Interesting discoveries #07

Time flies when I’m busy. It seems like April’s here and it’s a rude awakening for me. I’ve met interesting people lately, some from the Singapore Humanism Society and also from one of the frontend developers kinda meetup.

1. Google Whatsapp

Rumor has it that Google’s acquiring Whatsapp. Had a quick conversation over this this evening and it’s a sensible choice for Google. Even if it is 1 billion. Google has not been fast enough to jump into messaging and the other companies are taking over. LINE and WeChat has been especially popular in Asia and Google’s probably finding this hard to ignore. If Google does get Whatsapp, I can imagine improvements to it. I love to watch for SMS integration in this, especially for the iPhone.

2. ChannelNewsAsia has a new design

Woah new design. It definitely a great improvement. The new site takes some getting used to but this is a great step forward. They are a couple of jarring mistakes, more on the choice of colors and there’s some awkward color decisions. I do not think the trend graph is sensible too. Love the bigger images and larger text.

3. Mad Men

I’m watching Mad Men this month and advertising is such an interesting industry. I thank Grace for getting me to watch this. If you’re looking for some drama to watch, this is something.

4. On web design in general

Web design has evolved so fast that tools can’t keep up. I find that designers are painstakingly using Photoshop to work on their designs and there’s no way Photoshop can express responsive layouts. Designers can probably imagine how the layout would change in their minds but it’s too tedious to create mockups. In the bigger design houses, some designers got their hands dirty and do HTML and CSS to just design directly. I think that has to be the way at some point of time. The web designer title is evolving. I see this as an interim though, perhaps tools will catch up and allow designers to express web designs better. Seriously designing a whole website in Photoshop or InDesign is making lesser sense these days. (Note: I’m a web user interface developer.)

5. Grunt.js

Grunt.js is such a joy to use, I’ve been automating some LESS.js and minification tasks at work and it’s making me happier leaving these highly repeatable task to this wonderful tool. I’m starting to use this more efficiently and have introduced this to my colleagues at Tremor Video as well. It’s a slightly different workflow as what we are doing but definitely worthy of further exploration.

6. My best 50 bucks spent

I’ve been bring the phone charger and adapter back and forth for months. One day I bought a set to keep it at home and have my existing set at work. The new adapter at home charges both my Apple iPhone 5 as well as the Amazon Kindle together. I now have one less thing to think about when going home from work. That freed me to think about under things and I swear this reduces my overall stress. Consider getting yourself a set of these too.

7. The curse of credit cards

The curse is to watch out for payments. I’ve been scalded once, OCBC charged me 60 dollars for late payment for 20 bucks. That upset me. I have 8 credit cards today and I only use 2 regularly. I know what to do. I’m just waiting for the time I can cancel without a penalty. I recommend everyone to have as little credits cards as possible. Forget about the dinner discounts, they’re limiting your dinner choices anyway.

8. Roger Ebert, RIP

Roger Ebert died at age 70 after battle with cancer (Sun Times). Ebert, 70, who reviewed movies for the Chicago Sun-Times for 46 years and on TV for 31 years, and who was without question the nation’s most prominent and influential film critic, died Thursday in Chicago. He’s one of the best writers I admire. Have a look at this article that’s not movie related.

Interesting discoveries #01

I wrote on a set of interesting discoveries I made in this week. It’s somewhat inspired by Sayanee Basu’s Build podcast, you can check it out on iTunes by searching “build podcast” where she introduces different tools to build applications.

1. John McAfee

First is John McAfee, the McAfee in the anti-virus software of a similar name. You can read more in this WIRED article. McAfee, 67 years of age, is wanted for murder in Belize — a murder he claims he did not commit. The homicide victim is McAfee’s neighbor, Gregory Faull, who was killed by a gunshot wound in his head. I read the full account through this Amazon Kindle Single. Through that I came to learn how McAfee started his business by giving the antivirus software for free until companies felt compelled to be paying his company a fee. I shan’t spoil it more.

2. Organizational Structure That Supports Your Digital Presence

Also interesting is Paul Boag’s write up on a simple organization structure to support a digital presence featured in Smashing Magazine. It’s an accessible read with good examples to illustrate how it could be done.

3. Dumb Ways To Die

Madelyn shared this with me the other day and it is quite possibly the best video I watched all week. Dumb Ways To Die is a Melbourne Metro viral video, you can read more about it here. I love the song and video. Please watch it here:

4. The David Petraeus Scandal

What? David what? Really it doesn’t matter at all. It’s such a non-issue in fact that making it an issue all over news websites becomes the issue itself. Short story — David Petraeus, director of CIA, has an affair with his biographer could have possibly put the country at risk. Did Pertaeus reveal anything then? Nobody knows, but a scandal’s a scandal and Americans are concerned anyhow. John Prados’ Washington Post article cannot have articulated this better.

