random things I’ve been up to

Last of the catch-up posts, I think. What I’ve been up to during the past 3 weeks.

pumpkinsoup201711

I had a big bag of chestnuts that mm gave me. I wanted to roast them, peel then put in a braised chicken. But disaster happened! The chestnuts wouldn’t peel properly and stubbornly stuck to the shell. All I got was a big container of chestnut breadcrumbs.

Had to change plan, so made pumpkin and chestnut soup instead. The chestnut acted as perfect thickening agent, so the soup ended up quite thick. For liquid I made fresh turkey stock. Really, really nice. Served it with roti prata, which alas was store bought. Sprinkled on grated cheese.


sunset201711

We went for a drive one weekend, no real plans. Ended up at this oyster farm near the shenzhen border that has nice view of sunsets. Sunsets come early now, it starts getting dark at 5pm and full dark at 6pm. We brought picnic–mm brought an old bottle of macallan and some glasses which we sipped as we enjoyed the view. Only a small sip, since she’s driving.

We got chatting with a guy who had 2 tripods set up taking time lapse pictures. One was a Sony alpha 7 and the other was an iphone. He told us he just came back from Japan and he’s also been to a few other places to take timelapses of sunrises and sunsets. He collects the end results on his youtube channel. The timelapse here was at a place near where we were on that sunday.


frites01 frites02

A weekday evening out, met up for happy hour at frites. I started with trusty st bernadus abt 12, and then asked the assistant manager for a recommendation. He said to try the het kapittel watou prior, which is another trappist beer. Lighter that st bernadus, with chocolate tones. Nice alternative.

We weren’t that hungry, so we shared some miniburgers and a portion of frites.


musebar02

Met mm after her saturday appointment. Originally we were supposed to meet at the novotel but when I got there I discovered that happy hour had been pushed back to 6-8pm, and it was quite busy. I walked around the area wanting to find an alternative and came across this place called muse wine bar and art gallery. It was located in the basement of a boutique hotel and pretty quiet. They had a big wine list of bottles and a smaller list of by-the-glass wines. Not only the usual, but 3-4 pages of both red and white wines. The price was higher, but the tradeoff was quality and tranquility.

musebar04

On the walls were some ink art, I didn’t pay too much attention to the artist, but the artwork tied in with the quiet nature of the bar.

Next time we go there, I’ll order a bottle. Three glasses of wine came to around the same price as their cheapest bottle.


drago1

I stopped playing pokemon go. No incentive anymore, even with the last migration of legendary raids. I saw some people gathered around a gym while getting ready to get off the bus and didn’t bother running back like I would have before. The unfairness of raids, the stupid EX-raid invitations, the lack of pokemons other than commons, and I’m still bitter about no tauros, all contribute to my lethargy towards the game.

Some people have made the move to draconius go, which has all the features of pogo with fewer problems. Select a character and walk around to capture monsters. With names like Potty, these mythical creatures are cute as button, there are a total of 125 of them and they show up on a tracker at the bottom right of the screen. There are pillars of abundance (ie stops) where spinning grants random items that are useful in the game. Occasionally the adventuer gets attacked while walking, and has to battle the beast. Fighting can also be done in arenas (ie gyms). There are also many other features, refer to this useful beginner’s guide is on r/draconiusgo.

drago2

For some players, the playing experience is so much better, with more stops and creatures. For me, though, I stopped playing after a few tries. The two screenshots were taken from the same spot just down the road from where I live. The triangular area is the small local park. On the left, pogo with a gym and a bunch of stops. On the right, drago with…nothing. It’s the same picture everywhere else. The other disadvantage is my mobile provider isn’t counting data usage for pogo, they made a big deal when the game first came out and never took it away. So few people play now that it’s not worth them bothering with it. But with drago, I can’t imagine going out for hours and hours and eating into my mobile data allowance.

So, not playing either game. Not playing much else, just reading.

ravenhearst

ravenhearst1

I’ve spent the past few days playing the old Ravenhearst game. I got the original ten years ago, when for a short while I subscribed to monthly games. I still have 4 credits leftover at big fish games so I redeemed a credit for the sequel. And then they had a sale so I got #3 and #4.

I like playing these hidden object games on the mba, not so much on the ipad. Not merely because the screen is bigger so the great graphics can be seen better. There are too many ads and restrictions for the ipad versions–they make you wait for hours or even a day to replenish lives, or give hints, or other in-game features. There are no distractions or in-game cash grab for the mac games. The only problem is the mba heats up like crazy with these flash games. I can ignore it, but I make myself stop and logout after a while.

The first Ravenhearst game is pretty simple: mostly hidden objects with a few puzzles and solving the crime by completing jigsaw puzzles. Straight-forward gameplay and the puzzles are interesting. I didn’t pay that much attention to the diary entries that are supposed to be central to solving the crime; just finding the objects and finishing the crime computer jigsaw puzzles moved the game forward. The only notes I had to make was to remember the location of various keys in the different rooms.

ravenhearst2

Ravenhearst #2, or Return to Ravenhearst, is more sophisticated. Still hidden objects, but the crime and puzzle-solving elements taking more centre stage. Lots of rooms and areas to explore, I almost had to draw a map to remember all the locations; I’d go down to a basement and there is an entire street with shops and, hey, a dark cave. It’s fun to explore, and the puzzles were varied and challenging. One of my favourite games.

I’ve just started #3, Escape from Ravenhearst. It’s very different and I’m not 100% liking it. The hidden object element is now morphing objects: there’s no list of objects to find, we have to identify random objects that change form. After a couple of scenes, I have the hang of it and find that they are on par with traditional hidden objects. What I have trouble with, is the story and gameplay. As in #2, there are lots of different locations, some hidden, and it’s part of the puzzle to open up a new area. The problem with #3 is, I’ve found myself finishing a puzzle and then I don’t know where to go or do next. No new areas, no new clues.

