Sunday, 19 December 2010

Dear Etihad,

My email to Etihad, sent via their website contact form.


I had my flight (EY20 on 18 December, LHR to AUH) cancelled, resulting in a missed connection (EY472, 19 December, from AUH to CGK). Consequently, I was asked to find my own accommodation (and hence finance my own expenses over the last few days as a result of the delay/eventual cancellation) in London and ring up your offices to seek a new flight number. After 3 attempts, I finally got through to a member of staff at 11am on 19 December. She took down my e-ticket and phone number, and told me that I would be contacted when a new flight has been confirmed.

After visiting your website, I noticed that most other flights have gotten updates on their rescheduling status. Rather worrying for me was the fact that my flight (EY20, 18 December) was not shown, when flights that were meant to depart later, such as EY18, have been updated.

I got even more furious when I looked up my itinerary, both on Abacus and on your website, and saw that I have been put down for another flight, EY9020, for 29 December, without the AUH-CGK leg - this is by no means acceptable or reasonable, knowing that some flights are leaving tomorrow (20 December).

I have to say that this whole situation has been dealt with rather badly by your airline, considering the scale of Etihad - lack of updates/communication and lack of reimbursement/support for customers (not even those stipulated by Statute under EU Denied Boarding Regulation 261/2004).

I understand that this problem was partially out of your company's control, with the snow and BAA deciding to close Heathrow's runways. Nevertheless, I was hoping for slightly better treatment than what I have gotten thus far from an award-winning airline.

I demand a proper explanation of the status of EY20(18Dec), and a rebooking onto another flight within a reasonable timeframe, even if it means going through Manchester. I am not seeking financial compensation at the moment, just seeking some reasonableness, clarity and a chance to be home with my family in time for Christmas. If necessary, my e-Ticket Number is 607xxxxxx3062.

Hopefully, this will inform someone at Etihad that someone is really not satisfied with their service, even for a reasonable person.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Sound of 2010

As it's nearing the end of the year, I thought I'd do a round-up of the sounds that, in my opinion, defined the soundscape of the past year. Think of it as a periodic chart summary, put together at the end of the year.

Compiled on a train, using nothing but an iPhone with 3G signal, Spotify, Official Charts Company Website, Wikipedia, and Mail, I bring you...

Florence + The Machine

Vampire Weekend


Owl City
Ocean Eyes

Plastic Beach

Ellie Goulding

Two Door Cinema Club
Tourist History


B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray


Beachcomber's Windowsill


Bombay Bicycle Club

Tom Jones
Praise & Blame

Mike Ronson & The Business International
Record Collection

Katy Perry
Teenage Dream

Bruno Mars
Just The Way You Are

Swedish House Mafia

The Script
Science & Faith

Linkin Park
A Thousand Suns

Brandon Flowers

KT Tunstall
Tiger Suit

Tinie Tempah

Brian Eno
Small Craft on a Milk Sea

James Blunt
Some Kind of Trouble

Above The Noise


Take That

Kanye West
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy


Plain White T's
Wonders of the Younger

Christmas Lights

Ellie Goulding
Your Song

Friday, 10 December 2010

Where I stand...

Haven't posted anything to this part of the interwebs, so I thought I'd kick up a fuss and spill my opinions over some things that have been in the news.


So Parliament voted yesterday, and the motion was passed - the cap on English university tuition fees for Home students will rise to £9000. Obviously this does not affect me directy. However, I'm quite shocked that the politicians though higher tuition fees were acceptable. Students from poorer backgrounds might e deterred from Unicersities as they fear the debt that they'd incurr. Yes, a degree improves job prospectus and future salary. But the upfront debt and the interest, on top of the graduate's other debts (mortgage?) plus interest means students in the "squeezed middle" who cannot access scholarships and bursaries are trapped in debt for a large part of their adult life. I understand that they only start paying off the debt once they've earned £21,000. Nevertheless, it's not fair that students who enter university only a few years later have to pay 3X as much as those who entered in 2010. And what does this do to subjects where graduates tend to earn less? The business and medicine students would be paying tier debts faster than the Historian. What does this do to incentives?

Another thing which I learnt from Newsnight was that the government is planning to scrap "top-ups" for so-called "classroom-based" courses (mainly Arts and Humanities) from £2,000 per student to £0. I cannot believe that the government is passing on the burden of higher education funding for what some may call "softer" subjects 100% from the state to the students. Forgive the pun, but at this rate, History is history.

