On A Whim

The Official Computer Bowl Trivia Book

Stumbled upon this excellent resource for tech quizzers called The Official Computer Bowl Trivia book through Paul Ford on Twitter. Bear in mind this was released in 1996 so some parts of it may be outdated. Can’t wait for the next Code Wars I conduct with questions inspired from here!

On A Whim

Code Wars 2013

I went back to my school this week after two years to help out my erstwhile computer club, the Code Warriors, with our annual technology competition Code Wars. The 2013 edition saw participation from 30 schools with over 500 participants.

The last one of these that I’d attended was Code Wars 2010, and I had no idea when this year’s event would be taking place. I only stumbled across it by accident on Wednesday this week (the event was on Thursday and Friday) when I saw a Facebook event for it, and got a message from our computer department’s head. Naturally, I signed on right away to help out!

I came away very impressed by the quality of the show put on by both the Code Warriors team and the participants. The level of competition was excellent, and indeed, in the few events that I judged and/or conducted, it was often tough to make a decision. Kudos to the participants!

What I truly enjoyed, though, was conducting the Senior Quiz finals. This has been my core event for years now, and my philosophy in designing it has always been to create questions where participants might just have the answers on the tip of their tongue – but need to go that extra mile to figure out what the answer is. And you can check out the different events for yourself by downloading the following below:

  • Senior Quiz: Prelims (PDF, ~360 KB), Finals (PPTX, ~12.5 MB; I had to use an Office format as all audio-visual questions are embedded for playback in the presentation)
  • Junior Quiz: Prelims (PDF, ~360 KB), Finals (PDF, ~1.25 MB)
  • Crossword: Finals (opens in a new window)

Many thanks to Raghav Gaur, Yash Goel, Tosshaan Thapar, Pulkit Jaiswal for helping out with making the Senior Quiz finals. (Those are the names I know contributed for sure, so in case I’ve missed any name out my apologies!) Raghav and Yash also get full credit for making the questions for the other events available for download here.

It’s funny seeing how pervasive Douglas Adams is still in Delhi’s quizzing circles. I consider it my biggest legacy here, but at least I’ve influenced a fair few people into reading one of the amazing series’ of books ever. :D

Do give me feedback on what you think about the quiz!

On A Whim

Top 10 Unusual Sexy Songs

The Stag did a special edition this time on sex. One of the features we did for the music section was on the ‘perfect’ sexy song. On which I had to say…

People obsesses about what song to set the mood for or during sex. What’s more important for me is what song to play after sex, because it influences the way that I look back at it. In that regard, my favourite sexy song of all time is What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong. I fell in love with this song ever since I heard it in the last episode of the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy radio show. It’s a song that is so close to me emotionally that I only ever play it post-sex for someone that I feel I truly connected with. Armstrong’s gravelly voice makes the moment tres romantique.

I couldn’t resist coming up with a ‘fun’ list of unusual sexy songs though after writing that. Here’s my top 10:

  1. Best this-room-is-way-too-dark-and-I-can’t-see-what-I’m-doing song: No Light, No Light by Florence + The Machine
  2. Best make-her-give-consent song: Just Say Yes by Snow Patrol
  3. Best we-are-gonna-do-some-seriously-fucked-up-shit song: Use Your Fist And Not Your Mouth by Marilyn Manson
  4. Best this-sex-tape-is-going-to-end-up-on-some-porn-site song: Kiss & Tell by Selena Gomez
  5. Best get-that-Twilight-fan-chick-interested-in-you song: If I Was Your Vampire by Marilyn Manson
  6. Best well-this-was-disappointing song: I Can’t Get No Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones
  7. Best you-really-need-deodorant song: Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana
  8. Best I’m-never-going-to-sleep-with-this-person-and-I-will-play-this-as-I-kick-them-out: One Night Stand by Fanzine
  9. Best I-don’t-want-to-fuck-you song: Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth by The Dandy Warhols
  10. Best I-want-you-to-scratch-and-bite-me-nudge-nudge-wink-wink song: I Like It Rough by Lady Gaga
On A Whim


I was really enjoying writing these travel blog posts from Turkey. I accidentally spilled Diet Coke on my keyboard though and my netbook’s keys gummed up. Most of them went back to their springy shape, except for ‘f’ and a couple of other keys. This annoyed me to no end because I’m a touch typist and consciously having to think about typing a key kills my speed.

So I gave up and kicked back to enjoy the rest of the trip. I’ve got a new laptop now, so I can finally get some work done. Uni starts again next week, and I need to get some reports done first. The good news is that I only have lectures two days a week, which gives me enough time to work on my final year project, my societies, and completing the rest of the Turkey blog entries. Taking a short hiatus as I sort that out.

