Monthly Archives: April 2006

Childrens’ Week

Part of the charm of playing WoW is that there is a team of game developers who will periodically releasing new content to keep things fun for their players who have completed all the existing quests several times over already. Season quests will reflect real-life events, such as Christmas, Lunar New Year, Easter and now, Childrens’ Week.

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Book bound in human skin

This is interesting. I've just started reading a humorous fantasy novel that makes fun of magicians and it mentioned how magicians (in that world) like exotic things such as books bound in human skin at the beginning of time, even if they do not really understand what powers the books have. It's kind of true that stuff like these attract the attention, I mean, human skin! It is so taboo to use dead people for personal gain! Or for any other purpose.

But this was apparently common 200 to 300 years ago in Europe during the French Revolution, according to this BBC article. It's called anthropodermic bibliopergy. Creepy. Really creepy.

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Lottery dreams?


I got this cartoon from Sunshine and my response was, "So cats are smarter than dogs right?"

Anyway, the climate in my company has changed since the last economic downturn where they had to retrench. The management has woken up to the idea that loyalty to a company is a thing of the past, especially when the company has no loyalty towards you. This does not bother me, it is one reality of life I have long since accepted. What does bother me is that I recall being told that the COO also buys lottery tickets in the hope of winning the top prize and getting a windfall, so he can retire and need not do his job anymore.

My first thought then was that such a hope is very wide-spread among the lower ranks who slog to climb up the ranks and be relieved of the daily drudgery of our work, but realise that they are not on the fast track to executive stardom. Thus they "buy a hope" twice a week as a ticket out of this rat race that they know they will not win. That the top man is doing this, might be an indication that he is in sync with the concerns of his staff, that he understands them and is not too aloof. So I thought. But if he himself is wishing for a way out of this race he has helped to create, it bothers me. The people who has set such high standards and stressed out his people wants no part of the thing he has helped to create. If I'm going to war, I would be bothered if my commanding officer has an escape route planned and is going to flee at the first chance.

But such is the reality of life, I have been told. We can no longer expect bosses who are so passionate about their jobs. Competition is a very real thing and a comfortable pace is no longer possible. Yes, I know it is reality, but reality bothers me with its injustice.

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Headache. Migraine?

Just finished a user demo in the morning, futile lunch-time discussion with a boss on how to improve things at work, cleared some work and updated a document (again) so we can send to user for review by this week, and now the headache is giving me an impulse to puke. I can feel my stomach churning.

My boss has a problem. I have a solution, but he doesn't want it. He wants to bring up the issue to his bosses and let them fight it out. The smarter way is to solve the problem without involving the mammoths. Some of us have been asking for the role of the tech lead to be added to the project teams, to recognise that not everyone is able to play a functional and technical role equally well. We are heard, but squashed from higher levels.

The right person with foresight will foresee problems and find ways to overcome them before the shit hits the fan and the schedule is delayed. The wrong person will blunder on and not see the problem, and later blame others for not telling them about the problem. Blame the structure, blame the work process, find ways to improve the work process, hit new problems, find something new to blame. Or you can foresee and take action before the problem hits. But your bosses will not know how much shit you have blocked off. Smart bosses will use people with foresight. But bosses are only human, and prefer people who make them feel good. Such as people who will stick with the bosses and collectively blame others. Blame anyone, as long as it is not the boss, so that the boss feels good.

I'm in a foul mood these days because I am once again reminded of the dysfunctional way we do things around here. There are 2 distinct groups of people: those who like to solve problems and those who like to claim credit. And they think very differently

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Wonderful stuff

The Internet is full of wonderful things. I will start a series on the sites that have the most of these wonderful, awe-inspiring, droolicious things that you can find on the Net. I'll try to keep it short, everything else will go under interesting for now.

Boing Boing calls itself a directory of wonderful things, and they are updated many times a day on topics that include cool tech toys, online society, geeky stuff, how simple things make the real world a better place, and stuff you wouldn't believe is true. is a directory full of tips on how to improve your life with computers. They have the latest online services, tweaks and how to DIY your own improvements with electonic devices. They also have a tag called life hacks that help you outside your PC. is a daily blog that also has a ton of tips on how to improve your life, computers not always needed. There's an active community site with their own tips for self-improvement.

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Stumbled onto a site with lots of quotes from the giants in history.

Take for instance, Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister during the Second World War who led Britian with his speeches. Some with the dry British humour.

Words of wisdom that are simple to understand:

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.

You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.

Things which you wish your bosses would agree with:

Battles are won by slaughter and maneuver. The greater the general, the more he contributes in maneuver, the less he demands in slaughter.

Words that have inspired the nation at war, which led it through dark times:

We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

Somehow, our prime ministers just did not have the same ability to inspire through simple words. See Lee Kuan Yew , Goh Chok Tong, and Lee Hsien Loong

Bruce Lee, the man who introduced Kung Fu to the Western world, is far more inspiring.

If you always put limit on everything you do, physical or anything else. It will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.

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Merv Kwok is a twenty-something male blogger with a wicked sense of humour and a cynical outlook on life, friendship, and the Miss Singapore Universe 2006. His Japan trip was quite detailed.

He works as a programmer. Figures. But he’s an entertaining read.

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