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Archive for the ‘Ideas’ Category

I feel bad for my blog. It used to be quite active, with me writing my life in hope to share my thoughts with others besides being a personal journal that I can revisit to judge whether my life is interesting or not. But lately, I have been too busy with my Master thesis and consequently had to abandon this blog.

I did not expect my project to be very challenging. Conceptually, it was easy enough. I wanted to study the capabilities of Trusted Computing and then use them to tackle problems inherent to Internet Voting. But it turned out there were too many suprises. Configuring tpm-emulator 0.61 from Mario Strasser, and TrouSerS took weeks, since I was not familiar with Linux. I also had to modify and recompile tpm-tools to make some of their options work.

Also, during the course of my project, I probably have read and reread “A Practical Guide to Trusted Computing” for about 6 times, and funnily I enjoyed gaining new understanding every time. Oh I’m so geeky 🙂

So .. what’s next for me?

Should I be focusing on my work, achieving top performance and patiently climb the corporate ladder?

Should I ride on current momentum, and do a PhD part-time?

Should I be gaining new working experience as freelancer and putting myself into different problem domains?

Should I create an idea, rigorously work to implement it, and launch a startup?

Honestly, I am not sure of what my decision will be. Right now, desire is burning in me to just implement everything I have studied and read. I have some ideas, but revealing them now would be premature.

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It has been for a while since I wanted to be a more serious blogger. While telling about my life, opinion and feeling on this blog serves my emotional and psychological needs pretty well, I always had hoped to have a higher purpose of existence on the Internet.

Techpiece is my attempt to realise that. It’s a platform for collaborative blogging for me and a friend, Soha who is doing PhD in the UK in power engineering. I’ll try to write articles more closely related to Malaysia, in particular about telecommunication, security and software.

I’ve written about cryptography in general that is unrelated to Malaysia. Actually I only reused an old article from here, because Soha pushed me to post according to schedule. LOL.

Next in my plan is to write about Streamyx and Home Surveillance in Malaysia. If you have any technological questions that you hope to be answered, just ask me anytime. I’ll answer or research the answers.

techpiece

Seems like a tough project, but hopefully I will persevere.

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Specialist vs Generalist

… and you, Marcus, you have given me many things; now I shall give you this good advice. Be many people. Give up the game of being always Marcus Cocoza. You have worried too much about Marcus Cocoza, so that you have been really his slave and prisoner. You have not done anything without first considering how it would affect Marcus Cocoza’s happiness and prestige. You were always much afraid that Marcus might do a stupid thing, or be bored. What would it really have mattered? All over the world people are doing stupid things … I should like you to be easy, your little heart to be light again. You must from now, be more than one, many people, as many as you can think of … ”

Karen Blixen (” The Dreamers” from “Seven Gothic Tales”)

I had a talk with a friend before, about being Jack of all trades, master of none. I guess, my blogging here is just an extension to the discussion, that I simply had to forgo during my talk with him. Our talk started after I question him on his motive to study math. No, not as in taking up math course in university. But, as an adult, who wanted to study math purely for self-interest among many other things i.e. politics, technology, religion, science, history etc. He claimed to be Jack of all trades, master of none, unlike me who chose to specialise in technology and software engineering. At the end of the talk, we both concluded that each person chooses whatever that suits him most.

Note : It was a friendly chat. We were not arguing, were not even debating anything.

Actually I had been a ‘generalist’ before (cant afford to write JOATMON all the time). During the earlier years of my secondary school era, I played a lot of sports, but did not make into any team because I didn’t want to commit to any training schedule. I had also probably attended the first session of most health/martial art practices including silat, taekwondo, kickboxing, boxing, kendo, yoga etc. I had also made trivial programming in numerous number of programming languages i.e. Pascal, Delphi, C, C++, Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby, C#, Java and assemblies. And let’s not forget human languages, I had also been in formal classes for Malay, English, Chinese and Arabic , and also had pathetic attempts at Japanese, Korean and French. Strategic board games? I play them all except backgammon.

Okay, I risk being called show off. Actually it’s just a little retaliation. I felt that being called a specialist had invalidated my life and every kind of person I was before.