The second complaint is the puzzles, they are not obvious. With the previous games, I could sense what I need to do to solve the puzzle. With #3, I’d open up a scene and have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing. Give an example, in #2 there was a puzzle where I had to switch numbers on a dial so they were in the right order; there was also a whack-a-mole game and I figured out hitting red moles took away points. In #3, I zoomed into a dial that had 3 push levers and there’s nothing to tell me what I should be aiming to do. I’m also having to constantly write down notes of random numbers and letters I’m seeing, they aren’t stored in the casebook and there are no clues about where they may be used. Way, way too obscure. I don’t want to read through the walkthrough constantly, but that’s what I have been doing.

I’m only around halfway done with #3 and reading the reviews make me go ‘hmm’ because the storyline is dark. The locations include a creepy hospital, a horrible house and a mental institution. Not sunshine and flowers this one. There’s always been a supernatural element to the series but in addition to the macabre twist the ghosts who appear in #3 are not helpful, all they say are “don’t come here, you’re in danger!” Duh, yes. That’s why I’m playing the game, do they want me to hit the quit button? I’ll work on finishing it slowly.

pokémon go fest

pokefest015stage

I was quite looking forward to the pokémon go fest event in chicago, having been lucky enough to get a ticket. Niantic was advertising all sorts of fun events: raids, global catch challenges, legendaries and special pokémons. The trainers at go fest were supposed to lead the world in catch events that were to take place in 30-minute windows.

So I got on the 9.12am train, stopped by 7-eleven to get water, and made my way towards grant park.

And that began a day that can only be described as a complete fail.

The event was supposed to start at 10am. I got to the entrance around 10.15am to see a long queue stretching down columbus. Walked to the end of the line to see an enormous mass of people snaking around buckingham fountain. Snaking like an intricate maze. I joined the queue and it took more than 2 hours to get to the entrance. They had one entry point for 20,000 people. There was nothing to do, the app took forever to open or crashed when I was trying to do anything. Someone mentioned we walked 7km just queuing up, she either was able to keep the app open or had a fitbit.

pokefest021stop

Actually getting in was fast. Go through bag search then scan the wristband. Once inside, we were given an envelope that had a badge and a QR code. The idea was to spin at one of the official physical pokéstops and scan the QR code to get the event badge. Sounds easy enough? Ha! There was NO SIGNAL. If we could get in, the app crashed after a minute. It took mutiple tries to get the app open and 4 tries to get the QR code to scan and the badge to show up. It wasn’t just me, it was everyone at the park. It was supposed to be an event where 20,000 people worked together to catch or raid pokémons but it ended up being 20,000 people with their heads down staring at their phones trying to get connected to the network or load the app.

I was there for a bit over 2 hours. In total I spun 2 stops and caught 2 pokémons: onyx and magikarp. A grand total of 200m was registered. Hatched an egg (rhyhorn) but couldn’t start to incubate or spin at a stop to get a new one. At least I got the event badge.

Left around 2.30pm and went to get something to eat. I hadn’t eaten anything and only drank a bottle of water up to then. The people at the next table were also from go fest and everyone expressed disappointment. The worst was when I was walking out and I heard a dad said to his son,

I’m sorry this was such a bomb.

I tried the app while I was eating and saw to my amazement, a porygon and then a chansey. The app crashed when I was catching the porygon but I got the chansey, phew I needed the chansey more. I started walking slowly to the station because I had around an hour before the train. Saw a bunch of people outside an alley and it turned out to be unown.

Niantic CEO and CMO got booed when they went on stage in the park to greet the crown. Turned out, they hadn’t informed the cellular providers they were having an event where 20,000 people would try to get on the internet. They had “forgotten” to install wifi towers. The servers couldn’t take the strain (nothing new there, par for the course for Niantic).

pokefestreward

So they extended the catch radius to two miles outside grant park. Those of us who were finally able to get a signal saw the promised rare pokémons. In addition to the porygon and chansey I also got unown and heracross. My recents don’t look so bad.

As I was taking the train back to the house, I was reading about possible compensation. The official Niantic apology to registered attendees:

  • refund of the $20 ticket
  • $100 worth of pokécoins
  • radius of special pokémons and eggs extend 2 miles for 24hrs (only visible to registered attendees)
  • legendary pokémon lugia to be automatically added to the account

I haven’t received any notifications yet; the compensation seems to be just about enough to shut people up. Doesn’t take away the fact that they ruined many people’s day. People came in from all over the US or around the world to play and they couldn’t. Especially sorry for all the families who were there, the kids must have been gutted. Trainers around the world who had organised their day to coincide with the event were also left confused and with no information. A good rundown of the how the day went is at heavy.

Apparently within the 2 mile radius after the event it’s super fun. Lures and legendary raids everywhere. But most attendees have probably gone home or away from the area.

Anyway, I’m leaving on Monday and I still haven’t seen a single tauros shadow. That’s another complaint for another day.

bbmm dinner drinks

nanliangarden2017

The plan was to meet mm late afternoon after her appointment. There’s a pokemongo water event going on and I was looking at appx trying to see if lapras was anywhere. There’s an area between 3 stations that showed promise so I left earlier and headed over there. Turned out to be part of a temple complex, the garden was pretty with lots of traditional plants, a pagoda, bridges and a waterfall. Good tourist spot, good photo ops and there’s a shop and restaurant. Good spawning selection too, got a few new gen 2. Then I saw lapras’ shadow and was so grateful for the footprints showing exactly where the stop was. It was an athletics track at a nearby school and I ran through another garden and jaywalked across the road to get there. Sign that not many people are still playing, there were only around a dozen people there.

Met with mm around 5pm and went to a hotpot restaurant. They have a 10% discount for the 5-7.30pm slot. Instead of going for tea then walking then dinner we thought we’d have dinner first. Great idea, the place gets very crowded at normal dinnertime but so early it was relatively quiet. Food was good, we liked the prawns and vegetables; tried fish soup this time which went well with our favourites.

