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BrandScan 2004, Vista, The Recruit, Dramanon

Sunday · 31 Oct 04 · 10:51 PM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: General

Ah.  I was pretty busy in the last few days, so that's why things were somewhat silent.

There are just 20 more days to go before BrandScan 2004 happens.  Of course, the work behind this started months ago, and the Projects committee has done a fantastic job of getting 15 projects at this stage itself!  They announced the Project Leaders, their teams and the projects assigned to them on 29th itself.  I am in Team Coats India, the Project Leader being Jayesh Dave.  I am in his LSG (Leader Support Group) along with Amit Jain, Narasimha Raju and Santosh Raghavan.

On that very day, myself and others from TAPMI went to see a play called "The Good Doctor" (by Neil Simon), performed by Dramanon (Dramatists Anonymous) which is a group of students in Manipal interested in this sort of thing.  One of the first year students, Saurav Palit was also in this play.  Well, it was my first time attending a "proper" play — and I must say it was a good experience!  The show was very well acted and staged, and you could tell everyone involved had put in a lot of work into it.  Unfortunately, in order to attend that BrandScan meeting, many of us had to leave before the play was over.  I watched upto Palit's segment, and then left.

Yesterday morning, between 3 - 5 AM, I watched The Recruit on CD.  I enjoyed the movie and I thought it was a very well acted, fast paced, spy thriller.

In this term, I have quite a number of classes on weekends, and this time also there were a couple of classes today and yesterday.  Now normally, it would be something to grumble about, having classes on Saturdays and Sundays, but these classes (Performance Management and Recruitment & Selection), I really enjoyed!  Prof. Y. K. Shriram takes both these courses.

One more bit of news: I will soon be going to Bangalore for a few days, along with about six or seven others, to take part in one of their events (Vista).  This should be cool, though the catch is that I will return to Manipal on 8th morning, and on 8th the Mid Term exams are starting.  Well, let's see how things turn out.

I am right now hard at work on a computer game that will eventually be used for Atharva.  I am working on this with Arun Panicker and Visual Basic is being used to make the game.

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Sunday · 24 Oct 04 · 07:46 PM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Movies

I just got back from watching South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut at Movie Dome.  This was a special sponsor show organised by some students at MIC.  Anirudh and myself were the only two audience members from TAPMI there.

I had a great time at this movie, inspite of the fact that the audio-video lost sync after about half an hour into the movie.  Anyway, I am a huge fan of the South Park TV show and this movie was even better.  So what's the storyline?  After watching the first big-screen adventure of Canadian TV stars Terrance and Philip (called "Asses of Fire"), all the kids in South Park start swearing uncontrollably.  In order to stop this, their mothers want to declare war against Canada, and have Terrance and Philip executed.  The problem is, if their blood is spilt, it would allow Satan and his lover Saddam Hussein to take over the Earth.  It is up to the South Park kids to save the day.

The movie pushes its R rating to the limits, and is far more offensive than any single episode of the TV show (the IMDb trivia page for this movie says that there are 399 profane words in this 81 minute long film)!  At the same time, I found the movie hilarious and brilliantly written.  There are lots of amazing songs on the soundtrack ("Blame Canada" was Oscar-nominated), and the final war scene, where all hell breaks loose (the film's original title was supposed to be South Park: All Hell Breaks Loose) is very well done.  I must also say that this movie's CGI vision of Hell is impressively realised.  Well, what else can I say?  I've been waiting to watch this movie for a very long time and I am really happy that I got to see it!

By the way, the headline of this post — "Uh-Oh." — is the movie's tagline.  The creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, have recently come out with Team America: World Police, which I hear is equally funny.

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Bigger, Longer and Uncut

Sunday · 24 Oct 04 · 02:24 PM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Movies

I watched two movies yesterday, one being the long-awaited Ram Gopal Varma production Vaastu Shaastra, and the other being L.A. Confidential.

