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No one cares about your personal journal

Personal journal do not serve anyone but yourself. It’s selfish, possibly self-absorbed writing.

Why?

No one cares about what you have for breakfast.

No one cares about what you have for lunch.

No one cares about what you have dinner.

No one cares about your daily life because it’s just like everyone else. Mundane, average, meaningless.

No one cares about how you feel or think about certain things because you are not a celebrity. You are not marketable, sellable or popular.

You are a fucking nobody.

It’s harsh but it’s the truth.

Whatever I have written over the past few months has only one purpose.

It’s to help me.

Help me find my way in life.

Help me understand myself better.

Help me put down my thoughts into words—to set it in stone if you will.

It has another use. It’s to help improve my own writing overall as a friend had noted.

But does it help anyone else? No. Not to my knowledge anyway.

What you should do instead is to write for an audience. Write something that you know about, think about or have tried that will help someone. That’s what it means by being authentic.

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The Victorious

Author’s Note: This story was submitted previously for Golden Point Award 2011 but never manage to win anything.

Every hour, turquoise-green inverted funnel-like pseudo-structures would appear in space, fifty thousand kilometers from Earth. It was the tearing of space during the opening of a hyperspace window. In the third millennium, such was a common sight. If anyone were to peer in closely through the hole at the center of the structure, past the fury display of ultra-hot multi-colored plasma streaks, they would see a massive tunnel enclosed within a cylindrical pure opalescent blue wall with sliver of white streaks running along the surface. A dark speck could be seen in the middle within seconds of the opening of such window. As soon as one would open his mouth and say ‘A’, the dark speck within would be thrown out at high-hypersonic speeds before the window closed in a dwindling display of whitish-blue light before dissipating into nothingness. Upon materialization in real-space in fractions of a second, this dark speck would grow into spaceships. They came in a variety, ranging from ovoid shapes of fifty meters long to the mammoth oblong rectangles of a kilometer long, five hundred meters tall and forty deep.

One such window opened one-point-four-five million kilometers from Earth, just a short distance from Lagrangian point 1. This window was slightly larger than the average and was of a slightly darker turquoise-emerald color. A short time later, a massive oblong rectangular, almost trapezoid, object shot through the window. The object was a massive ship of nearly one-point-five kilometers long with dark, radar-absorbing paint on its hull. Along the lower section of the hull, almost at the mid-point of the ship’s length, were words painted in white: Victorious, Behemoth-class. White ionized flames shot out of the hundreds of maneuvering thrusters situated along Victorious’s hull while the sixteen rear cone-shaped thrusters reduced their output of ionized flames. A short time later, Victorious came to a complete halt.

The Victorious was the Terran Federation’s premier battleship. As its christened name suggested, it always emerged victorious in any battle it was engaged in. Its tens of missile pods, zero-point energy cannons and MacroLaser turrets would ensure of that. Its Cyclonic-Slapper shield and point-defense systems would ensure no enemy weapons even get close enough to damage the ultra-thick superstructure. Powered by six zero-point engines with four more in reserve, the Victorious’s sublight speed could hit point-six that of light speed and was the fastest battleship known in this sector of space. Its six oversized hyperspace drive cores provided the Victorious the ability to travel hundreds of light years in a single opening of the hyperspace window; most ships would have to drop out of hyperspace after every one hundred light years to ensure their hyperspace drive cores don’t overheat and suffered irreparable damage. Most enemy commanders who encountered the Victorious in the field would initiate a full retreat. Stubborn enough commanders who chose to fight usually never saw the light of the next day again. The ships belonging to these commanders would be obliterated till there weren’t any parts left to salvage or return home.
Due to its legendary status, even with Terran Federation’s military, everyone thought that the captain was some old man with a massive wealth of combat experience. Adding to the mystery was that no one ever saw the true face of the captain, except for Victorious’s seven hundred crewmembers and some of the top officials in the government who kept the Victorious captain’s identity a state secret. Little did they know that at the helm was in fact an eighteen-year-old named Brandon Barrowsky, the Terran Federation President’s second son.

Brandon was standing by the window of the recreational deck when Victorious dropped out of hyperspace, staring out at the vast space. Space around was mostly black with the exception of the light from the Sun and the trade ships that shuttled hundreds of tons of goods between the thousands of colonized worlds of the Terran Federation. If Brandon was looking out for any ship around Victorious, he would find none. There were no other ships within two hundred kilometers of Victorious as many feared it. But that doesn’t mean that it was all alone in this universe. There were many other military ships of similar sizes and equally powerful but none were within range. Most of them were docked at the military outpost. The outpost was a two hundred kilometer wide at its center, a hundred kilometers tall and fifty kilometers structure in a geosynchronous orbit around Earth, servicing countless number of military ships, ranging from resupplies to repairs.

He turned his head gently when he heard footsteps approaching from behind. Once Brandon’s eyes registered who the person was, he recognized the person immediately. The person was a teenager about his age, about the same height as he was at five-foot-seven, with skinny long arms and a handsome, boyish face and dirty blond hair. Every facial feature on the face was placed apart at an optimal distance. He was in fact Brandon’s older twin brother, Jayden.

“Hey, lil’ bro!” Jayden greeted as he raised his hand.

“Hey, what are you doing here?” Brandon asked with a slight irritation in his voice before he turned his attention to the vast black space again.

“Just checking on you. You seemed a little off the whole week.” Jayden said as he approached closer, standing beside Brandon. “Do you want to tell me what’s wrong or do I have to pry it out your head?”

