Archive for ‘Personal’

February 4, 2013

Neolisms: Simple Truths.

A neolism is a new truth. From “Neo” (new) and “-ism” (word ending that indicates action, manner, condition, beliefs or prejudice). Not the same as neologism – but similar in origin.

All neolisms are by yours truly – feel free to use as you see fit, just get the damned name to thank right. Who knows, something I made might become a meme. (Ha! That would be interesting.)

  • Antivirus

Use and be damned; don’t use, and be thrice damned – by the virus you can’t stop, by the virus you can stop, and by the antivirus company for not using their product.

  • When something goes bump in the night

The dead do not speak – and the living know better than to eavesdrop.

  • Truth

When things are in black and white – you are not thinking hard enough.

  • Defeat

Losing sucks – unless it blows.

  • Infinity

Infinity is a lot – until you learn algebra.

  • Baseball humour

The best humor comes from left field. Right field tends to be sleeping till the lefties are at bat.

  • Society

Society is like a boat: Great view above, stuff to keep it moving and working below and bilge at the bottom.

  • Work

Work does not end; but if you don’t work, you will.

  • Nature vs Nurture

Nature forms; Nurture shapes; Adversity forges.

  • Trust

Never trust promises from a forgetful woman – You never know when they might forget.

  • Relationships

Distance… is but a thought away.

  • Racing

If you are behind the last runner – you are either in the wrong race, or you’re trying too hard to win.

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January 7, 2011

It’s the Hols! Day 13 (New Year Edition)

4 resolutions for the year 2011:

  1. Save $400 a month till early Oct 2011 – up from previous goal of $300 a month.
  2. Donate 10% of active income to a charity.
  3. Train Active Listening skill – achieve Patience and Recall goals.
  4. Reduce BMI to 22 – 65.8kg

Goal 1 – Save $400 monthly

With the year’s budget collated in this week, I see that my $300 dollar savings goal is mostly achievable (except for that period in Nov 2010). This year I am going to up the ante – $400 out of my $1000 stipend is to go into savings. I aim to achieve the $100 difference by introducing the following changes in my life:

  • Eliminate all consumption of flavored drinks except when paid for with Daily$ (my credit card’s reward programme).
  • Bring lunch to school at least once a week.
  • Reduce utility consumption by switching off the computer by 10.30pm, i.e. I should sleep earlier now.
  • Reduce cable consumption by claiming channels with points.

Yes, life is going to be awfully boring for the next few months. The increase of $100 though is meant for…

Goal 2 – Donate 10% ($100) to A charity

I “earn” $1000 a month through my student bond with WDA. 10% of that = $100. If Rockefeller can donate 10% of his salary to charity, so can I. The only question left is which charity to donate to, and how to donate it. I favor children charities, although charities dealing with the environment or rehabilitation of convicts are favorable in my books as well; If anyone has a charity to suggest, you know who to call….

Goal 3 – Train Active Listening – Patience & Recall

I spent part of the past week soliciting feedback from a few people. The result is largely anecdotal rather than statistically conclusive, but the result is that I tend to come off as largely overbearing and confrontational in my dealings.

For those wondering, yes, it hurts to be critiqued. But I can do a lot worse than honest feedback.

To prove that this leopard can indeed change his shorts, I worked out some personal guidelines to follow in the year.

  • When listening, tilt head at approx 3-5 degrees. (Trigger point)
  • When a query comes into my head, note down on pad rather than blurting. (Recall)
  • Mentally count 2 seconds after a speaker finishes. (Patience)
  • Rephrase conversation in mind as list of bullet-ed points, refresh and confirm with speaker at appropriate times. (Recall)
  • At end of conversation, confirm actionable items with speaker. (Recall)

For those wondering, yes I dislike vague/generalized resolutions. The steps above are a series of “ritualized” actions, a reminder to myself if you will, to perform certain actions, much like how I trained my eyes to open/close individually.

(That reflex, by the way, is still imperfect, so no live demonstrations.)

Goal 4 – Reduce BMI to 22

My present body weight is 68.5kg, height 1.73m, rounded off to nearest “nice” value. That gives me a BMI of 22.9 kg/m2. After verifying via the Heath Promotion Board’s circular (vaguely recalled the changes in BMI ranges from a newspaper article a few years back), I am barely within the safe limit.

The new goal is another “nice” value: 22 kg/m2. That gives me a target weight of 65.8kg. Well either that or I better start growing taller.

Things to change:

  • No using of escalators/lifts for heights less than 4 floors.
  • Walk home from Kovan rather than take the shuttle from Serangoon.
  • Review efforts in April 2011.

