Sunday, 27 December 2009

Owl City!

Alright, I need your help.

I just entered myself in this Owl City Music Mixing competition. Top prize is a pair of tickets to see Owl City at his/their UK Tour. So, here's what I want you to do.

Go listen to my mix, and then give it a vote by clicking on the "Thumbs Up" icon.

Apparently, I'm at 26th place out of 80, which is very good, considering the mix has only been up for a few hours, and some of the other mixes have been there since November.

So please, help push my mix into the top 10! Just listen to it, and vote for it!

Thanks a lot! This would make a lovely Birthday present!
(No pressure. If I don't win, I'd still buy the tickets out of my own pocket, anyway.)

Saturday, 26 December 2009

New Year's Resolution...

The New Year's coming!

So, here's a look back at my New Year's Resolution for 2009. Usual scoring technique - Green = 1 point for achieving, Orange = 0.5 points for half-achieving (i.e.: arguable), and Red = 0 for complete non-achievement.

  • I will get into Bellerby's College.
  • I will keep my mass under 75kg.
  • I will grow to above 1.80m by the end of '09. [no. I'm still at 1.7m]
  • I will not go into overdraft when I am in the UK.
  • I will keep in contact with my Singapore friends.
  • I will meet Indonesians in the UK.
  • I will cook at least once, be it in Indonesia before I leave, or in UK. [I can make a really nice Japanese-style salad and Marmite on toast, but they don't really count as cooking, do they?]
  • I will post minimum 100 posts in 2009. A low target for a busy year ahead.
  • I will stop buying physical albums [i.e.: Music CDs] by the last quarter of 2009 [Oct-Dec]. I will, instead, buy online.
  • I will grow stronger in the LORD, and while I'm at this,
  • I will find a church in the UK, and go to it regularly.
  • I will get a new MacBook in 2009.
  • I will drive with a license in 2009.
  • I will vote in the 2009 Indonesian Presidential. SBY or Megawati? that's the question at the moment.
  • I will watch a performance of a choir in 2009.
  • I will watch min. 3 movies in the theaters / cinema in 2009.
  • I will still take photos in the UK, but for artsy and casual reasons only.
  • I will sit on the Airbus A380 for the first time in 09.
  • I will not be in Singapore for more than 100 hours in 2009.
  • I will take up music lessons. Specifically, piano. [Guitar, actually.  And actually, I'm self-learning.]
  • I will run a half-marathon in 2009. [i.e.: 21km. Not competitive, though]
  • I will run in a running event in 2009, even if it's the London Marathon or Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon. Hey, if people from Africa fly all the way to run in Singapore, why not me? Hopefully, I'll be having my holidays by then.
  • I will grow more muscles in my arms and the six-pack region. a four-pack would be nice, over the one bulge I have now.

  • 17/23=73.9%.

    Now that we've seen the past, let's plan into the future!

    Right, here's the New Year's Resolution for 2010! (A bit early, yes, I know. But I'm posting now in case I forget to do it later on. And besides, it's so close to the New Year anyway!)

    Broken down into 7 areas...

    •I will score 3 As for my A Level.
    •I will get to a University. Either Warwick, or Exeter, if not Manchester.

    Athletics & Fitness
    •I will log 250km of runs in 2010 on Nike+.
    •I will run a 10K in under 1 hour.
    •I will try to run a full marathon in 2010.
    •I will keep my weight under 75kg.

    Charity & Church
    •I will help at least 5 homeless people in Brighton directly (i.e.: not through giving money).
    •I will work at the charity shop for 100 hours in 2010.

    •I will pass my practical driving test and get a full license.
    •I will buy my first car.

    •I will attend at least 2 live events/concerts/gigs in 2010.
    •I will join a music team, be it the church music team, or a choir in Uni.

    Tech, Art & Social Networking
    •I will not buy any more Apple products. No iPods, iPhones, Macs, iSlate, etc. Only provision allowed: An Apple Remote, since mine is a bit wonky.
    •I will finish my short film project by the end of 2010. (Oh no. Not another DUE DATE!)
    •I will get a new Time Machine HDD.
    •I will post at least 200 blog posts.
    •I will post my 2,000th tweet in 2010.
    •I will get my 5,000th view on my Flickr Page.
    •I will increase the number of uploads I have on Flickr to 400.

    •I will visit 6 UK cities in 2010. Possible cities include: Coventry, Manchester, Exeter, Brighton, London and Portsmouth
    •I will go to at least 4 countries (Indonesia, Singapore and the UK confirmed, obviously. Maybe I should go visit the States or Aussie?)

    That's 21 items on my New Year's Resolution for 2010!

    Well, Hope you had a Merry Christmas. Here's to a Happy New Year, 
    and may the new year 2010 be a fruitful and blessed one!

    And if you are facing major challenges in the new year, be they major exams or whatnots, all the best, and remember that God is with you all the time. 

    Friday, 25 December 2009

    Merry Christmas!

    To all:

    Merry Christmas!

    Ok, this is not going to be as short as that - just 4 words. If I wanted to say only 4 words, I'll use Twitter.

    I'm trying to clear up my HDD, since I just realised that I'm down to my last 14GB or so. Not good.

    So much for my plans to move over to an SSD drive - I think that will have to wait, since I'm barely able to cope with a 256GB drive. I'll probably need to move on to a 0.5-1.0 TB SSD in the not-too-distant future - probably when my MBP reaches 2 years old.

    By the way, just curious - How far back does your digital photo catalogue go back? Also, how many of the shots you keep are 'bad' shots? I ask, because as I've been finding out, sometimes, you need to go through your photos and delete some of them - it might be when you're taking, or later on once transferred to your PC, or like me now - when in desperate need of some spare capacity (no, not the macroeconomic one).

    So here's a tip from me, if you're bored or if you need to take your mind off something - go through your old photos, and start deleting stuff you don't want to keep.

    Once again, 

    Have a blessed Christmas!

    Monday, 21 December 2009

    Music Reviews, and music chart for the moment.

    As promised, here's more reviews of the latest albums/singles/EPs!

    First up, it's my new favourite - OneRepublic, with Waking Up. I'm really hooked on this album. Kinda upset that none of the songs on this album (or the album itself, in fact) is not charting on the UK Top 40 singles / Top 5 albums, even though it's been out for quite some time. But nonetheless, I still think it's got a great setlist. Especially love the first 2 tracks, Made For You and All The Right Moves (note that the first track leads in to the next, so you have to listen to them in the set order to fully appreciate them). OneRepublic is, in a sense, Timbaland if he were 4 people who can play musical instruments, sing, and be melodic. There's lots of gusto, which is probably good for the head-bangers and rock-star wannabes who'll pretend to be drumming while listening to these tunes on the train. You know what? You'll love this album. Go have a listen! Rating: 9/10

    Must download: Made For You, All The Right Moves, Secrets, Good Life, Fear, Marchin' On, Lullaby

    Next up, a closely related friend to One Republic, it's Timbaland, with Shock Value 2. My answer is yes and no. Yes, this is basically Timbaland & friends making music together, and releasing an album with Timbaland as the album artist and main man. Nothing wrong with that. I mean, you hear him a lot more in this album than in SV1, so he deserves some recognition for that. Oh wait, no, who am I kidding? No. I mean, who thought Timbaland and Miley Cyrus would make musical BFFs? No. And there's too much Auto-tune, and it's not Owl City kind of Auto-tune. This album is a Jedward - it's a bit irritating.

    Ok, to be fair, there's some good bits in there, but unless you really like it after listening to the previews, I'd say don't bother getting this compilation. Rating: 5/10

    Must Download: Morning After Dark, If We Ever Meet Again, Undertow, Timothy Where You Been, Marchin On (yes, again)

    Ok, there you go. Music reviews. Now, there's one album that I'm going to do a review on soon, but before I do it, I thought I'd gather your opinions on it. Yes, it's a ronfiles homework! So, I want you to listen to "This Is War" by 30 Seconds to Mars (preview it on iTunes, or if you have their album already, then listen through it), and then tweet or comment under this post or tag on my tagboard, what you think of it, what score you'd rate this album out of 10, and what tracks you like. Doesn't have to be very wordy or long, just be honest about your opinions.

    Ok, now that I've set that aside, here's a music chart for the moment!

    Non-Christmasy Music chart for the Christmas season of 2009!

    1. Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys - Empire State of Mind

    2. OneRepublic - Marchin On

    3. Lady Gaga feat. Beyoncé - Telephone

    4. Alicia Keys - Doesn't Mean Anything

    5. David Guetta feat. Estelle - One Love

    6. FrankMusik - Re-Complete Me
    (yes, it's a half-hour remix of his entire album)

    7. James Morrison - Get To You

    8. Miley Cyrus - Party In The U.S.A.

    9. Fall Out Boy - Alpha Dog

    10. Cheryl Cole feat. - 3 Words


    I need your help. Especially if you're a techie photobug who knows his gears. Yes, you.

