24 January 2009

My new toy...

If there's one reason why the iPod touch is cool, it's because it let's me blog while lying down.

Being a regular mobile phone web browser user, I must say that Safari on the iPod touch / iPhone is the best handheld browsing experience at the moment. The way it displays pages, zooming in and out seamlessly, puts everything else in the market to shame - and it's been in the market for almost TWO years already.

And from the looks of it, it's also a pretty viable document editor - the on-screen keyboard is incredibly easy to use, thanks to its clever auto word correction algorithm. Haven't tried it out with google Docs yet but so far do good - at least it's good enough for me to write this blog entry :)

Just got this iPod a few days ago, actually. It's supposed to replace Elaine's aging Palm Zire and so I can watch movies, play games and surf the web while I'm doing a number two. I'm pretty sure I'll find something to hate about it soon enough but so far, so good...

OH... I've got one: I hate how the ipod touch doesn't seem to have a file system, so I can't save files from the web other than photos. And how you can't receive files from phones via Bluetooth. And you can't upload stuff either - like photos.


Gee, that didn't take very long...

(UPDATE: I tried the iPod touch with Google dogs - it doesn't work... T_T )

09 January 2009

Complicated injuries...

I played basketball last night for the first time in... ages, and managed to get myself a little souvenir within the first 5 minutes of play:


Looks rather nasty but it doesn't really hurt that much. In fact, it doesn't really bother me at all - until you ask me how i got it.

I fell on a net.


And yes, this is precisely when people start asking, "How the hell did you manage that?"

And that is exactly the trouble i've been getting with injuries, lately - i seem to be getting injured in such incredibly complicated and unusual ways, that I often end up sounding like I'm making things up. Which is annoying, of course. Don't believe me? Try this:

    I intercepted an inbound pass but tipped the ball out of the court. So i ran for the loose ball, jumped before the out-of-bounds line, caught the ball with one hand and tried swinging it back into the court before my foot touched the ground. Which would have happened without incident if there wasn't a futsal court next to the basketball court. Now you see, futsal courts have these nets wrapped around them to keep the ball in - and i was about to land on one of these nets. Usually this wouldn't be a problem if I was approaching the net square on since i could just land on it. Unfortunately, i was approaching it at an angle, which meant that I'd scrape diagonally across it unless i landed on my feet. Which I couldn't because of a long, thin, wooden plank that fastens the net onto the floor. i couldn't step on anything without risk of breaking my ankle because - with the hard and strong net fastened to it, it had formed a VERY uneven surface beneath my right foot. So i tried shuffling my feet as i was falling, but still couldn't get a foothold - and all the while, my whole body weight was supported by my right elbow, which was now scraping itself diagonally across the net as i fell down into a crumpled heap. Which is how i got this massive scar...

There! You SEE? It sounds like I made it up!!! The problem is that I can't just say "I fell on a net" and leave it at that because it sounds stupid, and I can't just say "I got it while playing basketball" because people will then ask if I fell down, I'd say no and I'd then have to tell them about the net, which would lead me back to square one.


My previous injury was also basketball-related: I sprained my ankle because someone fell on me...


"How the hell do you sprain an ankle that way? Don't you have to step on an uneven surface or jump and land wrongly? Or trip while running?"

"No," I'd respond. "My teammate ran into a screen, bounced off it and landed on my leg right below the knee - laterally. With his whole body weight."

You see the trend here?

And years ago, I managed to fall into a huge drain because my mum or dad (can't remember) parked too close to the drain and as i got out of the car, my mum told me not to fall into the drain, thus diverting my attention from the ground at the precise moment where paying attention to where i was stepping would've been quite important.

You see?

Why can't i just slip and fall like other normal people? Sigh...

04 January 2009

The year that was. The year ahead

2008. Where do we begin?

Looking at the statistics on the right column, it appears that I've only posted 14 blog entries in 2008, which is a record low (and about a third the number from the previous year). While the casual observer may see this as a sign of this blogs demise, i have a a couple of good excuses:

i) i DIDN'T have a convenient Internet connection at work for most of 2008 (due to security concerns, our office desktops were isolated from the Internet).


ii) i actually got a proper job - meaning one that actually requires your full attention from the moment you step in at 9am right till you walk out at about 7pm. Or 8pm if there's a deadline. Or later...

So yes, this blog is still very much alive and kicking-ish. And to make up for all the lost time, here's a summary of the most significant things I've done in 2008 - in approximate chronological order:

1. I got a new job.
Gee, did I mention this yet? On a more serious note, this was probably the biggest fear I'd ever overcome in my whole entire life. Not only because I was leaving a very nice, comfortable job, I was also setting myself up for possibly the biggest failure in my life.

You see, I'm deeply passionate about videogames - all aspects of it. From playing them to making them. As a kid, I used to scrutinize my Sega Megadrive games and tried to make sense of why the games were designed the way they were - from an artistic and technical point of view. I even went to university and studied software engineering for the sole purpose of making games when i came out.

The problem, however, was that this was a dream job for me. What if I didn't like it? What if it turns out I'm a rubbish programmer? I was really dreading the prospects of living my dreams and actually hating it.

"This office is dark..."

Well, it's been about a year since I first joined Gamebrains and so far so good. I've done one Nintendo DS title (though it's still in the process of being translated into several European languages and published) and played a rather big role for a first-timer - I did most of the user-interaction and gameplay logic in the actual game. Although whenever i look back at the code, I'm quite horrified at some of my early architectural decisions (it was after all my first game - and thank God I'm a fast learner!)

Since then, I've dipped my toes in Wii development and have since moved over to PC/Mac casual games - because it makes a lot more economic sense than console titles these days. I would love to do iPhone/iPod touch games because of the possibilities that platform provides and I've been dropping hints to my boss every now and then. Hopefully, he'll let me give it a shot.

