I will be presenting at BarCamp Singapore 6

BarCamp Singapore 6 will be held on 9th and 10th of October (register here if you’re interested). I will be presenting at the event, despite what happened the last time. Persistence and sheer determination is key.

So if you happen to be in Singapore on those two days, I’d appreciate it if you go and support me.

I’ll be presenting about online magazines (and surreptitiously introducing Singularity). As for the second topic, I was thinking about decisiveness and choices. Let me know what you think. And if there’s anything you’d like me to present on, let me know. I’ll be writing about the presentations, so even if you’re not attending, send your topic suggestions. I’d rather present on something you’re interested in, regardless of whether you’re attending.

New Zealand Nov 2004 trip – Back to Singapore

This is part of some travelling notes I wrote exactly 4 years ago for a trip to New Zealand in November 2004. Please enjoy the story.

Day 9, 14 November 2004, Sunday

My mind left dream land at 6:00am, but my body only caught up at 6:15am. Ate the last Snickers and muesli bars for breakfast. Waited for the 6:30am morning call. Ring, ring. Time to move. Washed up, packed up and dragged my luggage across the road to get to the reception counter. Checking out was a brief affair, and the receptionist helped me mail a survey letter (from my tour package company TourMasters) I did last night.

It was then 7:30am. I walked around the reception room, glancing at the hotel’s trophies, paintings and fireplace. They were also selling batteries, shavers, medicine and stuff. The only reason I even remember these things was that I felt restless waiting there. And hungry, didn’t forget that… Oh, there were two floor lamps, metal (bronze?) molded in the shape of angels (I guess), mirror images of each other. Oh good, my limo arrived (same car company for when I first arrived in Christchurch). Driver’s name is Ashley.

Reached airport at 8:05am. Ashley even showed me how and where to check in before he left. Finished checking in at 8:20am. Could have been earlier, but there was a young couple who seemed to have overweight baggage, and was creating extra paper work.

Didn’t want to repeat the same mistake 9 days ago in Changi Airport, so I hurried immediately to the gate. I got a window seat! Not too good though, because the right airplane wing was just outside my window and the sun was especially strong. Not much cloud cover to speak of, so my eyes were assailed by a constant stream of reflected sunlight. I had to pull the window cover down to shield my eyes.

Lift off at 9:16am, touch down at 10:21am. That was quick. Connecting flight’s at 1:00pm, so I had plenty of time. I decided to walk the 8 minute route from the domestic terminal to the international terminal. My luggage was automatically transferred to the plane, so I didn’t have to lug that big case around. I took my time, since my calf was still aching. Checked in early, paid the airport tax (NZ25.00), and explored the Auckland airport a bit, since the last time I was here, I was kinda occupied with reaching my connecting flight.

Nothing much to see really, so I went to the gate to wait. Besides, the smell from the cafes and McDonald’s was driving me crazy. Hope they serve food on the flight soon. I’m famished!

It’s now 11:20am, one hour more till boarding time. I got a window seat again! My seat partner was Sheila from Christchurch. She’s English by birth, but decided to reside in New Zealand. Going to her brother’s birthday. Wishes her children will provide her some grandchildren.

At 2:10pm, they served lunch. Finally. There was some chicken thingy, vegetables, bread and dessert cake. I hope Sheila didn’t get the impression that I’m a starving lunatic, what with the way I was bulldozing through the food. Though it’s not too far from the truth. I really was trying very hard to eat with decorum. Inflight movies: “I, Robot”, “The Terminal” and “The Manchurian Candidate”. They served stuff on and off. Like lemon tinctured ice water. Take. Ice cream. Take. Peanuts and crackers. Take. Orange juice. TAKE! Oh yeah, I’m not too picky…

Did some problems from Amazing Logic Puzzles to kill time. Managed to solve 5 math puzzles before the 10:00pm dinner. Food! Yeah! Lasagne, long beans, bread, fruit, cake, orange juice and Chinese tea. Oh this is lovely.

The flight took about 11 hours. We landed on Singapore soil at 7:12pm Singapore time according to the plane, and 12:10am New Zealand time according to my watch. Switching back to Singapore time now. I’m back!

Epilogue

I thoroughly enjoyed this trip. Sure there were unfortunate instances that could have been avoided, like maybe walking less (Dunedin walkathon), or bringing more money (the two day end-of-trip financial disaster). But these are what made my trip more memorable, and ultimately more enjoyable. I wasn’t in any real danger, so I went for having adventures instead.

I’m glad this trip was so free-style in nature. Imagine being led around by a tour guide. Why would I want to do that, when I can explore the cities and have my own experience? New Zealand gave me awe-inspiring landscapes, unforgettable experiences and unique memories.

A lot of people asked why I’m travelling alone, especially for my first trip. First off, no one’s free to come along, or willing to pay for this trip I like. Second, I wanted freedom at the time. I wanted this to be entirely different for me. About the only thing I heeded was to get a tour package. The tour company arranged everything about transport and lodging. Food and fun is up to me.

Finally, I want to thank all the people I’ve met on the trip. Notable persons are:

  • Richard, the Air New Zealand pilot.
  • Jung Tea Hee, the Korean backpacker.
  • Mie, the Japanese lady.
  • Rob, my paragliding pilot.
  • The nice Mexican couple. … Especially and particularly this nice Mexican couple. I really should have gotten their names…
  • Jaya, my glacier walk guide.

My only regret was that I didn’t take pictures of the people I met. I started on the trip just wanting to have a new view of my world. The (mis)adventures I had and the people I came into contact with, made my experience fuller. Thank you for reading.

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…