Some people like to type “lol” on msn when they are not actually laughing.

I find it kind of rude. It’s false advertisement.

I can assure you, every time I type “lol” or “haha” or one of the few hundred variants of them, I AM actually laughing :), at you or otherwise.


Beautiful Thursday afternoon.

Had lunch with Dr. Stocco at Mahony’s, and besides learning about his dark past (he had one glass too many :D), the part of the conversation I found most interesting is when he talked about how to become a prof.

Apparently, to become a prof at UBC, you need about 5 years of industry experience, and a PhD. The interview is 13 hours long, including talking to various people, giving a sample lecture to various people, and having lunch and dinner with various people. The most dangerous part is the dinner, at a nice restaurant, with a few bottles of wine on the table…

That aside. I think prof is a good job. Get to make fun of students, do some research, build some random things, have lots of free time, and make a lot of money.

I probably need to be a few times smarter, but hey, we can dream, right?

When there is a will, there is a way.

But then again, I change my life goal at about 50Hz.

He also told us that he usually charges $150-$200 an hour for consultation. And we can easily waste them a few hours in their offices, for free. We need to exploit them more.

And also, we got the top design mark (woohoo!) for our epic fail project.

“Finally someone who knows what they are talking about!”
— Konrad Walus, last project demo.

Turn Left or Turn Right? That’s the Question

You are going to the park for a run. The park has a somewhat circular track, and you enter perpendicular to the circumference.

Do you turn left or right?

I’ve always turned left, and I just realized today that, EVERYONE ELSE turns right. That’s why I’m always running in the opposite direction of everyone. Never have I passed anyone or have anyone passed me.

No one.

I usually come across ~5-6 people per lap (and say hi to exactly 1 of them), but never anyone in the same direction as me.

I like it this way. No competition, no comparisons, no passing.

The scenery is getting boring, though. Maybe I’ll try the other direction next time.

Or maybe one lap CW, one lap CCW… Then I can use it as a parity check. CW means even lap count, CCW means odd. Like ad and deuce sides in tennis.

Oh and,

7km! 3 more to go. 11 days till Sun Run. I think I have plenty of time :D.

My local park is getting boring, though. I need to find a new place to run.

I want to run along the south dike. Beautiful place. It’s kind of far away, though, which makes it kind of dangerous since I don’t like running with a cell phone, or anything electronic (apparently some people run with guns in the states… what kind of third world country is that!?).

Anyone want to join? =D

Felix Felicis

I have been an atheist all my life, but sometimes things happen that really make it hard to believe there is no higher being.

I think I’m getting WAY more than my share of luck.

It’s scary, in a good way.

Sometimes I would think about something nice. Something that I wish would happen, but would laugh it off as ridiculous the next second. Silly thoughts that I wouldn’t even bother telling people.

And then, somehow, it would just… happen. By some series of strange consequences, some obscure causal chain, it would just happen, without me doing anything but thinking about it. Everything just falls into place automagically.

It has happened quite a few times already. Big and small miracles.

No, I don’t believe in noetic theory (ability for the mind to do work on the outside world). And I didn’t hack the matrix and type in cheat codes.

Is someone slipping felix felicis into my pumpkin juice? I really need to pay you back, but please don’t stop =D

Perseverance, It’s a Good Thing(tm)

(noun) steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., esp. in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.

I think I’m losing much of it.

I really have changed.

Back then, I could spend hours everyday spamming the piano, or jump into freezing water everyday at 7am to practice for a meet (I’m a giant belly flopper =P), or coding for 8 hours straight everyday for 2 months (Project Brainless), or spending hours on Wikipedia reading about chess opening theories, or going to orchestra rehearsals every Saturday morning, and waking up at 5am for morning jogs.

Nowadays, I’ve gotten way too lazy. All the half finished projects. Always something more “interesting” coming along. And I end up not finishing anything. I’ve also deserted the piano and the saxophone, and half of my other hobbies, and just “be the rest of us” everyday.

I did a lot of crazy things in the past. But I don’t want to live in past tense.

There is no short of people doing crazy things around me, and I have a lot of respect for them.