“I’m alright. I just miss home that’s all. I miss the meals that we have together as a family with mom and dad. I’m tired too.”
“Oh, I know how you feel. I’m feeling exactly the same way but—“

Brandon interrupted before Jayden could finish his sentence, “I know we are twins but there’s this difference. I don’t handle such situation with such coolness.”

Jayden bit his lips together and his eyes went shifty. He was suddenly embarrassed by the fact he had to be reminded that his twin brother had this slight difference. He went closer and hugged his brother as he always did whenever his brother was feeling down. And it usually cheered Brandon up. So this time wasn’t any different.

Then the communication devices which hung by their ears began beeping. The communication device was a two centimeter oblong black rectangle a hook at one end, which was used to hook securely to the ear. The two brothers tapped the small button on their respective devices and blue translucent holographic strips appeared in front of their eyes. A turquoise sine wave appeared in each of the strip, signaling that this was a voice-only communication.

“What is it?” the brothers asked in unison.

“Captain Barrowskies, the Chief Admiral is ready to receive,” a husky voice said on the other end. The twins recognized the voice immediately for it belonged to the Chief Communication Officer of the Victorious, a thirty-five-year-old man, Lieutenant John Caviar, who served on the Victorious for the whole of his military life.

“Roger that,” the brothers replied in unison. “Transport us down.”

“Activating Transportation Beam,” John replied.

A few seconds later, the fabric of space-time around each of the twins began to loop onto itself, slowing down time drastically. Objects began to blueshift as photons’ wavelength began to decrease. A small fraction of a second later, they soon found themselves encased in an opalescent ovoid, almost diamond-like exotic energy lattice. It resembled a bird cage made out of pure blue energy. Occasionally, milky-white streaks of energy surged through the empty spaces between the skinny poles of the lattice. Then each pole rapidly widen, merging with its neighbors. And when it was over, each of the twins found himself in a solid and opaque ovoid, almost diamond-like case with opalescent surfaces, which soon rapidly took on darker shades of blue until they became black. It all happened within a second. At quantum level, the wave function which represented the physical location of each of the twins’ quantum lattice—which itself represented all the molecules and their quantum states that defined each person—was transposed. The transposition of the wave function resulted in the swapping of the object’s physical location in real space. When the location swap completed, the process reversed. That was when the twins found themselves in a brown octagonal, tubular room.

The twins didn’t need to study the room as they knew where they were: The Federation Central Fleet Command Transport/Receiver Room. It was where all the transportation of personnel and receiving incoming transportation took place if one was to meet the Chief Admiral of the Federal Space Navy. They were standing on a raised white hexagon platform with three-step stairs protruding out from the middle of each side. Overhead, the polylight strips gave the room a warm white glow and with the white walls, the room took on an ultra modern look. Two Federal military soldiers, dressed in their dark and dull combat exosuits, stood guard by the side of the arch doorway with their gauss automatic carbines pointed at the ceiling and their facial expressions didn’t seemed to reveal anything. They were all straight faced however at the sight of any threat appearing on the transportation platform, they would spring into action without hesitation. The soldiers posted to this facility were of the best from wherever they came from. These soldiers were also further given the Federation’s best genetic modifications therapy to further boost their already superior reaction time, combat abilities, healing and regeneration, and strength prior to their postings. Unlike conventional soldiers, these soldiers were trained to deflect any attempts at telepathic influence or attack. Even the most powerful telepaths on this side of the galaxy could only maintain up to four telepathic influential connections to these soldiers. And that was with extremely intense mental concentration. After thirty minutes, the telepath would either burn out or die from excessive brain hemorrhage.

The twins stepped down from the platform and that was when a man dressed in the Federal Navy’s standard blue uniform came in and greeted them. Genetic modification allowed the man to stay in his late thirties and maintain a slim profile, hiding the actual age of late sixties. His hair had no trace of any whites or grays and was cut to the standard military length. There too weren’t any wrinkles and he was still as suave as the twins remembered during their childhood. He was Rear Admiral Joseph Adam, the Personal Assistant to the Chief Admiral. Despite the title, Personal Assistant, sounded like some secretary of a company, it was in fact a high-ranking military position that deserved respect due to the office he was in. And not just anyone could simply be the Chief Admiral’s Personal Assistant as it would require someone with years of experience and a colonel-equivalent rank or higher. The trio exchanged hugs which were uncommon within the Federal Navy. But because of the twins’ age, the adults always treated them as little kids. In Joseph’s case, he had always been a fatherly figure to the twins especially now that their biological father was always so busy with politics. So in this case, the hugs were more on the personal level. However that didn’t mean there was no mutual respect when it came to official business. Of course, the twins didn’t blame their father for not being around most of the time. They understood completely what his job entailed.

“Admiral Adam, what are you doing here?” Jayden asked, mildly surprised at Admiral Adam’s presence.

“I’ve got some free time and would like to enjoy a conversation as we walk through the corridors,” Joseph replied with a big smile on his face. He gestured to the doorway he just came through earlier with his hand, and the twins went through first with Joseph trailing behind. Upon exiting the doorway, they were walking along the long L-shaped corridor which led to several rooms with arch doors. A large oblong rectangle window took up much of the wall at the far end of the corridor—just before the bend—offering a grand view of the vast metropolitan below. At the end of the bend was the Chief Admiral’s office. As the trio walked, there was total silence and the twins’ walking pace ensured that they were a couple of inches ahead of Joseph. Sensing something was wrong, Joseph picked up his pace and placed his arms on the twins’ shoulders as he walked in between them, “So how have you boys been?”