    I have a Manfrotto 190XPROB, and I was thinking of getting a new ballhead that can support something like a 7D with a 16-35 lens (think 1.5kg) and still pan, and preferaby, tilt.

    So, I've looked at Manfrotto's website for the suitable models. Managed to narrow down my options to 3 - The 701HDV, 391RC2 and 128RC.

    Just a couple of problems remain.

    1. Which of the 3 should I get?
    2. Where can I get them?
    3. How much are they going to cost?

    If you can help me answer these questions, that'll be really helpful!

    And by the way, I may or may not be getting a 7D before the New Year. Then again, I think I should wait till after my As before I get a 7D. Let the price drop a little first, perhaps?

    Saturday, 19 December 2009

    Gift ideas!

    It's 5 days to Christmas! Are you still thinking of what to get? Got a budget? Well, I thought I could offer some suggestions for you if you are clueless!

    Let's work our way from the free to the uber expensive!

    •Some old stuff you have. 
    •Or just some TLC - a hug, a kiss, whatever.
    •Or why not share something this Christmas? watch a TV show you recorded? or read some web comics? May I recommend or

    Really cheap (S$2 to S$10-ish): 
    •Erm, a Christmas card, I guess, preferably snail-mailled. I mean, when was the last time you sent something through the post? Been a while, hasn't it? So why not do something this Christmas?
    •Chocolates / confectionary stuff, because it's the festive season.
    •Dental/hygiene products, to remind them to take care of their teeth, especially after eating so much sweet stuff.
    •A Magazine. Yes, there's a price tag on it, but hey, at least you got something they can use.

    Moving up... (S$10 to S$50-ish):
    •Gift Card. From Borders or iTunes. But really? A gift card?
    •A CD, DVD, or Blu-Ray. I recommend Susan Boyle, OneRepublic, Lady Gaga, Muse, 
    •A casing for their iPod/iPhone/whatever. Alternatively,
    •Socks work as good cases for the above-mentioned gadgets, as well as your feet.
    •Clothings/accessories. Get them a tie or hairband, perhaps, if you're on a lower budget.
    •Some puzzle thingy. A Rubik's cube?
    •A book? A recipe book? Or maybe a novel? Or maybe just something interesting? I recommend Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics!
    •Speaking of books, how about a really nice bible? Especially if you know this person's current one is not in good form anymore?
    •For the shutterbug, don't get them a camera, just get them a camera strap. They'll be happy, and they'll always remember you when they carry their camera.
    •For the student/businessperson, a thumbdrive. These things are quite cheap today, and they're as useful as a Swiss Army Knife. Good gift, I'd say. Unless they already have one. In which case, buy a bigger capacity from their existing one.

    Further up... (S$55 to S$200)
    •An iPod shuffle or nano. nuff said.
    •Really nice earphones. Head over to for recos.
    •A really nice watch. Assuming this person likes watches. I don't.
    •A nice dinner out?
    •A game. Might I recommend Gran Turismo or Little Big Planet for the PSP, plus the following multiplatformers: Modern Warfare 2, Need For Speed: Shift, Guitar Hero 5 / Rock Band: The Beatles.

    Moving further up... (S$250 to S$1000)
    •A Point-and-shoot camera. May I recommend the Sony Cybershot DSC-TX1?
    •An External HDD. Anything Seagate/WD.
    •A new phone. Blackberry 9700 or 8520 or Storm 2, if you're into the BlackBerry. But otherwise, iPhone 3GS, HTC Hero, Palm Pré, Motorola Droid, they're all interesting.
    •A netbook. Don't ask me what's good. I hate these things, but they're popular, so I included them in this list.
    •A holiday overseas! Just not Bali. Don't go to Bali at this time of the year - it'll be quite crowded. Don't take British Airways either. And avoid London if you are planning on taking public transport or renting a car. Head North for the cold, or South for the warmth.

    You're bleeping rich... (Anything above S$1000)
    •Canon EOS 7D.
    •MacBook Pro. or the new iMac with Core i7 processors. Watch out for cracked screens, though.
    •A Fiat 500 or Honda Jazz.
    •Did I say Canon EOS 7D? No. Get a Hasselblad. You're mad!
    •Heck. A Ferarri F458 Italia. Won't ship in time, but it's the thought that counts, right?
    •A ticket on SpaceShip Two. You know. That Virgin Galactic spacecraft.

    Alright. I don't know what to buy for Christmas, ok? Go think of something yourself!


    Just came back from the cinema. Watched Avatar in 3D - the second movie that I managed to watch in 3D. It's a brilliant work, I must say. Don't want to give spoilers, but the story's brilliant, and it's even better in 3D, with its use of the z-dimension to create visual depth and detail. I highly recommend catching this movie in 3D if you can, even if you've watched a 3D movie before.

    And if you've seen the movie, there's one question that I have to ask about the storyline - one that still baffles me.

    SPOILER ALERT> Highlight over the next few lines to see the text

    We all know that the "Sky People" managed to bring down the treehouse above the ore that they were after. Then, why were they still after the Navi people when they have clear access to the area? Why did they attack the Navi again? I'm a bit lost.


    Once I get an answer to this question, I'll change my rating on the movie. But if I can't, I'm afraid I'll have to call this an attempt at upping the action level, and hence give it a 7/10. Which is already a high score, even with this glaring question mark that remained at the end of the movie.

    And by the way, if you're wondering why I haven't been tweeting or FB-ing, let's just say I'm not buying a SIM card for my iPhone - my main tweeting/FB-ing device. Which means I can only access FB/Twitter when there's WiFi, which is only when I'm home, which is quite rare.

    So please don't tell me I need to tweet more. I'm in Facebook/Twitter rehab, and it's not that bad. Especially since it's Christmas - talk to some real people, alright?

    Have a jolly Christmas, everyone! (in case I don't blog again till after X-mas)

    Friday, 18 December 2009


    I realised that the titles of my blog post are quite meaningless, because I tend to choose a title, and then make a post, forgetting that I had a title at the top of the post. So, there you go. Untitled post. So I'm free to talk about what I want, without thinking of following a thread. (You have been warned.)

    If you're wondering where on earth I am (literally), I'm actually at home in Jakarta. Home sweet home. The unfortunate thing is that I'm still kind of jet-lagged. Sleeping 2-5am, waking up 12noon-ish. It's slowly moving back to a normal 12mn-9am sleep cycle, but till then, I'm staying off caffeine.

    Been trying to study for the AS (plus a few A2) papers in January. I have to confess - I feel that studying in December is like child-labour - it's unethical, because it robs the person of the freedom to enjoy, relax, and celebrate the festive season (and gain weight). But that's my opinion. Must. Study. Psychology. I mean, I'm not too worried about Maths and Econs, and I just need to read up a bit more of the Accounting theory and stuff, but Psychology is a lot harder to study for. Tons of different theories, explanations, approaches, models, treatments, etc. intertwined with hundreds of researchers' names to remember. But since I got myself into this mess (nobody forced me to take Psychology. Just me and my ego.), I have to face the music like a man.

    Oh, I've been thinking of embarking on a multimedia project soon. Much like my 'O' Level Art Coursework - a video, coupled with an original audio track, depicting a certain theme/story. At the moment, I need a theme to work on, so that I know what to work towards. So far, I have 2 on my mind - the urban/city life, or the earphones/speakers/mp3 player. The former, because I just want to try making stock-like video. The latter, because I think many of us listen to music on our commute to school/work, and sometimes, you see people behaving in a way that shows they're rocking to the music, but suppressing it really well. And I thought I can use my video to show an amplification (heh. no pun intended) of this perhaps-innate response to Lady Gaga. Of course, this is a spare-time-only project, because I really shouldn't be doing this when I have exams to prepare for. It's just that I've been having itchy fingers lately, if you know what I mean.

    Gosh, I really want a 7D and a video-friendly ballhead (Reccos, anyone?).

    Anyway, speaking of video, I was watching this HD short-film that I downloaded from the BBC iPlayer some time ago. Hooked my Mac up to my 720p TV, and gosh, did it look good. The story was good, too. Entitled "Pop Art" by Amanda Boyle, it's about this strange friendship between Toby, a kid who's lost him mum and Arthur, a new classmate who's born with a 'genetic disorder that causes him to be born a balloon' (hence the title, I guess). It's an odd story, yes, but I think it's a bit of a reflection of how people sometimes let their negative emotions overcome them. If you're geeky enough to know how to set up a proxy or search on Youtube, do try to watch it. It's a heart-warming clip, IMO.

