[Reading] Toshokan Sensō

Toshokan Senso or Library Wars cover
Toshokan Senso or Library Wars cover

Novel title: Toshokan Sensō
Author: Hiro Arikawa
Original Run: 2006 – 2007

Plot: A girl joins the elite Library Task Force to protect books and chase after the man who inspired her to join. Along the way, you realise the kind of concessions one makes to be an adult, and just how refreshing it is to see it being spelled out plainly instead of full of melodrama and long monologues that most people would be out of breath actually practising.

Rating: Five out of Five

Rationale: I’ve read some other Japanese light novels that have been translated. They tend to be error-free, or at least to a minimum, but what usually irks me about them is how unnatural the language is. It is no one’s fault; in most cases, I would usually ascribe it to the translator’s naivete or inexperience. Most translations that irk me either have simple grammar structures or sounds stilted.

The translation I’m reading of Toshokan Sensō is tentatively a fan one. Someone actually took the trouble to get their hands on the original books and then translated them for a manga-reading audience. They also managed to keep, I think, the language of the novel without turning it into something else entirely.

I really enjoy reading this series. Part of it is because I enjoy the characters and the plot. A larger part though, comes from enjoying a well-made book. I love the characters and settings of Arikawa-sensei’s books, but I love melithiel’s translations equally as well.

However, it is the principles that these Librarians stand for that pull me in.

Books are sacred. They contain ideas, thoughts, and perhaps most importantly, experiences wrapped up in stories. A book you read, a book enjoyed, a book savoured, even a book discarded, all of them leave a mark on you. It’s inedible. We may wish that some books were never written, but books, once published, should not be censored.

However, there are those who insist such things should be censored. That all reading materials should be inspected and censored to fit the sensibilities of these small-minded people (I wonder how many of them read for pleasure, as opposed to reading for image?).

It is against this backdrop that Toshokan Sensō takes place. The Librarians defend reading materials against the Media Betterment Committee, which seeks to censor such things. Raids happen unexpectedly, leading to books travelling under armed guards, with attacks on public libraries to remove such books and materials from locations the public could gain access to.

It sounds ridiculous, but it really isn’t. It speaks to me as a reader, of fears what book banning will bring, what it might do to a society. Of a world where “A world where the library didn’t have to take up arms to defend itself.”

Aka a world where the freedom to read, not to express, but merely READ is curtailed so strongly.

Go read Toshokan Sensō. If you love books, you owe it to yourself to do so.

#IntelGenerations part 1

My tag for the #IntelGenerations event: It says Social Media Winner!

Disclaimer: I won a contest from the Intel Malaysia Twitter Account to tweet about the official launch of their 5th Gen Broadwell and Cherry Trail processors. Event was called “Intelligent Generations.”

See, this wasn’t just any old field trip. One of the main components of the prize was a trip into Intel’s design and testing labs; how often do you get the chance to see where the magic happens?

So when I won the prize, I asked my boss for a two day leave and was granted it. I hope HR will not kill me for it.

But that was how I found myself a few days later on a bus to Penang for a dinner with the other social media winners and the media. Dinner and accomodation was at the gorgeous Equatorial Hotel in Bukit Jambul. I’ll have a separate review of that hotel later on Tripadvisor.

Suffice to say though, the dinner selection was so-so, but the breakfast the next day made up for it.

Also, I feel a need at this point to say I think I have picked up a very Japanese habit. I showered first before I allowed myself to soak in the very luxurious bath. Bliss.

The next day dawned bright and early. Packed stuff, had breakfast, and then headed off to the Intel campus (as they call it) a little behind the media bus as we were waiting for someone. As you can see from the hyperlapse video below, we ended up going almost to the airport before we reached our destination.

Kem Bina Negara pass by
NOOOOO Not kem bina negara (translated: Nation Building Camp, with all the fun you can imagine).

And here’s us pulling into the campus. It’s quite non-descript, and yes, if you look at the map and streetview, we actually passed by the AMD factory on the way in. That tickles me to no end.

Once inside, we were ushered into a “second” breakfast, where there was coffee. Cappuccino to be exact!

Intel's Social Media Winners socialise... somewhat xD
I feel the need to plug the awesome photo taken by @MyIntel here: The caption may have been we were socialising face to face, but don’t let that fool you; we all had difficulty connecting to the WiFi, and so we decided instead to just wait till everyone else had connected before trying to hit the login page.

It was here that I got to know my fellow winners; Exo, whom most already know, SpectreOutreach, who’s a US Social Media Influencer (his target market is in the US). DJ Zero, who was once a Dj but is now a designer (good luck on that website design!), Farhan, an agricultural student in his first year (may you preservere!) and Ed, a former engineering student who’s now a marketing student (no, I didn’t ask).

I also revealed to the group at this point my fervent anti-Apple bias (whoops!).

So after a while, I decided to head to the loo. It was here that I got my first pleasant Intel surprise.

