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Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Happy Birthday Inuka! -vwv

Inuka, the first polar bear born in the tropics, celebrates his 16th birthday today. The zoo is phasing out polar bears, so he will eventually leave Singapore when his mother Sheba passes away. In the meantime, let's hope they enjoy their stay with us.

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Yiheng made
9:18 PM


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Saturday, December 23, 2006
Zoo Photos Online -vwv

The full set of Zoo photos are online here.

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Yiheng made
12:28 PM


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Friday, December 22, 2006
"Wild" Christmas at the Zoo -vvv

I visited the Zoo today as part of the department's Christmas celebration. It seems a little different from the way I remembered. You can get closer to some animals now. Perhaps the cool weather encouraged the animals to come out into the open instead of hiding in a corner. What irony. When the sunlight is good for photographs, the animals hide in the shadows to cool off. When it's gloomy and the lighting is poor, the animals come out to play.

Still, the current designs of many enclosures are very friendly to photographers. Look at what I've got with just a digital camera.

Jaguar chillaxing on a log.

Really large Iguana having afternoon snack.

Penguins having fun.

This crowned pigeon shares the walkway with tourists.

I didn't know butterfly eat fruits.

Ring-tailed lemurs eating and jumping around. One of them nearly landed on my camera while I was taking a picture of one of its comrades.

Mouse deer were supposed to be really timid. This one just sat there the whole time I was taking its picture.

This giraffe seems to be able to communicate with the zookeeper. It lowered its head to the lady at one time.

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Yiheng made
11:31 PM


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Monday, December 18, 2006
Inside Joke -vwv

I've always felt that Lucy is a name that should be reserved for a Black Hole but apparently, some scientists named a white dwarf Lucy.

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Yiheng made
10:04 PM


Must be from personal experiences...

Well when white dwarfs get older and embittered with life, they will eventually collapse into black holes

By Blogger Soqcrates, at 3:08 PM  

Haha, indeed "Lucy" is a name that strikes a chord. I would relate the name to "Black Hill Old Demon" though *inside joke*
By Blogger Royst0n, at 4:24 AM  

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Saturday, December 16, 2006
The Flight of Dragons -vwv vvz

"There was a time between the waning age of enchantment and the dawning age of logic when dragons flew the skies, free and unencumbered."

The Flight of Dragons is a 1982 animated movie produced by Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin Jr. and very loosely based on the speculative natural history book of the same name by Peter Dickinson and the novel The Dragon and the George by Gordon R. Dickson. I have read the book The Flight of Dragons by Peter Dickinson some years back. It contains some interesting hypothesis about the nature of dragons and many beautiful illustrations by Wayne Anderson. As for the novel, I did not manage to get hold of it. Even the National Library had only one or two copies in some obscure branch back then. They are probably sold in a book sale by now.

Why am I writing about an animated movie almost as old as I am? Because when I was a child, this was my favourite animated movie. I watched it over and over again until the video tape got mouldy. And now, I finally found a digital version on Google video, whoohoo! (Actually I had a low resolution copy before but the stupid CD got corrupted.)

The Eighties was the age of Transformers, Care Bears, Smurfs, Ninja Turtles, Macross and Disney movies. While the appeal in these start to fade as I grew up, The Flight of Dragon always maintained a hold on me. I guess part of the reason was that it was a good movie on many levels. For the young, there was the fascinating enchanted world. I mean, which kid didn't like dragons? When I first fell in love with the show, I didn't even understand the dialogue. As I got older, I started to appreciate the complexity of the plot, the theme of magic versus science and then later on, understand the pseudo-scientific explanation of the folkloric habits of dragons.

A plot summary can be found at Wikipedia. The link to Google video is at the bottom of the page. Since I watched it so many times before, I can honestly say that there are many memorable lines, mostly uttered by James Earl Jones, a.k.a. voice of Vader, as the bad guy of course. I highly recommend watching this film. If only they would release it on DVD as they did The Last Unicorn, the other famous Rankin/Bass production.

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Yiheng made
10:50 PM


So many characters died in this show. How could you let children watch this?
By Blogger Soqcrates, at 12:58 AM  

What do you mean many? Only one good guy died. And most of the bad guys who died are monsters who didn't speak a single line.
By Anonymous yiheng, at 9:31 PM  

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Saturday, December 09, 2006
The Number 23 -vwv

I recently saw the trailer for a movie called "The Number 23". Here's the synopsis:
A man whose life unravels after he comes into contact with an obscure book titled The Number 23. As he reads the book, he becomes increasingly convinced that it is based on his own life. His obsession with the number 23 starts to consume him, and he begins to realize the book forecasts far graver consequences for his life than he could have ever imagined.
It feels strange coming across a movie like that because I've always subconsciously looked out for occurrences of 23 around me. Fortunately, I'm not so obsessed as to forcefully extract patterns from everything. Some people do that. It's actually quite amazing how if you really wanted to, you can find 23 in topics like sports, scientific facts, history, etc. For example, W is the 23rd letter in the alphabet and the symbol for W is two points down and three points up. You know these people are hard core when they can find a pattern like that.

