Monday, November 30, 2015

Get Motivated!

Motivation is a lot like fire. You have to keep feeding it if you want to keep it around. Sometimes you feed it achievement, sometimes you feed it criticism and sometimes you run out of things to feed and you're left staring at dying embers. It's not fun when you run out of fuel. You might sit for hours or days or weeks, just waiting for something else to feed and reignite your motivation. Waiting isn't the answer- nope! You're going to have to head out of your comfort zone and look for your metaphorical fuel instead of waiting for it to magically appear!

Here are some of the things that I dug out of the internet. They've motivated me to start something new (which I'm not telling- not yet!) and hopefully, they'll motivate you too!

Have a nice day!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Game Review: SCP Containment Breach

SCP Containment Breach is an indie game based on the SCP website. Before I tell you about the game, I'll tell you a bit about the background. What is SCP?

SCP is basically an acronym that stands for Special Containment Procedures. The SCP Foundation is a fictional organization that works in the shadows, collecting anomalies that would otherwise horrify mankind into mass hysteria and possibly the end of the world. The Foundation's motto is simple: Secure. Contain. Protect

The very first SCP- the thing that started this whole fictional world is a man-made monster, termed as SCP-173. The objects that the Foundation contains are given serial numbers of three digits and are to be referred to their serial classification only. Apart from that, there are other classifications for the objects as well, for example, some are sentient and some are violent. SCP-173 is a Euclid class object that is violent: it will not move as long as it is in someone's range of sight but once it is no longer being watched, it will seem to teleport to it's target and proceed to snap it's neck.

This SCP is the origin of the Foundation. Apparently, the picture was posted on Reddit forums which created the SCP creepypasta before becoming it's own legend. As a result, this very important SCP is the first SCP to be encountered in the game: SCP Containment Breach.

SCPs are classified into three groups, Safe, Keter and Euclid. Safe SCPs are those that are harmless, for example SCP-860 is a key that can open the lock of any door. Keter class SCPs are those that are extremely dangerous and need special containment procedures, for example SCP-682 or SCP-106. SCP-682 is a monstrous lizard that does not physically appear in the game, but it's roars are heard throughout the facility along with tremors associated with it's attempts of escape. SCP-106, also nicknamed as Radical Larry is a dwarfed humanoid SCP which chases it's prey to either throw it into it's pocket dimension or just...kill it. Both of these SCPs are classed as Keter due the threat they pose, the mystery that still surrounds them and the difficulty in their containment. The last class is Euclid which contains every sentient SCP that can still somehow be contained. An example of a Euclid class is SCP-173 and SCP-096. SCP-096 is a tall, thin humanoid that is usually docile and can be contained, however, if it's face is seen whether directly, by video feed or by photograph, it will enter into a fit of screaming and/or crying before hurtling it's way to the offender and brutally killing them, regardless of where they are. 

Okay, now to the game.

Before I start, here are some things you should know. 
  • This is a free game and can be downloaded here
  • I have not played this game personally due to the error of "Memory Access Violation" despite my attempts of bypassing this glitch. Therefore, my opinions are based on the SCP wiki and SCP Containment Breach game plays and walkthrus on Youtube. (most particularly; MARKIPLIERRRR)
  • This is a horror game: there are loud noises, dark environments and monsters out trying to kill you.
SCP Containment Breach is a first person game. You are among D-Class personnel, the lowest of the low and easily disposable, therefore, the introduction of the game starts off with you entering SCP-173's containment cell for research. Two others enter with you to keep SCP-173 in line of sight to prevent any casualties. However, all hell breaks loose when the door to the containment is jammed and the facility has a power outage. With complete and utter darkness, albeit for a few seconds, SCP-173 has enough time to kill your fellow D-Class and the guards and escape through the ventilation ducts.

It is dark. You are alone. SCP-173 is out there.

What a wonderful start to a horror game. You now wander around the facility, trying not to get your neck snapped by SCP-173 while looking for new areas and trying to piece together the mystery of the Breach. There are also lots of other SCPs to see and you can even check out their containment cells, while even managing to contain one yourself! Here are some of the best SCPs who can be found in the game.

Also known as the Plague Doctor, SCP-049 can be found in the basement along with one of it's surgery patients, which are reduced to zombies that try infecting the player. SCP-049 also tries to 'cure' the player by following you around and trying to touch you. Touch alone is sufficient to carry out the effect of SCP-049. On the bright side, SCP-049 walks kind of slow (just as fast as the player, actually, so you can sprint ahead). SCP-049 also speaks English and generally stays in the basement. Generally.

