M Company Field Camp Part 1
Saturday, September 10, 2016

Field Camp is the key milestone every Singaporean soldier will go through before passing out of BMT. I looked through my blogging draft folder and found this nearly 2 year old post sitting there, begging me to relive those wretched memories.

note: the events that occurred during this field camp don’t feel as dramatic to me anymore in hindsight after going outfield countless times, but it was memorable as the first I’ve ever experienced.

See we had this system of booking in camp every Sunday, however the ones in control of our lives decided to toy with us by ordering us to book in on a Saturday and starting the Field Camp on a Sunday. The reason given was because the FC was 6 days long, so by starting early we can book out on Friday as usual. I call bullshit on this.

Falling asleep that Saturday night proved to be a tougher task than usual; after all, everything we have trained up for will be tested here, both physically and psychologically.
Plit plat, plittery fucking plat
We woke up to the melodious tune of rain falling outside our bunks. I thought: “Great, now everything’s going to be postponed because of lightning risk”.

Haha nice try brain.

The truth hits me dead smack in the face as we hear the dreaded words, “Everything on!”. Marching 8KM into the forest with full combat gear in the rain, how bad could it get? Oh damn I jinxed it.

At the 5KM mark, we got to take a short break by putting down our field packs that felt like it has been steadily getting heavier. If not for fatigue then it has to be all the rain it has been soaking up. As I watch my buddies remove the load off their backs, a strange phenomenon happened that I have never before seen in Singapore.

Their bodies (including mine) started smoking. There was a proper, visible steam coming off our heated bodies. That should give you a pretty good idea of how much heat we were producing, as well as how cold the weather was. A short rest got us through to the destination that felt way longer than it’s supposed to, thanks to the rain that just kept falling on our helmets. “plittery fucking plat

If god exists then he must’ve been playing us like a video game; as the moment we reached our destination, the rain magically stopped. Looking on the bright side, this has softened up the ground for our camp site so getting all the poles and pins down securely was noticeably easier. The location actually feels rather calming, with rows of big trees that seemed to provide some form of natural shelter from elements.

We then proceeded to do some soldier-y stuffs, after ensuring that we are drained, the SGTs released us to rest for the night. Night time in a forest is really dark, 伸手不见五指 kind of dark. We can rest easy knowing that the made-up horrors of our over-imaginative mind will accompany us to sleep in total darkness.

Plittery fucking plat

Sleep is of course conditional, if we can even get any as it started pouring in the middle of the night. Rain has this annoying ability of finding it’s way into any open space and splatter all around us. It gave me a free foot bath at 2AM that I did not request for, along with it a free industrial grade air-conditioner. I kept myself warm by hugging my wife. Remember the big trees I just mentioned? Man were they pretty standing there doing absolutely nothing.

Day eventually came, we owe that knowledge to our incredibly accurate watches that rang some time before 6am. After stumbling around to get ready for another day of exciting adventures and free showers, everyone was rounded up for some adrenaline pumping rifle PT.

The rest of the day proceeded with soldier-y stuffs of practicing movement and firing blank rounds. It was a hot, tedious day where we cultivated a very close relationship with nature, until my SGT messed up big time and made all of our days.

While my platoon was taking turns for some activity, a civilian looking car came into view and parked some distance away from us. Who the hell drives a car into a jungle?! I didn’t have to wonder for long, an old man in uniform stepped out of the car with 3 crests on his chest.

The only Colonel on this island, the highest ranked, and also the commanding officer of BMTC.

Back then we were recruits, scrubs worse than maggots; I haven’t even fully understood the ranking system yet. None of us knew what to expect from this encounter.

My SGT followed procedure and saluted the higher ranked officer. It was at this moment that everyone realized, he fucked up. He was holding a document on his right hand; because of that, he unconsciously saluted with his left hand.

“Sergeant, are you sure you are supposed to salute with this hand?” - Col

He did a quick switcheroo, but the damage was already done. We had to slap each other (not on the face) to stifle our laughter. We did not see him for about 3 hours after that, I’m sure he was just watering the plants with his tears. The other SGT told us not to broach the topic to him. Rest in peace Jordan, I will always remember your name because of that you did.

After a long day of activities, night eventually fell. We cleaned ourselves, then finally lay our backs against this plastic sheet that totally shielded us from rocks underneath. Fatigue started setting in and my eyes closed for a good night’s rest.

