Dragonboating, Fests, Film

Two sundays ago (wow time flies), we went for a dragonboating trip with some SoC people. It started to pour as we walked from Kallang MRT to the sea sports club, and I prayed for no rain! We hid under the bridge for a while. Praise God! The rain subsided and we managed to reach the jetty.

It was very interesting, and it was not as difficult as I thought. The teamwork and sense of achievement is quite great and fun, and it was pretty cool to see the Flyer and the Singapore skyline from the sea, with the waves whoshing as your boat rocks left and right. Splashing water seems to be the norm, as everyone purposely went close to another’s boat (we had 3 boats of about 8-10 people each) and started splashing water at one another. Heck, the instructor even thought us how to splash water effectively using our oar!

Our instructor was darn good, one stroke of his oar is > 8 of us combined together. When he starts rowing, can really feel the boat going much much faster. haha. px and ed kept playing with water behind me, as they had to bail water out whenever people splashed water at us. After many strokes, your back will feel a bit strained, but somehow after the whole thing, I didn’t feel any strain in my arm or back at all. wonderful, can’t wait to try again next time if there’s chance, as we didn’t manage to get to Marina Barrage due to limited time.

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On a side note, ST-Volkswagen lucky draw is hard to win, yet there are so many participants! Went down with JG on that day. And bus 985 actually allows me to reach home from Bukit Batok/Timah faster than from NUS. Amazing.

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Last week was a week of fests. TimbreFest @ UCC was quite interesting, especially with this female rocker singer Shirley and the Unexpected. Free Tiger beer, which is the one of the lousier ones which I dislike. Over at NUSSU JamFest, it seemed pretty successful. After all, who doesn’t mind not 1, not 2 but 4 free drinks? The Japanese Asahi beer is pretty good, it is ‘super dry’, hence it doesn’t give you a gassy/bloated feeling after drinking. And it was the first time I tried Singapore Sling, in its cute red bottle which some said was alcoholic Rose Syrup lol. I would say it tastes like 7up/Sprite that kind. The Japanese Sake is a bit too thick to be drank by itself though. And the drinks ran out at about 11pm already. I left early due to Film School and due to the Butter Factory music being not very fantastic. The setup was pretty good, with the Goodfellas and Jack and Rai and a few other bands performing. There were chairs and tables to sit and chill, as well as stages for people to dance on. The funny thing was, I heard the stage collapsed at the end of the event! Darn funny, caused a dent in the MPSH apparently. The lights were good, although I wonder what are the rafia strings deco for. I would say it is one of the better NUSSU event that they ever organised.

Jazz Band concert was very very good, I would say much better than both fests! lol. They sing well and play well and the music is pretty soothing. The rap song experimental piece was quite interesting, and I liked some of the dance moves and choreography. Maybe next time I should join a band. Haha!

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Film School on Saturday was a miracle. Praise God for everything went well although everything was in a rush. Moving from CFA to COM1 is not a good idea, especially when we got so much equipment with us! Luckily we took a cap instead of pushing the trolley in the hot sun. There was a minor accident while we were carrying the trolley as my hand slipped. Luckily no equipment was damaged. Also, the programme was pushed back due to people coming late etc. and also Danny’s voice was losing his voice. Fortunately there was a microphone in the seminar room. We managed to finish everything on time and rush back to UCC for the jazz concert.

Pray that all goes well at EMCC tomorrow!

Rag Exposed

Inspired by SirWhale‘s script style posts
There is now an actual documentary produced. Watch it at http://bit.ly/ragtoriches

REPORTER: NUS has just completed her 51st year of rag and flag. What do you think is the true spirit of rag?

RAGGER 1: All about my friends, the bonding, experiences..

RAGGER 2 (proudly): The sense of satisfaction of creating something out of nothing.

RAGGER 3: How we can use recycled materials to create the best and most beautiful float design.

NUSSU REP (even more proudly): It is a NUS tradition so we must uphold it.

RANDOM NUS FRESHIE: Rag? Orh, the Chingay float thingy ah.

REPORTER: What inspires you to spend all your holidays on float building?

RAGGER 1: All my friends are here. They ask me to join, so I join lor. Besides, they say it is a once in a lifetime experience.

