Tag Archives: gaming

It is four asterisks

This article was published in +977 (a Nepalese Lifestyle Magazine in Australia) in August-September 2013 issue.

977 magI am an IT graduate and I have been working in the IT industry for a while but if a decade ago someone saw how I was with computer, then they would have advised me to never go near computers.

While growing up, I didn’t have the luxury of playing with and learning computers like kids todays do. I don’t know how these kids’ tiny brain are wired that they know what to do with the iPhones and iPads but back when I was young, my brain was seemed to work in a straight line. I used to go out to play with my neighbours’ kids and we had dolls, play hide and seek or just run. Some days we came home with dirt all over our clothes and face but it used to be a fun filled childhood. The closest I came to technology was owning an LCD brick game. I am not sure if any of you remember those but they were Tetris type old game with awesome sounds and I have to admit it used to be so much fun. We owned only one so sometimes I had to fight with my brother to play it.

Anyway, when we were in school, computers were just coming slowly to Nepal. I was in year 5 when I saw a computer for the first time at school but not until I was in year 6 that my uncle bought a computer at home and I was able to use it. He was teaching computers at one of the schools so it was essential for him to own one. But those days not many people would buy a computer as it was super expensive, I think prices started from over RS 50,000. And those computers were not  as fast as the ones we have today being an Intel 80486 with black/ blue screen. I still remember learning MS Dos on it. And who can forget the floppy disks and the trouble we all had with them.

The new computer at home was the new toy for everyone and especially to my uncle. He used to work hours in front of the computer and used to program and do other stuff I didn’t understand. After a while, I got to know that there were a few very interesting games installed on the computer. My uncle taught us how to play some of them and they were so addictive. Not only was it fun but as a kid it was a different world. The bad part about this all was that we were only allowed to play on the computer supervised. Rest of the time the computer was out of our reach as it was password protected.

So, one day when my uncle was starting the computer, I watched what he did and saw that he hit four stroke on the keyboard where it said password. It came as asterisks on the screen.  I wanted to learn all about this new device so I tried to remember the password.

Next time when I was talking with my uncle, I told him that now I knew how to start the computer and play the games on my own. He said that I couldn’t as it was password protected to which I replied “I know your password, it is four asterisks.”

 I know everyone must be thinking what an ignorant kid I was but in my mind, that is exactly what I saw. And I had no way of knowing anything more about computers until I took computer classes in school few years later.

Today when I look back and remember that incident, it makes me laugh thinking that the girl who didn’t know anything about computers is working in an IT industry now. The girl who couldn’t differentiate between asterisk and a real password is earning her living working with computers.

Now from a super-slow computer I have moved to super-fast computers and my mobile phone alone is more powerful than my first computer.  I can’t imagine my life without computers and internet and these days any year 6 student will be a lot smarter than I was back then.

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Melbourne cup 2012

Today is Melbourne cup here in Australia. Melbourne Cup Day is Australia’s best known horse racing event held on the first Tuesday of November every year. It is an annual public holiday in the state of Victoria but I live in NSW so we don’t have day off. This event is popularly dubbed as “the race that stops the nation”

The main racing event takes place at the Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, Victoria. More than 100,000 people usually attend Flemington Racecourse. Local races are held throughout the country on this day and when the main race of the day occurs at the Flemington Racecourse it is televised on screens at race tracks across Australia. The race is televised live to an audience of about 650 million people worldwide. Many people stop what they are doing shortly before 3pm on Melbourne Cup Day to watch or listen to the main race either via television, Internet or the radio.

At the races, people dress up – many women wear their best or most colourful hats and dresses, with some participating in fashion parades on the field. Marquees are set up for VIP guests, including local, national and international celebrities who attend this festive event.

The guests this year include Prince Their Royal Highnesses, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall.

The other guest includes Mischa Barton, VRC International Style Ambassador Philip Treacey OBE, and the stunning Rose Byrne .