  • Vaastu Shaastra: Directed by Sourab Usha Narang, this was a good horror movie with good performances from all members of the cast.  Sushmita Sen and family move into a house some 20 km. from Pune, and soon weird things start happening.  Soon, it becomes apparent to us that there are some spirits around.  I found this movie to be generally entertaining, though it could have been shorter.  The scares are definitely there, and I can only wonder how much more effective it would have been in a real theatre!  I had a good time here, though I thought Bhoot was technically superior.
  • L.A. Confidential: When a shooting happens at the Nite Owl restaurant, cops Bud White (Russell Crowe), Ed Exley (Guy Pearce) and Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) investigate.  Complex crime thriller set in the 1950s, Academy Awards Best Picture nominated, with superb performances by all.

I now hold in my hands a movie ticket to South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut which is playing at Movie Dome at 5 PM today (it is a sponsor show).  I have been waiting to see this movie for such a long time (I've read the script, seen twenty minutes of the film, and have seen the song "Kyle's Mom is a Bitch" from it) and I am glad to get the chance to finally watch it!  Fortunately, I had just two classes (Strategic Management, these two sessions were taken by Prof. Vasudev Murthy) in the morning today, so I am free in the evening to watch the movie.

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Spontaneous Repopulation

Saturday · 23 Oct 04 · 12:16 AM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Movies

I watched The X-Files: Fight the Future yesterday on CD.  It has been a while since I watched this most excellent movie, and it was great to see it again.  If I'm not mistaken, the CD which I got was the "Home Video" version of the movie, which is a couple of minutes longer than the theatrical release version.  I had written a detailed review of the movie long ago, and maybe I will post it here sometime.  Anyway the movie does a great job of maintaining a feeling of paranoia and thrill throughout, and it is a very well made movie.  It seems Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz are working on a screenplay for a sequel, though there is no official word from the studio on whether the movie will go ahead or not.  Anyway, it would be cool if there was a sequel!  The headline of this post comes from a line spoken in this movie by The Well Manicured Man (John Neville), who says something like "My God!  This isn't colonisation, this is spontaneous repopulation!"  Tonight, Rupak brought the CD of The Game, which I will watch in about an hour from now.

A couple of days back, I finished Jazz Jackrabbit 2, after beating the evil Devan Shell in the last level, creatively titled "Bad Pitt" (heh) which takes place in the Jazz-ish hell that I spoke about in the last post (not a cold one this time though!).

I have by now finished reading about five issues of Epic Comics' Clive Barker's Hellraiser.  The artwork, as I mentioned, is very good, and the stories are delightfully demented and perverse!  So far I liked writer Jan Strnad's unofficial trilogy featuring the cenobite "Face", of which the last story is the best in my opinion.  I also got to read "Songs of Metal and Flesh" [issue 3], written by Peter Atkins (writer of Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth) and illustrated by Dave Dorman.  I mention this in particular because I read the script [PDF] of this story earlier.  Some other stories which were good were "Dear Diary" [issue 5] in which a young girl discovers the Lament Configuration, and "The Threshold of Pain", where a scientist tries to discover what lies beyond pain.  Some of the stories are very vague (like "Writer's Lament").  I was actually pleased to find that my own stories were sort of similar in style to these — especially "Doorways...", I could probably make a Hellraiser story out of that if I develop it a little nicely!

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Hellraiser Comics, "A Cold Day in Heck"

Wednesday · 20 Oct 04 · 07:03 PM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: General

Apart from watching Dhoom yesterday, I also have been playing more of Jazz Jackrabbit 2.  By now, I am playing the last episode, "Funky Monkeys".  I found one of the levels here also a standout one — it is called "A Cold Day in Heck" and it is wonderfully made.  Firstly, I love the game artists' vision of a Jazz-ish hell — it is in the same cartoony tone as the game, while incorporating hellish imagery!  And the cold hell level is even more imaginative, there is snow falling, and the level brings across the cold feel very well.

Speaking of hell, I read two issues of Clive Barker's Hellraiser recently.  These were among the many comics I downloaded in the recent past.  The stories are appropriately disturbing and the artwork is great.

This Friday, the latest Ram Gopal Varma production Vaastu Shaastra (directed by Saurab Narang) is being released.  This is one movie I really want to see, I watched the trailer and it seems very spooky.  It also has a very appealing tagline, "If Bhoot scared you, this will kill you"!

