it proves to be perfect for
users who want to store high-resolution
images, MP3 music files, or even
videos on the go.

Available at: Rediff

Price: Rs. 410

September ‘09 111

Peek & Pick

Aurvana X-Fi
Great sound quality and state of the art
sound enhancement features are just some
of the hallmarks of the Creative Aurvana
X-Fi headphones. The best thing about
these headphones is that they come with an
iPhone cable.

Available at: (Amazon)

Price: $147

Go Black
For those who prefer to use their PC or laptop for holding
conversations with friends and family, here is a good way
to keep in touch. The Logitech QuickCam Go Black
webcam is embellished with high-tech editing software
that will allow you to capture, edit or print images. You
can use it to capture crystal clear images at the push of a
button. The best thing about this webcam is that it is
compatible with all major messaging applications. Once
you get powered by this webcam, the experience of
chatting is only going to get better.

Available at:

Price: Rs. 725 112 September ‘09

iPhone Stand
A stylish phone like the iPhone deserves to be either carried in your hand and when it is resting then
it should do so on some kind of luxurious stand. Enter the iPhone stand! This stand will let your
iPhone stand in a portrait as well as landscape mode for perfect viewing of videos. Here is a good
way to lounge in your sofa while you enjoy the video clips that you have made using your iPhone.

Available at: (Rediff)

Price: Rs. 265

Intuos4 Grip Pen

Professional Pen Tablet
By incorporating Wacom’s Tip Sensor technology,
the new Intuos4 Grip Pen can offer its users near-zero
(one gram) starting pressure, which is most conducive
for a natural writing experience. The product is
especially suitable for photographers, designers and
artists seeking optimal control and productivity. After
all, when working with digital assets, there isn’t a
more natural tool than a pen for increased comfort
and control.

Available at: Ebay (

Price: Rs. 13,650

September ‘09 113

Shopper’s Guide

Live IT provides you the following shopping guide which should

The surf shop

help to get you started on a fabulous online shopping spree. Call
it an easy finder or a quick search, the list compiles all the gadgets
and gizmos featured in this issue with appropriate links of the
best possible places for you to shop wisely and browse coolly!

Live IT or Leave IT Bliss Noise-reducing Earphones Burning Flame Bookmark

Buy online: Buy online:
(pages 18-21)
Rape Alarm
Buy online: Price: USD 45.00
Price: USD 3.00
gapyearshop-21/detail/B000VXVZJQ Lock Out USB Memory Key
Price: £ 9.99
Buy online: Style IT (pages 41-49)
Sorapot Teapot
Buy online: en/909823/product/Lock_Out_USB_ iPod A1288 Memory_Key.html Price: Rs. 13990.00
Price: USD 250.00 Price: EUR 150.00
Portable Sony PSP
Price: Rs. 8990.00
Olympus Pen Camera Rockin’ Alarm Clock
Buy online:
Buy online: Sony PSP2 SCPH – 90004 CB Price: Rs. 5990.00
dp/B002CGSYKS rockin-alarm-clock/?transid=58640813
Price: USD 799.99 1009&cm_src=TEEN-TRUNKS-
Price: Rs. 1099.00
Wall-E Toy Price: USD 129.00 MITASHI GAME –
Buy online:
Kitty Digital Camera Price: Rs. 2990.00
Price: USD 51.99 Buy online:
Hello-Kitty-Digital-Camera- Sony F305
Price: Rs. 6690.00
Rat Robots KT7002/dp/B0002ISEIK
Buy online: Price: USD 19.99 WILLIAMS F1 Team RACING WHEEL
french-researchers-create-giant-rat.html USB Fragrance Flowers Price: Rs. 1490.00
Price: On request
Buy online: Nintendo Playboy Advance SP AGS101
Computer Corner Frame Price: Rs. 3990.00 2008/10/10/smell-good-with-usb-
Buy online: fragrance-flowers/ Buy: Soveena Mobile Zone Price: On request S - 8A, Green Park Main Market,
New Delhi 110016
Price: USD 29.98 Butterfly Speakers for iPod Phone: 011-26510661/26962467
Karaoke Microphone Buy online: Mobile: 9811006985
Buy online: product.aspx?product=1412225&
74622.asp?promo=hl_media language=en-CA (Note: Prices may vary or discounts may be
Price: USD 49.95 Price: USD 99.99 available on some products.) I 114 September ‘09


