Saturday, September 30, 2006

Our house in Google Maps

I've had the idea of looking our house up in Google maps a long time ago. But Google's satellite images back then (on the Philippines at least) were so high up from the ground you can barely make out main roads, much less streets. So when I came about this site last week, I was surprised to see a Google map entry of my high school there! (It helps when your school is located beside a church of historical significance - the church houses an organ made of bamboos created by some Spanish missionaries... uhh I think). So from there I "drove" down south, passed through winding streets, flyovers, traffic, rode the tricycle, and arrived at our doorstep, in Balimbing street, Las Pinas, Philippines :)

It's the square roof with a worn out grayish color (hmm I used to think it was painted green). There's nothing much to look at really, but being far from home makes you miss it a lot. Though this satellite picture was taken perhaps a year or two ago (Google maps updates their maps at certain intervals, I'm not sure how often), it feels as if I'm looking at a realtime view of our house from up here. I found myself staring at it for a while, waiting for a red Toyota Corolla to come out from our garage and follow its way to where my dad works (though he's in Japan right now). Hehe.

I'll try looking for our place in Imus and here in Singapore hehe :)

Updated: Added Pasir Ris :) Hmm probably not a good idea hahaha!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Early Morning Blog

I don't get it. My normal bedtime is at 12am until 8am (ok I wake up at 730, but spend about 30mins of bed rolling, grunting and imagining it's a weekend). So when I had this terrible headache last night, I really had a good excuse to sleep at 1030, and expect to wake up at 6 or probably 7. But nOOO! I opened my eyes and checked the clock, at 330am! wtf. Now I can't sleep and will expect myself to get groggy by 12pm today. I'm dead.

Anyway, the fridge was making weird sounds. It sounded like my stomach when it's hungry. At first I thought it was me but it was too loud and my stomach isn't exhibiting any form of subtle vibration so I ruled it out. It got me hungry though.

Though I dread these "accidental wake ups", I've actually put the extra time to good use..

- ate noodles
- checked the internet for a patch to Microsoft's DRM (work)
- checked the internet for WSE security (work)
- read some of my friends' blogs
- blog some stuff
- ironed clothes to wear today

not bad, I'd normally be doing the first five in the office, the fifth during my morning "rush hour" (my work starts at 9am, that's about the time I start getting out the front door). I should do this more often.

(Hmm there's some alarm buzzing somewhere)

Some stuff that happened during the past few days

- Friday -
Went lunchout with my office colleagues. There I learned a horrifying news - our team supervisor is seriously considering moving in the same cubicle area as our team's. Ok, it makes perfect sense that he should move in (he is the team supervisor after all) but I should explain to you first why we're all in panic mode right now. HE'S FREAKING ANNOYING. I won't dare use any more space explainin' it because it's a total waste of time. Just understand that it's enough for me to call/sms/email other colleagues to consider filling up the empty seat and make mundane reasons to their supervisors why they need to be on our area.

- Saturday -
Went to Pin's band's semi-finals competition at Timbre. They were the only band to lose out of three (The other two tied). I thought that was unfair since the punk-emo band who opened was crap. They sang five songs, all of which I think is a continuation of the other, since they all sound the same. I also lost my left earphone rubber piece during the gig. It's difficult to replace and will have to suit myself with the extra that came with it, only bigger in size argh. Ah but it's nothing compared to Cheng's series of mishaps. I should probably call her Queen of Disaster. (hmm cool band name).

Bought new pair of rubber shoes. ADIDAS yeah! (Chris = adidas freak, Joel = nike freak, Hermes = converse freak).

I also bought a transparent plastic board and a couple of Post-It's to create what I call a "memory" board.

I normally keep notes in my cellphone (yeah I prefer the cellphone because a PDA is overkill and I'm a stingy geek), but I want something more immediate, and visual. The Post-It's contain notes on stuff that I'm supposed to do, want to buy, ideas worth researching, and stuff. Yeah I like to make my life complicated if you're wondering. It's sort of a self-mutilation therapy haha!

- Monday-
We had a company team building over at Buona Vista in this place called NACLI. If you've never heard of it, then I suggest you keep it that way. You know how these team building events go, you play some games and you learn a team lesson out of it. I didn't find it very useful though because

1) I normally work alone anyway, and enjoy doing that. I intend to keep it that way.
2) The place doesn't exactly have that inspirational and motivational mood to it. Placing it in some remote area didn't help either (if there's such an area in Singapore - remote).
3) Some games weren't as effective and representative of a real work environment. Passing someone's whole body through a web of strings without touching the strings doesn't really qualify for me as a team building activity. Or I'm just really grumpy (again) that day.

Hence the terrible headache yesterday. It would have been better if we went out for a barbecue outing of some sort, or anything that involves EATING GOOD FOOD. A cruise ship outing would be nice.

