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The Frost Dragon

I sit at the window and watch the dragon fly about – it is a frost dragon. As it breathes on the world below, the very air seems to freeze solid and fall. I’m glad I’m sitting indoors wrapped in a warm blanket and not running about out there. I watch as a polar bear draws the dragon’s ire and the huge beast swoops down. A few seconds later, the dragon rises into the air again, and the bear’s lifeless corpse lies in a tomb of ice. I make a mental note to collect the bear’s claws and pelt later. The claws will come in handy when I next make potions, and the pelt can be tanned to get some good leather.

A couple of mages and an archer take shots at the dragon, the mages with firebolts and lightning bolts, and the archer with steel arrows. These will hurt the dragon, but not much. There is no way they’ll be able to kill the dragon, so I sigh and run forward to help, with my trusty assistant tagging along (I use my assistant mainly to haul my stuff around, but he can fight a little too). A few blows with my trusty sword (imbued with flame) would surely kill the dragon, but the dragon has to first land before swords can be of any use; so I hang back, occasionally shooting firebolts at it which usually miss. You see, I’m not much of a mage and my aim is hopeless if the target moves – and this darn dragon seems to fly all over the sky! Finally, the mages and the archer and my assistant hurt the dragon’s wings enough that it is forced to land.

This is my chance. I quickly sprint closer and start hacking away at the dragon. The flame on my sword burns and hurts it more than anything else could – I would’ve been in soup had this been a fire dragon or elder dragon (I forgot my frost sword at home), but the stars favoured me. Soon, the mages are dead and so is the archer. My assistant is on the ground, recovering his strength, unable to fight for the time being. The lumbering beast slowly turns to me and there’s only one question running through my mind – can I kill it before it kills me?

It roars and its breath freezes everything around me and I feel myself dying. I quickly gulp down a potion that will help my body resist the cold and warm my blood and I feel much better. I cast a healing spell on myself with my left hand and hack away at the dragon with the sword in my right – and I’ve attacked the darn thing so much that my skill with one handed weapons improves! A while later, just when I run out of mana (magic power, for the uninitiated) and begin to think there’s no killing the stupid thing, I see an opening – its head comes too low when it snaps at me. In a flash, I climb on to its head and start striking its maws with my sword while it tries to reach me in vain. Pretty soon, it does what I expect – roar in frustration. My sword immediately pierces its tongue and comes out the bottom of its jaw with the force of my thrust. Blood spews all over the place, and my armor is soaked in dragon blood (thank goodness dragon blood doesn’t rust armor). A final roar, and it falls. I jump off, and as I watch, the dragon’s skin starts disintegrating; I absorb the dragon’s soul. And I can finally learn to breathe frost too, much like this dragon did! I scavenge some dragon bones and dragon scales before I move on – these will do just fine for my dragonscale armour, when I get around to making it. Time to go kill a few undead creatures before looking for the next dragon.

Suddenly, I hear mom call me for dinner, and I snap out of my trance. I have to leave my magical window for now, but I can return to it after dinner to look for more dragons. As I get up to leave, there is a power cut – it was for just a few seconds; the generator kicks on almost immediately, but the damage is done – I wasn’t able to save the game. It takes all my resolve not to swear – hey, I just need to kill that darn dragon again. I can do that! So with a whistle on my lips I saunter off to have dinner as my XBox starts up again and Skyrim loads up once more.

