Singularity Magazine February 2011

Singularity February 2011

Chinese New Year is on the 3rd February 2011. So in this issue of Singularity, I will tell you how red packets came about, and why they contain money (it involves the story of Nian). You didn’t know red packets contain money? Well, now you know.

I also have an interview with Karol Gajda, entrepreneur, traveller, vegan, minimalist and Freedom Fighter. Learn his definition of “freedom”. I also covered the blinkBL-NK January event.

Download the February 2011 issue (about 3 MB).

There’s also a special alternate cover. Turn to page 4 of the magazine to see it.

Epic Cuteness Contest!

Because this coming Chinese New Year is also the Year of the Rabbit (according to the Chinese Zodiac system), I have a contest! Turn to page 18 to see the cutest rabbits of epicosity in existence! Then vote for your favourite rabbit. You can also use the Twitter hashtag #epiccuterabbits like so

I vote contestant 1 #epiccuterabbits

We have 4 contestants. Results will be tabulated and the winner of epic cuteness will be revealed in the March 2011 issue of Singularity. Vote now!

Editor’s story

This was another month cramped with activity. I launched my own product, a programming guide on spreadsheets and Open XML. I had to learn to write sales copy, do marketing, make sure the sales process go smoothly for the customer.

So I asked the magic elves who helped me out with the December issue last year. They said they’re swamped with work preparing for the end of this year. Their primary employer, a jolly good fella in a red and white suit, wants to get a jump on this year’s tasks.

But they referred me to some fairy friends of theirs. So yeah, I hired 5 fairies to help me. You know what’s the price? One jar of Chinese New Year goodies:

Pineapple pastry

Wait, what? Oh, I’m not supposed to tell them the details of the contract? Oh darn.

Uh, forget what I just told you, ok? Let me tell you about my other assistant. She helps me with simple admin stuff.

Cat assistant

Don’t let her relaxed demeanor fool you. She’s busy destroying junk email using her tele-mechano-kinesis power to reach into my computer and shred the offending emails to pieces. Sometimes, she lets a few of those slip through. Then she would wait by my side, looking at me. I would grab those junk email, crumple them into a ball and let them drop to the floor. My assistant would then pounce on the hapless piece of paper with playful ferocity. Does your paper shredder have fun shredding? Mine does.

Singularity Magazine January 2011

Singularity January 2011

The beginning of a new year brings hope and dreams of dreams fulfilled. In this first issue of the 2011, I bring you back to my roots. Mathematics. We discuss distance minimisation when waiting for the elevator. Then you’ll find out how to reclaim more of your life in a book review of The Other 8 Hours by Robert Pagliarini. Finally, you’ll visit HortPark, a garden in a garden city.

Download the January 2011 issue (about 4.4 MB). If you have problems downloading, try a right-click on the link, then do a [Save As] to your computer.

Also available at Scribd.

And have a happy New Year!

Interview with Matt Pearce

Interview with Matt Pearce

I had the opportunity to speak with Matt Pearce last month. He’s an artist and illustrator in United Kingdom. I came across his work when I spoke with Iain Broome (whom I interviewed before). It’s always interesting to find out what the motivations of an artist are for his work, so I asked Matt. I must admit, I was expecting maybe some childhood memory, some prominent figure, some inspiring event. Matt gave me a short yet expressive answer:

The main reaction or feeling I try to evoke is a smile. Pure and simple.

Everyone can use an extra smile. 🙂

Read the entire interview in the December 2010 issue of Singularity.

Singularity Magazine December 2010

Singularity December 2010

The end of the year will soon be upon us. The magic elves at Singularity HQ had been hard at work to bring you a whopping 79 page issue, brimming with illustrations and photos. In this December issue, you will meet Matt Pearce, a digital artist and illustrator. Read about the difficult start to his illustrator career in my interview with him.

You will also visit (by proxy) the Singapore Philatelic Museum, with special exhibits on Iron Man and the work of G. R. Lambert. You will also meet cosplayers from the Anime Festival Asia held in Singapore (no, they weren’t at the museum. Though that would cause quite a stir with the stamp collecting community).

Download the December 2010 issue. (13 MB. It’s huge. Please be patient.)

Feel free to share the magazine through email, blog or other means. You’re given the right to print and distribute the magazine electronically provided you don’t change any of the content or charge for it.

Also available at Scribd.