However at the moment, I am not so much a generalist. It is too hard to derive tangible benefits from being one. Despite the above may sound impressive, I was a nobody in MCKK among my friends who were school representatives for football, rugby, basketball or hockey. I failed job interview at ARM Limited, Cambridge because I couldn’t exhibit mastery of ARM architecture and the assembly instructions. And I did not know how to swap values of two variables in C without a temporary storage ( I still don’t know how ). Keeping up with new technologies had costed me a lot of time and money, but until now I still have no confidence to take up freelance job. And all those extra languages I learned? .. it’s as if I had never !!

Having said that, there are advantages of being a generalist. In a large corporation, a generalist is more likely to be promoted to higher management level instead of their specialist counterparts. That is similar for politics too, I would think. Being a generalist helps to draft vision and gameplan, especially with the supports from the specialists. I have heard advice to switch job every 2 years from someone within our organization. Well, that depends on what you want to achieve. In terms of improving skills, that is ridiculous, but in terms of knowing as many people as you can, that is excellent. And the latter is usually what helps you to climb the corporate ladder, sadly. 😦

Should I be a generalist or a specialist? The question is not really critical to be answered now, although in the limited career-wise context it may be. I however prefer to heed the quote at the top, to be more than one, many people, as many as I can think of.

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Today is rather different from usual. Firstly, my hair isn’t straight anymore. I had all the straightened parts cut out, and I’m back to my natural appearance. Received few weird glares and glances at the office, but could not be bothered to explain why I had haircut. Actually I didn’t want the hairstylist to cut my hair so short, and I thought I had already told him so. Nevertheless he still did, and I did not see it coming. Literally did not see, as I took off my glasses during the whole session.

Another change was, for the first time, I took LRT from home to office instead of driving. I was naive to think that I would get a seat, just because I boarded the train at the first station. Heck, it was already jam-packed even then. I guess I will go back to driving to office again.

Also, for the first time, I slept during lunch hour. It felt so good, so peaceful. I’m seeing myself doing this again, as part of a new lifestyle, new routine. Imagine, being able to sleep one hour late every night and have it replaced during lunch time. I could be more productive at my side work, or Go while eating less everyday. Eating less is becoming increasingly important day by day.

6 hour sleep at night, 1 hour during lunch time. 7 hours of sleeping is certainly more than enough. Perhaps on certain days, I could have just 5 hour sleep at night. Great 🙂

LET’S SKIP LUNCH !

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Finally got an idea for my Master thesis. Personally, I think it’s a splendid idea. I sent an email to Prof. Azizah asking for opinion, and she seems to think it’s worthy of research. But she foresees that I might have difficulty with Literature Review, because it is not known what real-life problems I may solve.

I consulted with Dr Asri and Syaril too and they said the same. Idea seems very good to solve security problems in movies and fictions, but for real-life, they dont know too.

But, why can’t I solve fictional problems? Surely it has happened somewhere. Sadly, that’s not what academic thesis is about.

Anyway I’m sure I could tweak things out to make things fit. At least now I have a direction and scope to work my ideas.

Pretty relieved. I can outstation without worrying too much about my studies.

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My closest friends are far

Yesterday I was in KLIA to send a friend who is also a colleague abroad. He was leaving to do PhD in Cambridge. Cant really call him ex-colleague, because he did not resign but took a 3 year unpaid leave instead.

Funny thing was, at the same time another friend was arriving in KL from London, taking a 3-week break from her PhD. So, I welcome her as well. What a coincidence 🙂 And how I love coincidence ! Makes me think that the world is about me.

Honestly, life is actually quite empty without these two people around. They are my closest friends, although we dont communicate  much day by day. Knowing that they are now in best universities in the world pursuing highest education, I cant help but feeling desperate to do something of my own.

path

Ugh… all seem so boring. I like the idea of freelancing though. Becoming a freelance programmer especially, working from home or anywhere in the world 🙂

Haha… funny. I thought I would get inspiration after drawing the above.  But seeing it now, I dont feel like working at all. I want a life of my own, not following some well established route or simply fitting myself into a  common template. No offence to anyone though.

What should I do !!? Farming? Emulate David Blaine? Dedicate life to studying Go? Professional blogger? Peacemaker?

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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.

tsumego-400

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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