Quivers, RSVP and the Singaplogosphere

This will be one of those writings with no particular direction. Feel free to go read something else that might be more interesting, like the stock market or something.

Archery, Bows and Clairvoyance

I’ve always found bows in RPGs kind of … quaint. It feels to be one of the flimsiest weapons available. It’s practically useless in close combat. And you need two components for it to work, the bow itself and arrows.

It works great for long ranged attacks though. It also brings with it other factors to consider. Wind speed, speed and direction (or velocity for the physics-inclined) of a moving target and angle of trajectory.

You also need to keep in mind the number of arrows you have at hand. I’m so afraid of running out of arrows in games that sometimes, I don’t shoot them at all. I would save them for more important battles, such as boss fights. Of course, the character was usually physically weak (like Rosa in Final Fantasy IV), so the character ends up using other skills like magic to wreak havoc. And I ended up with a lot more arrows than I expected.

There are also different types of arrows in the games. Like fire-based ones for fighting yetis, snowmen and other fire-fearing enemies. Or lightning-charged ones for fighting water monsters.

I too have different types of arrows and I keep them in separate quivers. There’s the quiver of mathematics, quiver of programming and I usually shoot arrows from my quiver of curiosita.

I encountered this term curiosita from the book How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci by Michael Gelb. The author defines it as

An insatiably curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning.

That might explain my fascination with puzzles recently, such as the one on digital clocks and the math puzzle in a game.

The thing is, I feel like I’m shooting all those arrows into the future, and hoping that when it’s the present, someone, like me, and hopefully you, will find these articles useful, interesting, thought-provoking and preferably funny and downright entertaining too. I don’t always hit the target. I just try very hard to be on the mark.

So I could use some help here. If you have anything you want to talk about, math or programming or even general fun stuff to think about, send them to me and I’ll write something on it. Like puzzles. I love puzzles. Not too hard though… Oh what the heck. Send them to me anyway (original ones please, or cite their source.). I need to look publicly foolish once in a while, trying vainly to solve a puzzle or write on a subject … and failing. Humility’s good for the soul, I’ve heard.

Which brings me to…

Repondez s’il vous plait

I left all the accents alone. R.S.V.P. is short form of a French phrase that means “please respond”. I’d love to hear something from you. In fact, I’m so desperate, I’d love to hear anything from you.

My colleagues don’t really talk about programming very much. Unless they’re in trouble. Then they’d sometimes ask me for suggestions. So I don’t get a lot of intelligent conversation about programming. Not that my colleagues aren’t intelligent. Just nothing about programming. The weather, current affairs and how the latest corporate management rule is going to mess up our lives pretty much fills up our conversations.

By the time this article you’re reading is published, the material is probably about 18 hours old. By the time you actually read it, it’s probably about a day old. I use the scheduling feature of WordPress. Typically, I write the articles the night before and set them off to be published at 5pm the next day. That’s 5pm Singapore time, which is 8 hours ahead of UTC (+0800). That’s about 5am in the morning for America and 9am for United Kingdom.

I do my web site stuff at night, around 8pm to 12 midnight. So if I respond late to your comments and emails, it’s because of the time zone difference. But please feel free to talk to me. You will make a lonely programmer very happy.

You don’t even have to type out a comment or email if you don’t feel like it. Just think of it in your mind. I’ll receive it, because amongst my many talents, I’m also psychic. I’ve already received a few comments in this manner. They usually pertain to enlarging some male body part, so I ignore them. I might even have to set up an ethereal spam filter soon. Do you know of a service like this?

And I want to thank all the wonderful people who’ve commented here or emailed me. I’ve even got a notable visit from the eminent Raymond Chen from The Old New Thing. I jumped out of my chair when I saw his name. I kid you not.

The Singapore blogosphere

Because of my lacklustre attempt at reaching out to people in a geographically agnostic way, I’ve decided to see what I can do closer to home. My impression of the Singapore blogosphere or Singaplogosphere (you know, that’s actually quite cumbersome) is dominated by the technological, political and the personal genres.

