"Heaven kicked you out, you wouldn't wear a tie."
… I think that I have a good chance of being correct that the events of Spider-Man: Far From Home because Peter Parker chose to stay on the bus this time… line.
I read this comic from Toggl with affection. A little bit naive and incompletely explained though, but still a good attempt to debunk some misconceptions. We mainly don’t strike gold with our applications right away or if not, ever. But like every product, we build it because we believe that it is of good value. We will then be proven right or wrong from the response of the market. If what we are expecting is to rake in millions of dollars for whatever product we conceive without evidence to be surely what the market wants, we are not wise.
Well as Clint Eastwood once said (I think he said that), “If you want a guarantee, get a toaster.”
With this thought in mind, we then responsibly chart our path and work towards its mark. Failure or success, we can only find out eventually.
Everything is not for everyone. Like doing your own thing is not the best or right option for everybody, doing other people’s own thing is also not necessarily the best or right option for everybody. I think that our personal responsibility is to find out who we are, and where and how we are supposed to be contributing. Then like all things (whether we discover that we contribute best as employees or as entrepreneurs), we work our best in being what we know we are supposed to be.
For the full blog post at Toggl, click here.
Download a hi-res version at http://blog.worldofemotions.com/danilka/flags/all-flags-of-the-world/
I am tempted daily to post or publicly comment about foreign politics, but I consider it a personal responsibility to hold my tongue (or fingers in the case of social media) because 1) I am barely well versed enough in the country’s/countries’ politics, 2) I am not trained in foreign affairs, 3) it is especially sensitive to friends who are from the country/countries of discussion, 4) Not my country, so seriously, what position am I in to publicly criticize about that nation?
I am always looking forward to have respectful conversations personally with persons from the country (or who has been living there for a while) of discussion, because it is much easier in such settings to quickly clarify misconceptions (very often, I find myself needing to level up to them, and not the other way round), and bring all parties into a common level of understanding. Social media on the other hand is you putting up an incomplete context of a message according to your isolated point of view, which is always interpreted independently, uncontrolled, and incorrectly by some other persons. Perception is taken for truth, and things go downhill from there — over inaccurate information. When you think of it, isn’t it such a waste of time, and in exchange of heated arguments and potentially destroyed relationships?
Sure, if you publicly post or comment about your country’s politics, that is your right, because it is about your nation and there might be ideas and discussions that you are compelled to responsibly bring up to your fellow citizens. But you ought to also know that bringing the discussion to social media has its perils too.
So please, especially as grown up adults, logic and maturity should tell you that the odds of you incompetently and wrongly interpreting a foreign political affair is almost as certain as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west. Even if you have little regard of your own reputation (yes, such actions do make you appear ignorant), do consider the unnecessary discourse that your insensitive and value-less remarks can cause. Have a sit down with a friend from that country instead, and learn a thing or two. He or she will not likely have a complete picture too, but you can almost correctly accept that your own conceived views and information are likely less complete than his or hers.
I think posting an article is fine, but when we comment and add captions, we have to be responsible for what we are inciting.
Banter all we want with family and close friends but keep that in that controlled and confined space. So that when you (and me) eventually realize our mistakes, it stays contained and not cause unnecessary hurt to others who do not deserve to be hurt by our sheer ignorance.
Recently rewatched Dark City (1998) which starred Rufus Sewell, Kiefer Sutherland, Jennifer Connelly, William Hurt, Richard O’Brien and the late Ian Richardson. I didn’t appreciate it when I saw it in the cinema back then in 1998. I think I was expecting another sci-fi flick of The Matrix, and was greeted instead with a noir-like sci-fi wannabe. I didn’t like the ending back, thinking that it was all one big joke.
But I appreciate the film now that I have seen it again. I like how it is only one seemingly unreliable person who is actually thinking clearly while everyone else are the ones who are lost. Only when even the hardest character in the film logically challenges the pariah’s point of view, and took an honest look at it, did he only accept the very difficult and ridiculous reality.
The film was brave to not succumb to the usual happy ending. You can’t say that the ending was hopeless, but you really can’t say that it was hopeful either. Okay, I shall not risk spoiling it for you if you intend to watch it for the first time some day.
Here is a good review that I came across and it was written only recently. It explains a lot more about what I also felt about the film: http://lwlies.com/articles/the-surreal-stylistic-brilliance-of-dark-city/
I headed to the neighborhood coffee shop to buy lunch. After a quick decision of the choice of food, I approached the stall vendor that sells fish bee hoon (rice vermicelli). It was the umpteenth time that I had ordered from her, and be greeted with a smile and enthusiasm. I gave her the usual courtesy and told her what I wanted to buy.