“We are fine,” Brandon replied quickly, hoping to prevent his brother from divulging what he had been feeling for the past few days. Jayden glared at his brother before looking up at Joseph, who was at least four inches taller than them, “I’m fine but Brandon is not. He’s been feeling down for the past few days onboard the Victorious.”

“No, that’s a lie,” Brandon protested.

“Now, now, boys, be honest.”

“It’s nothing. I’m just exhausted from everything. I just wanna take a break,” Brandon replied. There were tones of sadness and tiredness.

Joseph ruffled the hair on the back of the twins’ heads, “Well, after this, the both of you can go on a long holiday. I believe the crew of the Victorious does deserve some shore leaves, especially after the past few successful missions against the Valsek Empire.”

The twins simply eased into a smile, “Really?”

“Yes, my personal promise. I’ll let the Chief Admiral know.”

For the next five minutes as they went winded through the corridor, they chatted about what had happened so far, sharing some of their experiences. They even had talks on what they thought about the Valsek Empire which brought up a well of emotions that were bottled up within the twins. Their mother was killed during a battle with the Valsek Empire’s legendary Fourth Fleet over two H-congruous planets in the Forhorn System. That was three years ago but the pain was still there. It was also the time when their father decided to leave the military as he was particularly angry at the bureaucrats for requesting the Victorious to focus on small time pirates instead of the actual threat. So their father went on to bid for the president.

The Valsek Empire was a thousand star system wide civilization consisted of mostly silicon-based life form, known as Valsekies, and had been fighting against the Terran Federation since their first contact four hundred years ago. It wasn’t a war over resources but rather because they were simply different life forms. Both sides simply fought out of fear of each other. Countless billions suffered bodyloss, even more suffered crippling wounds and there were millions actual deaths. The bodylosses and the wounds were nothing. Those that suffered bodylosses could easily have their consciousness and memories transferred to re-cloned bodies. Those who suffered missing limps or organs could have parts replaced with lab-grown versions which were derived from the person’s stem cells. But for the twins’ mother, she didn’t want to have anything to do with cloning. She believed that a person should only have one original body. So she didn’t have any consciousness and memory backup. But sometimes, the twins wished that their mother weren’t so stubborn and went for the backup procedure. Now nothing could bring her back. The only satisfying thing that brought some form of comfort to the twins’ emotional roller-coasters was their father’s policy on the Valsek Empire. With their father at the helm, the Terran Federation had been extremely successful in their battles. There were also times when the Terran Federation military brought the fight to the Valsekies, colonizing some of their planets in the process.

Before they knew it, they were standing just outside the large rectangular metal sliding door leading to the Chief Admiral’s office. Joseph stepped forward and slide his hand over the biometric scanner located to the right of the door. The door slid open with a hissing sound as hydraulics did their work and beyond the door was a massive oblong rectangle office that was partitioned into two sections. The first section contains the main office area for administrative staffs and the cubicles housing these staffs were arranged in a grid manner. Behind all that was a medium size room which was the Chief Admiral’s office. There were no windows of any sort in the room. Overhead, polylight strips arranged in a grid manner provided the warm and lighting needed.
Joseph led the twins through the main office area. Some of the staffs greeted them warmly while some ignored their presence and were engrossed in their work. Translucent and large blue holographic screens continuously changed their display contents as fingers danced away at the holographic keyboards of various colors. Before long, they were standing at the Chief Admiral’s oak door and Joseph gave it a light knock. The Chief Admiral answered almost immediately, “Come on in.”

Joseph opened the door and went in first with the twins following behind. The office was yet another oblong rectangle with sparse furniture scattered around. It was much spacious than they initially thought when they saw the way the walls partitioned. There were some natural plants and even a few cacti at the corners of the room. A large brown oak-analogue desk was in the middle with a large holographic screen and keyboard. The Chief Admiral was seated behind the desk, busy typing away at the keyboard when they walked in. There was a sense of trepidation as they were after all in one of the Federation’s most respected office. They walked towards the desk slowly as if they were kids about to be reprimanded. They stopped just a couple of inches behind the three chairs which were placed in a row, in front of the desk. The trio straightened up, saluting and greeted, “Sir.”

The Chief Admiral looked up and his fingers stopped typing. He was in his late nineties but had the appearance of someone in his mid-fifties without the wrinkles and fats. He was a handsome man with brown eyes, an average-sized nose and curly brown hair that was cut to military standard. If he had stood up, he would be at least two inches taller than Joseph and was of a muscular build. The Chief Admiral was also a person who followed strict exercise regime and only eat just enough to fulfill his daily calorie needs. His exercise regime allowed him to be the fittest in this whole office. Unlike most terrans who received gene therapy only after their tenth birthday, the Chief Admiral was a designer child. His genes were tuned towards perfection while he was just an embryo, making him vastly more intelligent than most. He was also much tougher and had rapid regeneration ability. He was also one of the most powerful telepath, almost rivaling the twins. The twins, being fellow designer children, were officially recognized as the Federation’s most powerful human beings alive at the age of fifteen.
The Chief Admiral returned the salute before gesturing with his hand at the chairs.

“Gentleman, please take a seat.”

