Tuesday, December 31, 2013

GT Racing 2 - mastering rear wheel drive cars


GT Racing 2, the game (Apple App Store - & Google Play) can get really difficult once you buy a RWD or rear wheel drive car. The funny thing is that you need to pay Cash to buy and not Coins. Since, Cash is difficult to get, this get fairly annoying as you lay down your hard earned Cash points only to get a car which is more difficult to drive and seemingly slower than the all the other cars that you have bought and driven before.

What happening?

All the starter cars are FWD or Front Wheel Drive. This means the power from the engine is given to the front wheels. IRL, all "family" cars are usually FWD because they are safer. They are easier to drive, and generally understeer. So, you don't end you losing control if you hit the accelerator too early in a turn. GT Racing 2 simulates this pretty much. So, with your starter cars on GT Racing 2, you often struggle to make stiff corners without hitting the barriers unless your speed is low.

With RWD cars, the behavior is different. Power is feed to the back wheels of the car and not the front. The real advantage of RWD cars is that they have better traction. That means they accelerated faster and are able to hit top speed pretty quickly. They essentially 'push' a car because the power is given to the back. This comes with a price though. If you accelerate while turning, then its very easy to oversteer. In GT Racing 2, this effect is pretty much in place and as a result the car that you put up Green cash for, is now very twitching. Plus, if you have both steering and brake assistance on, then mysterious the car does NOT accelerate even when you are on a straight or slight curve.

That's because you could be off the best line (as indicated by the green arrows) and the steering assistance is trying to get you back on it. Since its trying to steer the car, and its accelerating, there is a tendency for the car to oversteer and hence the braking assistance kicks in, slowing you down. Before you know it all your starter cars are faster than then brand new car.


You need to master RWD. Period. Its not going to be easy though. I still haven't mastered it but here are some steps that I think will help.
  1. Try to drive as smoothly as possible and stay on the green arrows as much as possible. Being on the best line automatically means that you will be ready for turns in a smooth manner.
  2. Catch the car often. Its going to take practice but you will need to catch the car. Try to anticipate any oversteer and apply steering in the opposite direction just a bit. This will allow the car to settle into a line quickly and you will not crash into the barriers unnecessarily. Now, this is quite difficult and may seem like you are slower, but slowly you will build up your driving skills and hopefully be smooth enough such that you don't need to catch the car out of corners
  3. Rerun races with steering assistance off. This is a must. I found that the annoying braking assistance on straights does not come in if you turn off the steering assistance. The car doesn't try to get on to the best line by itself as a result and you will accelerate. That means even if you don't get on to the best line, you won't penalize yourself by slowing down.
  4. Get as much practice as possible. You will slowly improve over time and get better at driving the RWD cars.
  5. And finally, tune the car. The more handling upgrades, brake updates you install, the easier the car gets to control. The funny this is that once you get used to RWD, FWD cars just seem to be slow, unsteer all the time into an outer wall and in general, not as much fun!
That's it. Hopefully you will have fun with GT Racing 2. If you have any more tips, drop a comment. I would love to hear from you.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Michael Schumacher Ski Injury

Update 6 - 

Schumacher's condition stable but more information emerging about his accident.

Update 5 - 

Schumacher's condition stable after 3 nights in the hospital.

Update 4 -

Doctors said on Tuesday that Michael Schumacher has improved but not yet out of danger. Good to hear. Plus, an interview with Sabine Kehm - Michael Schumacher's Manager where she says that he was not even skiing at a fast pace and it was very very unfortunate that he hit the rock.

Update 3 -

The full press conference by the Hospital on Michael Schumacher. Having seen the video, its pretty obvious that the injury is very serious. Let''s hope and pray that he pulls through. Thoughts and prayers for him and his family.

Update 2 -

Michael Schumacher is still in critical condition. The doctors say that he has had lesions within his brain on both hemispheres. I'm not sure what that means though but the surgery was primarily to relieve pressure due to the bruising/swelling of the brain. More details on what is Intracranial Pressure is here (Gary Hartstein's blog - Twitter Handle @former_f1doc) and here.

Several F1 drivers, personalities and teams have wished him well and a speedy recovery on Twitter. (Shameless Plug - my twitter list for F1 is at https://twitter.com/shortsightedsid/lists/f1. Subscribe to it to get the latest on MS.) Plus, Ferrari have posted their wishes too.

Update 1 -

As per a statement from the hospital, Michael Schumacher arrived in a coma.
"Michael Schumacher suffered a serious head trauma and arrived in a coma, making it necessary for him to undergo a neurosurgical procedure."
Looks like he may have undergone need a second surgery but only has been performed so far. Professor Gerard Saillant is the doctor looking after him. He has undergone surgery overnight and shouldn't require another surgery.

