Saturday, March 31, 2007

Photo Essay:"A missed opportunity turned around!"

Here's another of my favourite blue sky white puffy clouds memory of Australia. This was taken near the carpark of the entrance to the 12 Apostles along Great Ocean Road. We had staked out at the carpark that morning to try and catch the sunrise over the famous rock formation only to realise that the sun rose from behind. Bummer. Still, I managed this shot which I like very much. You can see that the sun was already quite harsh at that time (the cloud details are kind of blown out). Anyway, do remember if you are there next time, that a better time to photo the rock formation would be just before sunset. That is when the sun will bathe it in a warm wonderful glow. Look out for that pic next! :)


Friday, March 30, 2007

Blazing new speeds in printing technology

Could this really be possible? This printer designed by the people at Silverbrook Research is going to change the way we use printers forever. Look at the insane speed of printing! What you are looking at is something clost to 30 pages of photos a min! Take a look at the other video links here, especially the wideformat printer demonstration. You will be left speechless. If it is all real that is.

According to them,
Memjet technology is a patented breakthrough in print engine components that delivers the benefits of ink and laser technologies at radically new price/performance levels. Memjet technology is comprised of four tightly integrated components: page-width printheads, driver chips, ink and software. Instead of having the printhead zip across the page as in traditional inkjet pirnters, Memjet technology's printers have printheads that take up the whole span of the printer are lined up with ink nozzles right across and are able to fire out ink droplets smaller than one picoliter (one millionth of a millionth of a liter). For an A4 desktop printer, that's 70,400 ink nozzles shooting out more than 2.5 million ink dots per square inch of paper in a single pass. Is that amazing or what?

Not only that, this technology is also supposed to bring the price of printers and printer supplies to a new historic low. Silverbrook's A4 desktop printer's individual color ink cartridges hold 50ml of ink, and will sell for less than $20 each, the company forecasts. Silverbrook also says that the price of the printer will be under $300. US dollars that is.

You can find out more about this amazing new technology here. Meanwhile, it still remains to be seen if this is just one gigantic hoax or a printing revolution in our midst. There is nothing heard about print quality either. For now, archi students just have to send their submission panels 2 days earlier to get them printed out in time.

Which reminds me... time is running out for my Design Thesis submission. God help me!


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Photo Essay: "A Sunny Outlook"

Here's one of those that didn't need much post-processing. I was in Sydney for the Hillsong Conference and after that, my brother and I took a road trip back to Melborne together with our cousin and her friend. Somewhere along the way, we stopped by a beautiful beach for a walk and there we spotted this lone lifeguard post peering over the ocean. The sky was the most beautiful blue and again with my G3, this time with a wideangle attachment and CIR polariser on, this shot was borned. I just love how the sky looks Down Under.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Photo Essay : "Retrofeeting"

My family came to visit me when I was on exchange in Shanghai. Halfway through, my dad's shoe threatened to do a "crocodile" on him and we had to find a cobbler to fix it. After lunch at the nearby noodle shop which impressed my family with its cheap, fresh springy and tasty noodles, we stopped by the cobbler just a stone's throw away from my apartment to do up the shoe.

It was somewhere in the late afternoon and the sunlight was just washing beautifully against the wall and the cobbler's face. The way the cobbler wore his cloak like shirt made him look like some master craftsman out of a wuxia show. The texture of the wall behind him provided the kind of background to complete the look and immediately, I took out my trusty Canon G3 and with the aperture wide open at f/2.2, started snapping away.

Though I own a Canon 350D DSLR now, I often still go back to using the G3. I realised that on many occasions, having the swivel screen and live preview was instrumental in getting me the shot I was looking for. I could take pictures holding the camera at waist level. and not be intrusive about it especially at close range. I normally turn off the fake shutter sound on the G3 so that all you hear is a very soft "click". With the 350D, especially on multiple shot mode, the world would have been looking at me. There in lies the beauty of prosumer digicams. It's a shame and perhaps an atrocity to some that the latest G7 actually dropped the swivel screen for a more compact camera. I hope Canon wises up and brings it back in its next incarnation of the G series.

Here's a shot of us waiting for the cobbler.

