Singularity Magazine August 2011

Singularity Magazine August 2011

In this issue of Singularity, you’ll read my interview with Dave Doolin, who writes at Website In A Weekend. We talked about the US economy, the prospects of being a generalist in Singapore and WordPress. He’s also on Twitter @websiteweekend.

Download the August 2011 issue (about 11 MB).

And if you haven’t watched it, I also explain the maths concept of Cantor sets in a video. Harry Potter references and special yellow screen effects. Watch it. Now.

You’ll also read about the second part of my visit to the Singapore Science Centre. There’s a special section on optical illusions. See if you’re stumped.

Cantonese light, detective FAIL and aged agents

I like this quote: “Rest is a weapon.” – Robert Ludlum.

In summary, the Cantonese saying means there’s light in front of you, so why are you acting as if you can’t see.

Here are the books either seen or mentioned in the video:

Or you could get the whole Bourne trilogy in one go.

I play the PlayStation version of L.A. Noire.

Singularity Magazine April 2011

Singularity Magazine April 2011

For April 2011, we have our “thickest” magazine issue ever. 95 pages! Even I’m surprised…

Download the April 2011 issue of Singularity magazine (about 11MB).

I have the pleasure of interviewing Thom Chambers, a fellow magazine editor who runs the In Treehouses magazine.

You might notice that I’m sort of slowing down writing for the blog here in favour of writing for my magazine. One reason is that I find some of my ideas harder or inappropriate to write here, due to design or expression or simply the idea itself. Another reason is that I feel a greater satisfaction of having created something, compared to just a blog post. You will do well subscribing to my magazine. I will still write here, just maybe not as often. Maybe.

Behind the scenes

Visits to 2 cafes, coverage of 2 events, 1 gruesome evening at an art museum and 95 pages later, I’m tired. To say the least. March was gruelling, what with working on my small business and writing the magazine and all. I asked my fairy helpers for, well, additional help. They did this:

Double Vincent

There once was a man named Vincent
Whose work had caused him to be spent
He bathed in fairy goo
And then split into two
Thus the laws of physics were bent

Let’s not do this too often…

People in early stage startups tend to be generalists

Sean Murphy is the CEO of SKMurphy, and offers customer development services for software entrepreneurs. The interviewer is Floyd Tucker from DreamSimplicity. Here’s a quote I found interesting from the video:

People who do well in early stage startups tend to be generalists.
To prosper, to scale up you’ve actually got to hire specialists.

Now I don’t have anything against specialists or the idea of specialising in one field. That’s great, and we need those people. My gripe is that we don’t have enough generalists.

I believe having more Leonardo da Vinci’s will help solve a lot of world problems. You and I might not envision a solution, but that might be because we’re tunnel-visioned. They aren’t.

Interview with Guy Kawasaki


I have the inestimable pleasure of having interviewed Guy Kawasaki, on his book Enchantment (which is released today on 8 March 2011). I’m still not sure how that happened (getting the interview, not the book)… I wasn’t sure if he’d respond, what with me being a small time publisher and all, but I asked him anyway with a short list of questions. He replied! That Guy is a great guy…

Guy Kawasaki

So here’s the interview.

Why is Enchantment important?

Enchantment is important because the more innovative and important your product, service, or idea, the more you will encounter resistance. You would think it would be the opposite, but the world usually resists a better mousetrap.

What prompted you to write this book?

Two major factors: my editor pounding on me for another book and my desire to combine the body of knowledge about influencing, wooing, and persuading people with my personal experiences as an evangelist.

Is Enchantment simply persuasion? How is it different?

It’s more than persuasion. Persuasion is usually applied for a specific transaction–you persuade people to do something like buy your widget. The purpose of enchantment is a deeper, longer-lasting, and more delightful relationship. Some companies persuade you to buy their laptop. Apple enchants people, and they buy a Macintosh, iPhone, iPod, iPad, and iAnything.

How can artists and scientists benefit from Enchantment?

Artists and scientists face the same challenges business people do: raising funds, communicating their passion, finishing their work, and then marketing it. All these stages require enchanting people and organizations–to change their hearts, minds, and actions.

[Ed: The “artists and scientists” part is a reference to my magazine, Singularity. Hey, I take care of my readers. *wink*]

Where can we find out more about Enchantment and your work?

The best place to learn more about Enchantment is

People can also tap these resources:

Speech video:
Web quiz:
Facebook quiz:

The best place to read my latest work is

Last words

Ok, so it appears there’s also a Facebook photo contest. Here’s the link:

Wow, there’s a Nikon D3100 and an Apple iPad up for grabs!

The contest ends on 11 March, so you better hurry.