5. The issue with unions

The death of Twinkie is imminent anyway but the reason as to way it died is partly due to unions. Previously the troubled company behind Twinkie, Hostess Brands, declared bankruptcy to save itself some money, after which employee wages and benefits were cut. The union organized a strike and Hostess claimed that it is unable to operate in such circumstances and shut its operations. Unions which supposed to help workers didn’t this time around. The New Yorker has a good overview. This also reminds me of how Caterpillar manages to make unions ineffective but continuing operations during strikes by hiring temporary workers and not bowing down repeatedly. The concept of unions might be in need of a change for good.

6. Romney supporters looking for agent to blame — Orca

So Romney lost as we learnt last week. Supporters have switched to pointing fingers. One interesting agent to blame is Romney campaign’s Orca project. Ars Technica initially wrote that Microsoft is responsible for Orca but has since reverse that claim. Now no consultant seems responsible for Orca, claims Ars Technica again. There’re so little news of Romney’s Orca project who that the presidential candidate has dismantled his campaigns, you know, bury it under the carpet, and try again four years later. Orca is in response to Obama’s Narwhal project which isn’t exactly a software but more of an emphasis towards real time campaign data analytics. I can’t forget Orca though, nothing is clear at all and it annoys me so little is being mentioned on it.

7. On Gong Li

I’m back to watching movies and this week I caught Zhang Yimou’s Red Sorghum. My favorite parts of the movie is its cinematography and Gong Li. The whole film is a visual treat and yet it’s so simple. There’s also something about Gong Li that makes her so mesmerizing and she is undoubtedly one of the most consistently good actresses I have watched.

8. Tower.js

Not really a new discovery but I am amazed by how fast Tower.js is moving. Lance Pollard’s Tower.js is a relatively new web framework that is build on JavaScript, Node.js platform. I haven’t done any actual projects on it but it’s something I am loving. The fact that they chose CoffeeScript makes things really appealing. The only downside is the MongoDB support which is still hard for me to change. This increases the learning curve but I fancy the idea where web developers only need to essentially know CoffeeScript/JavaScript to could a web application in both client and server side. I’ll definitely be exploring more and I can probably write some getting started guide soon.

9. Euthyphro dilemma

In its modified form: “Is what is morally good commanded by God because it is morally good, or is it morally good because it is commanded by God?” You can read more in Wikipedia about this. Refrain from making a conclusion too fast.

End note

It’s been a short week. I haven’t done as much reading as I hope. I’m making a transition out of the company I worked for — Cherry Credits. It represents a key change of direction for me. It will have no more PHP, will be moving to somewhere with much more JavaScript. I’ll share more when the time is right.

Forced alphanumeric passwords

From the movie Handover 2:

Phil: Your password is baloney1?
Chow: Well used to be just baloney, but now they make you add number.

Forcing alphabets and numbers into password is just annoying for me. I have a, what I will deem to be, a sufficiently secure password and I had to uglify it with a number. The number actually makes my password harder to remember. Will my passwords be just random hashes one day?

V’s speech

One of the most memorable lines in V for Vendetta, unfortunately, embedding is disabled and you can watch it here. V for Vendetta – V’s introduction to Evey

V’s speech

Voilà! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a bygone vexation stands vivified, and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin vanguarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition!

The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it’s my very good honor to meet you and you may call me V.

Hugo Weaving is an amazing actor by the way.

Jack Neo’s extramarital affair

Oh yeah, the Jack Neo incident. I can’t comment on it till today. I never know about Jack Neo that much until today actually. At some point of time I thought he was gay and I started to know he is a family man and all respected family man gave their household a Mitsubishi Electric air-conditioner. (We had an LG aircon which gave us trouble so Jack Neo probably is right.) I never had much an impression till his recent press announcement of his infidelity.

My mom thinks it’s shocking. She couldn’t believe what has happen; I mean, after all, it’s the Jack Neo whose movies she grew to find so lovely. Sure it is shocking but I am just shocked that others can harp about it for a week. More shocking is the reaction of the journalists who blockade the exit even though Jack Neo’s wife looked like she fainted.

So to the question that I was recently asked — will I watch Jack Neo’s movies again?

Yes I will. In fact I haven’t watched Jack Neo movies much but now I have noticed him and so yes I am watching his films in the cinema quite soon I hope. Had the scandal not happened today, I’m quite sure I wouldn’t know about the movie.