As you can see, I'm not a stickler for "minimal post-processing". I say, it all depends on the photographer's vision. There are times when I think it best to leave the picture as natural as possible. Other times, I feel that digital post-processing brings a whole new angle of creativity to photography. I typically shoot having in mind how the final product would look like. I try to frame my shots so that minimal or no cropping is necessary. When I really cannot decide, I take it at highest quality, and frame it loosely so that I can play around with it ont he computer later.

I'm no pro though. In fact, much of my post-processing work is often done on Picasa 2.0. I think it's a superb program that will be excellent if the people at Google would just update it with more refined features. There you go. Thought I'd share a little on how the pictures you see on my blog come to be what they look like. Enjoy.


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Can you resist not clicking?

I thought this was a really interesting experiment in alternative ways of navigating a webpage. The people behind DONTCLICK.IT have created a website where you move around without clicking your mouse button even once! Wow. Imagine a clickless web environment. Not that it is necessarily any better, but it certainly could be a viable alternative! In our society where the mentality is often "If it ain't broken, don't bother to fix it", I thought this was like a breath of fresh air. Nevermind, we might never find a use for it. Who knows though. I am interested and excited to see what the creators might come up with in future phases. Oh, I do hope there are future phases. Well done!

Now, if only I can find some way of incorporating some of these into the blog... Hmmm...


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Photo Essay : "Holy Surrender"

I took this at my church's annual conference last week. The people you see with their hands raised up are pastors responding to the speaker's invitation for prayer. Their raised hands are symbolic of them bringing their lives before God in surrender and also to receive of His blessings.

The speakers at the conference were outofthisworldkindof inspiring and I learnt so much from just the 3 days of being there. You know, we all have a purpose and a destiny in this life that we live. Some times we lose our way and start to question why and how come and what if. Well, for me, this conference was nothing short of a great revelation for me. A revelation of the destiny I have been called to. Are you searching for a purpose in life? Are you trying to make meaning out of the challenging circumstances that life has brought your way? I want you to know that there is much hope. Drop me a message and I will tell you why I am so convinced of it.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Photo Essay : "Ghost of Techno Past"

These days, technology changes so fast, the moment you buy something, it almosts becomes obsolete in the next one year. I remember the time I was deciding on the specs for my desktop computer one and a half years ago. I chose to go for 120 Gb, 1Gb RAM, 128Mb video card and Pentium 4, 3.0GHz Intel processor. At that time, mine would have been considered kind of above average specs. Today, in a short 1.5 years, I have upgraded to 2Gb RAM, external 250Gb harddisk, and a 22-inch widescreen LCD. I am thinking of upgrading to a 256 Mb video card or better in the next week.

It's no wonder Singaporeans flock to each Computer Fair every year. For the record, we have about 3-4 mega fairs each year - COMEX, SITEX, IT Show, PC Show, whatever you can call it, we have it. And without fail, each fair will attract in droves, Singaporeans looking for the next upgrade. Have we become addicted to upgrading, to having the best gadgets, to buying the next big thing in this technology race of "if you have the biggest, the brightest, you are above the rest." It certainly brings a new meaning to the phrase, "Size matters." Yours is only 29 inch? Have you seen my 42 inch? Ha.

Let's face it. We do take pleasure in showing off our new toys. We feel good when people come to our house and go "Whoa..... so big your plasma TV. How much you buy one?" "Oh, no lah. not much. Less than $3,000." I take it as an investment. Singapore going HD mah. Gahmen say one Must keep up with the times. (Btw, HD stands for High Definition. You mean you don't know???)"

"According to research company GfK Asia, the number of plasma TV sets sold locally reached 8,000 units for the third quarter in 2006, almost four times the 2,223 plasma TV sets sold in first the six months of the same year. Local operators expect the sale of HD-ready products to grow throughout 2007. The segment market for LCD TV also experienced a boom for the same period, reaching 13,114 units. The high demand for HD-ready products is due to price reductions and not programme quality and technology capability." (Enterprise One Focus Issue 0308)
That's quite a staggering amount of plasma displays if you consider that these are usually the bigger sized screens. What's stranger is the fact that we are buying them up not because there are better shows or more HD content available. We are buying them because they are cheaper! We are really just blindly following a trend!

