Clear instructions; illustrated. Good systematic approach in learning Adobe Photoshop CS6. Presented as specific lessons and tasks (vs just describing each features).
April 5, 2013
Secrets of Corel Painter Experts: Tips, Techniques, and Insights for Users of All Abilities/ Daryl Wise
March 25, 2013
Features individual Corel Painter users. Each digital artist shows a work, explains how its done. Most have a sequenced walk-through.
Plenty of inspiring works; insights into the digital art creation process using varying preferred techniques and styles.
A few artists I really liked (interestingly they happen to be asians):
March 22, 2013
UI Design with Adobe Illustrator: Discover the ease and power of using Illustrator to design Web sites and apps/ Rick Moore
February 18, 2013
November 28, 2012
A 1996 work. Earlier than his more well-known work, The Life of Pi.
I couldn’t help but compare this with The Life of Pi. In many ways it is just as good, with that twist of reality at the end and leaving the reader to wonder where were the crossover between reality and make-belief.
Reading this was like watching one of those unknown indie films – where you start off not knowing where the story is headed but you continue because the innocuous characters have grown on you. And when you reach the end of the story you think, “That was interesting”.
Essentially it is a mash of fiction and autobiographical elements. Probably should check out what a Wikipedia entry might say about this book.
It’s like the film, starring Robin Williams, “The World According of Garp” where you see the growing up of a child, from childhood to adolescent to adulthood; through friends, lovers, strangers.
But a lot weirder than the movie for sure.
A metaphysical exploration of where reality and escapism interjects.
Something changes to the protagonist and its a critical plot point so I won’t say anymore.
I think you can enjoy this if you just ease back, let the story unfold without trying to classify the book or anticipate the story.
November 22, 2012
First published 1993. Definitely an evergreen classic.
You could say this was also a coming-of-age story about the protagonist – Jane.
She’s a changeling, of unknown parentage. Her type has iron in her blood, and hence is the only species able to become dragon pilots. Something about being immune to the iron corrupting fey-blood.
The dragons in Swanwick’s fantasy realm are technological wonders, sentient war machines that require human pilots to fly. And maliciously evil too, such is their purpose.
Basically she ends up with a dragon and they both have an axe to grind with the status quo.
That’s super over-simplification of the plot but share anymore and you’d blame me for tainting Swanwick’s magic touch.
OK I’ll add that the end has that Sophie’s World twist to it. Right. Hate me.
Swanwick’s fey-steam punk world holds up a lot stronger than what I’ve revealed (which honestly isn’t much).
It’s a smooth ride, for every line — every backstory — seems such an intricately coherent thread to the whole telling. There doesn’t seem to be any frivolous bits. I found myself revisiting sentences just to replay the mental imagery over. Yet, I still managed to finish this work in days.
You get the assortment of creatures vile and fantastic. His magic is in telling them as if you’ve known them all that while. And the species and characters are there
The only readers who should avoid this novel are those who take offence at depiction of sex. Plus, the faerie-sex scenes can sometimes come across as rather deviant. Certainly much, much more sex than in Dragons of Babel (don’t make a beeline for the book now, y’all)
I’ve mentioned how every line in this book seems to be intricately woven, haven’t I? It’s all relevant to the fey-world and mood that Swanwick is trying to create, IMO.
This novel doesn’t delve as deep into the Babel or the Fey-world backstory (see “Dragons of Babel”) though one is quickly absorbed into the whole Dickensian steam punk-lord of the ringish-faerie tech realm.
Tan Kah Kee and Lee Kong Chian in the making of modern Singapore and Malaysia/ Edited by Leo Suryadinata
November 17, 2012
Published by the Chinese Heritage Society, the Tan Kah Kee Foundation, and the National Library Board. 2010.
A compilation of papers (in English and Chinese) that examines the two Chinese leaders.
Tan Kah Kee (1874-1961) was the father-in-law of Lee Kong Chian (1893-1967). Both were successful businessmen who were also active civic leaders, but who pursued different political paths.
P31 “Tan Kah Kee’s major legacy was more narrowly confined to education with tangible results and depth of impact. On the other hand, Lee Kong Chian’s major legacy, Lee Foundation, was rich in funds and had broader influences in society.”
October 17, 2012
A 2009 publication.
Starts with the question: what is fair? The broader question being, what is justice?
P19 three approaches to defining and framing justice: welfare, freedom, virtue. “this book explores the strengths and weaknesses of these three ways of thinking about justice.”
The book examines various theories of philosophy: Kant, Rawls, Aristotle.
Cites theoretical questions to real-life situations as examples to explain how these philosophies of framing justice has been applied (largely western societies).
E.g. If you are on a runaway trolley and you have a choice: let the trolley run its course and it will run over three other people in its path. Or veer the trolley off its path where it will kill one other person but spare the other three.
How does one explain that somehow putting one other person in harm’s way is worth the lives of three? Or, would you be less at fault if you choose not to do anything.
P87 examining the thinking behind a conscript Vs volunteer army. One view is that conscription is an imposition of an individual’s right not to serve (freedom). But on the other hand a volunteer army is not entirely voluntary since the motivation is pay. Which a question arise of whether military service is a civic duty (equality) or the non-serving citizens have abdicated this duty to others.
We seem to have a collective morale sense. E.g. in times of supply shortage, when is it considered ‘price gorging’? Is “insanely high prices” unjust per se? Most of us feel it is exploitation and taking advantage of others when they are down, that’s what I think we feel strongly against. But there is a way to also explain such intuitive reactions using philosophical theories.