Meaningful terms…

In any industry, there are terms that people use that are quite specific to that industry – either they are technical terms unique to that field (jargon), or they are just a way of representing things that a normal person won’t relate to. When some of these terms are taken out of context, things can get really hilarious! 🙂
A simple example is your “status” in messenger applications… It’s not jargon per se, but it can be used in a pun… Set it to “Available” (meaning, to chat) and you’ll have some jobless people (like me :P) asking if you’re so desperate to get hitched – hey, it looks like you’re advertising that you’re single and ready to mingle – correction, desperate to mingle! 😀
Then come the “clashes of jargon” – “taking a dump” in some countries means relieving yourself after a heavy meal (not drink!)… In software, the same term is used to indicate taking a snapshot of the memory, or taking a “memory dump”… So it can be quite hilarious when someone is asked on a mail-thread to “take a dump and share it”, or told that he should use “a remote computer to trigger the dump”! And it’s also funny when the said someone responds saying “I’ve shared my dump at this network share. When can you analyze it and tell me what’s wrong?”… I feel extremely tempted to respond with “You need to contact a medical lab for that!” 😀
But the best, in my opinion, are the following two:
1. “Privates”… When a big code change is made, the programmer usually builds the binaries privately and gets the tester to verify them. Over the years, the term “private binaries” has decayed to just “privates”. I can’t help laughing when I hear a programmer ask the tester to “test his privates”, “check the privates” or better yet, “verify that the privates work fine”. It’s funnier still if it is meant to be tested for performance or reliability (under stress)! Imagine hearing: “When can you get me the performance numbers for my privates?” or “I want you to stress my privates out completely – run everything on it for a week!”… Now don’t tell me you wouldn’t laugh if you heard such stuff… 😛
2. The other one is something that people on the lookout for jobs would’ve heard a lot of: “openings”… Typically, “job openings under a manager” is the term used. I’ve heard of people asking managers if they have any jobs for them, and the managers responding with “I’m sorry, but I don’t have any openings under me right now”, or “Sorry, but all my openings got taken just last week and I’m full up”; worst is “I’ve found someone more qualified for this opening”. And job search ads say they expect “x years of experience to fill this opening” or that they expect someone with “expertise in x field” for the opening. I think they should probably add “should not have any sexually transmittable disease” to that list – sounds more practical, right? 😉
If you come across any more, leave a comment about it – I’ll update this now and then with any new gems I encounter… 🙂

I’ve got mail!

