Interesting discoveries #02

It’s been a busy week at work; I never thought I had the time to write this. So here’s what I gathered the past week or so.

1. Read: The Art of Racing in the Rain

A sweet book about a racer from a dog’s perspective. It’s not a book I would have picked up if not for Amazon’s offer and reviews. It’s a good book but I shan’t delve into what Amazon has already decide to be anyway.

The fact that I bought a book on mere offer must have meant something. My spending methods have changed. I use to despise the idea of going to the supermarket and purchasing goods simply because the item is on offer. I now found myself succumbing to that temptation and a half-an-hour introspection was to follow.

Story! Yes, the book is good and this is coming from a reader neither a racing enthusiast nor a dog owner. I do like dogs though.

2. Gun fires in Sandy Hook Elementary School

The most heart-wrenching story of the week is to be the case (CNN) where a gunman killed 26 people at the school, including 20 children, before taking his own life on Friday. I was watching the video reports of this online.

It’s leading to gun control debates, even the National Rifle Association has pretty much shut up in their Twitter account. Moving on from the tragedy, it’s a good opportunity to discuss on the issues with gun ownership and I believe America will reach a rightful conclusion in the months to come. It does irk me a little that the discussion got distracted by people who are calling for more god in schools. Focus on the gun policies first, we’ll talk about morals later.

3. The Walking Dead

Kevin recommended me The Walking Dead and I have been pretty much glued to it. The Walking Dead is an American television drama series developed by Frank Darabont. It is based on the comic book series of the same name by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard. The series stars Andrew Lincoln as sheriff’s deputy Rick Grimes, who awakens from a coma to find the world dominated by flesh-eating “walkers”, resembling the zombies of George A. Romero’s horror movies. He sets out to find his family and encounters many other survivors along the way.

I am not why the drama distance themselves from the “zombie” association. I found that hard to accept. Given the whole setting was made to resemble reality — i.e. having places like the CDC, Fort Benning and Atlanta — I feel a little “betrayed” that no one seems to know about “zombies.” Why is that even so? This is not the reality I live in. Of all the efforts that place in creating this familiar environment, I found myself constantly awaken at each mention of the word “zombie.”

The Walking Dead has good story arcs but falls shorts in their lines. I love the visuals too.

4. Apache Maven

I never came across Apache Maven until this week where my new job requires me to. Maven is a build automation tool typically used for Java projects. Maven serves a similar purpose to the Apache Ant tool, but it is based on different concepts and works in a profoundly different manner. It can also be used to build and manage projects written in C#, Ruby, Scala, and other languages.

I don’t have much of comment on this accept that it is one of the most complicated build management tool I have seen. Or maybe I’m just unfamiliar with these things.

5. SimCity, released on March

What got me excited this week most is the upcoming SimCity.

I leave you the video to watch.

6. Upgrading/buying a new computer

I never learnt so much about computers until I have intentions to buy on. My new work place is at Sunshine Plaza and that is a 5 minute walk away from nerd heaven Sim Lim Square. So I was there doing a bit of cost research. I don’t plan to spend a lot on a computer since I’m just going to play SimCity on it when it is released.

If possible I am going to just stick with an integrated graphic card. I saw that the upcoming Intel Haswell micro-architecture has a significant improvement on their Intel HD offerings and I am looking forward to it although I might not have the patience to wait for it. Making a decision when SimCity is out is definitely not too late so, I’ll do that!

For those self-professed hardware idiots, like me, the update is they are now on DDR3 RAM, and the graphic cards are less a necessity more an option. Also the CPU casings are getting more beautiful. And also Intel i5 3330 (Ivy Bridge) seems to suffice. MSI is cheaper than Asus and it’s okay to get cheaper motherboards, they aren’t as bad as the cheaper motherboards of the past. Okay I know nerd language now. Moving on.

7. Sunshine Plaza

How little they did for Christmas decorations:

Sunshine Plaza

Sunshine Plaza has a mall, a residential and office building. It’s across Fortune Center. Good location, I’m happy it’s near all the tiny food places. Will update on that.

8. Google Maps for iOS

Google Maps for iOS is just pure joy to use after the 4 month deprivation of it. Currently the Google Maps application is top in Apple’s App Store and has a 5 out of 5 average rating. Google really deserves this and Apple has help educate the public how hard it is to get mapping right. Google has triumphed this time and Apple is probably a bit thankful for that. It’s time to put Apple Maps in the folder where I place all the crap I can’t uninstall.

I would have but cannot get rid of the following applications:

  • Reminders
  • Notes
  • Weather
  • Compass
  • Voice Memos
  • Stocks
  • Passbook
  • Maps

Google Maps team definitely deserve a good vacation.

End notes

This week has been busy and my sore throats gotten worse. I met my new colleagues that I haven’t been as able to be chatty as I could have been. I spend more time reading this week, mainly on Maven, Backbone.js and Handlebars.js. It’s going to an exciting next week.

