Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Ripple up, Ripple down!

So now they are saying Ripple is dead. All the running around, trying to buy Ripple is now futile. Really?

What they fail to understand is that Ripple - the "currency" and Ripple - the "technology" are two discrete things.

Satoshi must be turning in his grave looking at his creation being monkeyed around by bunch of "gold digging" idiots. (And dont tell me he/they can still be alive). Bitcoin had three main objectives as a currency.
1. Maintain a secured ledger
2. Keep transaction fees low
3. ‎Finalize the transition quick.
The core objective was never really to become a trading instrument. Today, it survives as a superior ledger, but is suffering from all old age ailments. CoinMarketCap would disagree, but from a technology standpoint, it is indeed true. It has reached its shell life in terms of its journey as an alternative currency. It can no more compete with the Fiats. It is not cheap on transaction fees, nor quick.

On the other hand, blockchain is the future. In the coming few years, there will not be a field that blockchain will not grace. The concept is so elegant that it will find its way into our daily lives in every sense. Be it IOT, financial transactions (not just interbank like Ripple), real estate, IP/copyrights - there are 200+ real life application areas that are being explored. Though the visibility of the commercial side of blockchain is higher (read ICOs), there is indeed a lot of technology research taking place right now. At the very least, the ICOs are bringing in a lot of funds upto the techie.

Back to the Ripple story. The "currency" Ripple may be considered as just another moolah raking instrument. It has remote connection with the "technology" Ripple and the real-life problem that it is trying to solve - making inter-bank transactions quicker and cheaper. (btw, the role of Ripple is only to cover the transaction fees in the Ripple network). Ripple now has the presence, association and commitment of a few majors in the banking industry. So the technology Ripple is here to stay. At least, they will make sure it stays (shareholders stake).

A closing anecdote. The market that Ripple is trying to enter into is currently monopolized by Swift. So in effect, Ripple's revenue could become equal to Swift's current revenue in some time (assuming 100% market share). Maybe a little more owing to the superior transactional capabilities. But where did the current Ripple currency market cap of  $100 billion come from? What projections are these?? And what is the basis???

Doesn't matter as long as the market is performing, does it?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Beginners Tips for Pokémon GO

1. Collect the Pikachu at the start - ONE chance (Tip #5) 

2. Do not waste your Stardust at the begining of your game. You will need them to evolve the higher CP pokemons later. So dont evolve/power-up early on. With each level up, you will be capturing pokemon of higher CP automatically.

3. Collect ALL kinds of Pokémon along the way, even if you are repeated by getting them. The most collected Pokémon, which you think is a waste right now, will evolve the most as you are collecting the specific Pokémon candy as well.

4. At the end of level 4, you will get to chose a team - Red, Blue and Yellow. It is still not clear which team is the most efficient/quick, but it helps if all your friends join the same color team.

5. Check out the Pokémon Evolution chart here. This chart details out every Pokémon and its evolution path.

6. Here is the Pokémon rarity chart maintained by Reddit users.

7. Pokéstops refresh every 5 minutes. So if you have some time, choose a place that is between 2, 3 or more Pokéstops and keep rolling!

8. There are some real-time interactive maps (like Google Maps) available that shows you where Pokémons are being discovered (1, 2, 3, 4). They are not reliable enough.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Getting Started with your First Pokémon

Quick Tips:
1. Pokémon GO is not yet launched in many countries like India. You can still join it by downloading the APK here and installing it in Android Phones. It is a 58+ MB download, so be patient. For iOS, the processes is slighly more elaborate as explained here.

2. Once installed, create a new Trainer Profile in the app and play the game.

3. The developers of the game disallow GPS spoofing (fake/mock your real GPS location). In the beginning, you may get a message like "Failed to detect location" even if your GPS is turned on and set to "High Accuracy". For Android phones, go to Settings. Scroll down to About Phone/Device. If developer options is not enabled (it is not enabled by default), tap on Build number 7 times and developer options will be enabled. Now, go back to Settings, and go to Developer Options, there will be many options but you need to disable the Mock Location option.