Understandably, these fee rises and top-up cuts are a result of the budget deficit, and the government is trying to close the gap in the budget. But doing so at the expense of social mobility and low-paying subjects is quite selfish and morally wrong. Universities are a place of learning, and regardless of the subject, funding should be done in a fair way. It would be great if the government had an interest in the future of the economy by gettin more students educated to a higher level. But sadly, this will no longer be the case from 2012 onwards.


You've probably heard about Cablegate - the leaks of the cables and other classified documents (some of which were not meant for eyes on foreign soil) that were sent from various US embassy staff to DC.

This has been a major setback for US Foreign Policy. It definitely doesn't look good for the Middle Eastern leaders who asked the US to attack Iran. Nor does it help Hillary Clinton with trying to "reset" relations with Russia, after what's wen said about Putin v Medvedev. And what's with the criticism of British forces in Afghanistan?

The US has been on the offence, after forcing companies that provide services to the whistle-blowing website to stop doing so - Amazon (S3), a webhost, Paypal, MasterCard, Visa. The Swedish have also issued an Interpol warrant on Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks. Furthermore, a Swiss bank has even closed down Assange's account over "misuse of the account". Maybe it's just a conspiracy, but how much of these are caused by American pressure?

The hackers have also been on the attack, after taking down a number of the sites mentioned above in DDOS attacks (Amazon was attacked, but their servers kept going somehow).

This is going to be a long battle between the authorities, trying to keep their secrets from the eyes of the web, and the supporters of Wikileaks, defending their right to keep the authorities in check. In America's defence, it is probably in the national interest that some of these documents don't get into the public domain. The leak of major sites of American interest probably rang alarm bells with the DoD, as terrorists can now log online to read this document and plan their next target, if they wanted to.

On the one hand, it is admirable that Julian Assange has braved authorities and went ahead with the leaks. Together with the hackers, they represent the online version of (to borrow David Cameron's term) "the Big Society" - the rebels who challenge the "big Government" and uncover their secrets.

On the other hand, did the actions of the Wikileaks team put people, American and non-Americans, at unnecessary risk? Did the leaks have an impact on international relations? Or was Clinton's downplay accurate - "some of our counterparts have told us,"if you thought he leaks were bad, you should see what we say about you."." Was this just an embarrassing gaffe?

I wouldn't go so far as to call Wikileaks a terrorist organisation, as some American politicians have coined them. Yes, they are in illicit and unauthorised possession of classified documents. But perhaps the US Government need to look at what it's done - why the secrets? Why the lack of trust in the international community? Why so hungry for data and secrets? And why are you trying to take down a site that's all about keeping the authorities in check?

Right, that's all I have to say for now.

Coming soon: a music chart!

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, 16 November 2010


I haven't had a rant about anything on my blog in ages. Heck, I haven't updated my blog in ages. So I thought I'd write up something that's been on my mind recently. Printers.

I've been hunting around for an all-in-one printer for my studies. Yes, the university has very nice laser printers on campus which charges (arguably) reasonable rates (4p per side duplex B&W), and does duplex printing (Save the trees!). But there is a problem - for me to print, I have to send the print job from a University PC. And more often than not, the PCs are all taken up (often with valid reasons, like people finishing up their assignments or a tutorial happening in Streatham Court 0.93). This leads to a lot of time wasted refreshing the "Find a Spare PC on campus" page on my iPhone. As someone who lives off-campus (in Rowancroft), I'd rather have the flexibility of being able to print whenever I need to, rather than having to do it only when I am on campus.

So I thought, forget it, it's time I get my own printer so I can print what I want, when I want, and from the apps that I normally use (IE is hopeless at printing webpages).

Over the last decade, I've gone through 3 different makes of printers - A Canon BJC S200, a Canon Pixma MP220 AIO, and most recently, a Lexmark X4550 Wireless AIO. (Notice the evolution of models there - from a printer, to an all-in-one, to a wireless all-in-one).

Today, while surfing through tons of review sites and Amazon, I saw printers that have web capabilities (The HP Photosmart Premium e-All-In-One particularly caught my attention). How cool would it be if you could send a document by email to your printer, and it will print it off for you? And how about putting apps on your printer? This certainly feel like the future.

Until you stop reading the marketing material, take a step out of the reality distortion field, and look through the reviews of these (if I were honest) pretty expensive printers. (£129 for the Photosmart Premium from Amazon).