Now, imagine, if all these money were used to help fund school-building or education programs in poverty-stricken villages overseas, or to help improve the living conditions of the poorer elderly in Singapore, wouldn't it be a more worthwhile investment than paying for something which has the chance of becoming obsolete in at most 5 years?!

While they are stuck in their poverty cycle, we are stuck in our own consumerist cycle! More advanced hardware requires better and more expensive software which then feeds the need for better hardware. Can we live with less techonology? Are we really any better off with more? We all have experienced at one time of another, the horror of losing our handphone or pda or laptop. A horror we would have never known 15 years ago. Now, I'm not saying society should not progress. The question is, "Are we still in control of this progress?" I am quite doubtful.

So I've decided that I must intentionally learn to be more contented with what I have. Don't just live within your means. Live below your means. A wise man I know once said, "Live simply so that others might simply live." Wise words indeed.


10 Signs you are a photoshop addict

Those of you who are photoshop junkies like me will probably find this funny. (Click on image to read. And read it from bottom up for the best effect.) If you don't quite understand what you are reading, it's ok. You are spared from endless nights of staring into the LCD screen applying filters, making selections and crating layer masks. Ha ha. Oh well.

Anyway, I wanted to use this post to introduce you to this site called Photoshop TV. They have a weekly video podcast where they teach you new tricks and techniques from photoshop. The picture above is actually a technique that was demonstrated in the most recent podcast - turning a flat poster into a 3D magazine. And that is just the tip of the iceberg! If you have not used photoshop before, you will be amazed at what it can accomplish for you! Download a trial version from Adobe today and let the imagination start flowing!


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Entertainment Online!

Here's something really interesting that I found. Google Gadgets! Basically these are like widgets that you put on your desktop, except now, you can put them on your webpages, blogs etc. While, these were initially developed by Google users (not Google) to put on Google Desktop, it works totally well with blogs too! This particular one is called Live TV Channels. There are quite a few channels to choose from, though I'm not sure why it's called Live TV since these seem to be recorded repeat telecasts. Anyhow, I had a blast browsing the different channels.

Well, enjoy the entertainment. I'm trying to see where I can put this in, into the blog so that it is accessible yet doesn't stick out like a sore thumb. We'll see. You can change the channels. Have FUN!


Monday, March 19, 2007

Photo Essay : "Technology Race!" ( Repost)

This is a repost of the previous photo. I was playing around with it to see how I could make it more interesting. Not sure if I achieved the effect I wanted though. Supposed to look more "digital" though I think it looks more nightmarish! Ha ha. let me know which one you prefer. Oh by the way, I bought a Dell 22 inch LCD from the IT Show. If you considering getting one, forget the Dell though it's cheaper and looks better (at least I think so). The colour is really bad, And there are some serious banding issues. Go for the Samsung one instead.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Photo Essay : "Technology Race!"

Crowds thronged Suntec City at the recent IT Show . Singapore's probably one of the few places in the world where every of the 3-4 computer fairs held each year is met with such phenomenal response.


Monday, March 12, 2007

The importance of good preparation

Ok, I know I have been talking a lot about the Ironman Race recently, but that's only because it has been a really inspiring time for me, seeing my brother prepare, run the race and then finishing it well. This is an account of the race that he recently wrote on his blog. It will give you a much better idea what he went through and what goes on in a person's head as he races.

It was a really encouraging read and as I read till the last word, I could not help but have a new sense of admiration and respect for my brother. The effort and planning put into the race amazed me. It really hit me just how important good preparation is, in everything that we do. If you put in half-hearted preparation, you are only going to get half-hearted results, no matter how much you pray for a miracle. Good preparation is akin to building a strong foundation for good results to be achieved. I need to apply this more in my life. May you be inspired to do so too.


Friday, March 09, 2007

A Salute to All Women

The following is a speech by Dr Vivian Balarkrishnan, Singapore's Minister for community development, youth and sports and Second Minister for information, communications and the arts. He was there to present 2 awards for Her World's Woman of the Year 2006 at the Four Seasons Hotel on 6 March 2007.

