Sunday, September 17, 2017

Photography Level: Pedant

None of the photos in this blog post have been doctored, they are all straight from my semi-potato phone — Samsung Galaxy S5.
Except for the previous post, I tend to be quite pedantic about the photos that I take. Here are the rules I try to follow when taking a photo:
  1. The entirety of the object / area of focus should be in the frame.
    Make sure the shot contains the entirety of the object you are trying to take — it shouldn't have part of the object cut off around the edges. If it's a closer shot of an object, it's okay to have only the targeted area in the frame, but it still musn't cut off the object in an imbalanced manner.
  2. Take an intentionally straight photo, or an intentionally slanted one; don't take a crooked / imbalanced photo.
    The photograph on the left was hurriedly taken, and you can see it already violates the first rule. On the right, the photograph is much straighter. Below is another example:
    The left photograph is ever so slightly imbalanced with a bit more of the left pillar in the photograph. The one on the right is intentionally slanted for the cathedral to fit in the photo.
  3. Don't have parts of unimportant objects in the photo frame
    This was taken in an exhibition. On the bottom right you can see there's a bit of a bucket, which prevents what would otherwise have been a clean shot.
    This is one of the hardest things to control when there's people around — they appear in the shot, usually around the bottom or side edges.
  4. Have even padding around the sides of the object
    In the left photograph, the bottom right of the notebook is quite close to the edge of the frame compared to the left, and is actually slightly cut off. The photograph on the right is balanced with enough blank space on each side
  5. Don't include unnecessary shadow.
    This is especially hard when taking close up shots with a light source you can't move, and usually the angle of the shot changes. The photographs in the previous rule are more forward facing rather than top-down, to avoid the shadow of my hand / my phone.

Autophotography

I really dislike selfie shots (is that officially a word now?), because to me it promotes narcissism1. However I don't mind photos with oneself in it, as a keepsake. Part of me wonders, where did it go — the time where we wouldn't hesitate to ask a stranger to help us take a photograph.
Anyway, I've been going places and sometimes I do want to take photographs with myself in them. Here's my take on how to do that:
  1. Find the frame.
    This is pretty much use your eyes to find a spot that matches all the previous rules. You can also just take your camera and aim it somewhere to see what you will be taking. Also, make sure to check with your camera in the position that you will be setting it — don't hold up your camera when aiming, put it as close to wherever it's going to be sitting when it takes the photograph.
    Tip: If you can see part of an object in the direction you want to take the photograph, then your camera can probably see it.
  2. Make sure it's safe to leave your phone / camera unattended.
    I tend to go places that are deserted, or I go places early in the morning, so "safe" for me means no one's around. If you're going to a place where people pass by frequently, you probably are better off asking someone to a photograph for you, or don't travel alone. Note that strangers probably won't adhere to the pedantry above.
  3. Ready, steady, go!
    Given you've set your phone / camera in timer, then tap it to focus on the spot, start the clock, then run! Just remember that to get a good shot you may have to do this multiple times, especially if the photograph should be taken mid-action, like a jump shot.
Here are some shots I'm quite happy with:


1 I find this to be a trap for myself to embrace pride; perhaps that's why I'm so against it

So, if you ask me to take a photo, I shall try to make it good; but if I ask you to take a picture, you now know how to please me 😊

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Tea Brewing Level: Software Engineer

Problem:
Poorly designed electric jug. Cannot make tea.

Description:
Electric jug base wire is too short to be practically useful.


Short-term fix, aka the band-aid:
Use the closest object available that raises the electric jug base to the level of the socket.


Issue with fix:
This is the tea box. It is annoying to have to remove the electric jug and base each time you want to get another packet of tea. Annoying = Bad.


Long-term fix:
Need to get the electric jug base to be flat on the table. Objects available:
  • 1x AUS/NZ to UK adaptor
  • 1x Universal to universal adaptor
  • 1x AUS/NZ multiplug (longer cable)

Design and determine interaction between components:
  1. UK Socket
  2. AUS/NZ to UK adaptor
  3. AUS/NZ multiplug
  4. Universal to universal adaptor, configured as UK to AUS/NZ adaptor
  5. Electric jug base plug (UK)

Conclusion:
Enjoy tea.