Time enough to walk around and we ended up at the heritage house bar. No happy hour and fairly expensive but we had the place to ourselves for a good 2 hours before a few people came in for after dinner drinks.

running, christmas pikachu

5.25km 47.25min 9.02min/km

My last recorded run was in June. My last serious training run was in March. It’s been a long time. I’m not sure if I’m ready yet, but an occasional 5k will do me good. Luckily, the charmander nest had gone from the small park, so only regular walkers were there. The gps went a little wonky, I was able to estimate total distance. The usual complaint, slow af.

pokepikachuxmas

Went to morse park after the run. The new nearby screen had a christmas pikachu and I was able to find it easily. The new nearby screen is both good and bad; it enables us to go after pokémons that are spawning near stops but the ones that aren’t near stops are totally invisible and depend on luck to find them. It is what it is.

washing machine, happyhour, pokehunting

No office this week, I finished my project. Still went out early to walk around and explore a supposed seel nest. Only got 2 despite walking around for more than half an hour.

Then it was a long long wait at the flat for the washing machine delivery. First I had to disconnect the old washing machine and pipes because the delivery people only deliver. Took me about 10-15mins, had to figure everything out. After delivery, another 2-3hr wait for the technician to come and install it. He told me I could have arranged for someone to disconnect for a small fee. He was quite chatty, changed the socket and installed a filter between the outlet pipe and outside pipe to get rid of the sewage smell. All done at 4pm. Waste of a day. I hope the tenant appreciates it.

bruschettachianti

Needed something to eat and some wine. Saw an italian restaurant, Al Dente, near the escalator with 2-for-1 happy hour between 3-8. I was the only customer there. Asked for the snack menu and then the waiter said chef isn’t here yet so i said okay, no problem. He was thankful I was understanding. The house chianti was nice. When the chef came back, I ordered the anchovy butter bruschetta. Didn’t realse it’d be 6 pieces! Ordered a second round of wine, which the waiter comped. I gave him a 20% tip on top of the 10% service.

The bruschetta was filling enough to serve as dinner, so I went to a new area by the harbour that saw 4 porygons one day last week. Didn’t get lucky, walked to the end of the path and back. Got some various pokemons, probably should have stayed longer. At that point, I’d walked 10km for the day so I wanted to get home.

i dream of lapras

I never remember my dreams. I never know what they’re about but recent ones have felt busy. As in, mundane stuff and talking and going about daily stuff. Or something like that.

laprasjapan

May be I’m still thinking about pokehunting. I dreamed I caught a lapras. Sigh, if only. I’m close to getting enough candies to evolve charizard, cloyser, dewgong and weezing so I’m not worried about them. The ones I’m missing are the usual: snorlax, lapras, chansey, porygon. Plus regionals, but I have enough travel plans to have them covered.

pokeditto

During US Thanksgiving last week there was a double XP and stardust pokemon go event. I didn’t take advantage of it; aside from remembering to go outside at least once a day to get the daily bonus I hadn’t been playing systematically.

There was also the appearance of ditto, one of the ones in the pokedex that wasn’t previously available in the wild. People reported that they caught commons like rattata, pidgey and zubat and instead of the gotcha message they got an oh? and it transformed to a ditto.

I was planning to go walk around on Thursday after work, to rattata heavy places to see if I can find a ditto. Today, though, I had to go to the market to get onion and celery for the braised pork knuckle I want to make on Friday. Went earlier to see what’s going on at morse park. At the spot where there’s a gym and 4 stops there was a cluster of 2 bellsprouts, 2 slowpokes and a pidgey. Normally I’d go for the slowpoke but somehow I clicked on the pidgey. One red ball carelessly thrown and I wasn’t even looking closely at the screen when I got the oh? message. Yay, my first ditto!

pokeditto

Got a second one at carpenter road park that has an abra nest. After walking one circuit around and catching 3 abras, a geodude, a rhyhorn and other commons I was walking back to the market and there was a zubat. I hadn’t bothered with zubats for a long time. This one was quite stubborn, I was out of red balls and got it from my 4th or 5th great ball. The oh? screen again. Two dittos in an hour, I’m happy. Thursday’s plans now have to be amended. May be I’ll go to signal hill again, or I may try a new area where people have reported chansey, porygon and possibly lapras.

pokehalloween, day of errands, iced chocolate reward

pokemonhalloween

Thursday is office day, but I didn’t need to go in today. But I still left early because I had a lot planned for the day.

There is a pokemon go halloween event. Massive spawnings of gastly family, drowzee family and cubone family literally everywhere. The tracker map is back and if the map is zoomed out there are so many spawnings that they’re all clustered together.

I took over the gym up the road only to realise I had a few hours to go to claim my bonus, hahaha. Someone kicked me out soon after. By then I was on my way to the nearby housing estate for breakfast. I’d only been playing about an hour and my phone already needed charging. Another 30mins or so walking around morse park and more gastlys and drowzees and I caught my first marowak. Bus to signal hill, with a detour at k11 to charge both phone and ext battery. Signal hill gave more than just the halloween spawns, good varieties but nothing too exciting.

klnparkfountain

Lunch of scotch egg from marks and seasonal japanese beer from 7-eleven. Sat at the downtown park, with first very efficient sniping of the gym at one of the fountains. Quite hot but okay to sit outside, tolerable pollution today. They turned the fountain on while I was there, it was peaceful to watch it for a few minutes.

A good morning’s work. A huge amount of pokemons caught and also candy increase. Double candies means 6 per pokemon caught, I’m now at almost 300 gastly candies.