References

StudyGS article on active listening: Click here.

Buzzle.com Effective Listening: Click here.

Health Promotion Board on BMI ranges: Click here.

January 2, 2011

It’s the Hols! Day 8-12

The Singapore National Library is a pretty amazing place.

It offers free books.
It offers free magazines from lifestyle to scientific online through its eResources service.
It has Bloomberg terminals for those who want to be stockbrokers.
It has movie/animation/drama DVDs for loan. (2 per user for 2 weeks, unless you are a Premium member, than it’s 4 per user)
Most importantly, it also offers PC games.

By PC games I do not mean just casual titles like Diner Dash or edutainment software for kids. I mean the good stuff. Far Cry 2, Universalis Europa III, Worms Domination for the old-school. Disclaimer: the library’s collection of games is pretty random. I see copies of Nancy Drew beside Killing Floor and a Barney adventure game.

I nailed a copy of Settlers VII and Puzzle Quest together with a few novels.

Puzzle Quest is an addictive game that innovates on Bejeweled’s gameplay. Instead of just matching 3 orbs of the same color together in a line for points, these orbs now serve as mana for you to fling spells at your opponent, with the goal being to reduce your opponent’s life bar to 0. There are 2 ways to reduce their life bar: Match 3 or more skull orbs or use your spells, which require a certain number of color orbs of various colors. Spells also do more than just damage your opponent; some spells allow you to change certain orbs to a different color on the game board, some remove certain orbs from the board, some destroys those orbs for a certain effect (with more orbs destroyed granting extended duration or a more powerful effect).

Narrative-wise, the story is pretty bland, with some funny bits to liven up what is essentially a grind (leveling system). Audio is forgettable, but serviceable. What drives the game is the gameplay itself, with me always just wanting to go “one more challenge”.

The only other notable activity I have been engaging is swimming, for about 2-4 hours each session. Work on the GDD is definitely not up to schedule; still editing the Human Race GDD, which is not a good place to be, considering how much more stuff I have to do still. On the flip side, I have done up some of my other stuff, as well as spent a goodly bit of cash for the Xmas period.

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December 26, 2010

It’s the Hols! Day 6, 7 (Xmas and Boxing Day Edition)

So what did I do for Xmas? I counted money.

To be exact, I finished tabulating my expenditure for the year 2010 (up to Nov) with the recent arrival of my utility bill for Nov. A summary below with nice colorful graphs:

For those who want to use my template for their own expenditure monitoring, below is the link to a preview/download page.

Expenditure sheet for 2011: Preview (Google Docs)

Note: I have to apologize for the messy layout. This spreadsheet kind of grew organically; I tend to tag on new stuff as I discover I needed them from month to month.

The quick Summary

I want to acknowledge the fact that the money I spent monthly is unrealistically low for most people. Why?

First, I do not have to spend money on rental or mortgage for the roof over my head. That will easily double to triple my monthly expenditure.

Second, a third to half my meals are eaten at home, and I often bring leftover food to work/school for lunch as well. Again, this can easily double to triple my monthly expenditure, especially if you work in the city area where food is alot more expensive.

With that said, I do firmly believe that it is possible to spend less than $1,500 if you plan ahead and commit to being frugal.

“Analysis” of my Year’s expenditure (TL;DR section)

I started monitoring my expenditures in Mar 2010. The number in Feb’s Savings column represents my total “emergency” fund, or monies that I keep on hand to deal with those hiccups that crop up in life.

My work as a contract teacher earned about $2900 a month, which dropped to $2400 once I deduct my CPF contribution. As you can see from the picture above, slightly more than half my paycheck went straight into savings, mainly because I wanted to fatten my fund till it hit $20,000 (my original target).

In June I left the job and went on a trip to visit some family in San Diego, which explains the $940 deficit in the month of Jul.

Starting Aug, I embarked upon the SPUR programme with Digipen, which paid a monthly stipend of $1000. Expenditure from Aug onwards contracted sharply as well.

By the end of Nov I have saved a total of $14,000 in my “emergency” fund.

In conclusion, I have failed to meet my $20,000 savings mark. Mostly this is due to the loss of income from Jun onwards. However, I am happy with my monthly saving rate.

On a side note, average figures at the end of the summary are on the “optimistic” side because there were no figures for Jan/Feb expenditure.

The year ahead – 2011

For this coming year I doubt I can make the $20,000 savings mark again – $400 saved a month for 12 months = $4800 saved + $14,000 original = $18,800.

What I can do is to push my monthly savings to $400 on average. The extra $100 in savings will go towards some long term goal that I will decide by New Year’s Eve.