“What size of the bee hoon do you want?” she asked.
I paused a bit, because usually I would buy the medium size one and add another dish. But this time, I felt that I could just settle for one dish.
“What options are available?” I asked.
It was only then did I notice that the familiar vendor had not been smiling at all from the first time I saw her today. She was not her usual self. Without a change in expression, she looked at me for a while and monotonously replied, “Big, medium or small.”
Well yes, why did I even have to ask?
“Uhm okay, let’s go for the large one.”
She disappeared into the kitchen without a word and I moved to the side of the coffee shop to wait for my food.
Around that time, another of the stall’s staff was moving some plates of food around. She was going to carry two plates of food across to another of their work tables. Just then, a customer nonchalantly stepped in between her and the table. The staff had to abruptly stop in her tracks and keeping the dishes from spilling.
There was not a word of apology or even an acknowledgement from the customer who sauntered off to wherever she was going to.
I recalled a thought about netizens complaining about the lack of customer service in Singapore. Some argued that customer service is owed to customers by businesses, whereby staff of said businesses must take great effort to wow them – the customers – and to adhere to all their needs (which includes their whims and fancies). Others argued that customer service must first begin from the customer, in order to motivate business vendors to go beyond the call of duty. And of course, there are more views on top of these.
At the end of it, the impression I got from these arguments is that the commentors are implying that customer service is owed. Someone owes the other something, and that leads to customer service (which definition seems to defer from each groups’ viewpoint) needing to be delivered.
I can agree that if I find myself paying for top dollar service, and when I do not get it, I must make this shortchange come to the attention of the business. But on most times, I am simply buying packet lunch or dinner from the coffee shops.
While it is largely to be delivered from the businesses, customers ourselves have a big part to play. If customers think that they have needs, frankly, so do businesses. The customers paying for the goods and services are human beings, and really, so are the vendors at the businesses.
I pondered on this thought, Maybe customer service is not owed by businesses, neither is it owed by the customer. While it is expected and hoped for, it cannot be demanded for. Customer service should come as an intrinsic attitude. Not everybody are made to deliver great customer service, and even those who seem born for this, they aren’t at the top of their game every single day.
However, perhaps what would be much better for us to do is not obsess about that term, but instead remember to be civilized social human beings. This should include a natural desire to be kind and peaceable to one another, with no over the top focus on outperforming in this area. All we need is kindness that is enough to make someone’s day nice.
And when that fails, the effects would be natural. Customers who are not satisfied with services are not likely to return anyway. The business will feel the impact, and hopefully correct course. If not, it is not unusual that they will have to wind up due to the lack of customers.
The vendor whom I placed my order with never appeared again. Another staff from the stall eventually came out and asked if I had ordered the fish bee hoon. After I replied yes, she did not take the food to me, but instead beckoned me to pick it up from another of their work table. It was only then did one of the cooks pick up the packet of food and brought it to me. I paid for my food and said thank you to the cook, and left.
I know that I would mind this lack of service on other days, but today, I decided to just forget about demanding for it. However, I did want to make sure that despite of the lack of the desired treatment, I would do my part to at least not be a rude customer. And frankly perhaps, I would hesitate in making another order from that stall again in a long time.
Here’s something to potentially awestruck you or make you run for the bathroom.
I found the above image on Google while actually looking for more information about a certain Godzilla model made from cicada shells. In fact, there are more angles of this xenomorph that was allegedly made from cicada remains. Here they are:
So tell me, is this appealing, or appalling?
My eldest daughter refused to get out of bed. She took an afternoon nap and when it was dinner time, she made a lot of grumbling noises when I asked her to come out. My usual tactic is to sit on her legs so she could not escape me while I tickled her feet. This time, I had a more humane idea.
I stood beside her bed and said I wanted to show her something. She kept her eyes shut. I then asked her to think of a any character who is real or fictional. Her eyes opened. She peered suspiciously at me, and then glanced at the phone in my hand. She knew I was up to something.
I told her not to tell me who she had in mind, but I already knew who she was thinking about. I started reading out the questions that are now appearing on my phone. She eventually sat up and asked to see what I was looking at. I showed it to her. It is Akinator.
Akinator is an online game (also available as a mobile app) that challenges the user to think about any character that exists or is fictional, then it asks a series of questions and attempts to guess the character. I cannot remember how I came across it. Someone probably posted it on Facebook or Twitter, and I tapped on it out of curiosity.
