An Ode to FreeSpace 2

Contemplation.

Yes, Star Wars did sow the seeds of intergalactic travel and dogfights in my 5 year old brain, but it wasn’t the most influential media as far as space is concerned.

No, that honour and distinction goes to the game that told me not what Yoda did or thought correct; the game that wasn’t about Luke’s understanding of the Force, nor was set in a “long time ago” in an unnamed “Galaxy far-far away” – no, this game was the story of an unnamed, unisex pilot serving the Galactic Terran-Vasudan Alliance in our very own Milky Way.

Welcome to Vega, Ensign”.

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Why I Fight

This post involves discussions of sexual violence, or statements and themes related to it. I don’t want to distress anyone, hence this warning. Please do consider your comfort level with the topic before reading further.

This is part rant, part explanation – not an apologetic explanation, mind you.

As the days and months go by, as I’ve grown older, I’ve realised one thing: our world – the world of humans – is quite frankly shit.

And I have a massive problem with that.

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Thoughts on India’s Daughter

Very philosophically, there was a minor earthquake today morning.

I decided to finally get around to watching the BBC documentary, India’s Daughter, on the gang rape and (indirect) murder of a 23 year old woman in the capital of the country, New Delhi, on 16th December 2012.

It’s been out for a while, it’s been banned in the country for a while, and it’s been discussed for a while. Or at least, it was discussed around the time of the controversy over a month ago.

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Examining Network Infrastructure Via SpeedTests

I’ll admit, the title sounds way more badass than this post is actually going to be. This isn’t a cool scientifically sound test.

I did this interesting experiment back in 2013. I hopped on to SpeedTest.net and tested my new (at that time) 8mbps connection. I was like “WOAH, SO MUCH SPEEDZZZ”. Never mind that 15GB data cap. Thanks Airtel.

Anyway, this is what I ended up with.

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Response to TRAI on Net Neutrality Consultation Paper

That is indeed a long title for this post. But here’s the situation: telecom companies in India have sneakily asked the TRAI to dissolve net neutrality and treat regular internet (“over-the-top” or OTT as they call them) services as something we (or the service providers) need to pay for. This is very similar to what ISPs have been lobbying for in the USA recently, something which the American public, the FCC and the White House have expressed opposition too.

While the TRAI has invited public comment till the 24th of April (from mid March), it’s done it in such a quiet way that no one had noticed, till these guys put this video up a few days ago. They’ll explain the issue in friendly detail, and point you to this site here, where you can follow steps to make your voice heard at the TRAI offices.

The TRAI has put out 20 questions for you to answer, a mix of technical and legal stuff. If you don’t have the time or the expertise to answer them all, feel free to copy-paste the answers as provided on Save The Internet and shoot across an email.

I edited their answers (because you know, Communications Engineering has its benefits!), and the full text is pasted below, after the break.

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The Curious Case of the AIB Knockout

There’s a comedy group, called AIB, or All India Bakchod. They post videos on YouTube, most of the videos are satire or some other form of comedy, with occasional more serious content on social issues.

They’ve done some pretty interesting work in the past, from a moving collaboration with Kalki Koechlin and Juhi Pandey titled “Rape: It’s Your Fault, to excellent and entertaining satires on various political parties, movie studios and even our actual implemented Indian culture. So let’s get this straight: AIB’s track record is pretty great with acting in national interest, unlike politicians and other public figures in our country. They’ve tried to get messages of social change and tolerance across with comedy. Yes, it’s satire and in-your-face; but that’s what makes you uncomfortable. Discomfort is required to break status quo.

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Discussion on Feminism

While I’m not sure whether I can call present-day feminism as third wave feminism, but it certainly feels like another step towards the long, winding staircase of gender equality.

As a guy, considering myself “feminist” is an interesting experience. I’m like an agent, a spy, dropped behind “enemy” lines; except everyone knows who I am. Or at least, I’m fairly open about which side of the feminism debate I’m on.

It’s interesting because other guys will say stuff in front of me that they may not have said had a woman, especially one who’d consider herself feminist, been present to hear them. It’s also interesting because there will be moments where I find myself in a spot where I’m committing acts of sexism, or exploiting a patriarchal privilege without realising it. Then I catch myself, and slap myself mentally.

But I also become an incredible asset because I’m in a prime position to sabotage (yes, I’m rather fond of war analogies, even though war isn’t something I’d like to see more of) the existing structures that encourage, enforce and propagate sexism. I’m not conforming to “tradition”, and non-conformity usually encourages dissent, which is a great thing in this context.

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Future Consumer CPU Core Counts

PC enthusiasts have loved doing two things for the past few years: Complaining about the lack of affordable 8-core processors, and speculating what the next generation(s) might bring. Since AMD’s pretty much out of the mid-range and high-end desktop CPU market, I’ll try and use some science™ to figure out what we may see from Intel in the up-coming years. (more…)