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Wednesday · 20 Oct 04 · 11:36 AM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Movies

I had decided to keep all work on hold after yesterday's MIP 2 Presentation, and watch Dhoom.  And sure enough, I did watch the movie last night, and enjoyed it!

The movie begins with a robbery of an armoured car by a band of thieves who use fast bikes to make quick getaways.  Soon, cop Jai Dikshit (Abhishek Bachchan) is on the case, and at first he suspects that Ali (Uday Chopra) may have something to do with the crime.  Ali owns a garage and fixes and sells bikes — and has been involved in some shady dealings in the past.  But as it turns out, the crimes are committed by an independent gang, using souped-up state of the art bikes.  Eventually, the cop and Ali team up to catch the bad guys, headed by the smooth professional Kabir (John Abraham).  The movie also stars Rimii Sen (as Jai's wife Sweety), and Esha Deol.

I must say that this movie exceeded my expectations.  It is a very slickly edited and photographed action movie, with lots of style (cool opening sequence, and a terrific first scene).  There is not much of a story, but even at a length of two hours, I never found the movie boring.  I liked the music and the songs as well.  One fight in particular is inspired from moves that we all saw previously in The Matrix Reloaded, but otherwise Dhoom stands on its own as a very entertaining action movie.

There are a couple more things I want to say but seeing as I have to be in a class in five minutes (it's 11:45 AM now), I will reserve them for the next post.

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JJ2 Water/Battle, MIP 2, Dhoom

Tuesday · 19 Oct 04 · 04:23 PM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: General

I have my MIP 2 presentation in about an hour from now.  I made the PPT for it yesterday (used the same design that I created for the MIP 1 PPT), sent it to my faculty guide Prof. Vidya Pratap today morning.  I came to the institute now so that I could take printouts of the slides, etc. and I am now in the Systems Lab.

After the presentation today I am going to watch Dhoom [Planet Bollywood Review] on CD.  It seems like a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to it.

Yesterday, in between working on the MIP 2 PPT, I was playing Jazz Jackrabbit 2 on my computer.  So far, I have finished the first two episodes, "Formerly a Prince" and "Jazz in Time", currently playing "Flashback", and once I finish that, I've got the last episode to play, called "Funky Monkeys".  The game is pretty amazing and so far there are two standout levels in my opinion.  The first is "Victorian Secret" in the second episode, which impressed me with its colourful graphics that were in a very different style from the first episode levels.  And then, there was "Generic Water Level", which, unlike the name suggests, was quite extraordinary!  The level has sections taking place above water and underwater (the major part is underwater) — the underwater parts had superbly designed animation/graphic effects, and the way the controls felt when Jazz (I was playing as Jazz) was underwater were really great.

This afternoon, before coming here to the institute, I played a bit of Jazz 2 Party Mode (Multiplayer) on Kamal's computer.  We used the Local Splitscreen mode, and played a "Battle" map.  This was a lot of fun too.

Well, still 40 minutes to go for my presentation...

EDIT (18:48): My presentation just got over and it went well, both Prof. Vidya Pratap and Prof. R. C. Natarajan appreciated it.  For the next phase (MIP 3) I would be writing a case or teaching material, and I want to make a contribution to the Strategic HRM course here.  I would need to work on my case well enough though, to make it really good.

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Space Jockey

Sunday · 17 Oct 04 · 12:24 PM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: General

My computer is back!

Yesterday in the evening, the people who I had given it to (Help Desk @ Manipal) came and fixed back the repaired motherboard.  So last evening and night I spent time reinstalling many software that had stopped working because the earlier repair people had wiped the C drive.  Anyway now it's working properly — it has Windows 98 Second Edition installed on it — and my desktop looks cool with the Alien Commemoration Desktop Theme applied on it (of course, I made a few changes to suit my liking).  The wallpaper image is one of the Space Jockey from the original Alien film.

Varun had sent me a link to BerneyBoy's Map Design yesterday, and I found a pack of Photorealistic textures there that I thought might be useful.  That 125 MB download along with a few other texture packs by Sock, is in progress now.

After returning to the hostel I am going to work on my MIP Phase II report today.

