company of three, black peppermint tea

Month: January, 2011


by car.

I don’t have any classes with youse who are on this blog. cept eng/ancient with cloud. (and bio with geoff) AND WHY AM I IN 11Z?!?!?! GOSH. Year 12 final roll call, people in the assembly will be sleeping before they even get to my name :'(


Today’s weather was horrible. As soon as you walk into the sun, the back of your legs BURN UP. It’s crazy. Tomorrow’s worse, apparently. I feel for those who might have to do the 1.6 tmrw (ie, Jenny’s sis). I am so glad we don’t have pe anymore.

FREES!! That shifty one on Thurs B LOL. It’s in period 8, but coz no other days has pd 8, it looks just like a normal day. but AHA! it’s a free (: Sneaky :P

We leave at 2:26pm on Thurs A guys! yayayayay

I’ve run out of things to say. I’m gonna work really hard this year to stay on top of my hw/assign. You know, the senior uniform really gives u that sense of… responsibility. You feel the need to work harder :L lol, it’s gonna take me a while to recognise everyone in their uniforms >.< In the shade, the guys’ uniform looks grey, and looks like the junior one again :P


THANKYOU KERRIE FOR MY AWESOME PRESENT :D i shall make great use of it!! oh dear, one more way to procrastinate :(

end of the tennis season. boo.

by bezzle

Go Novak Djokovic!  No more Jim Courier :(  AND AND Henri Leconte is awesome.

School tomorrow!  And only one more month of summer…

I finished an iOS game two days ago, a turn-based RPG called Ash.  Anyway, it was really good!  I got it for free (it’s $5.99) and I’m a casual gamer and haven’t played RPGs much.  But I found it very simple to play and control, and the plot was interesting and mysterious!  The dialogue was also very witty but heartfelt and made the story better.  And there was a twist and a cliffhanger at the end.  The ending is so sweet, in a sad way ._.  So I can’t wait for Ash 2!  The only suggestion I have for the developers is to add a quest guide that remembers what the player has to do, i.e. ‘travel to southwestern caves’ or ‘find Village Elder’, because I’m forgetful, especially after I’ve left the game for a while.

Speaking of iOS I remember Claudia once posted something about how the App Store is unorganised and drives people to jailbreak their apps.  I totally agree with the unorganised part (not so sure about it driving people to hack their iPods though.  I think that’s just because they don’t want to pay >.>) and it is such a pain searching/browsing the app store.  To find a specific app you have to get the exact name, and the categories are filled with apps that shouldn’t be there, such as a fashion game that was under ‘music games’.

Got my dose of retail therapy today!  Went to Granville for yumcha again (and tried to unsuspiciously avoid the trolley lady’s gaze when she came by our table) and I think it’s both good and bad that Chinese restaurants all serve the same dishes at yumcha – it’s easier to order stuff and you know what’s on offer – but there aren’t many unique dishes.  I can’t think of any.

I hate it when…I’m brushing my teeth, and my hand slips and the head of my toothbrush hits my gums and leaves a cut and hurts like billy-o.  And you know the cut’s going to turn into an ulcer.  And then it does, and you can’t complain to your mum because she’ll just say it’s your fault for eating too much fried/spicy food and ban you from eating any more.  And it’s all because your hand slipped while you were brushing your teeth.


by cloudier

  • I love ads which feature employees playing with their inventory to come up with new appliance and electronic concoctions that make them dorkily excited (via)

Attracting attention by having a pretty front-end is important, as it makes the user want to use the product. They are attracted to it just as they are attracted to a beautiful person. The first glance establishes a relationship with the user. Pretty graphics seem to say, “Hi, I appeal to your senses; don’t you want to interact with me?” They make the first experience with the application a pleasant one.

So once we’ve got the user’s attention, we need to hold it. Keeping him distraction-free will allow him to reach a state of flow: a state in which he is immersed into his work with the application and in which he feels happy just by doing the task. When in a state of flow, you leave self-consciousness for what it is and no longer think of your individual self but are fully focused on your task. A sense of joy takes over, your mind is entirely devoted to the task, time seems to go slower and everything around you fades into the background.

So where do graphics fit into this story? Do they help in facilitating a state of flow?