RAGGER 2: It’s all about the human creativity and innovation. How we can come together and invent something out of nothing..

RAGGER 3: Yah, inventing something that looks beautiful from recycled materials. We buy, er no sorry, collect recycled materials, for example red cans, to create the red colour roof that we want.

REPORTER: Did you just say buy? I thought you are supposed to use recycle materials?

RAGGER 3 (on the condition of being anonymous): Ya we recycle the red cans that we buy. Otherwise, you expect us to collect cans from the coffeeshop like the uncles and aunties meh? Those cans have to wash and scrub, some more there will be soil and maggots inside. Very troublesome leh. Then if the cans are dented also cannot use. Besides, there will also be white cans, green cans and definitely not enough cans for our red roof. So we buy red cans, then drink ourselves or let the plants help us drink lor. Same for newater bottles.

REPORTER: Wow, I did not know that. What about those milk cartons?

RAGGER 3: Oh that. Well you don’t expect us to drink tens of cartons of milk and fruit juice right? So, we buy the carton material straight from the factory. Cheap, clean and perfect for our float building.

RANDOM NUS FRESHIE: (gives a surprised look)

REPORTER: Where do your groups get all the money to buy these things?

RAGGER 3: With the support of our alumni and some sponsors. At least our float is in-house engineered and built, unlike  some other group which outsource their float’s pneumatic  system to some company and spend thousands of dollars.  Heard their rag cost a whooping five figure sum.

RANDOM NUS FRESHIE: Five-figure! So much money for one stupid float?

REPORTER: What? That expensive?

RAGGER 3: Yah, it is quite unethical and unfair to those of us who spend our own effort and strength to build the float…

NUSSU GUY: All the floats are judged fairly according to our rules and regulations…

REPORTER: What about the smoke? How did you get the smoke puffing at different directions?

RAGGER 2: We use fire extinguishers. Very innovative right? Since these extinguishers are already left lying on the wall for decades unused. Haha. So we make use of this opportunity to spray the smoke through some piped system at different sides of the float.

RAGGER 3: Yep, talk about making use of whatever resources and materials we have.

RAGGER 1: Ya, very fun. That day my friend anyhow spray at me…

RANDOM NUS FRESHIE: One hall’s extinguisher was harmful to the environment. Make everyone cough and choke. Like what the heck?

REPORTER: So, do you think the time and money is well spent?

RAGGER 1: To bond with my buddies and gain teamwork experience, definitely. All the supper and long nights spent on building the float, once in a lifetime mah.

RAGGER 2: In the spirit of innovation and hard work, yes.

RAGGER 3: It is well spent, otherwise how can win?

REPORTER: So, is it just all about winning the title? For honour and glory?

RAGGER 3: Er…

REPORTER: Isn’t the money and time better well spent in some overseas community project or donated to the charities? I mean, a five-figure sum can easily build a school in a third world country!

RAGGER 1: Building up the spirit and what they call…cama-something…camarader…aiya you know that word!

RAGGER 2: As I’ve mentioned, it is in the spirit of creating something new. Without money, how do are we able to invent something so beautiful and entertaining?

RAGGER 3: Hey, don’t anyhow say. We did not spend five-figure unlike some other group. We are very cost-conscious and spend the minimal (whispers) and declare the minimal. More money is collected in flag day anyway so who cares!

RAGGER 1: I also got go Orchard with my buddies to collect money with the tin cans. So don’t say we never do our part for charity okay!

NUSSU GUY: A total of over $480,000 are collected on flag day for our beneficiaries.

REPORTER: But wasn’t rag intended to show off creativity to the general public so that they will donate money for flag? Now that the two events are separate, rag just seems like another entertainment show?

NUSSU GUY: If there is no rag, there is no flag. If there is no flag, there is no rag.

RAGGER 1: Flag was very fun with flashmob! Somemore we collect money for charity mah.

RAGGER 3: Yah, we must also collect the most for flag then we can win the overall shield. Otherwise no shield.

RAGGER 2: Don’t need to win the overall shield. Win best design is good enough for our creativity skills.

REPORTER: I sense some rivalry here. Is it just about claiming that title for your group?

RAGGER 3: Maybe, if some other group can spend some five-figure just for the title, then perhaps it is just for honour.

