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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Seven Weapons - Longevity Sword: Chapter 1 (2)

It was night.
There were no stars or moon, only dark clouds and intense winds.
But the courtyard was well lit by many lights and there was even a table of feast.
The middle-aged scholar was crooning an indiscernible song with lengthened tones as he served wine for himself. Out of the blue, he suddenly raised his wine cup toward a large banyan tree outside of the courtyard and smiled.
“I’ve long heard that Chief Miao has a wonderful wine tolerance that can hold an entire river. Since you are already here, why not come down and join me for a drink?”
Owl-like laughter quickly resonated from within the thick shades of the banyan leaves. A shadow shot down and landed on the ground like a shooting arrow, except that the landing was so delicate as if what just landed was no more than a four-ounce cotton ball.
The man had a pug nose, a wide mouth, and a head full or bright red hair. Three large golden rings hung from his left ear. Although he had landed squarely on the ground, the golden rings still jingled. He was indeed the highest chief of the Red-Haired Gang, “God of Fire”, Miao Shaotian[1].
He stared right into the middle-aged scholar’s eyes, so intense as if there were flames burning inside his own eyes.
“You must be Branch Captain Gongsun of the Green Dragon Clan.”
“That is right. I am Gongsun Jing.” The middle-aged scholar stood up and cupped his hand in front of his chest in a solute[2].
“Indeed a worthy figure of the Green Dragon Clan! Very keen eyes!” Miao Shaotian praised, and then followed with his owl-like laughter.
Sounds of hoof beats suddenly rose like stormy raindrops in rapid successions and quickly approached.
“Little Zhang San is here, too. Not slow at all,” said Miao Shaotian as he knitted his pair of flame-like think eyebrows.
The hoof beats suddenly came to an abrupt halt, and a clear voice rose together with loud laughter.
“Who dares to be late for a meeting with an underboss of the Green Dragon Clan?”
Amidst the loud laughter, a man leaped in over the walls. The man had a suit of snow white short robe. The front pieces of the robe were intentionally left open, baring the burly and muscular chest, yet the chest skin was even whiter than the robe.
“What a fine ‘White Horse Little Zhang San’! Haven’t seen you for a few years. How come you look even younger and more handsome now? If Lao Miao[3] had a daughter, I’d for sure let you be my son-in-law.” Miao Shaotian gave a thumb up and burst into loud laughter.
“Even if you really had a daughter, no one would dare to take her,” White Horse Zhang San said calmly.
“Why?” Miao Shaotian stared at him with bulging eyes.
“Look at your own face. I am sure your daughter can’t be any better,” replied White Horse Zhang San.
Miao Shaotian’s eyes bulged even bigger. After a long stare, he finally said, “We are here to do business today. There’s no hurry to start a fight.”
“How about a drink?” asked White Horse Zhang San.
“That, we’d better hurry! Come! Let’s start by toasting three cups to Branch Captain Gongsun!” suggested Miao Shaotian, his face immediately turning into a big smile.
“My wine capacity is no good. How about I toast a cup first for you three?” Gongsun Jing grinned.
“Three?” Miao Shaotian knitted his brows again.
A man’s voice crowed from the ridge of a neighboring house in reply.
“Since both the East-Bank Red Hair and the West-Bank White Horse have showed up, how dare I be late for the party?”
“Mount Taihang[4] Zhao Yidao[5]?” asked Miao Shaotian.
But he didn’t have to wait for an answer, because he had already seen a bright saber, a sharp saber!
The saber did not have a scabbard.
The bright saber was directly fixed to his red waist band.
The man wore a green arrow suit with a green handkerchief on his forehead. His red waist band looked even brighter than Miao Shaotian’s hair, a perfect match to the blood-red silk attached to the saber’s handle.
But Gongsun Jing’s gazes were as sharp as the man’s saber and glanced across the three men’s faces.
“The Green Dragon Clan sent out twelve invitations, but only three came. Are the other nine not coming?” he spoke slowly.
“Right on! Straight to the point!” said Zhao Yidao.
“I am sure the three of you didn’t come such a long way just to listen to nonsense,” said Gongsun Jing.
“Not at all,” said Zhao Yidao.
“As for the rest of the nine guests, at least three of them are not coming,” said Miao Shaotian with a nasty grin.
“Six,” corrected Zhao Yidao.
“I took care of those from the Green Bamboo Gang, the Iron Ring Clan, and the Li Family of Taiyuan[6],” declared Miao Shaotian.
“Our three friends from the Twelve-Wharf Coalition, the Yangtze River Gang, and the Guan Family Style Fists from Chenzhou[7] suddenly caught some odd deceases on their way here and all had terrible headaches, so…,” added Zhao Yidao.
“So…what?” asked Miao Shaotian.
“They don’t have headaches no more!” said Zhao Yidao.
“Who cured them?” asked Miao Shaotian.
“I did,” said Zhao Yidao.
“How?” asked Miao Shaotian.
“I chopped their heads off,” answered Zhao Yidao. He then added casually, “Nobody will still have a headache if his head is chopped off.”
“Great idea! Simple and effective!” Miao Shaotian guffawed.
“I am afraid the two senior masters of the Ten-Thousand Bamboo Villa and the Flying Fish Pond won’t be coming either,” White Horse Zhan San suddenly added.
“Oh?” exclaimed Miao Shaotian.
“They all fell asleep, very deep sleep,” said White Horse Zhan San.
“Where are they sleeping at?” asked Miao Shaotian.
“Bottom of the Dongting Lake[8],” replied White Horse Zhan San.
“Wonderful!” Miao Shaotian chuckled. “That’s a cool place to sleep at, and they’ll never be disturbed either.”
“I always take good care of seniors in the Martial World,” White Horse Zhang San said indifferently.
“All those that should be here are here already, but where’s the merchandise promised by the Green Dragon Clan?” Zhao Yidao asked.
“Excellent, straight to the point,” Gongsun Jing said with a smile.
“I am sure the Branch Captain didn’t invite us here just to listen to nonsense,” said Zhao Yidao.
“Of course not,” Gongsun Jing nodded slowly.
“Branch Captain, are you waiting to hear our prices first?” Zhao Yidao asked.
“Not yet,” replied Gongsun Jing.
“What are you waiting for then?” asked Zhao Yidao.
“This merchandise was not easy to come by. Of course we’d prefer more bidders for a higher price,” said Gongsun Jing.
“Is the Branch Captain still waiting for someone?” Miao Shaotian glared at him.
“Don’t forget that there were going to be nine more guests, but you only finished off eight,” said Gongsun Jing.
“Who’s the last one?” asked Miao Shaotian.
“A person who neither has a headache nor fall asleep,” Gongsun Jing beamed.
“Frankly speaking, the Red-Haired Gang WILL get the merchandise one way or another. Whether there’s someone else or not, it makes no difference,” Miao Shaotian sneered.
“The Green Dragon Clan is always fair when it comes to business. If your Red-Haired Gang offers the highest price, this merchandise of course will go to the Red-Haired Gang,” White Horse Zhang San also sneered.
“Are you saying you are bidding more?” Miao Shaotian roared sternly.
“Why else am I here?” retorted White Horse Zhang San.
Miao Shaotian jumped onto his feet and stared at him with squinted eyes, the golden rings hanging from his ear jingled again from his sudden movement.
Sounds of rattling wagon parts and horse neighing suddenly echoed as a six-horse drawn extravagantly magnificent carriage arrived at the gate. Four burly, corky, and husky fellows leapt off the carriage shaft and then bent over to open the carriage door.
