Archive for the ‘daily gripe’ Category

I really liked WordPress but my professional allegiance to RubyOnRails compels me to move to a “Mephisto”: based blog site. So, go on to “”: for more of my rants and raves!

Lately, I’ve been fascinated by movies made by multi-talented, multi-tasking, creative and passionate people. The first one I came across is Zach Braff, Miranda is the second. Simply put, “Me And You And Everyone We Know” is about people, and how they connect. It’s very well made because every single character has been given time to develop in the movie. Everyone of them seem to have something deep and insightful about them by the end of the movie, even six-year-old Robby.

the old mph

Those of you over 30 years old should know about the old MPH bookstore at Stamford House. What you didn’t know is that some 27 years back, it brought in one of the first demos of the original Apple computer and put it on display.

How do I know? Well, the bunch of us from now-defunct Henderson Primary School would spend our days after school, crowding around the demo. There’s Peter, Ng Hai, JT and me. What do we do? Well, I recalled we learnt to program in Basic on hand. Peter and Hai are especially gifted in this sort of things. They would hog the demo and try out their programs. I couldn’t recall what they did though, perhaps they never made it through debugging, ha!

Subsequently, some of us got our Apple Is or ][s. We started sharing stuff like games over cassette tapes and the collectible Beagle Bros. zines. Those days were way way cooler than the fragging non-thinking zombies that we’re turning our kids into.

something is wrong

Just spent some time at my folks reading last week’s chinese evening papers, catching up on the suicide case of a Mr JS Tan.

The gist of the case for Tan is that he is $1,000 in arrears of his utilities, town council and children’s school fees, went out to look for money and decided to throw himself onto an oncoming train. Because of how he died, his story was picked up by the local press. I don’t think the story was sensationalized. But in the evening news, a total of $500,000 was donated at Tan’s funeral.

$500,000. Against a $1,000 debt which drove the man to his demise. If there’s a choice, wouldn’t it be better to find the man $1,000 before that fateful day? It’s such a pity that a man’s life is worth so little when he’s still alive.

One other thing I heard on the grapevine is how town councils would engage law firms to deal with errant bills. While I’m not certain this is what happened to Tan, but hey, if a family choose not to pay their council bills, it’s because they’re using that money on food, ok! So stop being behaving like a commercial company and take on a more congenial role of helping the less fortunate people in the community. Solve the problem when it’s a $1,000-problem, a man’s life is worth infinitely more than that.

you are what you read

I run my own business and as a result, had the opportunity to coach my colleagues in the course of their work. Over a decade now, I’ve observed most adults simply don’t read enough to catch up. Sometimes, it seems to me that they avoid reading intentionally by filling up time with TV, movies, shopping and chit-chat.

Trust me, I’m not against TV, shopping and chit-chat. But there has to be a good mix of reading involved. A good benchmark would be if you’ve read a book in the last 6-12 months.

In my line of work, I see many smart individuals falling behind the technology curve after 3 years, all because they couldn’t be bothered to read to keep up with the industry. Amongst my friends, I see many choosing to focus their energy on their children’s pre-school and early primary homework, ignoring the development of their own ability to understand the world around us.

Please ReadGiven the people I interact with, I feel this to be a serious matter.

Serious enough for our country’s Total Defense committee to single it out and blare it out to Singaporeans on public buses that you should be “reading something useful.”

Sarcasm aside, I sincerely want to encourage you to pick up a book that is in the area of your current interest, and set aside 10-20 minutes a day to read it.

Just finished watching Dan Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness presentation at TED. Professor Gilbert’s research on happiness shows that there’s no difference between synthesized happiness and actual happiness. Furthermore, he points out that when given a choice, humans inevitably end up less happy than if they are not. In other words, having choices in life makes you unhappy.

If Dan’s conclusions shock you, welcome to the club. But first, download his presentation and watch it first before you reject his thesis.