However, I'm pretty sure you can find other numbers everywhere too, numbers such as 42. The number 23 does hold a certain degree of personal significance for me though. It's got nothing to do with UFOs, numerology or that fake science called Astrology. And it's not because I was born on Feb 3rd or served NS at 23SA.

I just like prime numbers, in particular, 2, 3, 23 (7 and 17, to a lesser extent) when written in base ten. 2 is the only even prime and 3 is the smallest odd prime. But 23, not only is it the smallest prime composed of a prime number of prime digits, those two digits also happen to be my other two favourite prime numbers! Now, how can one not like a number like that?

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Yiheng made
9:44 AM


hey thats micheal jordan`s number hahahah
By Blogger Bakazheng, at 6:06 PM  

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Saturday, December 02, 2006
AI Escargot -vwv

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

This is AI Escargot, supposedly the hardest Sudoku puzzle in the world to date. It does not have the least number of numbers provided but its creator, Finnish mathematician Arto Inkala designed it in such a way that requires player to consider "8 casual relationships simultaneously", whatever that means.

Being the ambitious guy that I am in such matters, I decided to give it a try. After an hour, my puzzle was covered with so many cancellations that I had to start over on a clean sheet. I have clearly underestimated its difficulty. This puzzle is driving me insane.

I took a 5 minutes break and started again. The only puzzles I have ever done are those in newspapers, which are really quite easy, so I don't know any techniques for handling multiple possibilities. I decided to try the branch-when-stuck-and-test-systematically approach. As you can see in my workings, I had to go 4 levels deep, that's pretty hard core for me. Due to a combination of luck and intelligent guessing, I only met 3 dead ends and didn't have to backtrack too far up. All these took another 1.5 hours.

And that's how I wasted a good Saturday afternoon.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

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Yiheng made
6:53 PM


Hardcore man. But at least you managed to solve it. I'm impressed.

Funny coincidence that for my division's retreat we also had a round of Sudoku as a warm-up exercise.

By Blogger Soqcrates, at 1:39 AM  

I solved it in 17 minutes. I've had harder.
By Blogger Mika, at 1:11 PM  

Waw, that's great that you could solve it dude.. two thumbs up for you :)

I think it's a very hard hard one.. really make me headache.

Till I find and work it out through sudoku solver and DONE, it only took around 1-2 seconds and I got the answer ahahahahahaa lol :p

You'd better visit that site guys,

It's quite a nice site I guess,

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:46 AM  

Well, apparently you worked it out the way my php script did it. My program also had to guess 4 levels deep.

It was my goal to write a program that would solve the toughest sudokus, and I did it! Though I'd really like to try this with pencil and paper like you did... so I've been trying to only glance quickly whenever I see the answer.

And I don't believe Mika.

By Blogger Stevish, at 7:03 AM  

I discovered this puzzle when I did a google search “most difficult sudoku,” the search returned an article about AI Escargot. So I copied it down and solved it in about 20 minutes or so. Disappointed at how easy it was, I was relieved to discover it wasn’t the real AI Escargot, so I found the real one.

Very difficult puzzle, took me about 3 to 3.5 hours to solve. Definitely the most difficult puzzle I’ve ever tried. The first pass only gives one definite answer and two blocks with two possibilities. The first assumption had me considering 4 possibilities simultaneously before I could prove it false. Once I had that value the next output of possible answers gave 4 blocks with only two answers. From that point I was able to create a table for the four blocks with 16 possible unique answers sets; the fourth set of answers actually solved the puzzle. All in all I had to consider 6 possible answers simultaneously.

Mika, I don’t believe anyone can solve this puzzle in 17 minutes on the first try. Prove me wrong……How did you do it? What were your logic assumptions?


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:37 AM  

Also solves it in a fraction of a second.
By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:51 PM  

There is a difference between guessing a solution, and proving that the solution you have is unique.

By using regular techniques you know that each number is the only possible one at that particular place when you put it down, so when you are done you know you have the only possible solution.

By guessing, running into a contradiction and then repeating until it works, you don't know wether something else would have worked too.

Of course the puzzle is constructed so that it wouldn't, but you haven't proved that.

By Blogger Feld, at 10:49 PM  

157 496 328
638 712 549
249 538 617

816 357 492
524 189 736
793 264 851

465 971 283
972 843 165
381 625 974

By Blogger Ries, at 8:33 PM  

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Just what we need, another Sentosa -vvw

STB plans to develop Southern Islands into tourist attraction

SINGAPORE: The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) plans to develop the six islands off the southern tip of Sentosa into a tourist attraction.

This, as its $12b Sentosa masterplan -- which includes Harbourfront and the Southern Islands -- is expected to be completed ahead of schedule in 2010.

The comment came on the sidelines of an industry conference where STB also revealed that Singapore is set to welcome another record number of visitors this year.

The STB wants to tap on the momentum of the Sentosa integrated resort bid and extend investor interest to the islands nearby.