Champagne, wine and gourmet finger foods are usually served on this day.

Many offices across the Australia stop work closer to the time of the main race to celebrate the event. Activities include office parties that feature hat and dress competitions, staff lunches at restaurants and afternoon teas where a television is available so workers can watch the main race. Bets are made on this day – even those who usually do not bet try their luck with a small wager or entry into a sweep, which is a lottery in which each ticket holder is matched with a randomly drawn horse. There are some Australians who deem horse racing as a cruel sport and have been vocal in their protests over the years.

We follow suit like everyone at work and flocked up with hats and fascinators. Like every year, I put on the dress and a fascinator to go with that.

There will be nibbles with drinks during the race .We also did sweep and I have got 3 horses and hope one of my horse will win :).

The Victoria Racing Club expects the crowd at Flemington to reach 100,000 in time for the spectacular Emirates Melbourne Cup at 3pm.

Americain remains favourite for the Emirates Melbourne Cup at $6.20 with the TAB, followed closely by Red Cadeaux ($7.70), Dunaden ($7.90) and Mount Athos ($9.80). (None of them are my horse )

Latest photos from the race course.

Some facts about Melbourne Cup

  • The first Melbourne Cup was run in 1861 – the winner was the horse Archer. Archer also won the cup the following year.
  • The first cup races were originally run on a Thursday. The race was first run on a Tuesday in 1875, and has done so ever since.
  • The prize for the first Melbourne Cup was a gold watch and 170 pounds cash.
  • The winner of the first race in 1961 Archer is said to have been walked 800km to the course in Melbourne from Nowra, in New South Wales.
  • The youngest rider of a Melbourne Cup winner is believed to be Peter St Albans, who won on Briseis in 1876. Although his official age was not recorded, it is believed that he was 13 at the time.
  • Seventeen horses contested the first Melbourne Cup in 1861, watched by a crowd of 4000.
  • In 1877, the first Tuesday in November was declared a public holiday in Victoria (and is still).
  • The 1880 Cup was the first Melbourne Cup to attract 100,000 spectators.
  • The first woman owner to win the Melbourne Cup was Mrs Edith Widdis, who owned the winner Patrobas in 1915.
  • In 1916, the running of the Cup was postponed by 5 days due to rain.
  • Phar Lap’s win in 1930 was the only odds on winner in history (8-11), and was also the shortest-priced favourite in Cup history.
  • In 1954, ‘Rising Fast’ won the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup treble.
  • The 1958 Melborne Cup race was the first to start from starting stalls.
  • Arwon, the 1978 Cup winner, was from the town of Nowra, as was the first cup winner Archer (1861). In fact, Arwon is Nowra spelt backwards.
  • The race was originally held over two miles (approximately 3,218 meters), but changed to the current distance of 3200 meters following Australia’s adoption of the metric system in 1972.
  • The first camera photo finish was in 1948 when 80/1 shot Rimfire controversially beat Dark Marne (12/1). Although the rider of Dark Marne, Jack Thompson, was sure he had won, the camera said otherwise. However, it was later found out that the camera was out of alignment, and was corrected before the next race.
  • There have been no dead heats for first, but Topical and Gaine Carrington (1933) and Lahar and Zazabelle (1999) have tied for third.
  • The record time for the event is 3 minutes 16.3 seconds by Kingston Rule in 1990.
  • The first northern hemisphere trained horse to win was Vintage Crop, from Ireland, in 1993.
  • In 2002, Jockey Damien Oliver won on Media Puzzle, a week after his brother Jason was killed in a riding fall.
  • The first and only horse to be a three time winner of the Melbourne Cup was Makybe Diva (2003, 2004, 2005). At the same time, jockey Glen Boss becomes the first jockey to win three Cups in a row.
  • The 2006 Event carried 5.1 million dollars (Australian) in prize money.
  • Delta Blues becomes the first Japanese horse to win the Melbourne Cup, in 2006.
  • Bart Cummings has trained 12 Melbourne Cup winners (as of 2010) .
  • Americain became the first French horse to win Australia’s biggest race in 2010.

