Breaking Friendship Down

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Oftentimes I wonder what it means to be a friend. Is it talking daily? Sharing details of our lives that nobody else would know? Or is it things that parents would disown us for? Or being there for one another? I don’t know where to start ranting about the so-called ‘friends’ I’ve made. I wouldn’t name names but I know who they are. I try not to hold it against them but I can’t help but wonder if I’m just another face in the crowd for them, another person to lean on when needed and forget when another serves the purpose. What is it that makes you claim that a friend is truly one? I have yet to find an answer to this. But based on experience with the five I know, I can conclude it’s about being there when needed. It’s not about blind support for another – it’s about holding a meaningful discussion – even if your best friend is an atheist or Satanist and you’re a religious nut. It doesn’t matter who we are or how polarised our thoughts. We look out for each other all the time. and I think sometimes that’s all that matters.

The Cool Kids’ Guide to the Internet

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Stumbled across this video this morning; had to share!

When I first got onto the internet, it was in 1999 (I think). I made my first email account (which is still active!) on Hotmail, used Yahoo! for search (sorry Google, I didn’t even know anything about you), and downloaded tons of game demos (eh, not really!) and got every single possible cheat code for a game that was possible. We didn’t have Facebook, Orkut, YouTube, Myspace, Gmail with 1GB storage space (Hotmail gave us 2MB, IIRC. My essential emails tally up to at least 500MB today!), or Twitter. I didn’t have the luxury of being able to make a phone call to a relative while talking to a distant friend online while arguing with a stranger on the internet while watching cat videos. I’d be the happiest person if the connection held up for six hours without someone wanting to make a call. I’d go crazy if my USRobotics 56K High-speed modem would connect at 49.2Kbps (that’s about 5 kilobytes per second, or a tad over three minutes for 1MB), but I was fine with the regular 42/48Kbps as well. Sometimes it’d connect at 50.6Kbps and I would never want it to disconnect – an emergency call can wait! And it wasn’t always-on. We couldn’t keep our computers on stand-by and instantly whip up results. We listened to dubstep to connect to the internet. Listening to a slowed down version today, I find that it was actually extreme speed metal (like 15k bpm or something) with whale song thrown in for good measure. Reminds me of Gojira’s ‘Whale Song’.

My top three websites were Hotmail, Kids Domain, and any website with Flash (it was called Shockwave back then?) games. Kids Domain had all these little games that my 10yo-self loved. I found Army Men from there, and also Greatest Paper Airplanes (arguably one of the greatest pieces of software EVER made). Unfortunately I don’t think it’s up anymore. : Shockwave was my favourite source for Flash games, followed closely by Lego and Cartoon Network. I used to do research (if you can call it that) to know if there was a way to download these games to my computer so I didn’t have to wait for them to load each time I wanted to play them. 🙂 Spyhunter and Stormrunner were some of the best Lego games I played. Unfortunately Lego took them down, but I know you can find them online if you look hard enough. They were amazing.

I even had my own website! I was doing Javascript programming before I even knew programming! Haha! 😀 (Look at that site! Embarassment! :P)

Today, though, it’s a whole new world. You have gigabit internet, wireless internet, YouTube, Soundcloud, Twitter, Facebook, Orkut, Myspace, Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo!, torrent files, simultaneous phone and web surfing… We didn’t get ADSL at home until 2010. Prices were prohibitively expensive to afford one at home. But that was how Kuwait was. Things’ve changed now. But I learned some things with dial-up and the ‘early’ (not ARPANET, obviously) internet that today’s internet cannot teach me – patience and satisfaction, the lesson that in life you can’t always get what you want. You get three wishes and not one more. Army Men’s demo was 100MB. It took me six hours (left overnight) to download and I played the hell out of it, and I loved it to bits. Today I can download gigabytes in that span of time (or even more if I have a faster connection) and I wouldn’t even think about it after a while.

That was my age of the internet. *sigh* The nostalgia of those days. But hey, you’ll never be as cool as us – the kids with the 450MHz Pentium III, 128MB RAM, 56K modem, 20GBHDD and working floppy drive computer.

Now, if you’ll excuse me…*cue dial-up dubstep*

My FOOBAR Schedules

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Ever since taking up experiments in the art of studying in college to find one that suits me well, I’ve been plagued by many (often necessary) failures. I’ve made many schedules, all of them wildly different from the other and yet, towards the end of the semester, I’d resort to one tried and true method for finals: the last night. This is the night where you have a one night stand with your textbooks – treating them like they are your world, knowing them intimately, passionately (eh, not always!), not because you want to, but you need to.

Here’s a sample schedule I’d made for four years in college in my first month there:

4.30a: Alarm Clock

6.00a: Read up for the day

7.30a: Breakfast

8.30a: Prep for college

4.30p: Tea

5.00p: Homework

7.30p: Dinner

8.30p: Study

10.00p: Facebook

11.00p: Sleep

Worst. Schedule. Ever.

I never followed it. The rigidity wouldn’t let me focus on tasks at hand, at all. If I was a machine, yes, it could work (one hour for Facebook, really?). So it’s last night studying again.

Fast forward four years later and I’m slightly better at handling myself. Thanks to websites like Coursera, edX, Codecademy and others, I’ve been able to force myself to study better. In addition, I learned about the Scrum software development framework much more recently. It put a lot of things into perspective.

I have a lot of interests (and not just surface level interests, I gorge on details!) and it’s hard to keep a tab on one. I don’t want to end up a jack of all trades and master of none, at least not now. I want to focus on one task at hand, learn it until it becomes second nature to me and then move on.

Which brings me to my new schedule. I am learning a lot of new things everyday (Java, STL, Python, Ruby, CL, HTML, CSS etc, in addition to more artsy stuff). However I’m finding it difficult to learn everything all at once. I thought alternating languages would be a good idea, but nope, that didn’t work either. So now I’m going to extend the run to a week (remember I told you I read about Scrum?) for each new technology, or maybe two weeks and at most a month. I’ll get a feel for each new thing learnt a lot better, I guess.

Right now, I’m focusing on web development until the next month.

Hopefully this plan doesn’t go FUBAR. 😉

Looking Outside Inside

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I’ve been going through a collection of photos I’d backed up and forgotten about, for the past hour and I’ve been thinking (as we all do right before sleeping): is it really possible to forget after forgiving? After all the time the wool’s been pulled over your eyes and now – caught in the branches of Truth – blinded by the light, is it really possible to turn things around and put it all behind, without pretending or having that feeling that ‘hold on, something’s not right’?