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Archive for December, 2008

The notice is out on Malaysia Weiqi Forum. The selection tournament for 30th World Amateur Go Championship will be held at date and place specified below:

Date : 17 Jan 2009 (Sat.)
Time : 3.00 pm
Venue : Japan Club (Fuji Room)

I must say  time flies really fast. It’s already another selection tournament for World Amateur Go Championship (WAGC) in Japan. This time, the 30th WAGC will be held in Ecopa Park, Shizuoka Prefecture, which different from 29th WAGC which was in Nihon Ki-in, Tokyo.

I want to go !

I bet the tournament selection will be tougher than last year. Firstly I suspect Boon Ping will join this time. He did not last year for whatever reason. Secondly, the overall level of Malaysian go players have been rising fast within last one year. Younger players especially are getting more aggressive and becoming better at attacking. High spirit, vigilance and stamina is certainly needed if I were to meet them one after another.

I believe I have been improving as well, more horizontally than vertically. I am still staying at the same rank as last year, but now, I am more comfortable with modern opening plays such as 5-4 and 5-5. Managed to get some good results with those against Billy and Old Zhuang recently during casual weekend games. However, I am not sure if I am brave enough to try them in real tournaments when opponents will think really hard to make those moves ineffective.

For the moment, I am deliberately avoiding to use Kobayashi, San-Ren-Sei or Chinese/Mini-Chinese openings. I am just sick of those after seeing them too often. It’s time to be adventurous with unconventional plays. Seriously, how exactly can I improve if I am already scared on the first move? If I am scared of unfamiliar go landscape?

Time to rejuvenate.

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Family Trip to Port Dickson

Went to Port Dickson with family today morning. Now that we are all located in Kuala Lumpur, organizing a family trip gets so much easier. Hopefully we will have more trips like this.

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Was I on steroid? Maybe 🙂 I jumped here and there a lot, swam a lot, and went for jet-ski and banana boat as well. My muscles and back still sore from jet ski. Great fun though. Felt so alive, free and unstoppable especially when speeding against the waves. Gotta do this more 🙂

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darkmoonbookcover

The Darkmoon by Julia Gray is the first book of five of The Guardian Cycle. It’s a fantasy. After a year of reading manuals, standards, legal documents and textbooks, I was hoping for an escape from reality by reading a fantasy. I was hoping for the effect that I had when I was reading Magician, The Belgariad and The Mallorean series. But nah, it did not come.

The story is decent. But there was hardly any part of the story that could maintain my anxiety, anticipation and excitement for long. The feelings were short-lived, inter-sparsed with more mundane parts such as Terrel’s dreams or the astrological descriptions of the Four Moons.

It’s probably unfair to compare the reading experience now  to the ones I had with Raymond E. Feist’s Magician and David Eddings’s The Mallorean and The Belgariad which I read years ago. This time, I have stronger resistance to suspension of disbelief, which is sad. I wonder if I could enjoy fantasy anymore.

Should I read the part two? Maybe. I will sneak-read a chapter or two in the bookstore before deciding to buy or not.

Any fantasy fanatics can suggest a good series?

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Preparing for 2009

Our department is going to have restructuring. The Assistant Manager posts will be abolished. Coincidently, many Assistant Managers had resigned in the last few months for many personal reasons. I am one of the very few left.

What will happen to me?

A senior told me to quickly equip myself with a lot of knowledge to fit into Manager’s role. Deliverables will be tough, he said. Manager? Haha. I’m just here a little more than a year. Perhaps more likely I will be transferred to other business unit doing something else. Whichever path, it seems necessary for me to learn a lot of new stuff, quickly, just to do my job.

I actually have already outlined plans for 2009. Complete my Master in Information Security tops the list of things I need to do. Other minor ones are passing JLPT 4, improving Chinese and Go, get golf licence, get CCNA certification etc.

Looks like I will have to rethink my plan to accomodate latest changes in the workplace. 🙂 Why am I happy when life demands a lot from me?

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What do you do whenever you are waiting for something in the public? Perhaps for departure in the airport, or for train or someone to arrive? Reading a story book is one of the options,but here I want to focus specifically on playing games.

The following is the ranked list of playable games/puzzles while waiting. I am a board game player, so I may be biased but I will give justification on why this or that is best, superior or inferior.

#5 : Mobile phone games

The problem with playing mobile phone games while waiting in the public is that your phone is exposed. This may make you a target for snatch thief. Besides, it consumes battery power, making playing to be limited. But of course the good thing is, you almost always have your mobile phone around. There is no need to bring extra materials.

To be fair, depending on the available software, mobile phone games can actually rank anywhere.