Why yes, they do! One example of this is the rounded rectangle. Often considered as “mere decoration” when used in a UI, they apparently also have a lower cognitive impact than regular rectangles. Credit for uncovering this to the greater public goes to Keith Lang in this article on rounded rectangles. Windows 3.1 style graphics, which are still used in some applications to this day, are harsh, full of visual obstacles and hard to scan. The obstacles, like big borders with sharp edges, constantly interrupt the eyes’ movement across the screen, making it hard to navigate the application.

Subtle gradients and “soft edges” (created by subtle drop shadows or embossing) lighten the visual impact of the screen on the user, making it actually easier to use. But that’s just one small part of the whole.


A police officer and divorced mother of three, Kathyrn Bolkovac was looking for a fresh start when she signed up as a UN peacekeeper in Bosnia. But when she began to investigate the local trafficking of young girls into prostitution, all the evidence pointed to those she worked alongside.

In the first week of October, 16 young women arrived at the local IPTF station in Doboj, the oldest city in Bosnia. They were originally from Moldova, Ukraine, Romania, Croatia, Bosnia and Belarus, and had been found after police raided a local bar. Most of the women gave separate, detailed reports of local and international police who frequented the bar as their clients. They described specific identifying features: gold teeth, jewellery, uniforms, tattoos and first names.

This was the single largest case implicating IPTF we had yet documented, and I suggested we conduct a photo lineup. Positive identification of IPTF monitors who were frequenting brothels would send a strong message to mission officials and all IPTF members that these were serious charges.

The next morning, I turned on my computer to find an email from a senior official. The email was sent to me and approximately 120 others, most of whom were American DynCorp monitors. It said there had been a raid on “some houses of ill repute” and that a “few ladies of the evening” had been taken into custody. And: “I have been informed that several descriptions were given of ‘American IPTF’ monitors… Apparently, photo lineups will be made available to the ‘witnesses’.”

My head was spinning. Did an officer just leak confidential information on the particulars of a case – to the suspects in the case? They might as well have entitled the email: “Get your alibis in order, everyone!” Shortly after, the case was pulled. Nobody could tell me why. I was livid. Why was I being paid taxpayer dollars to collect evidence I was then forced to suppress? Why should trafficked women risk their lives coming to the IPTF and give us information when we were not going to do anything with it?


by cloudier

What if your brain knew something but couldn’t tell you? New research suggests that this is exactly what may be behind two rather curious conditions.

Most of us are familiar with people who are tune deaf – these are the people who not only cannot sing in tune but are also unaware of that fact. Individuals with severe forms of this condition, known as amusia, are unable to detect whether particular notes within a melody are out of tune or out of key. Many are also unable to recognise melodies without lyrics or to hold a tune in their heads, even if they have just heard it. These difficulties arise despite normal hearing and also a fairly normal ability to hear the difference between isolated tones. The defect lies in connecting this sensory input with some implicit knowledge of musical structure and contours. Amusia thus falls into a class of conditions known as agnosias, which are characterised by the lack of knowledge of some, often very specific, category of object.

Another, equally curious, example of this class of condition is prosopagnosia – the lack of knowledge of faces. People with severe prosopagnosia may be completely unable to recognise the faces of famous people, friends, loved ones, even their own faces. As with amusia, this reflects a high-level deficit – people with prosopagnosia have normal vision and the ability to distinguish specific facial features, gender, even facial emotions. Both conditions thus seem to reflect the inability to link incoming sensory information (a person’s face or a specific note) with stored, implicit knowledge about that category (the person’s identity or a specific melody or general rules of melodic stucture).

At least, that is how the defects manifest at a behavioural level. It had been predicted that this defect would also be apparent in the normally highly selective responses of brain areas that are specialised for processing music or faces. Yet recent experiments suggest that the underlying defect lies not in the responses of these specialised areas, which are still highly selective, but in how these responses are communicated to higher brain centres.

These companies commonly claim that skin absorbs their products when, in fact, collagen molecules are far too big for this to happen. Instead, they sit on the face’s surface until they’re rubbed off or washed away.

Not only are scientists saying these claims are codswallop, they’ve also voted them their biggest pet hate, in a survey by charity Sense About Science.