“Plittery fucking plat”

to be continued in part 2

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FFT: Feeling good for not doing a bad thing
Friday, August 26, 2016

I had this conversation with my girlfriend recently, she was telling me about her work and how there's this bitch who hasn't been doing her work properly and she has to cover up for her all the time. (gross generalisation but let's just roll with it)

Her boss is aware of the situation so she prompted her about it and she is finally able to give some feedback about her colleague's poor work conduct. She mostly agreed with her boss's opinion without adding too much fuel to the flame, leaving out the incriminating parts that will probaly set her boss on a witch-hunt.

As she told me about it, I realized that she is actually proud that she held back; happy that she is the bigger person.

The thing is, why are we always happy when we stopped ourselves from doing a bad thing? It's like, we thought of it in the first place, just one step away from fulfilling it.

Stay with me here, I thought of this because of a book I read sometime back called, "hyperbole and a half". The book is more or less a compilation of all the posts on it's website.

Near the end of the book there's this chapter where the author explores him/herself, and found out that "I'm a shittier person than I thought I am".

One of the examples quoted loosely is when you see an annoying kid making a ruckus and just wouldn't shut up for the love of god. I would feel an urge to carass his face, violently, with a brick. Of course I wouldn't do that, not for many reasons other than the law. I would then feel "good" about myself for being the bigger man and not venting my angst upon that little devil.

Or a more random situation like, being at a sandy playground and having the urge to hurl sand at someone, just for the fun of it. I don't know why there's even such an urge but I surpressed it, then I feel good that I did not do a bad thing. But the fact that the thought even cross my mind isn't anything "good" don't you think? A proper good person shouldn't be thinking of random shit like that to do.

Which is the point of such a lengthy post, that we are all shittier than what we perceive ourselves to be*
*for most people anyway, unless you're a born saint. 

I was just amused that what the author described happened exactly in real life, and I was able to witness it from a 3rd person point of view. If it was me behaving that way, I would definitely not been able to spot it out.

In conclusion, not committing to a bad thing you've thought of isn't exactly something worth feeling good about.

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Singapore Night Festival 2016
Monday, August 22, 2016

There's an annual night festival that takes place in Town around Bras Basah area each year. I went for the first time last year with my girlfriend and it was hot and crowded as hell.

Great Bad news, it's still the same this year. Here's a shot I took last year and it looks almost the same.

The food is vastly overpriced but at least it tastes good. The route they provide is kind of weird as it takes you a long way round before getting into the heart of where all the buzz is going on. I do suggest looking at the event map before heading down though to avoid getting swept away by the insane crowd.

We queued for >1 hour for this exhibition called #showerthoughts and it was extremely underwhelming when we first entered, but the dazzling light show made it feels like the ache is barely worth it.

The last 2 days of the Night Fest is this weekend, 26 & 27 August (Fri and Sat). So if you enjoy sweating in crowded places then it's the perfect place to be in!

Jokes aside, there are really quite a lot of art exhibitions that will prove to be interesting, even though we didn't walk around THAT much this year as we're feeling pretty lazy. I think we'll probably head on down next year, just to see what's up in Singapore.

Oh and if you haven't seen light projections before, they have it too! I've seen it a couple of times and gotten pretty jaded about it I guess, but it's definitely an eye opener for any first timer!

This picture on the right is taken while inside the room of changing lights and in the right perspective it feels like you're floating in space. It may feel a little disorientating if we stay in it for too long.

"Thankfully", they only let us stay a grand total of 3 mins inside after queuing for so damn long. I would really prefer my #showers to be longer than 3 mins man.

ending it off with a pretty shot

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Text Expanders: aText for Mac
Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Despite having a pretty fast typing speed (~120 wpm), I'm always looking for ways to improve the speed of how to get the ideas from my head onto the screen as fast and efficient as possible.
text expanders are awesome

Enter text expanders. It allows me to use self-defined keywords to expand whatever text I choose. A simple example would be

brb : be right back

The moment I type those letters, it will auto expand out into it's full glory. Of course you can use triggers like [tab] to prevent expansion when you don't intend it to, but for my own use I find that instant expansion fits my needs; YMMV.

The app I use for my MacOS is called aText.
I can add any thing I wish and it'll just expand out, the common uses are for things like your email, names and such. I haven't been making full use of it yet as I only started dabbling with it near the end of my school term, but with it starting soon I'm sure I'll add many new snippets to it.

Following the trend of the previous productivity post, I created a GIF to show how it works.

As you can see I can quickly generate blank templates for whatever language I'm currently coding in. I've used it for awhile and it saved me a lot of keystrokes. It also allows me to quick insert time and date in whatever format I prefer, saves me the effort of checking and typing when needed.