After a good while, a pale-faced, beardless, and obese man finally stepped out of the carriage panting. Only after three steps, he was already gasping for air as hard as an ox.
Behind him was a tall and thin man in a black robe that followed him like his shadow. This man had a sallow face, on which the two eyes sank in deeply like a sick man, yet his footsteps were nimble and swift. Along his waist hung a pair of shinny things, and a closer inspection showed that they were a pair of arc-shaped swords.
Such rare type of weaponry was not only difficult to learn, but also tricky to craft. Very few people in the Martial World would wield this kind of weapon, but for those who do, nine out of ten were outstanding Kung Fu masters.
Miao Shaotian, Zhao Yidao, and White Horse Zhang San immediately fixed their sharp stares onto the pair of arc-shaped swords.
“Who is he?” White Horse Zhang San asked first with a frown.
“Young Master Zhu from the Ten-Thousand Gold House of Suzhou,” Gongsun Jing replied.
“How about his bodyguard?” White Horse Zhang San asked again.
“Might just be a bodyguard,” Gongsun Jing said with a smile.
White Horse Zhang San pondered for a second and then suddenly turned to Zhao Yidao.
“Didn’t he come from your way?”
“That sounds about right,” replied Zhao Yidao.
“How come he didn’t have a headache?”
“Even if he did, I can’t cure it.”
“Why not?”
“His head is too big,” said Zhao Yidao in a light tone.
By then, Young Master Zhu had already sat down, although he kept wiping his sweats, panting incessantly.
He had only walked about thirty steps at most, but appeared as though he had just climbed seven or eight mountains.
The man in black stood behind him like his shadow, never more than a step from his side. The man’s pair of eagle-claw-like bony hands also kept a close distance from the pair of arc-shaped swords by his waist.
His deep sunken black eyes seemed to carry a strange ridicule, as if mocking those in front of his eyes for wasting their time on the trip.
The lanterns of the Wind-Cloud Inn swayed in the wind; the golden rings hanging off Miao Shaotian’s ear also tinkled.
White Horse Zhang San seemed to feel a chill and quietly pulled the covering of his coat closer.
Meanwhile, Zhao Yidao fixed his glance at the wine cup atop the table as if pondering upon a difficult dilemma.
No one said anything further as hostility brewed among the people present.
Gongsun Jing apparently quite enjoyed the air of animosity. He let out a long sigh and then spoke again with a smile on his face.
“The four of you do not know each other, but surely you have all heard of each other’s names. I’ll just spare the introduction.”
“There’s no need,” said Miao Shaotian.
“We didn’t come here to make friends,” said White Horse Zhang San.
“Even if we were friends, we no longer will be for the sake of the merchandise.” Miao Shaotian rolled his eyes and cast a side glance at him.
“Chief Miao has always been a sensible man,” White Horse Zhang San sneered.
“Now that everyone is here. Where’s the merchandise?”
“The merchandise is alright, but…,” Gongsun Jing said.
“But what?” asked Miao Shaotian.
“The Green Dragon Clan always follows well-established rules when we do business. We only do fair trade, and cash only,” Gongsun Jing said.
“Fine!” agreed Miao Shaotian.
He clapped his hands, and the nine red-haired weirdoes in hessian tunics suddenly emerged from the darkness, each carrying a hessian sack of quite some weight.
Sound of heavy footsteps also came from the doorway, and soon the curly bearded brawny man strode in holding a large iron chest in each hand. His iron-like black muscles were pumped up, and a deep footprint appeared in the ground with each step he took.
“Golden ring wedged in the wall, and white horse neighing in the wind. As soon as I saw those, I knew that the Red-Haired Nine Champions and the Giant Warrior had all arrived,” Gongsun Jing said, beaming.
“Don’t forget the eight sabers fluttering in wind,” White Horse Zhang San added.
Zhao Yidao finally lifted his head with a forced smile.
“East-Bank Red Hair and the West-Bank White Horse are both of abundant wealth and great power. Our Fast Sabers of Taihang certainly is not in the same league to compete. I guess our Taihang brothers are giving up the bid on the merchandise.”
“Excellent! Chief Zhao is very clever indeed!” Miao Shaotian guffawed wildly.
But his laughter suddenly came to a halt as he glared at Young Master Zhu with his burning glances.
“What about the young master of the Ten-Thousand Gold House? What are your thoughts?”
Young Master Zhu’s heavy breathing had finally ceased and was appreciating his hands like how a young man would appreciate his first love’s hands. But he still responded.
“Are you asking me what my thoughts are?”
“Humph!” snorted Miao Shaotian.
“I don’t have any thoughts. I am too lazy to think,” said Young Master Zhu.
“No thoughts? Got any gold?” Miao Shaotian asked with an angry face.
“How much did you bring?”
“You want to see?”
“The rule here is cash only.”
“But you’ve seen it.”
“My words are as good as cash.”
“So whatever you say counts?” Miao Shaotian’s face turned solemn.
“So if I offer ten-thousand, you’ll just say ten-thousand and one hundred?”
“You are very clever indeed,” Young Master Zhu replied.
Miao Shaotian suddenly turned his gaze toward the pair of arc-shaped swords. The nine red-haired weirdoes in hessian tunics had quietly surrounded Young Master Zhu. But Young Master Zhu kept staring at his own hands as if there was nothing else in the entire world worthy of his look except his own pair of hands.
Miao Shaotian’s hands suddenly shot toward the arc-shaped swords, fast and accurate, accompanied by a clear clanking sound from the golden rings on his earlobe clashing with each other.
But he would never have imaged that another pair of hands could be even faster than his, a pair of round and well-maintained hands.
Before his hands even reached the arc-shaped swords, this pair of hands had already pulled the golden rings off his earlobe.
Another clanking sound echoed when the golden rings clashed.
Miao Shaotian flipped his body backward and landed twenty feet away.
The man in black still stood behind Young Master Zhu like a shadow, not moving an inch.
Young Master Zhu still stared at his own hands in same position, except that a pair of golden rings astonishingly appeared in his hands.
White Horse Zhang San’s faced also changed color.
Zhao Yidao glanced at the wine cup in front of him and suddenly heaved a sigh.
“Now do you know what I mean?”
“What?” asked White Horse Zhang San.
“Even if he did have a headache, I can’t cure it.”
“Right, his head is indeed too big.” White Horse Zhang San couldn’t help but sigh too.
“Since everyone has brought their money, we might as well go see the merchandise,” Gongsun Jing let out another smile.
Miao Shaotian gazed at Young Master Zhu, his eyes bloodshot.
Young Master Zhu agreed leisurely, “Right! It’s a good idea to see the merchandise first. Who knows? I might not even want to make an offer.”
Putting the golden rings down on the table, he took out a snow white handkerchief, and after carefully wiping his hands, he finally stood up slowly.
“Please, please lead the way.”
“Please, please follow me,” said Gongsun Jing.
He walked toward the inn, leading the way. Young Master Zhu followed behind him slowly as if he was going to pant again. The man in black still followed him closely, but now White Horse Zhan San finally understood why there was that strange ridicule in his eyes.
He was not mocking anyone else. He was mocking himself.
Because only he understood that the man he was protecting did not need his protection after all.