Badly done project

It’s late at night and I am still coding my project. Worst of all is that the code that I am (possibly) more proud of than the rest of the code I have is the isNumeric function:

[code lang=”javascript”]var isNumeric = function isNumeric (s) {
return !isNaN(parseFloat(s));
}[/code]

There, here is it. The rest of the code very well deserves to be deleted. Unpresentable, at best.

California: The sad state of a failing state

Are things that bad? If you have 10 minutes to spare and are in the mood for reading, read the Guardian article:

Will California become America’s first failed state?

… California is like a patient on life support. At the start of summer the state government was so deeply in debt that it began to issue IOUs instead of wages. Its unemployment rate has soared to more than 12%, the highest figure in 70 years. Desperate to pay off a crippling budget deficit, California is slashing spending in education and healthcare, laying off vast numbers of workers and forcing others to take unpaid leave. In a state made up of sprawling suburbs the collapse of the housing bubble has impoverished millions and kicked tens of thousands of families out of their homes. Its political system is locked in paralysis and the two-term rule of former movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger is seen as a disaster – his approval ratings having sunk to levels that would make George W Bush blush. The crisis is so deep that Professor Kenneth Starr, who has written an acclaimed history of the state, recently declared: “California is on the verge of becoming the first failed state in America.”

… California is currently cutting healthcare, slashing the “Healthy Families” programme that helped an estimated one million of its poorest children. Los Angeles now has a poverty rate of 20%. Other cities across the state, such as Fresno and Modesto, have jobless rates that rival Detroit’s. In order to pass its state budget, California’s government has had to agree to a deal that cuts billions of dollars from education and sacks 60,000 state employees. Some teachers have launched a hunger strike in protest. California’s education system has become so poor so quickly that it is now effectively failing its future workforce. The percentage of 19-year-olds at college in the state dropped from 43% to 30% between 1996 and 2004, one of the highest falls ever recorded for any developed world economy. California’s schools are ranked 47th out of 50 in the nation. Its government-issued bonds have been ranked just above “junk”.

Read it full at Guardian

It has this chilling effect for me.

Complete the sentence in Chinese

Found another joke in my mailbox, this time it’s about 造句:

1。题目:一边……一边……
小朋友写:他一边脱衣服,一边穿裤子。
老师批语:他到底是要脱还是要穿啊?

2。题目:其中
小朋友写:我的其中一只左脚受伤了。
老师批语:你是蜈蚣吗?

3。题目:陆陆续续
小朋友写:下班了,爸爸陆陆续续的回家了。
老师批语:你到底有几个爸爸呀?

4。题目:难过
小朋友写:我家门前有条水沟很难过。
老师批语:老师更难过。

5。题目:又 又
小朋友写:我的妈妈又矮又高又胖又瘦。
老师批语;你的妈妈是变形金钢吗?

6。题目:你看
小朋友写:你看什么看!没看过啊
老师批语:没看过

7。题目:欣欣向荣
小朋友写:欣欣向荣荣告白。
老师批语:连续剧不要看太多了!

8。题目:好吃
小朋友写:好吃个屁。
老师批语:有些东西是不能吃的。

9。题目:天真
小朋友写:今天真热。
老师批语:你真天真。

10。题目:果然
小朋友写:昨天我吃水果,然后喝凉水。
老师批语:是词组,不能分开的。

11。题目:先……再……,例题:先吃饭,再冼澡。
小朋友写:先生,再见!
老师批语:想像力超过了地球人的智慧。

12。题目:况且
小朋友写:一列火车经过,况且况且况且况且况且况
老师批语:我死了算了

I really should avoid turning this into a Chinese 博客 (blog).

Finished my Prolog assignment

I finally handed in my prolog assignment. I don’t think I do a good job but at least the document itself looks good. I can’t stress how important presentations are for assignments. I very much doubt the markers actually look at your code and see if it’s working or now. In fact I can imagine markers just giving an A for an assignment that looks right. It’s all about presentation sometimes.

Gone is yestermonth’s assignment, four more to go.

Any Prolog experts around?

I need to create a Prolog crossword puzzle for a school assignment. I don’t want a Prolog solution, I have a couple but I couldn’t understand what it means so it’s kinda pointless for me. Does anyone have any tips to completing this task? Perhaps which in built predicate I should be looking out for or something? I am using SWI-Prolog 5.6.64 for this assignment.

True.

[Note that all comment will not be shown here. Sorry about that. I’ll reply directly to your email address.]

Watch Bill Gates release mosquitoes to TED audience

Bill Gates talks about malaria and he says, “I brought some here so you can experience this and we’ll let those roam around the auditorium a little bit. There’s no reason only poor people should have this experience.” He then proceed to opening a jar of mosquito slightly and letting some mosquitoes out! You can see it somewhere at 5:10 of the video. The TED organizers quickly responded confirming the mosquitoes are malaria-free. Bill Gates hopes to solve some of the world’s biggest problems using a new kind of philanthropy. In a passionate and, yes, funny 18 minutes, he asks us to consider two big questions and how we might answer them.

Bill Gates: How I’m trying to change the world now

It’s a good speech. But what a badass! Haha!