    But if you have no idea how to set up a proxy (it's alright. me neither.) then you can have this as a consolation prize. If you're a fan of The Bugle - Audio Newspaper for the Visual World podcast, then you should listen to "Andy Zaltsman's History of the Third Millenium", a comedic view of the past decade. It's on the iPlayer, but because it's audio-only (radio broadcast), it's available for streaming worldwide, as with most other BBC Radio programmes. Other programmes I recommend - The Now Show [also available in podcast form worldwide]. But please, don't let these links be your only source of news. You'll sound really weird in conversations about the latest news.

    By the way, for people who often look at my scrobble charts, there's been a slight glitch with the Scrobbler App on my Mac, so I had to uninstall it and use a different scrobbler, which seems to also have its own share of bugs. Seems like upgrading from Leopard to Snow Leopard, and then from iTunes 8 to 9, added with the zero-response from the coders, might have led to me being unable to submit about half of my scrobbles. So, fingers crossed, let's hope things work with this new 3rd-party scrobbler. If you were reading this paragraph and scratching your head, head over to and use the service.

    Ok, got to sleep now. Post ends here.

    Thursday, 10 December 2009


    I've just finished reading SuperFreakonomics (finally! after 48 days, with constant interruptions!). If you're doing any form of Economics, I suggest you read this book - it'll help with your microeconomics, not because it's a revision guide, but because it makes the subject come alive. Just make sure you read this book with an open mind and from a matured point of view. Because it does talk about prostitution patterns around holiday seasons.

    I've been pondering about one theme that constantly pops up in a subliminal way in the book - Incentives. Economists would like to think we, being rational human beings, react to incentives.

    People choose to Bit Torrent their favourite TV shows rather than buy a DVD because they have the incentive of saving money and travelling/waiting time, while enjoying, maybe, a higher quality version (HD?).

    People have an incentive to take public transport because they won't have to worry about the cost involved in owning a car - taxes, fuel, insurance, etc.

    Secondary school students used to join CCAs because that meant they get more CCA points, which can potentially cut off 2 points from their L1R5, allowing them to gain access into better JCs. But if the CCA Points system was to be stopped in a certain year, will people continue to join CCAs? Or would they prefer something else - maybe LAN gaming? or sleeping at home? or TV?

    Students in my school tend to leave 3 days before the end of the term because they know this is the time when all the students disappear, and the teacher don't do much other than chat with you in an effort to, well, kill time before the period ends. Because they can't carry out their lesson plan, or else 80-90% of the class would be left out. And besides, extending your holiday back home by another 3 days - who wouldn't want that? And furthermore, there's no loss by going back home 3 days earlier, because there's no way to punish, and if the teachers were to alert the parents, erm, the parents kind-of knew the students skipped 3 days of lessons already, actually. So what's the point?

    The above examples are pretty obvious cases of incentives in action.

    But then I've been thinking of some other scenarios where incentives don't seem to fit in to the reason people do certain things.

    1. Twitter. Facebook. Web 2.0 stuff.
    What is the incentive for people to use social networks? If you were a media company, that's obvious - marketing. But if you're John Doe, an ordinary folk who happens to own a computer, why should you spend time on Farmville?

    2. Charity. Altruism. Good deeds.
    What is the incentive for people to do charity work? What makes people volunteer to serve? Why do people lend money to strangers?

    3. Crime.
    What is the incentive for people to commit a crime? I mean, there's a lot of disincentives, but there are people who constantly challenge the law. So there has to be an incentive there, right?

    Well, what do you think? Toss in your theories on the tagboard or in the comments section.

    Before I end off this post, I want to talk more on number 2.

    We all like to think we are nice people. We think we enjoy helping others, and sometimes, we help others, through direct or indirect means, often expecting nothing in return. We call in when there's donation drives on TV (ok, there's some corruption in some organisations, but we'll overlook that in this post). We might even go on visits to institutions and meet people who need help.

    But why is it that in a world where there are people who can afford to own a yacht, there are also people who worry if they can find water or food tomorrow? Why is it that in a city where there's Lamborghinis and Mercedes SLKs parked outside the houses in it, there are also people who sleep on the streets and beg for money? Why is it that in a country where there's people who are well-off, there's also people who are starving?

    I've been involved in the 'Helping People' team in my church, and we've been trying to find ways to reach out to the community and help those in need. It's quite shocking to see the homeless people all around Brighton. And that's not the only problem in this area. Sexual abuse, domestic violence, drug abuse, there's so many areas that need help.

    But then I realised - if God has blessed me with the abundant provisions in the form of physical ways (as well as social ways, in the form of love and care from the people around me), perhaps I should share these with others who lack them.

    I really believe that if you feel that you have been blessed, you should bless others and fill someone's need. It can be academic, it can be social, or maybe someone just needs a little encouragement. If you have the ability to help, then go forth and lend a hand, an ear, or whatever the need is.

    It's Christmas season, a time of giving. Think of doing something nice!

    Thursday, 3 December 2009


    This will be quick.

    For those of you who love to mess around with people's minds (or doing
    KI/Philosophy), here: some video clips on paradoxes

    (P.s.: there's one on the crocodile paradox which requires you to go
    on Youtube and making choices in the clips. Has to be played in HD to

    (P.s.s.: more clips to come this week. It's Rocketboom's Paradox Week,
    so yeah. For those who don't know, Rocketboom is a daily video podcast
    that talks about intelligent stuff - tech news, Internet memes,
    theories, history, news, etc. A bit like my blog, and then some.)

    Sent from my iPhone

    Wednesday, 2 December 2009

    Techie post

    It's been a few moons ago (I mean it this time) since the last time I actually talked tech.

    So, to make up for it, I'm going back to one of the many strands of roots from which this blog stemmed. (Can't say I'm going back to my roots, since this blog isn't really a tech blog, but a tech+music+personal rant blog).

    By the way, it's a long post, so treat it as 3 separate posts, if you prefer. Each part starts with a theme that's in bold.

    Anyway, yesh, where were we?

    Google Wave. I wanted to post a status on Facebook saying "what is the purpose of Google Wave's existance"? Because from what I see, it's just a massive IM + Google Docs thing put into one. Maybe I'm being old-fashioned here, or maybe I've been living the iPhone lifestyle for too long, but really, why do we need Google Wave? I mean, yes, I know, it's good for collaboration, and I'm sure many people would enjoy working with other people using Wave. But for the rest of us - the average human being who has non-techie friends who can't give a shyte about Wave - it's useless. You'd probably be doing whatever it is you are collaborating on much faster if you met up face to face, rather than working in Wave, because half of the time, you'd be explaining to them how things work.

    I mean, did you watch the Google keynote? The Keynote to explain Google Wave took 1 hours 30 minutes+! I mean, that's one product! Apple takes the same amount of time to refresh an iPod line-up! Microsoft takes half an hour to launch Windows Vista! Wave? 90 minutes plus. No average Joe has the attention span of more than an hour to understand what a Google Wave is. I'm sorry, but this Wave thing will not catch on, unless Google can summarise its features in a bullet-point list. Till then, Google Wave sits in the bin of "Things I can use but don't".

    K. Topic numero duo: DJ Hero. This disc-jockey game that costs about £99, the last I checked at the local HMV, seems like it should be a popular title this holiday season. After all, it's like Guitar Hero - a music game that uses some Fisher-Price plastic peripheral to play, so it should catch on like its cousin, right?

    Well, it didn't. I read an Ars.Technica article last month on why this was so. And after pondering on their theories a little bit more, I think they're right. (Sorry, no link. School PC a bit too slow to handle tabs.)

    DJ Hero involves the use of a plastic turntable and a fader on the side. Unless you've been DJ-ing, this is going to be a steep learning curve. To make matters worse, the music you hear have been premixed, so you'll be quite unfamiliar with the music you hear, even though they take parts from familiar tracks like Boom Boom Pow or Hollaback Girls. And to add another layer of "This game is for cool people only", the game is not easy to play perfectly. You have to slide the fader at the right time, and when sliding back to the centre, not slide too much or you'll toss the track to the opposite side. This is done while you basically scratch the disc and mash buttons on it. That's 3 tasks. Plus looking at the screen trying to figure out the controls, you'll be pushing your hand-eye coordination while the turntable itself tries to throw you off, with the 360-spinnable disc and the low-friction fader. All this, while listening to mixes you're unfamiliar with.

