My recruiter at Mentor Graphics, my Technical Lead in my very early days at Mentor, a very good friend and a really nice counter strike player 🙂 Khurram is leaving for England tomorrow (28th Aug 2006) on an HSMP (Highly Skilled Migrant Program) visa. He worked of RTOS group for a couple of months before he joined Compilers group. He had a 4 year long stay with Mentor. He is one of the most technically sound guys I know perhaps that’s why he was the tech lead :). It was really fun and a great pleasure to work with him. We will all miss him and his Suzuki-FX. It wouldn’t be same working without him in the team. I wish him luck and hope he succeeds in achieving his goals like he always has.

Second time lucky

August 27, 2006

A couple of days back (on Thursday 24th August) I went to purchase a laptop from Shah Almi market (Lahore). I stood under an 8 story tall building as I confirmed the shop’s address from my brother over the phone. I didn’t buy the computer because I didn’t like it but when I came out of the shop (which was not more than ~50-60 yards away from where I called my brother), I saw that the top four floors of that very building had collapsed. It was a terrible scene. Certainly the most tragic scene I’ve witnessed. People were trapped under the rubble, injured people were lying on the road, cars under that building were smashed, and even worst there were some people (possibly labors) trapped in another building whose exits were blocked by the debris. The rescue workers took 10 agonizing minutes to come but still considering that particular locality, I’d say that it was a very good response time.

This was my second narrow escape. Some 5 months earlier, I was working out in the gym when a powerful storm struck Lahore. When it was relatively calm outside, I thought this would be the perfect time to go home because I just needed 10 minutes window to reach home. Suddenly when I came out, the wind picked up again. I put my helmet on as I reassessed the situation, and the next second, a huge window glass smashed right on top of my head. I could think of nothing else to do but to go back inside the gym. I went back there in the morning and saw a window (~8-10 yards away) missing a 4′ square glass. I could tell that it was something big because of the intensity of the impact. It flew all that way to smash top of my head. My helmet proved life saving after all 🙂

Well however odd this may sound but people might file such cases in future. The growing interest in MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) games might just lead to this. Games like World of Warcraft can support thousands of players at a time. They all play simultaneously in a persistent world. To play you just need to buy the game and a monthly subscription to access the game world. Then you can go on playing and earn gold coins and similar currency with which you can buy weapons and stuff.

The world isn’t perfect in reality and in computer games as well :). Hackers can steal the account info, virtual gold, magic weapons etc in MMO games and sell it for real money 🙂 and a good chunk of it as well. Microsoft has recently issued a warning to the MMO game players about this threat. Lets see what they come up with to eradicate it. If not, the police might need to set up an online crime branch employing computer scientists :).

Microsoft will release a test version of its XNA Game studio on Aug 30th. This will be a trial version of the product and full version will come sometime later this year. Even with this free/trial version, developers will be able to develop games for their PCs. They require a $99 subscription fee however to develop games for Xbox 360. The professional version will be available next year.

Microsoft is working with 10 universities which will integrate the tool in their course work. Ahh I so wish this sort of work could start here in Pakistan as well :(. I wonder how long will it take for our universities to become research partners of such companies.

This is certainly good news for me and some people I know (kashif for instance). We have been trying to develop simple multi-player games but we always lacked the right tools. Looking at what XNA Game Studio has to offer, I think we might just have found the right tool set 🙂

Style Detection?

August 15, 2006

Look at the post entitled “Temporary Post Used For Style Detection”. I think this is what Live Writer did to detect my blog style because I didn’t post it and I don’t use any other tool :). I think this is another glitch this should have been deleted (or perhaps it is deleted in most of the cases but wasn’t deleted in this particular case).

Windows Live Writer (Beta)

August 15, 2006

Microsoft introduced the writer last week. Its a good simple looking application, nice clean interface and some really good features. I liked the WYSIWYG feature. It gives you 4 different views which does you a world of good if you are picky about how you post looks like. And of course its mighty helpful when you are trying to insert photos in your post.

It is easy to configure it with different weblogs (Although I haven’t tried to test its configurability but I think I’ll take Microsoft’s word for it). If you have a weblog with which writer is not working, tell Microsoft, they want to know about it.

Another cool feature is the Windows Live Writer SDK. It allows you to extend the capabilities of the writer.

I’m writing this post using the Writer. Its looking nice so far but I think I’ve found a glitch I don’ think its auto-correct option is working. Firstly it was not enabled by-default I had to enable it my self. Secondly it didn’t make any difference either :). Ahhh and it doesn’t show my smiles as well :).

I’ve just realized that you have to invoke the spell checker (Shift+F7) to use the auto-correct option. When you invoke spell checker, it will automatically correct minor spelling mistakes. Which means no spell checking/auto-correction on the fly 😦

This is a temporary post that was not deleted. Please delete this manually. (02448b8a-bd37-492e-aeab-d64f8532b619)

Independence Day

August 14, 2006

Heavens opened up today like they did 59 years back blessing us with this great country which we are all very proud of. Different people have different memories related to this day specially those very few who were actually present at that historical moment. To me, well it just reminds me of a great struggle beautifully lead by a great man.

Happy Birthday “Pakistan”.

this.StartBlogging();

August 7, 2006

Its taken a long long time for me to realize the importance of blogging. Some how I missed out this really important activity. But its never too late to mend they say so here I am writing my first blog entry.

I might not be able to write too frequently in the first few months because of the large number of activities I’ve already started but I hope to wrap up most of them rather quickly.

With that said I think its time to post this blog 🙂

Ayaz.