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Friday, February 24, 2017

Chp 649. Life Hack: Weighing Luggage

Some of you may already know this, but for those of you who don't, here is a simple "life hack" on how to weigh your luggage.

First of all, what does one mean by weighing one's luggage/baggage?

When my friends and colleagues from Pune and Mumbai travel by Air to their hometown or for a short vacation, they are usually not worried about the Airline's excess baggage cost. After all, they only have to carry a few clothes for that duration and that is it.

But for those of us from Mizoram, travelling back and forth is a big pain due to the meager 15 kg excess baggage limit on domestic air travel.

As a wise friend once told me, back when Mizoram was a Dry State, we had to carry many bottles of booze in our baggage while flying in, and now that it has become a Wet State, alcohol is so cheap there that we have to carry many bottles of booze in our baggage while flying out. :D Yes… a "friend". :P

All jokes aside, there are a lot of things we need to carry in our checked-in baggage while flying in, like things we don't get over there. And while flying back from Mizoram, there's the smoked pork and variety of vegetables and pickles we take back with us. Before you know it, you've already crossed the 15 kg limit, hence paying a hefty fine at the airport ticket counter.

That is why we always weigh our baggage before flying, doing some last minute rearrangement and stuff, shifting heavier objects like shoes and books to our carry-on bag (7 Kg limit there but nobody checks that, strange huh).

While it is easy to weigh your baggage with a hand-held scale, not many people own that. Most of us have the traditional weighing scale at our homes where you need to stand on top of it to see your weight.

And this is where most people face a problem. If your baggage is large, you cannot see the value! The baggage covers the display completely, no matter how your rearrange it.

What to do, what to do?

Well here is a very simple solution!

First, weigh yourself on the scale.

Next, weigh yourself along with your baggage.

After that, simply subtract the first weight from the combined weight.

There you have it ladies and gentlemen, your exact baggage weight! :D

So simple, naw? :D Hope you find this corny post useful. :)


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Chp 648. Mizos and our Spoken English

During my vacation back in Mizoram last week, I had the honor of being invited to give a short speech to the students of ICFAI University, Mizoram. My audience were the MBA, BBA and BCA students, along with a few faculty members including my sister Dinpuii who teaches Management, fellow blogger Jerusha aka dignified cow, and u Mahumi, the Head of Academics.

As it was sort of an impromptu speech (I was freelancing as a driver for my sister), I didn't have the time to prepare a presentation or slides, so I just talked freely about how life in the corporate world is, the struggles we have to face daily, coming out of our comfort zones and stuff, hoping I could inspire some of the students. I had to speak in English as it is the medium of instruction within the institute.

The student interaction was not much, but apparently, that is how things roll in Mizoram. Most of the students just sat there quietly even when I asked them questions. I did manage to crack a few jokes here and there though, and the audience responded with a laugh, so that was a relief. :)

One of the points I mentioned to the students was about the usage of English. Having spent a majority of my life outside Mizoram and being an executive member of the NEHM (North East Helpline Mumbai) when I was in Mumbai, I had encountered and counseled many youngsters from the North East who felt insecure because they "didn't speak good English".

Let me be clear on this. There is NOTHING wrong if you can't speak English properly. Our Mizo community sometimes tend to dwell in this misconception that being fluent in English equals to being educated or classy. Trust me, that is nothing but a gross Colonial hangover. You don't have to be embarrassed if you speak broken English with a Mizo accent. Look at me. You may only know me as somebody who writes in English, but if you speak to me in English, you will hear me speak English not just with a Mizo accent but a mix of Tamil accent as well! :)

Till now I cannot pronounce certain words like "three" properly. Even in Engineering college, my Mallu friends would purposely ask me how many items (three) they were holding, and I would reply with a hand gesture by raising my three fingers to indicate "three" (and then slowly lower my index and ring finger to give them the middle-finger salute) :D But then we were close friends and I had long accepted the fact that I will never be able to pronounce it properly.