Dropped off a document at the bank, then walked back to the office. It’s almost november and still it’s 30ºC. Did a little work, surfed around the internet and continued reading my book. I’m not billing today so I’m not actually working, just charging my phone and enjoying the aircon.

pokkachoc02

We left quite late, almost 7pm. Dinner at 8pm at pokka café, mm had udon and I had korean fried chicken and topoki. We joined the restaurant group’s membership and one of the perks is one voucher per month of a free drink with meal. Considering they are a coffee specialist, their coffee is pretty good. But mm didn’t want coffee so we asked if we can order iced chocolate. Wow. I almost never order chocolate drinks because I find them too sweet or too sickly rich. This was different. Rich, but not overly so. Not too sweet. Very smooth. Came in a jug which we can pour over ice ourselves (or ask for a second glass and share). Good enough to be a dessert. This will be our monthly indulgence for the next 11 months.

I bought a few incubators in the morning and by the time I got home after a long day, I hatched two 10km eggs. Eevee and Electabuzz, sigh.

bbmm elements

pokegastly

I wanted to go to morse park and nearby but ended up at elements with mm. The nest there changed from abra to gastly. I got there early and walked around the shopping centre, then met mm and we walked around again. Total caught over the course of a few hours were 17 gastlys, a whole lot of voltorbs and magnemites and others. I’m about 2 gastlys short of being able to evolve.

beefset201610

We stayed at the shopping centre, dinner was at a counter service semi-fast food place at the supermarket. I had beef set and mm had mackerel set. The best thing in the set was the cabbage salad.

sis, sam, bbmm hh pokehunt

breakfastpizzahmvn

Met sis for breakfast at hmv. I had what they called a breakfast pizza: bacon, egg, spinach, tomato and hashbrown. We were the first customers and the food was obviously freshly made, came to the table piping hot. Large enough pizza for lunch.

The purpose of today was to go to the banks to deal with some of Papa’s stuff. Got one bank sorted. Gave documents to another bank and decided to leave the third bank for another day. Sis had to drop off a guitar, then we went to the yacht club for lunch. I had overcooked calves’ liver, a bit disappointing.

Waved sis off in a taxi and walked over to my hairdresser’s. They moved to a new place, much much nicer, more modern and roomier. I was there early enough so he could cut my hair, when mm came we had to wait for a couple of other customers. No big deal. Small (<10%) increase in price, he hadn’t increased our prices for about 10 years so it’s okay.

aburihh

Happy hour at an izakaya. We had beer, vegetable gyoza, grilled sausages, shiso leaf tempura (delicious!), grilled chicken soft bone (yummy). Either a set with beer or 1-for-1 beer. Didn’t hurry, just ordered a couple of skewers at a time like we should at an izakaya. Nice industrial design at the restaurant, using pipes, sockets and bits of wood.

Still early so we went to v-park where I spotted a few vulpixes earlier in the day. Ended the night with 7 of them, from zero. Looks like a new nest there.

1hr pokehunt

Mum had last minute dinner with her friends so I took the opportunity to take the shuttlebus to morse park for about an hour. I saw snorlax there earlier and lamented that I didn’t have a car, or wasn’t obsessed enough to hop into a taxi.

No snorlax while I was there. Kabuto as usual, a farfetch’d, a nidorqueen and just as I was leaving, an onix opposite the bus terminal. I had just about enough time to sprint there, catch it and sprint back to the shuttlebus stop.

dragonite near market

We needed veg so I went to the market, with a detour to supposedly a slowpoke nest. Walked a little around morse park, got the usual kabutos. The slowpoke nest is a canal / sewage channel that’s closed off for…sewage works. Saw one slowpoke, grrrr. Probably too early in the day. Walked to another park, nothing much happening there either. There was a gym that remained empty for 5 mins so I couldn’t help but occupy it.

dragonite

Slowly making my way back to do shopping and about to close the game. Took one last look at go radar and there it was, a dragonite with just over 6 mins to go. I had to look at the map and run down a couple of unfamiliar streets. Got there with 2 mins to spare. Definitely too early in the day, there were only about 10-20 people. Yes, CP only 46 but I got my first dragonite.

Icing on the cake, another slowpoke on the shuttlebus home.

hunting driving

Drove out to an out of the way town that supposedly has nests of several pokemons. Ended up at toastbox and supermarket for 3hrs. By the time we ventured to the park and pier where the nests are, it was getting dark. And add to that, couldn’t find street parking.

Drove to another town, with a detour for petrol. Still no parking.

Ended up at the place near mm’s sis’ flat, where I saw 7 pikachus in just over an hour that time mum was at the clinic. And yes, there were pikachus a few others. We also teamed up to take turns sniping a gym. It’s getting a bit cooler now so it was nice to be at the park with an open view of the harbour.

Didn’t have dinner so was famished. Fast microwaved noodles at 7-eleven.

shopping with pokehunting detour

Supposed to be a super typhoon coming, so I went to the market to get some fresh food.

Detoured to morse park, hahaha. In just 5 mins I caught a whole bunch of pokémons. In 10mins I caught poliwhirl, abra, beedrill, ghastly, jynx, paras, clefairy, weedle, caterpie, and a couple of kabutos.

aerodactyl

Checked goradar and saw an aerodactyl at the top end of the park. Only my second, the first one was hatched from a 10km egg.

Oh, market wasn’t too busy. Got some fruit, veg and frozen food. Took my cool bag with me so it was easy to carry. Managed to get on the shuttlebus with just one minute to go.

bbmm pokehunting

shatinunderbridge

Met mm in the afternoon for pokehunting at a hotspot our friend Dixon recommended to us. First order of business, the train station we met is a gym. She got there first and managed to sneak in for her 10 gold. She helped me get my 10 gold by weakening the defending trainers, what teamwork! Walked more than half an hour alongside the river path. Didn’t see pikachu or too many rare ones but steadily caught pidgeys and weedles. We didn’t always have our heads down staring at our phones, I spotted this really great shot underneath one of the road bridges crisscrossing the path. The reflection of the underside of the bridge on the water together with the supporting pillars was a picture perfect example of composition.