You know, there are a few people in the world who are very thoughtful about the less fortunate, and these noble men and women send out mail after mail offering us great things – great deals, discounts and more! They are more popularly known as spammers.
Here are a few samples of what I get from these thoughtful angels:
1. Some want to give me money – I can supposedly get excellent returns for my cash by just giving them a small amount of it up front (and by the way, I am just dying to give away my cash to some nameless people I don’t know at all, you know – just don’t tell anyone!)
2. Some want to give me educational degrees without me writing exams or attending classes – here’s the exact mail:
“Lazy to attend exam or classes?We have Diplomas, Degrees, Masters’ or Doctrateto choose from any feild of you’re intrest.Only 2 weeks require to delivers the prestigous non-accrediteduniversities paper to your doorstep.Do not hesitate to give us call today!1-206-203-1872”
Ah, the very spelling and punctuation has won me over. I simply can’t wait to give him a call!! I mean, a degree from such a person would be so useful, right?
3. Then there’re sites like astrology.com saying I will either have a windfall that day (I usually think of the auto guy having fleeced me in the morning) or that I have a special time with my partner (I regret to say I’ve always been single), sigh, and wonder if they have some kind of “opposites” service.
4. And I should not forget the amazing mails that say Bill Gates was giving away his wealth, and that forwarding some stupid mail will give them wealth beyond their imagination! Man, I wish my life was that easy… To give us a small raise, they think a million times, so I can totally believe that Bill Gates is out to give a thousand or a million dollars to people he doesn’t even know for forwarding mails – I mean, rich people are supposed to be eccentric, right? No, not crazy – you’re supposed to use the term eccentric if the person is rich or famous, crazy is only if they’re neither.
(P.S: I am not referring to charity here – that’s different. They’re people who probably need it and they don’t bulk-forward mails to get charitable donations.)
5. Some guys are giving me amazing discounts on various things that I don’t even want, and they say it is a one-time only offer – yeah, yeah, that’s great, blah blah… Why don’t you send these to people who want those pathetic discounts on some sad products? (95% off on a toe-massager? What, is the product totally broken, or did your boss declare that a toe-massager is a pathetic idea and ask you to get rid of them for whatever you could get? Or did you multiply the cost by 20 or more and then say you’re providing that much of a discount? And who would want a toe-massager anyway?)
6. And how can I forget some unknown men and women who are so concerned about giving me their original expensive and high end cars, watches and yachts at a very low price? (They call them very low prices, but the prices still seem outrageously high to me!)
7. And I needn’t talk about the ones who take an interest in my sexual well being – they seem to forget that just because they have a problem, it doesn’t mean everyone else on earth does!
8. Last, but not the least, and definitely the saddest, are your very own friends. No I am not joking, and they are of three categories. Sadly, I’ve had to create a filter for a couple of my friends who fell under all three categories, and my mailbox would get flooded with their mails. Anyway, here are the three categories:
a) First, there are the ones who send mails that say “Pass it on to 10 billion people 10 minutes before you read this, or you will be forced to listen to Thayu singing for eternity”… I mean, imagine the poor bloke who gets such a mail! First off, as far as he knows, there are only 6 billion people in the world, out of which probably less than half know what a computer is, and of those, only half will have an e-mail id. And he should have done it ten minutes before he read that line! I can just visualize that guy inventing the time machine and going back in time just to forward this… And this mail had a twist at the end – it told you what torture you would have (though the person would’ve been arrested by the human rights comission for having threatened to do something as heartless as making someone listen to my singing). Other mails usually say “bad luck will follow you for 10 centuries” or something equally vague of the sort, leaving it up to the person’s imagination. Here, my singing will not scare the people who haven’t heard me sing before this, and considering people usually lose their sanity a short while after hearing me sing, chances are that the person reading it doesn’t know enough about my singing to be scared (actually, considering how crazy most web users are, they probably would be less insane if they had lost sanity hearing me sing). And what is saddest of all is that I have friends who are superstitious and scared enough to forward such mails to me. Though it is good in some ways (in that I get to know who is like that so that I can fool them later), it is quite saddening to see that I have such people for friends and have done nothing to them.
b) This is the “emotional blackmail” category. These are the people who say “send it to everyone who means a lot to you” or “for each person you send it to, someone will magically give me 10 cents” or something of the sort. Saddest of all are the people who say “Dude, you’re heartless! What’s it going to cost you to forward this?” as an attempt to justify their having forwarded such a mail. I may or may not be heartless, but I’m definitely not brainless, and I definitely don’t like being used/exploited in any way. And I know what “virus-writer”, a hypothetical person would do too. He would probably start off a mail saying “Please forward this mail to all the people you care about and think you are nice. Remember, someone cared about you and thought you were nice, so why don’t you reciprocate and forward this?”. He’d put some stupid quotes or pictures or whatever, so that the person doesn’t mind forwarding it. And then of course would come more mails like this. And then, once the internet population is used to such mails, he’d send another mail just like this, but with malicious content attached. By now I guess people will be so used to forwarding such mails, I’ll bet they’d do it even without him using the usual threat or begging or cajoling.
c) And then there are those who believe that pressing “Alt-F4” after forwarding a mail will make a magical pop-up appear that won’t appear any other way. Get real! Know your keyboard shortcuts! And in case you’re a Windows user who doesn’t know that “Alt-F4” closes a window, you probably should stop and think a little, and maybe use the internet – it takes just moments to search on Live or Yahoo! or Google or whichever search-engine you prefer. And of course, don’t forget about tormenting the person who sent you such a mail in the first place. If it is not a good friend, you could call them stupid and laugh at their lack of knowledge and show off a little in the process (if you’re doing this, make sure the person isn’t someone who will and can get back at you – that would be ugly). If it is a good friend who has done this, make sure you enlighten them and tell them what you know/have found out, so that they are saved from embarassing situations when others point this out to them.

But wait, ignore my advice. I am wondering what will happen if I tell people:
“Forward this mail to hundred people and then format your hard disk without taking a backup of any of your data – if you have confidential info, please pass it on to @.com first, so that this data can be kept safe. You will receive $1,000,000,000 in your next life if you are born with some brains at least then. Please forward this as it will also help a few kids survive and it shows that you thought of the person you forward it to. Remember, someone thought of you and that’s how you got this mail in the first place!”
I will add a few more zeros after the 1 to appeal to people’s greed. I guess I will have to find a provider who gives unlimited storage like rediffmail, coz I’m sure I’ll get some hundreds of GB of confidential data which these people expect back. I will have to hire a staff of a few thousand to read the mail and tell me what info found there can be used so that I can make the billion dollars I was talking about. But then, the confidential information that such “clever” and “intelligent” geniuses would have can hardly be of any use, so I would probably end up losing money. But what a phenomenon it would be! I can just imagine the masses doing exactly as the mail says. And I can imagine the support guys of various computer organizations frantically trying to accept all customer calls that say “Hey, I lost all my data! What am I to do? How can I get my information back from @.com?” But no, wait, I am wrong. You probably will have very few such calls, since if the masses were ready to follow the instructions of the e-mail, they’d probably sit still and act as though nothing had happened. They probably would think that nothing had happened. I can just visualize someone saying “Hey! I did what the mail said, but nothing at all has happened! I bet it was just another fake mail – what a stupid hoax…” =)