I am familiar with programming, therefore my immediate thoughts were along the line of how this application is written. It must contain a huge database of characters with keywords associated to them. Then with a huge series of if-then-else statements and algorithms, does the software plow through questions that it tries to identify if are related to the character you have in mind, make some elimination and deductions, and zooms into the very likely answer.
For me, I tried using Sesame Street’s Big Bird. Akinator asked me a bunch of questions which got me understanding its deduction process. I answered all his questions truthfully, and he asked if I was thinking about Nemo. I laughed. After telling Akinator that he (it) was wrong, I allowed more questions to be asked. At some point, the question was if the character is from Sesame Street. I knew it hit the mark. Then it asked if it was blue. Then if it was yellow. Akinator was probably going to settle on either Big Bird or Bert, but due to an earlier question if my character has feathers, the guess rested on Big Bird.
I thought that was too easy a character to guess. And Akinator guessed it wrong at the first try.
Some time in the evening, I quizzed my second daughter with Akinator too. She thought about Black Widow as the character (which I immediately guessed because she is such a Black Widow fan!), and I thought that Akinator will first begin to find out if the character was fictitious and very popular right now. Very early, it asked if the character was a Marvel character, and I knew the answer would be very quickly guessed.
Akinator may seem like something so completely new or even futuristic, but it has been around for a long time – since 2007 to be more exact. Players get to answer from “Yes”, “No”, “Probably”, “Probably not” and “Don’t know”. After Akinator asks about 25 questions while narrowing down the possibility of your character, it then starts to make its guesses. By the third time it has guessed and if it guessed incorrectly, it will ask you to type in what the character it is you really have in your mind. It remembers the questions you had answered, makes the connection with the character you have typed, and now it has actually learned a new character that it had previously not known about. It further enforces whether the information about this character when it next encounter other players that also happen to think about this character.
Artificial intelligence seems so smart that it must be only a very recent thing, right? Actually if you were old enough to have been on BBSes, there was a Door utility called Chat With Lisa. The utility picks up words that you have typed out and makes some (rather rough and not entirely accurate) assumption about what you are trying to say, and attempts to answer you as though you are chatting with a real person on the other side of your modem connection. Fast forward to today, you have Siri and Google Assistant.
When you start to wonder about how advanced technology has become, you should also wonder how actually simple human logic might actually be such that a machine can also do the same thing. This is not to belittle the wonders of the human mind, but it should get us thinking how erroneous we may be in assuming our own superiority without comparing it with anything else that can easily do the same thing as us. Sure, machines cannot feel or have empathy (it can however emulate or simulate it, but never really doing it), and the human body when compared to any machine of this day, is far more complex, but we really need to understand that the thought making process may not be as complicated as we think. From this observation, the main ingredients in making good deductions is the amount of information or data that is available, and a systematic way of eliminating wrong answers to come to a likely correct conclusion. Hence, if we want to make great deductions ourselves, in a very high level principal, these are the two main assets we need to set ourselves to improve on and to master.
What my eldest had in mind when she was finally about to get out of her bed was Tomoe of the Kamisama Hajimemashita manga. As expected, Akinator at some point suspected that my daughter’s character was a Japanese manga or anime character. Targeted questions were obviously trying to deduce if the character was from Dragon Ball Z. I chuckled, seeing that Akinator’s only chance of guessing correctly is if the developer or the game administrator had known about this much more obscure character than the usual Japanese manga ones. Because I have grown tired of hearing about Tomoe from my daughter, I already knew from the start who she had in mind. I started to say that I would be really impressed if Akinator would be able to correctly guess–
Akinator then made its first attempt: Tomoe (Kamisama Hajimemashita). My daughter’s and my jaw dropped.
Akinator then also stated in its answer that so far there had been over 16,000 users who thought about Tomoe. 16,000 against what I would expect of millions of users that had ever used Akinator, is a very tiny number of people. Yet at the same time, if knowledge of an obscure incident can be stored in referable memory, it can certainly come in very handy down the road, when one may least expect to use it. But by just asking the right questions and correctly making deductions, one may solve very unanticipated problems that were not initially prepared for.
For fun and research, try Akinator for yourself.
This fan fiction is written for a competition entry on The Classic Gamers Guild.
