Jackoatsmon's Blog

November 29, 2011

Who am I?

Filed under: Musings — jackoatsmon @ 3:56 pm

The same old question that crops up every now and then.  Who am I?  What defines me?  Then again, does it really matter?  In a hundred years time, I will be dust and at best a faded memory.  I do not have the ambition to strive for the immortality of fame and history.  I live, I die and I am forgotten.  So what matters the answer to the question ‘Who am I”?

We all wish to have significance but in the end, do we really have any?  Even if we do, it is perhaps only in the significance of our species.  Do all other life that we share our planet with really care about what we view as our achievements?

Who am I?  I suppose I am a consumer.  I consume the work of others, their ideas, their inventions.

Who am I?  I suppose I am a cog.  I am part of the machine that we know as society.  I play my part and turn accordingly in the right direction and, in my own small way, keep society moving along.

Who am I?  I am what I am.  I am a product of my parent’s genetics, my upbringing, of various ideas and thoughts that I have absorbed from my environment and experiences.  In the end, the reality is that I am here with responsibilities to those around me.  There is naught to be done about it but to strive ever onwards and make the best of what I have.  To get what fulfillment I can with the time I have here.


A stray thought has crossed my mind.  There is the famous quotation “I think, therefore I am”.  No one ever mentioned what was being thought. . .


November 12, 2011

My Favourite Bookstore

Filed under: Service — jackoatsmon @ 2:59 am

I have been going to the same second-hand bookstore regularly for than twenty years now and had always liked the collection of books that they had as well as the knowledgeable and friendly staff that they had there.  The first major change they had was when the person that served as the face of the store left after selling the bookstore to another company.  While I missed her friendliness and her vast knowledge of the books she had, she was replaced by a team that was also friendly and knowledgeable.  More recently, the shop was relocated to a more up market shopping mall.  This took away the comfort of the familiar as the layout of the books had changed.  A more serious change, to me, was the fact that all of the existing team had disappeared.  While the new staff at the store were pleasant enough, I did not know them and they did not know me.  As a result, they were not able to make any recommendations on what books were available and did not engage in any small talk.  This is not usually important to me as I normally just go to a shop, buy what I want and leave.  This was different as I had grown up with the store and made connections with the people there.  They had bothered to note what I liked to read and would make recommendations and call me up to let me know when the books I liked arrived and offer to set them aside for me.  They recognised my family as well and would ask about them when I went to the store.  While I have kept going back to the store, I realised that I did not enjoy my visits as much.

I learnt that one of the old team was working at a another bookstore and promised that I would go down to take a look.  I finally made it down yesterday after a long time.  I was very pleasantly surprised to see the whole team there.  They still remembered me and it was like meeting old friends again.  They still remembered what I liked and asked about my family as well.  I will have problems making it down to the shop regularly as they do not open on Sundays but knowing that everyone on the team is there makes me determined to try to do so.  The shop may not have as big a collection as my previous place but I am confident that they will have the books I like and the warmth and service means a lot more to me.

For those who like books and enjoy good and knowledgeable service, I would suggest paying them a visit.  They are located at the ground floor of Hitachi Tower, Collyer Quay.  They have a basic information website located at www.preciouswords.com.sg.

November 6, 2011

Kids and Technology

Filed under: Aspergers,Musings — jackoatsmon @ 3:15 pm

I was one of those that grabbed the iPhone 4S when it was released.  I actually had to queue twice as my spouse wanted one as well.  Took me hours to get it done.  We were both happy to get the new iPhone as both of our phones were starting to act up and it was time for a change.

The features have already been discussed over many forums and media reports so I won’t bother to go into them.  (This is not a technology writeup anyway.)

The most notable feature was, of course, the SIRI.  We got home and started asking it all sorts of ridulous questions (just like everyone else).  As adults, we knew that it was ultimately a piece of software and limited our questions accordingly.  What was amusing to me was having my son ask SIRI how to do certain things in all seriousness.  As his enunciation isn’t very good, I doubt that the question was ever properly captured in the first place and he finally gave up.  😦

What I did not expect to see was the situation which arose when my daugther, who has Aspergers, tried to give instructions to SIRI.  She had apparently tried to get SIRI to play a song for her but as SIRI could not really catch our local accent, it kept giving her the usual replies like “I do not understand” or “I am not able to”.  This upset my daughter so much that she broke down and cried because she felt that SIRI was being very rude to her.

Aspergers problems aside, it seems as though technology is finally starting to get to the point where it is able to appear to be an intelligent entity in its own right where humans expect that it would response to their words the way another person might.  Where will this leads us?  On one hand, we can look at the future as shown in the various Star Trek and similiar shows where the computer can execute commands given verbally.  On the other, we can look at shows like the Matrix.

Fortunately for me, I am likely to be dust before such a thing happens and I can still treat it as an interesting piece of fiction.  🙂

There is a podcast by the mr brown show spoofing SIRI that is very funny to those who know the culture for Singapore.  View it at http://clips.tojsiab.com/?w=simi or at http://mrbrownshow.com/ (6 Oct podcast).

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