Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Touch, Touch Me Do

As I was surfing the net rather aimlessly yesterday (one of the Devil's favourite pastimes), I happened to come across this rather interesting bit of scientific news - haptic technology.

What exactly is haptic technology then? Well, Wikipedia says that it refers to "technology which interfaces the user via the sense of touch by applying forces, vibration and/or motions to the user". A definition as dry as British wit. I think what it's trying to say is that haptic technology is when you interact with an interface, that interface will interact back by stimulating your peripheral nerves responsible for detecting touch, vibration and motion. Golly, that's just as bad a description given by old Wiki there.

Perhaps it'd be easier to give an example. Say you touch a button on a touchscreen (because that's what buttons on touchscreens are for). Normally, you'd only feel the smooth, flat qualities of the glass surface. However, when haptics are integrated into the screen, you would feel as if you were touching a real button, and not that smooth, flat glass screen. It's like feeling something that isn't there. Somehow, unrequited love comes to mind.

Imagine the possibilities of such a thing. You already have virtual reality - go ahead and throw in some haptic technology and not only can you see things which aren't actually there, now you are even able to feel them. This sounds disturbingly similar to what a person with migraine might feel when having their aura.

Medicine happens to be one of the fields to have embraced haptics (not much surprise there). howstuffworks.com says here that 'medical students can now perfect delicate surgical techniques on the computer, feeling what it's like to suture blood vessels in an anastomosis or inject BOTOX into the muscle tissue of a virtual face'. Wonderful! Now if only we can persuade people to go for haptic enhanced face-lifting procedures.

I think for the time being, I'll just settle for this haptic-enabled phone from Samsung *smile*

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

A Real Birthday Wish

Now that I can finally take a breather, let's see what I've been up to these past couple of weeks. But oh, to make it more fun, I won't tell you exactly what they are. Instead, I'll just give you 4 cloudy statements shrouded in a dense swirl of mystery (otherwise known as clues) to help you out. Ready for them? Here you go:

These past couple of weeks, I've been.....
  1. Going to the hospital
  2. Going to the hospital
  3. Going to the hospital
  4. Going to the hospital to take my clinical examination
You might have guessed by now that I was pretty much busy going to the hospital. But enough about that. I promised my dad that I'd write him a proper birthday entry when I was done with my exams. So, here I am trying to fulfill that promise.


I know I'm the worst. But don't worry, I'll make it up by treating the birthday boy *stifles a giggle* to a grand dinner with the rest of the family members. What else can you get the man who has everything?

Monday, 21 July 2008

Birthday Wish

Just a quick...


Many happy returns of the day :)

p.s. I'll put up a proper post when I'm done with my exams. Promise!

Tuesday, 15 July 2008


Remember this picture?

Well, it now has some new additions to the family! I'm sure you can certainly guess what that means :P

Three Jedi Knights in their free time

I'd make a great cast for King Kong:The Movie...

...or even Mona Lisa Smile, perhaps.

Attack of the Killer Ugly Aliens

Thanks to mumsy for 'chipping in'. And just so you know Ma, I really am using this Macbook for studying! Apart from listening to music too :P

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

True Tones

Judging from how long it took me to update this blog, you can certainly bet your bottom dollar (or your bottom only, whatever tickles your fancy) that I have not really had the luxury of being able to sit down and compose even a simple entry. I can immediately think up of several hundred excuses but the two that stand out by far are 1) I just haven't had the time considering how much of my life is taken up by that soul-sucking entity called 'The Hospital' and 2) gaining access to the Net over there is about as easy as breaking into Alcatraz. Or my dad's wardrobe. And just to get a certain point across, it's rather pointless spending a couple of hours at the mamak restaurant which has wifi access when you don't even have a laptop.

So as you can see, my absence is very much excusable. Still, you can never keep a good blogger down (think pycnogenol).


Here's a thought - why doesn't someone design a short message system that not only sends text messages, but also includes the emotional tone of that message the way the sender intended it to be? I know - brilliant isn't it?

The short messaging system was indeed a blessing to those who wanted to be constantly in touch with their friends but were too poor to be going out every other day just for the sake of meeting them (read: yours truly). In fact, it is such a godsend that I dare say it's the next best thing after sliced bread, and perhaps credit cards too. However, like all other things man-made, the SMS has its share of flaws, the most obvious being the inability to convey the true tone of a text message the way the sender intended it.

Here's a little test to see how good you are at identifying the real way a message was intended to be read. Try to guess in what manner were these sentences written in e.g. humourous, melancholic, excited. Give yourself a point for each correct answer. No peeking now.

1. Emm..takde apa2 la...

2. Yes, I do suppose that can happen

3. Apa dia tu?

4. I'm sorry but I think you've got the wrong person

5. ...

Well, have you written down your answers yet? Compare them with mine.

1. Sarcastic

2. Sarcastic

3. Sarcastic

4. Sarcastic

5. Sarcastic

Baffled? Well, what did you expect with those sentences coming from me?

SMS etiquette doesn't help either, which is not surprising really considering they were made up by teenagers. Sure, you may say that 'Hmm...' tells you the person is thinking his answer over or a message with only three dots in it tells you that the other party is no longer interested in conversation (personally, I think that if he's already lost interest, he'd have stopped texting you altogether). However, given the complicated nature of human beings plus the distinct disadvantage of not being able to look at their facial expressions while texting, the true nature of these messages are very open to misinterpretation.

I commonly find myself on the receiving end of things when this happens. As you should already know by now, I indulge in sarcasm and irony and that goes for when I'm texting too. On more than one occasion have I found myself having to explain an earlier message just because the other party did not catch its intended meaning. It is a situation I call 'a Hamlet' due to it's tragic nature. The worst part is that sometimes, these are people who have been texting me long enough to (I assume) know how I tick. In these cases, it's a 'Hamlet read by a hippie'.

But in all due-ness, I have my fair share of misunderstandings too. And I have this really bad habit of pushing it when the other person won't tell me what they really mean. Then I start assuming what they meant by saying such and such and then they get angry because I got it wrong again which goes on to show how insensitive a person I am and then I try to defend myself by saying that I'm actually sensitive and that I'll cry watching Korean soaps and then they get even angrier, saying that I'm now making fun of the situation which also means I'm making fun of them and then we argue and argue and forget what exactly was it that we were discussing about in the first place.

So you see, a short message system which conveys the real tone of a message would help prevent countless arguments from ever taking place. If a husband can read his wife's text message - 'Please don't put the milk carton back in the fridge if it's already empty' as such and not 'Is it so hard to lift your bum to throw it in the bin?', then the world would be such a happier place.