Hmm, people are starting to wake up. I'm hungry again.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Feeling Geeky

A lot of geek/gaming/toy stuff has been happening lately and it's becoming too hard to ignore.. here are some that I am personally interested in..

1) Final Fantasy VI on the Game Boy Advance

What is it?: The SNES game that put Squaresoft (now Square Enix) on the map. This started the whole Final Fantasy frenzy, and what now has become a multi-million franchise of games and movies bearing the same title. Back then (1994ish), graphics wasn't so much an issue, as long as you have 60 hours of intense gameplay and immersive storyline.

Oookay, so what unfortunate event got you into this? Me and my two neighbor friends were into Dungeons and Dragons back then. You know, that game that requires you to have a monsters compendium book and x-sided dice, and playing it actually requires you to *imagine* you're all slaying some monsters in some imaginary land, and everything in that world is dicated by a dungeon master? (he has the highest geek factor of course, and is highly respected by the *community* lol). These were called role-playing games (hmm, it does sound geeky doesn't it). Anyway, since about that time I have an SNES console, my friends and I decided to go buy the much talked about Final Fantasy game, an RPG game, but this time we could do away with the expensive books, dice, and we don't have to bug our neighbor anymore to be our dungeon master. It turned out to be a life-changing purchase for me, and was hooked with the game ever since.

So what's the hullabaloo all about: The re-release of this game on a portable console was originally intended for the Nintendo DS, a beefed up version of the GBA. Unfortunately, I can only go as far as the GBA because I've realized that I'm not really a hardcore gaming fan. I rarely buy games nowadays, and as successful as Nintendo DS is, I don't think it would be a worthy buy for me. So I settled with the GBA and was quite content, with a hanging disappointment of the DS release announcement lurking at the back of my head. But NOW, it will be released on the GBA bwAHAHAHAH!!! Imagine the look on those DS-fanatics' faces when this was announced ahHHAHAH ha ha ha! :D

2) Lego Mindstorms NXT

What is it? It's LEGO on steroids. The third generation of Lego Technic. The first generation Lego Technic featured gears, pneumatic systems, tubes, and almost every lego block conceivable that would allow you to build a "decent" piece of machinery, usable of course in the real world. The second generation Lego Technic was called Mindstorms. It included programmable blocks that allowed you to do some.. uhh programming, essentially giving the blocks some "thinking" capabilities, plus some sensor blocks using ultrasonic and infrared. The new incarnation of Mindstorms is now called NXT, basically an upgraded version of Mindstorms, with USB and Bluetooth capabilities.

What got you into this? Ok, being an only child does have its perks. Before you say anything else, I suggest you DON'T. Hehe, with that out of the way, yeah I asked a Lego Technic (1st generation) one day on a toy department store. Not many kids would have asked their parents for such a complicated-looking and looks-barely-fun toy, if it was even considered a toy haha. The Gundam battallion lined up beside it looked much cooler with all its machine guns and armor in full glory. But the Lego proved to be too mysterious to pass up. I've lived through two basic Lego sets anyway, so I figured I could use a few more blocks to the add to my previous ones. When I got home it turned out that the Lego Technic blocks don't snap easily to my existing basic blocks. But my disappointment was easily erased when I saw the instruction booklet describing steps on how to build a forklift, using the pneumatic block that came with it. I soon found myself constructing and deconstructing a robotic hand, a racing car with steering capabilities, and even a small catapult that fires when a wire is tripped. This was way cooler than Gundam! (which I also happen to have by the way after two more trips to the toy store). Then, fast forward to college (sorry this is taking too long.. this is a geek blog entry after all, you shouldn't have lasted this far if you're a cool kid lol). Thesis. I was paired with three very brilliant Filipino-Chinese classmates to do the thesis. It was now certain that I WILL graduate haha. All we need now is a thesis project. At that time I was into *some* small time hacking. So, I was particularly interested in computer networks more than anything else. But my three thesis mates voted robotics. I was destroyed, I mean, how many computer engineers have actually succeeded in their careers creating robots?! Hackers we're a cool breed! I could probably make millions robbing bank accounts and stuff! Haha! Anyway, I stuck with the group decision and we proceeded on drafting the robot essentials. We decided to create a fire fighting autonomous robot that will find a candle in a maze and put it out. This will be a 12x12 robot of course, and the rooms will be a scaled down replica of an actual house with four rooms. So what has this to do with LEGO?? I'm getting there. We needed a mechanism that will put the candle fire out, and no a strong fan will not do it. Besides, it looks low tech with the fan. One of our options was to use a heavy C02 canister (the one used in gas guns) and control the trigger with an electrically controlled switch that would require a considerable amount of current to make it toggle. It was suicidal approach. Then I recommended a Lego solution to our thesis adviser and to my thesis mates. They laughed it off like "What do you mean Lego?? It would break under pressure if you use it as lever for the C02 canister!". Obviously no one trusted Lego as much as I did. And who said I was gonna use that damn heavy canister. That night I built a lever mechanism out of Lego and at the center inserted a contact cleaner, the one that blows high pressure air when pressed, but not as heavy and as complicated as the CO2 canister. The next morning everyone was impressed. We went on to win the Silver Thesis award. Thanks to Lego.