December 25, 2010

It’s the Hols! Day 5 (Xmas Eve Edition)

9am: Woke up. Surprisingly, a good night’s sleep managed to clear up most of the cold.

10am: Went for a short run/walk around the neighborhood and then some bat swinging to round it off.

11am: Youtube surfing (Starcraft II quotes are addictive to listen to) for almost an hour.

7pm: I spent the day clearing my D drive.

8pm: After dinner some last minute xmas shopping at AMK Hub and Serangoon Nex. Expenditure exceeded expectations, but considering my expectations were extremely frugal, it’s still within my limits.

10pm: Still clearing space in my D drive. With luck I should have 50GB of free space by the end of this session. Also started on a bottle of Cienna, a sparkling red desert wine.  I find it a bit too sweet, but it definitely will go well in a cocktail. Ah well…

12am: I have little tolerance for alcohol, or to put it in a positive light, I enjoy the full effects of alcohol at maximum efficiency. I am still sober, but light and heavy headed at the same, which will definitely help in sleeping tonight. Oh yeah, Merry Xmas, here’s a song to commemorate that day.

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December 24, 2010

It’s the Hols! Day 4

This is the day I end up sick-ish. Progress of illness over the day.

Morning 0900hr

Woke late, and lethargic. Minor headache from oversleep. Spent the morning sorting through my music and drafting more changes to the Human Race GDD.

Afternoon 1330hr

Lunch: laksa. Reading my readings and surfed Gamasutra. Headache cleared up but aching back due to cool weather.

Anyway, news from Gamasutra is depressing to read, with lawsuits and haggling hogging the headlines. Class action suit against EA for illegally abusing its Madden/football license, more animosity in the ongoing soap opera that is Activision vs Infinity Ward vs Treyarch with Activision adding EA to its list of legal targets (MOAR DRAMA), Viacom defends itself from shareholders in Harmonix looking to sue the pants off someone for their money back.

On the flipside, the features have churned out more interesting stuff. Art director Brian Thompson talks about how art drove the game direction in Drawn (PC casual adventure game), a fascinating perspective on game design.

Eun-Seok Yi from Nexon (Korean studio specializing in MMOs, famous for Maple Story) talks about the future of MMOs.

Lastly, an analysis of the Left 4 Dead franchise with respect to SRK (Skills, Rules, Knowledge) cognitive framework, i.e. designing based on how players approach/understand new information, then introducing variation in an established knowledge/understanding framework.

Evening 1900hr

Runny and sensitive nose. Finished a few stages in Ace Combat 5 but losing momentum in the 2nd playthrough. Forcing players to play exactly as you design or facing an instant Game Over is extremely demotivating.

Night 2230hr

Frequent sneezing, dry and red eyes. Slight fever as well and my back is aching to the point I have to lie down.

Edit: Added readings to post for those interested.

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December 23, 2010

It’s the Hols! Day 3

Woke late today to an early brunch. At 1.45pm I popped into school to observe a Dungeons & Dragons (DnD) session. For those wondering what a DnD session looks like, here you go:

Yes, a bunch of grown men huddled together staring at pieces of paper (character reference sheets) while moving tokens on pieces of paper and talking in turns. It is pretty amazing how Final Fantasy, Dragon’s Age, World of Warcraft and pretty much most RPGs are evolved from this single idea of roleplaying using dice and a table of values. More photos of the guys, this time with a game board:

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December 22, 2010

It’s the Hols! Day 2

Woke at 7am, had a very hearty breakfast consisting of eggs, ham, mash, mushroom soup, buttered bread and coffee. Gosh I feel fat writing about it.

Started editing the Human Race GDD while munching through the spread. List of amendments (crossed out indicates completed):

  • Be pronoun-neutral where possible.
  • List advantages of target platform (half done).
  • Highlight strengths of Human Race as compared to other existing products in the market analysis section.
  • Combine Sample Playthrough together with Design Setting section. Sample Playthrough should be placed after General Overview.
  • Remove arbitrary constant in the fulfillment equation.
  • Determine the typical number of Myers-Briggs questions as the industrial standard (88) .
  • Create a section within GDD to accomodate sample questions for the Myers-Briggs questions. (Verifying questions for inclusion)
  • Fully describe the Sample Playthrough, particularly actions taken by player Bill within a stage. Playthrough should fully describe at least a single game “turn”, the smallest iteration of a player’s decision-action sequence.
  • Are Xbox or other USB controllers supported out-of-box? If so, list controls and state explicitly if the controls can be modified by user.
  • Rework menu/screen flow chart into a proper decision flow chart. Use Visio if necessary. (In process of acquiring Visio for home com)
  • Describe elements of HUD in text to supplement mock-up picture.
  • Rework Resources section in Excel.