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Jazz Jackrabbit 2 Treasure Hunt, going after Blood II's Gideon

Saturday · 16 Oct 04 · 11:43 AM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: General

Yesterday I wrote all the downloads that I mentioned in the last post on multiple CDs (in fact I also got Jazz Jackrabbit 2: The Secret Files and Abuse).  There was something unique about the way the Blood II CD-Rip was packaged.  I'd never seen anything quite like it before — the file I had downloaded was a 111 MB ZIP, which had about 12 RAR files within it.  There was also an installer, which when executed, unpacked those RAR files.  There are several folders created with hundreds of files (music, sounds, art) in them.  After that, a script is executed which creates Blood II's REZ files out of these folders.  Finally, you get a folder that is 568 MB in size!!  To avoid the trouble of someone having to re-extract it all over again, I wrote the 568 MB folder also on a separate CD.

In the evening yesterday, Kamal and myself played Jazz Jackrabbit 2 in Party Mode (multiplayer), on the same computer.  Jazz 2 has this cool splitscreen mode where two players can play on the same computer using two different sets of keys!  The Treasure Hunt mode (where the person who collects 100 gems first wins) was pretty amazing concept-wise and lots of fun.  I think Kamal emerged the winner in the end, because he won two maps whereas I won one.

I also started playing Blood II: The Chosen.  The game is very well done and playing the full game gives a much better feel than the two-level demo (which started and ended abruptly).  The game has you following a guy called Gideon, you track him through a train station, an art gallery and eventually reach Cabalco's Center for Disease Management (which is where the Blood II Demo starts).  After this, you follow Gideon onto an airship, which is where I am at currently in the game.  With any luck, I should have my computer back today, so I can copy the savegame files and continue my game.

I am right now downloading three files, the Super-high Resolution Teaser Trailer for The Grudge (starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, directed by Takashi Shimizu, who is remaking his own Ju-On: The Grudge), and two video clips from Peter Jackson's King Kong Production Diary.

Work on my MIP Phase II Report (I have my MIP II Presentation on 19th) goes on very slowly.

EDIT (15:03): I watched the trailer of The Grudge sometime back.  It is very very creepy!  Also, check out the official site of The Ring Two, it is also very creepy (it takes a while to load because of a 890 KB Flash intro though)!

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The Downloads Never Stop!

Friday · 15 Oct 04 · 01:21 AM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: General

I am extremely pleased with my stint in the Systems Lab today.  You see, I had no classes today, but I still went to the Systems Lab by 10:30 AM, because I intended to work on my MIP Phase II Report.  I ended up spending practically all day there, and as is usual, I had to be dragged away at 11:50 PM so that I could be back in the hostel by midnight (closing time).  But I walked away happy.

Besides downloading about 50 comics (more downloads are going on as I write this), I also got FULL versions (abandonware) of three of the best games I've ever played, from the Home of the Underdogs.  So what were these games?  Firstly, there's that amazing sidescroller, Jazz Jackrabbit 2 [11 MB], the patched version of Blood with the Cryptic Passage Add-On [26 MB], and the patched version of Blood II: The Chosen [111 MB]!!

Last year, Arun Ravindran was probably the guy who downloaded the most data in TAPMI (I guess he also used to practically live in the Systems Lab).  This time, I've taken over, and I'm even using the same computer he used to work on.  Today's haul will be written on CD tomorrow.  I'd call this a pretty successful day.

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MIP II, Spider-Man India and others

Tuesday · 12 Oct 04 · 04:08 PM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: General

No, that was no typo in the headline, I did not mistype MIB II or intend to indicate a movie title.  This refers to MIP (Management in Practice) Phase II, which I am working on as I type this.  I am supposed to give the Phase II Presentation on 19th, and so I am at work making the document for the same.  I hope to finish it in the next few days so that it can be approved by my Faculty Guide.  I also want to show this to our Director — since my MIP II is related to Analysis under Strategic HRM framework, and since he had taken the Strategic HRM course.

My computer's motherboard is again out on what seems to be a Bangalore tour.  I've again given it for servicing and I should know the status the day after tomorrow.