RANDOM NUS FRESHIE: I do not understand why people can drop everything they have just for the title. Ten years down the road, they would probably look back and laugh at themselves.

REPORTER: Some of the floats were very impressive. What happens to them after the rag day?

RAGGER 1: Dunno leh, my friend ask me to pick the rubbish and throw in the bin.

RAGGER 2: The best float should be preserved for display to showcase our creativity.

RANDOM NUS FRESHIE: They should recycle for next year!

RAGGER 3 (again, on the condition of being anonymous): Hmm, I think some of them are being driven straight into the garbage area, literally.

REPORTER: Thank you very much for all your responses. It is amazing how 6 months worth of work, for one day of glory, and all goes to the trash. And the many man-hours and money spent. And much more hard work, sweat, blood and tears. All in the name of the so-called ‘RnF Spirit’…

(to be continued…)

Freshmen Orientation Week, Choices Production , Start of Sophomore Year

After finishing NM2208 during special term, I would rate it as my favourite module so far. No exams, all graded based on assignments which were mini design projects…I wish more NUS modules could be like this! Less emphasis on examinations = less mugging and memorizing = more out of the box thinking.

FOW was good, although of course FOC was better. My group, darth vader had quite enthu group of guys but a few not so enthu girls. We had a great time at West Coast Park, and the amazing feat was that 200 over people bidding for their modules in the midst of our games at McDonalds. All thanks to Wireless@SG. Our group actually managed to win the most enthusiastic group, although I think in terms of cheering we are actually quite quiet. But they said we had good attendance and we participated in most games actively…that’s why. It was quite funny because some of the girls couldn’t even remember everyone’s names on the 2nd day and I had to keep testing them. Haha.

Food for thought: About thousand over litres of water and thousands of plastic bags were used in the name of fun. Is it worth it? Is it a wastage? Probably. Water can be sourced easily through the water cycle, although in water-scarce Singapore we are taught to save water. Plastic bags harm the environment when they are buried or burnt. Maybe someone can invent a more environmental friendly way of playing with water bombs and perhaps save the hundreds of similar camps which play water games. And earn some money.

I think the best part was when Guo Ting suggested we should go NTU for our flag day. As the saying goes, the most dangerous place is the safest place. True enough, as there were nobody else in yellow ‘competing’ for our business. Some of the people who saw the nussu on our shirts remarked: “wah NUS dare to come here collect money ah” “you have come to the wrong place” etc. Nevertheless there were still many people who donated. The most fun part was when we did two freeze flashmobs in front of their McDonalds. We stood in the shape of a heart, held our cans in front, and froze for 5mins and took a video. It certainly caught attention as many people thought it was innovative and donated money. The next one we did was not as successful, as we stood spread out and pointed at someone standing in the middle. All in all, I think flashmobs are darn fun and we should do more of them.

Our flashmob video was submitted along with another entry to represent SoC. There was an online voting and SDE was spamming it. After clarifying there are no rules, being computing students, we set up tens of laptops to spam the voting automatically using iMacro on firefox. Haha it was quite funny. In the end our votes were 6000+ against 3000+. But alas, the votes were removed from the judging criteria and SDE won the prize in the end.

Rag day was impressive. Amazingly, SoC won the least cost float, which is probably the first time we won something I think. And being least cost is certainly keeping the spirit of rag, unlike some other group which spent $x0,000 amount of money and even outsourcedk the pneumatic systems to some company.

Amidst the orientation, I had to rush off for Choices for 3 nights at ian’s and yoga’s house. It was very tiring as the camera rig was very heavy and it seems as if I have done hundreds of push-ups as my arms hurt. It was a good experience working with the actors, and my first time working on set with extensive lens and lights. It is very challenging to pull focus, and much more when most of our scenes were night scenes. Besides Yoga’s house had limited space to maneuver around. ian’s condo was very nice. We also went to Jurong Point to film, in which they were nice enough to grant us permission. The security guards were watchin us and people were staring at us as if we were from mediacorp.

After all the rarrar, school starts. I’m quite looking forward to this semester as finally I’m studying more of what I like to study except for one – math. May God’s favour be upon this semester!