These words are probably quite familiar if you've been reading reviews for printers: Difficult to set-up. Driver issues. Poor customer support. Poor printing quality. Super expensive ink. Noisy. Slow.

Mind you, it's 2010, you would have been forgiven for thinking that printer manufacturers have been able to improve the quality of the core functions of the printer (Print, Scan, Copy), while delivering the innovations I mentioned above (web connectivity, wireless printing). And with the environment in mind, you might have expected features like Duplex Printing to be in every make and model today.

Today, consumers are smarter, and they often think about more than just the price of the printer. They think about the running cost (or cost per page), additional features it has to offer, and the quality of the prints. Too bad it seems that the manufacturers are rather like politicians - pretending to listen, but in reality, rather out of touch with the picky consumers.

Maybe I'm just being picky and pedantic here. Maybe the manufacturers are finding it hard to shore up profits when people are buying 3rd-party ink cartridges in place of the 'genuine' ones, which affects their bottom line. But as we have seen in the music industry, the consumers will be there, as long as you treat them well by giving them what they want for the right price and in the right way. The printing industry have been innovating by finding ways to prevent the use of 3rd party printer ink cartridges. To them I say: why not use those resources in fixing your own cartridges and products?

Just my pennies' worth...

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Apple announcement predictions...

Nope, this blog is not dead. And yes, I remembered the fact that there's an Apple announcement today. So, predictions, any?

1. MacBook Air - 11", low price (sub-MacBook), SSD, 10h battery, 2 USB ports.

2. iLife '11

3. iWork '11

4. Mac OS X 10.7.

5. Something about MobileMe.

6. iOS4.2

7. iPhone 4 for CDMA?

8. Jobs will speak today.

9. So will Bertrand Serlet.

10. And whoever who's heading the OS X software team now - used to be Forstall, right?

That's all I have. Am I right, or am I wrong? We'll wait and see!

Friday, 3 September 2010

Upgrading your HDD...

Since I've been doing a HDD upgrade on my MBP recently, and Zexun's about to do the same, I thought I'd share some info to help you if you're thinking of doing the same.

Step 1: get a new HDD
I saw a few shops selling internal 2.5" SATA 7200rpm 500GB HDDs for S$129 in Funan. And I got my Hybrid HDD from Cybermind at Sim Lim for S$199 (NDP Special, though - price may have changed since then). 

Either way, just make sure it's: 
•SATA, and this is one which people tend to overlook: 
•STANDARD THICKNESS (i.e.: 9.5 or 9.7mm thick. Some HDDs are actually 11mm, and those won't fit in MacBooks). 
•If you want performance, I'd recommend a 7200rpm drive.

Step 2: clone your current HDD. 
Make a bootable duplicate of your current hard drive's content. You may need: 
•a Hard Drive enclosure (recommended if you're busy) 
•or a spare external HDD if you have one (would be a two-step process, though). 

You'll also need one of these apps: 
•SuperDuper! ( ) or 
•CarbonCopyCloner ( ).

Now, the tricky bit: I used CCC to duplicate my Hard Drives. Tried to start up the Adobe apps, but to no avail. Anyway, I contacted Adobe Support, and they basically said:

"Ronald, it seems that Illustrator has not been copied properly during the cloning. I would request you to un-install Illustrator and re-install from the original media. For that:
1. Navigate to application>utilities>Adobe installers 
2. Lunch (sic) the un-installer for the CS4 suite. 
3. Then select Illustrator from the list to un-install.
4. Then re-install from original media."

Now, I have not tried this yet, since I'm in Jakarta, and my Adobe discs are in the UK. If you want, you could try first and let me know how it goes. But whatever you do, I suggest you keep your old drive with the data on it first - don't format it clean yet, so in case the upgrade doesn't work, you still have something to work with.

One more thing that I just remembered: Alternatively,
Step 2, Method B 
If you use Time Machine, you can "restore" from an old "backup". You need:
•Your current HDD
•Your new internal HDD
•A Time Machine backup drive, with backups.
•Your Mac OS X Snow Leopard (or Leopard, if you're on Leopard) DVD

Here's how:
1. Do one last backup before you move to the new Hard Drive. Then shut down your laptop.
2. Take out the old internal drive, swap in the new one.
3. Insert your (Snow) Leopard DVD and plug your external HDD back in - the one with the Time Machine backup.
4. Boot from your DVD - Just press the power button, press and hold the "Alt" key, and select the DVD icon when it loads up.
5. Format the new hard drive. (Should be Mac OS Extended Journaled, CMIIW.)
6. Select "Utilities>Restore System from Backup..."
7. Follow the on-screen instructions.