    Contrast this to the Guitar Hero experience - Mash buttons with fingers on one hand, "strum" with the other, and time strums with the screen, while listening to "Knights Of Cydonia" by Muse. Very fun, very nice, and you feel cool, especially if you don't cock up.

    On DJ Hero, you'll get your music taken away from you, you'll be confused at the controls, you'll not like the music, and youy're not having any fun at all. Not cool.

    I'm quite sad, actually, that DJ Hero is such a flop. It had the potential to be a new fad, flooding YouTube with gameplay footages of people acing the game. But sadly, it's such a steep learning curve, it's not fun. In the same way I thought MMORPGs are not fun. Because the people who are good at it are socially remote introverts.

    Well, most of them.

    Finally, before I sign off and disappear to class, I want to talk about Borders.

    Borders UK, the bookstore, just went into adminsitration a few days ago, for those outside the UK. It's quite depressing to see such an awesome bookstore suffer so much. If you walk into some of their stores, you'd see the magazine section basically reduced to one shelf of leftover stock, and their books on their display tables like a discount bazaar at a Pasar Malam.

    From what I've gathered, they've had a hard time competing with online bookstores like Amazon, and with the supermarkets such as Tesco now taking a share of the market, Borders has tried massive discounts on their stuff to compete with these other guys. Sadly, the massive discounts came at a cost, and Borders couldn't pay their debts towards some of their suppliers. As a result, some suppliers stopped supplying books, and Borders, desperate but unable to get a buyer, tanked.

    Which brings me to my main point - online stores. I know people like the online experience of buying goods from their PC and getting them delivered to the door, including groceries (Ocado, for example). But I think brick & mortar stores should still exist, even in the advent of the digital age. How else can you talk to real people, or pick the freshest fruits that they have, or flip through a preview of what the book is like, or .... you get the point. There are some things online cannot replace. This, coming from a person who's pro-technology, might be a bit ironic, I understand. But in all seriousness, I really believe there's still a room for the brick and mortar stores, even in the digital age.

    What do you think?

    And by the way, how's Borders in Singapore? Hope it's still a great place to go to (other than to buy music. Their catalogue is always in such a mess, I don't even bother to try searching for music albums there anymore.)

    Monday, 30 November 2009

    Album review...

    I've never done one of these before, but seeing that there's so many new albums out for this Christmas season, I thought I'd round up a couple of albums and pass my judgement on them. See if you agree with any of these.

    Ok, where shall we start? How about SuBo?

    Susan Boyle's debut album, I Dreamed A Dream, has been charting very well in the UK (and apparently, the US, too). The frumpy lady, who claimed to have never been kissed before, went on Britain's Got Talent, emerging as an Ugly Duckling with a beautiful voice that melts hearts. Now that she has an album, we get to hear more of that voice. Before I get all fanboy-ish with this review, I will say (to prove some objectivity in this review) - yes, the songs are all covers, and you probably won't want to listen to some of the tunes after Christmas, because yes, there's some Christmas songs in there. But heck. She's got great (not perfect, but great) vocals, and I think she's brilliant and likeable. She scores 3/10 for creativity (her rendition of Wild Horses - that's something), but overall, it's an 8.5/10.
    Must Download: Wild Horses / I Dreamed A Dream / How Great Thou Art / Daydream Believer

    Next, Lady Gaga, the crazy musical genius. For the sake of this review, I will review Fame Monster in 2 parts - The EP (CD1), and the album (i.e.: The Fame, CD2).

    Fame Monster: 8 tracks. As many of you probably guessed by now, I'm a big fan of the electronica genre (think Owl City). So you'd expect me to love Lady Gaga, right? Well, yes and no. I have this bad habit of judging songs by their first 10 seconds, and that's the litmus test Gaga songs often fail. But to be fair, her latest EP isn't all bad. If you see my weekly charts, you'd see that "Telephone" is in joint number 2. Many people also like Bad Romance. Aside from these two songs, I think the other songs are marginally above average, which = "Just OK". Not terrible. Just so-so. So I give this EP 6.5/10.
    Must Download: Telephone / Bad Romance / Monster

    The Fame: 16 tracks. Admittedly late, considering this album was out last year. But because this album is stuck inside "The Fame Monster", whether you like it or not, I have to review it. I'll make this quick. It's Gaga. And you probably have the album already if you like her. 8/10

    Combines weighted score: 6.5*8 + 8*16 / (8+16) = 7.5/10

    Next up: John Mayer, with Battle Studies. I was just tweeting @thejellyhunter (formerly @ryanleee) about this album - I don't love it, I don't like it, it's not growing on me, even though it's John C. Mayer. Why? Well, I've been thinking about it, and I think the answer can only be summed up in 2 words - it's dull. And I mean that in a "dull and not entertaining" sense. I mean, I loved Continuum, mainly because a few tracks were likeable - Heart Of Life, Waiting On The World To Change, Stop This Train, etc. - you listen to those, and you'll want to shake your head to the beats. If only he would stop tweeting and make his songs more impactful. And what the heck was Taylor Swift doing with John Mayer, singing only 2 lines? If she's in a studio with John Mayer, I expect more from Swift than just "Can't Stop Loving You, Can't Stop Loving You" and a suppressed, almost inaudible alto line. (The lyrics are great, though, if that's any consolation). 6.5/10
    Must Download: Heartbreak Warfare / Who Says / Half Of My Heart / War Of My Life

    Moving on: Norah Jones, with The Fall. Just as you forgot about her, she's back with a new album. It deviates from what you'd call Jazz, but that's fine by me. The music paints a picture in your head, and that's good. This one's growing on me. And as a "Welcome back" present, Jones gets an 8.5/10.
    Must Download: Chasing Pirates / Young Blood / Tell Yer Mama

    One last album - Queen. I talked about this before - It's a "Best Of" from one of those bands that probably earn millions in royalties each year. Buy! 9/10.

    k. That's all for now. Got some tests to prepare for. More reviews to come!

    Friday, 27 November 2009


    This is probably the coolest App that I've foind so far for the iPhone.

    It's "Decibel", a Decibel-o-meter app for the iPhone, and well, it works as its name suggests - it picks up sound using the in-built mic of the iPhone (works best on 3G/3GS, also on iPod touch 3G with a mic on the earphone) and it tells you the volume of the sound it captures in decibels (dB).

    Go check it out!

    Tuesday, 24 November 2009

    Ambitious but rubbish, indeed.

    For all the Top Gear (and car, especially electric car) fans out there, this one's for you.

    In Episode 2 of their latest Season (Season 14), which aired last Sunday, the trio built an electric car that was meant to compete against other electric cars out there - Chevrolet Volt, Tesla Roadster, G-Wiz, etc.

    They asked an 'annonymous' driver to send the car to the Autocar magazine to review the car that they have built.

    The result?

    Read on this link:

    It's ambitious, but ... trust me. Read the review.

    Sunday, 22 November 2009

    BBC Children In Need Medley

    A song for the BBC Children In Need fundraising campaign. You'd probably never seen so many cartoon/kids characters in one single music video.

    Music to watch out for...

    Been looking through the iTunes Music Store, and boy, do we have lots of new albums on the UK iTunes Album Chart this week.

    Ok, first thing I want to talk about is, well, probably not available outside the UK (aww...). It's a Parody Album by BBC Radio 1 Morning Show DJ, Chris Moyles. The name of the album? I just said it. It's The Parody Album. It's a compilation of parodies that this morning show DJ recorded. Not much I can say, except you know this is going to be weird, like those Don & Drew show podcasts. Out Monday 23rd Nov on iTunes UK.

    Next, still speaking about the UK, remember the Britain's Got Talent runner-up Susan Boyle? Well, she's back with a vengeance this Christmas with an album of her own, entitled "I Dreamed A Dream". Before you laugh her off as an eccentric like William Hung, look back at those YouTube clips. Now, imagine a studio-quality recording of her singing Amazing Grace or Silent Night. I admit, most people will notice flaws in her vibrato parts, but otherwise, she's a Scottish angel. This album is one to look out for this Christmas. Out Monday 23rd Nov

    Moving on, while we're on the topic of stocking-stuffers for Christmas, we have 2 'Best-of's that were just released. For those who like Queen (who doesn't?), they just released their "Absolute Greatest" album! If you're more into Snow Patrol, they also have a 2-disc 'best-of', called "Up To Now".

    There's also been some Jazzy artistes releasing albums recently. There's Norah Jones with "The Fall", and Jamie Cullum with "The Pursuit". Realise both album names start with 'The', followed by a noun? Can't be a coincidence, can it? Norah's album was released on 17 Nov, Jamie's on 9 Nov.

    Oh, John Mayer. He's got a new album out, too. "Battle Studies".

