Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Gift Wrapping - How to tie a gift bow on a Christmas present

For my Xmas this year, I learnt how to tie a bow on a Christmas present from Youtube!! 

A new handicraft skill I think I will forget soon, so I definitely need to document it somewhere with the videos with some annotations:

1) Take a free end, form a loop, then twist!
2) Twisting is the key, hence this tests your finger dexterity, since you need to be making multiple loops.
3) Lastly, make a final twist, then estimate how long of a free end you gonna need to bundle up the loop in a knot.

I do like this one, because she makes present wrapping look so posh, with velvety/glittery ribbons and wrappings:

And this one uses streamer-like ribbons (as I would like to call them). So it's slightly different from the one above, but just as neat.

I am having fun trying out different gift wrapping techniques, color combinations and gift choices/making.

Enjoy the holiday season people!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Failures to success

The idea of failures en route to success has been supported, discussed, widely disseminated to bits that I don't think I should put more to it... Well, just one more article maybe.

An extension to this idea is the introduction of this concept in education. I truly think children and adolescents should learn how to handle failures when they are growing up... Even to the extent of spiking those naive worlds with some 'white failures'. Of course, the counterargument might be the palpability of these 'failures' and how they might (adversely) impact the later lives of the young ones. And that extra-curricular activities contribute enormously to this aspect of education already.

I guess my point is that education is also about imparting life skills. And I am not talking about teaching it in the theoretical sense, but something dynamic, practical and leaves a deep impression, so that they can learn in an applied manner rather than the didactic, often intangible form.

While perhaps passively letting nature take its course might be an option, I think there is still room for such introductory life lessons.


"A lively culture is nebulous, indefinable, ever-changing. Try to package it in a formal mission statement and you just may suffocate it."

"When you make a mistake, you're forced to look back and find out exactly where you went wrong, and formulate a new plan for your next attempt. By contrast, when you succeed, you don't always know exactly what you did right that made you successful (often, it's luck)." 

Outlook 2007: Minimize Outlook to Systray instead of Taskbar

First off, some terminologies so we are on the same page:

  • taskbar = the bar that has your windows and icons at the bottom of your screen  
  • systray = the small menu of icons you can pull up when you click on the arrow icon beside the clock on the far right of the taskbar.

1 simple step to minimize Outlook 2007 to the systray to save space on your taskbar.
1) By default, Outlook minimizes to your taskbar. So to save space, right click on the Outlook icon in systray, choose "Hide when minimized".

Voila! It should work now!

Note that earlier versions might require some tinkering with the registry or additional options in the Outlook options, if this doesn't work.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Failures: when it becomes more than just yours

I wrote an entry about failures a while back.

Incidentally, the most recent TEDxYYC by David Damberger talks about failures. But at a grander scale. I am exceptionally touched by the candidness of the speaker and his openness in talking about his own failures and sincerity in admitting it.

There IS a general aversion in talking about failures. But when that failure becomes more than just you, the 'self' becomes insignificant. There is much more at stake. Admission to failure and possibly documenting it is then not your first step in realizing and coming to terms with that mistake, but it's the community's first step to do that. Only then, can improvement be made as a collective.

Failures suck. Big time. Individually, you can try to make sure you don't repeat it. But how do you make sure other people don't?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

States of my brain

Clear, lucid state
-I have clear focus.
-Bent on finishing tasks.

Semi-lucid state (more-than-half lucidity)
-Partial focus.
-Found that music actually keeps the messed-up portion of the brain busy while the lucid portion can be focused on tasks.

Semi-lucid state (less-than-half lucidity)
-Partial focus.
-Music doesn't help. It actually adds on to confusion.

Totally chaotic state
-Almost-nil focus.
-Good for automatic tasks like keying in numbers.
-Everything is happening in my head all at once: grabbing ideas, task(s) at hand, mundane issues etc...

Comatose state
-No focus
-I am basically a walking zombie.

Sometimes I find music helps. Surprisingly, going through Facebook sometimes help too.

Ongoing discussions of relevant issues definitely help.

But if I need a reboot, I try
1) play computer games
2) play squash
3) go to the gym
4) take a nap

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Failures suck. But I guess that's how they are supposed to feel.

I think I am starting to deal with them though. Appropriately.