Apparently, Method B will help keep Adobe apps useable, somehow.

Hope that's been clear and helpful at the same time!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

So, how did the Announcement Predictions pan out?

Well, let's see...

1. Apple will announce a new iPod nano - square screen, camera on the back.
2. Apple will announce a new iPod touch with camera(s) for FaceTime.
3. Apple might announce an iPod touch with 3G, much like an iPad 3G.
4. Apple will announce an update to iLife.
5. Apple will announce an updated Apple TV. May be called iTV everywhere except the UK, due to trademark reasons.
6. Apple will announce the end of the Shuffle.
7. Apple will make the iPod classic thinner &// with greater capacity &// SSD &// cheaper / discontinued / the same. Could go any of the abovementioned ways.
8. Apple will talk about iOS 4 for iPad.
9. Steve Jobs will make the announcements.
10. Scott Forstall will also make an appearance.

Looks like I got a few details wrong. Heh.


Anyway, I'm quite surprised the boffins at Apple left the iPod classic unchanged - it's been in the current design since 2007, and the current model has been around for a year. I think this could be a sign of a maturing product being pushed to a slower upgrade cycle, much like iLife, Final Cut, and OS X.


Since we're still on the subject of the Apple announcements, I thought I'd give my early impressions of the products Steve announced.


The iPod Shuffle.
Good move on Apple's part - they realised that people can go too far in their desire to get rid of buttons, and people would move away from your products. Apple bit the bullet and reinstated buttons back to their rightful place - on the face of an iPod Shuffle. Longer battery life, colours, you know what? This is an upgrade. Sure, it still doesn't have a USB connection - you're still stuck with the 3.5mm-to-USB cable/dock. But hey, it's Apple. What were you expecting?


The iPod nano.
Ding dong, the Click Wheel is dead as we know it (well, it's still on the iPod Classic, but we all know that's not going to last forever, right?). The removal of the Click wheel marks the descent of this "Apple" idea (there's some debate as to what extent Apple can be credited for the click wheel, since it is just a mouse trackpad made circular.). But we now see Multitouch take the reign as Apple's favourite modus operandi when it comes to using their products. Gone are the days of forming donut rings with your thumb as you scroll through playlists - you now scroll by thumbing on a glass screen.

I do have a few negatives to point out about the iPod nano. Firstly, this new model is a step back from the previous in the sense that two of its features - the video camera + the ability to play videos - have been taken out. This might be because the screen is now smaller. But mind you, the price has been kept the same as with the previous models. So, this is a bit of an improvement on a UI and design front, but a step back in the sense that this thing doesn't do anything video-related.

Also, I'd love to see someone actually use this with their fingers, because this thing looks quite small. I foresee problems with people trying to rotate the screen with two fingers - especially if you're quite burly.


The iPod Touch.
I think a lot of people had forseen the updates that were coming to the iPod touch, thanks to the iPhone 4. Retina Screen, Gyro, Facetime, Video camera (no flash?), Apple A4 chip, that sort of stuff. I'm impressed that they could make it thinner, while still packing the cameras.

I find it a bit odd that Apple chose to go with having 8, 32 and 64GB models (where's 16GB?). I'm guessing they wanted an iPod touch model that they could price as close to the iPod nano as possible (8GB touch = US$229, 16GB nano = US$179), and preferably lower than the iPod classic (160GB = US$249). Or it could be an Apple effort to upsell people to the 32GB model - pay only US$70, and you get 4x the capacity! Now that seems like a bargain, doesn't it?

But anyway, as Steve said, this is a very popular product, and I'm sure they'll shift even more iPod touches as time goes by...


The Apple TV.
This would be Take 3 for Apple - attempt numero tiga in trying to get an Apple-branded set-top box in the living rooms of consumers. It's made steps in the right directions - cheaper and simpler. No more computers involved now - it's all clouds and streaming from here on end. It's a pity Apple couldn't get everyone to agree that US$0.99 is the magic price people are willing to spend on renting TV shows, but I do hope this thing works out, and other studios start to see the positives about delivering content at cheap prices.