Competition Link (please note that The Classic Gamers Guild Facebook group is a closed group): https://www.facebook.com/groups/ClassicGamersGuild/permalink/978440892280734/
John had no idea what had happened. His hands had just pressed on the open button on the laboratory door when all electricity seemed to get cut off. The lights went out and the computers shut down. The door did not open. After the last droning sound of the machines faded, an eerie silence filled the room. This was very odd because John knew that the base always had auxiliary power. The machines powering down were most certainly not a result of a power cut, but simply a malfunction all at once.
If it had not been the obvious shutting down of the machines, John would have thought that he was probably blinded. He felt my hands around. John knocked over a pen from the console, and heard it fall onto the floor. The sound confirmed that he had not turned deaf either. John felt his way to where he remembered the door and its switch to be. The door would not open as it needed power. He was now trapped alone in the laboratory.
Although supposedly sound proofed, John could usually hear from beyond the door if a noise was loud enough. He thought he heard some running in the distance down the corridor. If the footsteps were this loud, it must have been made by one of the soldiers in their heavy boots. They would have had a flashlight with them to move about in the darkness. Then he heard a shout not too far from the door. It sounded like, “Hey. Anybody here?”
John pounded on the door and called out. He knew he needed to be loud and had to pound hard to get any noise beyond the thick metallic door and wall. And this was why his ears hurt because all the noise he was making echoed on the wall of this relatively small room. John put my mouth in an almost non-existing gap between the door and the wall and continued calling out.
“John?” seemed to say the voice on the other side.
“Yea. Adrian?” John asked.
“No, it’s Tom.”
“Hey, what happened, Tom?”
“I don’t know. All lights went off. The machines went off. Even my flashlight wouldn’t turn on.”
“Doesn’t sound like a power cut, but rather a complete shutdown of all things electronic.”
“Yea, sounds like it. And I am guessing that therefore you can’t get out of the lab too?”
John could not have helped thinking about how dependent they were on technology. When technology decided not to work for them, the doors would not open, their lights did not turn on, their flashlights don’t work. If they had anticipated such things happening, they probably would not have built complexes like this without windows. If they needed their weapons right there and then, which largely consisted of state-of-the-art high-tech rifles on this not so well understood deserted planet, they would probably only be able to use their rifle butts. John stopped short of imagining what would happen if technology instead decided to not only not work for them, but to work against them.
“You hear anyone else out there?”
“Nope,” Tom replied. “I did hear and follow footsteps of some soldiers earlier but when I felt my way around the corner of the corridor to this door, the footsteps were gone. They probably headed off another way.”
Tom continued, “I was just on my way back to Lab 22 from the canteen after another round of coffee. Currently, most of the team are already back in their bunks. They are probably asleep and didn’t realize the power cut.”
“Oh they will when they realize the heater’s out.”
John felt a chill which he thought was unusual as the power was only cut less than five minutes ago. Surely, it would have taken a while before the heat in the rooms and hallways have escaped out of the building. But the chill felt as though it was added in, more seemingly than heat being sucked out.
John took out his transceiver out from his lab jacket. There was no light coming out from it. He felt for the power button to try to turn it on, but it slipped off his fingers. The transceiver hit on something then bounced off away from him. John got down to feel around for it but could not find it.
“Hey, you got a transceiver with you?” Tom called out.
“Argh. I did. But I just dropped it and can’t find it now. Anyway, I got to look at it for a bit. It wasn’t working.”
Tom must have sighed. “Yea, mine too.”
Then John heard Tom call out down the corridor to see if anyone happened to be around. There did not seem to be a reply.
John’s mind drifted into writing up a proposal on modifying our doors to have a physical override in the event of technology failure. That way, people can get out where needed if these doors fail. Then a strange thought descended on me. If John would be able to manually open the doors to get out, danger can also manually open the doors to get in.
What was the cause of this outage? Was it merely a machine failure, or was it an attack? If it was an attack, he may be in a much safer place than Tom was.
John could not help thinking about such thoughts from the moment he questioned the safety of doors that could not be opened without a manual override. When he signed up for the job to operate in a largely unexplored planet in a largely unexplored galaxy, working on a largely unexplored technology of harnessing new power sources, he knew there were a lot of things that could not have been expected. Thus far for the months before, there had not been any signs of life forms on the planet. What if there were indeed life forms that were not detected? What if there were incidences that were not reported? What if there were discoveries that we deliberately not told him and his colleagues? If there were indeed life forms, what were they? Were they potentially friendly or hostile? Were they harmless or dangerous?
The sudden thought that he had not a shred of an idea to his questions made John feel extremely nervous. The couple of uneventful weeks on the planet suddenly felt like it was a build up for a horror that was to come.