The trio took their seats and stared intently at the Chief Admiral, waiting with anticipation. Four days ago, Brandon and Jayden with the help of the Victorious and the Federal Intelligence Services located the Valsek Empire’s Fourth Fleet and their next destination. The twins had always wanted revenge on the Fourth Fleet and had in fact spent considerable resources tracking their target’s movements. It was determined that the Fourth Fleet would make a stop at the Caridous System where the enemy had a small refueling outpost. Little did the enemy know the Federation had a small fleet of frigates in the system for a scouting mission; so the frigates were notified of the incoming enemy fleet and they went into hiding within the atmosphere of a gas giant known as GB-X9042 and using the gas giant’s powerful magnetosphere to scramble enemy scanners. That group of frigates had since been reporting back any findings they made. Two days ago, they reported that the Fourth Fleet had arrived and begun their resupply mission. As of two hours ago, the Fourth Fleet was still there. So Brandon and Jayden submitted a mission plan and a request to go after the Fourth Fleet an hour ago. It was a golden opportunity. Not only would the destruction of the Fourth fleet help bring on a sense of payback, it would also help the Federation Navy in general. Without the Fourth Fleet, the Valsek Empire’s Navy would be vastly crippled. For some reason, instead of letting the twins know of his stance on the mission over the Navy TransCOMNET, the Chief Admiral had requested the twins meet him in person. So now, here they are sitting in his office.

“Well, I’ve read through the mission plan and all. The amount of resources devoted to this operation is tremendous even by our standard. And what if the operation fail? We would lose a lot of men and ships—”

“But Sir, it’s the Fourth Fleet. If we don’t deal with them now, they would still be threatening all our future operations—” Jayden said, interrupting the Chief Admiral only to be interrupted himself when the Chief Admiral raised his hand, palm facing them.

“Let me finish, Captain. I didn’t say no to the operation. I asked you to come here personally because of two things. First, I want you two to be able to look me in the eyes and tell me you can do it,” the Chief Admiral said, his voice was still calm. If it was any other senior officers, they would have raised their voice in respond to Jayden’s interruption.
The twins simply looked straight, their faces devoid of any emotions. The air around them began to fill with their confidence, “Yes sir. We can do this.”

“Good. Second, I had made some changes to the battle plan to make it better and stored it in this data disk. I don’t want to pass it to you over the communication network for there might be spies,” the Chief Admiral said as he waved a yellowish, oblong rectangle disk in the air. “Next, I want you to take the Sixth, Seventh and Ninth Armada for this mission. They are currently the most combat ready with their full complement of three hundred ships each and all crew positions filled. They are already in position alongside the Victorious. Wipe out the enemy. I want nothing of them left. That’s all.”

Smiles began to form on the twins’ faces but Joseph was still frowning at the idea. He knew about the mission but due to the nature of the Fourth Fleet for they had not lost a single battle even against overwhelming odds, Joseph feared for the safety of the two kids and Victorious. Till now, the Victorious had been their trump card against any enemy forces and if they lose the ship, it might just spell the end of the Federation Navy. But if they won, it would seriously put a major dent in Valsek Empire’s ability to conduct future operations.
“Thank you, Sir. We shall now get ready,” Jayden replied as he grabbed the data disk.
The Chief Admiral nodded, “Good hunting and good luck.”

The trio stood up and saluted which was returned. Then the trio spun around and went out of the office, heading back to the transportation room. On the way there, they didn’t speak much. The twins were still feeling elated and Joseph didn’t feel there was a need to spoil the mood despite how much he was against the mission. Unable to control his emotions, he started pouring out his dread into the surrounding and the twins’ telepathies picked it up. The twins stopped dead in their tracks, forcing Joseph to stop too.

“Admiral Adam, what’s the matter?” Brandon asked as he turned around to face Joseph. Jayden had also turned to face Joseph which made him blushed.

“Er . . . I’m just worried about you boys going out on this mission. It’s extremely dangerous. What if you boys don’t make it back? How the hell am I going to answer to your father?”

“Admiral Adam, don’t worry about us. We will make sure we come back alive. Don’t forget that we still need that break of ours and you promised us,” Brandon said with a smile.
“And the best thing you could do for us is to pray for us though we know there’s no such thing as God. Three thousand years of science had proven that much. Well, whatever it is, let’s just hope that the enemy has no reinforcement. Maybe you could help us along that line,” Jayden added and his facial expression had turned serious.

“I’ll do what I can. Just be careful. When you boys come back, the break will be waiting for you. Just make sure you boys are still alive to use it. Death is definitely not my idea of a holiday break.”

“Ha, we agree. And for insurance sake, we went for a consciousness backup procedure just before we came down here. Those memories of ours are currently en route to the re-cloning facility as we speak. There are of course multiple copies.”

Joseph nodded his head and smile. He gave them a hug each before they proceeded on to the transportation room. The twins got up to the platform and bid their goodbyes. Then Jayden opened a channel to the Victorious with his communication device, “Victorious, we are ready to transport.”

The next thing the twins saw was the familiar sight of the Victorious’s arrow-shaped bridge. At the front of the bridge was the one piece window that offered a view out. Scattered around the bridge in a petal-pattern were computer consoles which the six bridge crewmembers would use for communication, weapon control, shields and many other things critical to the operation of the ship. Hanging overhead was the large central holographic screen which the bridge crew would use to display any important information.
John was standing beside the twins when they appeared on the bridge. Jayden turned to look at him and handed the data disk to him, “it contains the newly updated battle plan. Communicate it to Sixth, Seventh and Ninth Armada. They are joining us in this mission.”
John grabbed the data disk, “Yes sir.” John immediately ran over to this console, plugged in the data disk and started transferring the information to the three armadas via the secure Navy ExoCOMNET. Once all the armada commanders acknowledged they received the battle plan, Brandon opened a secure communication channel to the three armadas from his command post. Jayden meanwhile had the crew ready as soon as the go code was given.

“Attention all commanders! I believe you had received the latest battle plan. So we will operate in accordance to the plan but if the situation calls for it, we will adapt to any changes. We shall not fail in this mission. The operation will commence on my mark,” Brandon said before he paused to scan across the bridge. Every one of them was looking at him full of anticipation. “Mark!”