[1] “Shaotian” means burning the sky in Chinese.
[2] A common form of greeting in ancient China by men with one clenched fist in the other hand moving about at the chest.
[3] “Lao” means old. Here “Lao Miao” is a way for Miao Shaotian to refer to himself.
[4] Mount Taihang is a famous mountain going through Hebei, Henan, and Shanxi Provinces.
[5] “Yidao” means one saber chop.
[6] Taiyuan is the capital city of Shanxi Province.
[7] Chenzhou is a city located in Hunan Province.
[8] Dongting Lake is a big lake located in the northern part of Hunan Province.
Now support the translator Lanny by following my blog and leaving comments! :)

Video of the Day:

A beautiful dance performance named "Embrace the Sky (飞天)" depicting dancing styles of the Tang Dynasty.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Robot of the Day: WheeMe, Your Personal Massage Robot

Ever wanted to have a back massage but couldn't find anyone to do it for you (for free, to be more precise)? Now there's an answer to your prayers: WheeMe, your personal massage robot developed by DreamBots. For only $49 apiece, WheeMe can massage not only your back, but also your tummy, your chest, or even your behind.

The palm-sized robot operates on three AA batteries and can move at 4.5 cm per second. It has four wheels, or "Fingerettes", which can tickle you wherever it goes. With intelligent sensing capabilities, basically accelerometers, it knows not to fall off your body, and then with random moving patterns, such as rolling back and forth or spinning in circles, it tricks you into thinking it's actually giving you a quality massage. And don't roll if you ever falls asleep, because you might severely crush damage your personal massage assistant and also scratch your back.

Okay, enough sarcasm, this is definitely an innovative way of using robots to solve everyday problems. And the price tag of $49 is really not very expensive for a robot. And to be honest, other than my robot, who's going to give me a massage for free? I haven't had the chance to try it because it's not available on the market yet, but you can pre-order from DreamBots web site and get one some time around the first quarter of 2012. It certainly makes a very unique Valentine's Day present!!

Since my creative juice is flowing right now, let me throw out some ideas. Wouldn't it be nice if the robot is also capable of:
  • Playing some soothing music while giving you a message to put you to sleep.
  • Acting as an alarm clock to wake you up when needed.
  • Having a video camera so you can see through the eyes of your personal robot (maybe using a goggle display of some sort) and look at your own back?
  • Having basic navigation skills, so you can put a leash on it and walk your robot "pet".
  • Having Internet access, so it can read latest news to you.
  • Transforming into a mobile phone so you can talk to your friends while getting massaged.
  • Can post updates to your Facebook, twitter, Google+ accounts via voice commands.
 Well, one thing for sure, if it's capable of all those things, you won't get it for $49. Anyway, glad to see creative ideas with simple mechanism being put into real cool products. I am off to massaging my own tummy now.

Women estimate time like programmers. You have to double or triple the time when they say: "I'll be back in an hour."

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Obama Announces National Robotics Initiative of $70 Million Per Year

With the possibility of graduation actually within the horizon, I thought it might be a good idea to start a new topic in my blog: Robotics Jobs. This will help me research on what kind of robotics jobs are out there since I don't plan to be a professor and stay in Academia. It is encouraging to see more and more robotics jobs in the industry emerging and start to make a difference for people's lives, although most of them are small start-up companies. Hopefully this series of blog posts will be interesting and helpful for other people who are also searching for the right robotics related jobs. I see a new great era of robotics applications just about to knock on our doors, and it is great to be a part of this effort to transform new technologies developed at university research labs into the real world and change the world! Good luck to me and all robotics job hunters out there! And I'll start the series with the positive news that U.S. President Obama is allocating funding to create more robotics jobs!

Obama Giving a Speech at Carnegie Mellon
(Credit: White House)
In a recent visit to Carnegie Mellon University's National Robotics Engineering Center, Obama announced a new National Robotics Initiative seeking to advance "next generation robotics." The new initiative will provide $70 million per year to fund new robotics projects, focusing on robots that can work closely with humans. The funding will be squeezed out from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, NASA, and the Department of Agriculture.

Obama Meeting Japaneses Android (Credit: AIST)

Obama loves robots (see photo on the left) and has a strong belief that advancing technology makes US companies more competitive and creates more jobs. But in order to help the economy grow, one important factor is how technology can be transitioned from research labs (the Academia) into the business world (the industry). Therefore, it is likely the money will be spent on research projects that are in a sense more applied than fundamental research, and private companies working in collaboration with university research labs will also have access to this funding and the money can be spent on developing real commercial robots -- really creating more robotics jobs!!

In the past, private robotics companies have had opportunities to get funding from the government mostly through military agencies to develop robotics weapons. Some also get a bit of money through the program called Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR). The new initiative focuses on how humans and robots can work as a team where humans can supervise and advice robots using human expert knowledge. This is very different from programming an industry robot to perform dull repetitive tasks that required precision and speed, for example, in a food processing plant. This is especially good news for me because my research focuses on how human can better manage AI/robot autonomy leveraging their rich experience and domain expertise in dynamic tasks and environments. The program solicitation states:
This theme recognizes the emerging mechanical, electrical and software technologies that will make the next generation of robotic systems able to safely co-exist in close proximity to humans in the pursuit of mundane, dangerous, precise or expensive tasks. Co-robots will need to establish a symbiotic relationship with their human partners, each leveraging their relative strengths in the planning and performance of a task. This means, among other things, that for broad diffusion, access, and use (and hence, to achieve societal impacts), co-robots must be relatively cheap, easy to use, and available anywhere. As the US population ages and becomes more culturally and linguistically diverse, these co-robots may serve to increase the efficiency, productivity and safety of individuals in all activities and phases of life, and their ubiquitous deployment has the potential to measurably improve the state of national health, education and learning, personal and public safety, security, the character and composition of a heterogeneous workforce, and the economy, more generally.
I applaud Obama's effort in advancing robotics technology and creating more robotics jobs! Although the funding is still very small compared to, for example, the $20 billion per year the government is spending in air conditioning for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, especially when robots are expensive (e.g., a Honda UAV Copter costs $300K and a humanoid robot costs $300K-millions). But it is certainly a good start. Let's hope whoever gets elected as the next president will keep such initiatives alive!

Obama's speech about robots and technology.

You can listen to Obama's entire speech (above) if you are bored. You can also check out the IEEE Spectrum article for more details. The speech mentioned about Obama's visit to a local company called RedZone Robotics, who makes robots to explore water and sewer pipes. Guess I'll have to check this company out and then post a blog about it next time. Enough for this one. Ciao!

Video of the Day:

A funny robot video from the Portal 2 game.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Robot of the Day: Fitbot, Shape-shifting Robot Lets You Try Clothes Before You Buy

Ever wondered how a shirt or dress looked good on you when YOU wear it? Mirrors in fitting rooms don't really tell you the entire story. And things get worse if you are buying from a catalog by phone or order one online. Thanks to robotics technology, your wish might be coming true. Before I say anything else, check out this video below.