Busy Holidays: Special Term, CTF, VGL, Castello

My friend says my blog is getting rusty. Well haven’t updated for almost a month. So busy that I’ve to type this on the train haha, thanks to my iPhone which has now been upgraded to 3.0. Finally can forward SMS and copy and paste! However I faced some glitches while upgrading and steve jobs said “npehea” to me (some Russian language).

Last few weeks has been a wham boom bang busy time (lol). My first special term results are out, and as with all other math related subjects, I’ve got a B. However I was quite disappointed with myself as I got more than 30 mins to solve the last question and I couldn’t. Shows that my left brain isn’t working as well. My lecturer Stephane Bressan gave an interesting quotable statement: “Math is not the problem. It is like a doctor who helps you solve your problem. You don’t blame math for your problems just like how you don’t blame the doctor for your sickness. When we are faced with problems, we just have to apply the rules of Math.”. Well think I can’t apply those rules that well.

Currently my brain has switched frequency to my right brain, and I’ve been doing designs on my tablet for NM2208 Principles of Visual Communication until my butt hurts lol. Check out my design blog. I think I prefer such “right-brain” modules and the best part is there are no exams at all – everything is from weekly assignments. Which is fantastic cos means I don’t have to mug like siao. Uni life should be like this! Sometimes I think I should have studied art instead. But it’s okay I should make the best out of my opportunities now, such as scrambling to apply fo student exchange. It is noteworthy that my faculty office actually forgot my application. Luckily I decided to email them one fine day. Now praying that my module mappings can work.

In other events, there was Celebrating The Family, a four-session screening event by nuSTUDIOS of CASHLESS and In Your Own Words.. I was the moderator for 2 of the Q&A sessions. Actually I didn’t do anything much, since most of the talking was by Derek and Melinda. Nevertheless it was still a fun time especially the last night when the actor came and there was much chatter with his company colleagues. Some of my friends and Whit came too. Someone asked me when’s my turn to make one and have a screening…well maybe next time soon….

I also went to CommunicAsia/BroadcastAsia. LG and Samsung had huge booths facing each other, and the former was giving out cubes to promote their cube interface. Frankly, their icons are an iPhone rip-off, and the cube thing is just a marketing gimmick. Samsung’s Jet was a bit overhyped, but the i8910 HD running on Symbian seemed pretty good as it can record HD video at 1280×720.

Video Games Live was awesome. I especially liked Sonic, my favourite console game, as well as Super Mario. Martin Leung performed the medley blindfolded on stage, as well as the catchy Russian folk song for Tetris. You can watch a video on YouTube, his hands move super fast! (*kowtow*) There was also a cosplay competition in which someone dressed up as a Patapon along with a weapon, but couldn’t see his face, won. (At that time I do not even know what is Patapon!)

DSC08496I also went to the closing event of Singapore Arts Festival: Crackers, a fireworks performance at yishun with jr and the rest. The introduction was a bit long and draggy but the fireworks was cool as they were exploding in-your-face and all around you in a circular fashion. There were also windmill and flying around kinds. Pretty cool. The ushers were quite cute too, as they wore yellow helmets and gave a safety briefing a la airline style.

Soon after was SoC Camp Castello which is the main highlight of the holidays. Somehow due to my friends preference for us to be in the same group, I was made the main OGL of Sir Kay Knights (SK9) with Steve as assistant OGL. It was a daunting task, especially when you have a weird group name and others said it’s gay. Haha. We went to buy cloth from spotlight and cut into bandannas, inspired by VJC’s. We then drew patapon-inspired K-figures on them, each with different weapons. Haha. My group turned out to be surprisingly awesome (as compared to other camps in which other groups always seemed to be better than mine). We had excellent freshies and OGLs who worked great in a team and in games and we managed to win 2nd in the ultimate race (with some people calling me colin.sg) and tailing behind the best group in most of the activities. Moreover, we even had the best male freshman in our group and we won tge best skit thanks to our creativity of merging LOTR, Batman, Patapon and L4D together. Everyone had a great laugh especially the gamers in the audience. Overall, I am very satisfied with my group and I hope my freshies are as satisfied with us for providing good welfare (such as buying ice cream and jelly pudding =p). I hope I did a good job as an OGL. Kudos to everyone!

With so many assignments to do, I am left with not much free time for myself. Combined with all the nuSTUDIOs activities and various meet ups I reckon my holidays will be over soon.

