Back to the Sea

March 11, 2010

6 years – that is the amount of time which I have not kayaked for. To my yearning spirit of adventure, this may very well be equivalent to an eternity. Due to a series of events which almost broke me down emotionally, I had given up many things – kayaking being among them.

Recently, I’ve found a friend who is interested in trying out kayaking. Having company is a much-needed push for me to get back into the club, even if it means I have to go back all the way to 1-star. In fact, restarting from the basics may even benefit me, seeing how I probably lost my edge during this long period of stagnancy.

Why I’m afraid of going back to the club by myself is even beyond me – after all, I went through my 1, 2 and 3 star courses without any company. Instead, I made friends from scratch at the club, with the exception of the 4-star course, which I went through with Eddy and many people I already knew. Maybe I’m just too used to avoiding meeting strangers since NS. In any case, I’m going back to kayaking and I really look forward to it.

Tinfoil Mayhem

December 14, 2009

While hungrily taking a second bite out of a sandwich on Sunday, I realized that the sandwich had a piece of aluminium foil lining one side of it. To my horror, I discovered that a piece of that foil was gone, which meant I had accidentally ingested it on my first bite.

For the next 30 hours or so, I had been taking laxatives and running to the bathroom, hoping desperately for the piece of MF foil to pass out. In the meantime, I ran a fever, which I’m not surprised could be caused by the ingested foil. I’ll skip all the disgusting crappy details. Let’s just say that I was awfully glad when that thing finally came out (I saw it. And no, I didn’t search for it explicitly).

Pathfinding Woes

December 2, 2009

Having wrote an optimized (by my standards) A* pathfinding library to be used for my planned game, I was excited to see how it would perform on the Xbox 360. Its performance on the PC is rather satisfactory, at an average of 1ms for searching a 40×40 grid on my Intel 2.8GHz CPU. However, when I ran the same code on the 360, the results were totally shocking. In a bad way.

It took the Xbox 1 second just to perform 100 iterations, where 1000 iterations could be performed on my PC! After verifying that the pathfinding code was indeed heap-allocation-free, I concluded that the Xbox’s CPU just can’t run branch-intensive code as well as on the PC, so something else had to be done. There’s no way I can allocate about 10ms of my precious 16ms game-cycle just for a single game entity to find its stupid path around the map. That’s when I remember that the 360 has 2 additional cores for me to tap into.

After fiddling with the Thread.SetProcessorAffinity method and the WaitHandle class, I’ve came up with a consumer-producer thread architecture which I could actually dump my pathfinding requests to. The only remaining issue is that it still takes about 2 game cycles (33ms) to find paths for 3 entities on a 40×40 grid, unless I allocate another hardware thread for a second pathfinder. That’s not too big an issue though, and it might get ironed out if I get lucky at being able to optimize the pathfinding code even further.

I won’t be uploading my pathfinding library onto Skydrive, but if anyone happens to be interested, leave me a comment.

Caught By My Past

October 20, 2009

Attending my secondary school gathering last Friday may seem like a good move at first. I caught up with my ex-classmates, got the chance to socialize, and even got to feel 10 years younger too. The gathering itself was enjoyable. However, it brought me back to the past so that.. the past could catch up with me.

Let’s just say that reminiscing the past has the nasty side-effect of reminding me about all sorts of things that happened in between my secondary school days and just before the NS era. More specifically, the events between the second year of Polytechnic and before NS. Lots of things happened during that period that made me the way I am today. Happy, sad – you name it. What’s so painful is that I still can’t cope with the fact that I can ever relive that period of time, so I decided to just shell myself up and just avoid touching on anything related to that era. That’s probably why I appear emotionally-distant at times.

Maybe it was the socializing part that night which brought me out of my “shell”, or maybe I have been thinking too much. Whatever it is, it’s a horrible feeling. It feels like I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and can’t find my way back. I don’t really know how to continue with this post which I know is very lame, but that’s the way I feel.

Kiwi is as Adorable as Ever

August 22, 2009

Foreign Languages

August 13, 2009

Recently, I seem to have taken an interest to the Russian language and culture. I don’t know why, I guess it’s the same kind of thing that happens when you get an unexplainable crush on another person. So, I was like contemplating on signing up for some Russian language course when I got a very demotivating kind of feeling. After doing some soul-searching, so as to speak, I think I’ve figured out why.

In the past, I’ve tried picking up almost a handful of languages, from both classes and the Internet. The first foreign language I’ve ever picked up was Brazilian Portuguese. Using a wide variety of Internet resources, and with the help of a Brazilian friend, I slowly got a loose hang of the language. I knew simple vocabulary and could form sentences in Brazilian Portuguese. That was like about 1 decade ago. Eventually, that friend of mine lost access to the Internet for some reason, we lost contact, and I lost the chance to communicate to anyone in Brazilian Portuguese. In time, I lost the language (almost) entirely.

During my Polytechnic days, I took a basic French course. At the end of the course, I passed the oral and written test and even got a certificate for it. I decided not to opt for the intermediate course, due to time constraint and my desire to learn French independently. Well, guess what happened – without anyone to communicate with, more and more vocabulary began to slip out of my mind until what I remember is just a little more than “Oui” and “Non”. I had a couple of chances to exercise my French – once with a French girl from my kayaking course, and once with a French baker (I got some free muffins from her just by saying ‘Merci’ instead of ‘Thanks’). Oh yes, another occasion which I managed to speak French was during my holiday to Vietnam, when I encountered this French couple who could not understand English, and I played translator between them and their English-speaking tour guide. Well, that’s it for all my French practice.

A couple of years ago, I took up a Thai course. I was really into Thailand then, and in fact, I visited Thailand twice that year and thrice the year after. The last time I stepped into Thailand was in June last year. Phuket. So, it’s been technically more than a year since I’ve last gone to Thailand (and essentially spoken Thai), right? Guess what, I think 50% of the language has gone “poof!” from my brain.

See the pattern up here? My point is.. Learning foreign languages is rather useless, unless you have a pen-pal whom you communicate with using that particular language, make frequent trips to a country which speaks that language, or watch/listen to lots of videos/songs which is in that language. Otherwise, it’s more-or-less doomed to be forgotten. For my current situation, well, I don’t think it’s worth learning Russian.