I thought some of what he said was really meaningful. It is true, that God has made man and woman differently and before we go out and shout about equal rights, let's consider the fact that we ARE DIFFERENT. What we are really asking and fighting for, is a recognition that in our different roles, strengths and weaknesses, there are ample opportunities for us to reach the full potential of who we were created to be. Read on. :)

Mr Robin Hu, Vice-Chairman, SPH Magazines
Mr Loh Yew Seng, CEO, SPH Magazines
Ms Caroline Ngui, Group Editor-in-Chief, SPH Magazines
Ladies & Gentlemen

Thank you for the privilege of presenting the annual Her World Woman of the Year Award. I usually get into trouble when I address an audience on the subject of women. So I will have to be careful in my choice of words.

2. Unfortunately, I usually cannot resist saying what I really feel.

3. My starting point, which I hope will be uncontroversial, is that men and women are not the same. Without going into the details of what exactly these differences are, I thought we should spend some time contemplating how the modern world has offered new opportunities for women; what new challenges accompany these new opportunities; and how this affects men and society in general.

More opportunities for women

4. We now live in the Information Age with global interconnectivity. This means that the real winners will be people with ideas and networks – the ability to think deeply and the ability to communicate well.

5. The first consequence is that this has made physical attributes, or the lack of brawn, almost irrelevant. This, obviously, is a plus for women. Furthermore, because women usually communicate better, they have an added advantage. The upshot of all this is that women will continue to have many more opportunities to do well in the future. This is an unstoppable trend, just like globalisation.

6. Although women can probably do everything a man can do, there are still some things that men can’t do, like having a baby. And there is still something unique about a mother-child relationship that makes this the primary foundation of all human societies.

7. The problem then is that while women will have more choices, they will also have to pay a higher opportunity cost if they decide to marry or have children. We commonly hear of unmarried women saying that they have not found someone suitable. In fact, what they really mean is that they have not found someone who is “worth” the price of getting married and having babies with.

8. Our current angst about low fertility in Singapore just one symptom of this underlying problem. It is crucial that we diagnose the underlying problem rather than just treat a symptom.

9. If you agree with me that the real issue is the opportunity costs that women are forced to pay, then I ask you to think about how we can lower this hurdle.

Lowering opportunity costs

10. For example, I believe all women want to contribute both inside and outside the home. It may take the form of full-time, part-time, paid or voluntary work. Women may also have different formulae at different phases of their lives.

11. Whatever their choices, we must systematically find ways to lower the opportunity costs that women will bear as they exercise their choices in the future. Otherwise, all of us, both men and women, will ultimately pay the penalty in the form of weakening family ties, lower fertility and dysfunctional societies.

12. In a sense, everything we have done so far, e.g. Baby Bonus, Maternity Leave, child care subsidies, infant care subsidies, tax reliefs and rebates, flexi-work, work life balance, the 5 day work-week; are all attempts to lower this opportunity cost. It’s not just about money, nor is it something that government can unilaterally fix. I believe we need to restructure our social infrastructure so that we really empower and make it easier for women to exercise their life choices. In the long run, we need to think about how to create a society where the changing and expanded roles of women are adequately acknowledged and supported.

13. Are we doing enough? Probably not. All I can say at this juncture is that we are still searching, and your suggestions will be most welcome.

14. Tonight, we honour two outstanding women. Both have sterling achievements, and made a huge difference to the lives of their families, their friends and to Singapore. Like all super women, they make it look almost too easy. But it is worth remembering that the reality is that they, like all other women, have actually worked doubly, triply hard to achieve everything that we celebrate tonight.

15. And so tonight, we salute all women. Thank you very much.


Photo Essay : "And the gold fell all over the field of snowy swirls; And the ducks came out to play!"

Well, since I got TWO comments from the previous photo, which, if you ask me is a really BIG thing for me considering it's been ghost town around here for a while, I thought I would reward you guys with another of my food experiments! Presenting to you, "And the gold fell all over the field of snowy swirls; And the ducks came out to play!"

Hmmm. Hungry again? Well, I was trying to remember what went into this dish by picking out the different ingredients I could spot in the photo. I usually make use of what's available in the fridge but sometimes, I do get inspired at the supermarket and buy what I think will work. In this case, it's fried flat noodles with shredded roast duck, ham and white button mushrooms topped with a generous sprinkling of scrambled eggs and lightly seasoned with salt, light soya sauce, white pepper, black pepper, and the all important Italian seasoning.

