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The Computer and Me.

February 22, 2011

Back in 1995, when I was in the third standard, I was a bright prospect for the Indian cricket team. My friends used to fear my bowling, and comparisons with Wasim Akram and Allan Donald were made. Everybody knew that it was just a matter of time before I broke into the international scene and start bowling over maidens (Heh. see what I did there?).  Summer vacations were devoted to cricket. One summer evening, my Dad comes home with a few boxes. I ask him ‘What is this?’, to which he replies ‘It’s a Computer’.

Now, I was a total ace at computers at school. I used to rock at LOGO, and loved making squares and rectangles by writing ‘code’. And this arrival of a computer at home got me excited. I was looking forward to writing complex algorithms and code on LOGO and impress the dudes back in my class. To say that I was crestfallen when I did not find LOGO installed on that computer would be an understatement. I refused to eat Pizza or drink Coke till I get LOGO on ‘My Computer’. So the next day, I was handed over a couple of  floppies and asked to copy LOGO from my school. I knew jack shit about copying files and all that jazz and all that mattered to me at that point was creating squares and rectangles on LOGO.

So, I show off the two floppies to my friends in the bus and must have said something to the effect of ‘you suck, I rock’, after which I was suddenly left with only one floppy. I was doomed. How will I carry home LOGO? How will I write code? How will I change the world? I don’t know why, but a senior from Class V said ‘Don’t cry, I’ll give you some games on this floppy’. Now, first thing. I wasn’t crying. Second, What the heck are games? My curiosity got the better of me, and I gave him the floppy and making him ‘god promise’ that he’ll return the floppy the next day.  I returned home that day and told my parents that there was a ‘current off’ at school. The next day I hop on to the bus with maximum excitement, and run up to the senior and ask him for the floppy. The ‘god promise’ worked, and he brought the floppy. He also gave me a paper with some instructions written on it and asked me to follow the same. I wait for the classes to end patiently and looked forward to reach home and do some computer wizardry. Classes end. I zoom home. Was stuffed with food. Ate through it while watching Swat Kats. Told my mom teacher doesn’t know how to give LOGO.

And then, I take the red pill.

Jazz Jackrabbit, ladies and gentlemen, is the most awesome game ever made (and fittingly, developed by a company called ‘Epic Mega Games’). You must play it if you haven’t. And thus began my tryst with computers. It slowly graduated to Dave, Mario, Pinball, Wolf, etc. I was particularly glued to a particular game called ‘Tycoon’. It was about building railroads, airports and developing a city. A lot like Sim City, but lot more fun. I translated all my ambitions of making squares and rectangles on LOGO to building perfectly planned square and rectangular residential areas in the game. It would be fair to credit me with some self-restraint. While my cricket playing time did not really suffer much, my TV watching time definitely did. I slowly started fiddling with the other features of the computer like Paint, Powerpoint, etc. I still remember the pride and joy on my mother’s face when I called her out, and wrote her name on MS Paint. It must be experienced, I tell you. It took me ages to figure out Minesweeper, though. I thought I was supposed to find the Mine in the shortest possible clicks, and to my credit, I did win a few games by finding the Mine on the very first click. It was much later that I was told that I was doing it wrong. My heart broke, and I stopped playing Minesweeper. By now, I acquired the must-have Cricket and Prince of Persia games and my awesomeness reached a whole new level.

Years passed, we shifted cities, but my interest in computers only increased. During one of my escapades, I open the CPU and use a vacuum cleaner to clean the internals. I might have used a high suction power, and the RAM could have been disturbed. This results in the computer not working. My Dad used to live in Indonesia at that time, and the only source of everyday communication with him was through email, as ISD calls at that time were as expensive as onions are today. And now the darned computer refuses to work. I contemplated running away from home for a while, but decided against it, as it was raining, and Delhi’s winter could be really unforgiving. So I lock myself in the room, and start tampering with the CPU. What happened next was sheer genius. I did some wizardry, and a few adjustments and tightening later, the computer worked! I marvel at my brilliance in silence, as I dare not tell my mom what just happened. Feeling smug about self, I go out with my friends and tell them how lucky they are to be in my company.

Many such experiments, some minor failures, and some path-breaking innovations happened. All this while, I knew what I wanted to become when I grow up. A Computer Science Engineer. Now, it might be a gult thing, or whatever, I just wanted to become one of them cool people who write those brilliant programs. I try installing Linux onto my computer with various degrees of failures. I learn HTML, C, C++  (My first ever ‘serious’ program was FLAMES. Heh). I finally get an admit in a college of my choice and in the subject of my choice. And 4 eventful years later, I graduated to become a Computer Science Engineer.

Now here is a tip to all wannabe Computer Science grads : Do not bother to develop your own logic. You will be ‘taught’ some 20 programs (all lame, btw), and will tested on the same at the end of the semester. Only a dudhead would find it difficult to pass through such an exam. Slowly, you’ll get used to the ways and methods of the teaching process of an engineering college. You’ll soon realise that a good teacher is one who tells you what is important for the exams, but not one who will bore you by trying to explain the finer concepts of the subject and eat into your lunch breaks. Your aim at the end of the practical session is simply to get the output by hook or crook, but not to understand the logic of the code. It is all too simple. Whoever said that becoming a good engineer was tough, is wrong. It is wrong to answer questions which are ‘out of syllabus and not covered in class’. You don’t need to sweat it out, but just by-heart those programs which you were ‘taught’ in class. Who knows, you might even top the class if you follow the same technique in all the subjects.