The problem is, when we start making fun of our people who speak English with an accent, we tend to make them lose confidence. And that is one of the main symptoms I have seen among Mizos who hesitated to go the distance. I have dealt with Japanese clients, Spanish partners, Middle-eastern customers and so on who couldn't speak English for nuts. But at the end of the day, they were able to deliver what they were trying to convey because they had confidence. And that is what counts. Not your accent. Were they embarrassed they couldn't speak the Queen's English? Definitely not. So why should you be, my fellow tribal brothers and sisters? :)

Never forget that English is not your mother tongue. It is not your obligation or prerogative to master the language. I write in English because I find it easier to express myself due to my upbringing, but this does not mean in any way that I regard it higher than Mizo. Unlike the Nagas who use English and Nagamese as their lingua franca, we Mizos do not face the pressure of speaking in another language. Of course there are certain professions where you are required to speak English fluently, but when that is not the case, it is best to leave it at that.

The reason why I am a bit wired up is because of the recent video that had been sent across various WhatsApp group among our Mizo community. Aizawl FC beat East Bengal at the I-League yesterday thanks to a goal by Danmawia. There was a short post-match interview with him in English where, let's just say, he didn't speak English quite like the weatherman on a BBC channel.

And the sad part was, many Mizos laughed at him.

First of all, you might find it ironic that I am addressing this issue of speaking in English, in English. But I find it even more ironic that so many of us so called football fans who love International players such as Lionel Messi, Neymar, Diego Costa, Alexis Sanchez etc who can't speak English properly, suddenly  mocking our own flesh and blood when he attempted to speak in English.

If you think Arsene Wenger speaking English with a heavy French accent is "changkang" while a sportsperson from Mizoram speaking broken English is "ṭhing", boy you really need to get your priorities re-checked.

I still remember that time last year when Shoaib Akhtar tweeted in English and people made fun of him…

And suddenly, India and Pakistan were united (one of those rare moments), lashing out at those who made fun of him because of his English. He's a cricketer for crying out loud, not an English professor. When it comes to English, we have our own Sachin Tendulkar who speaks English really well. I had the grand honor of meeting him personally at his home when we were pitching for his official mobile game "Sachin Saga" (which will be released on Android and iOS next month). Such a down-to-earth person IRL, we spoke for hours about his game concept, in English, but what made Sachin greater than Shoaib is not his fluency over English but his mastery over cricket. Period.

And that's where the focus should be.

Sure it is good if you can practice and improve your English, I am in no way discouraging anybody from perfecting a foreign language. Just keep in mind that it is not the epitome of what defines somebody as an intellectual. We need to move away from this mindset that fluency over English means "changkang".

At the same time, I need to point out that when I occasionally use English on Facebook, it does not mean I am "in ti changkang", a comment that I have frequently seen other people make. As long as we keep assuming people who write in English are "in ti changkang", then we will keep laughing at the Danmawias and many more to come when they can't speak English properly. This presumption needs to stop, now.

Just speak in whichever language you're most comfortable with, what matters at the end of the day is your confidence. I will end this post with this amazing and cute video :)

See? He gave zero effs :)


Monday, February 06, 2017

Chp 647. Perfect Game number 50

Another game related blog post :)

Yesterday I reached the milestone of achieving 50 Perfect Games on Steam. As I have mentioned before, a "perfect game" is where you have unlocked every single achievement of the game you're playing.

I now have unlocked more than 5000+ achievements from all the games I have played on Steam. Who said I didn't have a life huh? hashtag sarcasm :P

You can read about my first 30 Perfect Games and my short review on them from my two earlier posts Reaching 10 Perfect Games and Reaching 30 Perfect Games.

In this post, I'll cover the next 20 games where I got 100% achievement, along with a short review on them in case any of you are interested. I know, most of you must be bored with the games related post I've been putting up here lately. But trust me, they are actually very fun once you get into it :)

1. Quell

Total achievements unlocked: 35/35
Total time played: 7 hours
Game link: Quell
Cost of game: INR 229

2. Quell Reflect

Total achievements unlocked: 38/38
Total time played: 7 hours
Game link: Quell Reflect
Cost of game: INR 229

3. Quell Memento

Total achievements unlocked: 31/31
Total time played: 8 hours
Game link: Quell Memento
Cost of game: INR 229

The three Quell games above are an interesting puzzle game with a very soothing ambient background music. It took me roughly around 8 hours to complete each of them. The difficulty level ranges from moderate to hard, especially if you're trying to unlock all achievements (find all gems, time pieces etc). If you want to play something to exercise your brain and yet at the same time relax while doing so, get these three games. Their fourth game "Quell Zen" is already out and I am waiting for it to go on sale. All Quell games are available on iOS and Android too, with the first few levels free and the rest premium, but I suggest if you're going to buy them, do it from Steam as the background music score is much better on PC.