Feed The World, One For One

Imagine technology can Feed The World, One For One, without going through various layers of money handling. Technology will allow money donations to be made directly to the people who are hungry and poor. Each person can feed another halfway across the world with no strings attached. One meal for one meal, one for one.

This short film was an entry for the Microsoft Imagine Cup 2009 Short Film Competition by nuSTUDIOS Film Productions (a member of NUS Centre For the Arts)

Film Projects: Imagine Cup, Dr Seet

Been busy the past two weeks of the holidays/special term doing various filming stuff in nuSTUDIOS.

(Before the filming stuff started, I went for the CFA Retreat at Chevrons. It was meant as an introduction of CFA to the new excos. It was a long workshop-filled day, and the best part was the food provided, especially the pool-side BBQ at night. We kept eating and eating! Haha.)

The first one was Microsoft Imagine Cup Short Film Competition. A month or two back, Sabrina and I decided to give it a shot and submitted a simple storyboard. We got through the first round and now we are supposed to create a 3 min short film based on our storyboard. The theme for this year’s competition is “Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems facing us today”. Our story was about solving the problem of hunger, and our technology is some form of wireless transfer of money (e.g. ez link) which allows people to buy meals for someone across the world by buying a meal one-for-one.

And so, I got my cousin Dave, and my tutorial mate Siying to help me as the cast. We filmed everything all in one day last last Friday. It was also my first time using the Brevis/RedRock Micro camera rig, and I spent a few hours configuring and playing with it the day before. Took me a while to figure out how to align the lens. The results were fantastic and SLR-like quality. Not much colour correction needed! We filmed the “rich person” part in the Arts Canteen, and the “poor person” part right in our own studio room. Check out our set! :

imaginecup

It was a pretty fun day, and even though there were not much people helping us. However, in the studio, vic, yishu and zy managed to give us a hand in setting up the lights etc. After the filming, I came back on Saturday to edit. Added the music on Tuesday and the finishing touches on Wednesday before submitting online. Also managed to ask our friend Charles for the voice-over narrations. I’m quite happy that we managed to finish on time!

The next film project was Dr. Seet’s talkshow – An Audience with Dr. Seet. Dr. Seet is a NUS TSD Lecturer and he has this idea of doing a talkshow in the form of online short 3-5mins video cast. As he has many connections in the Theatre scene, it will be mainly about theatre and will be uploaded on fifo.sg. He kindly engaged nuSTUDIOS help in terms of filming, and we managed to get together to do a pilot shoot last Saturday. The venue was a small little room in Action Theatre. Originally, I thought we will get a black box kinda room or something, but in the end it was this little room which was quite crammed. Nevertheless, we managed to make the full use out of it and created a talkshow set inside! Sab bought a nice huge grey cloth (which is a neutral colour and acts as a good backdrop), and we got props like sofa, coffee “table”, lamp and a plant from the office upstairs. Together with the lights, the set looks pretty professional! Here’s a sneak preview:

drseet

It was a pretty long shoot, and we got to see stars like Nelson Chia, Lorretta Chen and much more. It was quite a fun process, since it’s our first time doing this. All in all, we shot 4 episodes, and look out for them to be finished and uploaded soon!

End of Freshmen Year

Haven’t been posting for quite some time due to exams. Finally, all is over! But I’m dreading a little because Special Term’s starting next week  -.-

There ain’t any interesting “Last Lectures” this semester, but here’s a quick summary of this semester’s module experiences:

CS1102 Data Structures and Algorithms was seemingly manageable in the first half, but when things like the Big O Complexity and Trees and Heaps came in, it became very complicated and foreign. I had to sorta force myself to sit down and master how the sorting algorithms work. No longer as simple as I thought. Perhaps my mind isn’t thinking like a computer. Fortunately, the final exam was still not bad. The only gripe was that there was a lot of time wasting tricky questions about Java a la CS1101 style.

CS2100 Computer Organisation seemed to be a difficult module to master initially from all the rumours from seniors. The lab sessions were gruelling as lotsa wire connections are needed. But after the first mid term exam, I realised that the topics are not too difficult to master if you take time and sit down and try and do all the questions. Most of the questions are pretty mechnical based, except for a few application questions. Towards the end of the semester, it seems as if Aaron Tan was going very fast and it was hard to catch up. Fortunately, I still managed to do so in the end. I guess it was a wise choice to take this module when Aaron Tan is teaching, as it is slightly easier.

