Sunday, November 4, 2018

A Social, Social Network

Software defined human relationships are weak. They are persistent, but because of that, we become complacent and don’t work on the actual interpersonal relationship – the persistance of the software link removes the fear of losing contact.
Simultaneously, people almost always post on social media for themselves – reactions, upvotes, humble bragging, “I agree”, “I can relate”, or “I want you to hear my opinion / care about what I say”. While not amoral, we should encourage sharing when it counts – true charitable causes with tangible results such as Humans of New York.
Because of this, I propose a social network that encourages relationships and discourages narcissism through the following1:
  1. You may have up to 30 connections.
  2. Any connection is automatically archived after 3 months since the last meaningful communication with each connection.
  3. Meaningful communication is defined as:
    • An instant messaging conversation with at least 7 messages within a day.
    • A wifi match / bluetooth pairing / NFC bump of your phones with your connections.
  4. You will be prompted to communicate at 2 weeks, 1 month, 2 months, and the week before your connection is archived.
  5. You can revive connections from your connection archive.
  1. There will not be any scrolling feed.
  2. There will be a board that allows a maximum of 20 minutes viewing per day.
  1. No reactions. Comment or don’t.
  2. Should they allow it, you may send a message to the other person. For example if you want to help their cause.
  1. None.
Perhaps then we’ll actually connect.

1 numbers can be tweaked

Monday, January 1, 2018

Retrospect 2017

This year my routine was not very different to last year — so the first half of the year was not super exciting, except for perhaps when the next door neighbour’s fence fell over:

However, within that routine, I did a few different things, like finally contribute to open source repositories:

In the second half of the year, I was given a rare opportunity — a business trip to Europe with expenses covered by my workplace, Orion Health. Out of habit, I did a quick analysis of the pros/cons of whether I should take it, or not.

In the end I went, and learnt to make tea and take photos. In comparison with last year, this trip did alter my routine to allocate more time for chores, and introduced Spanish and Exploration as new activities.

And it was good.

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.


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

Poorly designed electric jug. Cannot make tea.

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)

Enjoy tea.

Enjoy more tea.


Flip over electric jug base.

Extend cable.

Throw away implementation.


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

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.

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: