Archive for the ‘Tech’ Category

Wall-Eee

September 14, 2008

Arguably, the funnest animation movie I’ve seen so far. It’s amazing how they’ve managed to tell a story with so little dialogue. The Mac references are a great touch, and all the pristine white robots on board the Axiom look like they will turn into Mac designs in the near future.

Must watch movie.

Now I have to twiddle my thumbs until they finally release Tropic Thunder and The Pineapple Express in Singapore.

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A year and six months later…

August 31, 2008

I finally made the jump and I am a proud iPhone owner. Impressions after a day of usage:

  • It has to be the single-most gorgeous thing I have held in the palm of my hand. It is really really beautiful.
  • It did feel heavier than I thought it would when I first held it, but now, it feels very comfortable.
  • Typing on it in the first few hours, did make want to pull my hair out, but like Apple likes to claim, once you learn to trust the keyboard, it becomes easy. I definitely prefer this over T9.
  • Haven’t gotten to really speed-test 3G, but WiFi speed is quite good for browsing and email.
  • That said, YouTube performance is lacking – I haven’t been able to watch YouTube as seamlessly as I had hoped to watch.
  • I’m not sure if this is a feature per-se, (but if it is, it’s a nice little touch) – 3G is completely switched off if you are connected to a WiFi network. Apart from the benefits of not having to pay for 3G, it should defnitely help battery life too.
  • The AppStore is really awesome – the whole experience of downloading and installing applications – is so clean and so well thought-out.
  • Talking about third-party apps – the most impressive ones so far are FaceBook and Pennies. I also bought Super Monkey Ball, but haven’t gotten the hang of it yet. Twitterific is nice too, but feels kinda clunky. An app which I think would really use a lot (while commuting) is Instapaper (downloads all your Instapaper bookmarks for offline reading)

More later, as I need to get back to admiring the iPhone.

Fork Yeah

August 5, 2008

A small experiment – ForkDis

E27 Unconference Singapore 2008 – Impressions

July 14, 2008

So instead of wasting this Saturday on sleeping and lazing around, I hauled my backside over to the E27 Unconference at Biopolis in Singapore. This was my first time and I was curious to find out how such unconferences worked. I liked the general casualness of the whole affair – pretty good food, swag, Guitar Hero contests and a lot of young guys building cool products.

A lot of the products on display were very impressive and I was fortunate enough to talk to the guys behind them and it’s very inspiring to see guys going the extra mile to solve everyday problems. Here are some tidbits:

The Good Parts

  • gothere.sg : Easily my favorite product at E27 because it is so useful. gothere.sg is built on web.py, jQuery and is hosted at slicehost.
  • homespace.sg : Another very useful web-app (not for me particularly, but I can see it being used widely). This one is built on Ruby On Rails, Prototype and a sprinkling of Flash.
  • widgeo.us : I still haven’t got the concept yet, but from what was demoed it seemed an intriguingly good idea. Couldn’t get a chance to speak to the guys behind it, but would really like to know what they use to power instant messaging.
  • qweki.com : Another slightly confusing product, but from what I understood it is a service along the lines of Mahalo (customized search results). On the negative side, it had a pretty bad UI.
  • podfire.sg : Didn’t know there was a video podcasting network in Singapore and even though the current crop of shows is very limited (and doesn’t really appeal to me) I will keep an eye out for interesting ones in future.
  • Preetam Rai’s talk on startups in emerging countries : I thought it was very interesting and the discussions/arguments which followed were edgy and almost worth the admission fee.

The Bad Parts

  • The Microsoft Keynote : Don’t get me wrong, the talk did have some interesting view points. What bugged me was how the speaker was using it as a platform to promote Microsoft products. This, despite the fact that Microsoft are clearly late-comers in realizing the value of the so-called trends that he discussed – user experience, collaboration and cloud-computing.
  • More Rockstars, Less Groupies : I would definitely have liked to see more ideas and products. Even if there isn’t a monetization plan, a business plan and an exit strategy, people should be encouraged to build stuff anyway and worry about making money later. The E27 event is definitely a big step in the right direction, but at certain points during the event, I got the feeling that the enthusiasm and bubbli-ness was forced. The guys building stuff must be leading the discussion, not the VCs, the angels and the government.

Overall, I had a great time and I will definitely be there next year.

McLovin Does Ruby

June 11, 2008

So after attending RailsConf a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been really inspired by the great people that were at the conference, and as a direct result of that, I’ve made two personal resolutions:

  • Write more code
  • Blog about the code that you write (or other tech-stuff in general)

So as not to confuse the core audience of this blog, I thought it would be best if I keep my coding/tech-related posts separate from this collection of ramblings. Of course, the core audience comprises of 10 people at best, but I digress.

Thus McLovin Does Ruby was born, and the inaugural post is about a new Ruby library called SuperModel.

Dard-and-Disco

May 2, 2008

Disclaimer: This post may contain an inordinate amount of cheesiness, but bear with the author as it is an outpouring of relief before the next wave of madness begins.

I think it would be a fair assessment to say that the last couple of months has been a pretty demanding time at work. The fruits of our labour are now available for public viewing here, and as much as I would have liked that extra hour of sleep occasionally, I have to say that it’s been absolutely worth it.