Initial Story - 

Looks like MS's injury is pretty serious. He had a fall while skiing off-piste (i.e off country on unmarked slopes) and hit his head against a rock. According to the BBCJA and GPUpdate he is in an induced coma at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Grenoble hospital. That's pretty serious. I'm not sure what serious but not life threatening means if he is in an induced coma.

I'm not a big fan of Schumacher's driving esp. in his Ferrari days given that I am a McLaren fan, but this is something that one doesn't want to hear or read about. He really was magnificent in his driving days and while the news is still coming in, one can only hope that he does well and recovers soon..

This reminds me of the death of Natasha Richardson who died in 2009 from a skiing accident. That was really tragic and I remember her role as the Mom in the Parent Trap. Hope Michael Schumacher pulls through; the main difference being that he wore a helmet unlike Natasha Richardson.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Kung Fury is a really cheezy kickstarter project

In case you haven't seen the trailer yet, then it's a must. Kung Fury is a Kickstarter project that aims to be a 80's action comedy. You know - the ones which enjoyed watching, but with a twist. 

I just saw that tweet and was intrigued. If you do see the trailer, then don't die of laughter! And another thing, this movie has already crossed the $200000 goal set and as of Dec 29th, 2013, it's $300000+. Wow. Here's a movie that I will definitely look forward to seeing. It sure will be one of those "leave your brain on the side" kind of movies. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

candy crush game strategy

Candy Crush is a lot of fun. Basically, all you do is get 3 or more in a row to clear and get points. As you do that you advance in levels. Each level is unique and comes with it's own challenges. That's what makes this game really interesting. To a large extent the game is driven by chance and while there are plenty of information out there on 'cheats' and 'hints', don't bother too much. Instead have fun playing the game

Having said all that, here is some basic strategy you can apply.

  1. Unless you are in time limited level, take your time. Being quick on the trigger isn't always a good thing in this game. Sometimes a stripped candy or a wrapped candy will be there for the taking and you can miss it because you cleared something else.
  2. If you are in a time limited level, make sure you focus on getting the +5 candies. These add to 5 seconds to your time and ensure that you can play for longer.
  3. Sometimes, you will get an opportunity to play for a stripped candy or a wrapped candy i.e by making a particular move you get a stripped candy but by playing a different move on the same set you can get a wrapped candy. As you know the stripped candy can be used to clear a row or a column while the wrapped candy is basically a bomb that clears an area of 3x3. The way I see it, the stripped candy costs 4 in a row while the wrapped candy needs an L or T of 5. That means the wrapped candy is worth more! So, my advice is - given a chance, go for the wrapped candy.
  4. Combing the stripped candy with colour bomb seems to be a better choice that combing a wrapped candy with a colour bomb. Nevertheless, don't be too hasty when joining them up because, you need to make sure that there are enough candies of that colour before you join them up. If you don't have enough of them, just keep clearing candies at the top (of a different colour) till you build them up.
Any more strategic ideas? Share them via the comments below. Also visit the official Candy Crush forums to learn more. Have fun!

Monday, December 09, 2013

Arvind Kejriwal's interview on NDTV after Delhi election

Saw an interview of Arvind Kejriwal on NDTV today (video). Boy! He's fantastic. I hadn't heard him or listen to anyone from AAP in real life. So far atleast, AAP is primarily a Delhi Party with little or no impact on a place like Bangalore. My initial impression was to think of it as an Indian Tea Party with a strong grassroots message but no real electoral plan. After this election in 2013, I'm not so sure about that. They seem to have a plan.

His message is really powerful and it touches a raw nerve. Anyone who has had to pay a bribe or massage some "official's" ego will connect with the message. I can recall several instances where I have either being made to pay a bribe or paid one inadvertently like the time when the lady at the RTO cash counter didn't give me Rs.4/- in change. The funny thing is that I realized why all government services have weird fees like 274/- or 38/- or 136/-. That's because they pocket the change and none's the wiser. A subtle form of corruption. BTW, if you have paid a bribe then report it at http://www.ipaidabribe.com/.

Google Trends show the picture - searches about Arvind Kejriwal since 2011 has been amazing

When Barkha Dutt asked him if he would take Congress's support to form a government, his answer was a classic. His point was that in actuality Congress and BJP are the same and they should ally with each other. Wow! What a retort! Here I am gushing like a giddy schoolgirl, but end of the day one really respects what he has done and the goal he has set for everyone else.