The robot is the female version of the FitBot, a shape-shifting robot mannequin created by, an online clothing store. The company also has a male version.

In many past occasions, we have been lured into buying dresses from catalogs or online stores because the dresses looked wonderful in the pictures but turned disastrous when we put the actual clothes on. What was the problem? The answer is simple: we are no models. That's why those beautiful models get paid big $$$s to put these clothes on and look beautiful in the pictures. But we had to jump through all kinds of hoops to return the dresses and get refunds. We are not alone.

Wouldn't it be nice if I could see how the dress would look on me, not that beautiful model? Wouldn't it be nice if I could see how the dress looks like when I walk around and get into different body postures with the dress on? The answer to the problem: robot! Using servo motors, the FitBot can actually change its shape into your body shape based on your own body measurements.

Now before you get all excited about the many possibilities, that's not how the robot is used at the present time. The retailer actually enumerates all the possible (humanly possible, that is) body shapes with the robot with each dress and then take many photos. These photos are made available through the web site, so after you enter your body measurements, the photos with those body measurements would be shown to you so you know how the clothes would look like if you had worn it.

Well, don't get too disappointed, this is at least a step closer. I could almost envision how it works in the future: After you log into your account with the online store, the system automatically loads your body shape measurements into one of the waiting mannequin robots. Then the robot will retrieve the dress you are interested in, put it on, and then get into various poses for you. You can probably even pose yourself, and a camera on your computer will recognize the pose and send that to the robot to imitate. The robot can slowly rotates around so you can see the full 360 degrees view. There might even be an added benefit: when you see how gross you look no matter what pose your use and what clothes you put on, you might have more incentive to get off your ass, walk away from your computer and try to get rid of some of those fat.

Anyway, glad to see another innovative way of using robotics technology to solve real-world problems. You can read this article for more details if you like. I am going to get off my lazy ass, walk away from my computer to do some exercise now! Ciao!

I am so glad drinking coke is not against the Honor Code of the university.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Kung Fu Tetris with Kinect and FAAST -- How To Tutorial

[Ignore the date stamp. I just have a lot of blogging to make up for...]

I love Kung Fu; I am very passionate about Artificial Intelligence; and I like playing the game of tetris. What happens if I put all three things together?

Here, I proudly present to you: Kung Fu Tetris!

If you can't view the video above, try this or this or this or download video here.

So what do you think? If you think this is fun and want to do it in your home, read on. It's probably much simpler than you expected. In this blog post I will explain to you step-by-step how you can set this up yourself. Everything is pretty much off-the-shelf, except a small configuration file, which you can download from my blog.

Required Components:

  1. The first thing you need is a Microsoft Kinect. Microsoft developed this depth-sensing device for Xbox game console. Thanks to the open source community for writing the drivers, now you can connect it directly to your computer and there's no need for an Xbox. You can buy Kinect from local electronics stores or order it from Amazon for $139. And if you are a student like me, you can get it shipped to you in two days for free.
  2. You also need to have a computer to connect Kinect too. It can be your desktop computer or your laptop computer, as long as it has a USB port. I used an Acer Aspire One netbook, which I bought for $179. Even with a netbook's slow processor and limited memory, Kinect runs just fine.
  3. It also helps if you have a large TV/monitor, so you can see the game better while not standing next to the monitor. Most large screen LCD TVs let's you connect your computer to it like it's an external monitor. I used a VGA to VGA cable (just like connecting to a regular LCD monitor) and set the LCD to RGB mode. Your miles may vary.
  4. Next thing you need is a bit of space in front of the TV/monitor. Because the game of Kung Fu Tetris requires the tracking of your full body, you have to stay a good distance away from Kinect so it can cover your entire body. Besides, I am sure you don't want to accidentally smash your nice TV with your fierce kicks. So a living room is a better environment than your study.
  5. You also need the tetris game to run on your computer. I just use free online flash version of the tetris game.
  6. In order to use Kinect with your computer, you need to install the Kinect driver and the following three Open Source Applications: OpenNI, NITE, and FAAST.
  7. Lastly, you need to create a small configuration file for the keyboard command and body gesture mapping. You can just download my version.

Step-By-Step Instructions:

1. Buy Kinect if you don't already have it. Amazon sells it for $130. No need to buy Xbox.
2. Connect your computer to a big monitor or TV.
3. Download and install the Kinect driver. Extract the msi file from the zip file and then double click the msi file to start the installation.
4. Download and install the latest version of OpenNI (NI stands for Natural Interaction). You can find the latest versions on this page. Unstable versions are just fine. The current latest 32-bit version v1.1.0.41 can be downloaded from this direct link. It's an msi file, so you can double click the file to install. Note that if you are running Windows 7, then you need the 64-bit version.
5. Download and install the latest version of PrimeSense NITE. You can find the latest versions on this page. Unstable versions are just fine. The current latest 32-bit version v1.3.1.5 can be downloaded from this direct link. Again, just double click the msi file to install. During NITE installation, use this free license key: 0KOIk2JeIBYClPWVnMoRKn5cdY4= when prompted.

6. Download and install the latest version of FAAST (Flexible Action and Articulated Skeleton Toolkit). You can find the latest version on this page. The current latest version 0.08 can be downloaded from this direct link. It's a zip file. All you have to do is to extract the zip file to a location on your local hard drive. Later, you just need to run the FAAST.exe file inside the folder. No other installation required.
7. Now plug the Kinect adapter into a power outlet.
8. Connect Kinect to your computer by plugging it into the USB port. You will be prompted to install three devices: Kinect Camera, Kinect Audio, and Kinect Motor. Since you have already installed the drivers, the system should automatically find the driver files for the installation. However if it fails to find the drivers, you can point to folder c:\Program Files\PrimeSense\SensorKinect\Driver\x86 (use \amd64 for 64-bit systems).
9. Sometimes the driver might not install Kinect Motor or Kinect Audio correctly. You can try the CL NUI Platform driver instead. The latest version can be found on this page. The current latest version v1.0.1210 can be downloaded from this direct link. The file is an exe file so you just have to double click to install. Drivers are installed to this folder c:\Program Files\Code Laboratories\CL NUI Platform\Driver.
10. Test if Kinect is working correctly by running the NiViewer program inside All Programs - OpenNI - Samples - NiViewer.
11. Open FAAST by running the FAAST.exe file. Click the Connect button to start the device. You should now see human shapes on screen.
12. Stand in front of the Kinect device and then hold a ‘Psi’ pose for several seconds until a stick figure appears, as shown in the image on the right.
13. Open a browser window and position it so it is side-by-side next to the FAAST application. Load the tetris game by going here (or here). I linked the flash file directly so you don't have to deal with the annoying flash ads on those web sites.
14. Right-click and then select save to download my configuration file from, and save it to a location you remember (such as your desktop).
14. In FAAST application, click Load button and then browse to where you saved the configuration file and load that file.
15. Click Start Emulator button, then select your tetris game so your browser is the active window. You might have to recalibrate by doing that ‘Psi’ pose again.
16. Start the tetris game and then start kicking. See if you can move the pieces. Remember the controls are: 1) front kicks rotate the pieces 2) side kicks move the pieces left or right 3) jump does fast drop.

