Saturday, January 28, 2012

End of an Era

          Am sure most of us have "The Windows XP" as our favourite operating system and it's the best in both performance and visual levels. But its a sad news that the life support for Windows XP including Service Pack 3 would be plugged out on April 8th 2014. Lets look back at this marvelous era at a glance.

          Microsoft Windows XP is the first operating system coming from Redmond to combine the advantages of the Windows NT core with the ease of use and flexibility of the Windows 9x series. Basically we can state that Windows XP is the fusion of the best of two worlds: Windows 2000 & Windows Me. After years of promising, Microsoft finally did it: Windows 9x is condemned to death (although it was supported till 2003) so home users now have access to the unprecedented reliability of the NT engine. Windows XP has made the news so much since it’s inception it’s hard not to want to be apart of the Windows experience. Windows XP was internally referred by Microsoft as Neptune at first and later renamed Whistler before finally becoming ‘XP’.  

        After several years of intensive development Microsoft has probably released the most ambitious version of Windows yet - similar to what Windows 95 was to Windows 3.1. Windows XP will surely mark computing history while OEM and system integrators expect it to boost sales in these economic troubling days. Microsoft Windows XP is available in two different flavors: the Home and Professional editions. Behind the green or blue box lies exactly the same operating system with a few minor feature differences. The professional edition adds some extra business oriented features over the Home edition with the support of SMP systems, Active Directory and    IIS Web server. We’ve written our review based on Windows XP Professional. 

        But one point is undebatable: Windows XP is the most significant operating-system upgrade since Windows 95. And perhaps even more significant, Windows XP jettisons all the old DOS, 16-bit Windows, and Windows 95 code that has been part of every consumer-oriented Windows version up to and including Windows Millennium Edition. Certainly, Microsoft started on solid ground: The Professional Edition and Home Edition of Windows XP are derived from the Windows 2000 (nee NT) kernel. The Professional incarnation is aimed at high-end and corporate users. The Home Edition leaves out some more esoteric high-end features and has default settings for less technical users to minimize confusion. 

       Even with it's system requirements of a Pentium II 233, 128MB RAM, 1.5GB Space plus the necessities such as the CD-ROM and sound card, Windows XP stood out among the rest in some cases, and a disappointment in other cases. 

        According to web analysis data generated by W3Schools, from September 2003 to July 2011, Windows XP was the most widely used operating system for accessing the internet.

      Support for Windows XP without a service pack ended on September 30, 2004 and support for Windows XP Service Pack 1 and 1a ended on October 10, 2006. Windows XP Service Pack 2 was retired on July 13, 2010, almost six years after its general availability
Bill Gates with the Windows XP RTM Edition Disc

In accordance with Microsoft's posted timetable, the company stopped general licensing of Windows XP to OEMs and terminated retail sales of the operating system on June 30, 2008, 17 months after the release of Windows Vista. However, an exception was announced on April 3, 2008, for OEMs installing to ultra low-cost PCs  until one year after the availability of Windows 7 (that is, until October 22, 2010).

    On April 14, 2009, Windows XP and its family of operating systems were moved from Mainstream Support to the Extended Support phase as it marks the progression of the legacy operating system through the Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy. During the Extended Support Phase, Microsoft will continue to provide security updates every month for Windows XP; however, free technical support, warranty claims, and design changes are no longer being offered.

    On April 8, 2014, all support for Windows XP, including security updates and hotfixes, will be terminated. Users will still be able to download old updates and hotfixes from Windows Update. Microsoft recommends that users upgrade to Windows 7.