There are quite a few competing software for MacOS but I think aText has the best value for the function it delivers without being too complicated. As for Windows, I've only used Phrase Express and it works same way. However I find that it feels a bit clunkier, not slow per say but it doesn't feel as instant.

Which is experience I get when switching between a Mac and my Windows desktop machine, when I want to modify a behaviour that ties in deeply with the system, MacOS always does it better (probably due to it's unix nature).

Oh as a bonus there's this emoji expander you can use natively with your MacOS without extra software. It allows you to do Slack type of emoticon usage.
I have it and it's pretty cool! (even though I almost never use it)
But for those people who can't live without emoticons 😢 😕 😄 , this is a really simple way to use them without spending too much time. Here's a GIF from the author that shows how it works.

Hope this helps in your productivity! The next post is probably a thought post WOT style. Stay tuned.

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Alfred 2 Add To Temp workflow
Monday, August 15, 2016

As someone who surfs the net every single day, there will be times where I find something interesting and want to note it down. It usually comes in the form of a link. There are many apps out there that allows you to jot down random notes really quickly, but it still requires some mouse clicks or quite a few key strokes.

Simple note taking shortcut.
With the help of Alfred* as a digital assistant, I can create small scripts that reduce the amount of actions required. I'm using the paid (powerpack) version in case you're curious.
*only for MacOS

The scripts are called "workflows" in Alfred, it's a relatively simple IFTTT (if this then that) kind of idea.
It follows the pattern of [keyword/trigger] > [action] > [result/output]

As you can see, it's really simple, and it's relatively easy to make your custom workflows too as long as you know a bit of bash, or python, etc.

"att" is just a keyword that I chose (add to temp) for appending any of my note to this temporary file; while "temp" is a keyword for opening/viewing the saved snippets. Words aren't as effective as a simple gif, so here.

Native notification to show appended text!

As you can see, it allows your snippet to be of any length, even multiline paragraphs works as expected. It is also tagged with Date/Time to make searching a little bit easier. On the topic of searching, I may add that feature to this workflow so that I can search through the notes from Alfred itself, though I'm pretty sure that the "find" function in Sublime Text will beat any kind of search algorithm I can come up with.

With this, I can add any note within 4 actions.
Copy text, open prompt, att, paste
Since I don't have a place to host the .workflow file, let me just share with you the secret sauce that makes all of this works. It's just a 1 line bash command. Formatting the date, time, then passing in the {argument} that Alfred receives then appending it all into a text file. That's it!

printf "$(date +%d-%m-%y) | $(date +%r)\n{query}\n\n" >> ~/Documents/scripts/temp.txt

Well, hope you guys like this little cheat that I've shared. I still haven't test it out in school yet but it has proven rather effective in normal use. Next post shall be on the text expander that I use to reduce the amount of repetitive typing I have to do, stay tuned!

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2016 Minimal Look
Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Can you believe that the old design has been around for almost 4 years?!

Of course it has seen many many iterations, with the last major change coming in on 27/10/2013. The remaining revisions are just attempts to improve legibility and make it easier on the eyes for the readers.

I've been doing quite a lot of geeky stuffs and I'll find time to share about all the productivity stuffs I'm tinkering around with, ranging from simple text expander applications to easy OpenVPN setup on the Raspberry Pi 3, to simple Alfred 2 workflows to streamline my working habits.

those were the days

Even though it works well and loads really fast, it's definitely time for a new paint job. This current template is still very much unfinished and I will update it here and there whenever I have the time. Also, the Archives button at the bottom doesn't work right now, though I doubt there's anyone who'll dig through all the old posts.

For those who knows me IRL and saw the before and after, I'll like to know what you think of the redesign.

School is starting.

In a couple of weeks I'll be back to school and hopefully the self-studying I've been doing will pay off and it'll be easy to kick ass in class. Or it'll really be a waste of my holidays.

I've recently bought a few interesting gadgets, like the Jaybird X2, blank PBT keycaps which is a lot more durable than normal ABS types, as well as a really cheap phone for me to develop Android apps on. Probably need to control my spending this month but man I have not regretted a single purchase yet.

Well, look forward to all the geeky happiness that I'll be sharing soon.
Homage to the old design.

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The weekends
Wednesday, June 15, 2016

It has been awhile since I've written about daily life. Been writing on and off on other places and I'm starting to get the feel back of doing this. Been spending most of my weekends with her these days and even though we lay around most of the time, I still look forward to these two days.

Guess what we went for?

Read more »

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