On A Whim

Grey Matters 2012 quiz

I haven’t posted anything on my blog for so long that I’m at the point that I need to write about not having written anything. Chances are that I will have time once I’m back at university. Don’t hold your breath though. :/

Grey Matters, DPS Vasant Kunj’s annual inter-school quiz, was held this year on 1st August. I wish I could have been there to co-conduct it like last year, with Vivek. That was not to be as I was tied up this year with my internship. Vivek, I’m sure, had many mini-freakouts where he silently and privately cursed me for being a lazy bastard, and I won’t be surprised if he thought we’d be pulling off an all-nighter actually researching a majority of questions like we did last year. I have to thank Bhavika and Prateek for really saving our asses and doing a lot of the heavy-lifting with the research. And then Vivek and I piled on with our own set of diabolical questions, many of them hashed out over Skype sessions. I think we did a good job by the end of it. Massive, massive thank you to both of them for making this happen, and to Vivek who carried off what I hear was a well-conducted quiz. Without any of the on-stage stripping that I did last time.

So…click here to download Grey Matters 2012. I hear there was a massive upset in our speciality ‘6 by 9’ round in the finals.

Here are some things I had in mind – and which I discussed with Vivek – when we donned our hats as Game Makers:

  • I hate long and pointless questions. I feel strongly that there is no need to waffle on with a 20-lines of details. ‘Workable’ does not mean adding as much information as you can, but adding crucial bits of information. And so, we tried to limit question lengths. Quizzing is a spectator sport – even when you don’t have an audience, if your question is so long that it takes three minutes to read out, other teams on stage will get tired. Participating in a quiz with long questions is like playing a test match – a noble profession, surely, but incredibly taxing. So we tried to keep the questions snappy while still trying to leave enough details to allow answers to be ‘worked out’ or guessed.
  • The quiz is very trivia-heavy. Even when we have question on current affairs (questions on Olympics, US elections…) they have been phrased in a way so that it isn’t a direct “Identify this bloke in the news recently” type questions.
  • Keep the rounds varied! This doesn’t just mean have ‘dry’ rounds and straight audio visuals. We mixed things up by keeping infinite bounce rounds, mixing audio/visuals at random into standard rounds, and having formats like ‘hangman’ with cryptic clues, progressive clues, 6 by 9. This keeps things interesting for everyone – as a quizmaster it lets you not get worn out; as a participant, it allows team members with different strengths to shine in different rounds. Everyone could be smart but some people work better with ‘raw’ questions, some are better at cryptic…and then the finishing touch of 6 by 9 brings it down to the wire by allowing for huge upsets (up to 100 points can be earned in that round).
  • Ask questions about things that are usually not covered in quizzes. This is one of my pet peeves about quizzing in Delhi: contemporary pop culture is so short shrifted. Why should ‘music’ always mean 60-80s English rock and Hindi songs? I’ve yet to ever attend a quiz that has asked questions on contemporary music, beyond VERY mainstream stuff. The newest things I’ve heard ever at a quiz are early 90s Nirvana or Coldplay, and every other music question belong to before that era. Films, books…everything seems either pre 90s era usually. Upshot: there’s a huge confirmation bias in what quizzers ‘study’ or expect. Or that someone who likes more recent music would hate / suck at the music rounds of most quizzes in Delhi, and hence only people who are into old Bollywood / classic English rock will ever do well in those rounds.  For instance, there was a question on identifying The XX feat. Florence Welch which none of the participants got…but guess what, many people in the audience from a random classroom that was called in to sit in the audience did! There’s a huge disconnect because there are so many topics that rarely ever get touched in quizzes, generally. Sure, Vivek and I have our biases too but we tried to avoid questions that felt ‘standard’, for whichever ones we came up with.
  • We wanted to come up with questions on weird and wonderful trivia that nobody has ever heard of. The perfect question for me as a question setter is one that nobody can answer…but one which when you hear the answer for, makes you go “THAT is fucking cool”. So, by trivia I don’t mean asking what’s the name of Kim Jong Il’s eldest son…but asking a question in which I get to tell you that Kim Jong Il wanted to solve starvation by breeding giant rabbits, and that his eldest son is in exile in Macau after trying to smuggle himself into Japan on a fake Dominican Republic passport because he wanted to visit Disneyland Tokyo. So what if nobody gets the answer! If you like quizzing, you learn something new and weird…and as a quizmaster, it gives you even greater pleasure when something like this gets cracked. Think of it as making…a quiz version of

Tell me what you think of this quiz! The feedback I’ve got so far says many felt the difficulty level of written preliminaries and initial stage rounds was vastly different from that of the finals round. And I hope you learn something new and enjoy it. :)