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Pathetic Programming

"Programming is best regarded as the process of creating works of literature, which are meant to be read” Donald E.Knuth.

If you had th misfortune of learning QBasic in class 6 or 7 and that too from a teacher with terrible communication skills, you wouldn't agree with Mr.Donald. In fact the processing of creating works of literature actually created a copycat out of you.

Its strange how programming divides its learners into two parts right from the start - those who can spell the word 'programming' and those who can't. The small group of your friends who toiled relentlessly to produce the cryptic codes you never understood belongs to the first group. The copycats like you make up the second group.

QBasic classes kick off with you desperately trying to discern what your teacher is actually talking about. 2 or 3 classes later, you already know that the only terms you will ever understand are CLS and SCREEN 12. Unfortunately you still don't understand what those commands do to that pathetic blue screen that greets you as soon as you open the program.

A few weeks later you come to the conclusion: geometric shapes are best drawn on paper and not on that black screen that appears when you press F5. Instead of indulging on the futility of listening to your teacher's babbles of 'Banglish', you now concentrate on Facebooking; followed by a brief period of copying codes.

Then, math steps into QBasic but you know it makes no difference to your routine. Meanwhile your lousy teacher is impressed - you are copying all codes correctly and he thinks it's your own original work. Your coursework ultimately comes to a conclusion and while you still don't understand what CLS and SCREEN 12 are, you are asked to submit a project. This time however your friends demand remuneration and while your project passes with flying colours - it comes at the cost of your wallet.

However, the final exam still remains and before you even read the questions, you know failure is always an option parents should consider. Because invigilators don't really like how the cartel of copying works and are not receptive to the idea of free flow of information. Thus your report card reveals an F and your teacher can't figure out why his 'prodigious' programmer perished!

By Nayeem Islam

Save Thyself

They are lurking just around the corner… you can feel them creeping towards you, waiting to strike at an opportune moment you will try, no doubt, to save yourself, but in vain. Why do you even bother any more?

Yes, it's another fine day and yet again you have been hunted down by one of them… one of the egomaniacs.

“Ah, there you are! I've been looking all over for you, where did you run off to? How can you walk away from me? Can you not deal with my sheer awesomeness?”

Ah, so today's item is the one convinced of his academic greatness. Of course you can't deal with his “sheer awesomeness”, but then again, he doesn't care, does he? Bid farewell to another hour (at the very least) of your life, because the egomaniac has returned with an assortment of new and improved self-centred stories to share with you. Oh joy.

“I can't believe that guy! He gave me an A minus in English! ME! Can you imagine?”

You evidently have better things to do than gauge the teaching skills of your dear teacher or the intensity of the bulb that hovers above his dear student's bloated head - a fact that your egocentric buddy will definitely ignore. After all, thinking about lower organisms like you is not his forte.

But hey, you are not the only one dealing with these kinds of specimens. Egomaniacs, narcissists, self-centred pompous freaks… such individuals are far from scarce in this world (thanks to the lack of family planning on the part of our great-grandparents). What is important, though, is not the frequency of these self-obsessed folks, but that you are able to recognise them before they make a victim out of you. As "Mad Eye" Moody would tell you, "Constant Vigilance” are the magic words. You can recognise an egomaniac by their oversized heads (filled mostly with light gases like helium), the trademark swagger and an impossible to miss know-it-all aura, which will immediately tick you off.

Once you identify these features, the smartest thing to do would be to run in the opposite direction, as fast as possible. Sticking around for confirmation is not worth it. Yes, the 'poor' egoists will be completely baffled by such behaviour, unable to figure out why everyone's running away from the embodiment of perfection. That, however, is none of your concern; the freak will probably just associate it with low-intelligence level and you shall be saved.

Hopefully, you will survive in this world filled with raving egomaniacs - or perhaps some of the readers have found themselves to show signs of egoism? For those poor, unfortunate, infected souls, yours truly offers her deepest condolence.


By Sarwat Yunus

Totally Random Toon

By ER Ronny

Book Review

Tales of the Otori Grass For His Pillow

As the second book of a trilogy, Grass for His Pillow is less intriguing than Across the Nightingale Floor. Once the first book takes care of introductions to both story and characters, the second begins building from the exact point where Across the Nightingale Floor left off.

For those who missed the last review, Tales of the Otori tells of Takeo, who is rescued from his village's massacre and adopted by Lord Otori Shigeru into the Otori family. Takeo hones the talents he inherited through his kinship with the mysterious Tribe, as well as fighting skills he learns from Shigeru and other teachers, discovering an entirely different life from what he knew as a child. Shirakawa Kaede, initially a pawn on a political chessboard, and Takeo fall in love, even as she is used to betray Shigeru and the Otori. Grass for His Pillow picks up where Takeo has left Kaede, and this story is told through the eyes of both protagonists. Kaede, returning to her ruined home, climbs the ladder to power as the heir to a family of an ageing father with his young daughters, in a world where women are merely payment for alliances between clans. Meanwhile, Takeo hides from his enemies, and further trains his abilities with those who are familiar with them. He yearns for vengeance for Shigeru, and to claim his right as Shigeru's son and leader of the Otori.

What sets apart this whole series is the use of a mythical Feudal Japan as a backdrop, incorporating a smooth blend of fantasy and history. A minute detail such as a man cutting off another's head without hesitation, yet rescuing moths from a flame with care, emphasises the individual so uniquely that it's admirable. Lian Hearn uses the time in this second book to develop her characters, so all the little details missed out in the fast-paced Across the Nightingale Floor are gradually covered, creating a more believable persona for the lesser characters as well. It's an important feature when a story consists of only a small number of separate personalities.

The politics in the story are well thought-out and executed with precision, so the shifting allegiances are viewed with surprise at every turn. The fights are intriguing, although sometimes it's necessary to scramble to avoid getting lost. For a story which uses fantasy as a baseline genre, it's not as descriptive as it should be, so it can be hard to figure out what exactly just happened. A minor detail, considering the excessively descriptive nature of Lord of the Rings.

Grass for His Pillow is slower than its previous instalment, as second books are wont to be, but it's hard to lose interest in the tremendous power plays, internal and external, within and between families. It's quite clear that this book is developing the tale, sizing it up for an epic end to the series with the final instalment.

By Professor Spork



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