What? That’s it. End of story.

All is well. All is swell.

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29 Comments leave one →
  1. puzzlescript permalink
    February 23, 2011 12:43 am

    Naice read. Tips for fellow Computer science grads is spot on.

    • February 23, 2011 1:37 am

      Heh, Thanks mate!

  2. Siddharth Dasari permalink
    February 23, 2011 5:37 am

    Brilliant stuff!
    I also remember contra, road fighter with the red and yellow 2D cars and Prince:)

    • February 23, 2011 2:04 pm

      Thanks ra!
      Contra, Prince, Street Fighter. Sigh. Those were the days!

  3. Praveen permalink
    February 23, 2011 6:36 am

    Awesomeness !! Run down the memory lane again 😛
    And by the way, we never get to know about your finesse with cricket and the maidens you actually bowled over ?? 😛

    FD 100 RT 90 FD 100 RT 90 FD 100 RT 90 FD 100 RT 90 … (!! 😛 !!)

    • February 23, 2011 2:06 pm

      What exactly does your LOGO code imply? 😛

      • Navaneeta permalink
        February 23, 2011 10:32 pm

        “steps” to destruction 😛

  4. Anil permalink
    February 23, 2011 8:33 am

    Nicely written.
    I dont know about LOGO being something to be boasted of but using cheats in DOS Prince game to jump levels to save Jasmine definitely was.
    And the the challenge of u bowling me out is still open. 😀

    • February 23, 2011 2:08 pm

      Rei! Challenge accepted and completed also. You forgot the killer swing bowling you faced when you and Vikram came to Vizag?

      • Anil Kumar permalink
        March 11, 2011 4:16 am

        Killer swing bowling with a feather light cosco ball and on top of that a 2 yard pitch and again all this happening in a room with windows closed. 😛

  5. Srikar Damaraju permalink
    February 23, 2011 11:02 am

    So, this is how you became legend huh! I didn’t know you were interested in tycoon games. I like them too. Aerobiz is my favorite. Maybe one day I’ll be a legend and share my awesome story with others. 😛

    • February 23, 2011 2:09 pm

      Hehe, always there to provide guidance! 😀

  6. February 23, 2011 1:24 pm

    No more cricket?? :/

    • February 23, 2011 2:10 pm

      Sadly, Indian cricket lost yet another gem. Hoping for a Patiala House type comeback sometime soon, though.

  7. Suhasini permalink
    February 23, 2011 5:44 pm

    Sheesh! That’s the first time I heard the story of why somebody would want to be a compsc grad. Must say, you’ve lived your dream 🙂

    • February 24, 2011 12:17 pm

      😛

  8. Rads permalink
    February 24, 2011 7:54 am

    Dude!!!..What do you do on the comp now!?!..”:/

    • February 24, 2011 12:16 pm

      Write 10000 word essays 😐

      • Liz permalink
        February 24, 2011 4:51 pm

        Ha ha! So much for being ‘Legendary’ 😛

      • February 24, 2011 11:06 pm

        @Lz: Writing 10000 word essays in a matter of hours reeks of legendary awesomeness.

  9. Neeharika permalink
    February 25, 2011 5:21 am

    haha.. loved it… LEGEN….DARYY!!! 🙂

    • February 25, 2011 8:19 pm

      Haha! Muchly Thank You 😀

  10. Sarayu permalink
    February 27, 2011 4:10 pm

    That was fun reading ! ..half my life was similar to u discounting the engineering part ! ;)..Well written ! 😀

    • February 28, 2011 8:35 pm

      Thank you Sarayu! 🙂
      Games in kidhood were super fun man!

  11. Shraddha permalink
    February 28, 2011 8:29 pm

    Brilliant read! What fun!

    Irony is what defines engineering in this country. You do enter with a vision that is muddled beyond cognition sooner than you realize. I used to love this pseudo-much advanced paintlike software. Making a fire on that was brilliant fun. I do not remember the name of the software and even today,my heart yearns for it! 😦

    • February 28, 2011 8:36 pm

      Thank you! 🙂

      Even I keep looking for the Tycoon game. Sadly, it doesn’t work on the ‘modern machines’. Talk of irony 😐

  12. March 10, 2011 8:14 pm

    Haha, very nice 🙂 I had a similar evolution in terms of computers but decided at the last minute to not do engineering. Not getting admission anywhere may have helped, but I can neither confirm nor deny that.

    • March 10, 2011 8:21 pm

      Yuvaar smart. You decided against doing engineering before joining a college, unlike me, who decided against doing engineering after joining a college but had no choice.

  13. Vishnu Kamisetty permalink
    May 8, 2012 9:44 pm

    Logo? Which school did you go to .I thought my school was the only one to teach logo in Hyderabad 😉

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