The book gave me the intellectual vocabulary to discuss the idea of what is Justice; to be able to articulate what seem to be intuitive and subjective. For instance moral contracts, autonomy and reciprocity in social and business contracts.
September 23, 2012
[Rough notes for a book review; edited post, here]
There is power in knowing a name.
Maybe it allows for some measure of objectivity and rationality when one is able to put a name to a problem or illness.
Knowing what to call something means we are able to make sense of it. And subsequently adopt strategies to deal with it.
It is the same as other coming-of-age books about physical or mental illness that I’ve read.
As the author writes: “It was a life changing revelation to learn there was an explanation and a name for my unusual behaviour.” (Chapter 13, p232)
Reading the first few lines of Chapter One, my impression was the author who had acceptance. By the end of the book, it told me this was someone who had come to terms, but not eradicate, her inner demons. I appreciated how the author does not make excuses for herself nor subjected the reader to a self-indulgent confession.
How do we know if we are ill or just lack self-discipline? When does one lack self-control about one’s emotional responses and when is one just not being able to help oneself at all because of an illness? The last chapter scratched just a little of the surface of this issue.
Back in the 1980s, when the author was in her teens, mental illness was not something one discussed or publicly acknowledged. The stigma was real.
There is no shame in having a disability, be it mental or physical.
Taking charge of one’s mental disability — by seeking appropriate help — is an attempt at self-control.
I wondered “Have I ever been like that?” and “Do I know anyone like that?”
Uncontrollable rages that seem overblown.
She described several specific incidents where she let her rage get out of control. Each time, after the violent outburst, she would feel a sense of guilt and remorse. She described episodes of self-loathing for not being able to control how she has acted.
Just like one does not feel ashamed of taking medication for cholesterol or blood pressure, the same could be said about medication for one’s mental well-being.
As I learned from the book, Bipolar Disorder symptoms include extreme mood swings: periods of energy, happiness and invincibility and then inexplicably sadness, over-reactive outbursts and rages. Even feelings of being unconcerned about death.
She described being aware of those episodes but initially took it as part of her personality (bad temper and unpredictable nature) and a normal life cycle.
A breakthrough came when she decided to consult a psychiatrist, though episodes continued especially when she decided to adjust the dosage of medication.
Pages 109, 128, 153, 163, 194
To anyone ill, the best thing to hear is there’s nothing wrong with them.
Chapter 9, on her suicide attempt and her husband’s response was a poignant and touching moment for me (hat tip to Bob there). I liked this line a lot: “The minute you become a parent, you revoke the right to think about yourself.”
As with many things in life, the support and understanding from family, friends and colleagues are critical for one to cope with an illness.
The book would be great for a book discussion, on the theme of awareness, consciousness, choice. Similar themes that reminded me of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, just not as ‘metaphysical’ or philosophical
We read life stories like this, to remind ourselves that there is always some measure of choice over one’s ‘fate’.
September 23, 2012
I recognised the author’s name from previous Scifi Best Of anthologies and magazine stories in Analog (or Azimov?)
Then the blurb made me take the literary hook.
Check this out:
“A war-dragon of Babel crashes in the idyllic fields of a postindustralized Faerie and, dragging himself into the nearest village, declares himself king and makes young Will his lieutenant. Nightly he invades the young fey’s mind to get a measure of what his subjects think.
Eventually forced from the village, Will travels with female centaur soldiers, witnesses the violent clash of giants, and acquires a surrogate daughter, Esme, who may be immortal. Evacuated to the Tower of Babel — infinitely high, infinitely vulgar — Will rises as an underling to a haint politician and meets his one true love — a high-elven woman to whom he dare not aspire.”
War-dragon. Centaur soldiers. Just conjures up fantastic visions and promises of action; the sort that guys stereotypically like. Which I believe we do.
Plus the hints and promise of romance and intrigue.
The main protagonist is a man-child called Will, whose origin was of a mystery even to himself. His life changes when he is forced to work for the war-dragon. From there till his meeting of the centaur soldiers is pretty slick and exciting stuff. You’ll hate me if I give the plot away.
Will meets Esme, a young child who seems to have exceptional luck. Along the way, Will finds himself a mentor by the name of Nat, who is a con-artist and has plans for a grand scam.
The trio ends up in Babel, which is like the main hub of high civilisation. Will finds work with a politician, learns to be city-smart. There’s an exciting side-adventure where Will finds himself leading a band of underground insurgents.
The conclusion is also coherently slick. All the seemingly hidden agendas and disparate plot lines come together into a final coherent reveal.
Gene Wolfe called this work a “machine-age fantasy universe”. I call this Steam Punk. But not quite, because there is an element of the fantastic: magics and elemental mythical beings.
Maybe its a universe where Faeries acquire technology. Or perhaps it’s a advanced industrial society that chose to shape itself along mythical lines, built to a level that technology is indistinguishable from magic.
It’s a refreshing concept for me, whatever the case.
Almost immediately into the first few pages of the novel, I was reminded of Gibson’s Neuromancer, McCaffery’s Dragons of Pern and Pratchet’s An Mor Pok. Or, World of Warcraft meets Halo, in the realm of electronic games.
Whatever I might call it, this novel was definitely unputdownable. I devoured this in three days. Less, if I had the entire day to read. Definitely one of those books that give reading fiction a great reputation.
Btw it’s a 2007 story first published in 2008 (paperback edition came out in 2011). I think this will be a timeless classic.