Reflecting on myself, I realised that all my life, I’ve been primarily motivated by the need to give myself more choices. I studied hard so I can choose to where and what to study in university. I worked hard so I can choose not to stay in a HDB. I re-learned programming recently so I can choose to freelance if I want more personal time.

Learning that choices make you less happy certainly turns my values upside-down, forcing me to re-evaluate them. To tell you the truth, I’m addicted to motivation. I enjoy working hard towards a clearly defined goal. I thought reaching those goals will make me happy. Now, research has proven that it wouldn’t.

So, how does this work now?

The axiom for my being motivated is happiness. Now that this is yanked from beneath me, I’d have to look for another source of motivation. Is that it?

Or, should I just switch off the booster engines now and coast from here. And like Prof Gilbert says, synthesize happiness from whatever I have now.

first ride

The bicycle I bought finally made its maiden trip today. It was postponed for a day due to rain.

Well, today’s a bright sunny 33°c and yes, I perspired quite a bit from the 15-minute trip. All in all, it felt good to move around without emitting carbon.

Hmm, to tell you the truth, my girlfriend still drives the car to work, and we work at the same place. This whole exercise might seem a little redundant but if I get the hang of it, I’ll get rid of the car. In good time 😉

Came across Jory Squibb’s Moonbeam homepage, a project website documenting Jory’s year-long journey in building a 100mpg (miles per gallon) vehicle assembled from 2 used vespas.

Here’s Jory, brimming with pride on his new-born:

I admit,  this guy looks pretty content.  A very intense year of half-time work has come to an end.  Now it’s just drive drive drive and work out any kinks.

After completing the first prototype, Jory mentioned how he wanted to ride it Boston’s Altwheel Festival:

He maps out his route…

I  hope to leave Camden, Maine at 6AM on Thursday, September 21 and drive the 192 miles to Lars Anderson Museum in Brookline Mass.

I expect to consume less than 2 gallons of gas for the entire trip.

There, I’ll attend the Altwheels Transportation Festival, starting with thursday’s  vehicle caravan to MIT, overnight at MIT, and then on Friday, joining the show-and-tell at Boston City Hall plaza.

The anticipation shows…

I hope to meet many fellow-travellors (like yourself!) there!

But in the end…

Alas, driving Moonbeam on the expressway, with its 45 MPH minimum,  was wisely kyboshed by my wife.  Moonbeam will  come to Boston by trailer.   Sigh….

He’s veto’ed by his significant other.

The feeling is uncannily familiar.

new ipod anyone?

Just read from Seth Godin’s Purple Cow that I’m a ‘post-consumption consumer’. By Seth’s definition, it means I’ve got everything I need and almost everything I want.

It’s a shame because I really wanted to have that new 80GB iPod. And on Seth’s cue, I checked that my 3G ipod has never ever reached full potential:

my ipod status

I guess it’s one less sale to Apple. Thanks to Seth.

PS: Doesn’t those reflections make you wanna hug Apple?

a greener weekend

Had some personal time today and I decided to take a short bus ride to Orchard.

I originally wanted stop by Kino at Taka to check out some books, found 2 (Seth Godin’s Small Is The New Big and Screwed: The Undeclared War Against The Middle Class) but realised that the 20% sales is only valid for the Bugis store.

Oh well, I’ve got time.

From there, I made two more stops: one at the iShop (Cineleisure) to check out the new iPod 80GB (which they didn’t have on display) and then at HMV (Heeren) where I picked up the latest Pet Shop Boys album ‘Fundamental’. Don’t tease me but I’ve been collecting PSBs for a long time. The last few has been misses but this one says ‘Their best album in over a decade” so I bought it.

From there, it’s a 2.36km (from streetdirectory) concrete jungle trek to Bugis Junction. Actually, the walk didn’t turn out half as bad as I expected it, in fact, I must say I quite enjoyed it.

You should try it sometimes.