Be aware:

1. Do your warm up routines before playing this game. I AM SERIOUS! Otherwise you risk injuring yourself.
2. Don't stand too close to anybody/thing, because you might kick that body/thing and cause damage to him/her/it.
3. Kick with good speed and good form, otherwise weird things might happen.
4. Jump sometimes doesn't work too well. Just jump more. It's good for your heart.

That's it! Leave some comments if you find this helpful. Hope you get it working and start kicking! Enjoy!!

Disclaimer: I will not be held responsible if you
1) smash your TV/monitor with your fierce kicks,
2) injure yourself because of excessive or improper kicking,
3) become so addicted that you stop doing your share of the housework and irritate your better half, or
4) develop a habitual involuntary kicking syndrome and find yourself always throwing kicks at people near you.

By the way, the Chinese character on the back of my t-shirt is Tao, as in Taoism, meaning the way of life. So here's the Tao of the day:

Workout should be fun and enjoyable instead of torturous.
And playing tetris can be productive too!

Videos of the Day:

I thought these two videos are very appropriate for today's Videos of the Day! You really have to finish watching the first video to really appreciate the humor in the second one.

The original Wii Fit Ad

The Wii Fit Parody

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Seven Weapons - Longevity Sword: Chapter 1 (1)

Seven Weapons is another great book written by Gu Long. The book consists of seven individual stories, each describing a specific type of weapon. However, at the end of each story you will find out that the real weapon the author wanted to discuss is not the one named at the beginning. In this book, Gu Long showed his mastery of depicting the spirit and soul of the characters. This is not a book about weapons, it is a book about humanity.


Chapter 1: Wind-Cloud Inn
A palace of white jade in heaven,
Has pavilions five and castles a dozen,
Where the deity stroked my pate and coiled up my hair,
And blessed me longevity as my welfare.[1]
It was dusk.
Nine eccentric looking men suddenly appeared on the stone slated street, all wearing yellow hessian tunics, hemp shoes, and a bowl-sized golden ring hung from each man’s left earlobe. All of them had a head full of disheveled hair in bright red that spread across their shoulders like burning flames. Among the nine were people of various heights and ages. Though they had different body features, their faces all carried the same emotionless countenance, the kind normally found on dead corpses. And the way they walked, without ever moving their shoulders or bending their knees, closely resembled zombies.
They slowly marched along the long street, silencing the surroundings wherever they passed through. Even the sounds of crying children halted abruptly from because of fear.
At the end of the street, four giant lanterns sat atop a thirty feet long flagpole.
Bright red lanterns with pitch-black words that read, “Wind-Cloud[2] Inn.”
The nine red-haired weirdoes walked all the way to the front door of the inn and then halted. The leading man took off the golden ring from his ear and waved his hand. With a loud thump, the golden ring shot into the stone wall next to the pitch-black painted gate.
Sparks flashed everywhere as the golden ring actually wedged into the stone.
The second man grabbed a bundle of red hair from his shoulder with his left hand and then swiftly chopped using his right palm, which easily cut thorough the hair as if it were a sharp blade.
After tying the bundle of hair to the golden ring, the nine men marched on, their bright red hairs fluttered in the wind like blazes, and soon faded into the boundless twilight.
Right at that moment, eight sturdy horses came galloping out of the twilight. The sounds of hooves hitting the stone slated street echoed like raindrops hitting the window and battle drum beating like thunders.
All the riders uniformly wore green arrow suits with green handkerchiefs on their foreheads, flat toe Kung Fu shoes, and puttees wrapped around their calves, looking bold, vigorous and nimble.
As the eight horses sprinted pass the gate of the Wind-Cloud Inn, the eight riders waved their hands in unison.
Reflections of blades flashed like lightning. Another loud thump resonated as eight shinning steel sabers embedded into the large-bowl-sized flagpole.
The handles of the sabers still vibrated as the red silk piece attached to the handles puffed from the throw. Moments later, the eight riders vanished into the dark horizon.
The darkness of the evening had thickened when more hoof beats suddenly rose in the street, only faster and more intense than the previous eight riders.
But this time there was only one horse, a pure white horse without a single strand of colored hair from head to toe.
When the horse approached the gate of the inn, it suddenly let out a loud neigh and halted, rearing up on its hind legs.
Only by then could people distinguish the rider on horseback, a shirtless brawny man with wild curly beard whose dark-skinned muscles were as study as steel.
After the hefty man reined in the horse, he spotted the red hair tied to the golden ring by the gate and the eight sabers embedded in the flagpole. The man suddenly sneered and quickly jumped off the horse. Holding a horse leg with each hand, he let out a thundering roar and raised the horse high in the air until it reached the eaves of the gate.
The white horse let out another loud neigh. Although its manes danced in the wind, its four legs seemed to have been nailed into the eaves above the gate, not moving the slightest bit!
The bearded man laughed loudly and then strode away. Only moments later, he was already gone, leaving the white horse standing in the west winds under the nightfall sky all alone, making up an eerie scene with ineffable oddity.
The long street was completely desolate by now. All households and shops had shut their doors.
The Wind-Cloud Inn was completely silent. Inn guests had quickly slipped away through the back door when they saw the golden ring and the eight sabers by the gate.
The white horse, however, remained still in the west winds as though it had turned into a stone statue.
On the silent long street, a middle-aged, lean-faced scholar suddenly appeared. Wearing a blue long robe and white pants, he slowly strolled by. His face appeared to be very relaxed, but his pupils shined with wits.
Folding his hands behind his back, he slowly walked to the front of the inn gate, and cast a glance up.
“What an excellent horse! Excellent indeed! It’s a pity that your owner is so ruthless and brought grievance upon you,” he sighed.
He suddenly waved an arm behind his back, and the flying long sleeve swiftly created a wave of strong wind.
The white horse was startled. Letting out a long neigh, it sprang off the gate eaves.
The middle-aged scholar reached out his hands and somehow caught the falling horse by its stomach. He gently placed the horse on the ground and gave it a light pat in the stomach.
“Go back to carry your owner here. Just say a good friend of his is waiting here.”
The white horse seemed to actually understand these words, and immediately galloped away.
The middle-aged scholar casually pulled the golden ring out of the stone wall by the gate and began entering the inn. He gave a gentle smack to the flagpole as he walked by. The eight sabers immediately fell down at the same time.
The middle-aged scholar swept his long sleeve again, which caught and wrapped around the eight sabers.
“Where’s the Flag-Master?” he asked solemnly.
All of a sudden, a thin and small figure darted out from inside the inn and climbed atop the flagpole like a monkey, reaching the top of the flagpole within seconds.
A large flag suddenly spread out from the tip of the flagpole.
On the snow white flag embroidered a rampant jet-black dragon, so lively as if it would break through the clouds and fly away any moment.

[1] The first four lines in a long poem written by Li Bai (701-762), a famous poet of the Tang Dynasty.
[2] Wind-Cloud implies unpredictable and unstable situation. It is often used to describe the trend of the times.

Now support the translator Lanny by following my blog and leaving comments! :)

Video of the Day:

To demonstrate how durable their SD cards are, Samsung dropped paper airplanes from the space with the SD cards embedded. Read more at the project web site.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Robot of the Day: Vgo Telepresence Robot Lets Texas Student Attend School as a Robot

Vgo is a telepresence robot developed by Vgo Communications.It has a very simple design: a wheeled mobile base, a video camera at the top, and a small monitor with speakers and microphone. Although many people have built their own telepresence robots of a variety of forms, Vgo is one of the few that actually commercialized it as a product. Although the company has mainly targeted business customers and promoted using Vgo for tele-conferencing and business meetings, it had become famous recently for helping a Texas student to attend school as a robot.