Also known as Radical Larry (I have no idea how that nickname came about), SCP-106 can either kill you or transport you to a pocket dimension with circular rooms, lots of corridors and a walkway of death. Getting out of the pocket dimension is kind of random I guess, and usually takes you to a different area in the facility. Sometimes, it will drop you off in SCP-106's containment area where you can actually capture SCP-106 and put him away for the rest of the game. The whole containment procedure is really creepy though! You find yourself in a control room with a video feed of the inside of SCP-106's containment where you can just make out a person inside. Beside the video feed are three controls labelled "Femur Breaker", Sound Broadcast and Magnet Power. Turning on the sound will let you hear the confused cries of help from the human. Pressing femur breaker does exactly that; it breaks his femur and screams of pain flood the broadcast. If you keep watching the video feed, you can make out the black puddles that cue SCP-106, or Radical Larry's entrances. Changing the magnetic power feed to generator will cause the containment cell to levitate. The video feed is cut off and SCP-106 is contained.

SCP-096 doesn't really have a nickname! This SCP is essentially the opposite of SCP-173. Looking at it will result in death, albeit somewhat delayed. The game let's you witness it's containment breach by viewing a clash through a window. SCP-096 is in the middle of the room, hands on it's face and writhing in agitation; clearly someone has looked at it. A guard expresses surprise by questioning how it came out of it's containment before SCP-096 leaps at it. There are flashes of gun shots and blood is sprayed on the window. Nothing is visible anymore. Now here's the tricky part. You have to get inside that room to turn the elevator power feed to generator. You must navigate through the room while keeping your view either on the blood stained ground or the walls and try your best not to bump into the humanoid. If you did look at it, on purpose or by accident, you'll know. SCP-096 has this odd, musical screaming that slowly turns into a crescendo before leaping after you. Nothing can stop it- no amount of turns or closed doors will throw it off your trail. But if you don't look at it, you can safely navigate out of the room and be on your merry way.

SCP-939 is a freaky lizard type of thing that you can hear before you see it. It mimics the voices of it's victims and "talks" in an attempt to lure you towards it. The funny thing is, the mimicry is quite responsive. Coming close to SCP-939 causes it to try and make you come closer "Who's there?" is the first panicked cry. "Show yourself!" and if you make the horrible mistake of doing so, SCP-939 will crawl to you with lightening speed and attempt to bite you to death. Apparently, it takes two bites before you die... Anyway, this SCP lurks in the basement as well and is your hurdle between two elevators. You must navigate across the room to the other door and manage to get it open in time for you to get in. 

Death in SCP Containment Breach is common. You will die several times, whether it's by a cervical fracture by SCP-173, or getting punched to death by SCP-106. If you progress through the game long enough, thanks to saving your game often and reloading, the intercom will announce the entry of Nine Tailed Fox into the facility. Nine Tailed Fox is a type of military task force specialized in containing the breach. So during the second half of the game, not only do you have to worry about getting killed by SCPs, you also have to worry about getting shot by the military task force who will treat you, a Class D, as something anomalous that must be exterminated. 

(Actually, there's a lot of things you have to worry about in the game. There are Omega and Alpha nuclear warheads that are scheduled to destroy the facility, as well as finding the exit gates and trying to figure out how to get past the surrounded exits.) 

All in all, this game is more about the horror factor of exploring the SCP Foundation Facility and less about actually making it out alive. There are several SCPs that you can find and interact with (whether by running away or by death) as well as rooms, offices and containment cells to explore. The game may not exactly be considered enjoyable- but it certainly does give you jump-scares and general panic attacks as you try your hardest to run and escape. I really recommend playing this game!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Welcome to Med School

You've worked super hard. You've given several tests and spent countless nights studying and now, you're finally into medical school! Are you excited? I sure am! Here's a list of things of things that I think are super important for someone's first year in med school.

Self Care

Med school is tough! I sure wish someone had sat me down to explain what I would need to do be able to craft myself the necessary sword and shield required to slay my brand new demons, the most notable of which would be anxiety, depression, loss of self esteem and lack of motivation! Now, before I tell you what you should do, I'm going to insert a disclaimer here.

I'm not saying an expert, I'm just here to give you my experience and my feedback. The methods may or may not work each and every time- I'm still trying to figure my way around even now! In fact, I'm probably going to be using these methods for next year myself!

There will always be someone better than you. You used to top your class in high school? Forget it now, med school is where the cream of the crop goes so your class dynamic is going to be a universe away from what you're used to. You'll come across geniuses who score effortlessly and even bigger geniuses who post their studying on a variety of social media

(I'm not talking about studyblrs who function to motivate others to study, I'm talking about people who post useless updates like "I just finished reading a week ahead of class" or "Have any of you read this amazing book on pathophysiobiochemhistology that I issued from the library" or "I can't wait to give the USMLE- I already bought an online membership for an exclusive question bank" etc etc)

And the thing is, that's okay! It's okay if you're not doing as good as you thought you could do, or if your performance seems to have fallen. The problem can be rectified if you just take a deep breath and let go of focusing on other people and focus on yourself instead. Don't worry about your class position, worry about how much you understand what you're studying!