# 4 : Rubik’s cube

Rubik’s cube requires both hands to play, which can be problematic if you are standing in the train with one hand already occupied for balancing. Or in another example, one hand already occupied to hold documents when queueing for Visa application etc. Games that require both hands are not suitable in this case.rubiks_cube_variations-250

Since Rubik’s cube does not make you a snatch thief target, I rank it better than mobile phone games. Of course, another problem is, once you know how to solve it, it’s no longer mentally challenging to play.

On the good side, if you are a proud geek, playing Rubik’s cube in the public can be an excellent ego booster.You will have more chance to get awe from public especially kids compared to other games.

#3 and #2 : Crosswords and Sudoku

sudoku_przykladThe main drawback of these two games is the same as previous, in that they require both hands. Moreover, holding a sharp object like pencil may not be a very good idea in crowded area due to risk of accidentally injuring others or self. I rank this better than Rubik’s cube because these games have many more levels of complexity and are more mentally challenging. british_crossword-250

You will also need to keep two objects for these games, pencil and the book. I find that annoying. But that is actually a good thing, as bringing along a pencil or pen everywhere is a good habit. Crossword game may be better than Sudoku, if you like to talk to strangers. Asking for help for certain parts of the game from person next to you can start a conversation and may earn you a great eternal friend. 🙂

#1 : Tsumego

Tsumego is a life and death part of Go board game which asks the reader to visualise sequence to kill or save a group. It is quite similar to Chess problems i.e. Black to mate in 3.

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Playing tsumego while waiting requires only one hand. All you need is to hold the book, look at the problems and visualise sequence. Answers usually available on the next page. Tsumego problems also have many levels of complexity, hence playable for all sorts of people. Playable with one hand and being an excellent and fun mental training game are some of the reasons of why I rank this first.

Well, that’s very quick opinion from me. I played all of the games before, but now I only do tsumego if I have to wait long for something. For those who do not know the rules of tsumego, just look up on the Internet and start learning. It’s very easy! You may start solving your first tsumego after few minutes.

So biased. I know. LOL 🙂

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I will probably vomit if I see another Chinese character. Why is it one of the most spoken languages in the world is also one of the most difficult? It does not make sense. I am starting to think that languages should be redesigned by software developers, who often put user friendliness as top priority.

Contrary to previous resolve, I am going to watch Bleach anime. There’s actually no risk of me getting trapped into watching Prison Break and Heroes too and waste my precious five days. I just found out that I have watched all recent episodes of both series.

By the way, I just bought the third volume of Tuttle Flash Cards for Chinese below from The Curve’s Borders for RM75. Could not find the fourth one there, but nearby Ikano’s Popular was selling one for RM89. Why so much difference in price? Whereas another nearby bookstore, MPH was selling second volume at RM83. Funny. Different volumes available at different bookstores with different prices. Sense not well made !

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Good thing about these flash cards is each card has fairly good amount of information. On the front is the Chinese character along with the order of strokes and four compound words that contain the character. Card number is given at the top left for sequencing purposes.

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Whereas on the back, the pronunciation and English translation for the characters and the compound words are given. There is also example of sentence that make use of the character. Very neat isn’t it?

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I also got first volume of Japanese Flash Cards and I bought first volume of Arabic for my dad some time ago. Recently I saw in Kinokuniya that Korean one is already available. But it will be quite a period before I start Korean seriously, if ever.

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5 full days of what?

My boss had just approved 3 day leave request from 15th-17th.  Together with the weekends, that means I have 5 days straight to do anything that I want! Ho ho ho… 🙂 I am so happy, although I am not yet sure what to do with it.

Should I study non-stop and gain mastery of a new skill? Or practise Go? Read a trilogy? Well… it took me about  5 days to finish Lord of the Rings.

Let’s evaluate the available options.

Option 1 : Study Mandarin Chinese non-stop

How many characters do I need to know before I can read Chinese Go books? I know 500 is not enough because that is my level now. Especially so because my vocab now consists of “kitchen”, “brother”, “hill”, “doctor” etc.

It’s difficult to force myself to memorize non-stop, but what I can do is to go through all 4 sets of Tuttle flash cards ~ 1600 Hanzi repeatedly for 5 days and see where I end up.

Option 2 : Go training

Excluding actual playing on KGS. Five days of tsumego solving and replaying Shusaku games. Unfortunately, the result from this training won’t be as obvious as the first option. Will I really be stronger in Go from this?

Option 3 : Watch Bleach, Heroes and Prison Break

I may slide into this option if I just watch one of the episodes on Friday night. One episode will lead to another surely, and 5 days will be gone just like that.

Option 4 : Relax, enjoy life and smell the flower

? ? ?

Option 5 : Study wireless technology, RF and computing

Ridiculous. Can always do this during office time when I have no work.

Hmm.. perhaps I will consider only option 1 or 2. But there is risk I might foolishly slip into option 3 and get trapped there for 5 days. Scary …, scarily fun 🙂

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