At that instant, hyperspace windows opened in space in front of the six hundred and one ships. Seconds later, they were all pulled in by the vast gravitation field generated by the windows.

*

Several hours later, the six hundred and one ships dropped out from hyperspace just two hundred and ten kilometers from the system’s third gas giant. It was twice the size of Jupiter with thick, various blue and white bands of methane gas swirling around the planet at hundreds of kilometers an hour. The same gas giant was home to the Valsek outpost and the three hundred strong Fourth Fleet was in an elliptical orbit around it.

Even as they travelled through hyperspace, the federation ships received constant updates from the hidden frigates. As a result, the six hundred and one ships were able to exit from hyperspace at the precise moment and distance with their weapons already powered up. The ships’ automated target acquisition systems immediately locked on to their targets.

Then the six hundred and one ships fired their weapons. The Valsekies didn’t even have time to react.

Blue laser and gamma beams shot towards their target at near light speeds. Enemy shields shimmered violently in the red and purple spectrum as they tried to deflect the ultra high-energy blasts, releasing ultra-hard radiation in the process. Following closely were quantum missiles with anti-hydrogen warheads. They streaked out of their pods towards their targets at hundreds of gees of acceleration as their ion thrusters shot sizzling hot iridescent ions which resembled miniature shooting stars when viewed from far. The enemy ships’ point defense systems shot out red lasers as their auto-defense system tried their best to take out the incoming missiles. Missiles that got through bypassed the enemy shields in an act similar to quantum tunneling. The missiles exploded within the space between the ships’ superstructures and the shields, blanketing the ships in series of massive scarlet explosions. The ships’ superstructures buckled under the intense explosions. When the explosions died down, spots of charred metal could be seen. The already battered enemy shields began to falter in a display of red and orange flickers. The final nail into the Fourth Fleet’s coffins came in the form of kinetic projectiles shot by the Federation’s zero-point cannons. These silent, relativistic projectiles destroyed their target through sheer kinetic energy and needed no explosives. As projectiles struck their target, energies on the order of several times that of the impact which killed the dinosaur were released. For that brief moment, local space lit up brighter than the parent star.

By the time the explosions died down, only space dust remained. With the mission over, all six hundred and one Federation ships jumped back to hyperspace and went home.

Journal #254 – Good progress overall

Today is another application deployment day.

I met up with my colleagues at the cafeteria of the customer’s building. I had my second breakfast and coffee there before we made our way up.

If you are wondering why I have two breakfast, it’s because of my stomach’s high acidity and need food to ensure my stomach wall don’t get eroded. I could take antacid but they only help to relieve the symptoms for a little while and after that, I will get excessive gas and gut discomfort.

So food is the best way.

After that, my colleagues and I went up to the main office making our way specifically to the datacenter, signed in, got the assigned laptops and start working.

The initial deployment went pretty well. I dare say the whole experience was smooth. The application functions as intended after subjecting it to some testing and my team lead was happy with it. I felt good but I thought the application could be better. I mean if you want it to be a product to sell elsewhere, whatever we have now isn’t enough. But I also have to keep in mind that right now we have to deliver something for phase 1 of the project before end of the year and so we did our best within the time we got. So I will still take the win.

While testing, my team lead and I found some usability issues that should be fixed and so I noted them down.

In the meantime, my other colleague proceeded to deploy a version of the application with kerberos authentication over HTTP. I also prepared another copy of the client application for that purpose. Enabling proper kerberos authentication is as simple as changing the configuration file and that’s as far as what we have implemented.

However, there was some issue with the server side and it was already lunch. So we decided to call it quits and go for lunch. We packed up the stuff and left the building.

We ate at Chinatown. I had fried carrot cake for lunch as I don’t feel like walking around looking for food, don’t feel like queuing for food, and I’m a pescatarian. The combination meant that, I will order something from a stall with few people and doesn’t serve meat.

After that, I went to get what is known as fried butterfly bun to serve as late afternoon snack. I think Malaysians call it horseshoes due to the shape.

In hindsight, it looks like I actually consume quite a lot of carbohydrates.

Anyway, we made our way back and start working again. My colleagues finally could get the server side application working and started ensuring the four instances of the application are all load balanced. Then, I went about testing the client application again after making some changes to the configuration file. I helped a little bit with the server side stuff too like patching certain data and doing some basic troubleshooting.

All I can say is that I’m pleasantly surprised at how well everything turned out. But at the same time, I also found some usability issue which I noted down. Tomorrow once I’m back in office, I will need to discuss the issues with my colleagues again and see what should be fixed now in light of the need to deploy actual copies of the client application onto the customer’s workstation for actual use by end of next week.

Personally, I have these two days to fix stuff and I don’t want to wait till next week. Next Monday and Tuesday, I won’t be in office anyway as I will be going for a technical writing course. I hope I can fix everything, including the extra stuff that I want to implement by this Friday.

As for the extra stuff, well, I always saw myself as a product developer and so I will always try to implement additional features that I think the user will want or expect based on their experience with other applications. I do care about how the user interact with the application and I want their life to be as easy as possible.

And one last thing I want to share. I actually procrastinated a lot before I got down to writing this journal. I am feeling very lazy these days and I just want to play games or do something else. I suspect it could be the time of the year. I don’t really know yet. But still, I force myself to write either way. This is why I publish the science news roundup first because it is the easiest thing to do. I know what kind of science I like and what kind of news I enjoy. So by lowering the activation barrier, I can move on to do a bigger piece of work like writing this journal. When I got started, the words just pours out.