The working culture here is also completely different to my previous job too. From the moment I step into the office, I'm running at 100% until I go home. Although it sounds stressful, it's actually quite addictive, because programming is like playing a giant game of Sudoku - after you've finished one puzzle, you just have to do another one.

And if it seems like I'm hiding stuff, it's because we have non-disclosure agreements. Yep. 

2. Tipped the scales at an all-time high of 98kg
Not exactly sure how it happened but I managed to get really fat at the beginning of the year - to the extent that my shirts weren't fitting and I could wear my size 38 trousers without a belt. The following photo was actually taken quite recently - after I've put on weight again (due to me eating the stuff that Elaine can't eat during her pregnancy). 

At my peak, I was worse than this....

"Goo goo gaa gaa dee dah Han Soooolo..."

3. Voted at the general elections for the first time.
Yay! I helped make a difference this year and managed to deny the ruling Barisan National party a two-thirds majority in parliment for the first time in 50 years.

Usually, I wouldn't have bothered so much. Until I started seeing ad campaigns like this in the local newspapers by Barisan.

The best advice from BN ever. There was really only one choice, but it wasn't BN...

The level of arrogance shown by the ruling party was incredible - they even listed a whole bunch of things that they've done for the country, as if to say "You should be grateful to us" rather than "Here's what we can do to improve the country"

They also clearly had more money than the opposition, and had ads like this EVERYWHERE, each costing tens of thousands of ringgit. And so, it was obvious that a power shift had to happen. It didn't matter if the opposition parties were inept, the fact is that it had come to a point where the ruling party were behaving like rulers rather than public servants.

I was also spurred by a movie, of all things: V for Vendetta. In particular, the one quote from Hugo Weaving:

"People shouldn't be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people."

And so, I voted for change. Hopefully, in four years time, there will be more like me - first-time voters who decided that enough was enough, and that our country needs to change. That's because I love this country and I cannot stand idly and watch it continue to rot.

Holy crap, I'm patriotic! Who would've thought...?

4. Ran a half marathon with Elaine.
This was a rather funny experience because - for some reason - Elaine and I thought that practicing on a threadmill for 20 minutes would prepare us for a 21km run. It didn't.

"My gawd, my knees hurt..."

And yep, we'd like to do this again. It seems like every year, we must put ourselves through some sort of physical test as a couple. We climbed Mount Kinabalu in 2007, ran the KL international marathon (half-marathon group) in 2008, and in 2009, Elaine shall experience childbirth...

...and she'll be squeezing my hand (possibly crushing it into itty bitty little pieces) while she's at it.

5. Drove a bunch of fast cars...
Did a bit of freelance motoring reviews throughout the year, though it seems to have slowed down recently - I simply don't have the time. Didn't drive anything particularly good this year apart from the Civic Type-R (which I drove up to Ulu Yam, but didn't blog about it - there might be some photos floating around in my Flickr photostream).

Bone-shattering though it may be (it's got a similar suspension set up to a pair of roller skates), I absolutely love the Type-R and it is still the car I'd buy if I had about RM200k to spare. In any case, it's much better than the Jaguar XF I'm kicking here:

"Take THAT, you stupid British car..."

6. Married Elaine.
Yippee! As I write this, we've been married for about 8 months now and things have been great. While it's a good thing being able to get along with someone you're dating - that we've been living under the same roof and still look forward to horsing around, talking, laughing and having $#% every day since is great.

Us and our frens...

Oklah, not every day. Of course, it also helps that I love Elaine to bits. Feel like squeezing her now... :)

7. We moved out into an apartment.
We've been living together in this apartment ever since we got married. It was previously inhabited by my brother but he moved out just as we were looking for a place to stay.

Me moving in a birthday present from the wife :)

Although we're finally settling in, the funny thing is that we'll have to move back into either of our parents' houses soon because we'll need loads of help once the baby comes along.

8. I learned how to cook steak properly.
Pan fry for 3 minutes, drain juices, flip to the other side, fry for another 3 minutes... and you're DONE...!!!

9. I got Elaine pregnant.
Grow, my spawn. GROW!!!
(photoshop courtesy of soon-to-be-aunty Joy)

10. Flossed my teeth for the first time.
I never knew it, but flossing your teeth can be one of the most satisfying things you can do to yourself - apart from something that's frowned upon by most religions...

11. Didn't go on our honeymoon (due to the aforementioned pregnancy)
We were hoping to go to either Japan or Europe for our honeymoon during winter (so we could catch some snow). Looks like that'll have to wait a bit...

12. Finally bought a new Mac
Yes, I finally took the plunge! In spite of being a self-proclaimed cynical proponent of the Mac, I've been banging around in my ancient Power Mac G4 since 2001 (which was my 2nd Mac - the first one was destroyed after an unfortunate incident with some bitch).

It's the new, late-2008 MacBook! My first new Mac in 7 years!!!

The new Macbook is brilliant - it's got this new, fantastic multi-touch trackpad that's almost easier than using a mouse. It's also got amazing colours from its LED-backlit screen, though the viewing angles are a bit poor. It's also pretty damn fast - been doing some HD video editing on it, RAW photo editing and some programming on it and it's been, well... fast.

Oh, and it's also super light and portable. Only thing I hate is the lack of a FireWire port, which more-or-less makes my DV camcorder obsolete...

End word
So that covers just about all of the important bits. Except for my brother and Michelle giving birth to Ethan, which would of course make me an uncle. And me shifting to a new office (with the rest of the company, of course).

Ooh... ooh, how about 2009, then? Predictions? Resolutions?

Well, let's just see what happens, shall we?