Sunday, 27 December 2009
Saturday, 26 December 2009
Friday, 25 December 2009
Monday, 21 December 2009
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
Friday, 18 December 2009
Thursday, 10 December 2009
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?
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
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
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
Friday, 27 November 2009
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
Sunday, 22 November 2009
Friday, 20 November 2009
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!]
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
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
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
Monday, 2 November 2009
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
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
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
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
"You've Got The Love"
Florence + The Machine
"Empire State of Mind"
Jay-z feat. Alicia Keys
"Forever Is Over"
MSTRKRFT feat. John Legend
"You're Not Alone"
"Ghosts 'n' Stuff"
Deadmau5 feat. Rob Swire
Kings of Leon
The Temper Trap
"Fight For This Love"
"Manos Al Aire"
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
Saturday, 24 October 2009
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
K. just a short post. Need to use the bathroom, and then sleep.
Thursday, 22 October 2009
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
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
•And don't burn out - take breaks. But not too much. You know
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.]
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
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
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
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.