“Hey,” John called out to Tom through the door, “Do you think you want to find someplace else instead of sitting there in the open?”
There was a brief silence on the other side before Tom called back, though a little softer, “Why do you ask that?”
John did not know how to respond without freaking Tom out.
“I… I don’t know. It’s just starting to get chilly and I’m imagining that it might be a bit colder for you out there than it is for me here.”
Immediately, John regretted even bringing this up. He realized that he must have frightened Tom.
“I…” Tom started, and nervousness was evident in his voice. “Never mind.”
John started thinking about the soldiers. He did not recall any unusual behavior from them. He started to think hard whether they had spoken of any worrying observations on this planet, or whether they had conducted any unusual drills. Nothing came to mind. John started wondering if there were any strong reasons why the soldiers had heavy duty rifles along with the standard military-grade rifles and pistols. It all made sense that although there were no reports of alien or hostile life forms, no one really knew if there were any dangers on not, so the presence of weapons like plasma rifles would not have been unusual.
It then dawned on John that if an unknown hostile threat indeed occurred at that moment, the soldiers may be unprepared. This was not a good realization at all.
“Oh hey. HEY!” Tom called out.
“Yea?” John replied.
“HEY! Over here!”
“What’s going on, Tom? You hear something?”
“No, but I see something,” Tom replied.
“Yea, a light down the corridor. I thought I was imagin—HEY! Over here! HERE!”
John heard Tom laughing.
“Just brilliant,” Tom called out to John. “When the electric lights don’t work, just use good ol’ fashioned fire. Someone must have made a torch. I can see the lights of a flame from far down the corridor at Lab 56.”
It was getting colder.
John froze. He felt his blood turn cold. He did not know why.
“Hey where did you get the fire from?” John heard Tom call out.
“Tom…” John called out.
There did not seem to be any reply echoing even faintly from down the corridor.
“Tom…” John called again. The hair on his arms started to rise for reasons not known to him, “I don’t know why but… I think you’d better run—”
John could hear Tom shuffle his feet heavily.
“Hello?” Tom called out, with evidence of near panic in his voice. “OH SHI–!!!”
Tom’s scream was blood curdling. John felt air sucked out of his lungs as fear gripped him. His legs gave way and he fell onto the floor. Tom’s screams became fainter as he seemed to have run away up the corridor. John deduced that he was running away from that fiery light which Tom described he had seen. The light was not likely from one of the crew.
John found himself belly down on the floor. His fingers are clawed and desperately trying to clutch on something but found nothing. He breathed very hard and loudly, shivering in complete terror. What had Tom seen that had sent him running into the darkness? Did whatever Tom see give chase? If it had not, was it right then outside the room now?
Just then, a beep sounded not far from where John lay. John noticed a faint blue light appear on the floor. It was his transceiver. It had come back to life. A few clunks suddenly sounded, followed by a whir of machinery. The monitors on the console began lighting up. The fluorescent light on the ceiling also began lighting up, with its sudden brightness blinding John temporarily. The machines were working again.
The door open light flashed on. It must have previously registered John trying to open it just before it ceased to function. The sound of the lock sliding out of the door frame filled John’s ears with dread. The door started sliding upwards with a mechanic sound.
John was already immobilized with fear. He could not find any strength at all to move, or shout, or breathe, let alone to get back to his feet to hide, pick up a chair, or to fight his way out of the door should that unknown object be waiting for him right outside.
It usually took less than a second for the door to fully open. This time, it felt like eternity to John. As John laid on the floor, he watched helplessly as the metallic door slide up in slow motion. His already cloudy vision registered slowly the familiar corridor now filled with light. Everything looked the same, except that something felt very different. It felt like he was now in another world. However, it was unlike a sense that he had been transported to this new place, but it was as though this new place had been transported to where he was.
The door finally disappeared into the frame above. John was not sure if his mind was making sense of what he thought he saw. A pair of frightening burning eyes stared down at him. The face had a resemblance of what probably used to be human but now with the flesh burned off and revealing a skull with a frightening pair of horns. There was no body attached to it. The flames that wrapped around this floating sight may have been the very same flames that heat and light up hell itself.
What had John’s team done in their search of a new power source? Were they directly responsible for this horrible apparition that now stood before him? Was this the only demonic being that had now infiltrated the base? It was funny how that although it was probably only a space of a second had so many questions already filled John’s mind. However, there was not enough time for John to have pondered on what the answers could be as the flaming skull open its fanged mouth and descended onto him with a dreadful shriek.
3rd July 2018