Sunday, July 27, 2014

On Workplace Equality

Imagine yourself playing a Real Time Strategy (RTS) game, such as Starcraft. Your mission is to destroy enemy bases. You start off with a main base and 4 drones (or miners). You can either command these 4 drones to "attack" other players' main bases, or you can tell them to retrieve minerals.

Obviously asking your drones to attack an enemy's base is not very effective - the damage that each drone does is minimal, and can be considered negligible. On the other hand, they can retrieve minerals, which you can use to construct different buildings, and subsequently units that have specialized purposes.

Of these special purpose units, scouts are designed to expand your map vision, and discover suitable enemy bases to attack. Battle-centric units are designed to deal damage to those bases. Healers are designed to work closely with the battle-centric units by keeping them going. Transport units provide the infrastructure to accomplish operations efficiently.


In the midst of a game, all units must work together to achieve success. Without a scout to discover the enemy bases or new locations to retrieve minerals, valuable time will be wasted with your units parading the map. Battle units are the (oftentimes) sacrificial units that handle the serious action. Healers keep them going as they encounter resistance when marching into enemy territory. When structures are damaged, only drones have the ability to repair these, making them essential for survival. Transport units carry drones, battle units, and healers to desired locations to expand your base or attack.

To win, all enemy bases must be destroyed, while holding your own. But do you value all of your units equally? If you lose the function of any one group, can you really be confident you will win?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

On Writing

Writing. The articulation of words to capture attention and incite imagination. But when is an essay a story? What makes a quotation timeless? Why is a love letter beautiful?

Empathy. When a person relates to the message. When a reader feels in touch with a persona. When a writer has accurately penned thought and emotion into type and script. How is this accomplished effectively through mere words and phrases?

Flow. It is important to maintain fluency throughout the article; disjoint sentences and paragraphs will quickly close the mind and hinder understanding. Start with a topic that interests your readers. Lead them through related concepts, each laying down a foundation for the next. Establishing a smooth flow is essential to keeping your readers focused, but there is more than just eloquence that brings a note to life.

Variety. Exercise a combination of short and long sentences to achieve "sound bites" - phrases that resonate in the reader's mind. Avoid using a term multiple times if possible - this can create distractions and break fluidity of the text. Different terms with synonymous meanings juxtaposed is a pleasure to read.

Impact. The memorability of a piece of writing can be enhanced through writing techniques. Switch between active and passive voice. Break the rules. Use repetition intentionally for effect. Repeat a word when its definition superceeds the meaning of the full sentence. Repeat a sentence when it makes a crucial point. Never repeat a paragraph.

Revise. Step back and take in your work with fresh eyes. What is the topic? Does it flow? Is it coherent? Will it be remembered? Can it be improved? How does it end? Ask these questions as you revisit and refine your composition.

Conclude. Whether it be a cliffhanger, a twist, or a resolution, conclude. Leave your readers with the feeling of satisfaction of a good read, and inspiration to try something new. As always, practice makes perfect.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

On Running

I began my ascent into running in March 2011, in my final year of university. I signed up to the university gym with a friend (Chris) at the beginning of the semester, determined to get fit. On my first go at the treadmills, I remember setting the speed to 7.0, not understanding what it meant. For 20 minutes I kept at that pace, then exited the gym and thought, "that was a good run".

Three years on, I am a consistent runner. Not a superhuman, but I can run at a decent speed of 12.0 km/h for an hour. The speed at the treadmill, I realize that it meant 7.0 km/h. My walking speed now is around 5.5 km/h. I reflect upon those first steps, and I laugh at the notion that I walk nearly as fast as I used to run. If life is a game, I would comfortably say I've leveled up.

Apart from keeping fit, my resolve to run is fueled by multiple factors. I enjoy the adrenalin rush I experience while running, and the sense of security and confidence that if running is a required action for survival, I am prepared. In addition, I take pride in being able to say I have run a thousand miles, like the song.

This year I'm joining the Auckland marathon to extend my limits, and while I'm at it, I'm fundraising for the Heart Foundation. If you like, you can make a donation in support.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Things Take Time

At the beginning, we start out with our bits and pieces. Make sure you don't only plan for the outer shell, if the core function isn't there, it isn't going to be useful, so plan this early as well.

We need to break down what we want to do, and divide the work up into sizable units.

Then we have to shape each into its required form.

Polish your work with some decorations, this gives it the flare that makes it stand out.

Make sure each one is stellar on its own.

When the parts are all whole, complete the sum.

Things take time. Keep going until they are done.