4. Alert: The app is still full of bugs. The most common being the "Freezing" of the Pokéball. You will have to live with the frustration as of now till the developers fix them. Also at times, there is "Server Overload" due to the games' increasing popularity. The developers are said to having tough time adding server capacities. If in case the game freezes, the best bet is to wait for a few minutes and then close the game completely. Start all over again, mostly likely the Pokemon is actually captured and would appear in your PokéDex and your Journal. There are many tricks suggested by players to solve the problem, but none of them are foolproof.

5. You will get ONE chance to capture the cutest Pokemon of all, Pikachu. After logging in, you will immediately be greeted with 3 Pokémons. DO NOT capture them. Walk away, in any direction. After a distance, the same 3 Pokemon will appear. Again, DO NOT capture them. Walk away. This would continue for 3 more times. On the 4th/5th instance, Pikachu would appear. Capture it and enjoy!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

All you wanted to know about "Pokémon Go"

So whats new and trending... Pokémon GO! That's the famous anime series now in the augmented real world. Is it possible for a new app to take over the heavyweights like WhatsApp, Instagram, Tinder, Snapchat and Facebook? Yes, but in couple of weeks time? Pokémon GO has surpassed the likes in terms of Daily Usage on Mobiles, proving the "openess" of the social media space. Though the app is still full of bugs (read crummy product), its not a fad anymore... it has become a "global phenomena". 

The Game
Pokémon GO is a
- free-to-play
- location-based
- augmented reality
- mobile
- game
developed for iOS and Android devices. It was first released on 6th of July 2016. Making use of GPS and the camera of compatible devices, the game allows players to capture, battle, and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon, who appear on device screens as though in the real world. It is a "freemium" game - a free game with in-app purchases of additional game-play items. An optional companion Bluetooth wearable device, the Pokémon GO Plus, is planned for future release and will alert users when Pokémon are nearby.

The Backing
Pokémon GO launched for iOS and Android on July 6. The app was developed by mobile app developer Niantic but distributed by Nintendo’s Pokémon arm. Nintendo owns about 1/3rd of the partnership. Since the launch of the game, its market valuation soared to more than $40 billion, passing Sony - quickly becoming one of the most valuable gaming companies in the world.

The Effect
First things first, Pokemon makes you walk. So its good. In order to go higher in the game, players have to walk in the real world. But on the other hand with more attention towards the mobile devices, teen are falling off cliffs, getting hit by cars, light poles and what not. There is even a robbery and a death reportedly caused due to Pokemon GO play.

With hordes of people getting addicted to this game every minute across the world, there are people leaving their full time jobs to become trainers for the Pokémon trainers. Not to mention, a few companies have sprung up to encash the Pokemon movement.

On the lighter side, most churches, temples, mosques have now becomes Pokemon Stops or Gyms, where you need to come again and again to collect goodies required to take the game forward. That's one way to bring people closer to god :)

Business Openings
Tremendous opportunities are opening up for global as well as local businesses. Your "nearby" restaurant is now a PokéStop where you can spend time as well as grow your XPs. McDonald is planning to sponsor all their outlets as PokéGyms. Businesses have started offering free "real world" merchandise promote time spent on the "virtual" game play in their premises.

Friday, June 14, 2013

And now unlock your protected Powerpoint Slideshow file

Sometime back, I wrote a post on how to unlock (your own) VBA password protected Excel file with simple tools. More importantly understand how Microsoft organizes its files on the disk. Here is one for a Microsoft Powerpoint Slide show file - recover an editable copy of a protected ppsx file (or similarly a protected pptx file).

Just as we did with the Excel files, lets investigate how Powerpoint stores it file contents on the disk. Create a new Powerpoint Slideshow file MyTest.pptx and enter some dummy content. Choose to file as [ppsx]. Let us now protect it by hitting the [General Options] (from [Tools] in the [Save Dialog]). Set a very complex password. We are safe now. The Slideshow file can be distributed without the contents being stolen.

Going by our earlier experience, we rename our file from [MyTest.ppsx] to []

Open the Zip file now.

Not going into details, let us open the folder [ppt]

Drag out the file [presentation.xml] into a folder. We can now view the contents and edit it.
Lets look into this file. Amoung other things we notice that a new node has been added into the xml (as compared to a unprotected file).

Seems like the salt and hash of the password we had set. What the heck! Lets delete the node altogether.

Save the file and replace it in the zip file (drag and drop it into the open zip file collection).

Save and close your Zip file. Rename it back to [MyTest.ppsx]. Right click the file and select [New] to open the file in good'ol Powerpoint.

There it goes again. We have an unprotected copy of the Slidehow file that we had created earlier.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Limited only to imagination... IGL

IPL - the grand success. Being repeated year after year. Whether you like the new game or not, anything that makes money rolling is 'good'. Even inferior product owners are going home rich riding on the IPL wave. So successful that other countries are following suit with their own Country Leagues. With the dawn of every IPL season - economy booms, share market bulls and not to mention rising spirits of the countrymen and women (at least they have something to talk about - hearty communication are so rare these days).

Now let’s analyse what went right. More importantly, can this success be repeated with something else. Think out of the box. Shed your inhibitions.

Presenting the Indian Goti League…

For the more 'cultured' population, 'Goti' is a game of marbles, typically played on the streets. Many consider it uncool, uneducated, LS. And thats ok. Its a free country, isn’t it?

What makes IGL worthwhile. For starters, it’s a great sport. People who have played it, would vouch for it. There is passion, there is stake, there is strategy, there is tragedy, there is vibrance, there is pain, there is allegiance, there is intensity – a game of Goti has all elements of a block buster.

Next, especially for the doyens of our society, the roots of this game are pretty close to us. Going by the historians, it likely started in Harappa and Mohenjo-daro. Yes sire! But then, could a game like IGL go global? Yes, that too! Goti was played by the Romans and Egyptians. Matter of fact, it is widely played in Canada, Australia, United States, Germany, Taiwan apart from the alleys of Urban India. Goti even has a world championship hosted in England every year since 1932.

Now that we have the teams and the players, the next is the audience. Lets see. If the daily soaps and reality bites have got our country men and women hooked, a ‘fierce’ game Goti can surely be a good bait. Give them something remotely interesting and challenging with a dash of ‘color’, they will make it their religion.

Next, ‘show me the money’! Going by the lines of IPL, advertisers are today willing to shell out dough like the end of the earth. They are ready to cough out any fees, just to get ‘your’ 5-second attention. Events, merchandise – money rolls everywhere. Are they really interested in the context (the game)? No. Their interest is only on your attention span. You, on the other hand, would be surely excited about your national game.

Sportswear companies would roll out finger bands, instead of wrist bands. New camera angles would be devised. On-Stump camera would be replaced by In-Hole camera. Fingers would now be insured instead of foots and arms. Possibilities are endless, limited only to imagination.

Now lets look at IGL from another angle. The ‘best’ players of the game are the so-called gundaas and mawalees (read, the dark alleys of our ‘gullies’). We are gonna give them to a chance to go ‘legit’. The younger generation would focus their attention towards ‘making it large’; and the elder generation could just as well be that ‘kick-@$$’ coach. Most of them would trade their gory professions for ‘the’ IGL and its associated glory. Imagine the ‘new society’ that would be born from this change. Mothers would not scream at their kids for playing Goti, instead fuel their ambition by providing long undisturbed practice sessions. IGL could one day fully cleanse the world of its grim. Now that’s what we call a ‘Catalyst of Social Change’.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Gmail motion ...

Usually when Google introduces something, they means business (well :=) except for 'wave'). I just noticed the new offering from Gmail called 'Gmail Motion'. At the outset, dont go by the name... that probably is not the best. But looking into what it is, makes your eyes open up. You immediately know that it's the step of computer usage. Though Google says it has been working on it for a long time and has tested it, I still havent concluded whether it is a great product. But one thing is for sure... the technology holds a great promise and it HAS future. See for yourself (see the video first).