Some of his points that I really liked were

  1. Congress and BJP are the same. They should ally with each other because their approach is the same. His stance is simple - anti-corruption and that's not a cliche.
  2. His example of how a father pleaded with him not to give ticket for his young son because he was afraid of the consequences. AK's point was that politics has now reached the stage where the average man doesn't want to be involved and he wants to change that.
  3. How people have given up their time, their careers to volunteer for the AAP. There was even one person from my office who took a sabbatical to campaign for AAP. Now I know why. 
But in the end, I think Sheila Dixit did the best she could. Its not easy to govern a state for 3 consecutive terms and one must give credit where credit is due. There is no doubt in my mind that this isn't a verdict against her governance but the an indication of the mood of the times. This is my first every post on politics but its taken a simple interview of an extraordinary man to drive the point.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Customer Testimonials and how to track them

A friend of mine has this cloud based application - Customer Rivet. The idea is to manage customer testimonials and generate an end-to-end action plan from that.  The interesting thing about this product is that it targets getting proactive feedback and customer testimonials from a large, low-touch customer base.  These testimonials can then be used to show product value or drive product improvements.

Until he mentioned it, I didn't realize it but unconsciously we use references and draw on others experiences all the time. Even when going on a weekend getaway, the first thing we do is google for information on the place, ask around esp. friends on what to do and what not do, and they act on it. So, why can't business do that as well?

Wordpress has a plugin to display testimonals - http://wordpress.org/plugins/testimonials-widget/ but leaves the business angle to the actual business. That means it's upto the business managers to get testimonials, track them and follow up i.e a full lifecycle. Solving that part of the puzzle is Customer Rivet's idea.

Interesting idea for sure.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Vettel - Donuts are the best, eh?

That's what he seemed to have said in the Abu Dhabi GP. 100% cool.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Ajmera Infinity - location review

Went to Ajmera Infinity over the weekend to checkout the property and see if there are flats available for sale. Its been over 3-4 years since I went to that part of the city - Electronics City and that too the road next to Wipro. What I saw amazed me!

In those short years, the amount of development on the road has been extraordinary.  The road next Wipro (which is actually outside of electronics city) is a shortcut that a friend had told me about. That shortcut takes you to Bannerghatta road. At that time, there were no apts but the Concorde apts were coming up. This time, there are over a dozen projects - either completed or nearly completion. 

Its the location that makes the difference. With a huge number of IT companies in Electronics City, this is the ideal place for property development. Hence, the location of Ajmera Infinity is really good esp. if you work in any of those IT companies. Probably that's what's driving the cost - 4100/- for the remaining 2 flats in D block and 4740/- for the upcoming S and T blocks. That means a tiny 1000 sft 2BHK will set you back a whopping Rs. 4700000!

And that's what I'm not sure about. Its likely that Electronics City will become a fully self contained suburb. In which case, the price is really worth it because you don't have to set out of the suburb for anything. But then, I'm not sure if that's really true for someone from Bangalore. Maybe if you are coming in from another part of India to settle in Bangalore, it makes sense. But otherwise, probably not.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Yesterday's Race - Malaysia 2013

Well, I missed the race (more on that later). But looks like there is a furore about Vettel passing Webber despite team orders.

Firstly, I didn't know that RBR gave team orders "against" Vettel. That's pretty amazing to know.
Secondly, you don't become a triple WDC by standing by and watching your teammate win. As Senna once said, if you see a gap and you don't go for it, you are not a racing driver. Looks like Vettel is from that school!
Thirdly, its tough on Webber, but I'm sure he'll bounce back. I don't think he will go down the path of childish "revenge" - the kind we saw between Alonso and Hamilton. Atleast, I hope he doesn't. Because that childishness caused McLaren a WDC and WCC in 2007.

Winners/Losers - your guess. I haven't seen the race, so, no idea!

If anything, I learnt about "multi-21". I guess it means you hold all the Aces, but then the dealer shafts you by getting two Jacks. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Yesterday's Race - Aus 2013

Well, its 2013 and its time for another season of "Yesterday's Race".

The winners -

1. Kimi - Won by a mile and made me smile!
2. Alonso - I thought he was faster than Massa in the beginning stint and showed exactly that after the 2nd round of pitstops.
3. Vettel - Well... He can't win them all, can he?
4. Sutil - My word. Where did that come from? I'm not a natural Force India fan, but it was great to see him in front of the other cars. The FI strategy towards the end was a bit strange. They could have gotten him in and out in Mediums once the Super-Softs went off the cliff. That would have been really interesting!