    And how about that Lady Gaga EP, "The Fame Monster"? Features the single 'Bad Romance', along with other new Gaga tracks, and her last album, "The Fame".

    That's just a sample of what new stuff I saw on iTunes that might be popular this pre-Christmas season. Look out for them, possibly in a future music chart from me!

    Friday, 20 November 2009

    University help...

    Ok, I don't know who reads my blog anymore. But since I just joined TSR (The Student Room), I thought I might get some 'fallout' from that forum site.

    I need help with my University options.

    At first, I wanted to go to LSE. But that was plan A, and with their rejection letter, I must switch to Plan B.

    Unfortunately/Fortunately, I have 4 Plan Bs, and 3 of them are deployable (I'm still waiting for an offer from City University, for what I suspect might be the wrong course, because I chose Economics/Accountancy, and my Personal Statement was all about Finance & Accounting). As such, I need help in deciding which Plan B to make as a Firm Choice, and which as my Insurance Choice for my UCAS application.

    The 4 Plan Bs are as follows:

    I don't know what kind of place Exeter is, but from what I see, it's a vibrant scene with a great campus and relaxing surrounding. Highest Student Satisfaction Rating (citation: TimesOnline Good University Guide), so it has to be good, right? But highest entry requirement of the 3, too, at AAA. Then again, seems like Exeter might be the 'cheapest' place to live in amongst all my options (citation: Virgin Alternative Guide), yet it's the furthest from a major airport (I'm a foreign student.)

    The lowest-ranked for Finance & Accounting (amongst my choices), but low = 10th (which is high, actually), according to The TimesOnline Good University Guide, and it's in a major city, with a big student population (is that a boon or a bane?). Near a major airport. Also, it's in the QOS international ranking of top 100 Universities worldwide. Great Music scene, from what my church friends told me.

    Great teaching, I heard, and popular amongst UCAS applicants, but not much nightlife/shopping/POI around - Is that accurate?

    Haven't gotten an offer (not even an acknowledgement) yet. But this Univeristy's in London, which probably means vibrant nightlife, but high living cost and parking. Then again, there's good transport link (Tube, Bus, etc.)

    So, that's my shortlist.

    Which 2 should I choose?

    [btw, my blog's back on Facebook!]

    are you reading?

    Just thought I should remind people - if you're still reading my blog, please drop a tag or something. I'm starting to feel like this is the end of a Birthday party when everyone's left, and I'm the only one left in the room, talking to the wall that is my own blog posting space.

    So, yeah, please tag if you're still reading.

    This got me thinking, though - with the advent of stuff like Facebook, Twitter, etc., what's the point of spending 30 minutes drafting a blog post that's just to satisfy your own ego/mind/(fill in this bracket with an appropriate word/phrase you had in mind)?

    Look at the status update.

    That's a quick, short and simple 'drug' to the same condition that people had before - the desire to be heard by "annonymous".

    Not only can you send text across, but you can also share photos of, oh, I don't know, your bear wearing a poppy, or a bowl of clothes size tags that you arranged to form a rainbow!

    So, why am I still blogging?

    Well, to be honest, there is one secret reason.

    It's related to essay-writing.

    To be honest, I was never really good at writing essays/stories. But ever since I got into blogging, with the influence of friends like Mervyn Wee and Isaac Wong (who have been blogging since P6, before I know what a blog was), I realised that I was generating more essays than I would ever have written. And that's not the best part. The best part is that I actually enjoyed writing these essays, mainly because it serves an egocentric purpose of seeking attention + expressing emotions/thoughts/feelings.

    Blogging, to me, feels a bit like your own YouTube channel. You get to post a heap of rubbish, and even if nobody read it, you feel like somebody heard you. (Unless you have a stat counter or a tagboard. A stat counter shows you that a thousand people have read your blog, which might be more people than you'd probably have in your iPhone contacts list. On the other hand, your tagboard will probably be so dead, you'd think nobody reads your blog.)

    So, there's a hint. If you want to improve your essay-writing/argumentative/debating/critical skills (critical as in 'critique', not 'vital'), blog.

    Sunday, 15 November 2009

    Of flight tickets and train tickets

    Just to let you know, I just booked my flight ticket for the last part of my A Level school year. Long story short, here's the plan:

    6 Jan 2010: CGK-SIN, arrive 7:35pm.
    8 Jan 2010: SIN-CGK, depart 12:55pm.

    And I'm going to be transiting in SG on my return trip in July, but the transit is just one hour, it's not even worth mentioning.

    There are many reasons why this stayover is short.

    •Firstly, I have to be in the UK before the 11th, because I have exams on. I need to be in the UK earlier to adjust to the climate, time, duration of daytime, etc.

    •Secondly (extending reason number 1), I tried to book an SQ flight for the 9th of Jan, but the site just won't cooperate, and tell me SQ only flies SIN-LHR on 4th, 8th and 11th of January, even though it has a code-share flight with Virgin Atlantic on the 9th (though it transits in Dubai, making my trip a 2-stop route, but who cares!). Been trying, believe me, for 2 weeks now.

    •Thirdly, I want to spend more time with my family (and my bro's Honda Jazz).

    •Fourthly, I need more time with the books.

    •Fifthly, Singapore's broadband speed will spoil me. Must not get too used to it.

    •Sixthly, what I want to do in SG, most of them, I can do in Jakarta, so what's the point of staying too long?

    •Seven, I have a longer, more relaxed break between the end of my A Level exams in June and my A Level results collection in August. And by that time, I think the choir peeps were suggesting we have a get-together to celebrate Ms Gan's return to SG or something, so I thought - why not pop by?

    And there you go - 7 reasons for the short stay in SG.

    Now that I've clarified my reasons, let's start arranging stuff, yeah?

    I'll probably need to go to a Guardian store and a Popular/Art Friend shop, btw.

    And I must eat Roti Prata / Yoshinoya / 咸鱼炒饭 with green pickled chilli. Gosh, I miss these things.

    And btw, I have a fisheye treat (hint hint).

    So yeah, do drop me a Facebook message about this, alright?

    While we're still on the topic of my flight ticket, I just realised that my flight ticket, even though it'll bring me half way across the globe and back, it still costs less than rail ticket.

    And I'm not talking about some bullet train or rail journey to the ends of the earth.

    I'm referring to this recent news article about the most expensive UK railway journey ticket. £1002 (that's £11.40 more than my flight ticket, based on current USD-GBP exchange rates) gets you a First-class "Walk-on" Return journey from some place in Scotland to some place in Cornwall. (See Map)

    View Larger Map

    That's 1,700 miles in total. (Map above can only show car journey. See source article for actual rail journey route)

    To put things in perspective, I'm paying less than the tickets for an economy class seat on a 14,000 mile journey.

    That should really makes you wonder about 2 things:
    a) How does the airline industry do it?
    b) How much dough does the railway companies in the UK make anyway? It's not as if they involve as many employees, or use more expensive vehicles for transporting people.

    This is just laughable. For the same amount of money to go on a holiday in, say, Bali, I can go from one end of the UK to the other and back. That's just not the same, is it? And yet, in terms of £££, it is.

    And mind you, even though it says First Class, you don't get the same treatment as a First Class passenger on a plane. The size of those seats are (most of the time) the same as standard class seats; they're only slightly cleaner, because fewer buttocks have been on them, since you need to pay more to get on them.

    Well, that's all the bickering I can do now. Need to sleep. Got church tomorrow morning, and I'm watching 2012 with my housemates tomorrow afternoon/evening (tbc). Am I the only one to see the irony in that, or what?

    Friday, 13 November 2009

    Some things I've learnt.

    Been thinking recently of posting a list of things that I've learnt
    about studying abroad over the past few years, and putting them in a
    blog post. But seeing as how these things just keep on coming into my
    rear view mirror, I thought I shouldn't put everythin in one post, but
    rather, scatter it.

    So here is my first one of such posts.

    Firstly, you need friends to help you along the way. They can be your
    moral supporter, and they are your rock - they keep you sane and in
    touch with the world.

    Secondly, if you believe in God, you need to keep close to him in your
    daily life. Go to church, read the bible, pray for guidance and
    wisdom, and also, give thanks to God for the blessings in your life.

    Thirdly, jeans are your best friends, whatever the season, weather,
    and gender. They're comfortable, they work in all weather and climate,
    they work with any top, and they can be worn for a week before you
    need to change them. They're the only type of pants you should wear if
    you want to survive in a temperate country.

    Fourth, music. Unless you're Teh Chee Yang, who hates music, music can
    take your mind of things, change your mood, or give you inspiration.
    You need music.