The italian seasoning is really great as it adds a very unique blend to an otherwise rather Chinese dish. I use it all the time I cook. It's really a mix of oregano, rosemary, basil and sage and comes in a pre-packaged bottle from McCormick. Oh yes, and this is really just to prove that I can cook other things besides burgers. Not that anyone said anything... Ha!


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Photo Essay : "Hungry in Shanghai"

What's a man to do in Shanghai when he is cold, hungry and itching for some hand's on stuff to do? COOK! Haha. That's what I did. Well, from the looks of the photo, it doesn't look a bit Chinese at all huh! It was one of the easiest things to prepare though. Sesame bun from the confectionery downstairs, bacon, white button mushrooms and minced pork from the supermarket nearby and freshly boiled and seasoned mashed potatoes. Oh, by the way, I seasoned the minced pork on my own with sesame oil, salt, pepper, soya sauce, black pepper and some italian seasoning too! Great fun, great taste!

I used my table lamp as a light source and snapped away a few shots before tucking in. You can take my word for it that it tasted as good as it looked. SEDAP!

Anyway, I really relished the time I had in Shanghai when I was there for 6 months on a study exchange. The memories, the stuff I got to explore on my own, the crazy things I did with my 2 other flatmates. I guess you could say it was an education that you would not typically get in school. The world is a lot bigger than what Singapore is. Let's get out of our small little foxholes and live a little!


Monday, March 05, 2007

A lecture in humour

I think many of you might have seen this before but I thought it was worth a post still. A lecturer at NUS NTU takes time to humour his students by showing them examples of surveys that previous students had filled in. A lot of them seem very fascinated with his mustache! Ha ha, now why don't we have lecturers like this in Archi? Or perhaps archi students just aren't creative enough with their comments! Ha ha. The unexpected joys of being a lecturer. Watch and don't peng san. :)


Sunday, March 04, 2007

A whole new world

I came across this website of a designer called Marie Louise. She graduated with a masters degree in product design from the Royal College of Art, London and now works as a freelance designer who does solo projects and commissioned work. I think her work is very interesting and wacky in a way which is something I always appreciate in a good design work - the humour. Here are some of her projects that brought a smile to my face. Oh and did I mention her products have really cool names toO?

A fun way to clean!
Material: Slippers with cotton scouring-cloth.
Dimensions (mm): size 35.

MR BRUSHY (2004)
Sit down while clean your shoes.
Material: Lacquered wood with a red brush.
Dimensions (mm): W350, D350, H520.

A stool made of plaited woolen felt.
The technique is traditionally used in Sweden to
plait birch bark but applied here at a different
scale on a different material.
Material: Lacquered plywood with felt in 100% wool.
Dimensions (mm): W700, D700, H320.

‘Slacker’ adds a new flexible sitting experience
as its users have to find their own sitting position.
Material: Cast aluminium frame with a seat
made of polythene pellets in a sack of imitation leather.
Dimensions (mm): W650, D650, H900(flexible).

(one of my favourites.)

A desk literally throwing itself into the waste basket.
I like the idea of visualizing the cycle of trash
and the possibility reusing trash in a constructive way.
Material: Recycled paper reused in the material
‘wellboard’consisting of a craft liner and a
corrugated cardboard in between.
The material is strong, recyclable and very light weight.
The whole table weighs only 4kg.
Dimensions (mm): W1200, D540, H750.


Photo Essay :"The Art of Reflection"

I think people spend far too little time reflecting these days. Taking time to reflect on our lives allows us to see our lives in clearer perspective and hence tutors us in living out lives intentionally.

My guess is, in today's world where many things have become increasingly subjective, even moral and ethical values, reflection has lost it's meaning. The foundation for reflection to take place - moral principles of what is good, right, worthy and honourable is often seen as conservative and is increasingly being replaced by calls to live life freely (there is no right or wrong, just alternative ways of doing things or living life). Many times too, in the name of progress, whether economically, socially or philosophically.

Yet, it is precisely because we live in such a time that reflection is all the more important. Are you living your life intentionally? Start today.