Wednesday, October 24, 2012

- Mini Manga Review: Zekkyou Gakkyuu -

There are two things I learnt after reading this manga:
  1. 99% of teenagers are psychopaths
  2. The smallest moral mistake will cause you to die a gruesome death
Every chapter starts and ends with a floating girl reciting some moral lesson. Sounds pretty tame and boring, except each lesson is typically demonstrated with schoolgirls murdering each other or getting murdered.

The beautiful drawings, the twist endings and the creeping tension: all of this keeps you turning the page and prevents the story from feeling episodic.

In a nutshell, Zekkyou Gakkyuu is Aesop's Fables. Except with crazy schoolchildren instead of talking animals, and ten times more horrific.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

- true to yourself -

You know the old saying "Fake It Till You Make It"?

I always hated that catchphrase.

It encourages deception and acting, and worst of all, it works.

For the uncurious and the attention-deficient, the link talks about how you can change who you are by changing your body postures. If you take up space, if you open up your body, if you go into what she calls "high-power poses" - your bravery goes up and your stress levels goes down.

If your normally fearful and stressed, you adopt "lower-power poses" which leads to more fear and stress. And it becomes a vicious cycle.

So the idea is fake "high-power poses" in order to feel more confident and calm.

The talk addresses the lack of authenticity by saying you don't "fake it till you make it"; you "fake it till you become it". Through these changes to body posture, you come out as a different person.

But that still isn't good enough.

In terms of changing who we are, I prefer to go the route outlined by this ex-smoker.

The key point in that post:

You need to change your mind-set. You must change from being a smoker who is trying to quit to being a non-smoker. This is fundamental...

Previously, when I tried to quit, I marked the date in my diary and counted the days. The downside to this is that it's like holding your breath underwater - you know that at some stage you will come up for air. Furthermore, when you do eventually succumb and have a cigarette, you will feel like you have failed and will be disheartened when you have to reset the counter.

You need to accept that you will be tempted from time to time to have a cigarette and there will be times when your resolution will be weak (late at night, after a few drinks), so it's eminently possible that you will have a smoke or two or more. It does not amount to falling off the wagon or a reversion to the habit. You need to consider it as an aberration and no different to any other non-smoker who has a cigarette. It happens, move on.

This isn't a matter of faking it till you make it or faking it till you become it. This is simply being it. Being it until your behaviours line up to what you already are.

The difference may be a technicality to most people, but it's fundamental for me.

Now to make up a catchphrase.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

- the digital rebirth of print -

Traditional newspaper companies are experiencing an accelerated death and struggling with making money online. That's the difficulty of jamming a traditional square business plan into a round internet hole. So why not adapt to a proven money-making format? Get readers to decide what they want to read, then write it. Crowdsource your printing press. Traditional newspaper companies have an advantage over a random internet startup here. I'm not talking about their printing presses or delivery trucks; I'm talking about their brand. Prospective readers know New York Times has quality writing and would be willing to pay for the good stuff. And if the Big Traditional Print Companies don't move in this direction? Why don't journalism students band together to make this happen? There's a brighter future here than in print.

Friday, March 30, 2012

- the road most taken -

I was the grammarian for Toastmasters this week. On the most basic level, our club's grammarian is supposed to keep track of how many um's and ah's speakers are using. This helps the speakers because they become self-conscious about using filler words; this also helps me because it forces me to pay close attention to the speeches.

During a Breaking Bad Habits speech, the speaker said:

"We're programmed to follow the path of least resistance. So what should we do? Make our bad habits the path of most resistance."

That flipped a 100-volt lightbulb in my head. If we only do things that are easy to us, we should make bad habits harder to do. Hide the remote control in the drawer. Uninstall the games. Turn off the internets.

I already knew that self-discipline is over-rated and why building systems gives you a better shot at doing the right thing. That's the basis of "Getting Things Done" (GTD). The sequel ("Making It All Work") was supposed to explain *why* GTD works. But Toastmasters gave me the clearest explanation: GTD breaks down our goals into simple, easy pieces - pieces that form the path of least resistance.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

- a mere planet in a galaxy of galaxies -

How do people decide what to do ? The logical steps would be to keep an open mind, try out as many different things as possible and then reflect on those experiences. My econ prof was advocate of trying out different things. He mentioned that people do generally try out different things... in the same area. His point was that you cannot do embedded development, web development, mobile development and say you've explored all your options.

The key here is to try different things that are as different as possible.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

- a fat toolbox -

It's becoming a boxing day tradition to buy an external hard drive. This year I decided to splurge on a portable one - the type that can fit right into your pocket. So far it's been totally worth it:

- No longer feels like a brick
- Appears on My Computer in seconds
- No need to plug for power

I can't emphasize how much trouble that last point was in the past; I've been meaning to take regular backups but I didn't want to navigate through a maze of wires. Now that I no longer have to deal with wires, my new complaint is that copying over all my files takes A Really Long Time.

I *could* copy over just my new and changed files - if only there was something to do all that automagically for me. And then suddenly there is. I found SyncToy just today and the software's been insanely fast and intuitive to use. A++ Microsoft, never knew you'd come up with nice little gems like this.

Speaking of nice little gems, have you ever...

Needed to re-install a metric tonne of software on a new computer? Try Ninite. And then try everything listed on Ninite.

Hurt your eyes staring at the screen? f.lux matches the brightness to the hour

Wanted to search and load *anything* on your computer with a few keystrokes? Launchy. Ever since my friend installed this on my work computer, I can't stop alt-spacing to get to all my stuff.

Have you stumbled upon life-improving software lately?