Friday, February 25, 2005

My pull buoy

Originally uploaded by Through the looking glass, darkly.

I recently picked up swimming again when I moved to my current place (there's a swimming pool behind the house).

I was slowly building up my physical condition and beginning to feel at home in the water. After a few months now, it just felt like I haven't improved much.

I need a coach. Well the next best thing, I figured, is to follow online coaching. So I found a few websites with tips on how to build endurance, how to achieve good swimming posture, how to isolate either your legs or arms during the drills.

So, I bought my very first pull buoy :) It's funny that I learned how to swim not having these buoyancy aids; and only to discover their usefulness much later.

My goal is to be a competent swimmer; as competent as an amateur runner who is capable of completing a marathon. At 24 it is too late to harbor dream of becoming an Olympic swimmer or a world record holder ;) I'd settle for having a good time challenging my body.

Attention Deficit Disorder (Life post-Google)

Lately I have felt more restless than I have in the past few months. Not the kind of washed-out feeling I felt earlier, but the kind of I-need-to-move-on urge that takes away concentration from the current task.

A typical evening for me after getting home from work would be as follows: swimming, preparing dinner, eating dinner while surfing for news on the 'Net. Perhaps it's the hypertext nature of the Net that encourages wandering, but boy, wander I do!

There are always online technical articles I'd be reading first; but I never usually finish reading them before something else catches my attention. It's usually a piece of music playing on my XMMS whose lyrics I'd like to look up, followed by similar songs by the same artist. At this point I'd go back to the first article I read, and sometime later my thought would wander off, associating certain ideas in the articles with some people or some topic I have thought about in the past. And off I fired up Google to search that topic. (A good measure of how long a person's attention span lasts could be obtained if Google were to log individual users and their search terms and their exact timing of search.)

The Google search would then yield some more interesting articles to read, which I'd read halfway and bookmark for future reading. And then I'd go through my bookmarks to see which past articles I should read then... and on and on it went until my thought returned to the project I was working on at the office.

One day, in my wandering about the labyrinth of the Internet, I found a link to ADD studies, and took the mini Do-you-suffer-from-ADD test there. I swear I answered honestly, though at the back of my mind there's a little bell that rang in alarm when the questions asked describe my life in the past few weeks perfectly, and lo and behold, I scored 30 (out of God knows how many) when a score of 25+ would be enough indicator of ADD likelihood.

Oh shit. Relax, i told myself. That anxiety quickly went away, followed by a further wandering about the Internet until I doze off for the night. And for a while, I wish for the blissful pre-Google life, where an evening could be spent reading a book with no distraction at all.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Sysadmin blues

I really thought those days were over. I was naive of course; the job of maintaining the PCs in the company is primarily mine although I'd like to think of "my machines" as comprising of our 2 Linux machines and my own windoze workstation.

Well, well. This week, one (or more!) of our windoze PCs have been sending automated requests to (constituting a DOS-pattern) and consequently our IP got banned by Google. Unfortunately, or fortunately, Google also blocks the NUS proxy IP, effectively blocking access to Google for the entire university population. Oh what horrors, all those students trying to find research materials or ready-made papers-for-sale online; all those research staff trying to do their job— suddenly cut off from their lifeline.

Really. When does Internet search become our lifeline? It's astounding how technology stealthily crept into our lives and quickly made itself indispensable. I suppose, other things must have been displaced from our lives just as stealthily too. This is something all companies need to look out for; we lounge about too long and our fate could be no worse than the dinosaurs of old.

Backtracking. Now all our machines' IP have been blocked. Will have to resolve the situation quickly; working with our campus sysadmins who are: (1) angry at us, no doubt, (2) stiff-nerdy-folks who are stingy with information.

Perfect day to begin the week of Lent :)