Baty drives Vgo around school to attend classes (photo credit: CNN)
Lyndon Baty, a young man who suffered from a polycystic kidney disease, could not attend school because his immune system has been severely weakened from his treatments.But thanks to Vgo and technology-prone school officials, he can now happily attend classes every day at his high school in Knox City, Texas, as a robot! Like his classmates, he would switch between classes, and even chat with friends in the hall way during break time. For a boy who has spent much of his life in isolation, this robot has really set him free. Especially for teens who are used to social interactions through technologies such as Facebook, Skype, Baty, represented by Vgo, fits right in. Look at that big smile on Baty's face in the following video.

As great as the story sounds, the robot Vgo is definitely not cheap, with a retail price of $6000 plus a $1200/year service contract. I could probably throw a Netbook on top of a Roomba (or Create) and achieve similar effects for roughly $450. Also Vgo doesn't have any arm, so it always required extra help when it comes to opening doors (as you can see from the video above). Will people be willing to pay the big bucks for such telepresence capabilities? Will robotics companies like this one survive and become profitable?

It's worth noting that telepresence robots also might raise many additional concerns. For example, the video camera on the robot can record and reproduce everything it sees, and the video stream might even be hijacked, thus invading people's privacy. The robot might also be remotely hacked and taken over, thus enabling ill-intentioned foul play. But one thing we can all be sure: these robots are coming into our lives and we'll only see more and more of them everywhere as time progresses.

Video of the Day:

I can't find anything more appropriate than this video below for today's Video of the Day. The Big Bang Theory: The Big Bang Theory - Sheldon-bot. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Lanny's New Year Resolutions

At the beginning of the year of the rabbit, I wish you all a very productive and happy Chinese New Year!! 春节快乐!


I'll be visiting Lausanne, Switzerland to attend a conference for about a week in early March, 2011. Anyone reading my blog from Lausanne Switzerland? Anyone knows a cheap hotel near EPFL? If so, please kindly leave me a comment or shoot me an email! Thanks!


It's that time of the year again, time to make plans and resolutions.Although I know every single year should be just as valuable as the others, somehow I know this year is going to have particular importance in my entire life. So here below are the things I'd really like to accomplish in the next three hundred plus days:

1. Post two blog posts each day

Many people are still very confused by the dates of my blog posts. For example, you'll see this very post I am writing at this very moment be dated at March 24, 2009, when today is actually February 7, 2011. I think the dates of my posts are less important than the contents of my blog posts, therefore, I'll stick with this imaginary existence of the parallel university, and use the past dates to remind myself of how many blog posts I have fallen behind of my ambitious goal of one blog post per day. The only way to make up and catch up is to post more than one post per day, therefore, I'll try my best to stick to this resolution. Two is the minimum. Maybe I'll even get lucky some day and post more than two for that day. Let's wait and see. :)

2. Translate one page each day

There are simply too many good Chinese books I'd like to share with non-Chinese readers but too little time. Translating a novel well is quite a challenging and time-consuming task. I feel very sorry for keeping my readers waiting for so long, so I'll take the advice from one of them and make it into a habit of translating a little bit every day. This will also be a very good exercise for self-discipline, which I am certainly lacking these days. Note that the one page here is for the English text. I am thinking about posting a translation blog post about every three days (so three pages worth of translation). Bug me to death if you see I am lagging, by email or by leaving comments, because your support is the best force to keep me going.

3. Complete the majority of my dissertation work
In just a little bit over two weeks (February 24, 2011 to be exact), I'll be taking my PhD Oral Exam and defend my Dissertation Proposal. After that, it's just a matter of implementing code, run experiments, collect data, and then write quite a few papers. Hopefully I'll be able to get the majority of my dissertation work done in the next 12 months and shoot for graduation for Winter 2012. The good news is that my advisor agrees with the time line; the bad news is that there are plenty of planned work ahead. Work, here I come!

4. Build a robot of my own
I've always felt that my PhD would be incomplete if I didn't build a robot myself (here "build" means mostly putting off-the-shelf parts together, but with my own design, not simply assembling a kit), since my research is about Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. I've already acquired some of the main parts to be used. Hopefully by the same time next year, I'll have a working robot that's capable of some low-level intelligence. I have high hopes for this robot. I envision a long-term companion/assistant/tutor as I keep improving it for the years to come, as that famous says goes, "build your own friend!"

That's it! I wish myself and all of you a very productive year ahead. But also don't forget to take a break once a while to enjoy those small beautiful things and moments you might normally overlook. Also don't forget to visit my blog once a while and send your encouragements this way!

Key to success: Set high goals. Even if you can only achieve half of what you set out to do, it might still be a great achievement! -- Lanny

Video of the Day:

Despite not being able to score a single goal in the South Africa World Cup, Lionel Messi was still elected the winner of FIFA Ballon d'Or 2010 because of his excellence performance throughout the year. What a great way to start a new year!! I am so happy for him! He totally deserves it! I hope I also have a great start of a new rabbit year!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Smiling Proud Wanderer: Chapter 21 (7)

Today is a wonderful day, because I finally finished the draft of my dissertation proposal! To celebrate this monumental moment, I am posting the last installment of Chapter 21. Enjoy!

Read the first 20 chapters here!