So I call that a good progress too. Another win for me.

10 Science News Roundup #17

Here are 10 science news that I find very interesting. They cover topics that I care about.

Life’s building blocks observed in spacelike environment – Where do the molecules required for life originate? It may be that small organic molecules first appeared on earth and were later combined into larger molecules, such as proteins and carbohydrates. But a second possibility is that they originated in space, possibly within our solar system. A new study, published this week in the Journal of Chemical Physics, from AIP Publishing, shows that a number of small organic molecules can form in a cold, spacelike environment full of radiation. Science Daily

3-D printed microfibers could provide structure for artificially grown body parts – Much as a frame provides structural support for a house and the chassis provides strength and shape for a car, a team of engineers believes they have a way to create the structural framework for growing living tissue using an off-the-shelf 3-D printer. Science Daily

Jupiter’s massive Great Red Spot is at least 350 kilometers deep – Jupiter’s Great Red Spot has deep roots. Data from the first pass of NASA’s Juno spacecraft over the incessant storm show that its clouds stretch at least 350 kilometers down into the planet’s atmosphere. That means the storm is about as deep as the International Space Station is high above the Earth. Science News

AI eavesdrops on dolphins and discovers six unknown click types – A new computer program has an ear for dolphin chatter. Science News

Scientists Are Investigating Whether Or Not An Alien Probe Just Passed Us By – Sometimes in science, you have to chase the longshots and take a chance on something so unlikely it feels silly to invest in it, because the payoff would be so huge if it worked. This is why the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope will be spending time examining the first known interstellar visitor to the Solar System, just in case it is an alien spacecraft. IFLScience

New Nanoparticle Technology Detects Cancer Sooner – In what scientists are calling an exciting advancement in cancer technology research, a team from Rutgers University have invented a cutting-edge method to detect and track cancerous tumors sooner than existing technologies. IFLScience

This Pacific Island Appeared Only 3 Years Ago, And Could Be Doomed Already – Three years ago, the place you’re reading about now did not exist. Science Alert

Officials Say This Whale Species Could Become Extinct After a Devastating Year – US officials have warned that, unless we take immediate action, it’s highly possible that rare North Atlantic right whales could become extinct. Science Alert

How to Make It Easier to Wake Up in The Morning, According to Science – Getting a good sleep can be tough, and this can lead to feeling less than refreshed when you wake up in the morning. Science Alert

When tumors fuse with blood vessels, clumps of breast cancer cells can spread – If you want to beat them, join them. Some breast cancer tumors may follow that strategy to spread through the body. Science News

Journal #253 – Documenting my Monday

After spending the last half an hour struggling to narrow down a decent thought to start writing from, I decided to give up. Documenting my day shall be the default mode rather than wasting any more time trying to find a perfect topic to talk about. And part of my decision process included me writing something on Facebook that got me settled down.

So what’s my day like?

I went to work slightly earlier today because there is a company-hosted dialogue session for new employees. The best part of my morning was I was melting as I made my way to office from the MRT station. In other words, I was basically sweating non-stop until my shirts (I wear two layers, one to absorb sweat) got soaked through. My body for some reason felt exceeding warm and just keep sweating. Yesterday was fine actually. The worse was when I was getting my daily Starbucks and I was just standing there waiting for the barista to make my coffee.

At the dialogue session, the person conducting was one of the department manager introduced himself and got us to introduce ourselves. Then he talked about how the company is transiting to building products instead of just providing services and doing projects.

After the whole talk, I am not even convinced because I have been lied to so many times by company management about building products and Singaporeans in general always think in terms of project. It’s almost like they are incapable of thinking in terms of product development. That’s just my conclusion from what I have seen. I want that conclusion to change and in order for that to change, I need to see actual Singaporeans doing product development.

I would like someone with way more experience in product development to share what are some of the most common approaches to product development in a company. Whatever I know right now is theoretical (I think closer to be naive) and I have never got the chance to experience it. And by theoretical I mean some of it is based off this article by ThoughtWorks. I also have an idealistic view of how products should be built.

One aspect of product development, which I think is important, is the process has to be design-driven. To me, without being design-driven, it will be very hard to lay down the foundations for future growth because you don’t get the chance to ask the right questions.

The other is having a team of product developers, not just developers who think short term and simply want to get the project done and over with.

One last very important thing is funding. I believe that you need to have a delicate set of funds to support the process of product development. You can think of it as an upfront investment. I don’t know how correct I am on this part but I have experienced enough where the company simply don’t have the money to support product development because the money comes from existing projects. All the research and development, trial and error, etc. simply couldn’t be done properly. All that tend to make me doubt the company about its ability to build and sell products. Again, I could be wrong. Someone please correct me on this.

After that, I went back to my desk and continued to implement whatever features I need to do and fix any bugs found. Tomorrow is when we will be deploying a proper set of applications for the actual use by the customer over the holiday week. So we will be testing it heavily over the next few days to identify any further issues and fix them fast.

Thus far, I hadn’t been enjoying the process of working on this project. The biggest gripe that I have is with the project approach the company is taking despite their claim of wanting it to be a product. But it’s not up to me at this moment because I’m not in that position. And I have no intention of being in that position because I never want to manage people. I just want to focus on doing what I am doing to the best of my ability.

The other gripe I have is with the design side of things. Design just wasn’t done properly and every developer is just implementing stuff their way just to meet the basic use cases. Our team lead did try to ensure whatever we implemented is useable and perform well but that’s about it. It’s not his fault really because his plate is pretty much full too. At my company, one person will be responsible for more and more projects over the years. So with that kind of multitasking, I don’t think it will be possible for that one person to think of the future of a so-called product.