   On January 14, 2020, support for volume license users downgrading their licenses from Windows 7 to Windows XP ends, making Windows XP officially obsolete.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Of Egyptian Gods and Pyramids

                  Going into this book I had very high expectations. After all, the Percy Jackson books are such a wonderful and unique offering in children's literature. They are funny, witty, filled with action and adventure, they breathe life into some of my favorite myths... They are hard to top. Pretty much this book is what would happen if the 39 Clues series and Percy Jackson books had a baby. There is alot more information being tossed out in this book than in Percy Jackson, but much more fun and mythology than the 39 Clues.
                In this first of the Kane Chronicles, Riordan again does a great job of combining humor with action and adventure. This book as a lot to explain in terms of the mythology it is based on, I think most readers on average know less about Egyptian mythology than Greek. However, Riordan again explains it in a way that brings it to life. And once all of the ground work is laid in terms of what is going on in the story everything zooms along at a really fun pace.               
                                                                              Carter and Sadie Kane were raised separately after the sudden and tragic death of their mother. Carter has spent the last half dozen years traveling the world with his father, a noted Egyptologist. Living out of a suitcase and never staying in one place for long, Carter is quiet and a little socially awkward. Sadie on the other hand was raised in London by her grandparents. Even though she's the younger of the two she has a much more forceful personality than her brother. She is loud, wears combat boots and streaks her hair with crazy colors. Carter and his father only are allowed to see Sadie twice a year.
                                                                                                    Carter and Sadie barely know each other when the actions of their father leave them on a crazy adventure with only a cat, named Muffin, to help them out. Not only is the crazy chaos god, Set, after them also an ancient group of wizards is tailing them across the world.
                                                                                                                      Riordan again does a great job of pulling ancient mythology into the modern world. He really grounds his story and makes it believable. By the end of the book you really know the characters and are ready for their next adventure. Another fun thing about this book is that instead of having one narrator he allows Sadie and Carter to alternate every few chapters. Their voices are very different and how they see things is very interesting. It also sets up a lot of the humor.               

                           The battle against Chaos continues, and Apophis is very close to rising. The only way to stop him is to awaken Ra. Problem is, no one even knows where Ra is. And to awaken him, they need the three scrolls of the Book of Ra which are unreadable. Sadie and Carter Kane are not alone, though. They now have the assistance of their new trainees and a few of gods.

              To add to all the confusion, Carter has found some information leading to Zia's possible location. In this fresh, intense, and humorous race, it is all about the Throne of Fire.

                        I liked this book even more than the first in the series. It is in many ways, similar. A race to save the world in just a few days, with several battles and bits of humor along the way. This tends to be the pattern in Riordan's mythology books. The difference in this book is that it has a theme of identity. None of his other mythology books seem to as clearly have a theme. A great sequel. I liked how it went further into Egyptian mythology. Very excited for the next, and final book in the Kane Chronicles! 

                    He's b-a-a-ack! Despite their best efforts, Carter and Sade Kane can't seem to keep Apophis, the chaos snake, down. Now Apophis is threatening to plunge the world into eternal darkness, and the Kanes are faced with the impossible task of having to destroy him once and for all. Unfortunately, the magicians of the House of Life are on the brink of civil war, the gods are divided, and the young initiates of Brooklyn House stand almost alone against the forces of chaos. The Kanes' only hope is an ancient spell that might turn the serpent's own shadow into a weapon, but the magic has been lost for a millennia. To find the answer they need, the Kanes must rely on the murderous ghost of a powerful magician who might be able to lead them to the serpent's shadow . . . or might lead them to their deaths in the depths of the underworld.
Nothing less than the mortal world is at stake when the Kane family fulfills its destiny in this thrilling conclusion to the Kane Chronicles.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Of Demi - Gods and Quests

                               Demi - Gods, Greek Gods, The whole Greek mythology comes to life and not to mention the sword "Anaklusmos" well all of this can be found in the "Percy Jackson & The Olympians" series by Rick Riordan. I accept when I started reading the book i thought it was just another cheap rip off of "The Harry Potter" series. But when I actually read it was nothing like Harry Potter and it was actually good in its own right. The storyline was fun, original, and surprisingly accurate to the original myths. My knowledge of Greek mythology is limited, but after researching some things I didn't remember, it turns out Riordan knows his stuff! After a while, I began to trust him and quit looking things up on Wikipedia.