I know someone who has composed STACKS of music, someone who owns a freakin store on facebook, someone who can probably play tetris blindfolded, someone who can successfully ask out and dump a girl 5 times before I even realize it, someone who has been making money and supporting his/her family since gr 8, someone who can draw Sailor Moon characters better than what you see on TV, someone who can make photo-realistic drawings using MS Paint pixel by pixel… the list goes on.

Coming to think of it, everyone is doing something crazy, in one way or another.

With all these great friends, I feel like I’m just tagging along. Not contributing my share of craziness to the world.

This will be changed. Starting this summer. I need to set goals for myself. As cliche as that sounds, I’ve never really done that. I’ll give it a try.

How about. La Campanella?

8 months. I know a few people who can probably master it while taking a dump, but for me it would be a feat. I need some practice with long jumps.

If I don’t follow up with it in 4 months, I’ve probably failed miserably. Feel free to laugh then :).

EDIT: link fixed.

I Have No Fear

nor socks, for that matter.

But I have no fear.

PIP exam is tomorrow, and come to think of it, it’s worth something like 10% of my average for this TERM.

And I’ve been slacking off all the time till now. And I don’t get half the stuff still.

And I have no fear. Don’t ask.

If not for all this self-convincing, I would have broken down a few too many times already.

I know I could’ve done fairly well if I spent a few hours studying for it. And I didn’t. It’s silly. Like skydiving. And now I’m probably going to fail this (Asian fail).

21 more hours, minus sleeping + pooing + eating + bus-ing + slacking off + writing this post + a bunch other things. I think I have plenty of time.


Segway Tiny

I didn’t want to write about this project I’ve been working on for the last few days because there is a significant chance that I will fail miserably, but what the heck =P

A robot that balances itself on 2 wheels. There’s quite a bit of literature online on this kind of robots, since it seems to be a very popular hobbyist project, and quite a few people have done and documented it (many more have failed =P).

Something like this –

Most implementations are very primitive, though. I’m aiming to go a little bit beyond that. In particular, I will make it remote controlled first (where the microcontroller will do the balancing still). And then I am thinking about installing an infrared distance sensor mounted on a servo motor so it will be able to take snapshots of its surroundings. With wheel encoders (to track the robot’s position), it should be able to map out a room or something. Not sure how that will work out, though. The motors will be changing direction all the time, with lots of slipping.

It’s a very ambitious project, especially since I have no idea about control theories at all =P.

The basic algorithm is very simple, though. Just make the motors move toward the direction the robot is falling. So it’s like trying to hold a long stick upright with your palm.

But then there are things like motor torque to worry about. Higher center of gravity = more stable, but requires higher torque from the motors. Also how to keep the robot still.

I am thinking just dv/dt = a*dtilt/dt + b*v.

The first term makes sure the robot is not falling, and the second term tries to minimize velocity by “over correcting”. Without the second term, the robot can be tilted at a constant angle (first term = 0), and moving at a constant velocity to maintain that angle. The second term will try to minimize that constant velocity.

That’s my theory anyways =P. Feel free to point out flaws.

Current design –
The weird looking thing is a NiMH battery pack (also working as the weight for this inverted pendulum). Not sure how high I want to hang it yet.

The back side
The IR distance sensor looks down at 45 degrees to determine tilt angle.

The base and platform are Sintra (PVC), and all the metal pieces are aluminum.

I’ve only built stuff out of cardboard and crazyglue before… so feel free to laugh :).

I’ve built most of it already, just waiting for motors and wheels to come in now. Had tons of fun with a jigsaw, drills, and shear. All for the first time!

And I also need to build the circuit, but that should be easy. Motor controller (H-Bridge) + atmega328P microcontroller + XBee (wireless module for both programming and serial communication with PC).

I can certainly use some help from a mechanical engineer here :D. As you can see, my mechanical engineering skills end at cardboard and crazyglue.

And I really don’t know why I’m spending all my time on this when I should be studying for the finals =P.

Hitchhiking Friends

Don’t you love it when, the moment your friend gets a bf/gf, they just start plain IGNORING you?

The power of love is unbelievable.

It’s like they have just found their whole new world, so screw you!

I guess the rest of us just have to “move on”, and find new friends. This is like hitchhiking. Hopping between friends. Never know when the captain of the ship is going to find out, and give your friend a gf/bf.

Is it the mating season now or something? I am running out of friends FAST.