For me, I did try my best to think of the future—think about how the user will want to use the application and what will happen if I don’t do certain things. Within the short time frame, I did whatever I could to add certain kind of controls, ensure certain kind of interaction the user can have with the application. But I also know that I could be completely wrong with what I implemented and will need to change later. I have also tried to ensure code reusability by introducing more layering.

By around 5.45pm, I was done gathering the latest client code from source control and compiling the codes into a deployable application for tomorrow. I put the compiled files into a folder on the share folder where my other colleague was preparing the server stuff. I waited for my colleague to finish putting everything onto a thumbdrive before leaving.

So tomorrow, I will go to the customer office to do the deployment and testing the applications. I do hope it goes smoothly.

I went home to rain and then join my mom for dinner at the Legendary Hong Kong restaurant. I ordered Seafood fried rice with XO sauce, pineapple drink (basically canned pineapple with syrup), and steamed shrimp dumplings.

Nothing too fancy but then the price tag is just not worth it. The food is just too average and I could get them cheaper from elsewhere. I think I will avoid going to this restaurant in the future.

Journal #252 – Just exhausted

I didn’t feel like writing anything today. As I wrote that sentence, I felt like just switching off my computer, brush my teeth, and go to bed. But I shall compel myself to write something. At least a quick summary of what happened.

The quick version is: I’m exhausted.

Ok, I’m done.

Nah, I’m just kidding. Here’s a slightly longer documentation of my life.

There are many reasons for me being exhausted. You can call them excuses because I will most probably agree with you.

The first reason was that I didn’t even want to get out of bed this morning because I didn’t have enough sleep and that is despite the fact I went to bed last night at around 10pm. I was tossing and turning in bed until about maybe 12am.

The other was I spent roughly 45 minutes more today at work writing codes and implementing a feature. By the time I left my office and boarded the train, it was already 7pm and my mind was in complete daze. I couldn’t be bothered to think about anything. I didn’t even want to make any decisions. Even my attempts at playing Sky Force on my phone ended with my plane being blown up within a minute. I tried a few more times and kept getting blown up because I just couldn’t concentrate. But it’s just a game, so I didn’t give a shit. Once I reached my station, I stopped and made my way home.

Once I reached home, read an article on Facebook and went for a shower. Then I just lazed around, reading articles online, watched some YouTube video around until dinner. Had two plates of home-made spaghetti and went to watch one episode of Dark on Netflix.

After I’m done with that episode, I got down to write this journal. And here I am, yawning away.

Alright, I shall listen to my body and just end it here. The weather is pretty good today for sleeping. It’s so cooling.

Journal #251 – Chilling rainy Sunday with life review

If I really have to list something useful that I did today, I can probably count them with one hand.

The first most useful thing was writing an blog entry about “Why I buy Apple products as a minimalist”, which I publish here and here.

The second most useful thing was me going for a quick 30 or so mins run at around 4.30pm and earlier in the day, I went and did twenty push-ups, split into two sets of ten.

The third most useful thing? For most people, I don’t think they will call it useful but for me, it’s probably is. I went to watch two more episodes of Dark on Netflix. I actually spent more effort to absorb in the scenes, looked at the expressions of the characters, their behaviors and actions, and start thinking about how I would create the show, scene or characters as a writer. It’s important to train yourself to think like a writer when you are consuming content produced by other people. To me, it is part and parcel of getting inspirations and understand how to get people to consume the content you create.

Other than that, I spent the other part of the day playing Sky Force: Reloaded on my iPhone and iPad Pro so that I can collect enough stars to upgrade my plane. That I definitely won’t call useful but it’s part of my desire to just chill.

I also went to get the Designed by Apple in California book out from the cabinet and start browsing through the pages. As I was browsing through, I spent some time understanding the designs and appreciating them all. It turns out I really found joy in going through the pictures and thinking about the story behind those designs. It’s so much easier to understand the context given that I have read Jony Ive’s biography and is still in the process of reading Steve Jobs’s biography. The process of going through the designs also got me feeling nostalgic as I started thinking about my days in secondary school when I was studying Design and Technology.

Thinking back, I do have some inclination for the design and technology subject in general. I understood the technical stuff rather easily but not so much of the society aspect or aesthetic. For my Singapore-Cambridge GCE Ordinary Level D&T project, the end product was average but I managed to score slightly above average compared to my peers because of my strength in the theory part and orthographic projection. One year earlier, I actually did very well for N-Level examination. If I remember correctly, I actually scored an ‘A’ due to the end product, theory and the drawings. It was actually a useful end product with a pretty good design.

So you see, when it comes to creating things, you will fumble and tumble from time to time. The only difference is how much effort you put and how much desire you have to achieve mastery and greatness.

Back then, I wasn’t sure if I could find a decent job if I went to do product design and I did find an inclination towards writing and interest in programming. So after my O-level examinations, I went with something that has practical uses given the economic situation and culture of Singapore. That was why I chose information technology for my Diploma and subsequently Computer Science for my degree.

Now if I were to do it all over again with what I know now, I will probably put in extra effort on my writing and have it run concurrently to my software development career so that I have more choices. But there is no point in regretting this because it’s a fact that I wasn’t mature or self-aware enough back then. So what I can do now is to forge a new path with the experiences and knowledge that I have gained. It’s never too late. I have already took the steps to improve my writing skills by applying and going for courses, keep writing, and learning from other writers.

So stop your bullshitting about being too old, feel tired or lazy studying, and complain about the fact that you are sick your current, meaningless job yet want to change career or do something more meaningful. Start creating the plan and taking the necessary actions or be quiet about your current life and apply gratitude.