Enjoy more tea.


MOAAAR!


Flip over electric jug base.


Extend cable.


Throw away implementation.

Restart.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Retrospect 2016 - End Well



It is good to start well, but it is even better to end well.

Following on from last year, under some sort of master plan to end well, I made a list of what I should prioritize:
  1. Be a better christian
  2. Make a game
  3. Play the piano
  4. Stay fit
  5. Draw
  6. Speak Japanese / Play Japanese songs
In actuality, I put more effort into items 2 through 6 than into being a better christian. It's quite a pitiful effort if I can only scrape together half a day in a year to spend with the maker of time. Some consolation is that I make coffee at church once a month, and can sometimes draw some latte art.



In making a game, I started again (again, again, again). Yeap, found the 99th way that doesn't work. After going through C++ dependency management using maven, biicode, and conan, I settled on Rust. I managed to make a program that can talk to different endpoints:


For piano, I've been practicing Five for Fighting's 100 Years, and Tenth Avenue North's By Your Side and Fighting For You. Perhaps one day I can use this for priority one.

In fitness, I joined work's Ultimate Frisbee team. It was the first time I played in a team sport, and it is far more exciting than long distance running. Still, a good run and workout feels good, and I keep that up at least once a week.


On paper, there's always a chance to make someone's day better. Check out this year's cards at cards.azriel.im:


Japanese is still a desire at arm's distance. I did spend a steady amount of time on it during work lunches in the earlier half of the year, but somehow didn't manage to keep it up. Maybe later. We'll see.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Ambigram Tutorial

Someone asked how I make ambigrams, so here are the steps I use to draw them:
  1. Pick a person's name, and write it down.

  2. Come up with the skeleton or "wire-frame" of the ambigram.
    1. First, write the name below itself to find the corresponding rotated letter. You can also use uppercase instead of lowercase as it may be a more suitable fit for the skeleton:

    2. Next, write the name, rotate the page, and write the name over itself, trying to find strokes or lines that match up with each other. This can be quite difficult, as not all letters are balanced. For example, "i" is written within one vertical line, whereas "m" has 3 vertical lines.

    3. Then, try and write the first half of the name. For each letter or stroke, you have to try and make it rotationally symmetric with the corresponding end letter.
      If the name has an odd number of letters, include the middle one.

      You only have to do the first half, because you can rotate the page and get the second half.
      You may want to do this a few times to make it fit the letters better.
  3. Apply a font onto the skeleton.

    Just kidding. I just searched for fonts that that looked like what I had drawn.
    But for this step it really is just trial and error in scribbling around, and settling on what looks good. You can google for inspiration from different font styles, or what used to do is open Microsoft Word, type the name in font size 72, and preview it in different fonts.
  4. Transfer the ambigram to a card.
    This step is where you're actually touching the final product, so you want to do it well.
    Start from the middle. Unless you have a robotic arm (and sometimes not even then), the second half of the ambigram you drew in step 3 most likely doesn't look the same as the first half. So on the final product, start from the middle, and draw outwards towards the left and right, rotating the card constantly to do the same stroke on each side.
    Here is the one I did for Mukti a while back (sorry Justin! not enough time right now to do yours):

  5. Colour and decorate the ambigram.
    Good colouring and decorations can make it easier to read the ambigram. Truth is, most of the ones I make, except for the person it is for, most people still have to guess and ask what the ambigram says. But I think that's okay, as perhaps that is why art is understood in different ways.
    There are two styles I have used for a while:
    • Hollow Outline: This lets you colour the inside. I tend to go with 3 to 4 shades of a main colour for the ambigram for the gradient effect, plus a highlight colour using glitter or other gem-type objects.
    • Solid Thin: The ambigram itself is a solid silver, and around it I'll use one or two shades of a highlight colour.
    Those aren't rules, just styles I've been using for a while.
    Here are some ambigrams with the corresponding drafts:




