This blog was created as a platform for my Android apps, namely NTW Text Editor and Pendulum Chaos so far. But I admit I neglect it and often digress, a lot :'(

Nevertheless, if you are interested in this sort of things, you can glean some conceptual insights into how NTW was conceived in my earliest posts

Monday, 23 April 2012

This is by no means a serious attempt at writing a story. I've had it in my head for years and years, and have taken tons of notes on it. But I can never seriously sit down to write even a rough draft of it, because my own criticism going on inside my head kills it after a few paragraphs. On the other hand, I can usually write pages and pages of blog/forum/fb posts with no problem. So I'm gonna give the informal approach a go here and hope something comes out of this.


Chapter 1.1

It was a dark and windy night. The wind came howling gently from the north, cold and biting, bringing with it the faint scent of lichen flowers from the green peaks of the Luding Mountains.

The river running beside the inn was quite deep but no more than three meters across. The innkeeper was an enterprising fellow and he would suspend small crates of beer into the chillingly cold river water. He was not supposed to do that of course, the river was the main source of water for the entire city of Tradmart and there were regulations against polluting it. But his customers paid more for chilled beer than warm mead, and this more than made up for the occasional bribes when officials came checking.

It was slow business that night. Most people including all his staff had gone home early for their spring reunion dinner. There was just him, his wife, and two regulars in the inn. One was a doctor from the north sector, the other was a police constable who had just dropped by for an unofficial break while doing his rounds. Both were finishing up already
He was cleaning the common room for the night while his wife was doing the kitchen. The doctor was leaving and ordered a beer to drink on his way back, so his wife leaned adroitly over the window to pulled up a crate from the river.

And then he heard her short sharp scream.

No, not rats, lizards, or cockroaches, Delana had nerves of iron and was not frightened by such common sights. Could she have injured herself somehow? He felt his heart skip a beat and then a rush of vigor flow through him as he dropped his mop and ran towards the kitchen.

From the corridor, he saw Delana standing facing the window, her back heaving hard with huge breaths.  Whatever happened, it had got her really terrified.

"There, there, what's the matter, Delana?" Reaching out, he touched her shoulder gently and said as soothingly as he could. She said nothing, just turned to hug him and pointed at the ground. He looked down. And his breath stopped.

It was a baby. Human apparently, judging from his features, but his skin was an unhealthy shade of gray-blue and still dripping wet from the cold river water. He lay there quite neatly, as though just sleeping, in a crate of beer. The innkeeper gasped and felt sickened as though kicked in the gut. He could see no sign of life in the child.

"What's the matter? You need any help?" Both the doctor and the police had entered the kitchen as well. They had not seen the baby yet.

Job hunting
It seems rather hopeless finding a job that matches my skills, I'm wondering if I should just spam job portals and let the employers decide whether I am suitable rather than cherrypicking my way through jobs.

I have a materials science degree, but I focused on computational materials science in uni, doing mostly theoretical stuff, writing Matlab and C code from scratch.
In my first job, I picked up digital signal processing and Labview. Then in my 2nd and current job, I do mostly semiconductor fabrication, thermochemical calculations, statistical analysis, and reaction kinetic analysis. I also write Matlab code for all of them, referring directly to the equations in the original papers if need be. And in my free time these past 2 yrs, I picked up Java from scratch to write NTW version 1.01 (within 1 month :D). And I converted my Matlab code for Pendulum Chaos to the Android platform as well.

However, when job hunting, the job descriptions rarely specify Matlab or Labview or ability to derive and implement mathematical modelling. They all want people who :
1) Have computer engineering degrees and can use/setup specific computer hardware.
2) Are very hardcore experimentalists in the field of materials or chemistry.
3) Have an IT degree and know 1 million and 1 programming languages.

Nobody looks for a flexible theoretical computational materials science guy with a penchant for planning and picking up computational/theory related stuff fast :(
Feeling very sad, lost and unappreciated now...
Maybe striking out on my own is really the most suitable option for me now...
But it's hard to be confident when it seems that everyone who tries my baked goods have a different opinion on it. I really need something that 90% of people will agree is the best ever they have tasted and will kill for more. Like the Hokkaido Shiroi Koibito chocolate, Famous Amos, Royce's Nama chocolates, Petit Provence's sesame pizza (I'm addicted to it :d).

Just wanted to update that I've found a killer recipe for Japanese cheesecake and developed a very nice (IMHO killer too :D) recipe for Langues de chat cookies. So now I just need to duplicate them consistently when/if my bakery does open....

And now I'm revising my first love - chocolate chip cookies. After such a long break from baking them, I've sorta lost the feel for it, which explains why I screwed up my 2 attempts at it last weekend. Thankfully, I got it right by my 3rd attempt, except it was still not as nice as I remembered. So this week will consist of more experimentation. Most proceeds (disasters :( and successes :d) will go towards my guinea pig dive buddies at the end of April ;)

BTW my new Rowenta oven 7868 was slightly disappointing, its wattage seems a little low, so it cannot maintain the set temperature whenever I place anything inside, especially if there is a lot of moisture, like cakes. This has been causing me havoc whenever I bake cheesecke. I always have to set at least 20C higher in order to reach the desired T. Further more, the heating is not really even. The fans heat the innermost side of the oven more, while the grill heat the left side more than the right. Furthermore, bottom heating is much less powerful than the top. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

And it's troubling how I get ambiguous reactions about my baked goods. I can easily get compliments of "quite good" and "very nice". But nobody has placed any orders yet, so I wonder if they really really super super liked it, or are they just saying it because it's free and their expectations of an amateur baker were low.

Maybe on the global competitive scale, my baked goods are merely "not bad" or "average" to them?
Or maybe there are just too few diehard cookie/cheesecake addicts among my guinea pigs.
Or most people need a special occasion or special time of day to even consider buying non-bread baked goods.
In any case, it really dampens my plans for starting a non-bread focused bakery.

Currently NTW and Pendulum Chaos satisfy all my own usage requirements, plus its sales counts are so depressingly low. What this means is that I am chronically demotivated towards adding in new features and stuff.
So...., your feedback is my only source of motivation, pls feedback if you wish any changes.

Ok, semi-rant over!