The Apple TV still does what the old one does - put your media on your big screen. The difference is that now, with no hard drive, the device is cheaper, smaller, and easier to manage - no more worrying about limited capacity. Everything's streaming now. That sounds great, except for the fact that I probably represent most consumers who have to face crappy internet service providers who aren't too happy about me streaming HD content onto my TV, instead of subscribing to their Cable TV+Internet bundles. With the war on bandwidth that's going on in many countries, I wonder how many people would actually consider buying this device.


iOS 4.1/4.2.
Three things - 

(a) Why must they release 2 updates, and not just one with all the things people want? Splitting the updates will just annoy people, because it means having to download 300 MB of software TWICE - once next week, once more in November. And don't get me started about iTunes updates (see below).

(b) What took them so bloody long to get iOS4 onto the iPad?

(c) HDR? Never really thought I needed that in my phone, but since it's in 4.1, I'd love to see it in action...


iTunes 10.
Let's start with the biggest issue I have with iTunes 10 - Ping is a stupid name, period. But what it does, though, is brilliant. I've always thought that Apple is probably the only company which can start a music-based social network and make it stick. Yes, there's this thing called But think about the number of iTunes users relative to users. And think about Apple's position in the music retail industry - they are the number one music retailer in the US, and probably the world, too. Surely, if Apple tries to set up a music-focused Facebook, it's probably not that hard to get a large number of users on board quickly and develop an ecosystem.

I'm worried not for Apple, though. I'm worried about what this would do to and Myspace, the current places for connecting with fellow music listeners and musicians respectively. Would iTunes shadow these sites? I think possibly. I love Myspace for its ability to help indie artistes get themselves promoted, and I hate to see them quashed by iTunes Ping's popularity and (knowing Apple,) closed-doors policy.


Well then, I guess we'll have to wait and see if my critiques are spot-on or just chatter.

Oh, wait one more thing:

AirPlay - on the iPad.
One word: Awesome!

Monday, 30 August 2010

updates to my bucket list...

I've added a few items to my bucket list - think of it as my long-term "New Year's Resolution":

•Learn a new language.
I've been thinking - I know English, I know Chinese, and I know Bahasa Melayu/Indonesia. And since Bahasa is based on a latin pronunciation, how hard can it be for me to learn an additional language, like Spanish, or Italian? Then again, what's stopping me from learning German? or French?

•Visit Nuremberg.
Home of the Nurbergring, and apparently, there's a nice Christmas Market there, too. I love the European Christmas markets, and since I'm actually in Europe, I might as well go and check this one out.

•and Berlin.
•and France.
Never been to France. and I want to check out the German capital on one of my one-man Lonely Planet tours...

•and a Spanish-speaking country.
Spain? a Latin-American country? Ibiza (technically not a country, but still...)?

•Go to a music festival.
And I'm talking about one of those major festivals - Glastonbury, V Festival, Download Festival, BBC Radio 1 Big Weekend, or even iTunes Festival.

Oh, and I've also taken one item off the list:
•Go to Antarctica.
heh. Didn't really think it through when I put this in the list in the first place.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

family issues...

I've just been thinking...

I have something like an 11 or 12 years age gap between me and my brothers.

And I have a 36 and 40 years age gap with my mum and dad respectively.

And add to that, the fact that I only see them for only 1 to 3 months a year for the last decade.

It's no wonder I'm not getting along so well with anyone in my family. I mean, there's always miscommunication.


My dad doesn't seem to know when I'm asking a question or making a statement. And he seems to think I'm an idiot. Probably because I do tend to act quite clumsily in front of him.

My mum has no understanding of the world, and talking to her is like talking to a granny with amnesia - they forgot what year it is, and hence, they think you're 6, even if you are 18. And she doesn't trust me at all when it comes to driving. Even though I did drive in the dark with no street lights from Jakarta to Sukabumi along the smaller roads, and even though I "chauffeur" my bro when he goes out with his gf.

My eldest bro and I are fine, since we do share quite a lot of interests - music, tech, cars. Just that his jokes can get annoying. And that he's a married man with his own house and family, so I don't really chat with him that much.

My 2nd bro just ignores me because he thinks I'm an attention seeker. And maybe it's because I'm sensitive (I am, actually, quite aware of this), but I feel that he treats me as some sort of a second-rate failed person. Sure, I'm a book-smart guy, whereas he's a street-smart person. And yes, a street-smart person has better survival instinct in Indonesia than a person who just reads the textbooks. But you don't have to bring my ego down to the level of a servant.