Re-learning life skills that I should have decades ago. Singapore should learn to let her citizens go take risks sometimes. It's really good for them.

Sheltering does produce crops of homogeneously fine quality though. Just that the world out there, is always never the same. And that's why even Nature promotes heterogeneity and variations. It's interesting when you look at bottlenecks and natural selection. Sorry, I digress. Somehow, I have this impression that the strategy Singapore was adopting is starting to change. It might lead to catastrophic consequences. But I guess, change is constant.

Oh well, the ambivalence of life.

C'est la vie. And a new phrase I picked up: La vita e bella. It's amazing just to be alive

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Ubuntu installation in VirtualBox and set up Shared folder with host

Helping LA has made me realize that I need to document this procedure for archival purposes. I will try to make this as detailed as possible. Hopefully, I don't miss any steps. If I do, anybody can send an email to me.

Host OS: Windows 7 Home Premium  64-bit (HP laptop), CPU-i7 quad core @  2GHz, 8GB RAM
VM: Oracle's Virtualbox (VB)
Guest OS: Ubuntu

Installation of Ubuntu:
1) Download ubuntu .iso file. I downloaded the 64-bit (amd64).
2) Download VirtualBox. After installation, got through the wizard to install Virtualbox. En route, you will see these prompts:
a) OS Type: OS=Linux, Version=Ubuntu
b) Memory: Depending on how extensive you are going to use VB, I put about a quarter of my RAM. You can adjust it later anyway, so don't dawdle here.
c)  Create new hard disk -> with Dynamically expanding storage -> give it a name and half size for me (~4GB).

3) These should bring you to the end of the installation. Now, you need to additionally customize your VM environment. Open VB, right-click on your Ubuntu, click 'Settings'.
a) System > Processor: 1 CPU for now. We will increase it later. KIV.
b) System > Acceleration: ensure that Hardware virtualization options are checked in both 'Enable VT-x/AMD-V' and 'Nested Paging'.
c) Storage > Storage Controller > Empty > Right panel: click 'browse' and find the Ubuntu ISO you downloaded in (1).

4) Double click on ISO to initiate VM. Install Ubuntu (not 'try'). Follow wizard.

**Watch this video on Jane Talks Tech for a more visual and detailed demonstration of a 32-bit Ubuntu installation.

Everything else should be kept default. Until this point, this is the normal procedure for all installations (32- and 64-bit).


1) You need to restart the computer and enter the BIOS. To enter BIOS, reboot the computer, press 'Delete' button.

2) After you enter the BIOS, find Advanced BIOS settings > Virtualization > Enabled. Remember to 'Save and exit'. Most new processors should be capable of this function, make use of it.

3) After you log into host, restart VB. Go Settings > System > Processor. I set to 4 out of my 16 CPUs.


Set this up to allow access of host files from the guest system.
1) Create a folder, name of your choice. For illustration purpose, the path of my folder is "C:\Shared".
2) Open VB, go Settings > Shared Folders. Click on the 'Add folder' icon, key in the path, and the folder name. Checking 'read-only' means you will not be able to change anything from the guest machine - guest can only 'download'. A good picture, refer to this website: http://ipggi.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/11-03-2010-10-08-06.png

3) Open a terminal. Type in command:
sudo apt-get install build-essential linux-headers-'uname -r'
This installs some software not installed by default.

4) Start VM and login. Select Devices > CD/DVD Devices > VBoxGuestAdditions.iso
This ISO contains an image of a DVD that contains essential files. Mount this image (something like putting in a virtual CD/DVD into a virtual drive). Run the image using:
sudo /cdrom/VBoxLinnuxAddition-amd64.run
5) You might need to restart the VM.
6) Finally, mount the Shared folder. Open a terminal, type command:
sudo mount -t vboxsf Shared ~/my-shared-foldername-on-guest-OS

7) Check that you have that on your home directory. Put something in that folder on the host and see if you can transfer it to your guest.

8) IMPT: Do not close the terminal. FYI, the above has to be mounted every time you log into Ubuntu, much like an external harddrive. To do this automatically, open this file:
sudo vi /etc/init.d/rc.local
Edit this by adding the "sudo ..." line to the second last line, just before "exit 0;".
Then save and exit (:wq).

9) Close and reopen the terminal. You should see the folder still there.