There was a long line outside the toilet. A very long line. As it turns out, the line wasn’t for the toilet itself, but from actual Intel staff who seemed excited to be there! I found out from Tilla (from Zeno, the Social Media agency that handled the contest) and Sameer (Intel Malaysia and Singapore Marketing Manager) that the IntelGenerations event wasn’t just for external people, but for the staff who was working there too.

During the presentation, it soon became apparent why they were so excited.

History of Intel
In terms of testing, about 90% of the chips made by Intel passes through the Malaysia facility for testing before manufacturing ramps up (I hope I got that bit correct). Additionally, Intel Malaysia’s Design Technology Centre plays a very large role in designing the many Intel chips we know and use today.

A few of you may have heard of the Intel Compute Stick, a 4-inch (here, have a pic) that’s essentially a PC in your hand. Yes, it’s underpowered, and yes, it’s not going to let you play graphic intensive games. What it DOES do, is turn a dumb screen (think the idiot box) into a smart one.

Are you a tinkerer and want to automate your home? Use the Compute Stick to control your light switches, your auto gate, and perhaps even, your fridge and kitchen. One of the demos I managed to look at showed how you could hook up the lights and sensors (if you have them) in your home and trigger them remotely. It was cool.

And the best part of all? The Intel Compute Stick is the brainchild of the MALAYSIAN design team. Completely.

Did I mention they also had a large hand in designing the Haswell, Broadwell and Cherry Trail chips, just to name a few?

And then, there is soFIA, created by the Singapore team. This pint sized-lady (I didn’t manage to grab get my hands on her) is about half the size of my palm, but her processor packs not only a processor, but GSM and Bluetooth connectivity features for ultra portability. Sofia sounds poised to be very wise indeed.

Oh, and in case you didn’t realise, by this time we were already in the launch event. It was packed to the brim, with some of the engineering/Intel staff sitting on the STAIRS of the auditorium to catch the event.

This is what it looked like in the Intel auditorium, full of staff

And it’s also obvious that some of these Intel rockstars (as they called the four guys on stage) were beloved by their employees. Chis Kelly came onstage to cheers and wolf-whistles, and it’s not hard to see why.

All four of them have a casual, easy going camaderie with each other and with their company. Looking at them and the Intel staff we passed by during the campus tour later, it makes me appreciate what they do. Here’s a company whose employees are passionate about their work.

And about this time, we broke for lunch. Part 2: the campus tour, follows!

PS: In case you were wondering what a snapshot of lunch looked like:
Intel-themed food

[Geekery] Hyperlapse! And some tips.

So I was originally going to post something else today or rather draft something else out, but this came first. I’m not sorry.

Microsoft’s Hyperlapse, to put it simply, is awesome! As you can tell from the video, the output is incredibly smooth and intuitive. On mobile, it will allow you to create videos at 2, 4, 8 and 16 times faster. As you can tell, the app works to make long videos shorter. What’s awesome about this particular app is that it actually stabilises the camera, so the end result is an incredibly smooth ride, as you can see from the video.

Here’s a tip from Marauderz when shooting for hyperlapse:

Longer videos work better. Generally, the longer your videos are, the more you get to see. For a one minute clip like mine above, you’re looking at at least 8-10 minutes worth of footage.*

Want to learn more about Hyperlapse? Click on the image below:
Microsoft Hyperlapse for Mobile

*I’ll link the original video of the timelapse above later on. Still waiting for Google to back it up for me. I couldn’t wait for this one to be uploaded. Original long, shaky video is below!

On learning a somewhat new skill

This is kind of embarrassing, except it is not.

Most people who know me in real life know I touch type, of a sort. My highest speed is about 84 words a minute, though the latest typing test I’ve taken show it to be 75 words a minute. As you can tell, I was self-taught; I think I learnt sometime in early college to try typing fast simply to take notes or to write assignments, I can’t remember which. I do know that it was in the MIT lab of my college campus that I learnt to be really enamoured of keyboard shortcuts.

In any case, I digress. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago when I was showing off my Hermes Media typewriter video when one of my friends commented, “You use your finger to press the space bar?” that I realised my way of typing may not have been the most efficient. In recent months too, I’ve noticed that my ring fingers seem to be quite underutilised. I generally tend to use the first three fingers of each hand to type.

So a few days ago, I decided to try learning how to properly touch type. It was nothing more than a simple exercise in training my fingers and hopefully become more efficient.

As it turns out, it was both easier and harder than I expected.

I’ve learnt in my short journey that my pinky and my ring finger muscles are severely underdeveloped. They are weak and I cannot control them quite as accurately as I can my first three fingers. This means that I frequently have typing issues when I need to use those fingers. Looking at the tutorials, it means that I have frequent misses when I try to hit the Enter, A, and punctuation keys.

However, I have somewhat learnt to be more sensitive to the placing of my keys. As you can see, I also tend to fly over from the right side of the keyboard to the left, taking over the row of my left hand instead of letting them rest on the right. This kinda hurts.

Alright, back to training I go. x_x