Published: Facebook Generation

Please read the previous post if you haven’t don’t so already.

This article was published in +977 (a Nepalese Lifestyle Magazine in Australia) in May- June 2012 issue.

We are the Facebook generation. If you are like me and millions of others then you have Facebook, Twitter, Skype and even a Blog. You can’t pass a single day without surfing the internet and LOL,XOXOand BRB are the most used words, if I may call them so, in your conversation. And you can’t imagine your life without your smart phone and definitely not without internet.

Facebook has changed the way we communicate with our friends and family. It has allowed us to be in touch with our friends and look at their lives in pictures or even videos. In my case, it has reunited me with my friends from my Kindergarten / preschool after 20 years and Facebook has helped me keep in touch with my cousins and relatives who live in different countries. I even became friends with my husband’s relatives in Facebook long before meeting then physically.

With its “What’s on your mind?” question (status update), it has allowed me to know how my friends were feeling and made it easy to wish someone a “Happy Birthday” which I would have never done otherwise and same goes with sharing photos. I used to email photos to multiple people before but now all I have to do is upload them in Facebook and tag the people I want to share the photos with. You know your friends have viewed the photos when you get likes and comments on them.

I have received the news that someone got engaged, married, had a baby, went on a holiday or even died (I am serious) via Facebook. These news would have never made it to my ears (or eyes in this case) if it was not for Facebook so I have to thank Facebook for all that. Also, I have used Facebook’s events function to invite people for birthdays. As everyone I needed to invite to the event was already in Facebook, it just made my planning a lot easier. It has an RSPV option which allowed me to keep track of the guests easily.

Twittering, Blogging and Skyping are a few other things apart from Facebooking that we think are an essential part of our life like the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. We feel we cannot live without them.

Twittering and following the tweets of celebrities and unknown people, writing a blog to an unknown audience and Skyping instead of talking on the phone has made our life super busy these days as it takes time to manage all our social networks.

So in this busy virtual life have you ever paused for a second and thought about the people in your life, the REAL people, yes I am not talking about your Facebook friends but the real flesh and blood people, friends, family, colleagues, neighbours, people you see every day, people you used to know and who had been an important part of your life. 

Do you have anyone in your life with whom you used to pick up a phone and talk that you stopped because you are so busy with your virtual life now? 

Do you have friends who live overseas and you used to write an email frequently but now stopped writing your emails since they are in your Facebook? 

Do you feel better when someone calls to ask you about your holiday or do you feel better if they comment on your photos on Facebook?

I am asking these questions because I used to be very active on Facebook. I went through a phase (which many of you may identify with) when I felt like I was judged on the number of friends I had in Facebook. It put a lot of pressure on me to accept requests from anyone just so that I could push the number of “friends” ever higher. I have never accepted a request from a total stranger but I have from people who I had just met once and may never meet again in my life. I felt good and popular to have so many “friends”.

I wanted comments and posts on my wall and thought I definitely needed to maintain my Facebook page to keep in touch with former classmates, and relatives who live far away from me. I tried to chat whenever I was online and post regular updates to let them know how my life was rolling. I used to like and comment on other’s posts and photos regularly. I spent lots of time doing this.

Then there was a game called Farmville I played on Facebook. There were many games and still are but this was the one I got hooked on. It was simply too addictive. I actually used to time my life around it and even put alarms to remind me that I have to login and play the game. I spent a lot of time ploughing, harvesting this virtual Farm for points and rewards.

The game started on the lowest level so you wanted to complete it to get to the next one and then the next after that and so on. The game showered you with all these virtual animals and gifts so you can keep going. You even got ribbons that made you feel special. I swear, one time, I spent 3 hours moving my animals and trees to make the farm bigger so I could have extra plots to plant more virtual crops. I was literally becoming a farmer spending so much time on the game. If I had a real farm I’m sure I would have made a lot of money from those produce I grew at the farm.