How can I copy a game from If I uninstall a computer game

the desktop computer onto and then reinstall it, will my
my laptop? saved game still be there?
It depends on the game. Some programs you First of all, many games will ask if you want to
can simply copy the directory via a CD-Rom keep your saved games before uninstalling, so
or across a network. Find the game folder by then you just have to pick the right option and
right-clicking on the icon and checking its your saves will stay intact. Second, this depends
properties. You will need to copy that on where these games store their saved games
directory and everything under it. on your computer. Many games store saved
However, if the game doesn’t run on the games in folders like My Documents or
other machine, you may have to run the Application Data, so they don’t get deleted
original installer that you got at the time of when uninstalling and they’re easier to back up.
purchasing the game. This is because it needs The safest way is to back them up anyway. So,
to add information to your Windows system look in My Documents, Application Data and
folder and/or the registry before it can run of course the game folder itself for a folder
properly. In this case, your best bet would be containing your saved games. Then replace
to contact the company you purchased the them if necessary after reinstallation.
game from and ask them about their policy to
allow you to transfer the game to your laptop. How can I transfer games to
my mobile?
How can I set animated signature You can use USB cables, Bluetooth/Infrared
in my mail? dongles, or memory cards to transfer games
With a non-MIME enabled e-mail client, you from your PC to your phone. If you install the
won’t see anything but simple text. However, it cell phone’s software for PC then you can
seems nowadays the MIME mail extension is install games directly on your phone without
spread enough and widely exploited and transferring the setup files. Don’t forget to
abused; briefly speaking, the extension allows enable Bluetooth or infrared if you are using
an e-mail to be an html, even with embedded these technologies.
images; what you see is just an animated Another method can be to upload your files
image embedded in the text; likely, simply an on your own WAP site using your PC and
animated GIF. downloading the files from the WAP site via
You can create your own animated GIF using GPRS on your phone.
a program like gimp or Adobe ImageReady.
Once you’ve got your animated GIF, you How to get a moving
must get a MIME capable e-mail client and background on my desktop?
use it to write your e-mail. Normally, these Search for an animated .gif online and just
modern clients have a button that allows you use it like you would any other picture on
to add an image. So, add your gif at the end your desktop.
like a signature, and you’re done.
‘New hardware found on PCI
How do I install my computer modem.’ What is this?
game onto a different disk drive? It is a dial-up modem but sounds like the
During the installation, it should ask where drivers are not installed so you need to re-
you want to install it. And, usually, it would install its drivers from disk or from the PC
have something like the following: manufacturer’s website. It is a built-in modem.
C:\program files\Game_Name\ If you are not using it, go to Settings→Devices
So, all you need to do is change that to E:\ and disable it. I
Then it should install onto the E: Drive.
You can also click on the browse button If you have any queries, write to us at:
next to install option and choose the location
of installation.
or mail your queries to
If it doesn’t let you choose where to install,
Live IT,
then it maybe perhaps you just need to free up
E-3, Jhandewala Estate, New Delhi - 110055
some space on the C: Drive.

September ‘09 115

THE Gameplay

It refers to anything you do Loot
in a game. Gameplay An item, or gold, or
features can include a treasure found on the
FPS (First Person shooting, jumping, buying ground, or dropped
Shooter) and selling in-game from killing a monster.
An extremely common and popular items, and interacting
genre of video games. In this genre, with NPC (Non-Player
you see through the eyes of your Controlled) characters. Game Master
character, and always use guns. In some The player who runs the
FPS games, your character never has any game (often abbreviated
dialect. This is done so that any reaction to ‘GM’); many games give
your character may have is imagined by Game them a more specific title
you. Games of this genre are typically
Developer such as dungeon
Here you
fast-paced and have good Company or master, storyteller or
simulate an
graphics. Examples of FPS companies that story guide.
activity based on
games are ‘Halo’ and create the game from
the real world. This scratch. The developer
‘Call of Duty’.
may include flying, controls everything that goes into the
Powers sports games, life games game, ranging from game controls
Describes extraordinary abilities, (like ‘The Sims’), and war to the game’s story.
which make a character simulators. These games range
special, such as flight from bad to great graphics, but
or telepathy. almost always allow you to have
great control of what happens Cheat Code
in the game. Is a button combination or
RPG (Role- password, which triggers an
Playing Game) event or affect within a video
Here you control one or more game. Cheats can be as simplistic
Avatar as adding ammunition to a gun,
characters, and every attribute
Is your character, or increasing a character’s
about them. This means that while
primarily used for health, or changing the
you play the game, your character(s) instructions or character to a completely
may get stronger, faster, gain directions in a guide, or different character.
intelligence, or improve in a number because it’s shorter than
of other skills. Most RPGs are based character in times where
in fantasy worlds, oftentimes fast typing is mandatory.
not ever connected
A beneficial spell
with Earth.
cast on a player
EULA or creature in
An acronym for End
Platform a game.
Level Refers to the specific
User License
Refers to a few things, Agreement. You usually
combination of electronic or
either your character’s have to accept an
computer hardware, which, in
actual level, or the act of EULA before installing
gaining experience by conjunction with low-level
software, allows a video or playing a game.
killing mobs in game, in
order to reach a game to operate. The term
higher level. ‘system’ is also
commonly used.
(REGISTERED) RNI DELENG/2008/26856 DL(C)-14/1295/09-11