    5: find student discount opportunities, or discount cards, and abuse
    them, but not too much. Look out for lobang, too. To quote a certain
    European supermarket chain's ad campaign: Every little helps.

    Some of these can apply to any student, really. But yeah, that's how I
    stay sane in an insane world.

    More to come in future.

    Sent from my iPhone

    Thursday, 12 November 2009

    Of SSD and TGL.

    I was going to start this post with "Haven't blogged in a while", till I realised - my last post was only 9 days ago. Now, yes, that's a 'long' time, considering my average blogging frequenscy. However, compared with most other blogs, one post every 9 days is quite frequent. So, no, it hasn't been a while. It's just 9 days. So let's begin this post proper!


    Just got an offer from Exeter! AAA, including Mathematics. A bit high, but not impossible. So, that's Manchester and Exeter down, waiting for City, LSE and Warwick to reply.


    I spent last Saturday at Earl's Court Exhibition Centre for Top Gear Live / MPH Show. Can I just say, if you're any sort of a Top Gear fan, or if you love cars, you should check out this show. Basically, there's two parts to it - an exhibition area showcasing cars and car-related products (EA was showcasing their latest games, BBC Magazine was selling Top Gear Magazines for £1, and TomTom was selling GPS devices, etc.), and a live show, featuring the stars of the BBC programme by the same name - Clarkson, Hammond, and May, as well as The Stig. You'll see car stunts, car showcases, and ambitious-yet-rubbish creations of the 3 blokes, including vehicles made out of gardening items, and racing with mopeds (they flip a lot when turning, because they only have one front wheel). And the noise from the V8 engines of 8 supercars - that will give serious petrolheads goosebumps.


    That wasn't the only show I saw last week. On Wednesday, before I got sick (more on that later), I watched Michael McIntyre Live at the Brighton Centre. For those who don't know, Michael McIntyre is a stand-up comedian who likes to crack jokes about the things he observe around him - from the way people react to you if you sneeze, to the blatant errors in his opening sequence video, which showed him on the road dashing to Brighton in the daytime, even though it's pitch dark 8pm when the show started. He can make mundane stuff hilarious, and he often does it impromptu - unscripted. And even though he has a cold, he was a great sport, going through the whole 2-hour performance like a professional entertainer. Great comedian!


    And about me getting sick - I suspect there's a bug going around, because for some reason, the morning after I went to the Michael McIntyre show, I woke up feeling as if I had a hangover. I almost lost my balance in the shower, and I was feeling weak while eating breakfast. I puked five times after breakfast, and had to take leave for the rest of the day after one hour of classes. The school nurse prescribed something called Pepto-Bismol, which came in the form of (to my disgust) a pink liquid suspension. But taking that really helped to curb my nausea, though the side-effects were a bit disturbing, to say the least (it said "black tongue and excrements", and though the former wasn't observed, the latter certainly happened, and it was the most alarming sight ever.)

    But yes, if you are nauseous and puking, and especially if you just recovered from a cold, go see the doctor.


    Well, that's it for this post. more to come soon. But for now, it's bed time. (well, for me, anyway)

    Oh, did you get the MacHeist bundle? only a few hours left! (as of typing: 5 hours left.)

    Monday, 2 November 2009

    Try again?

    Haven't blogged about myself recently.

    So let's try that again.

    Erm, ok, where should I start?

    I just got the first response from the 5 universities I applied to!

    For those who don't know about the UK uni application process, let me

    You can start submitting applications from September, and depending on
    where you're applying to, it closes at different times - late October
    for Cambridge/Oxford/Medicine, January 2010 for other students, March
    2010 for some special Arts courses. You have to submit a personal
    statement (a 4000-character essay of yourself, why you choose the
    subject, and why you deserve to get into the uni), 5 course choices,
    and your past academic results + what subjects you plan to do for your
    A Levels/IB/equivalent. Then after you submit all these, your tutor
    writes a reference and predicted grades in a separate part of the
    application (it's all online), and all these go to the 5 universities
    as a package (the unis won't know who else you applied to). Based on
    all that they've got, the universities decide whether they want to
    offer you a place or not, or if they want to interview you (not so
    common, since the personal statement should be enough in most cases).

    I got my first offer from the University of Manchester! w00t!

    So, yeah, Thank God for the offer, especially with the increased
    competition this year.

    And speaking of "Thank God", Thank God for the re-opening of St.
    Peter's Cathedral, Brighton! It's a beautiful Gothic-style church
    building, and though 2/3 of the interior needs some work (only the
    front 1/3 section is being used for services), it's still a nice
    church, where I got to meet lots of nice people over coffee and cakes
    before and after service. Maybe I should take some pics and post here
    next time.

    And speaking of time, look at the time.

    No, I mean look at the calendar.

    It's two more months before we enter a new year! But not just any new
    year, it's a new decade!

    If you think about it, so much has changed in the past decade. I shall
    blabber on to illustrate my point...

    In terms of technology, we now have 3G touchscreen phones, iPods,
    Wifi, HDTV, Twitter, Social networks (Facebook, Friendster), Broadband
    in virtually almost every household, YouTube, the rise of the Mac,
    Windows XP, Vista, and 7 in one decade (and Mac OS X 10 to 10.6). The
    CD is dying as a medium, while DVDs and iTunes rise in popularity.

    In terms of music, we went from boy/girl bands (think Westlife and
    Spice Girls) to, erm, oh sh*t they're back (Westlife, Backstreet Boys.).
    But we also have lots of electronica/dance artistes (Lady Gaga, Gwen
    Stefani), Alternative (Muse, Radiohead), and strangely, a bit of
    country (Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus).
    R&B is omnipresent (Timbaland, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Rihanna, Beyoncé),
    and so are the JMs - Jason Mraz, John Mayor, James Morrison.
    We bid farewell to Michael Jackson.
    And thanks to the interwebs (Youtube, Myspace => Lily Allen, Marié
    Digby) and Idol/X Factor (Kelly Clarkson, Leona Lewis, William Hung
    (remember that bloke?), David Cook & Archuleta), some people became
    And many bands that existed in the 90's (Black Eyed Peas, Coldplay,
    Take That) became even more successful.
    And we also saw a band release their remasters at last - The Beatles.
    Oh, and are you emo? (Paramore, Fall Out Boy, Panic At The Disco,
    Linkin Park, Avril Lavigne)

    In world affairs, we face tighter airport security and 'Big
    Brother' ("One Nation Under CCTV") thanks to 9/11 in 2001 and 7/7 in
    London. The world watches the events in the Middle East (Iraq, Iran,
    Afghanistan, Israel/Palestine). We see great natural disasters (Indian
    Ocean Tsunami, Katrina, etc.). China is booming, even in the recent
    recession (and did you see the Olympics opening ceremony?). We saw
    nuclear weapons in the headlines, and we saw global warming poke
    politicians and citizens. The world is dying less and food is
    generally abundant, yet we still have people dying of starvation in
    parts of the world. People became more concerned of healthy eating,
    animal rights, ethics, human rights, obesity/anorexia (or are they?)

    The income gap continues to widen.

    And Copenhagen is approaching.

    And The US bid Bush farewell and elected an African-American Democrat
    as the 44th President of the USA.
    (Oh, remember Sarah Palin? What happened to her?)

    K. think this post is long enough to show just a small fraction of how
    much this decade has brought.

    Friday, 30 October 2009

    Blimey! Lower viewership!

    Just looked at my Google Analytics stats.

    It's shocking how much lower my weekly viewership is so far, ever
    since I dropped the Facebook Notes syndicate.

    Now, there could be many other confounding variables that are causing
    this lower viewership rate (O Levels, no new post, etc.), so I'll wait
    a bit longer. Need a couple of weeks to control for these variables
    before I can make a fair comparison. But thus far, the results have
    been eye-openingly surprising - a 30-50% drop.

    Average = 112 visitors a week.
    Visits a week for the first 3 weeks of Oct 2009: about 80.
    Visits for the week of 25 - 30 Oct 2009: 56

    *scratches chin*

    Music Chart of the moment

    Yes, it's another music chart!

    Before I start, I must first disclose that I rarely buy music from
    iTunes/Amazon nowadays. I've been trying to use Spotify, a legal music
    streaming service, instead. Why? Well, I can listen to all the music I
    want for £9.99/mth, and the music doesn't have to stay on my Hard Disk
    (it can, if I choose to), and I can sync playlists over-the-air
    between my Spotify app on my Mac, as well as my iPhone and anywhere
    else I so choose to log in to Spotify. So, there, I don't own most of
    the tracks listed below, unless I somehow feel that the track's going
    to be a classic/one-hit wonder.