At the shopping centre that was our destination, we sat down for tea and a chat. Had cheesecake swiss roll, she had chocolate and I had a butterscotch flavoured one. Looked online to find where to go for dinner and decided on an outdoor daipaidong all-you-can-eat hotpot place. Ended up hopping on a taxi, and the driver gave us a good tip about another daipaidong nearby.

daipaidonghotpot

The restaurant was messy and definitely not fine dining. Lots of choices of food, laid out buffet style. The beef wasn’t the greatest but there were prawns, oysters and mussels. All fresh and delicious and well worth it. We basically focused on the seafood. Unlimited soft drinks too. Time limit 2hrs, we were full in well under that time. Worked it off by walking around looking for more pokemons.

Followed the radar and our friend’s tip and found ourselves in a small park. We joined dozens of people sitting at an outdoor stage area in the middle of 4 pokestops that were constantly lured. I got a blastoise, which I’m so chuffed about but poor mm, hers ran away. We stayed at the park until closing time. On the bus home we both caught onix so it was a good day.

pikachu in the rain

pikachurain

Mum had an appointment at the family clinic. Normally it’s okay for her to go herself but I went with her. Not to go to the clinic but to visit this pikachu hotspot. Just over an hour I caught 5, one ran away and one was on the map but I never saw it. Also got a dratini, a hitmochan and a few others. A good haul. It was absolutely pelting down with rain and I got thoroughly soaked even with an umbrella. There were puddles everywhere so my shoes and socks got squeaky wet quickly. Backpack was dripping, bottom of jeans were dripping. But I had fun.

pokehunting

pokemon

Went out to morse park to walk around and pokéhunt. It’s a well known kabuto and jynx nest. Got a kabuto quickly and walked around for more other stuff. At the most crowded area outside the badminton courts where 3 pokéstops intersect, there were again a big crowd. Then someone shouted something and everyone started running. I heard something-dragon but didn’t know what it was. Followed them anyway. Everyone was running to the next park, about 7mins away. The destination was a basketball court but I couldn’t see what it was, probably missed by a few seconds. It was a dragonite, argh!

Luckily, on the way back I found a venusaur. Back at the park I hunted till my storage was full, so I caught 30-40 in just a couple of hours at my local-ish park.

Went to the market and supermarket to get fruit and veg. Shuttlebus home. Tired, it was an extremely hot and humid day, I was permanently soaked through and had to shower twice.

Before bed I used a lucky egg and power evolve for 30mins. I saved up pidgeys and weedles and worked out a plan of action based on pokémons and candies. Was able to evolve 62, so got at least 62,000 XP. More because some were new, which gives 2,000 XP.

pokehunting, happy hour, steak dinner

hullet02night

Met up with mm to go pokéhunting. The shopping centre we went to didn’t have many good pokémons but it was nice to just sit and relax. Our friend D whatsapped us that he’s ready to hunt. We met up first at Hullet House, which used to be the marine police headquarters and now converted to a hotel. The colonial building has been restored and it looks very pretty, both during the day and at nightfall.

hullet04bar

The bar had happy hour which included local craft beers. Definitely a colonial atmosphere and a nice place to meet and chat.

steakdinner20160824

D took us to some hotspots: the back of ToysRUs, the far corner of a rooftop car park. Got a few draginis and a golduck. We had dinner at a casual Italian place. I had the wagyu beef set: scallop salad, pumpkin soup, A5 wagyu steak, petit fours. The steak was…okay. Very thin and not rare enough.

After dinner we walked to a place D said he found Pikachus but there weren’t any. It’s next to my bus stop home so it was at least convenient.

flip diving game

Looking at what’s new in the app store, mainly to download pokémon trackers. Downloaded flip diving and it’s surprisingly addictive.

There are different locations, tricks to learn and different divers too. Each game takes only a minute or so but I turn around and I’ve been playing for 20mins. We can even record our best or worst dives.

pokehunting with friends

Going out for the third time in 3 days. Met mm and another old friend D to go pokehunting. He’s at level 23 or 24 and goes out every night hunting, so diligent. He has a lot of the high level pokemons. The funniest thing is that his son is already in college and has refused to play because his dad does, hahaha.

We met at a shopping centre, took a slow bus ride to the big shopping centre at ocean terminal. So close to the harbour and in one of the most crowded areas there were plenty of sightings. We couldn’t walk 10m without another fish or squid showing up. The two of them were deflinitely more keen on playing than me.

koreanbbq201608

D’s wife joined us for dinner at a popular authentic korean place. Good food and value for money even though it’s in the michelin guide. Four of us had a 2-3 person set and added ox tongue. We called our friend P who is having dinner with his family nearby and he joined us for ice cream.

Quite tired. Looking forward to staying home tomorrow.

no doc, go

I really don’t like it when plans get pushed out of the window. I had my repeat doctor’s appointment in the morning then was going to take pizza or sushi to sis’ place. Got a call that doc is unavailable so the appointment is cancelled. Didn’t feel like traipsing all the way over to sis’. It was almost 11am and I didn’t feel like rummaging through the freezer so I took more clothes for recycling and then a minibus to the halal restaurant for lamb curry noodles.

Windy and cold, the 8km run in the afternoon was done partly against a strong headwind but the low temperatures meant a good pace.

A news article that caught my eye today was google’s AI vs human Go champion. I know the principles of the game go, and my dad played it. I was never very good at games like chess–never good at any games really.

alphago

Quite fascinated to watch the devs at google deepmind talk about their AI, called alphago. Clever programming approach. Instead of having the AI go through the

1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 possible positions

it combines a smaller search tree method with machine learning. The devs first had alphago learn the 30 million moves from games played by human experts then it played thousands of games against itself, to learn new strategies.

Alphago has already beaten the European champion and this week goes up against World champion Lee Sedol for a US$1m prize. So far it’s 2-0. The games are long, game 1 was almost 4hrs and game 2 almost 6hrs.