                    The first book introduces us to Percy Jackson, a young boy who always has strange things happening to him. He eventually winds up at Camp Half-Blood where he learns the truth about his parentage. His father, turns out, is an Olympic God. Apparently the gods get a little frisky for human mates, creating half-blood children with powers. Percy is thrust in "hero-dom" and must save the day. Of course, there is a prophecy about his future, which adds to all the mystery and suspense.

                        The second book, The Sea of Monsters, picks up a year later. This was my second favorite of the series, since the storyline was so familiar. We see a lot of the myths and legends rampant in Odysseus' tale from The Odyssey, and since we all know that I love Homer, I loved every moment of this. It was excited and captured the essence of the monsters and villains perfectly. When Percy encounters Circe? I was in love with that chapter.  

                             The third book, The Titan's Curse, was my favorite of the series. It picks up the story later on, and we begin to see a new maturity and strength in Percy. I am always bothered by series where the main character shows little growth, especially over a period of time. But Riordan made sure to have his characters grow, and that is clear in this novel. There are scenes where Percy is challenged to do things he never thought he could-that shows growth.

                             The fourth book, The Battle of the Labyrinth, was my least favorite of the series. While the writing was certainly good and captured my attention, I had a hard time getting into the story. Perhaps it was the way they story developed, but in certain areas, I felt the story was rushed. In other places, I wanted more action. I also was not a fan of the character Rachel. I think she took away from the action and pace of the story. I was also unhappy with the fact that I didn't get the answers I thought I deserved. I wanted more.

                                  The last book, The Last Olympian, was the perfect ending to a superb series. It made up for the last book with powerful passages and gripping action. I was flipping pages as fast as I could read them. I couldn't wait to see what would come of the prophecy, who would win in the last major battle, and what would happen to Percy. I was sucked in.The battle scenes and action were non-stop. It comes close to the Battle of Hogwarts from my favorite fictional battle of all-time. I loved the scenes in New York City. But more than anything else, I LOVE how Riordan brought his series to a close. The answer to the prophecy was perfect and fitting to the growth and change Percy underwent throughout the series. I couldn't have asked for a more satisfying ending. 

                          So if you have been avoiding this series thinking they won't be any good, or that they're silly, or that they're trying too hard, you need to set those thoughts aside and give them a try. I found them to be fun, action-packed reads that did something original. And did it WELL. And for those who love this series there is another series that continues from this storyline.

"Seven half-bloods shall answer the call.
To storm or fire the world must fall.
An oath to keep with a final breath
And foes bear arms to the Doors of Death."

This is the prophecy by which starts the next series "The Heroes of Olympus"