There are also wallpapers for your computer screen if you’re interested. Here’s the link:

You can buy the book Enchantment from Amazon (aff link)

Interview with John D. Cook

John D. Cook

So I interviewed John D. Cook for the March issue of Singularity magazine. The most interesting answer came from the last question I asked: “Last comments?” And John said,

My graduate adviser told me that he thought there would be a lot of opportunity for someone who could combine theoretical math and computation. I believe he was right. Most of my career has been in that overlap and I’ve had the opportunity to do some interesting things.

The whole interview is in the March issue. Click on the link above to get the magazine.


Some time between my final exams and getting my first job, I’ve been afraid. “What can I do?” came up a lot. I had a double major in Applied Mathematics and Computational Science. I’m not really that good in mathematics, nor am I “qualified” to do programming. The research facilities want PhD’s and MSc’s (in maths). The software companies want graduates with a computer science degree, not a computational science degree. They don’t understand the difference, so it takes more convincing.

Ok, just to clear things up a little. You probably know what computer science is. So what’s computational science? This is the definition I recall from a professor:

We write programs to solve scientific problems

Or something like that. I wrote a program that analysed wave motions (I think). I wrote a MATLAB program to do image texture matching with Fourier Transforms. I wrote a C program to simulate computer virus behaviour.

It’s why I never learned about databases and SQL. My scientific problems and experiments hadn’t required large amounts of data. I understand that my peers in the computer science courses learnt to simulate airline ticket purchasing, and to connect to databases, and to design web interfaces.

I just typed “cc vince.c -o vince” on my Unix command line. Then “vince” to run the program. If segmentation faults didn’t assault me, then I had the output somewhere in a text file.

Luckily, I got hired a few months after graduation. A telecommunications company director interviewed me. Apparently my maths degree was an edge, because all his hires were computer science graduates. One of the departments that the director was in charge of, was the billing support department. Hey numbers! My forte! Supposedly. (No, I mean, yes, definitely my forte! [I needed to eat…]) I found out about that supposed maths edge I had some time after I was hired, when he talked with me (I think).

So John’s answer struck something deep within me. I wished I heard that when I was in university. Then I don’t have to be so afraid that I won’t be of use anywhere.

When I did my honours thesis project (I was working on computer virus behaviour simulation), my adviser suggested I become an epidemiologist. It means I help in the study of epidemics, such as virus outbreaks and stuff. I was more interested in writing code, so I declined his offer to make recommendations to the Singapore CDC (or some health organisation. It was a long time ago. I forget…). I wonder what would’ve happened had I accepted his offer…

So to the (future) mathematicians out there, learn to write code. Programming is actually quite compatible with how you think in maths.

To the (future) programmers out there, learn to broaden your knowledge and skills. (You thought I was going to say maths, didn’t you?) Software is getting more complex and simpler at the same time. That’s because the range of needs from users is getting wider. There’s software that does facial recognition, fingerprint recognition, speech recognition, image matching, and textual analysis. There’s software that does billing, accounting, profit sharing, and banking. There’s also software that just blips 140 characters to some server. There’s software that does all kinds of things that people want or need.

Your skill to write code isn’t in question. Your skill to understand the myriad scenarios and conditions for your software to work, is.

Singularity Magazine March 2011

Singularity Magazine March 2011

So in a fortnight’s time, it will be Pi Day! Are you excited? Yeah? Yes? no? Oh, you don’t care… Well, you get to eat pies… oh you love pies? Great! So look out on the Internet on March 14. Why March 14? Because the first three digits of PI (3.14159) is 3, 1 and 4. You know, 3/14 as a date?

Anyway, the March 2011 issue of Singularity magazine is available! I’d chomp right through a bushel of cookies if I had it right now. Because I’m that happy. Speaking of cookies, there’s a special report on CookieBank, a sweet way of microlending. Check it out in the magazine.

Since we have Pi Day, we can’t escape from mathematics, right? I bring you an interview with mathematician, John D. Cook. He says contrary to popular understanding, Taylor series approximations are not used to calculate trigonometric functions in computer chips. What, you didn’t know? Neither did I!

Download the March issue right now (about 3MB)

Behind the scenes

So the fairies I hired last month are really good. They helped me track down nice pictures to use in the magazine, small bits of info here and there, do some design stuff. All they ask for is that I feed them, which is ok, since they eat very little. And that I let them take rides on my cat (assistant). My cat graciously obliged (after I begged her imperial Majesty for a few days. I really needed the fairies to help).

There was one small tiny bit of a commotion. An incident really. The fairies were exploring the house, and they settled near my cat’s food bowls. They picked a couple of pieces of dry cat food out.


My cat pounced onto the fairies. Luckily, no fairy was hurt (they fly and flee fast, I’ll give them that). Otherwise I’d have to answer to the Magical Minist… what? Oh, I’m not supposed to tell them. Uh, forget what I said.

So. My cat’s fine with the feline rides. But touch her food bowls and you die. Period.