Some of the biggest advantages of an AI vs human is that the AI never gets tired or emotional. In these areas, humans always lose.

plague

Originally mm and I were supposed to meet up for lunch, but we decided to postpone because of the poor weather. Instead, I spent the whole day playing plague. I’d played a free copycat, infection, and decided to spend 0.99 on the better original. The aim is to infect and kill the entire earth population before a cure is found. The plagues progress from bacteria to bio weapon and within each plague category are different difficulty levels. The trick is to figure out the best way to win: infect everyone with low grade symptoms first; go for lethal symptoms quickly; transmit the disease through air, insects, blood; which country to infect first; how to deal with difficult-to-infect countries. Lots of possible strategies with different outcomes.

What makes it addictive is the seemingly endless possibilities, and each game can be finished in about 15-20mins. It’s a world domination sim game that makes you think, and the game has even attracted the attention of people at the CDC, who invited the developer to visit and talk about the game,

as a tool to teach the public about outbreaks and disease transmission because of how it uses a non-traditional route to raise public awareness on epidemiology, disease transmission, and diseases/pandemic information

plague01

The game was released in 2012 and has been downloaded millions of times, so I’m way behind the curve. I working my way through the standard plague types, hopefully the special types will unlock without needing to pay.

plague02

There are also many achievements to earn, which affects strategy. Combinations of symptoms, killing everybody under 365 days, cause a nuclear meltdown are just a few of the achievements.

plague03

Random popups give news or are important hints to get achievements. The Olympics get cancelled, then reinstated, and people in the UK are infected. Apple$oft (snerk) introduces iCure. Victory isn’t always guaranteed either. One advantage of coming to a well-established game late is the number of tips and cheats posted. Lots more hours of play until I get bored.

new yorker playdate cover

newyorkerplaydate

I’ve been known to text or IM people sitting a few feet away from me, so I understand the idea behind the recent New Yorker cover. I showed it to my niece and she nodded in agreement. I’m afraid to show it to my sis though, I don’t think she’ll get it.

At first glance, it’s about 2 kids each engrossed on their own computers and seemingly ignoring each other. The article title is Playdate, so it stands to reason that these 2 kids are supposed to be playing together. Parents may be worried about the lack of f2f interaction, the addiction to computer games.

But as the article explained, the kids are actually playing Minecraft. And for this generation of kids, Minecraft is their way of playing together. I must admit I tried playing, and I got hopelessly lost and my interest waned. It’s definitely a generational thing. The BBC asked should parents be worried about Minecraft? I think the danger of addiction is very real, but there are definitely lots of benefits to Minecraft. It encourages creativity and fosters community, my niece told me they have Minecraft parties and they even created a birthday cake in Minecraft for one of their friends. Seems to me that in moderation, there are more benefits than harm.

gameboy

gameboyfixed01

When my niece learned that I have still have my old gameboy (pocket, I must have given the original one to the charity shop ages ago), she asked if she could have it. When we tried to turn it on, we could hear the sound, but the screen only showed one horizontal line.

me: you can definitely have it, but it doesn’t work
niece: it doesn’t matter, it’s a gameboy
me: you sure? it doesn’t work
niece: it’s a gameboy

I could hear her emphasis and I guess I can see her fascination with something that is older than her. I know she’d be happy with the non-working gameboy, but what if I can get it working again? Gameboys are still available on ebay, and there are videos and instructions on how to fix them. One option is to mod it using a raspberry pi.

I don’t have the skills or confidence for that sort of repair, so I took a chance and went to one of those messy computer malls and found a hole-in-the-wall stall amongst the computer and video game repairs section. After taking it in for inspection, the young man called me back after a few days and said it’d been repaired. Yay!! For the equivalent of USD20-ish, they replaced the circuit board and I have again a working gameboy.

I remember bubble bobble being one of my favourites. I can play it, but I can’t for the life of me get beyond the first level. Argh! May be my niece will teach me. 

old games

gameipadslay01 gameipadhampstead01

Playing a couple of old games that have resurfaced in the app store. Slay was a game I used to play on mum’s PC in the 1990s, I think I have the 3.5” disk somewhere. It’s a simple strategy game where the aim is to move soldiers and occupy as many hexagons as possible. No bells-and-whistles graphics, just pixelated men with moving arms and hexagons in different shades of green. The trick is to link patches, put down towers, stop trees from spreading and make sure you have enough land to maintain different levels of soldiers. Oh, and attack other hexagons.

The graphics have stayed decidedly 1990s in the iphone/ipad version, which makes it kinda cute. The soldiers still yell “oh” when they are attacked, the attackers still have this evil laugh and dying soldiers scream as they turn into graves. I think I paid for the windows version, and I paid again for the app store version. It’s addictive nostalgia.

A game that predates Slay was Hampstead, a text game for the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64. I read that it’s been revived and available on the app store, free. So I downloaded it pronto. The idea is to move out of a filthy council house and get loadsamoney eventually moving into a mansion in Hampstead. Pure satire.

