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




Friday, October 9, 2015

Friday Stories and Unroutine

My Fridays start on Thursday - I decide what I'd like to do, and occasionally that means sleeping earlier the night before to get up early and go.

Today was different. I lost a bag containing my wallet the night before, and hence didn't have my driver's license. Consequently I asked Cindy for a ride to work, which was not much later than my usual time. Going later, I saw a truck that looked like the optimus prime truck:

This is googled. I didn't manage to take a photo of the actual unfortunately
When I reached work, I found that my bag was kept behind the company cafe counter. Thankful that it was safe, and nothing was missing, I retrieved it and went for a run. This time it was shorter, as I started out later and returned earlier than usual. I planned to map Shaun's name, and had set a time as Sherry was coming along. A while later, this was written across the field:

I felt this time the mapping came out pretty consistent and accurate. Initially I thought the size was good (when choosing how big to map the 'S'), but it was somewhat big enough to make the 'n' go onto the road. At least it was an inner road, rather than a main.

Time lapse.

After work, I went to the office toilet. Upon closing the cubicle door, the handle fell off. I couldn't open it from the inside, and when someone tried opening from the outside, that handle fell off as well. Trapped for a moment, I was somewhat amused. Someone went to get some pliers to turn the inner workings of the door, but we managed to get the door open just as they got back.

I had a few bottles of cider to end the day. Not usually able to do that because I drive most of the time.

Unroutine is fun, in doses.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

5 centimetres per second

5 centimetres per second. If that's the amount you can gain each day, would you take it?

It's been 31 weeks since the beginning of this year. If you started something new this year, by now you should hopefully have made the leap from total beginner to initiate. If you gave around 3.5 hours a week, you would have around 100 hours experience, which, on a simplified scale is 1% mastery.

I'm taking part in the Auckland Marathon again this year, with a target completion time of 4 hours or less. That would be a one-up over last year's time. If you'd like to donate, here's my fundraising page this year: [fundraiseonline] azrielh.

I haven't managed 100 hours of piano this year - I have around 71 hours - but I managed to come up with this after about 50 takes orz:

(previous progress post: [blog] checkpoint)

I acknowledge the mistakes; 20 weeks should be enough to make them go away.

Anyway, just so you know, 5 centimetres per second may not sound like much, but it's a lot over time.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Opportunities Missed

Opportunities missed remain such. Whether it be a missed shot in the game, a might-have-been soul mate, a dream job, or an unattained achievement, when it's lost it is gone.

If you have missed an opportunity, rest and recover, but at some point you should stop dwelling on the past. You don't have to accept it as fair, but you have to switch focus to what you can do to move forward.

You can do anything, but not everything. Careful use of time lets you do more, but time remains a limited resource. Determination and discipline can create or invite new opportunities. Therefore, whenever you choose, consider the opportunities that each path offers, the ones you can defer, and the ones you will miss. As early as possible, take on the things you will regret not having done.

Decide quickly, but not in haste. Indecision equates to idleness, and that itself may lose you the opportunity. Learn from not just your own experience, but on the understanding of others.

When you have chosen, commit. An agile approach is to re-evaluate with new information the goal that you are chasing. This does not mean to keep switching targets and never producing anything useful. It means adapting the way you approach the same goal - assuming you chose an appropriate one.

Finally, take death as an ending and starting point.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Eyes on the Prize

Until the next retrospect:
  1. Remember what your goals are.
  2. If you don't have any, find one, and stick with it.
  3. Keep track of progress to make sure you are on target.
Eyes on the prize

Monday, April 20, 2015

Reminder: Try Something New, And Then Stay

Often people say, if you don't like what you are doing, try something new. The contrasting principle is, if you keep switching, you will not likely attain mastery in any particular skill. Neither perspective is wrong on its own; each has its trade-offs. Typically we lean towards one of the two extremes.

Frequently changing what you practice does not make you a polymath. If you switch skills each time you lose interest in that particular skill, you will never realize your full potential. 10% proficiency in 10 separate skills does not make you 100% competent in any task.

Sticking with a particular skill can be as costly as frequently changing skills. If you maintain only a limited skillset to a high level of proficiency, then you have limited your capability to a specific field. If that skillset loses its necessity or value, then you are in an unfavourable position.

For those of us in the former group, the important thing is to learn to stick with a skill. Be it patience, motivation, discipline, or whatever other feasible method that works, stay with a particular skill, and don't switch until you have become competent enough for it to be useful.

The rest of us should learn to be more flexible, and be prepared to adapt to new ways of completing tasks. If you don't adapt, it will be difficult for you and/or those around you when change is necessary.

Saturday, March 7, 2015


Two months into 2015. Has anyone been far even as decided to go and look back at their resolutions? How much progress has been made? Are you on track to meet the goals you set out to attain?

One of my goals is to learn to play the piano well. I started late in November 2014, and have been practising quasi-regularly, averaging around 3 hours each week. This shows is where I'm at:

This is the result of approximately 33 hours of practice, and it took around 20 takes to record this video - previous takes always had mistakes. Although playing at this level is far below what others believe when they hear anyone say "I can play the piano", it is a phase every piano player had to go through to become good.

Whenever someone demonstrates amazing skill, there is a tendency for us to feel as though "I wish I could do that". But not many of us try, at least not for long enough.

The barrier to entry may be that "I don't want to sound stupid", "I don't feel motivated", or whatever else. Perhaps that is why children are in a better state of mind and life to acquire skills. They don't believe they sound stupid when playing scales* for half an hour, multiple times a week. They practice for that long because they are disciplined to do so (typically by their parents). How many twenty-plus-year-olds are willing to begin at that very basic level? Without someone else to discipline (read: enforce) us to practice, how many of us still do?


* playing scales are the equivalent of singing "do re mi fa so la ti do"

post script: I started by playing scales, and I still play scales as warm-up every time I practice. I don't always feel motivated; that is why discipline is important.