Here are two links I wanted to put up here for quite some time:

  • Spider-Man India Preview: Economic Times has a ten-page preview of the new comic published by Gotham comics.  I haven't yet checked to see if the book is available.
  • My Placement Profile: My profile on the TAPMI website.  I think it's a nice photo of myself as well.

Yesterday I also started "fleshing out" another story idea for a comic.  I will probably call this Face, and as I mentioned before, this will be more like a "real" comic, in the sense that I am going to draw it on white paper, and it is not going to finish off in just ten panels!  I started drawing the script for this, which I will use to draw the actual thing.  This is going to be an action story, and will have some dark and violent scenes.  The story I've thought of so far would be in two parts, the first being called "Payment on Delivery".  Let's see how far this thing goes.

It was my mother's birthday yesterday and she received the card I'd sent a few days earlier.  Good thing it reached on time!  I still haven't sent Varun's CDs plus sweatshirt package.

Mansi signed my Guestbook a couple of days back.  She mentioned something that I agree is a real problem — I am not able to upload all the drawings I keep talking about, because there is no FTP access here on the TAPMI computers.  Well, there are a couple of ways around that — going out to a browsing centre, or asking my brother to upload them from home.  The thing is, neither of those approaches is exactly convenient!

Well, it is 5 PM now (I wasn't typing continuously), time to go to Little Chef...

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Batman and Dracula, Movie Trailers and Posters

Sunday · 10 Oct 04 · 12:32 AM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: General

I brought my computer back to my room yesterday.  And once I connected everything, it did not work.  This time it refuses to detect the keyboard — something that it was doing perfectly fine at the shop.  I'm suspecting it's a power problem or something, and I guess it is something minor.  Anyway I will call someone on Monday and have them take a look at it.  I had 128 MB of RAM in the computer, and it seems one of the RAM sticks had gone bad.  Since I anyway had to buy a stick of RAM, I bought 128 instead of 64, bringing the total to 192 MB of RAM.  That is pretty cool.

Today was a busy day, and so will tomorrow be.  Classes are scattered throughout the day, and they end at around 8 PM only.  But these classes are really good so I am not finding it a problem.  Also, there are really only three places I can be found in at college — in class, in the canteen, or in the Systems Lab.  As long as I get my intermittent spurts in these places, things are OK!

Recently, I downloaded the "Red Band" (i.e., R-rated) trailer for Seed of Chucky, and several others.  Also saw posters for Blade: Trinity (very cool, movie is written and directed by David Goyer, should be a lot of fun), Elektra, and director James Wan's upcoming horror film Saw (as in the thing you use to cut something with), which I am really anxious to see.  From what I hear, this is a pretty disturbing and very effectively done horror movie.  And that is indicated by the two posters I got as well — one shows a bloody severed hand, and the other a leg!!  They are pretty disturbing themselves, so they probably won't be put up in too many places!

Today, before Prof. Y.K. Shriram's Performance Management class, I read Batman and Dracula: Red Rain, and found it to be absolutely terrific.  It is written by Doug Moench, pencilled by Kelley Jones, inked by Malcolm Jones III, coloured by Les Dorscheid and lettered by Todd Klein.  I thought the artwork was, in one word, beautiful — I loved the look of the entire thing, the numerous scenes in shadows, and especially the way the artists rendered Batman's cape.  In some scenes, the cape "flows" so beautifully.  If the artwork was terrific, so is the story and the writing — I loved the way they gradually built up the story to its ending.  It's all subtle but still makes a lot of impact.  Superb.  Coincidentally, towards the end of the PFMT class, a bat flew into the room!

Mansi told me about this site called Tetsoo, and I downloaded a couple of videos and some wallpapers from there.  I don't know the background of the owner, but this portfolio of his is certainly very artistic and very impressive!!

I got The Frighteners yesterday!

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Black Coffee - Tea cocktail with Ginger and Lemon

Friday · 8 Oct 04 · 11:38 AM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: General

Yesterday, Anirudh and myself executed our plan of having a unique "cocktail" at the TAPMI Canteen.  I ordered a Double Black Coffee with Lemon, he ordered a Double Black Tea with Ginger, then we took two empty glasses, mixed it and enjoyed the resulting beverage!