Love that these older games are coming back. Next on my list are the Sierra games like Police Quest, King’s Quest and Leisure Suit Larry, all have been ported to sarien’s mobile site. There’s a strategy game similar to Slay I used to play on my old macs, I can’t remember the name so I can’t search for it, sigh.

there is nothing. solve

The maker of Minecraft made a game in 48hrs as part of a challenge. This small game Drowning in Problems has been described as a

despair simulator

It takes only 10-15mins to play and takes you from the beginning:
gamedrowning01

to the start of life:
gamedrowning02

which then becomes a tedious chore as you face the dilemma of work vs stress vs creativity vs everything else:
gamedrowning03

It’s poignant and a very painful reminder of the pointless cycle of modern day life. There is no alternate ending, no cheat and it all goes back to nothing. It’s also quite addictive.

geoguessr

Spent a chunk of the weekend playing geoguessr, which I’ve bookmarked since it came out wanting to try it. Basically it drops you at a random google street view location, you can move around, make your guess on the map at the side and the game awards points based on how close your guess is. Sometimes it’s easier, with street signs, buildings even buses as clues, sometimes it’s just a dirt path with vegetation all around it. It’s an honours game, and you’re not supposed to google but, well. So here’s a typical game, you get 5 locations.
geoguessr01
location 1: a busy pavement-less road, dry vegetation and what looks like a goat at the side of the road
analysis: right-hand drive, seems to be a hot location so not UK or Ireland. No pavements so probably not Australia. More likely to be South Africa. Further down the road there is a Toyota dealer with partial name. At this point I did google
result: Botswana, not SA

 

geoguessr02
location 2: holy cow, coral in the middle of the ocean
analysis: no idea, so I guessed the great barrier reef

geoguessr03
result: somewhere in the gulf of mexico. At least I got more than zero points

 

geoguessr03
location 3: straight single-lane road surrounded by farm, small road on the left with US-style mailbox leading to several houses and a barn
analysis: somewhere in the middle of the US, it’s flat and farm country. I guessed Wyoming
result: it was Idaho

 

geoguessr04
location 4: chinese-styled white arch with red curved-roof building behind it, tourist buses parked in front
analysis: I can read the writing on the arch, and I’ve been to this place

geoguessr06
result: chiang kai shek memorial, taipei. I was 100m out because I didn’t put the pin exactly where the street view vehicle was

 

geoguessr05
location 5: corn fields, just like what we used to see on the X-files
analysis: mid-west USA, I guessed Indiana
result: southern Illinois

 

geoguessrscore

Total score 17,587. I think the max is around 30,000. My highest score so far is 24,989. It’s not all guessing, and some tips include looking at the weather, vegetation and soil if it’s in the middle of nowhere. Whether it’s right- or left-hand drive (if there are no cars road markings may help) is a good clue, as are road signs. I was dropped in a snow covered road surrounded by trees and thought it was Canada until I saw a beat-up Volvo and road maintenance signs that didn’t feel like Canada. Correctly guessed it was Sweden. It’s also useful to know where street view has visited: most of Africa, the middle of South America, China, Middle-East and the eastern part of Russia are out.

It gets slightly boring after about 20-30 games though, when it’s yet another empty road with nothing around it but scenery — I don’t have sufficient interest in plants or soil to spend time figuring out that reddish soil means either Australia or Mexico, or conifers suggest a colder region.

bad piggies

Mum and I went over to Sis’ place to pick up my niece, who is coming over for a night. She has my ipad but she isn’t allowed to play games on it, and out of all her immediate family, I have the most games on my iphone. So I introduced her to bad piggies, and she raced through the first level. She’s 10, it’s second nature to her.

angry birds jedi

angrybirdsjedi

The folks at Rovio, of angry birds and bad piggies fame, are planning something nefarious. Their first tumblr post has just a gif and a place/time: Times Square, New York, October 8th, 10am EST. There’s also a hint, to head to Toys’R’Us at 8am.

Sounds innocent enough? Except it’s Angry Birds. And the image is of a figure hidden inside a jedi robe holding a LIGHTSABRE. Angry Birds Star Wars! Wow. I need to stop hyperventilating. Now why did I leave NYC again?

wii, japanese food

2012hkjapall05salad 2012hkjapall03beef

My niece was already up when I woke up. We had lunch at home (ahhhh, so great to eat some simple home cooked food) and then spent the afternoon playing on the wii. Mostly, she played and I joined in a little, in between uploading pics.

They had to go home for dinner so it was just me and my parents. We went to another all-you-can-eat Japanese place. Sat at the sushi bar and ordered our little hearts out. Soft drinks and beer were free. We ended up having a ton of sashimi, a handroll each, some beef sushi, tempura, grilled vegetables, salad and ice cream. My favourites were sashimi and the whole sweet beef tomato. Not a lot of meat, just fish and vegetables.

After dinner, Mum and I went to the computer centre to get some flashdrives. We also went to the “sneaker street” but I was so disappointed. Nike Free 2.0 and Lunarglide 3 were more expensive than if I used a coupon at runningwarehouse. No Sauconys in sight whatsoever. Of course it means I have to be in the US to pick up the delivered shoes.

wordsmith game

wordsmith

Been playing wordsmith with mm. Because of timezones, we can only play during certain hours when we’re both awake, but it’s been fun. Sometimes when we’re on the phone we go through each other’s letters and come up with words. Scoring doesn’t matter. It’s just another method of maintaining ties and feeling close.

We tend to keep to simple words, but I find out that there are different rules and single words that are high scoring include quixotry and caziques. Don’t even know wha they mean.

mafia wars truck explosion epic fail

So for a few weeks mafia wars has been hyping this “blow up an armored truck” in celebration of Las Vegas etc. And today was the day. Supposedly at 6pm Pacific time, Snoop Dog will blow the truck up.

I’m still laughing. The production was so sub-standard — the livefeed was blurry, sound kept popping in and out, the presenter had no clue how to present. Snoop was late, and had no clue what mafia wars was. That’s not the worst. At the last second, some idiot told him he was in the way of something (another camera?) and he moved to right in front of the camera streaming the event to 100,000+ online viewers, perfectly blocking the view.

You can’t plan failure this epic.

hunch twitter predictor game

hunchtwittergame

I love hunch. I haven’t used it that much to ask questions, cos I don’t have a lot of decisions such as “what should I do during my commute?” or “which space heater should I buy” to make in my life. I answer all the questions though. So last week they released the hunch twitter predictor game whereby hunch will guess the answer to a series of questions based on who you follow on twitter. It guessed pretty well so far.

cross gaming

poker

So earlier we had a bunch of farmville people come to mafia wars because they had to get to level 6 and Bangkok (or something like that) in order to get a tractor (or something like that). There was an ad for mw in vamp wars but no requirement to go there yet.