And then there's the fact that I can't get my voice heard in a family conversation. Maybe it's my accent (or lack of it). Maybe it's my intonation. Or maybe my language is just too abstruse or esoteric, if not senseless and amateurish. Maybe it's my youth; my naivety; my ignorance; my lack of knowledge; my (perceived) stupidity; my attention-seeking tendency; my strange humour; whatever. I just wished that what I say don't fall to deaf ears. I just wished they get picked up by someone and debated about when there's a conversation. And don't say it's rude - if it's a family conversation, am I not part of the family? Sure, I'm a bit odd compared to everyone else in the family - a misfit. But who cares? Family is family!

Before I end this post, I just wanted to point out something ironic. The people with whom I spend less time with - my eldest bro, my sis-in-law, my bro's girlfriend - seem to be more attentive to me than everyone else in the family.

Sorry, just had to blurp that out - can't suppress my family issues any longer.

Check your fridge. And your cabinets.

This is one of my public service announcements. Normally, when I make one of these things, it's tech related. But this time, it's more food & safety related.

Check your fridge. Check your cabinets. Check the quality of the stuff that you have - have they gone bad / expired? What about your sauces? Fruits and vegetables? Poultry / dairy products? Anything dodgy that you think should be thrown out, like that coffee grind that expired 4 years ago? Or chocolate that you bought from that trip to Belgium 2 years ago? Or that piece of chocolate that's like an elephant in your fridge (i.e.: nobody seems to take any notice of it)?

Genuinely, I found these from my parents' cabinets and fridge:

HP Barbacue Sauce, expired 2009
A1 Barbacue sauce, also expired 2009
Butter, expired May 2010 - already, there's mould forming.
Cocoa Crunch Breakfast cereal, expired May 2010.
A jar of Skippy peanut butter, only used once, and with an expiry date of 25 August 2010 (3 days from the time of post)
"illy" Coffee grind, expired 2006.
Olive Oil and Rosemary vinegar that I bought from Italy in 2007, expired in the last one year.
Milk, expired 3 days ago. Oh wait, I ate Honey Stars with milk this morning... 

Check your cabinets and fridges. 
Just because it has preservatives, doesn't mean it will definitely last longer than you.

Saturday, 7 August 2010


Sunday, 8 Aug:
Morning: Help parents pack - they leave for Jakarta around noon. Might meet with Zachary Foo. (Yeah, not going to shoot the YOG stuff - seems like security's going to be tight, and I doubt I can get up early enough)

Afternoon: I was planning on going to Toa Payoh to get some stuff that my sis-in-law requested (Chinese Workbooks for her kids/my nephews). If I have time thereafter, I'd go to City Hall to (possibly) buy 2 much-needed new HDDs - both internal and external.

Evening: Nothing planned - may go to Sands to check it out.

Monday, 9 Aug:
Morning: I'd probably be a bit desperate for clothes (think I didn't pack enough)

Afternoon: Forgot if I had anything on.

Evening: Apparently, Vermonster Challenge.

Tuesday, 10 Aug:

Morning: B'fast, pack

Afternoon: Check out, Transfer stuff to Emmy's, then possibly tea with Daniel & Miss Gan (tbc).

Evening: Fly-bye!

Thursday, 5 August 2010


Ok, here's the plan (I marked my empty spots in my diary with green):

Friday, 6 Aug
Morning: My dad has an appointment at Mount Elizabeth Hospital, so I'll bring them there first (after breakfast). I'll get a mobile number after that, and then leave for SAV. Meet up with oh-I-don't-really-know-who'll-be-there-because-everyone's-a-bit-busy.

Afternoon: If nobody's around, I'd probably get down to clearing the list of items to get for my nephews and my bro.

Evening: Dinner, probably with parents.

Saturday, 7 Aug: 
Morning: Breakfast with the folks, then I'm thinking maybe go around City Hall...

Afternoon: City Hall cont'd

Evening: Dinner around City Hall (tbc)

Sunday, 8 Aug:
Morning: Thinking of shooting the YOG Torchbearing (if I'm allowed)

Afternoon: My parents are going back to Jakarta, but I'll still be in SG - alone!

Evening: Oh, whatever.

Monday, 9 Aug:
Morning: whatever

Afternoon-Evening: Thinking of finding a good spot to shoot NDP-stuff.

Tuesday, 10 Aug:

Morning: B'fast, pack

Afternoon: Check out, Leave for airport.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010


Gone are the days when you could point to something worthless and say "That thing's only worth one Rupiah". Well, it will disappear over the next ten years.

