Tech65 Party and PHEMAS live cutting

So last month, I attended 2 events. The first was a party held by Tech65 to thank their friends and supporters. The second was a PHEMAS live cutting event. PHEMAS stands for Pan Historical European Martial Arts Society.

So what happened at the Tech65 party? There’s beer.

Iguana lager

and the place was packed.

Tech65 party

I remember at the party, when people asked me what I do, and I’m thinking “It’s complicated“, and I’m at a loss for words. Which was ironic, because eventually I decided to reply “self-employed writer”. What kind of writer is at a loss for words? Don’t know…

And when they find out I blog, the logical question would be, what’s the blog about? Hah! Maths and programming and other weird stuff. That oughta show’em. And show’d’em I did. I’m used to the split second motionless shock that registers on people’s faces by now. And these were people from public relations, social media and some technological fans. I didn’t expect anything less than a 2 second jaw-dropping gape.

What’s live cutting then? Real sharp swords are used to cut stuff. In this case, it was innocent plastic bottles.

Live cutting

And here’s Greg the instructor in full battle armour.

Greg in full armour

My only regret was that I should’ve thought of taking a picture of myself holding a sword.

For more pictures, download the September issue of Singularity (free PDF).

Singularity Magazine September 2010

Singularity September 2010 issue

In this September 2010 issue, I have an exclusive interview with Parker Emmerson (also mentioned previously), a mathematician, musician and artist. We talked about his art and how he used mathematics to create images.

Download the September 2010 issue. It’s free.

Other articles include:

  • The business of iPhone apps (yay, finally, a tech article!)
  • How to understand 1/3 of Japanese texts in 1 hour
  • What happened at the Tech65 Party?
  • You probably don’t know this about snakes…
  • I witnessed the “beheading” of dozens of plastic bottles. A PHEMAS live cutting event.

Read all that, right here in the September issue. Download the September 2010 issue.

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Guest on podcast about Windows 7

Recently, the Tech65 team invited me to talk about Windows 7 on their podcast. I thank them for letting me join in. It was a fun experience.

I’m saying it right now; I’m not an expert on Windows 7. I follow the developers’ blog. I read Raymond Chen’s blog. That’s about the extent of my knowledge on Windows development (7 or not).

The reason I’m invited to the podcast recording was I saw a Windows 7 demo, presented at a PHP Meetup (thanks Michael for inviting me!) at Microsoft Singapore. And that I follow the Windows 7 developers’ blog. And that I watched a video of a Windows 7 demo at the PDC.

If you haven’t already clicked on that link to the podcast, here it is again:
Tech65 podcast – Windows 7

I was just listening to myself in the podcast and I found that I spoke too softly, compared to the rest of the team. 1 minute in and I couldn’t bear to listen anymore… I was terrible! I was nervous! I need more practice… In the meantime, I’ll stick to writing stuff here…

There were 3 Tech65 members at the podcast. We were recording at Geek Terminal, a cafe geared for uh, geeks. There were power sockets practically everywhere, to make it easy to power up laptops, notebooks, netbooks, Mac books and what-not. I was the only one without any fancy gadgets. Does a mobile phone count?

Anyway, it was a short discussion on Windows 7 (about 10 minutes or so. I didn’t count. Too embarrassed to find out where my part ended. Luckily, show notes are provided). Then the team moved on to other technological and gadget news. There were 2 other pieces of information I wanted to share, but the opportunity didn’t present itself. I even had accompanying funny lines to go along with the tidbits.

The first one is that in Windows 7, you can drag a document to the extreme left and the document automatically resizes to fill the left half of the screen. Then you hold onto another document and move it to the right and that document fills the right half of the screen. It’s to make it easy to do comparison of document content. Plus dragging windows around is fun, because I like to move it, move it!

The second was about quick focusing of windows. Suppose you have 5 windows open on the desktop. There’s one particular window you want to work on, and you want the other 4 windows to be minimised. All you have to do is grab hold of the title bar of that window, and Shake shake, shake shake, shake it! and the other 4 windows shimmy to the taskbar. Want them back? Shake shake, shake shake, shake it! again.

*Cue tumbling ball of dried roots in barren wasteland. Cue squawking crows.*

You know, it’s a good thing I didn’t try to crack jokes at the podcast. I would have failed miserably… If you have anything to say regarding the Windows 7 information I gave (perhaps I was blatantly wrong and I don’t know about it), please send in comments here, or do so at the Tech65 post.

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…