Imagine, just for a moment, that you are aboard a spaceship equipped with a magical engine capable of accelerating you to any arbitrarily high velocity. This is absolutely and utterly impossible, but it turns out it’ll be okay, for reasons you’ll see in a second.

Because you know your engine can push you faster than the speed of light, you have no fear of black holes. In the interest of scientific curiosity, you allow yourself to fall through the event horizon of one. And not just any black hole, but rather a carefully chosen one, one sufficiently massive that its event horizon lies quite far from its center. This is so you’ll have plenty of time between crossing the event horizon and approaching the region of insane gravitational gradient near the center to make your observations and escape again.

As you fall toward the black hole, you notice some things which strike you as highly unusual, but because you know your general relativity they do not shock or frighten you. First, the stars behind you — that is, in the direction that points away from the black hole — grow much brighter. The light from those stars, falling in toward the black hole, is being blue-shifted by the gravitation; light that was formerly too dim to see, in the deep infrared, is boosted to the point of visibility.

Simultaneously, the black patch of sky that is the event horizon seems to grow strangely. You know from basic geometry that, at this distance, the black hole should subtend about a half a degree of your view — it should, in other words, be about the same size as the full moon as seen from the surface of the Earth. Except it isn’t. In fact, it fills half your view. Half of the sky, from notional horizon to notional horizon, is pure, empty blackness. And all the other stars, nearly the whole sky full of stars, are crowded into the hemisphere that lies behind you.

As you continue to fall, the event horizon opens up beneath you, so you feel as if you’re descending into a featureless black bowl. Meanwhile, the stars become more and more crowded into a circular region of sky centered on the point immediately aft. The event horizon does not obscure the stars; you can watch a star just at the edge of the event horizon for as long as you like and you’ll never see it slip behind the black hole. Rather, the field of view through which you see the rest of the universe gets smaller and smaller, as if you’re experiencing tunnel-vision.

Finally, just before you’re about to cross the event horizon, you see the entire rest of the observable universe contract to a single, brilliant point immediately behind you. If you train your telescope on that point, you’ll see not only the light from all the stars and galaxies, but also a curious dim red glow. This is the cosmic microwave background, boosted to visibility by the intense gravitation of the black hole.

And then the point goes out. All at once, as if God turned off the switch.

You have crossed the event horizon of the black hole.

Focusing on the task at hand, knowing that you have limited time before you must fire up your magical spaceship engine and escape the black hole, you turn to your observations. Except you don’t see anything. No light is falling on any of your telescopes. The view out your windows is blacker than mere black; you are looking at non-existence. There is nothing to see, nothing to observe.

You know that somewhere ahead of you lies the singularity … or at least, whatever the universe deems fit to exist at the point where our mathematics fails. But you have no way of observing it. Your mission is a failure.

Disappointed, you decide to end your adventure. You attempt to turn your ship around, such that your magical engine is pointing toward the singularity and so you can thrust yourself away at whatever arbitrarily high velocity is necessary to escape the black hole’s hellish gravitation. But you are thwarted.

Your spaceship has sensitive instruments that are designed to detect the gradient of gravitation, so you can orient yourself. These instruments should point straight toward the singularity, allowing you to point your ship in the right direction to escape. Except the instruments are going haywire. They seem to indicate that the singularity lies all around you. In every direction, the gradient of gravitation increases. If you are to believe your instruments, you are at the point of lowest gravitation inside the event horizon, and every direction points “downhill” toward the center of the black hole. So any direction you thrust your spaceship will push you closer to the singularity and your death.

This is clearly nonsense. You cannot believe what your instruments are telling you. It must be a malfunction.

But it isn’t. It’s the absolute, literal truth. Inside the event horizon of a black hole, there is no way out. There are no directions of space that point away from the singularity. Due to the Lovecraftian curvature of spacetime within the event horizon, all the trajectories that would carry you away from the black hole now point into the past.

In fact, this is the definition of the event horizon. It’s the boundary separating points in space where there aretrajectories that point away from the black hole from points in space where there are none.

Your magical infinitely-accelerating engine is of no use to you … because you cannot find a direction in which to point it. The singularity is all around you, in every direction you look.

And it is getting closer.

i’m sorry monfils

by bezzle

but Wawrinka has such a beautiful backhand.

P.S. I like your hair.