So what's the hullabaloo all about: Now I'm thinking if it's about time I buy myself a Mindstorm. If it weren't for the hefty price tag, I would've bought it a long time ago. But now it makes even more sense since I know programming, and the main reason for getting a Mindstorm NXT: to build my own Roomba. My room here in SG, as small as it is, gets overwhelmed with floor dust. And I can't determine where it's comin' from! My clothes probably, but there's no way I'm stripping myself naked before I get inside my room (which is the whole point of having a room). So might as well make myself a Roomba, and let it run while I'm away. It would have dusted the floor a hundred times before it runs out of battery and til I get back from work. I will call it... RAMBO.

there's three more, I'll post them later :)

[edited: terms linked to wikipedia]

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha..

3 weeks without update..

Nothing much to say..

Because I've been working! (for real)

Ha ha :x

My mind is so full of code right now

  • Went to Comex last Friday and burned a hole through my pocket, two thousand and four hundred times, for this..

Acer Aspire 1GBRAM, 100GigHD, 1.3MP webcam, ATI Radeon graphics.. they don't come cheap. Peter was there to help me bargain an XP Pro upgrade UP $250, down to $150 coooool! That's some kickass bargaining skills man. I owe him 50 servings of chicken rice. Thanks man, you're DA MAN! Da ChinaMAN! lol

  • CarreFour in Plaza Singapura has this book sale running for ages, I think, because mold's starting to form on the stack of books they're selling. There are actually good ones buried down there, but no one can get through them because some clerk decided to stack them in an UNO Stacko mountain fashion, so yeah, if you can "pull it off", you can buy it.

The book's about uhh.. first impressions. On first glance, the book doesn't really make a good first impression (sorry I had to say that haha). The cover is very bland. Fortunately though, buying a book doesn't have to be similar to buying dvd. You can actually open and "read" the book before you buy, whereas in buying DVD, you'd have to rely purely on DVD cover "visuals", some star studded cast, and your good friend's movie review (if he happens to have the same movie taste as yours, IF, but that's another topic). Three chapters on to the book, it's not that bad, though some are not applicable, or it may just have missed the complexities of social dynamics. For example, the book emphasizes on putting the spotlight on the OTHER person, such as asking him/her questions, so he'll feel appreciated, and thus make a good impression. It so happened that last Saturday I went to a friend's surprise birthday party, and there's this dude who approached one of my housemates and asked some nosy questions, pure English, and with a bit of a dominant tone. Not that we don't understand English, but him being a Filipino, the effect was somehow repulsive. It's like, c'mon man, we're all Filipinos here, are you tryin' to be cool or something. So yeah culture plays a major role in this first impression thing. Or I'm just really grumpy that day haha! But hey, there's like 10 more chapters left so we'll see ;)

  • I've been trying to learn Manga drawing..

Nice artwork eh? It's from a Manga comic I bought called "Nana". (Cheng's fault I got into this). The simple yet elegant style of artwork got my attention and figured this style would be a good springboard to learning manga. I was initially after the art, but after three days of browsing the comic book and not understanding the storyline (the words are in chinese of some sort, read "backwards", from right to left), I decided to buy this as well..

Subtitles!! I'm saved! hahA! The screenplay was faithful to the comic book (fortunately) so I was able to follow the story and map it to the comic book. It turns out that there are these two girls who met each other who coincidentally happen to have the same name "Nana", but have contrasting personalities. One was a cutie pie softie type while the other was a hard rocking rugged chik. Yeah you guessed it, they get along well haha! That's pretty much it, it's a decent movie with a good storyline. But you won't trust me on that do you lol! I figured. (The story would've been perfect if there was a geek somewhere in there hahaha!) Anyway, the nice thing about this was, the female lead who played the "rocker chic" Nana was the one who actually sang the songs in the movie! When I learned this I was like wow!! She was suddenly elevated to a higher status hAHAHA! I immediately found myself listening to three of the songs from the movie, two of which she sang, in Japanese of course haha! Jrock rocks! Now I'm contemplating on how I can add this jrock element to some originals I've been thinking.

Speaking of which, I've started "humming" to my cellphone again. Nothing "solid" has come up yet, but it's just the way it goes, you just keep humming until something happens. Until then..