Monday, June 30, 2008

Questions: Length of loan?

Trusted colleague was advising me: I may wish to consider getting a larger and longer HDB loan since I would be able to get better returns on the money than 2.6% anyway. Not sure, it's a bit against my inclination to get out of debt as soon as possible but I suspect he's right!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Major life decisions

So we finally put down for a option on a resale flat. Hmmm...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Art of the Job Offer

Encourage candidates to turn you down...

I don't agree with the last point. But, the first four points make sense!

First, don’t use the offer as an opportunity to sell the candidate.
Next, be completely honest about the culture.
Then, tell the candidate your concerns about them.
Fourth, don't give candidates a long time to make a decision

Will try to apply this if I ever get into that position, lol.

Kung Fu Panda: Favourite line?

It's quite a funny show - so many funny lines... I'm actually a little torn between two lines which have much applicability in real life...

"There are no accidents."
"I know, you've said it twice already."
"That too, is no accident."

Or... (rough approximation)

"There is no good news or bad news, only news."
"Tai Lang has escaped!"
"That is bad news."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Boom Blox is fun!

Just tried out Boom Blox for Wii today. Wrists hurt, but it was fun! Try it today!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Wired features Descent

A very light review of Descent. However, I would say that a good Overlord isn't just trying to eliminate the players, but is trying to guide them through with a maximum of tension - ie, you're not trying to kill them entirely... just a couple of times to up the tension, is all...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

D&D seems even more appealing

Listening to Penny Arcade's D&D podcasts again.. like what one of the players was saying, this makes me really feel like starting a campaign, seriously! With a nice group of people, of course.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Finished reading: Gardens of the Moon, Steven Erikson

His prologue explains how his writing style is different from other fantasy writers. I'm not entirely convinced that it is that different, but he does try to make his explanations fit better into the story.

That having been said, I was captivated enough to want to finish reading it, but not enough to want to get the next book. At the end, I've got so many questions - How does one become an Ascendant? What is the relationship between Caladan Brood and Anomander Rake? Does the Deck of Dragons dynamically update? How will Sorry + Crokus work out? Are Kelanved and Dancer in a different book? What does Quick Ben have planned?

A product of his writing style, I guess, because he leaves sooooo many threads hanging. But despite that, I don't really feel like I HAVE to read the next book, and I'm now contemplating leaving the book in Geneva if I have problems with my luggage. Ah well, the book was cheap and it was an entertaining read, so it's not a total loss, I guess.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Does this apply to drivers with radio decals?

Drivers of cars with bumper stickers, window decals, personalized license plates and other "territorial markers" not only get mad when someone cuts in their lane or is slow to respond to a changed traffic light, but they are far more likely than those who do not personalize their cars to use their vehicles to express rage -- by honking, tailgating and other aggressive behavior.

Ie, they are more susceptible to road rage. But from my reading of the article, it's not that these people are more aggressive, it's that these markers "personalise" their car and make them more likely to be defensive about their space.

Does this mean 93.3 contributes to Singaporean drivers' unfriendly attitudes by giving out car decals?

Of WoW Raid Decks and Magic the Gathering

The guys at Penny Arcade went to play at a WoW TCG tournament, resulting in this comic.

We saw the same decks over and over and over and over for the three days we were there, I assume these were either "greatest hits" from previous tournaments or represented the current state of the art, but it made the experience much less organic. You could discern the entire arc of the game from the moment they placed their hero.

I think this may be why I suddenly stopped playing Magic again. I just don't really relish playing the same strategies over and over again.. True, by following the best strategies as refined by other peoples' research and play against each other, I am essentially playing a stronger deck. By playing other peoples' strong decks I am forced to play better. But maybe I'm not playing because I want to be better?

Somehow I find the 4-of, 60-card decks playing the best rares, uncommons and commons, just a bit boring. The combo decks were pretty fun for a while but it also became meh. Highlander was awesome right until the part where I find that everyone's playing the same cards - like really really the same!

I guess I'm looking for a story in it, and the Raid decks and their heroes vs DM style of play really appeals to me. But I don't want to learn a whole new card game, collect a bunch of cards, and then end up in one-on-one matches all over again. So... no, no, no. If I'm doing any of this stuff again, it's D&D 4th Ed. Or Descent. (and the two do seem quite alike, somehow. I might even be able to use Descent stuff to do D&D lol... )

Bistrot du Boeuf Rouge Geneve

Really, really wonderful beef and foei gras at this restaurant on the Rue de A. Vincent. Will post pictures once I'm home, forgot to bring my phone upload cable....

Monday, June 16, 2008

True words from Obama

NYTimes reports on Obama's speech on absentee fathers.