 Linghu Chong was in a rush to finally get out of the dungeon. He didn’t pay any more attention to Mr. Black-White. Sticking his head out from the square-shaped opening and also extending his arms out, he pushed gently on the iron door. His body shot out swiftly and he landed on the ground without a stagger. He felt a great amount of inner energy depositing inside his Dan-Tian region once again, which made him quite uncomfortable. He had no idea that the inner energy streams were actually absorbed from Mr. Black-White, and only concluded that the energy streams from Peach Valley’s Six Fairies and Monk No-Commandment had returned to Dan Tian because he hadn’t practiced his energy cultivation techniques for a while. He decided to not worry too much about that and focus on how to get out of the dark dungeon as soon as possible, so he picked up the oil lamp Mr. Black-White had left outside and began following the tunnel out.
All the gates in the tunnel were left unlocked. He figured that Mr. Black-White must have decided to lock them on his way out. This made his escape so much easier. As he stepped through the many solid gates one after another, the many days of life in the dark underground prison suddenly felt as though they had occurred in a different lifetime. Strangely, his resentment toward Mr. Huang-Zhong and the bunch also seemed to have significantly lessened. All he could think of was the sweet smell of freedom, and everything else in the world no longer mattered to him.
At the end of the tunnel, he followed the steps upward until he was directly under an iron plate. He listened carefully but didn’t hear anything from the outside. This underground imprisonment experience had taught him to be more careful and cautious, so he didn’t rush out immediately, and instead, waited a good while underneath the iron plate and made sure there was no sound from the outside. By then he felt certain that Mr. Hung-Zhong was indeed not in his bedroom. Lifting up the iron plate gently, he climbed up and then leapt out from the hole in the bed. After carefully returning the iron plate to its original position and pulling the bamboo bedding sheet to cover it up, he treaded softly on tiptoe toward the door way. Then all of a sudden, someone spoke behind him in a gloomy voice.
“Second brother, what are you doing?”
Startled, Linghu Chong turned around and then saw Mr. Huang-Zhong, Mr. Bald-Brush and Mr. Paint completely surrounding him, each wielding his weapon in hand. He didn’t know that the entrance was equipped with secret trapping devices, and his breaking out had triggered the alarm and attracted Mr. Huang-Zhong and the others. Because he had a black mask on and was also wearing Mr. Black-White’s robe, no one had recognized his true identity.
Greatly frightened, Linghu Chong could only stutter, “I…I….”
“I what?” Mr. Huang-Zhong demanded in an icy-cold voice. “I had a feeling that you were up to something. You went down the dungeon and asked Ren Woxing to teach you the Evil Art of Essence Absorbing, didn’t you? Humph! Do you still remember what vow you pledged all those years ago?”
Linghu Chong found himself quite muddle-headed, not able to decide on whether to reveal his true identity or to keep pretending as Mr. Black-White. After a short hesitation, he drew the long sword by his waist and thrust it toward Mr. Bald-Brush.
“Good second brother! You really want to fight us?” Mr. Bald-Brush bellowed as he raised his brush to ward off the sword.
Linghu Chong’s sword thrust was only a fake. Seeing Mr. Bald-Brush’s attempt to block his attack, he quickly turned around and dashed out of the room. Mr. Huang-Zhong and the rest immediately chased after him. Running with all his might, Linghu Chong reached the front hall in no time.
“Second brother! Second brother! Where are you going?” Mr. Huang-Zhong shouted from behind.
Linghu Chong didn’t answer and kept on running full speed. He suddenly spotted a man standing in the middle of the front gate right in his path.
“Second Master, please stop!” the man uttered.
Since Linghu Chong was in such a hurry, he failed to slow down and ran right into the man. The collision sent the man flying in the air and landed almost thirty feet outside of the gate.
Linghu Chong threw a quick side glance and then recognized the man. It was “Straight Line Lightning Sword” Ding Jian, who, at this very moment, lay straight and stiff on the ground. His body position indeed resembled part of his nickname “Straight Line;” however, it had no relation whatsoever with the other part “Lightning Sword.”
Linghu Chong dashed along a small road nonstop. Mr. Huang-Zhong and the others stopped at the gate of the manor and gave up the chase. Only Mr. Paint continued shouting out loud.
“Second brother! Second brother! Come back! We brothers can always talk things through….”
Linghu Chong intentionally picked desolated small roads to follow and eventually arrived at an uninhabited wilderness, a place obviously quite a distance away from the city of Hangzhou. Although he had been running continuously at his top speed, when he stopped, he wasn’t tired at all and wasn’t even out of breath. It seemed as though his stamina was even better than the time before he got injured.
He took off the cloth mask and then heard the sound of gurgling water. Feeling very thirsty, he traced the sound and soon found a small creek. He squatted down and then leaned forward so he could scoop some water to his mouth when he suddenly saw a man’s face in the reflection of the creek water. The face was covered in filth, and with the disheveled hair it looked very odd and ugly. Linghu Chong was briefly startled, and then he could help but grin. Anyone who got locked up for several months and never bathed would look this filthy. He all of a sudden felt his body itching all over. He quickly removed his robe and jumped into the creek for a good deep cleansing, thinking, “the filth on my body must have weighed more than thirty catties.”
After he had thoroughly cleaned himself and also had a stomachful of clear water, he tied his long hair on top of his head. Checking in the water reflection, he found the familiar face again, a face that had no resemblance to that swollen face of the Feng Er-Zhong. As he was putting the robe back on, he felt some discomfort and blockage between his chest and stomach, so he sat down and meditated for a while using the newly learned inner energy cultivation techniques. Soon he could feel that the inner energy streams inside his Dan-Tian had been successfully dispersed into his unique channel and eight passages. The Dan-Tian region was once again like a bamboo that was empty inside or a valley that was always void. His entire body seemed to be vigorous and he also felt a soothing feeling of carefree beyond words. He didn’t realize that he had mastered one of the best martial arts in the entire world. The seven streams of inner energy from the Peach Valley’s Six Fairies and Monk No-Commandment, together with the inner energy streams infused into him by Great Master Fang-Sheng when he was treated at the Shaolin Temple, had all been transformed into his own. And when he gripped onto Mr. Black-White’s wrist, he had also absorbed into his Dan-Tian the entire load of inner energy Mr. Black-White had cultivated for his entire life. Once he dispersed those into his unique channel and eight passages, he had gained the inner strength of another superior master. Naturally he would feel utterly vigorous.
He leapt up, drew the long sword by his waist, and leisurely thrust it toward the hanging branch of a green willow by the side of the creek, whisking his wrist gently as he thrust out. The blade whistled as it cut through the thin air and then swiftly returned to the sheath before he landed smoothly on his left foot. Lifting his head, he watched as five leaves slowly drifted down in the air. The long sword cleared its sheath for a second time and made an arcing slash, catching all five leaves on the side of the blade. He picked up one of the willow leaves from the side of the blade with his left hand as a mixed feeling quickly submerged his heart. It was a mixture of joy and disbelief. He stood silently by the creek, and all of a sudden, found deep grieve in his heart.
“The superior Kung Fu I have right now would not have been possible from Master and Master-Wife’s teaching. But I would rather everything was the way it was as before, when my inner strength and my sword art were equally futile, when I could live a carefree life inside the Huashan School, spending time with little apprentice sister from morning till dusk, instead of wandering the martial world alone like a loitering ghost.”
His martial arts skills had reached the most superior level, but at the mean time, he had never felt so lonely and desolate in his entire life. All his life he’d enjoyed lively crowds, bosom friends, and tasty wines. In the past several months since he was locked away in the underground dungeon, he had no choice but to be alone. Now that his body had finally break free, but his mind was just as lonely. Standing next to the gurgling creek all by himself, the feeling of joy graduated waned away. The cold moon casted his lonely shadow on the ground as the gentle breeze brushed his body, filling his heart with boundless despair.
Now support the translator Lanny by following my blog and leaving comments! :)

Picture of the Day:

The beautiful West Lake in the city of Hangzhou, China. Remember, the Plum Manor resides along the bank of the lake, and the dungeon prison is somewhere underneath the lake.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Smiling Proud Wanderer: Chapter 21 (6)

Read the first 20 chapters here!