4. The Dweller

Total achievements unlocked: 11/11
Total time played: 2 hours
Game link: The Dweller
Cost of game: INR 259

This is one of the most underrated games I've played recently. I don't know why it is not popular at all. It is a puzzle game where you're a cave monster and you must kill all the archaeologists in the cave :D You can only travel from one edge to another connecting edge, so you have to put a lot of thought while strategizing. I admit it is not very polished, especially the UI, but once you get the hang of it, you'll have a good time playing it.

5. Flow Match

Total achievements unlocked: 4/4
Total time played: 2 hours
Game link: Flow Match
Cost of game: INR 58

Another cheap and simplistic puzzle game, where you need to spend a good amount of brain power to complete the game. You're a cube, like a 3D version of "Thomas Was Alone" and you must push other blocks to create a path in a restricted surrounding. And the ending… oh my… I'm not going to give away spoilers so do get this game as it is cheap.

6. True or False

Total achievements unlocked: 12/12
Total time played: 70 minutes
Game link: True or False
Cost of game: INR 58

7. True or False 2

Total achievements unlocked: 100/100
Total time played: 60 minutes
Game link: True or False  2
Cost of game: INR 58

An informative game where you are asked a question and you have to guess whether it is true or false. Most of the facts are very very interesting, and my knowledge about different subjects increased a lot. Even if you don't want to buy both, I suggest you get at least the second version (it has more achievements, and you can also play in batch, whereas for the first one, if you get a question wrong, to play that again you have to play all over from the first question with no option to skip).


Total achievements unlocked: 66/66
Total time played: 5 hours
Game link: WayOut
Cost of game: INR 54

Another very interesting and unique puzzle game where you must convert all the colors to white. Clicking on one block affects its adjoining blocks and so on, and there are different types of blocks as well. I was stuck in the last remaining stage for at least an hour. Very challenging game. Do buy.

9. Cubicolor

Total achievements unlocked: 3/3
Total time played: 71 minutes
Game link: Cubicolor
Cost of game: INR 119

Great puzzle game. In this game, you must move your cube to corresponding colors until you reach your goal. And the tiles you've just moved from disappears, so you have to plan your path carefully. I have seen similar games like this, but I really like the minimalistic feel of this game. Very well polished.

10. Cross Set

Total achievements unlocked: 17/17
Total time played: 2 hours
Game link: Cross Set
Cost of game: INR 169

I thought I would love this minimalistic digit-based puzzle based game. I love Sudoku and this was something like that, with a twist. But unfortunately, it became very tiring and difficult to figure out the logic of finding a solution. It became more of a "trial and error" run rather than reasoning, and was quite stressful in the higher levels. I had to resort to using the guides (aka cheats) to complete the game. :(

11. Zup! 2

Total achievements unlocked: 229/229
Total time played: 28 minutes
Game link: Zup! 2
Cost of game: INR 58

12. Zup! 3

Total achievements unlocked: 1708/1708
Total time played: 1 hour
Game link: Zup! 3
Cost of game: INR 58

A dream come true for achievement hunters, lolz. I hate this game because games like this make other games lose their value of having achievements. I actually like the gameplay, it is a physics based game where you must land a square at a particular platform. Quite enjoyable to play. But they went all kamikaze on the achievements. In my previous post, I have mentioned about Zup! having 118 achievements. Well, in Zup!2 there are 229 achievements. And if that is not enough, Zup!3 has freaking 1708 achievements! Fuck. And you get an achievement for just clicking on the screen and shit. Though it has boosted up my total number of achievements, I am definitely not proud of it.

13. Super Duper Flying Genocide 2017

Total achievements unlocked: 1002/1002
Total time played: 30 minutes
Cost of game: INR 58

Ladies and gentlemen, here is another shit game purely for the achievements. At least the Zup! series above had an interesting physics gameplay. In this game, you do nothing but abduct people by sucking them up using your UFO. There are certain people you shouldn't abduct, but the game doesn't punish you if you do, so who cares. There are certain type and number of people (target) you should abduct at every mission, but again the game doesn't punish you if you don't, so who cares again. You just mindlessly move horizontally back and forth while sucking up everybody and putting the sound in mute because it is super annoying, and you keep leveling up and leveling up until you unlock every achievement, all 1002 of them. Stupid game.

