Thursday, January 19, 2012

Wikipedia Blackout-An Engineer's Account

Posted by at 5:09 PM
It was something the whole world witnessed on 18th of Jan as we tried to cope with the fact that Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, would be blacked out for a day. Now, in reality, we used a few hacks to ensure we could still access the site(because a real blackout would mean...you can't imagine what it would mean), but here is my fictitious take, a reboot, of yesterday, the tale of an engineer, with a day devoid of wikipedia. Enjoy!

I woke up late-as usual, and started getting ready for college-as usual, missed the showers-as usual, and skipped the breakfast-as usual. The weather was really very gloomy today-it was foggy, very dense, and as I revived my childhood moments on my way to college campus, by exhaling foggy smoke out, I was suddenly reminded, that it was-The Wikipedia Blackout Day.

*Drums in the background*

"Oh what the hell? How bad could it really be? I mean, I would not even open  the site as frequently as I would open my Facebook and twitter accounts. And also, search engines are still running, so, it won't be that bad would it? " I wondered, as I stepped inside the lecture-hall.

I had forgotten that the next thing I did after googling something was , to open the first ad-less link that would come out.
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3 hours later:
So I was getting back from college to hostel, with a sack full of assignments-our Profs are so well-informed that they had put their best efforts to ensure it stings, without the free encyclopedia to aid us. "You will finally 'hit' the library today!" one of the Profs with a sinister smile, exclaimed. "You will discuss with each other to approach a solution! Hahaha!" chuckled another. "You people will roam hitherto today,so that you finish the work. Muhahahaha!" exclaimed another. It was as if they had the perfect plot conspired to make life hell for us, and were waiting for the right moment and when it came, they nailed it.

Despite expressing different dialogues to make fun of our miseries, their statements had one sentence in common:
 "I want the assignment submitted tomorrow positively."

Now you would say, "C'mon man! Are you in school or something? Just don't do those assignments! Why wasting our time sulking about things you could avoid just by sleeping off!!?!!" But you see, that is the real deal: If we were in college, and still obliged to complete our assignments on time, this easily implies that we really had something held by our Profs...recommendations, approvals etc. Also, in a class of 88, even if 8 students complied by what the Profs ordered, then the rest 80 would be screwed automatically.
Therefore, skipping the assignments was never the option.

Eventually, ideas started pouring in: "No worries. I will Google 'em","Yep there are many other sites where we would get the answers". Soon, the better-informed chipped in,"I will use Google Scholar", one guy exclaimed, followed by a sarcastic uproar of the crowd.

"Yeah right, you people finish, then I will copy from your assignments and complete it overnight." now, the suggestions of the geeks were over and the typical engineers started contributing. "Y'all must form small networks, complete 1 topic per person and circulate within your networks and then, inter-networking will follow!" *ooohhhhhh, human-interrrnettt!!!* jeered the crowd.One good thing about college is the class crowd-they are awesome.

Anyways, after all the implications and amazing strategies were framed, we all decided to meet up-at 5 in the evening, to share our part of works, exchange them, and compile the assignments, and smash the pile of papers at our Profs faces, the next day(if any of my Prof is reading this right now,you know it is not possible so don't prepare to rusticate me *puppy face* ).
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Evening, college canteen:
I reached with my assignment-sheets, right on time-20 minutes late.It seemed like a ghost-town, with no living being around. Cold wind blowing, it was really chilly. "Strange!" I wondered. No one is showing up?

Maybe they did not do the assignments at all. Maybe they really slept it off! Or maybe I was too early.

I checked the clock. It was 6pm. And the surroundings suddenly started to get gloomy. "Dammit! I won't be a part of those shitty plans, ever again!" I thought. Actually, it is quite possible that the people might have decided not to go, thinking that the others might not show up. I looked at my assignment sheets-they gave a 'who-you-staring-at-nigga' look. Hallucination out of frustration, I thought.

Suddenly, the sky began to turn red. The sun had just set, and the clouds were taking ominous shapes. I was freezing like hell. So after a recitation of the course of 'helping-verbs'(that we had taken up during our first year) aimed at my batch-mates, I headed back towards my hostel. I had walked only a few steps, when suddenly, I heard some commotion coming from the direction I headed. And to top it all, a sandstorm had started.
"Oh man!" I cried out, while trying hard to get a shelter on the roadside. That is when, I heard strange,moaning sounds,in unison-coming from the direction of hostels.And before I could understand, strange,hooded silhouettes started to appear. In a few seconds, the sound became nastier, and the figures became clearer.
I was able to make out, that these were my batch-mates. "Yeah, you motha--" before I could finish, a body came flying from their direction, and landed near my feet, with a loud thud. Eyes popped out, tongue flung out like a leaf, the face was covered with blood.
 It was my roommate. 
"What the forni--" I could not finish the sentence even this time. Reason? It became clearer to me-as the hooded-figures were clearly visible now-they were all my batch-mates-the nerds,the studs,the forever alone ones,the cat-lovers-I could recognise every single one of them. Just one difference-they seemed dead, but they were walking-yes they were corpses, approaching me.