Bank Indonesia, the central bank of Indonesia, has recently announced plans for redenomination of the Rupiah - in other words, to erase off the last two or three (probably 3) zeroes on the currency over the next 5-10 years. The main reason for doing so is because lots of transactions today involve a lot of zeroes - buying a house cost literally billions of rupiah. Computers don't work well with too many zeroes. To improve efficiency when working with spreadsheets, and to bring the Rupiah closer in line with its ASEAN counterparts, the Bank sees a rationale for chopping off the zeroes in the Rupiah.

As you can imagine, redenomination might be a complicated process which will take some time - 5 to 10 years, if approved by the House of Representatives. According to the Bank Indonesia Governor Darmin Nasution, it would be carried out in 4 phases:

Phase 1: 2011-2012: 
Information campaign to alert the public.

Phase 2: 2013-2015: 
Transition Phase, in which the country will have 2 notes in circulation - the 'Old' Rupiah and the 'New Rupiah'. All prices will have to show prices in 'Old' and 'New' Rupiah. Transactions can be carried out in either currencies.

Phase 3: 2016-2018: 
Gradual Withdrawal of the 'Old Rupiah'.

Phase 4: 2019-2020: 
Completion of Transition - 'Old' Rupiah will be completely out of circulation, 'New' Rupiah will be printed without the 'New' word.

Not exactly. Past governors have tried to manipulate both the money supply and the exchange rate in desperate attempts to maintain the value of the Rupiah. In the 60 years of existence, the currency has been affected by inflation, financial crises, as well as political instability. In fact, rampant Inflation in the 1960s (up to 600% in 1965) lead to revaluation of the currency and the introduction of a 'new' Rupiah at a rate of Rp 1 (new) = Rp 1000 (old). In other words, we have been hiding 3 zeroes from our currency all these years.

Arguably, the reason past currency revaluations didn't really work was because of people's sentiments at the time when the moves were carried out. In the 1965 revaluation of the Rupiah, goods prices did not drop in line with the currency revaluation - they rose in real terms. People just weren't as confident. Now, though, the economy is much more robust, inflation is much lower from the 600% of that time (albeit still a bit high at 5.5% CPI Y-o-Y). And because the money printing is done by the Central Bank, not the government, there is less risk of printing money to reduce the real value of debts.


I guess that's it, then. No more of those "I ran out of Rp200 coins for your change, so here's some sweets instead". 
No more "That piece of stuff is only worth Rp1, not $1". 
No more "I gave the money changer US$100*, now I'm a millionaire!".

Well, no more after the next decade. So, take the mick out of our currency, while you still can.  Because come 2020, Rp1 might be worth US$0.11 or S$0.15, subject to exchange rate fluctuations.

*- US$111.95 = Rp 1.000.000,- as of time of posting. So, actually, that statement is no longer valid - you need US$12 more.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Forget S.o.a.P., Here's C.o.a.T.!

NOT from the people who brought you "Snakes on a Plane", here's "Cockroach on a Toilet-roll"!


Ronald's toilet, First day of August 2010, Close to midnight.

Ronald walks into the toilet because he needed a wee; sees Cockroach on the toilet roll. 

Ronald: Wha...? (slightly surprised, but still composed.)
Cockroach: OMG!

Startled, Cockroach was on all six feet, wriggling frantically in random directions on the toilet paper before finally hiding in the tube section of the toilet paper.

Ronald ignored the Cockroach momentarily. Still somewhat shell-shocked, he unzipped and carried on with what he wanted to do, whilst devising a plan to get rid of Cockroach.

After flushing the toilet, Ronald left the toilet, grabbed his worn socks, put (only) one on his right hand, and with a belt on his left hand just in case, went in again, prepared to bring Cockroach to its untimely end.

Ronald carefully removed the toilet roll from its holder, saw Cockroach's antennas twitch slightly.

Ronald: Easy does it, now...
Cockroach: Whoa, this thing's tilting. I better make a move.

Cockroach moved, Ronald drops toilet roll on floor.

Cockroach: Oh crap, it's that guy again!
Ronald: Mr/Mrs Cockroach, we meet again! (Best done in a Russian spy accent)

Clearly, Ronald didn't know what was Cockroach's gender. Anyway, Cockroach ran as fast as it could away from the toilet roll, Ronald instantly smacked his right hands (still with the socks on) over the cockroach.