Mr. Black-White was astounded!  “You…You…,” his voice trembled.
At the time when Linghu Chong was handing the wooden tray out, the idea of grabbing Mr. Black-White’s wrist hadn’t crossed his mind. However, when he saw Mr. Black-White’s palms moved under the dim light of the oil lamp, ready to receive the wooden tray from him, an insuppressible urge all of a sudden overwhelmed his heart. It was all because of this person’s sly and calculated tricks that resulted in his many days of imprisonment. If he could break Mr. Black-White’s wrist, it would be a great way to vent some of his angle and hatred. Besides, this out of the blue seize of his wrist would definitely give him a good fright. For such a treacherous man, such a fright was the least punishment he could think of. He wasn’t even sure if it was the feeling of revenge or his childlike mischievous nature that led to the fake fall, which tricked Mr. Black-White into reaching his hands in, which in turn made the grabbing successful.
Mr. Black-White had always been vigilant, but this attack came so sudden and abrupt without any prior signs of warning. By the time he sensed something was not right, his wrist had already fallen into Linghu Chong’s grip. The grip was so strong that, to him, Linghu Chong’s fingers almost felt like an iron claw and clasped firmly onto the Inner-Pass and Outer-Pass acupoints in this wrist.
Without thinking, Mr. Black-White reflectively rotated his right wrist and executed an anti-grappling stance. A loud clank echoed when three toes of his right foot suddenly broke, and he cried out loud in painful groans.
How did Mr. Black-White end up breaking his toes on his left foot when his right wrist was been held? How strange? Turned out that Mr. Black-White always had great fear of the “revered mister.” As soon as his wrist fell into the grip, he desperately feared for his life, and in a rush, used a move named “Flood Dragon Rising above the Deep Pool.” This move worked particularly well when one’s wrist fell into the enemy’s grip by quickly pulling the arm inward while swiftly and unexpectedly kicking outward with one’s left foot. Such a powerful and fierce kick would land squarely on the enemy’s chest. The enemy would usually end up spitting blood from severe internal injuries. If the enemy were also a skilled Kung Fu master, he would have easily chosen to let go of his wrist in avoidance. Otherwise, he would have no way of dodging the kick right to the chest. Unfortunately, in the moment of extreme distress, eager to break free, Mr. Black-White completely forgot about the thick iron door right between him and his opponent. He had executed the move “Flood Dragon Rising above the Deep Pool” perfectly, and the kick had also been very accurate, powerful and fierce. Sadly, he kicked right into the iron door and the only positive effect was a loud echoing bang.
Only when Linghu Chong heard the loud bang did he realize how lucky he had been. If it weren’t because of the protection provided by the iron door, there was no way he could have escaped Mr. Black-White’s extremely formidable kick. He couldn’t help but burst into loud laughter.
“Kick again! If you kick as hard as the first time, I might just let you go,” he said sarcastically.
Mr. Black-White suddenly felt his inner energy gushing out continuously through the Inner-Pass and the Outer-Pass acupoints on his right wrist, and could not but remember the one thing he feared the most his entire life. Instantly, he was scared out of his wits! He tried his best to slow down the inner energy loss and at the same time begged in sorrow.
“Revered…revered mister, I beg…you….”
As soon as he spoke, his inner energy gushed out in even larger waves. He had no choice but to stop speaking. But the inner energy just kept flowing out of him rapidly.
Ever since Linghu Chong started practicing the Kung Fu techniques carved on the steel plate, his Dan-Tian region felt like a bamboo that was empty inside and a valley that was always void. At the moment when he felt some inner energy appearing in his Dan-Tian, he didn’t pay much attention to it. Instead, he noticed that Mr. Black-White’s wrist quivered continuously as though he had seen something terrifying. Since he had great grudges against Mr. Black-White, he decided to give him a good scare. So he yelled loudly.
“After I teach you the secret art, you have become an apprentice of mine. You have been caught deceiving your master. Shouldn’t I punish you for your crime?”
Mr. Black-White could feel that the inner energy inside him was rushing out even faster now. If he tried hard to hold his breath, the gushing could be temporarily stopped. But he simply had to breathe once a while, and in between the exhaling and inhaling, great amount of his inner energy would continue to flow out. At the moment he had completely forgotten about the pain from his injured toes. He only wished to be able to free his right hand out of the square-shaped opening. Even if he had to lose an arm or an leg, he would have no complaints. At that thought, he immediately reached for his sword by the waist. As soon as made the move, two large gaps seemed to have opened up at the Inner-Pass and Outer-Pass acupoints by his wrist, and all the inner energy from his entire body spurted out like river water bursting through dikes, and impossible to stop the flow ever again.
Mr. Black-White knew if this continued for another while, all his internal energy would be eventually sucked dry. Gritting his teeth, he finally managed to draw his sword out of its sheath. Raising the sword high, he wanted to swing the sword down to chop off his own arm, but this movement only caused even larger streams of inner energy surging out of him. A loud ring resonated in his ears and he fainted.
Linghu Chong had only planned to scare Mr. Black-White when he grabbed onto the man’s wrist. At most he was only going to twist and break Mr. Black-White’s wrist to vent his anger. He certainly did not expect Mr. Black-White to panic so much and faint as if having been scared out of his wits. Laughing out loud, Linghu Chong let go of the wrist, and as soon as he did that, Mr. Black-White’s torso collapsed and his right hand retracted backward from the square-shaped opening.
Suddenly, an idea shot up Linghu Chong’s mind and he quickly reached for the sliding hand. Luckily he was quick with his move and caught the palm in time.
“Why don’t I shackle him with the steel chains as a hostage, so I can coerce Mr. Huang-Zhong to let me go?” he thought.
He pulled Mr. Black-White’s wrist hard to get it closer. Unexpectedly, as he gave the strong pull, Mr. Black-White’s head actually came in also through the square-shaped opening, and then his entire body followed.
Linghu Chong did not see this coming. After a brief shock, he couldn’t help but scold himself for how stupid he was. The square opening was roughly a foot wide, big enough to a put a head though. And if one’s head can go through it, so can the body. If Mr. Black-White can be pulled in, why couldn’t he get out the same way? It would have been impossible for him to escape previously when his hands and feet were shackled in steel chains. But the shackle rings had been sawed through by someone secretly some time ago. Why didn’t he escape?
“After Mr. Paint secretly sawed through the shackles around my hands and feet, day after day, he must have hoped that I’d escape the prison following that old man who delivered my food. He must have been extremely anxious by now!” he thought to himself.
At the time when Linghu Chong had found out about the sawed-through shackle rings, he had been right in the middle of learning those inner energy cultivation techniques and had focused all his attention to the training. Also he had not memorized all the formulas on the steel plate, so subconsciously he didn’t really want to leave the prison cell. Therefore, the thought of running away by himself never even occurred to him.
Linghu Chong pondered for a second and then came to a decision. He hurriedly removed Mr. Black-White’s robe and his own and then swapped them. He even put Mr. Black-White’s black cloth mask over his own head, thinking, “Even if I bump into someone on my way out, they’ll think I am Mr. Black-White.”
Next, he hung Mr. Black-White’s sword by his own waist. With the sword right next to his hand, his spirit soured immensely. Then he cuffed Mr. Black-White’s hands and feet with the steel shackles and then pinched forcefully. The shackle rings were so tight that they even cut into flesh. 
The severe pain woke Mr. Black-White, and he groaned, “Revered…revered mister Ren…your…your Magical Art of Essence Absorbing….”
Linghu Chong had heard of the term “Magical Art of Essence Absorbing” before when he fought alongside Xiang Wentian in the remote wilderness. Someone in the crowd had shouted out this term. Now hearing the term again from Mr. Black-White, he couldn’t resist but ask, “What Magical Art of Essence Absorbing?”
“I…I…am…damn…damned…,” Mr. Black-White moaned.

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Video of the Day:

The world's most dangerous hike! This is where Linghu Chong's Mount Huashan Sword School is located at. No wonder you need martial arts skills to survive here!