I know it’s much more than that now. I found out about this event called Social Media Breakfast, Singapore version, and I attended its 3rd event. It was awesome! I met lots of wonderful people. Then I attended the 4th event (with the practical modification to brunch instead of breakfast. Singaporeans do not like waking up at the unearthly hour of 8am on a Saturday morning to attend an event). It was just as awesome!

Sadly, I didn’t find any programmers there. Everyone’s eyes glazed over when I mentioned math and programming in the same sentence. They’d probably glaze over even if I mentioned math or programming in its own sentence. But everyone’s passionate about something. They’re energetic, opinionated and generally nice people to be around with.

They are so friendly, they managed to get me into Facebook. Yeah, friend power! It’s also why I left Twitter and joined Plurk instead. I think social media sites mean nothing to you if you can’t find a way to have interesting conversations there, whether you invite all your friends or you make new ones.

With that, here are some of the interesting people I know:

  • Daryl Tay, a social media enthusiast and founder of Social Media Breakfast Singapore
  • Claudia, who is in love with her Nikon camera. Check out her spinning photos.
  • Tech65 on technology in general. Check out their podcasts.
  • Sheylara. She’s famous. Seriously. Her face is plastered all over the XBox poster ads in Singapore.
  • Darryl Kang (not to be confused with the Daryl above) or DK as he prefers to be known, had a recent aversion to McDonalds.
  • Krisandro, and his recent pwnage by a 2.21 metre giant.

And that’s that. Back to regular topics. And I’ve got a kicker coming up…

  1. Christopher Tay

    It is nice to know a fellow Singaporean with a genuine passion for programming and math. I have to say first that I do not have a blog and hence do not have the appropriate experience. But I think having a slightly narrower focus on a specific topic might help to increase the visibility of your blog. This focus probably narrows down your variety of readers but you might gain a constant group of people to interact with in exchange. Might be a good idea to start off with math or programming problems you encounter in daily life?

  2. Vincent Tan

    Hey Christopher! *jumps for joy around for awhile* If I remember correctly, you gave an answer for an encryption puzzle I wrote, and maybe commented a couple of times too. Thanks very much.

    From your name, I guessed you’re probably a Chinese. I didn’t know you’re Singaporean too. *jumps some more* … *collecting self with decorum*

    I will think very hard on what you’ve said. Polymathy and narrow niche don’t mix very well. I’m still trying to find a good balance.

    Right now, I think math, programming and some curios for thought are my main focus. That might count as a niche thing.

    Thanks again for stopping by.

  3. Philip Fitzsimons

    Hi Vincent,

    I’ve been reading you blog for a few months, I think your concept of firing arrows into the future for reference for you or others is good.

    I know I found your site because I was looking for answers to a question!

    I linked your site before, I think it was the Chen one… http://blog.figmentengine.com/2008/09/over-at-polymathprogrammer-there-is.html

    As for the arrows, I quote some Hamlet:

    “To be, or not to be: that is the question:
    Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
    The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
    And by opposing end them?”

    Philip Fitzsimonss last blog post..Moving shapes in Silverlight

  4. Vincent Tan

    Hi Philip, thank you for reading. I thought that arrow concept was good too. *smile*

    And I hope I answered that question you’re looking for… whatever that is.

    And yes, I read your pondering of the matrix rotation question too. Actually, I read your post on the alliteration and try as I might, I couldn’t follow the logic of the code. I used to be able to run through variable values in my mind… I must be getting old…

    And I wanted to comment on that post. I hurried back home, did some preliminary code to do the alliteration my way, and was crestfallen when I saw that someone posted a one-liner solution. That solution was cool, if a little cryptic…

    The Hamlet quote? Very deep… I will mull over that for some time to come…

  5. Vincent Tan

    Hey Daryl, it’s ok. Canada’s a big place…

    And yeah, I like Plurk better than Twitter. Conversations are easier to follow.

  6. You are now a Polymer | Polymath Programmer

    […] I want to write on topics that I’m familiar with, that I’m fairly good at, that is interesting. Programming formed the main focus, and slowly mathematics as well. I want to bring in other disciplines as well, even if I’m not very good at them, because they’re interesting or somewhat related to programming. Thus was born my main quivers of articles. […]

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