14. There’s Poop In My Soup

Total achievements unlocked: 22/22
Total time played: 6 hours
Cost of game: INR 58

Haha. Silly game but actually enjoyable :D You must poop on people below, lolz. And people react differently as well. You can't just mindlessly poop, you have to carefully time your poop so that it lands on the desired person or object below. Disgusting and immature, hence I love it! :D

15. Abrix for Kids

Total achievements unlocked: 19/19
Total time played: 2 hours
Game link: Abrix for kids
Cost of game: INR 259

Abrix "for kids" my ass. Some of the levels were really tough, not because of level designing but rather poor interface and control system. Fortunately, you can unlock all achievements by playing at the "level editor". That was the only saving grace for this game. Get this game only if you want the achievements.

16. Mortifero Motus

Total achievements unlocked: 11/11
Total time played: 13 minutes
Game link: Mortifero Motus
Cost of game: INR 58

This game looked polished, except it wasn't. Very nice art style and minimalistic environment, but the gameplay was repetitive and simple. This game has a lot of potential. You must drive your car from point A to B while avoiding obstacles. You can collect money on the way, but they serve no freaking purpose, lolz. And the learning curve is flat, the AI does not change its behavior as you progress further, only the speed becomes faster. I completed the game and got 100% achievement in under 15 minutes. I don't recommend this game because there is no replayability factor. There are many free Flash games like this out there.

17. That's Mahjong!

Total achievements unlocked: 16/16
Total time played: 1 hour
Game link: That’s Mahjong!
Cost of game: INR 119

If you like Mahjong Solitaire (single player version of Mahjong) then this is a good game for you. And it has a very relaxing background music with a variety of background themes. The only flaw is, it is a bit difficult to see the stack level of the cards from top view, which is critical for a game like Mahjong. But if you are an achievement hunter, then this game gives you achievements for simply selecting a particular game mode or background theme. I unlocked all achievements in less than 5 minutes, but continued playing it for more than an hour (and I will return many times later).

18. boxlife

Total achievements unlocked: 1/1
Total time played: 1 hour
Game link: boxlife
Cost of game: INR 169

I am confused with this game. Do I recommend it or not? First up, it is a first person exploration game where you collect some "power-ups" that will give you new abilities to jump, double jump, shoot etc. I initially hated the game because there was no instruction; I didn't know what the heck I was supposed to do. But then I read the discussion forums and slowly learnt the ropes. And I also encountered a serious bug where I couldn't double-jump from a certain point, but nobody else seemed to experience that bug so I found some other method to complete that task. I'd say, get this game only when it is on sale.

19. They Came From The Moon

Total achievements unlocked: 9/9
Total time played: 6 hours
Cost of game: INR 53

A lot of the reviewers hated this game, but I actually liked it :) In this game, you must guide a couple of aliens by placing direction blocks. You can easily get 100% achievement by simply playing this game and then switching your tab while you do something else, and in 2 hours you will have 100% achievement. But like I said, I really like the concept and so far have played it for more than 6 hours. The game is extremely unpolished with bad UI but trust me, this game has a lot of potential, if only the developers addresses some of the issues people are raising.

20. NEKOPARA Vol. 0

Total achievements unlocked: 13/13
Total time played: 30 minutes
Game link: NEKOPARA Vol. 0
Cost of game: INR 169

So the one genre of games I have never played till now, are the manga and anime games. I am not into manga or anime (or hentai for that matter :P ) but a lot of my friends are. And so I decided to give it a shot, after all, being a game designer, you gotta catch 'em all right? I bought NEKOPARA Vol.0 which was on sale, and hehehe, such a weird game. I mean it was exactly as I expected, and it was a good experience. You unlock achievements for just petting the characters… and urrmm you can pet other parts of their body as well and see their reaction, lolz. Completed the game in 30 minutes. Good stuff, but I won't be venturing into this genre again.