Exploring the potential of developing land around the Marina Bay and Sentosa areas, the STB concluded that enhancing the lush greenery and natural foliage of the Southern Islands will make them irresistible as a tourist destination.

The Southern Islands include the Sisters' Island, Kusu Island and St John Island.

The agency says the Southern Islands already boast a Chinese temple, natural ecosystems and a resort-like atmosphere.

So it is conceivable to turn some of them into a resort island, a cultural site or an interactive rainforest park.

Designers say there is a trend towards mixing education and entertainment when it comes to creating a tourist destination that leverages on the natural resources of a given place.

They say the Southern Islands have the potential to become such a themed destination.

Citing Hamburg's Regenwald House, Shawn McCoy, Marketing Director of Jack Rouse Associates, said: "There's a great project in Hamburg called the Regenwald House. Basically, it's a rainforest where you walk through and you can interpret some of the flora and fauna that are there. Everything, from audio wands to rain sequence - so it rains on you. It's manufactured, sure it's synthetic but you're actually learning about the natural environment."

STB expects to announce details for the development of the Southern Islands and seek request-for-concepts as early as next March.

Total investment in Sentosa alone reached S$3.1 billion in the fiscal year ending in March.

This is a 68% increase compared to a year ago.

On tourist arrivals, STB says Singapore is expected to receive its 9th million visitor anytime now.

This will set a second consecutive year of record high for tourist numbers.

Singapore welcomed 8.94 million visitors in 2005. - CNA

Why can't they just leave the islands alone?! What's with this obsession of turning any natural environment into an artificial natural environment? I like my beaches covered with rocks, crabs, baby lobsters and other strange marine lifeforms. Not the sterile shit they have at Sentosa made with homogeneous imported sand. I like my forests to be teeming with life, strange insects and colourful birds. Not the synthetic greenery surrounding spas and air-conditioned hotel rooms or labeled plants that come with audio commentary.

When future generations read about the legend of how two inseparable sisters turned into a pair of islands or the tale of how a giant turtle saved the lives of a Chinese and Malay fisherman, they will be totally lost because the islands in the stories will no longer exist. Instead, we will have one big Southern Island. The Chinese temple and Malay shrine will be nothing more than tourist checkpoints.

And people wonder why Singapore has no natural or cultural heritage. I grew up catching crabs on Kusu and fishing on its breakwaters. The existence of places like these is one of the few reasons I tolerate some of the crap this country has to offer.

I'm glad the British sold Christmas Island to Australia because if it were governed by Singapore, it probably wouldn't survive our habit of exploiting Nature for profit.

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Yiheng made
11:54 AM


Yes I totally agree. It is disturbing that we are exchanging the last vestiges of unspoilt nature for artificial commericial kitsche. What seems even wrong to me is the fact that given the mandate to market the southern islands as a getaway for tourists, the attractions (much like the IRs) will be catered towards the opulent lifestyles and alienating the local citizens.

Gone will be the simple days where simple folk have access to public spaces as such. Resorts and spas springing will see to that.

And it's not like success is a given yet. Imagine reclaiming the islands for yet another Tang dynasty *shudder*

Unfortunately in Singapore, change is inevitable, and we pride ourselves for being adaptable and getting with the times. But at what price?

By Blogger Soqcrates, at 1:33 AM  

I just went past Tang Dynasty last week. It looks so weathered that it's actually starting to look authentic.
By Anonymous yiheng, at 11:15 AM  

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Friday, December 01, 2006
Titoudao! -vvz

Ok, here's my next target: Titoudao. Who wants to watch? Email me quick! I don't wanna miss the early bird discount. What's it about? Read this:
An English music drama set in the 1940s on the life of a Hokkien street opera actress, Madam Oon Ah Chiam, Titoudao traces her struggles against all odds to become a renowned wayang (Street Opera) star in Singapore and Malaysia. Through her colourful life story, we see the societal and economical changes in Singapore. It is a moving account of the struggles of a petite Chinese woman set against the progression of an ever developing island city. A heartwarming play that is poignant yet hilarious, it will make you burst into peals of laughter at one moment and weep the next. You will leave the theatre inspired by this extraordinary life experience of Madam Oon.

The star studded cast includes Singapore's stage and television luminaries Pam Oei, Beatrice Chia-Richmond, Kumar, Karen Tan, Sebastian Tan, Chua En Lai, Aidli 'Alin' Mosbit, Gordon Choy and newcomer Judy Tan. Written and directed by Toy Factory's Chief Artistic Director Goh Boon Teck whom won Best Original Script for Titoudao at the inaugural Life! Theatre Awards in 2001, this play also swept other major awards including Play of the Year, Best Production Design, Best Supporting Actor and Best Actress whom Pam Oei won for her role as Titoudao.

Sistic Link

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Yiheng made
10:36 PM


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Previous Posts

Swing Along 2009 -vvv

FF13 -vvx

YGBSM -vvw

Tibetan Song -vvx

Unfortunate Side Effects -vwv

Memorable News -vwv

Five Golden Flowers -vvz

Art Appreciation in Singapore -vvw

Openmindedness -vvx


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