    Music Chart for the moment...

    "Little Lion Man"
    Mumford & Sons

    "Bad Romance"
    Lady Gaga

    "You've Got The Love"
    Florence + The Machine

    "Undisclosed Desires"

    "Empire State of Mind"
    Jay-z feat. Alicia Keys

    "Forever Is Over"
    The Saturdays

    MSTRKRFT feat. John Legend

    "You're Not Alone"
    Tinchy Stryder

    "Ghosts 'n' Stuff"
    Deadmau5 feat. Rob Swire

    Calvin Harris

    "White Lies"
    Mr Hudson

    Kings of Leon

    "Sweet Disposition"
    The Temper Trap

    "Fight For This Love"
    Cheryl Cole

    "Manos Al Aire"
    Nelly Furtado


    Yes, I'm sticking to the rules this time around - Each artist/band is
    entitled to only one position.

    And yes, it seems like my music taste is subconsciously shifting
    towards the electronic genre.

    And yes, I kept one rule, but broke another - rappers on my chart
    (Tinchy Stryder and Jay-Z). Somehow, I like both tracks.

    By the way, what do you think of the album art collage? Nice touch? or just unnecessary? Comment, please!

    Sunday, 25 October 2009

    The last syndicated post (to FB)

    As of typing, it's 25 October 2009, slightly after 8pm GMT. (oh yeah, DST's over, which means I can speak in GMT time now.)

    Starting 26 October 2009, there shall be no more syndication of my blog posts on Facebook.


    Well, the main reason is that I want to try out something.

    I want to check if people will visit my blog if I don't syndicate onto Facebook.

    From my judgement, I think people are not visiting my blogspot blog because they can get the same "experience" on Facebook as they would want on my blog - they can read what I post, and they have a feedback system in the form of comments and likes (which replaces the tagboard).

    There are pros and cons to having my blog posts syndicated to my Facebook profile page.

    The Pros:
    •I'm making my blog posts more accessible to my 300+ friends, since they log on to Facebook more often than my blog - In a sense, I'm benefitting from the 'cluster effect' of Facebook, as a social tool/destination on the web.
    •People get to comment on specific posts and I get to see which post they are referring to - much better than a single tagboard for an entire blog.
    •Because many people log on to Facebook regularly (perhaps on their smartphones, even), my notes are more accessible than my blog. Not only that, but people can catch up on my latest posts more regularly and not feel as if I've written a novel while they weren't visiting my blog. Well, what do you expect when I update my blog 200+ times a year? (Though thanks to Twitter, that rate has probably gone down by 20% or so. As of this post, I've published 186 posts for my blog in 2009)

    The Cons:
    •My blog posts don't look good after passing through layers of layout adjustments - firstly my, then Blogger, and finally, Facebook. Each step of the process, the blog post changes form - font, type (bold, italic, etc.), colour, size, alignment, it loses the element that I intended the post to have, and that's very irritating if you actually spend time & effort doing up all the fonts.
    •Your blog might suffer as a result of people only reading your posts on Facebook.

    I want people to realise that I actually have a blog, and my "Facebook Notes" are just a 'carbon copy' of my blog. Initially, I set Facebook to syndicate my blog because I want people to see a new 'note' on my Facebook profile page, and after seeing that, I was hoping that people would NOT click through to my Facebook notes, but rather, go over to my blogger blog. Obviously, that was wishful thinking on my part - people don't memorise URLs to others' blogs. 

    But now, I want to try out a little experiment. I want to find out if syndicating onto Facebook has any significant effect on the number of visitors/pageviews per day on my blog. As such, I am cutting off the syndication (possibly temporarily), and I want to see whether or not Google Analytics will log more visitors. If it does, then I can say that Facebook Notes does take away viewership from the original blog, if you're a small-time blogger like me. If it doesn't then maybe only a 8 people read my blog regularly, each visiting my blog twice daily (on average, I get 8 unique visitors per day and 16.59 pageviews a day.).

    So do check out my blog if you've never been there before -

    Note: if you're reading my blog via RSS (which I doubt, but then again, I won't know since I don't track RSS feed viewers), it still works. I'm just removing the RSS feed link from my Facebook Profile page settings.

    Saturday, 24 October 2009

    Urgh. Mucus. SuperF.

    Been ill.


    Well, maybe 'slightly' is an underplaying adverb. Been getting
    blockages in my left nose, thanks to a mixture of blood and mucus. And
    the Lemsip seems to help with the mucus in the short-term, but worsens
    the nose-bleeds, because one of its side-effects is thrombocytopenia,
    which basically means platelets deficiency, or in my case, slow blood
    clot formation and hence, increased nose bleed duration and volume.
    Bio students, I hope you learnt something, and if you're having your
    'O's I hope that served as a reminder to go and revise. (Hope that
    warning didn't come too late.)

    By the way, no, I didn't learn that word (Thrombocytopenia). It was on
    the patient information leaflet that came in the box with the Lemsip

    Anyway, let's put that gross mucus talk aside.

    Went to the cinema yesterday to watch the Pixar movie "Up" in 3D. I
    must say, the new "Real 3D" glasses - the ones that use Circular
    Polarizing glasses rather than tinted glasses - really adds drama to
    the animated movie. The added dimension of depth isn't just used to
    give the short bursts of 'surprise the audience' scenes like those in
    Jaws 3D anymore. Rather, you see this Z-axis being used throughout the
    movie. And even though you might get a headache at the beginning and
    discomfort on your nose (especially if you wear spectacles), the added
    dimension makes the story more engrossing. Sometimes, you feel as if
    you're watching a puppet show, only that the scenes change instantly
    and there's no strings.

    The only downside is that I can still see a bit of ghosting effect and
    a bit of interpolation in certain scenes, which is quite hard to
    accept considering how much more the tickets cost (well, for the Odeon
    that I was at, anyway). Still, it could've been worse, right?

    Overall, this technology has that 'wow' factor that impressed me.

    In other news, I just bought a new book (gasp! a book?!) recently -
    it's the sequel to Freakonomics, Superfreakonomics. I was so engrossed
    with the first, I decided to actually buy the sequel. Yes, there's
    some controversy about the content in the book - if you read online,
    there's a debate about the way the book talks about Global warming.
    And if you read the first book, you might be dropping your lips (at
    first in surprise, then) in dismay when they theorised that the Roe vs
    Wade ruling which led to the legalisation of abortion in the USA
    caused the decline in the rate of crime in the US in the '90s, in
    spite of analysts' more pessimistic predictions of escalating crime
    rates. Not going into too much detail (don't want to spoil the book)
    but if you want to read the theories in depth, head down to the
    nearest library that has this book, or buy it, or buy the audiobook
    online. It tries to mix Psychology (a social science that tries to
    explain human behaviour) with Economics (another social science of how
    markets, economic agents and economies interact). It's analytical, but
    it doesn't have the terminology and complex maths. (Though some people
    argue that the book often "cherry-picks" statistics to distort the
    truth and support their theories/disprove certain common beliefs
    amongst people.)

    K. just a short post. Need to use the bathroom, and then sleep.

    Thursday, 22 October 2009

    See Statistics? Scrutinise the source.

    If you see a set of statistics coming from a researcher, be it in an
    advertisement, newspaper, or even in a Social Studies/History Source-
    Based Question, always question its source.

    In SS classes, we are 'trained' to look at the provenance of a source
    to see where it came from, and from there, interpret certain things -
    what the sample size was, who was included in the sample, what this
    data is supposed to represent, and how was the data collected. The
    same should apply in real life - when you see that shampoo ad claiming
    "7 out of 10 people experienced stronger hair", investigate how the
    research was done. If the footnote says "in a trial of 117 people", I
    would still be suspect. Why?

    1. Because 117 people could include 100 employees, who, having
    received financial incentive from the company in the form of a job and
    a salary, have an obligatory pressure to say "it's brilliant". Or
    superficially, if they love the company and their products, however
    bad/good they may actually be, and that is why they choose to work for
    the company and take free samples, then the sample is biased.

    2. Because out of 117 people, the company picked and interviewed 90
    people who had strong hair to begin with, and the shampoo didn't do
    much to help. Or, the opposite could be true - they started from a low
    base (i.e.: very weak hair), and increased the strength, even though
    the hair was still breaking, albeit at a "60% lower rate of breakage".

    3. Because the shampoo works best with certain types of hair (e.g.:
    for blondes, or for oily hair), and out of 117 people, 80 people could
    have the advantageous trait.

    4. Because out of 200 people who initially tested the product, 83
    people didn't like the product / didn't report back, so the company
    just worked with what they had.