When I talked to people around me, it was not only me who had that craze. Many of my friends were guilty of this and I saw lots of Status on Facebook saying “Can someone please gift me a horse”, “Why is no one sending me any pigs?” Pigs and Horses were all you thought of all day long. And they weren’t even real! 

Can you believe there were people in this world even crazier than me about the game? They were making cheat sheets for the game and forums were flooded with the questions on how to make points easily so that you could climb up the levels and beat your friends. Also people were spending real money to buy virtual stables or pagodas. God, could we be any more unreal?

That’s the day when lightning struck me (metaphorically of course or I wouldn’t be writing this would I?) I asked myself – “What was I doing with my time on Facebook? Why did I have to be number one among my friends in this stupid game?” I also had no real desire for all of my Facebook friends to know that I went on a holiday or what I liked or who I was with. That day I went and cleaned up my Facebook. I organised my Facebook friends into groups according to their importance in my life. I made sure only a few people who really mattered to me could really see what I did.

Ideally, I should have deleted anyone who was not a part of my life anymore and kept only a few as my friends but I admit I was too chicken to delete them. I didn’t want to hurt their feelings. I was quite sure they wouldn’t notice but I kept thinking about the small percentage who would.

I realised that in real life I have only a handful of friends that I can count on, which means all 300+ friends that I had in my Facebook were not real friends, just people I know. They won’t be there when I need help or advice. They don’t feel sorry when I am down and won’t support me when I need a hand, so should I share my personal thoughts, feelings and my life with these strangers? My answer was definitely a big fat NO.

I had the most wonderful meal today. :)”, “I went to a spa today.” and so on are just some examples of the Status updates that you can read every day on Facebook. Do you think anyone out there is really interested in that kind of information about your life? Do you care what time your friends wake up, where they go to, what they eat for breakfast, who they are hanging out with? If you don’t really care, do you think anyone else cares about your Status updates?

When I was doing a First Aid Training the other day, the trainer pointed out to us that in case of an emergency (touch wood it never happens) if you need to comfort anyone who is in distress, just go and hug them, as a hug works to calm a person. Real human touch always has magic that no words you type or any comments on Facebook can even compare to. I realised then that we are losing touch with real human bonding due to this virtual social networking.

Another thing that bothers me is the privacy on these social networking sites. I am an IT professional, so I use all my skills to take major precautions to avoid the privacy pitfalls that are ever present on the internet.  I feel sorry for people out there who post all their details on social networking sites without knowing the risks that they face. Putting personal information on Facebook or online in general is not safe and can make you a victim of identity theft and cyber crimes.

Many people will like to have strict control over their personal information which is difficult if you are on Facebook, unless you are very careful not to divulge them. We all like to make sure our personal information is only visible to our trusted friends, not the whole world but the constant updates and frequent changes made by Facebook has made it difficult to keep control of the privacy of our information on Facebook.

First and foremost always be aware of what you are sharing online and with whom. You can edit the privacy option in Facebook so if you have not done so already please go and edit it to make your personal information secure. Make sure your contact information is private and control who can access your information like photos, wall information and status updates. It is easy to stop sharing information with total strangers. If you don’t know how, just Google it and you should find tutorials on how to do it. Be aware and alert every moment.

Someone wise once said, “We realise the value of time only once we are old” so let’s balance our life and utilise our time from now so we don’t regret it in the future. There is no harm in being on Facebook but also make sure you have friends you can connect to outside of it. Call a friend instead of leaving a comment on their post, try to hug a friend instead of “poking” them on Facebook and definitely have a few real friends than just the hundreds of virtual friends online. We should always admire and appreciate what is innovative so there is nothing wrong in building your social networks on Facebook but don’t forget the real world while you are chasing the virtual one.