And so with that, I've reached 50 Perfect Games. Will update my blog with this topic again once I reach 100 :) Until then, cheers.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Chp 646. Throwback Thursday #2 - Mortal Kombat

Today's Throwback Thursday is dedicated to Mortal Kombaaaaaat :D

I am not going to brag :P (okhay fiiine I'm gonna brag a bit here) but back in Engineering college, I was an MK4 champ :D :D

MK4 - Mortal Kombat 4, was the first game from the Mortal Kombat series that came out on PC in 3D, and we were all hooked to the game. This was way back in the early 2000, so some of the popular PC games back then were AOE II, Max Payne and Diablo II.

At our PSG Tech hostel, we would have this occasional MK4 tournaments. All my friends would select their favorite fighter and tried to master its moves. Raiden and Liu Kang were the majority's favorites because you know, easy combo spam (F-F-HK for Liu Kang's "Flying Kick" and F-F-LK for Raiden's "Torpedo"). I on the other hand, decided to master all of them!

For the tournaments, we played the "Vs. Endurance" mode, where both players played every character of the game until the last one (Johnny Cage) was beaten. Since I was trying to learn the combos of every fighter, initially, I got my ass kicked many times by my friends who had mastered one or two characters.

But I kept practicing and practicing. Sometimes I would wake up early in the morning and run around the hostel field listening to "Eye of the tiger" while practicing my MK4 combo moves with my fingers in the air :P

Soon, by around third year in college, I had mastered the Special Moves combos of each and every single character in MK4, including a few fatality combos and Jax's 5 Multi-Slam combo. After that I was unstoppable. Nobody in hostel could beat me in "Vs Endurance" anymore.

I even took part in a small local tournament hosted by a cyber café slash gaming parlour near our college, and I won the tournament easily, beating around 20 other contestants. The grand prize was 50 hours of free browsing time :D Sadly, I was no longer allowed to take part in the next tournaments after that :D

I guess other people heard of my petty fame, and students from adjoining colleges like CIT, GCT and PSGCAS actually travelled all the way to my PSG Tech hostel room to challenge me for a "Vs. Endurance" match. And they would always return disappointedly :D

I still remember some of them coming to my hostel room with their own keyboards. A two-player MK4 match was played on the same keyboard, so if you were playing on a cheap or inferior keyboard, you could actually press all the keys to freeze the ongoing match, a cheap tactic that shameless people use in order run down the time if they had more health :)

Mastering MK4 wasn't just about learning all the special combo moves, it was about quick finger reflexes, anticipating your opponent's moves, knowing the right combo to play and which combo to use to counter your opponent's combo. It was more about playing a mind game with your opponent.

Unlike the later MK games and other fighting games, there was no such thing as a power or stamina meter for MK4, so the fighting was pretty much straightforward. I have played a lot of different games in my lifetime, but MK4 really holds a special place in my heart because it was the one game nobody could beat me at.

More than 15 years later, I am now working in this awesome gaming company where we also have a lot of recreational activities to do when we are feeling stressed out, like a TT table, dart board, mini basketball ring etc along with an Xbox. And the most popular game we play on that Xbox is Mortal Kombat XL.

sighhh… so many memories it brought back.

MK XL is nothing but MK X with two DLC character and costume packs.

Of course the graphics and animations are way more awesome than MK4 (lelz) and I haven’t played on a console since my Nintendo Samurai days in the 90's, so it took me some time to get used to it. A lot of my colleagues use the joystick instead of direction keys to move but I find that very difficult to use.

Currently, my favorite characters from Mortal Kombat XL is Quan Chi. He is so dark, I love his portal attacks and curses :D My favorite special move of his is of course his "Sky Drop", though I must admit, it is not as dramatic as it was in MK4, where he would actually stomp his opponent repeatedly :D That was hilarious. The only way to counter that in MK4 was to block or use Fujin's "Whirlwind Spin" / Sonya's "Bicycle Kick".

But I like him here as well.

And so, just two days ago, I got an alert notification from one of my wishlist games on Steam. And guess which one it was?

Yup, Mortal Kombat XL.

My aim is to download it and practice at home so I can kick everybody's ass in office :D

The current cost of Mortal Kombat X is Rs. 1179, Kombat Pack 1 costs Rs. 729 and Kombat Pack 2 costs Rs. Rs. 565. So all three of them are almost Rs. 2500.

Guess how much I bought it for?

Haha, just Rs. 424 :D

That's more than an 80% discount.

Time to kick start this monster now.

Cheers y'all :)