“But we also need families to raise our children,” he said. “We need fathers to realize that responsibility doesn’t just end at conception. That doesn’t just make you a father. What makes you a man is not the ability to have a child. Any fool can have a child. That doesn’t make you a father. It’s the courage to raise a child that makes you a father.”

Mr. Obama spoke of the burden that single parenthood was on his mother, who raised him with the help of his maternal grandparents.

“I know the toll it took on me, not having a father in the house,” he continued. “The hole in your heart when you don’t have a male figure in the home who can guide you and lead you. So I resolved many years ago that it was my obligation to break the cycle — that that if I could be anything in life, I would be a good father to my children.

(Emphasis mine)
True words, indeed. I would add, being a good husband to my wife.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Abortion rights

Frightful true stories - but we should not look away. Making abortion illegal may stop some abortions, but it drives the rest into the shadows.

Kindle, e-book reader

I've been thinking about an e-book reader for a while now. I really like reading, and especially re-reading favourite passages, but I hate storing books. They turn all moldy and brown and silverfish swarm all over, and it takes up lots of space. E-books are fine (I've been reading little books on my Axim for a while now) but it's difficult to read in sunlight generally. Plus battery life might be a problem. And the books I want to read may just generally not be available.. And it's difficult to do cross-referencing between pages.

So I've been looking with interest as the Kindle, Cybook, and other e-book readers get good reviews.

Communities Dominate Blogs linked up an article on the number of Kindles in circulation. And of course Tyler Cowen has been writing about the Kindle (since he bought one) saying that it's better for fiction than non-fiction, noting the low, low price of an e-book, and that sales of e-books are going up. That last post also linked an NYTimes article about how Kindle might affect the book market as a whole. Preetam Rai also reviewed much earlier the Cybook Gen 3, and the photos he posted (plus the Kindle photo in the NYTimes article) assure me that the screens can be bright enough for good reading. The usual tradeoff for that is battery life, though the article on Electronic Ink posted by Preetam suggests that it does not drain power as long as the page is not updated. (As a note, Wiki says that Kindle is also e-paper based.)

Hmm.. i-Phone? Kindle? Gosh... not earning enough...

The kind of thing that would make me change career...

Renovating a home, and building a puzzle in. Maybe not for the current homeowner, but for the next residents and generations to come. But what would happen if they renovated the place, or changed the bed? Sigh... I'm a romantic at heart, but it's like when you're building a D&D campaign, sometimes the players just can't solve the puzzles, and you have to help them out, which hurts things a little.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Loose Change

I was asked to watch this show, Loose Change, which basically talks about 9/11.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. It's very conspiracy-theorist, and I have mixed feelings about that - it's very cyberpunk, but I tend to think that the people who have the power and intelligence to pull these things off don't leave little clues for others to catch. Ie, if they're so smart, how did they get caught by you? Of course, nowadays, with the stunts people pull, it's not really that hard to imagine powerful people dumb enough to get caught.

Anyway: debunking Loose Change here, so at least you get some sarcastic commentary about the claims of the video.

JK Rowling's Commencement Speech at Harvard

The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination

Well spoken!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

D&D - brings back good memories, dammit!

Penny Arcade is playing D&D 4th Ed! And they're putting up podcasts! Woo hoo! It was fun listening to it, just a bunch of people having fun there (and I recognized Tongli in Gabe... ) and it seems fun.. dammit, I miss RPGs.. :(

Obscure, useful fact of the day: Mark your heat waves

If there's a heat wave, the wines from that region in that year are likely to taste better. So, mark those heat waves!

Credit: CP!

Monfils Sliderman

Was watching Monfils' semifinal against Federer - damn good match, but the thing that stuck for me was how he was so expressive and showy. He wouldn't have been out of place in a Prince of Tennis comic, seems like, the opposing gaijin with some special abilities and bizarre motivations...

A short break

A short break from work - good.
A short break from work on Saturday - wait, what am I doing working on the weekend?

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Sheer insensitivity.

I was at a meeting, and they were taking time out to remember someone who passed away. One of the guys started reading from a poem which he felt described the deceased well. This was Invictus, and it's a beautiful piece. "I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul." How many people can say that? I wish I could.

So anyway, he's reading halfway, and someone starts making a commotion off to one side, and makes a hullaballoo that there was no interpretation. Cuts off the speaker entirely, and the speaker just stops.

Turns out the interpreters stopped because, you know, it's poetry. And not a prepared statement so it's not easy to translate. And I'm like pissed, because like, isn't that a totally totally insensitive thing to do? I mean, given the solemnity of the situation, just shut up and act sincere, why don't you?