Of course, none of this would have been worth it, had it not been for the giants upon whose shoulders I’ve been able to stand on and help to build a kickass product. [Clarification: There are more giants, but they don’t have a web-presence]

Some of the lessons that I’ve learnt or would like to learn from my experiences so far [Note: Some or all of this might seem very obvious, but it’s good to reminisce]:

  • What they say about startups being one long roller coaster ride is dead-on. One moment you’re celebrating a significant technical achievement, the next moment you’re despairing at dead servers. I guess what I’d like to do is maintain a zen-like equanimity about it all and is something I have to work on.
  • They say pre-mature optimization is the root of all evil, but pre-mature benchmarking is not. Don’t be afraid to test the edge case and look at performance – for us, it helped to unmask some deficiencies in our solution, which made the common case blazing fast.
  • Don’t take criticism personally. It’s easy to get sucked into trash-talk with customers, managers, partners – you name it, but I think it ties in with maintaining composure and having the belief that every cloud has a silver lining.
  • Taking a break is absolutely crucial. Sometimes the extra hours spent on staring at code, is better spent watching a movie and you end up being refreshed.
  • Management of time is really important and is something I really need to work on. Bring on GTD and RescueTime
  • By nature I am a pretty optimistic person and I think that helps to some degree to overcome troughs in a project (especially when they come along at an alarmingly fast rate)

Of course, there’s only so much you can do personally to get a kick-ass product out in the wild. Like I’ve said before, I’ve had the privilege to work with some amazingly talented people and so here’s my cliched thank you to all of ’em; who I’ve had worked with; played Rock Band/Winning Eleven with; got litres of Red Bull with; discussed architectures and pitfalls with, and overall had an absolute blast.

And also to a few people will remain unnamed, who have tolerated my increasing periods of absentia. Thank you very very much!

Postscript: As soon as I clicked ‘Publish’ I noticed Chu Yeow’s more informative, more contextual post. Check it out!

ActiveCouch – A Ruby wrapper for CouchDB

January 23, 2008

Over the last month or so (interrupted by holidays and other work commitments), my colleague Chu Yeow and I have been developing an open-source Ruby wrapper (called ActiveCouch) for CouchDB.

CouchDB has been on our radars for quite a while now, with its promise of storing vast amounts of information over a cluster of unreliable commodity hardware, and this is our attempt to make it play nice with Ruby. We believe in eating our own dogfood, and ActiveCouch is currently in the process of being used internally at Bezurk for our various products. More information on ActiveCouch can be found at the project page, as well as at the Bezurk Blog.

Version 0.1.0 is out and it shipstoday!

We’re looking forward to actively developing ActiveCouch as we believe CouchDB has a lot of potential, so here’s hoping for exciting times ahead!

Update: The gem is now available on Rubyforge. Simply run the command gem install activecouch from your favourite terminal, and you should be on your way!

Designed in Cupertino, Sleepy in Singapore

December 11, 2007

Update: The MacBook has gone into a coma and is in intensive care as of writing. Technicians are standing by. They fear that it might require logic board transplant. It’s times like these I wish I had opted-in for the logic board donor program. 

Lately, I’ve been having some Kumbakarna/Rip-van-Winkle woes with my (work-) Macbook. In case you’re wondering – yes it is the same beautiful Macbook which I defaced about two months ago, and it’s come mac from the dead. But after the unfortunate spillage, it started showing signs of increased lethargy. To be more specific, it would go to sleep and never wake up (for at least a couple of hours). I let it go the first time, thinking that it probably is the after-effect of a caffeine stained logic board. But as luck would have it, it is not.

From various blogs, I gathered that MacBooks have a safe sleep feature (analogous to hibernate on Windows) which doesn’t quite work well. I’m not sure if it is on by default on Mac OS X 10.4 (it was, on mine) but to disable it, use this command in your favourite terminal (that’s a zero at the end):

sudo pmset -a hibernatemode 0

Reboot and this disables the safe-sleep feature. Some other forums/blogs might instruct you to meddle with the nvram settings but this caused sleep to be completely non-functional for me. So just to be safe, use this command:

sudo nvram “use-nvramrc?”=true  

To be sure, use this command:

nvram -p | grep use-nvramrc  

and you should see the value true.I’ve lullabied the MB to sleep many times after making this change and so far it seems to have worked ok. Hopefully, the MacBook’s sleep disorder is behind it and it’s back to its energetic self.Postscript: I also realized after this entire episode that I am more forgiving of OS X’s shortcomings than I am of Windows’ shortcomings. Wonder why that is. Maybe it’s because when they get so many things right and very few wrong, I can cut them some slack.

Karma?

October 22, 2007

It’s been a bad week for me electronics-wise. I lost my relatively new phone in a cab last week, midway through last week my iPod died on me (just as when I was beginning to enjoy Vortex) and today I spilt coffee on my beautiful work MacBook and it died on me too.

I’m beginning to wonder if in my last life, I was an abusive manufacturing-line worker for Intel who didn’t care less about electronics.

E-Karma Gods, please forgive me.

Squirt Me

October 3, 2007

The new Zunes are out – they look OK. The faces of the smaller, flash based ones seem to be inspired by Mickey Mouse, and I still don’t understand Microsoft’s weird obsession with the colour brown† and undecipherable punchlines: You make it you*.

Personally though, I hope the second-gen Zunes do well because that will only mean that the iPods will get much better. The Starbucks-music-buying-and-browsing feature on the iPod Touch seems to be a better executed version of the infamous squirt technology on the original Zune.

Here’s to great Zune sales.

*The first-gen had the great punchline: Welcome to the social.

†It’s actually a rather dirty green. My bad.