Interview with Iain Broome

Iain Broome

In the latest issue of Singularity, I did an interview with Iain Broome, an eminently practical fiction writer and copywriter. Iain’s novel A is for Angelica is represented by Tibor Jones & Associates, and he also talked about the Post-it system he used while writing the novel. Here’s a question I asked: If you can only give one piece of advice to first time authors, what will it be?

Gosh, just one? That’s tough. I know that many writers when asked this question say… write. But I’ve always thought that to be a bit of a kop out, so I’ll go for something else.

I think it’s important that writers know why they’re writing and manage their expectations. Us scribblers can occasionally struggle with a lack of self-awareness, I’m afraid. Sometimes we think our work is brilliant, and it’s really not. And sometimes we think that what we’ve written is useless, when actually it’s worth pursuing further. Either way, it’s always important to get good quality, trusted advice from peers.

It’s also important to find that difficult balance between having confidence in your work and not expecting instant success. I’ve written before in various places that I try and think about my writing on the following terms: Reach for the stars. Expect nothing. It’s important to believe that you can, for instance, get a novel published if you work hard and are willing to listen and improve. But it’s also vital that you don’t get ahead of yourself and expect it to happen. Like I say, it’s about managing expectations.

Read the rest of the interview here.

What do you think? Who else do you want me to interview?

Singularity Magazine November 2010

Singularity November 2010

The November issue of Singularity is available. Get it now. It’s free.

In this issue, we have:

  • An interview with Iain Broome, fiction writer and copywriter. You’ll find out his Post-it system while writing his novel, A is for Angelica.
  • A book review of Chris Guillebeau‘s new book, The Art of Non-Conformity
    (Amazon link).
  • My visit to Hay Dairies, a goat farm in Singapore.
  • Coverage of the 30th anniversary of Gundam in Singapore.

You can also read it on Scribd. (click through to site to see embedded document if you can’t see it from your RSS feed reader)

Singularity November 2010

Feel free to share the magazine through email, blog or other means. You’re given the right to print and distribute the magazine electronically provided you don’t change any of the content or charge for it.

And have a happy Halloween.

Time of death with liver temperature

I’ve been watching CSI and some other crime shows for quite a while. Deducing the time of death of the victim is an important part of identifying the murderer. What I’ve always wondered was, why did they use the liver temperature? I can understand using the victim’s body temperature to estimate when she was killed. But why specifically the liver?

It turns out that the liver is a core organ of the human body. The liver has to be maintained within a narrow range of temperature for it to function optimally. This also means it’s more accurate for backward deduction. I wrote a short article about it in the October issue of Singularity, which you can download for free, or you can read it at Scribd.

Wife Of A Season

My friend Grey Yuen gave me permission to publish his short story in Singularity. Here’s an excerpt:

What? My brothers? Ah, I did mention that, didn’t I? Yes, I have two. And no, you don’t ask them for help. You do your utter best never to ask them for help, not even when the sky crashes down and the oceans rise. They have just one mode of dealing with womankind, and it’s one solution for all problems. Their thinking is all done in the groin. To them, I’m the monk of the family. Our abusive father managed to pass down his libido in reverse order, somehow. I’m the oldest, you know? The bloody oldest son. What did I get?

It’s written in the form of a monologue. The setting’s a bar, and you enter and sit next to a man. This man then continues to talk to you about his personal stories. At no point does he say who he really is, but from his monologue, you should be able to guess who he is. The title of the short story should also give you a clue. Let’s just say that under normal circumstances, you do not want to meet him.

Read the rest of the short story in the October issue of Singularity (it’s free!).

Communication is key

I did an interview with Alex Hall, a web developer. The interview is featured in the October issue of Singularity. Here’s a question I asked: What is the one skill that has been invaluable to you as a web developer?

Communication. You get nowhere without communication. That goes for all aspects of web development. You first need to get a grasp of the next project you are going to be doing, and you need to make sure you understand it as fully as possible before even starting. That is communicating with the client, which can also prove to be the hardest part of a project. I heard a story the other day where a client wanted their web site ‘re-vamped’ and all they gave the designer was a 1997 template they liked and 1 line of text! You can’t do anything with that!

Read the rest of his answer, and the other interview questions in the October issue. Download it for free. Alex writes at DeVSeO and you can also follow him on Twitter @devseo.

I’ve also recently signed up for Scribd. Hopefully, that increases the reach of the magazine, which gives me more leverage, which means you get better articles to read. Ad infinitum.
Singularity October 2010

And I actually had a different magazine cover originally. Here’s what it looks like:

Singularity October 2010 alternate cover