MA1101R Linear Algebra is the toughest Level 1000 I have taken so far. The concepts are hard to grasp, venturing beyond the 4th dimension into the Euclidean n-space. Till now, I’m still not sure of some of the concepts I’ve learned, such as subpsaces and basis. In my lecture group, the foreigners take up 3/4 of the seats, leaving the last 1/4 to the poor Singaporeans. And there is quite a lot of competition, considering that during the in-lecture Practice Quizes, the locals are often the last few to hand in our worksheets. Quite scary. Unexpectedly, I also did not score too well in my lab quiz, so it is quite sad. Hope I can do reasonably well in my final term after much practice. Doing the past year papers gets more demoralising as the earlier papers are more difficult.

NM2216 Introduction to Interactive Media Design is one of the not-so-good modules I’ve taken so far. Firstly, the lecturer initially did not want to upload the notes before class and it was slightly annoying. Also, in my opinion, I think that the module is not very well organised and the notes are not very detailed in terms of the content. Most of it have to be read from the readings. The project topic was also a bit far fetched from the module – Sustainable Transport. The final term paper was also quite tricky and abstract. Although the module opened up interesting concepts about Affordances and interface design, I wished it could be better taught.

NM1101E Communications, New Media and Society was one of the most enjoyable modules in this semester. Firstly, the workload is quite low. Most of the tutorials do not require much preparation, except for the 3 graded assignments. The most tiring one was to design a survey in a group, while the other 2 assignments are done in class. One of them is an online discussion to write a report, which was an interesting experiment on how we can communicate online (using MSN and Google Docs) to write a report. The second assignment is what I do every lecture in NM2216: draw/describe a gadget that has bad interface design and suggest a alternatives for it. Overall, the main marks of the module is on the mid term and final term actually. The final term is all MCQ, and the last few questions were quite humourous. However, I regretted that I did not read the copyright information on the IPOS website before taking the exam.

Marina Barrage

Last Sunday, I went to Marina Barrage with a few friends. The view there is pretty nice, especially from the green grass roof. The Marina Bay Sands construction looks pretty fast, without about 3/4 of the hotel towers completed. I guess it would be nicer when the building is completed. There were also a lot of trees and plants around the Gardens By The Bay construction area. Actually, there isn’t much things to see at the barrage, except for the Sustainable Singapore exhibition gallery, in which they show you how Singapore manages its water supply and how the barrage works etc. You can walk on the bridge across the river and see how the dams work. My friend joked that the black pistons that push the dams look like those Fort Canning kind of cannons. haha. Can shoot enemies at the sea. lol.

After that we went eat some Hokkaido sandwiches at The Sail. The signature King Crab one is a bit overpriced ($8) and little serving, but the beef and prawn fritters one were pretty good. Good thing that there was free coffee with any sandwich purchase of $5 and above. They mainly cater to the weekday working crowd. Not too bad.

We also went to watch The Shinjuku Incident. As the reviews say, it is quite a violent (and scary) movie, showing a dark side of Jackie Chan, in such that he is not always the hero. After all, he’s the main person involved in the mafia wars portrayed in the movie.

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Last week my CS1102 Practical Exam sucked. I could not do the second question and the first question output was wrong. Feel so dumb and stupid now. Especially when my friend finished 45 minutes earlier. This Saturday got another test for CS2100! No more long weekend to enjoy.

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There’s a theory that it rains every Good Friday. Well it’s raining now.

From noon to three, the whole earth was dark. Around mid-afternoon Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” …But Jesus, again crying out loudly, breathed his last.

– Matthew 27:45-50

April Fool’s Day

Today my lecturer Mr Tan gave us a surprise pop quiz in the middle of lecture. There were 3 questions and he said it is 10% of the final grade. And we only had five minutes to do it. Halfway through we were discussing and some quipped that today is 1st April. After that he said he will reveal the answers now. He scrolled down the word document and it said Happy April Fools Day. Haha.

There are also other April Fool’s jokes around the web.