Losers -

1. McLaren - Did they even race? Without Lewis's raw pace, I suspect they are going to be be stuck where they are unless the car has an advantage. I don't think Jenson and Perez are the kind of drivers who can take this car and make it do something it doesn't want to do.
2. Both the Nicos. One didn't start the GP and one shouldn't have bothered. Both DNF'ed

There is only a week before we are at hot hot Malaysia. I expect the RBRs to have better race pace in hotter weather. If anything, I'm looking forward for some Icecream.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Nanda Road - Morning Run

Yup - I got off my butt and did a run. 1 Lap of Nanda road at 7.00 in the morning. Its a 4k Loop; not the longest I have run, but definitely one of the most healthy. The fresh air at 7.00AM is just superb.

Having said all that, there were things that were disappointing - Garbage on the roads esp. where crosses meet the service road. This is where Bangalore needs to really improve. After all, we don't want to become one more Surat, right?

Sunday, March 03, 2013

My first 5K

That's right! I did a 5K run. The event was for Women's day and so, both Kavya and I jumped at the chance. Since, the route was through cubbon park, it was pretty awesome. Speed wasn't the greatest in the world, but then who cares? The important thing is that we finished. 5K.

Next goal - sub 30min 5K. So, its time to do some serious training!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

How to deal with crazy people at the office?

I'm not sure but I'm learning how to right now. Its a real experience! After two months of pain, I finally decided to google for an answer. The first thing that came up was http://www.dumblittleman.com/2009/07/9-useful-strategies-to-dealing-with.html.

Looks like I'm doing everything wrong. Time to take on a new track. As its said in the Gita - focus on work and duty. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Wading into a flame

Spent the afternoon building X11, Wayland, Weston etc.. Got past many issues except the last bit - weston. Weston is the reference compositor. It depends on a number of things include libudev. And that's where we run into a big problem. libudev is part of systemd, which for some reason depends on intltool. intltool by itself does not advertise it but requires gettext!

So, basically if you want a nice graphical compositor you need internationalization work.  One more vote for udev to split from systemd.

Linux News - Feb 10, 2013

1 Linux Graphics

1.1 FOSDEM 2013. I'm sharing slides specific to Linux graphics, X11 and Wayland.

1.3 More wayland updates.

2 Linux Distros

2.1 Fedora 18 for ARM released

2.2 So what is a Linux distribution?

  • A Distro is the Linux operating system built on top of the kernel. Wikipedia has a great timeline of how different distros evolved. Each distro has its own goal. In general, here's a list of Linux Distros supporting Pandaboard.
DistroDownload LinkInstructions
Ubuntu (Desktop Image)http://releases.ubuntu.com/12.10/ubuntu-12.10-desktop-armhf+omap4.imgDownload and flash to SD Card
Ubuntu (Server Image)http://releases.ubuntu.com/12.10/ubuntu-12.10-server-armhf+omap4.imgDownload and flash to SD Card
Linarohttp://releases.linaro.org/12.03/ubuntu/oneiric-images/nanoDownload and flash to SD Card
Fedorahttp://dl.fedoraproject.org/pub/fedora-secondary/releases/18/Images/armhfp/Fedora-18-panda-armhfp.img.xzDownload and flash to SD Card
Arch Linuxhttp://archlinuxarm.org/platforms/armv7/pandaboardDownload and flash to SD Card
DebianNo direct support but supports OMAP3 (Beagleboard) and ARMv7 in generalUse Debootstrap to create ARMv7 image and flash to SD Card
Gentoohttp://dev.gentoo.org/~armin76/arm/pandaboard/install.xmlUse a PC running Gentoo and build image by compiling every software from scratch. Then flash to SD Card
Yoctohttps://www.yoctoproject.org/download/yocto-project-13-poky-80 + Meta-TIhttps://github.com/Angstrom-distribution/meta-tiUse a PC and build image by compiling every software from scratch. Then flash to SD Card
Buildroothttp://buildroot.uclibc.org/download.htmlUse a PC and build image by compiling every software from scratch. Then flash to SD Card
SlackwareNo direct support but supports ARMv5+ -ftp://ftp.arm.slackware.com:slackwarearm/slackwarearm-14.0Port from QEMU to OMAP4

2.3 Phoronix's comparision of 4 distros on Pandaboard

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Linux news - Feb 2, 2013

1 Automotive Linux

2 Graphics

2.1 QT

2.2 Enlightenment

2.3 Optimus support in Linux

  • One annoynance with the latest Dell laptops we have is that Optimus graphics. With Optimus, there are 2 GPUs - Intel GPU and an Nvidia GPU. In BIOS if you don't turn off the Nvidia GPU and you boot linux, then the CPU fan runs continuously. The solution which IT teams give is to turn off the NVidia GPU and only use Intel. But that means you get a very low resolution when running Linux. Dave Arlie (maintainer for DRM) has started looking at this and even has some code which doesn't require you to turn off the NVidia GPU. Details - http://airlied.livejournal.com/76723.html

3 General Software Development