Wherein I play a game

June 26, 2007

I’ve had a pretty good childhood.

Sure, I’ve been bullied and there have been occasions I think my parents could have adhered to the Good Parenting Code a little better, but overall I think I’ve had a rather cushy deal.

At least, compared to some people.

I was at Company Orientation about a week ago, and we played this game derived from a Taiwanese game show. One member of our ten-member group would sit facing the rest, whilst a word flashed behind him. His team members, without making use of the word, had to make him guess the word in as little time as possible.

So this Indian programmer guy goes up and the word that flashes behind him is “Playstation” (which tells you where I work, in case you don’t already know). We’re thinking like ‘Oh, this’ll be so easy, he’ll get it in 2 seconds’but we were wrong.

The guy did not know what a Playstation was. We mimed hitting the buttons on the control pads, we told him that it was a video game device into which you put CDs or DVDs inside so that it would load games, we described it’s black exterior and sleek design, we named competing consoles from rival companies… all to no avail. Despite being a Sony employee (and I staff at that), he had ostensibly never heard of the Playstation, and just stared at us like we were crazy as we mashed our thumbs and twiddled our fingers. His face drew a blank at names like “XBox” and “GameCube”.

So we switched tack and tried to describe the component words instead.

“OK! 2 words! First word… what do children do!?”

His face brightened with that glow of enlightenment and relief that comes with Knowing The Answer, and he exclaimed in excitement:

“Study! Children study!”

It was at this point that I couldn’t take it any longer and started laughing, except that he was taking it so seriously I had to try to try to hide it, resulting in a choking fit that only got worse when those of my teammates who hadn’t been shocked into silence or gagging on their laughter tried to correct him.

“No, no! Not study! What do children DOOOOOOO!!!!???”

A little unsure of himself now and less confident than before, he replied hesitently:

“Homework?”

“NOOOOOO!!”

“… sleep?”

Now, I don’t want you to think this is an attack on the cluelessness of Indian programmers, so I’ll let you know that half of my group consisted of Indian programmers and they were similarly amused/shocked. The only one of the entire team, in fact, who managed to keep a straight face and continue, was this other Indian programmer who was taking the game a little too seriously (as they sometimes do).

“NO NO NO! For fun! What do children do for fun?!” (the righteous fury of my company’s spurned pride lending power to his voice)

My cluless colleague in the hotseat, looking a little lost and forlorn, and had to think for a few tense seconds before trying in a small voice:

“They… play games?”

That got us, shrieking in amusement and relief, back into the game, and he got the second word eventually after “Play-Terminal”, “Play-Ticketing-Booth” and “Play-Platform”. We lost the game, of course, because by the time he got it the other teams had already finished half their words. He spent the rest of the game sitting by himself in a corner repeating “play…station?” to himself like a lost lamb, until a kindly woman from HR went over to explain last year’s most profitable product to him.

And seeing him made me realize just how good my childhood was, because if you ask me what children do, the first thing that comes to my mind is that they play. Because that was my first instinct as a child.

Is it the same for you?

Job satisfaction

June 13, 2007

Getting none.

My realizations of the importance of my role in this job has descended from Spare-Programmer-in-the-event-Main-Programmers-Go-On-Leave-Or-Die down to Company-Needs-Certain-Quota-of-Singaporeans-to-Satisfy-Manpower-Regulations.

Now in charge of website for a discontinued series of products, in the all-important role of rendering static snapshots of dynamic ASP pages. Whee.

It turns out that the instructions on the back of cookie-mix packaging are pretty good guidelines for making edible cookies.

I tried to make cookies today. I don’t know why. I think it must have been because cookies figured in an important way in at least one of the movies I watched over the weekend. You see, with so little human interaction in my life recently, I’ve started to become rather easily influenced by the slightest motive by the next closest thing–actors on screen. At least cookies are somewhat benign side-effect, considering I watched:

  • Chungking Express
  • Pan’s Labyrinth
  • Shortbus
  • Comedians of Comedy–the roadtrip
  • The entire season 8 of the Simpsons
  • Several episodes of Ugly Betty

I haven’t figured out which one of them started the cookie craze, but I’m guessing it was probably the Simpsons, since none of the others really involved pastries of any kind.

So I went out and got myself a pack of Betty Crocker’s chocolate chip cookie mix. Eschewing the wisdom of the instructions at the back, I:

  • put in rather more butter than I should have
  • added more sugar, despite Betty Crocker’s assurances that no more was needed
  • did not follow the recommended scoop size for the placement of the dough
  • did not space the cookies out with 2 inches between them on the tray

The resultant cookies, being rather too big, ended up joining together on the tray in the process of baking to become one large cookie-conglomerate.

Cookies

The somewhat humorous surface, though it brought a giggle even to myself, concealed horrors beneath. Because of the excess of butter used, nothing beyond the crust was crispy. It was all buttery, oily doughy goo at the bottom (even after repeated attempts to bake). I ended up with a giant chocolate-chip-crispy-crust-cake. Despite a delightfully deceptive fragrance, no one in my family would eat more than a mouthful of it.

I’d created a monster.

Thankfully, unlike Frankenstein’s, mine was easily broken up into tiny pieces and disposed of in the rubbish (with some guilty thoughts of wastage of food, assuaged by other thoughts of how I was better off eating fruit). Unfortunately, unlike Frankenstein, I still have half a pack of the cookie mix left.

Anyone know any good baking movies?

Nanoglue

June 2, 2007

So I was reading this article on nanoglue and how it can potentially be used one day to create a Spiderman-type web shooter, when it occurred to me how terrible it would be to be shot with it.

I mean, Spiderman uses his web’s bonding power to stop trains. That’s a level of stickiness that’s pretty impressive.

Supervillians just seem to shrug off the strands like thread, but in reality those things should be taking off pieces of skin or hair as they come off–have you ever tried to remove bubblegum from hair? Painful.

An alternate use would be in beauty parlours as a fast, efficient wax treatment.