A typical day at work

Here’s how life was in early 2008:

It’s 10am and I saunter in to work (early by my standards), filled with enthusiasm and a desire to sieze the day and achieve great things. I pick a cup of hot chocolate on my way to my room, which I will slowly sip while I read one useless mail after another. By noon, I’m done with the brain-numbing work of reading loads and loads of unnecessary mail. By now, I am sapped of my desire to sieze the day, and I want revenge! So I shoot off a few brainless replies to equally brainless mails from equally brainless people. That done, my stomach reminds me what a pain it can be when it chooses to. So I sigh and get up from my seat, round up a few equally jobless people and go to the cafeteria for a ritual we call “lunch”. (Note: Please do not confuse this with the mid-day meal called lunch that people normally have)

So let me explain this ritual called lunch: We stand in a queue (and no, we’re not geeks enough to discuss if the queue will grow beyond capacity and if a faster processor will be needed to serve the queue elements, but I’ve heard certain others do it : ) and pay Rs.35 to look at some stuff that drives our hunger away, and we beg to be set free so that we can go back to our rooms and work ourselves to death for the rest of our miserable lives. Just kidding – the effect only lasts a day. We need to go and look at that stuff around noon everyday. Some people try to avoid this usual lunch ritual of ours by actually bringing food from home. Such people don’t realize that doing so is futile – they don’t get to even catch a faint whiff of their lunch; it would’ve been devoured by hungry hordes, who will move on to fresher pastures (read: the next box) in the twinkling of an eye.

This ritual usually takes around an hour, after which we return to our rooms to do whatever we want. I usually plan to use this time to read mail – before you conclude I’m crazy, I am talking about the mail from college friends; a whopping number of forwards that will make you swoon on just seeing the number. So I open my gmail account, and what do I see? Nothing!!! No forwards from my friends. My mailbox is devoid of new mail! I start to feel lost and lonely. Thankfully, some nameless, faceless guys of various companies have decided to keep me company. They show that they’ve thought of me by sending me mail after mail of utter nonsense (man, they even know that by this time of the day, nonsense is the only thing that makes sense to me!!)

I curse gmail for having marked these mails spam – I wanted to do that myself! So I delete these mails and thank the spammers for having given some purpose to my logging in. Now its time for something else. It’s already 3 in the afternoon, and I’ve managed to while away the time so far. So I walk around, fishing for people who are ready to play a game of TT with me. I usually succeed in finding a few people as jobless as me. Sadly, when the game starts, I forget that it is table tennis we’re playing and not cricket, and start smashing a lot of sixers. That’s usually when whoever is playing as my team-mate starts tearing his hair out and starts yelling at me. I usually don’t realize I’m playing the wrong game until it is over and we’ve lost – not that it takes long, you know, its just that the game gets over so quickly… So after playing a few hundred games, I’ll think “Man, it must be time to go home now” and then I’ll see that it is still just 4. Of course, I’m the guy who never lets a game last long, right? So I curse myself and trudge back to my room. I religiously avoid the cafeteria on the way back – they have something they call “snacks” that they serve for free. This seems like a continuation of the lunch effort, just in case someone needs it by chance – man, they take care of everything over here!

By now I realize that I’ve not attended any meetings so far in the day and that I’m feeling tired after playing cricket on the TT table, so I decide to go and sit in some random meeting as long as they don’t kick me out. Anything to avoid work, I say! I prefer meetings which drag on and on, since that way I get a long undisturbed nap. There is nothing decided in that time anyway! Someone once said meetings are “geek parties”, a kind of gathering where all those geeks who would never get to socialize otherwise meet to socialize. I disagree – meetings are where clueless individuals socialize and the ones who actually know stuff either sleep through or avoid altogether. Thankfully, no decisions are ever taken in meetings – everything somehow magically requires more investigation – and people like me who sleep through are never found out.

When I wake up, it is already six and they are still socializing. I yawn, stretch and walk out. Wow, what a day of accomplishments! Time to go home and rest – I mean, I have to do more or less the same stuff tomorrow, and I need my energy for that!