    You can find more on my cards blog.
Enjoy

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Brain Dump


Little questionnaire to figure out your priorities
  1. If the world ended in the following time_period (see below), what would you do in the next hour?
    What do I care about? What is my final legacy?
    • 1 Hour:
    • 7 Days:
    • 3 Years:
    • 20 Years:
    • 100 Years:
  2. If you had the following amount to spend, and 1 month to live, how would you spend it?
    Comfort? First I must survive
    • $100:
    • $1,000:
    • $10,000:
    • $100,000:
    • $1,000,000:
  3. If you could only see / talk to the following number of people for the rest of your life, who would you choose?
    My life revolves because of them
    • 1 Person:
    • 3 People:
    • 10 People:
  4. If you could master the following number of skills, what skills would you pick?
    With these abilities, I give or gain from the world
    • 1 skill:
    • 3 skills:
    • 5 skills:
    • 7 skills:
  5. If you were to only remember the following number of events, and forget all other memories, which ones would you remember?
    I awaken, my mind hazy, and only these events form my identity
    • 1 memory:
    • 2 memories:
    • 3 memories:
    • 4 memories:

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Retrospect 2015 - Satisfied?

Always question yourself. Did you say you were going to do something? Have you done it?

Results, not plans, make the difference. So how did you do this year?

Last year there were two; this is 2015:
  • 4 hour marathon finish - 98%
  • Maintain card making skills - 90%
  • Piano playing - 70% (scroll down)
  • Comfortable in Chinese - 5%
  • Playable demo of game - 0% (okay, around 200 hours of the 320 hours had to be thrown away, but I learnt a lot)
All percentages are my own evaluation of the level I aimed for this year.

It's somewhat alright. I would prefer to have made that 4 hour mark, but not reaching it is a good way to keep away from boasting.

Card making wasn't a difficult goal - mostly just keep practising so that you don't lose it. I liked the way some of the ambigrams turned out:
What I enjoyed most was piano playing. Not so much the practising - that part's always tedious - but you have to do the part you don't like to get to the part you like.



Chinese is still a work in progress. I actually would enjoy Japanese more - I watched quite a bit of anime this year - but Chinese would be more useful at work.



In terms of developing my game, the tool I was relying on for dependency management had to be discontinued, and so the time spent learning and converting all the code to use it isn't very useful anymore. However, I learnt a lot, so it's not completely wasted.

Done with this year? Yes.

Satisfied? No.

Ready for next year? Yes.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

謙卑

如果謙卑是不吹噓自己的地位和成就,要是想談論這些主题,行嗎?如果是他人提出的,我們應該如何應對呢?我們應該稱之為正常,低调,還是避免談話?

人們天生喜歡讚美有成就或善良的人。享受他人的表彰或獎勵行嗎?聖經含有許多相關這些問题的段落。
耶穌没有擺出神的地位誇口,但是他也没否認它。當他確認地位時,他的回答短。路加福音第22回70至71句說:
他們說:“那麼你是神的兒子嗎?”耶穌說:“你們說了,我是。”
他們說:“我們還需要甚麼見證呢?我們親自聽見他所說的話了。”
關於善意,馬太福音6回1至2句說:
施捨不可張揚
你們小心,不要在眾人面前行你們的義,讓他們看見;如果這樣,就得不到你們天父的賞賜。因此你施捨的時候,不可到處張揚,好像偽君子在會堂和街上所作得一樣,以博取眾人的稱讚。我實在告訴你們,他們已經得了他們的賞賜。
我們没有義務匿名,但是需要記取所有的榮譽應該給與主。馬太福音5回16句說:
照樣,你們的光也應當照在人前,讓他們看見你的好行為,又頌讚你們在天上的父。
然而擺出謙卑的行為很難,因為我們渴望獲得他人的榮譽。