Know that you will run out of motivation. This is a fact. There will be so many things going on and so much pressure on you that you feel like you'll burst and you just want to sit in a corner and play video games- which sounds like a horrible idea to do at the time. You're going to have to pick yourself up and keep going. All the motivation you had the first few months of med school seem to have evaporated and you wonder what had possessed you at the time?

Well, I always wish I had a bottle of sorts that I could collect my feelings in. Imagine keeping a refrigerator of emotions. Feeling super happy? Bottle some of that up for a gloomy day. Now, there's no such actual bottle available in any sort of market, but there are other things you can use instead. Here's a small list I came up with:
  • Make a motivation board on Pinterest or a specific tag on tumblr. Find an inspiring quote? Book mark it. Found a beautiful passage on medicine that ignites your passion? Copy and save image as. Gather those pixels and megabytes and store them for the gloomy days.
  • Are you feeling so happy about something, so proud of yourself, that you have no idea what to do? Write about it in your notebook. Gush about it in a video. Record your happiness in its purest form and place it close to your heart. Do this once. Do it again. Do it every time you feel good about doing what you're doing.
  •  Proud of something small? Managed to give a presentation in class? Answered a question correctly? More than writing the event, write about how you feel about it and how you want to keep improving and doing better!
People will keep trying to knock you down, whether it's just a look from your classmate or a hurtful remark from your professor. You're so used to being the best that it's hard to adjust coming back down to level zero. That's right, level zero. You are now the lowest level in this medical role playing game and it's no surprise that better players will try snubbing you. The thing is, you can't take what they say very seriously. Sure, they probably mean well, but to be honest,  you don't need extra negativity in your life. Listen, extract the useful, toss everything else out into the past.

Academic Purchases

Buy a decent notebook and an arsenal of pens. This will be your shield and sword for classes. Make consistent notes for each and every session you attend. I really wish I had done this- keeping a record of every class would have helped me to figure out how important each topic is. This is something you can't gauge from uploaded powerpoint slides (they make everything look important actually) and at the end of the year when you're having exams, you don't have the time to go through everything.

Buy original editions of your textbooks. Please don't buy second-hand or pirated copies! I know the textbooks seem really expensive but it's a valuable investment! These books have to last you five years- buying anything less than the original will have you forced into buying the original before even one year is over. Here's a list of must have textbooks:

  • Textbook of Medical Physiology by Guyton and Hall
  • Netter's Atlas of Anatomy
  • Snell's Clinical Anatomy
  • The Developing Human, Clinically Oriented Embryology by KLM 
  • Lippincott's Illustrated Reviews: Biochemistry
  • Junquiera's Basic Histology, Text and Atlas 

I also highly recommend buying the Board Reviews Series (I haven't bought it yet, but I plan to because I spent like, quite a lot of time reading the PDFs, I've come to realize how useful this series is and plan on using this for second year).

If you are a med student in Islamabad, here's a bookstore that caters specifically to medical students: Prince Book Depot, Basement Shop 4, City Arcade Plaza, I-8 Markaz Islamabad. Remember to buy a histology practical notebook and haemotoxylin/eosin pencils (basically, pink and purple expensive color pencils, don't even ask)

Study Methods

Invest now and save time later. Don't leave studying for the last minute. There's just so much information, it's going to feel very easy to postpone studying, but in the end, you're going to have a mountain to conquer and you will probably die at the end- the point is, don't procrastinate! Clear your concepts as they come!

Personally, I like making notes- a lot of notes- and I just had my professional examinations for first year and guess what? My notes are concise and give me everything I need to know- I didn't open any of my books for the text (diagrams are a different story). And let me tell you, it's much less stressful having three pages in your notebook summarizing a ten page chapter!

Watch videos. There are lots of videos available to cater to medical students. Watching these videos will help give you the bigger picture and let you see the relevance of your topic to other topics. Two of my favorite YouTube channels that I've subscribed to are KhanAcademyMedicine and Armando Hasudungan. Both of these channels have a large database of videos for a variety of topics. I really recommend going through these channels, subscribing and then using them to keep your concepts together, especially for revision, whether at the end of the week or before a test.

These are the main pieces of advice that I, at the end of first year, would have given myself when I started first year! I hope this, or some parts of this help you out as well! Have a nice week.

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