Not everyone is like that. Some people remain friendly. That’s very respectable attention-management skills. I know I probably wouldn’t be able to do it if I get a gf.

If I get a gf, I promise I will DUCK =P.

Now accepting applications for new friends.

On a totally unrelated note,
I really don’t remember who told me this, but it has been stuck in my head for a LONGG while, and something that has consumed so much of my brain-time deserves to be written down for dear future me.

The thrill of skydiving comes from the realization, right after the moment you jump off the plane, that the plane was perfectly fine. It wasn’t going to crash. It didn’t catch on fire. It cannot be in any better shape.

And you just jumped out off it, for no reason at all, into the blue sky, with god knows what is going to catch you on the other end.


… needs no euphemism.

I have been following a cancer patient’s blog for the last few weeks, and it gets depressing.

Every post, every doctor visit, every recorded sensation, every day, and every minute delivers the same message – that his days are numbered. He has written his own obituary, picked his own grave, took a picture with his tombstone, planned out his funeral (on Google maps), and is hugging his daughters goodbye everyday.

Last easter, he was hoping to make it till thanksgiving. Last thanksgiving, he was hoping to make it till christmas. Last christmas, he was hoping to make it till easter.

I never found out if he did.

He usually updates his blog a few times a month, and he hasn’t updated since mid-march.

This is like… korean drama, for real. Except the purpose is not to engage the audience.

But come to think of it, at least he saw it coming. And other people, too.

When people die, we always think about things that we would have done differently, things that we would have said differently. Confess love, give free food, talk to them nicely, etc.

With a timed death, there won’t be any of that. Everything that should have been done could have been done. Everything that should have been said could have been said. There will be no regret.

Which would you prefer? Getting notified that you will be dead in some months, or just get hit by a car and die on a random beautiful afternoon with no warning, a lot of remorse from other people, and a lot of confessions that you would have gotten?

I don’t know.

I certainly don’t want to die now, but in 60-70 years, I may change my mind. Heck, I probably won’t make it anywhere NEAR that. I’ll be killed by a soldering iron WAY sooner.

Death seems so remote, but it happens all the time around us.

Be happy. Eat a squirrel.

In any case, don’t wait till I get cancer to tell me you love me =P just do it now so we will have time for some fun =D.

Also, don’t wait until I get cancer to tell me you hate me/you were the one who blackmailed me/ran off with my girlfriend. Just do it now so i can make sure you die before me=D!
— Cindy

I promise I’ll do the same, too*.

* void where prohibited by law.

He did.

Aug 03, 1970 – Apr 14, 2010
RIP Dave Sinkula

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

So this is it, the end of the Project Integrated Program, probably one of the funnest years of my life.

Not quite how I envisioned it to end (with a huge project failure), but an end nonetheless. I guess god has been way too nice to me till now, and wanted to balance things a bit to stop people from getting jealous.

I slept a total of 4 hours in the past 48. Didn’t leave the lab except to pee (across the hall) and eat (timmy’s across the street). With a crazy cold.

Very good design (even the Stocco agreed!), but… I guess shit happens. At least MY part worked, so I can sleep with relative ease. It’s way too easy to point fingers, so I won’t do that. I’ve always done quite a lot more than my equal share in the past, but I guess I got too lazy this time, and as a result some parts of this project weren’t even attempted.

We started with a failed project (module 1), 2 awesome projects (2 and 3), and another failed project. It has gone a full cycle.

At least we failed with dignity :).

When Stocco greeted us with “Ah, the dream team!” before the demo, I almost wished we hadn’t done as well in the past to have deserved this kind of expectation. When he saw that our circuit is still on a breadboard, his face said it all. We wanted to impress him more than anyone else.

I’m very jealous of groups that did make it. It was a very challenging project and we thought if anyone was going to make it, it would be us. How ignorant and arrogant of us.

Those were fun nights in the lab, though. Funny videos, chair racing, cursing at computer screens, blackboard doodling, and 3am SNOWING mcdonalds trips. Too bad no one joined me on my blackboard chess game (someone made a move after my King’s Gambit Accepted opening, though… still trying to figure out who that is).

It’s like an addiction. Every time after an all nighter, we all thought we would never do another one. Yet go back to it time after time.

So long, and thanks for all the fish.