    5. Because the company included, with the free sample of shampoo, some
    extra hair tonic and vouchers to a special hair treatment place to
    "examine the progress of the improvement in your hair".

    See how a single footnote might seem to disclose the validity of a
    statistic, but actually has so many flaws?

    By the way, the above scenario was completely made-up. But I hope it
    keeps your eyes open and wary of the claptrap that many researchers,
    scientists, and advertisers put out.

    Friday, 16 October 2009

    of rage and mediation

    Initially, when I composed this blog post, I had the intention of
    commenting on this controversy that Ben See's been involved in
    recently. I prepared a lengthy post. However, I realised that perhaps
    i shouldn't publish it, namely for the following reasons:

    • By posting what I have drafted, I will be adding more oil to the
    fire, which isn't very constructive.
    • The situation seems to have subsided, thanks to the mediation
    efforts by his classmates.
    • The whole controversy is a 4SA 2009 issue, and I felt that I have
    absolutely no right to stick my nose in on an incident which didn't
    even relate to me.
    • I do not 100% know the background behind this controversy.
    • I didn't think through the implications of my decision to publish
    the post, and I'd really rather not think about the worst case
    scenario should I post it and Ben reads it.
    • And talk about hypocrisy. The last time I criticised a friend who
    was in my class, he became my enemy. So I shouldn't intervene.
    • I'm already quite intrusive writing this post. I think I should not
    go too deep into this incident that doesn't even relate to me. But I
    have opinions that I felt I really cannot bottle up.

    As such, I watered down my post and chose to redact almost the entire

    All I'm going to say is that I admire a few of Ben's classmates for
    how they've reacted to the whole thing. Specifically, Josiah, Zong
    Zhen, and Adam. They didn't just flame Ben. They tried to take away
    the pressure from the cauldron, and they deserve props for acting as
    mediators in this situation.

    I really hope this episode ends soon, and everyone in 4SA09 can bury
    the hatchet, focus on revisions, and strive for the best in their exams.

    With that, I hope all those who are doing their O Levels will be able
    to focus on their revision and give their best in the last push for
    this leg of their school life.

    Gambate! 加油!继续努力!All the best! Up and On!

    •And by the way, lay off the Facebooking, will ya?

    •Also, drink more water, eat more fruits, eat and sleep properly.
    There's no point memorising the entire History and SS textbook if
    you're going into the exam hall with a fever, chaffed lips, and
    feeling drowsy. Now that you guys have control over your schedules,
    plan you time wisely.

    •And don't take the Paper 1 for the sciences for granted. They might
    be MCQs, but they can be tricky. Keep practicing those TYS MCQ

    •And whatever the teachers in school advised, try to trust them and
    follow them.

    •And don't burn out - take breaks. But not too much. You know
    yourself best.

    Oh, and Ben, thanks for introducing me to Owl City. their music is
    quite helpful in getting me to sleep, somehow. Certainly helps with my

    [Note to self: this post should not be syndicated onto Facebook.]


    No. This isn't my usual music chart.

    I've just been thinking: how do you define "good" music?
    Is it something that you enjoy?
    Or is it something that many can enjoy?

    Is it something that is creative - something that achieves form of
    technical breakthrough, perhaps?
    Or is it something that improves on another person's work?
    Or maybe it's a song with an impressive lyrics of deep meaning?

    Does the music paint a colour in your mind?
    Does it make you feel? Connect?
    Do you want to cry just listening to the song?

    What do you think?

    Sent from my iPhone

    Monday, 12 October 2009


    Whew. that's the temperature this morning when I tweeted, if the
    weather widget on my Mac and app on my iPhone are to be believed.

    It's quite finger-numbing, tapping away on an iPhone at such a
    temperature. Can't imagine how I'd be using my phone in winter. I
    mean, what do people do here, with a sizeable chunk of the population
    using these capacitive touchscreen devices (iPod touch, T-mobile G1,
    HTC Hero/HD, just to name a few). You can't use these things with a
    glove on because (correct me if I'm wrong) these phones have
    electrodes under the glass that can detect changes in the
    electrostatic field brought about by placing our fingers on the
    screen, and gloves insulate this 'change'.

    So, my question is, how come I don't see anyone selling gloves with an
    electrostatic patch that allows people to continue using their multi-
    touch capacitive touch-screen phones? I don't see any in the Apple
    Store. This idea could sell in temperate iPhone-laden countries (I'm
    looking at Japan, UK/EU countries, USA, Australia, and Canada. Why
    not, right? It's not technically impossible, and the target market
    audience is quite willing to pay through the nose, the way I see it.
    If they're willing to pay £99 for a GPS app, I think they're willing
    to pay, say, £39.99 to £79.99 for a glove that allows them to use
    their phones an extra 60 days a year without giving frostbites or
    numbness. A premium price for a premium phone's premium accessory.
    Somebody, please take this idea, go to the patent office, and run with
    it. I'll happily tweet away come December in the iPhone-compatible
    gloves. As long as they don't cost above £50. That's a really steep
    asking price for a pair of gloves...

    Saturday, 10 October 2009

    More pix

    Got really bored on the bus on my way to school one day, so I tried to calculate how long it would take to drive from Brighton to Switzerland. The above shows the result, if I were to take the Euro Tunnel.

    A wet evening. This was yesterday evening, on my way home from school, just outside Churchill Square.

    We have Beard Papa in London! Who knew! If only we have J.Co Donuts here... (*drools...)

    Another tourist shot. Piccadilly Circus, London's equivalent to Times Square.

    Friday, 2 October 2009

    of boredom and english accent...

    In school right now.

    I have one hour to my next lesson, so I thought I might as well kill this time off by making a long-winded blogpost and rant on some nonsensical topic of no interest to anybody. I figured that's the only real way of raising viewership - post more nonsense that's much longer than 140 characters x 5, so that you finally have a good reason to blog rather than to twitter, then it'll be syndicated onto Facebook that you have a new post that doesn't make sense, and 300+ readers will read this post (the number of friends I have).

    That's in the ideal world of social networking, I'm sure.

    Anyway, I thought I should spend some time commenting on the British accent.

    There isn't one.

    No, really, to those people who were asking me why my accent is not completely Brit yet, there is no such thing as a British accent - the stereotypical aristocratic mode of speech that belongs only in movies set in very 'posh' times, in very 'posh' settings, and with the royals. No. That is not a British accent. That is just a stereotypical parody of the cynical British 'cultures', if I may call it so.

    Nowadays, you rarely hear the 'pure' British accent. In the media, on the telly (that's the Brit way of saying the TV), and on the radio - the people you see/hear are quite mixed.

    There's the posh accent. (Imagine the Queen delivering a speech right now. Then imagine Stephen Fry talking in his "Hi I went to Cambridge" way.)

    Then there's the teen speak, which ranges from the incomprehendable and unclear mumble common amongst those with ASBOs (Anti-Social Behaviour Orders, if I'm not wrong), to the geek who worked at Morgan Stanley at age 15 and thinks he's a know-it-all, and doesn't use Twitter. Shut up.

    And then there's the Scottish way. And there's the Welsh, and the Irish, and the Asian (which doesn't mean Chinese, by the way. This refers to the Indians/Pakistani/Sri Lankan), the 'Black' (like Dizzie Rascal, the rapper. Though I could argue that his accent is more of the hometown accent, typical of people on BBC Radio1), and the very rigid Oriental way (this is where the Chinese and Korean sit in. For some reason, I feel that the Oriental English accent is more stiff than the others - you don't feel that the people are speaking in a flow. Rather, they break their sentences syllable by syllable, or maybe it's just me).

    Oh, did I mention the American accent? There's a bit of that, too.

    I'm being a bit racist here because I just want to point out that there is no such thing as a British accent. Everyone has their own way of speaking, though some sound clearer than others, and most people belonging to a certain race/culture/origin tend to adopt the same way of speaking English.

    But the most important thing about communication is clarity. If another person understands what you say, doesn't matter what accent you use, as long as you get each other, then there's communication.

    Sure, there might be the odd 'peppering' of euphemisms and slangs that only Brits or Americans or Singaporeans can understand. I still don't understand the true definition of 'lah', and I'm sure most people don't even know it has a meaning, but they use it as a substitute for the full stop, and that seems fine to some lorh (see what I mean?)

    Of course, there are times when some accents are unacceptable. You should never expect Cambridge to give an English O Level paper that's covered in 'leh' and 'wa biang' an A1. Nor would you expect people in a Pasar Malam to speak the Texan way, unless they're doing something related to Mid-west America, which is just odd for a Pasar Malam.

    Well, That's 'accents' for you! Now, stop asking me where's my Brit accent.