Lunch was light considering how heavy breakfast was, and then I sat down and got in a lot of time with Ace Combat 5.

The “leveling” system to unlock new planes within Ace Combat 5 is fairly interesting, although I definitely prefer the Ace Combat Zero’s method of achievement-related unlocking. Having to buy planes for my wing-mates is annoying because they really do little to support my fights except to pick off tails on my 6. After 1 playthrough of the game over all 27+1 stages, I have 766 kills versus a combined total of 110 kills for my other 3 wing mates. Arcade mode in AC5 is the biggest disappointment; I was expecting something along the lines of a rail shooter a’la Afterburner, not some empty stage with a kill counter and a mission to destroy X number of planes.

Evening, went to the pool for a swim. Very much out of practice, I could only manage 10 laps. Topped up the tank at the gas station, pumped the tyres, home for dinner.

Finished 3 more readings, more AC5 (completed first playthrough of game at about 1am), sleep at 2am. No nice pictures to share this time, but AC5 really is the most innovative of all the AC games. First you sink 1 submarine carrier that does an AOE that hits all targets below 500 feet.

Some stunt flying next, and typical Ace Combat fare (bombing runs, close air support, air superiority battles). Next you have to shoot down a stratospheric flying fortress that fires a freaking laser beam at anyone under it (and all its launchers/engines are on its underbelly).

After this you discover that the enemy wants to drop a colony, I mean an artificial satellite on your capital city a’la Gundam, so you got to pull off a Stars Wars number and perform a Trench run on an underground facility to take out its control facility because the Army just cannot seem to get vehicles there.

If all that was not enough, you have to shoot down a falling artificial satelite that looks suspiciously like an [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Island_Three]O’Neill cylinder[/url]:

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May 31, 2010

Neo’s Wish List

This post essentially lists all my worldly desires that can be bought with money as a link to my Wish List page. Before we begin however, I want to make this clear: do not overspend. For those who know me, I always encourage frugality, and this goes doubly true for gifts.

My wish list of gifts, in no particular order of importance:-

Wheel of Time” series of books by Robert Jordan (All books I prefer in softcover, with cover illustration by Darrell K. Sweet)

  • Eye of the World (Wheel of Time Book 1)
  • The Shadow Rising (Wheel of Time Book 4)
  • Fires of Heaven (Wheel of Time Book 5)
  • Lord of Chaos (Wheel of Time Book 6)
  • Crossroads of Twillight (Wheel of Time Book 10)
  • Knife of Dreams (Wheel of Time Book 11)
  • The Gathering Storm (Wheel of Time Book 12)
  • Towers of Midnight (Wheel of Time Book 13)
  • A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time Book 14)

Misc. Objects

  • Large whiteboard (approx. 130cm length by 70cm height)
  • Custom waist-hip pouch (I have this idea for a waist-hip pouch, but need the materials and knowledge on how to make sports bags)
  • PS/2 Mouse with Scroll Wheel (My previous mouse has spoilt its scroll wheel but works fine otherwise. Loath as I am to replace a perfectly “fine” mouse, not having a scroll wheel is really inconvenient.)

Services

  • A book You are passionate about and willing to discuss intelligently with me after I read the book (I consider the conversation the gift.)
  • Catalog my CD/DVDs (I own a pretty large CD/DVD collection, and my catalog project has fallen so far behind that I despair of ever catching up without help.)
  • A good back and shoulder massage (I hear too many horror stories of terrible masseuses that I will not risk a trip unless it is recommended by a knowledgeable friend.)
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April 28, 2010

Here’s a bit of basic Wisdom.

I have spent the past few weeks marking scripts and marking time. Come this day 2 months from now, I will be working on something new and I have no idea what it will be. So let’s talk about the more definite parts of my life. I will start with the good news/bad news combination.

The good news? I have finished marking every test script I have on hand, short 4 absentees from 1 class who will take it during recess tomorrow. The bad news? Tomorrow I am going to be giving the same old lecture on studying, cheating and integrity to 124 gentlemen, less a handful. A pitiful handful.

Here are the list of complaints:
1. Fail to read carefully.
2. Fail to understand that cheating is NOT ok.
3. Fail to cheat properly and copy wrong answers.

4. Fail to submit homework.
Homework is never for the teacher’s benefit, it’s for the student’s. I will have more free time to do my stuff if I did not spend those hours marking homework, and I sure as hell am not gaining any benefit from using my red ink.
5. Fail to understand that if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.

And honestly, a lot of people are going to fail at this rate if they don’t wake up.

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