Excuse not to blog

It’s hard to come up with a post nowadays. One thing I don’t have a camera with me and I’m too preoccupied with other things in life. Now I cannot imagine what would happen if I suddenly have 5 months of free time.

A friend recently reminded me of how much time I had after SPM. I was idling for about 5 months back in Kuching. Sure, there are lots to do (sending people off), Damai trips to go, messing around with my Nissan Ad Resort, and some other stuff to do. It’s all archived at post-spm.blogspot.com, my previous blog (wow, 400+ posts in a year. What was I thinking…).

If I had 5 months now…

Many things would happen in that 5 months. I won’t be waking up at 2pm everyday. My time won’t be spent online doing nothing (like now). I will have goals and have ways of reaching them. I will definitely travel more. Meeting up with friends more often. But sadly, the grass is ALWAYS greener on the other side and I don’t have that 5 months.

If I’m still at Inti with my brother, I would be graduating in 1 month with a diploma. And loads of time to do whatever I want. So did I make the wrong decision when I choose to join MAS instead? No, I don’t think so. I’ve thought about this many many times. In fact I think about it everytime I go to Inti Nilai. Did I make the wrong decision? Will I be happier in college?

There are many choices in life that we have to make. This is one them. I choose to learn how to fix planes instead of finishing my diploma. It may not be the path that many will take as most people will want to go college and university and graduate with a diploma or degree or masters or even a PHD. There are pros and cons for both choices and I think you cannot be completely satisfied no matter what you choose. The grass will ALWAYS be greener on the other side. I have choose to live with my decision and that’s where I’m going.

Some people may not think highly of what I’m doing now since I’m doing mechanic work. They don’t tell it to me but I can sometimes tell from the way they say it (or maybe I too perasan). Because if you compare me and someone with a masters or a PHD, they have all the knowledge but I only have what I need to know to do my job. I don’t need to know quantum physics to troubleshoot an engine problem. I need experience.

Back to the 5 months holiday. I wish I could take 5 months unpaid leave now haha. But come to think about it, I may be so carefree that I won’t know what to do. At least now I have a job to keep me busy. Else it’ll be back to those post-spm days. Idling lazily.

Note to self: Don’t drink tea for the whole day. I couldn’t sleep till 3:30am last night and I had to wake up at 6:30am in the morning :S Continue reading

Chinook, the unbeatable checkers-playing computer

Scientists at the University of Alberta report that they’ve built an unbeatable checkers-playing computer. Their machine, Chinook, has solved checkers: It proves that if two players play perfectly, making no mistakes, the game of checkers will result in a draw.

The proof required analyzing 500 billion billion checkers positions — 5 x 1020 — a computational process that began in 1989 and has been running on hundreds of processors almost continuously since. Chinook now knows everything about checkers, the perfect response to any move, and the best that any human can do is drive Chinook to a draw. You can never win.

Complete article: click here.

Click here to try and beat Chinook.

This was how terrible I lost. On a brighter note, I wasn’t even trying that hard.

Hmmm… What’s the use of playing a game that you know you cannot win? Continue reading

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I’ve finished reading this book already and I must say, this book fills in all the gaps left by the last 6 books. In this book, you’ll find out the truth about Snape, how to live if you’re on the run and hiding from the greatest dark wizard of all time, how to steal from the most secure wizarding bank in the world, how to escape death countless of times and how to defeat Voldermort.

Overall this book is a great change over the last few books that focuses mainly on the trio’s adventure at Hogwarts. Now they’re out in the open and things are very different. Their adventures range from infiltrating the Ministry of Magic, escaping from death countless times and being captured countless times also.

This is probably the best Harry Potter book in the series. You won’t regret reading it. Continue reading

V-Gear Talkcam Tracer CCD 1.3MP

All webcam reviews should have sample pictures taken by the webcam itself. Only then will we know how good the camera is. And they should also state all the specs of the camera so us consumers can choose the best camera for our application. But I guess marketing is more important, so that’s why there are so many misleading info on webcams nowadays.

Anyways, I was looking for a webcam for my project and I went through many webcams until I managed to find this webcam: the V-Gear Talkcam Tracer CCD. Unlike other webcams that uses a CMOS sensor, this webcam uses a CCD which means better picture quality and less noise. Most digital cameras use CCD to capture images.

Note the enormous lens. This webcam has 6 lenses by the way.

I needed a webcam that can detect infrared light. As with most webcams, they have a special infrared-block filter built into them so they can filter out infrared light and detect only visible light. This filter is the only thing that prevents the camera from detecting infrared. I need a webcam that has a removable infrared filter. Fortunately, this webcam is perfect.

Lens removed from the camera.

The picture above shows the lens after I removed it from the camera. If you can see the square red shiny piece of glass on the top, that’s the infrared-block filter. All I need to do is use a small screwdriver to pry the piece out. Now I have a webcam that can detect infrared! It’s that easy!

Infrared filter.

Now we have the lens without the infrared filter. Perfect.

Just in case you’re wondering how effective the infrared filter is, here are two pictures that show before and after removing the filter. Infrared source from a infrared remote control.

Before: with the filter still in place, you can see a dim white light.

After: the infrared led produces a blinding bright light. Amazing.

After removing the infrared filter, the world looks strangely colored to the webcam. My black shirt looks pinkish and under the bright afternoon sun, the webcam CANNOT view outdoors due to the massive amounts of infrared light given off by the sun. Since I won’t be using this outdoor and since I’ll be using it for a special purpose, it’s not a big deal.

The V-Gear Talkcam Tracer CCD retails for RM149 (roughly USD40 for our international friends) at lowyat. With superb video quality (30fps thru USB2.0), and amazing pictures (1280×960), this webcam is a bargain. Other CCD webcams don’t even come close price-wise. And perfect for high resolution videos for my needs. Buy this webcam and you won’t be disappointed. Seriously. Continue reading