That aside, the past couple of days I have been working on CricInfin, a game designed by the Finance Forum and being implemented by TSG (TAPMI Systems Group).  Raju did practically all the coding for it, and I added some finishing touches (graphics, aesthetics, some minor scripting).  TSG also launched the TAPMI Intranet Portal yesterday and it has been getting good feedback.

My computer should be back today.  This probably means that I will spend more time in the hostel, rather than practically living in the Systems Lab.

Over the last few days, I have been downloading several comics from this siteWinHTTrack is a wonderful program, and I am downloading these comics using that.  I had trouble getting it working earlier.  Then I installed Mozilla Firefox and Opera on the computer I generally work on in the Systems Lab.  Mozilla also refused to work initially.  Opera said "Importing your Proxy settings...", which was very considerate of it!  I used the same settings in Mozilla and HTTrack and they started working!  The result?  About 1.8 GB worth of comics downloaded over three days!!

A couple of days back, I also downloaded DOSBox, which is an emulator for DOS, and can be used to run DOS programs on Windows XP/2000 and the like.  The cool thing is that it also emulates the old sound hardware, as a result of which I was able to play Biomenace and Duke Nukem II Shareware with sound!!  Should try out Commander Keen now...

Varun seems to be adjusting well to his Engineering course.  I still haven't sent him the CDs and sweatshirt that I have been meaning to.  I will try to do that today.

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Predator: Hunter's Moon Drawing and other news

Tuesday · 5 Oct 04 · 11:27 AM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Art

My latest drawing is called Predator: Hunter's Moon and features two Predators fighting, with a huge moon in the background.  It started as a pencil sketch in my notebook, done in yesterday's IABS class, and then later on, I inked it, scanned it and then touched it up a bit in the computer.  For those of you who got it by email, here is a little bit of trivia: do you know what the symbols in the drawing (typed in the Predator symbol font) stand for?  They spell "Yautja", which is the name of the Predator species.  My Predator movie review is here, by the way.

On October 2nd and 3rd we had Homecoming 2004, where TAPMI's Alumni from various batches came down for a couple of days.  I got to meet Arun Ravindran and took his help in reviving "Quicksand", the game that he wrote last year (in PHP and MySQL) for the CCG.  Who better to ask doubts than the creator himself?

On 2nd night, I watched The Bourne Identity.  Stylish, fast-paced movie.  (The CD was in the package which I got from home).

As you may tell from the recent fascination of mine with Aliens and Predators, I have also been doing quite a bit of research on the Yautja and the Aliens (xenomorphs).  Last night I also watched some part of Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth. (in the Systems Lab)

Varun started his Engineering course yesterday, and he and my parents watched Alien vs. Predator in the theatre on Sunday.

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"Doorways..." completed, more downloads

Friday · 1 Oct 04 · 05:19 PM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Art

I finally finished processing all the panels of "Doorways...", my second Dark Tales comic!  The finished file has been emailed to Varun and a few friends.  More emails to be sent shortly... many people have not seen the first one ("Outbreak"), so I will send that and then this one.

Yesterday was Varun's second counselling for Engineering colleges, and I heard that he has now got a seat in Computer Science Engineering in the same college.  One might consider this an "upgrade", heh heh...  Congratulations, Varun!

Yesterday I also came across this site where a whole lot of comics are available, including 29 books of Clive Barker's Hellraiser.  I looked at a few of them, and they're really great.  Beautifully painted (yes, painted, as opposed to typical comic book art).  I wish I could download all of them automatically... well, OK, I actually tried with wget but that didn't work for some reason.

Before I forget, the TAPMI Industry Interface Day was there on 25th, and Homecoming is tomorrow and the day after.

Continuing the trend, I got yet another video (fan film) yesterday, this one is called Freddy vs. The Ghostbusters.  You should be able to find it at the same site mentioned in the previous post.

I also got the package from home...

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Karthik Abhiram

27-year old Taurean (birthday 15-May-82), Assistant Manager - HR at Tata Consultancy Services Ltd in Hyderabad, India.  Previously, did Post Graduate Diploma in Management from T A Pai Management Institute (2003-05) and before that, Computer Science Engineering from Sree Nidhi Institute of Science and Technology (1999-2003).

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