Why I use Apple products as a minimalist

As a minimalist, it’s all about living your life according to a certain set of values.

One of my values is quality. The things I output or consume has to have a certain quality. In most cases, I buy higher quality stuff, spending more money in the process, to replace the lower quality stuff that I have to get rid of.

Most of the metrics I use to define quality are subjective while some are qualitative. It is usually the subjective ones that make me happy, bring me joy or reduce stress whereas the qualitative ones primarily reduce stress.

This is why I am more than willing to spend the kind of money I do getting Apple products, becoming a fan in the process. Their products have really good build quality, provided convenience due to the tight integration across the products, and simplicity.

Majority of Apple products are well built and well designed. The attention to details given to each product by the Apple’s design and engineering teams is rarely found in other products from other company. The solid feel, simple and clean aesthetic of the exterior, and being highly functional combined bring me joy. With their products, I don’t feel like I’m carrying with me a cheap piece of item that I get from a discount store.

The highly functional aspect of their products bring about convenience for me.

You see, inconvenience is a major stressor for me. All I want to do is to solve more pressing problems with the tools I got and not wanting to deal with the hassles before I even get started on solving those problems. Going through multiple steps to enable an option in a piece of software, the need to install and update device drivers that has no guarantee that they will work 100% of the time, the software not doing what you expect it to do, or it takes a while for you to even understand how to use a piece of software or application are such inconveniences. They stress me out.

And I’m sure everyone knows what stress does to one’s creative process, how stress prevent one from doing their very best.

Unlike Microsoft products, Apple products mostly just works out of the box. I don’t really have to deal with all the hassles I described earlier. Their products are also intuitive and simple to use. With that, the tools get out of my way and I can focus on solving the more important problems. When tools get out of my way, my time is saved, allowing me to do more things within the same 24 hours everyone else has. Time saved is the qualitative metric that I use to judge the quality of something. How much inconvenienced I am is the subjective metric I use to judge the quality.

Other than quality, the other value that is equally important is security. I feel safe when my data is well-protected and private enough. If my data is not well-protected and private enough, it means criminals and the government can use my data against me if they do get their hands on it.

That strips away my security, which increases my stress and unhappiness, which is not what being a minimalist is about. At least in my view.

Now, before bashing me about the naivety of my subsequent statements, I will state up front that I recognize Apple may change their privacy and security model that completely expose the user and make them less safe and private, and get to keep a plaintext copy of whatever your store or send but that’s another topic for another day. When that day do come, then I will re-evaluate again.

At least for now, I do feel safe with storing personal data on Apple devices and their cloud storage and trust that my data is not readable by anyone. Their devices like Apple Watch and iPhones come with built-in encryption that protects your data, including your fingerprints and credit card information. The MacBooks and iMacs with latest Mac OS support encryption through APFS and/or FileVault. Their software services like iCloud uses end-to-end encryption with keys that only you own for the data you choose to store there, preventing unauthorized access or views.

So this is why buying stuff and using stuff from a company such as Apple as a minimalist isn’t wrong. It is not wrong either to be fan. If it helps you to live in accordance to your values, then you shouldn’t feel guilty about the whole thing. You just have to be very intentional about it.

Journal #250 – Saturday life update

I woke up this morning to a runny and stuffy nose. I don’t know why but I suspect it was either a common cold or allergic rhinitis. I believe it is the former because there is cough associated with it. But neither am I a doctor nor  do I have a microscope to see what I sneeze out, so I can’t diagnose myself.

Regardless, I went ahead to eat breakfast with my family outside. After breakfast, I came home and made myself a big cup of coffee using the NESCAFÉ GOLD BLEND BARISTA machine. I went and take meds for the runny nose with the coffee.

Compared to Starbucks coffee, I never found Nescafe coffee to be any good. It is average. I guess it’s because it is instant coffee and you can’t subject it to the same process as how people make coffee using actual beans, grinding them, and forcing hot water through them over several seconds. Nescafe coffee doesn’t quite have the strong aroma, the right ratio between bitter and sour taste (more towards the former) found with Starbucks coffee.

By right, I should have felt drowsy some thirty minutes to an hour later after taking the medicine but the coffee prevented that. So I was awake for most of the morning and early afternoon. I used the chance to watch Dark on Netflix. I only managed to watch two episodes, follow by two episodes of The Code before I felt very hungry.

I went to make myself lunch. I had Nissin instant noodles with sesame oil. I added an egg to it for protein and taste.

After that, I took another pill and waited for it to kick in again. I used that time to prepare a review of the Apple AirPods because I wanted it. I wanted to share with the world about how I felt about using the earphones. Then I went for a shower and at around 5.30pm, I felt sleepy and decided to take a nap.

By the time I got up, it was around 7.30pm. I felt slightly better. and my family and I went out for dinner. After that, I came home to just chill, and watch some more shows on Netflix.

Ever since I downloaded the game Sky Force: Reloaded, I have been playing it quite often like when I got nothing to do, using the toilet, etc.

The game really does test your patience as there is drudgery involved. You need to collect the stars in order to upgrade your weapons and to collect enough, you will need to keep playing. Your plane will get destroy often if your reaction time can’t keep up or when you make a mistake and that means you will need to try again.

But overall, I do like the game and I’m reminded of playing one of the Raiden game during my younger days. I vividly remember dying so often when I was playing that game. In hindsight, I guess it’s because I was young, had poor hand-eye coordination. After playing so many FPS as I was growing up, I guess I have develop a better reaction time and hand skills in general.