                        The story begins with Jason , who wakes up on a school bus with no memories about who or what he is. On the bus with him are Leo Valdez and Piper McLean, the other two major characters of the book. The three are apparently enrolled in Wilderness School, a school for “bad kids” and are on a field trip to the Grand Canyon with classmates. Of course, the biggest problem is that Jason doesn’t remember anyone on the bus – including himself. He has a sense that something is horribly wrong and that he doesn’t belong there. This is only the beginning of Jason’s problems as one of their classmates turns out to be a venti, a wind demon sent to kill the demigod teens. 
                           The three are rescued by a disgruntled Annabeth, who has been searching for Percy, as the heroic son of Poseidon has gone missing. The three don’t know where Percy is, let alone who he is, and so they are taken back to Camp Half-Blood for their protection – and so that they can be claimed by their godly parents. The three friends are thrust into an entirely new world with amazing and unbelievable circumstances. Jason’s memories have been stolen by one of the gods, and for some reason he keeps referring to them as their Roman names. Piper has a secret that she’s carrying around; her father has been kidnapped and she must decide between betraying her friends and letting her father die. Leo is also carrying a secret, his rare godly abilities were possibly the cause of his mother’s death. All of this and they find themselves on a quest, fighting monsters, meeting gods, and outsmarting famous figures from Greek mythology. 
                                 Overall, the story is very well written. The style is a little different than the Percy books in that it’s written in third person instead of first and that different parts of the story focus on one of the three main characters; but everything ties in together nicely. It’s an interesting concept that the books propose with the discussion of the idea that the gods have both Greek and Roman aspects to them, and perhaps have had mortal children that follow the Roman aspect of the gods and go to a different kind of camp for demigods.
                      The characters are easy to like and have a great dynamic. The inclusion of familiar characters from the Percy series such as Annabeth, Chiron, and the Hunters is also a nice touch that helps to tie this series into the previous. Rick Riordan is obviously a very creative man, and I think it’s fantastic that his books not only tell entertaining stories, but help to teach younger readers about history and mythology.
                                                        If you were a fan of the Percy Jackson & The Olympians series, then The Lost Hero is a book that is definitely worth picking up. Even if you haven’t read any of the previous series, this book has more than enough great storytelling to hold its own.

                       Another great story to the Heroes of Olympus series has been added. Rick Riordan's newest book, The Son of Neptune, was certainly worth the year long wait.

                Percy Jackson has been asleep for eight months and has finally awoken, without memory of his past. Similar to Jason Grace's story, The Son of Neptune takes place in the Roman Camp, and is told in the point of view of three different characters: Percy, Frank and Hazel. It tale starts with how Percy, son of Neptune, gets to find the Roman camp to the long awaited reunion. Only not quiet.

                    Personally, I don't like the whole 3 different character POV thing. I know it's in 3rd person, but I'm just so accustomed to one POV from the Percy Jackson series. At least these characters are much more tolerable than last books. Okay, that's a lie. The only I couldn't tolerate was Pipper, but there's no Pipper in this book!

                 Frank, newly recruited Roman demi-god, he's kind of that awkward, shy kid that is really nice, but is always messing things up on accident and no one really talks to him. His parentage kind of comes in a shock, but not really if you pay close attention to his description. And don't trick yourself into believing that Frank is the underdog, because this guy is full of secrets and surprises. Just wait, you'll get to like him!

                 Hazel, she has some secrets of her own. I'm starting to think that all Hades' kids have the same kind of story, because there really seems to be some kind of repetition going on. At first, her curse might not make much sense to you, but just hang in there! The truth will be told! And she's not annoying like Piper! I found that really exciting! There were only little hints of romantic thoughts and I really liked the way we got to learn about her past. But come on Rick Riordan! This girl has gone through a lot, and yet you do that thing, with Leo?! Cruel. Just cruel.

                  Percy. Our hero has not changed! Well, only a little. I found that he made kind of silly comments when he first arrives at camp, and for a moment I was afraid he'd been dumped down. But quickly the reader gets to see flashes of the good ol' Percy and everything is made right with the world. He quickly rises to his true leadership position, which is great. You learn a lot more about what the future has in story of this kid, and of course, his love of Annabeth was still strong! What else would you expect? But I swear, this guy knows like everyone. So watch out for those cameos! Let's see if you can guess who they are before their identities are revealed (and in some cases they aren't!)

              Octavius. The bad guy we all love to hate. Couldn't have made his character any more easier. I mean, this guy kind of gave me the bad vibe just from his description. The second he opened his mouth I knew I wasn't going to like him. And I don't! So well done Mr. Riordan, you have written your story well.

               Reyna. She's so cool! She's that girl who is, strong, cool, collective, smart and athletic. She's a great praetor and I wish her the best of luck. Hopefully, we'll get to see more of her in later books.