The newest scam is that mw players have to play zynga poker until level 6 to get an ace in the sleeve loot. I don’t like poker. I know the rules in theory but I’ve never been interested or good at it. But I went there anyway. It took me a few tries to realise that I should be playing differently. The objective isn’t to win chips. It’s to gain experience point so I can level up. Even if I fold, I get xp for playing a hand. It took me a while to figure out that strategy, and to realise higher stake tables give more xp. I did occasionally win a hand, but it didn’t take too long to get to level 6 and leave.

I’m dreading the day when we need to play farmville or cafe world. I can understand mw/vw crossover if they do it, but those farming games are really boring for me.

facebook privacy, mafia wars

mwnymastery

With all the furore last week over Mark Zuckerberg saying that the age of privacy is over, I can’t remember where I read where someone said, “I just want to play mafia wars”, and I laughed. Even with all the annoying spam, mafia wars is addictive. And here’s the proof — a full set of job mastery items after I finished New York just before going to bed last night.

#4: get wii fit

I bought wii fit plus during black friday even though it wasn’t on sale. At the time, I was debating between this wii fit, which I’d always wanted, and the new Tony Hawk skateboarding game.

The first time I started it up, the program did some body measurements — height, weight, bmi, balance. Then there are some basic exercises — yoga, strength training, cardio, which are pretty decent. I tried the balance training ones — skiing, heading a football etc and not only did I suck, it told me I was unbalanced. Heehee.

I did better at the advanced games, and these are fun! Segway, biking, martial arts, flying — all involve some form of balance, cardio or at the very least, moving the body. They really did great on the games.

Its selling point is that it’s a fitness program. Hmm. I’m on the fence on this one. I know people have claimed to have lost weight on wii tennis, I’m just not sure it’s an effective weight loss program. It will benefit people who aren’t active normally. For me, it’s a fun game. It’s not gonna replace running or strength training.

8 million hit list

mw

Yes I know it’s scamville and addictive, but I’ve been playing mafia wars quite a lot lately. Just the simple do jobs, level up, find loot. I try to keep the wall spams to a minimum, cos I know it drives non-gamers nuts, and some of the posts are crap. I don’t care about icings and leveling up and helping friends because they give terrible boosts. Achievements and loot, yes.

I used to just fight people, but lately I’ve ventured into the hitlist. Oh, it’s fun. Once I’m stronger I’ll see about getting on the hitlist myself. Most bounties are the minimum $8000 and it’s a case of who clicks fastest cos they disappear quick. This was a rare occasion when I clicked at the right time, if only RL were this simple.

mafia wars

mafia

So yeah, i finally gave in and started playing mafia wars. I receive enough invitations from vamp wars players. Imagine my surprise and pleasure when I logged in and find that it’d automatically added friends who play as my mafia. So I started at level 1 with 357 mafia members, which gave me a huge advantage when I’m fighting. I got to level 8 in no time. eeeep, another addiction.

i made this, you play this, we are enemies

via bb, a weird, strangely mesmerizing, out of senses…flash platform game by the name of I made this, you play this, we are enemies. The creator, Jason Nelson, who tells us “don’t try to get it”, calls it,

an artwork/game/digital poem/world of scribbles and ideas from the back of my brain, way-way back in a storage room for contextual whims

Cory Doctorow calls it

brilliant and terrible all at once

Broken down, it’s basically a flash platform game using famous webpages as background and incorporating random words and graphics. But I think it’s more than that, just like poems are more than just a collection of words. Or graffiti spray paint. It has attitude.

I freaking love it, the freak that i am.

fairway solitaire

fairwaysolitaire

What I’ve been playing for a few weeks is Fairway Solitaire. The solitaire part is simple. The golf part provides a structured gameplay. Players advance through courses by reaching the goal set that round, for instance earn $5,000 or end the round at +5. Par is the number of cards left when the stock card pile runs out.

The early rounds are fun and quite easy. I’m still at the middle rounds and kinda stuck. The thing about these addictive games is you go back and try again and again.

ETA: I got stuck on Cherry Lakes, a middle level that needs a par of +5 or lower to advance. I’ve played it for 2 days and no luck. So I have to resort to finding a workaround. Grey Alien Games gives a straightforward hint for Windows. But they can’t reveal one for mac although they give a hint on how to get the hint.

A little of detective work, and a little understanding of how mac apps work did the trick. First we need to tell the Finder to show all hidden files. It’s a Terminal command. Then right click on the application to show package contents, and continue digging down till we get to the data folder. Edit (duplicate and save first!) CourseList.csv in the same way as the PC instructions.

if points were cash

jewel

No work today cos of a typhoon. When I woke up it was raining hard and the wind was very fierce. It’s a rare occurrence that the warning was kept on all day. I spent the day reading and playing online jewel quest. It’s the same 4 games repeated but it’s fun enough. I got over 500k points, and only a particularly difficult game bombed me when I got to 624k, thwarting my attempt at a million.

oh dear, gadget geek strikes again

psp

We had meetings, lunch meetings and I did a nice powerpoint for tomorrow’s big presentation.

But the big news today has nothing to do with work. I went to Hakuhinkan in Ginza, which is a big toy store. And I bought a PSP. In Silver. ¥18,000-something, cos I can claim tax back. That’s about $170-ish.

I really have no self-control when it comes to spending money.

filler game

I discovered filler. Like most small flash games it’s oh so addictive. The idea is to make large filler balls (by holding the mouse button) while avoiding the small bouncy balls. If the bouncy balls touch the filler ball while it’s being made, the filler ball will become like a balloon and burst. To advance to the next level you have to fill at least 66.6% of the screen. The online version has 30 levels so by the time you get to 30 the bouncy balls are everywhere.

Oh, the video screen capture is by screenflick, formerly known as screencast.