"Wikipediaaaa...wikipediaaaa....wikipediaa...." they were chanting. I shrieked as chill ran down my spine. So I did what the biggest heroes of the world would do-I ran as fast I could. The sandstorm was making things worse,but I could clearly see now-they had torched everything on their way, and blood-splatter was everywhere. "Wikipediaaa....wikipediaaa...." they were now screaming, as I managed to find a hide-out, knowing that I would not last long.

I hid there-powerless, clueless as to how this happened, when suddenly, one of my batch-mates caught me in his furtive glances. And, the next moment, he raised his arm, in a very slow pace, and pointed a finger towards my direction. Soon, the whole mob was approaching me. I recited that helping-verb course rapidly but to my surprise, that recitation soon took the religious turn-I was calling all the names of the Gods I have ever known in my life, and as I ran out of names, I started ranting-40,41...because there are 3.6million Gods in the Hindu Mythology, I had once heard. In a few seconds, I was surrounded by the walking dead, and as they approached me closer, I was all sweaty and, started losing consciousness,my guts prepared to be spilled out...
But weird enough, I was getting tingled. I jumped up. "Bastard! You slept off the whole evening while we fried our behinds to work on the assignments?!!" I looked at the direction of the noise. A bunch of my batchmates-totally human-were standing near my door,fuming. "I...err, you people..." "Yeah, we people went to the meet-up as planned, and you did not show up, so the rest of us exchanged and finished the assignments in 3 hours, while you were here, dozing it off"one of them roared.  "And why were you crying out wikipediaaaaa...wikipediaaaa...?"one of them asked. "I don't remember...damn!" I replied groggily.
"Okay enough of this tomfoolery. Get yourself together, and let's go to the mess.You can copy from our assignments later" a few of them chided. "Okay man, thanks!" I got up, and went to wash my face.

My laptop screen was alight.Two tabs were open: One showing the  Wikipedia Blackout page, titled-Imagine A World Without Free Knowledge, and the other showed a popular humor website, and an article was open, titled: 'Zombie Apocalypse'.

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Movie Review: 50/50

Posted by at 1:00 AM

 Rating: ♦♦♦.5/5
"Trying a cliché for a plot but succeeding in making a decent flick, 50/50 is all about introspection and livelihood"
I had not really planned on seeing this one previously, but what sparked interest was the rave reviews I got from my friends. Running for the Golden Globe, they say. It deserves to be.

Because it is very rare nowadays that you come across movies which doesn't contain any mushy love story- of people kissing under moonlight, running around hand-in-hand, staring at each other for a long time in the rain- but yet they manage to make you have that similar feeling, of being replete with emotions by the end.

What I liked about this movie is that it doesn't make you sympathize with the protagonist-a sincere person in life, who is diagnosed with cancer-rather, it makes you walk with him, feel alienated, feel grateful and realize, that life can not be that bad no matter what happens.

With a dash of humor to keep the movie from falling into that pit of boredom, director Jonathan Levine has done a memorable work with his cast, and ensured that every viewer understands the possibilities explored.There are people in the protagonists' life who let him down, there are people who stand by him, and there are some who are co-passengers in his journey- and in one way or other,everybody contributes.


Not really showing what movies with  such a theme usually offer(to start appreciating life alll of a sudden,like never before)-since our hero is already a realist-50/50 will make to my list of movies which have titles like The Social Network, The Prestige etc.


Performance-wise, I would  say that Joseph Gordon-Levitt knew what he had to show, and did justice to the role. I expect him to become one of the biggest actors of  the industry, in near future. He did not overdo things, and at the same time, did not make things paltry too. The right kind of expressions he had, I would say.
 Seth Rogen blends in well, as the quintessential  friend who stays with you during tough times, but again, he is  not like those typical sympathetic-he uses Levitt's medical condition to get girls-but by the end, he cares. I enjoyed  Anna Kendrick's presence, and would really love to see her play in more movies.

In short, a beautiful movie with  promise of some really good moments, 50/50 is a surprisingly strong contender for the 84th Annual Academy Awards(yes the nominations are yet to arrive but I am positive), and also, a nice weekend-watch.

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