              The writing wasn't much different from the last book. There were definitely parts were I felt the story was lacking something. I felt this one was less exciting that The Lost Hero, but it was good in its own way. Of course, there were parts were I was like freaking out and hyperventilating, but there were also others were I kind of just skimmed the paragraph because it wasn't that interesting. There are references to books from the PJO series, so I hope you guys remember what happened. And I'm not saying references from the last book, some maybe be as early as the first three books. I also didn't think the gods were as funny in this book, but that's also because their Roman forms are much more serious. The difference between Greek and Roman way is definitely noted. It's even pointed out to the reader, to prove the point. Their lifestyles are so much different! I mean, they're like polar opposites! Questions campers have had about the after-life of campers will surely be answered. And by after-life I mean life after camp, if they're not killed by a giant or a gryphon before hand that is.

              Let's thank the gods that Rick Riordan added a glossary to the book. I mean, near the beginning I was rather lost with all the Roman talk. Sure, I'm widely educated in the civilization of the Ancient Greeks (I wrote many term papers on them) but my Roman knowledge was lacking a bit. And it just seemed so odd to me that there was Roman talk. After six Greek books, you get used to Greek terms.

               The ending will keep you shocked. Mostly because you can't believe it just ended right there! Then you get past the glossary and there's that little note that says The Mark of Athena, Fall 2012. That's one whole year away. How the meeting between the two groups goes, if there's tension in the air or if they're accepted. I've probably already said enough, so you guys will just have to read it to find out what I mean.

Why don't we (The Humans) evolve??

             It is said by scientists around the world that life came into this world we call earth around 15,000,000 years ago after the Great Apes. Now we are the most intelligent species in the universe or are we? am sure that is a question that lies in everyone's mind and I accept it's in mine too, but that's a discussion for another day. Now from the time of creation the humans have evolved from being Neanderthals, they invented fire with which they cooked their food and started to live in groups. Now those days humans were near animals and so they could not be faulted for what they did but now, we are the intelligent species, we have broken down the atoms and have even discovered the god matter and we haven't even used the full power of our brain. It is said that an average scientist uses about a small part of the brain for his work so basically we still have so much untapped power within each of us. If we could do this much by just a small part of the brain think of what and all could be achieved with the full potential of the brain. We could cure any disease and we can save the earth from its destruction (yes I know its not actually destroying but hey what do you call all the things that we are doing to her). And not to mention the wars that's happening seriously we aren't in the stone age. Killing and fighting over each other just to prove the fact that you are better than the other is the way the Neanderthals used to think but we are above them aren't we or we still un-evolved?. There is a lot we could achieve if we work things together but alas that will take a miracle to happen. And so lets try at least this new year lets try to get together to work as one and save the whole of humanity instead of ourselves. I know this blog ain't gonna cross over my country but still there is hope in the form of some people. Think Big and You'll Achieve Big. Till next time folks.

A Very Happy New Year

           Celebrations around the world have started for New Year's 2012. Here's a look at some of them.

Fireworks light up the skyline over Sydney Harbour during the midnight fireworks session as Sydney Celebrates New Year's on January 1, 2012, in Sydney, Australia.

People gather to celebrate the New Year 2012 at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing on January 1, 2012.

Fireworks explode in downtown Jakarta's sky during the New Year 2012 celebrations on December 31, 2011.

Fireworks light up the London skyline and Big Ben just after midnight in London, England. Thousands of people lined the banks of the River Thames in central London to ring in the New Year.

Fireworks burst over Spassky Tower at the Red Square in Moscow, early on January 1, 2012.

Fireworks explode over the Quadriga statue atop the Brandenburg Gate on New Year's Eve in Berlin, Germany.
Fireworks illuminate the Hong Kong skyline above Victoria harbour during new years celebrations on January 1, 2012. An estimated 400,000 people were at the display marking the new year.   
Fireworks light up the skyline over Sydney Harbour during the midnight fireworks session as Sydney Celebrates New Year's Eve

The Sydney sky is lit up by a spectacular array of fireworks to welcome in 2012