Ronald: Gotcha.
Cockroach: Ouch.

Ron lifts the cockroach, clenched in his right fist, and tosses it in the toilet bowl. Cockroach is flushed away.

Ronald: Goodbye!

Ron removes socks, now with yellow stains on it, into the washing bin.

... The End ... 

(Or to be continued, if this story gets picked up by a major studio. Or if something else enters Ronald's toilet. Or if Ronald gets a 'kick', in which case,)

Ronald wakes up in reality. Someone has gone into his subconscious with a spy cockroach and extracted valuable information from Ronald's toilet and the drainage system underneath it. Now, Ronald wants to fix the leak. He must find out who the person was, and silence him/her by returning the favour to gain leverage.

(Thanks to Zexun for 'catalysing' the "Inception" idea.)

Thursday, 29 July 2010

No longer in Beta.

Yes, the blog's out of the woods. Just 2 weeks after the redesign, da ron files is back from beta and in its full glory.

A couple of notes I wanted to add:

Firstly, I don't think it's worth the time digging through 1,174 posts. There's just too many posts to go through, I cannot be bothered to do something that will only benefit 1, if any, viewer out there. It's just not worth my effort. So, what I've done is to tag approximately the last 100 posts.

Secondly, I have to admit, I'm not very good at "retrofitting tags", so it's not exactly a brilliant job, if I were honest, but I'm quite happy to see that at least I do have a proper tag cloud, with tags of different sizes representing the number of posts with that given tag. So, I hope that as I blog more often, the cloud would change in different ways.

Thirdly, the load times is around 24s on my iPhone and iPad (on a DSL connection). It's 6-12 seconds on my Mac (cache not cleared). That's in comparison to Mr Stanley Ho's 4-10s (same conditions - cached). So, yes, I admit, my blog is not the most streamlined it can be. I've come to the conclusion that it's due to the way Blogger loads the elements - it tends to load 3rd-party elements (e.g.: the image in the sidebar) at a slower rate than their main elements - the posts, for example. I think this problem would be solved if I were to switch to a blogskin rather than the stock Blogger template. But since I just changed to a new layout, I thought you wouldn't mind waiting a bit longer to access my blog. I promise you, the next time I make a change to the blog design, I'll make sure it's a speedier experience. But for now, do bear with the slowdown. Or just use Facebook/RSS/Safari Reader.

K. That's all for now!

On the subject of music...

I did a full review of an album on the TSR (The Student Room) forum not too long ago, and since I haven't posted an album review in a while, I thought why let this go to waste? So here is a direct copy-paste of that forum posting.


Alright, I'll be doing a review on an album that I've been listening for weeks - i.e.: it's past the "honeymoon phase", if you know what I mean. It's the first album from Oxford-based Stornoway, and it's Beachcomber's Windowsill.

Band name: Stornoway
Album name: Beachcomber's Windowsill
Genre: Indie Folk-Pop (I think.)

I first learnt about this band while listening to Radio1. It was probably a warm spring day when I first heard I Saw You Blink. I loved the track instantly - it has a playful and catchy bassline, and it's "smile-inducing", somehow (Perhaps it's the lyrics).

Zorbing was another track that the Radio DJs constantly played - one that resonates with me, with its jovial lyrics and musical arrangements. And because of these two tracks, I thought I'd pre-order their album for kicks.

Now that I've had weeks to listen to the album, I think some of the songs have grown on me, while other tracks just don't seem to stick in my ears. The End Of The Movie, when I first heard it, was a brilliant and moving track - I thought it should be used for the end credits of all romance movie (not that I watch them, but still...). Now, though, it seems that listener's fatigue has taken away some of that 'magic' for me. Don't get me wrong - I still think the track is brilliant, it's just that the track is never meant to be played over and over again; just meant to be 'appreciated' like Brian Eno's "An Ending". So, fortunately but sadly, this is one of those tracks that would not hit Playlist A or the charts of any radio station.

On the upside, I can (embarrassingly) relate to the lyrics in We Are The Battery Human, and because of that, it's become some sort of an anthem for me. In other words, I love it just for being a fun, light-hearted "ode to the geeks".

Aside from the above-mentioned tracks, I also like Fuel UpHere Comes The Blackout...! and Boats And Trains. As for the other tracks, well, let's just say I don't like them as much.

To sum up, I'd describe the album as a gentle, laid-back auditory boat-ride. Stornoway is a chirpier, less intense version of Mumford and Sons, IMO. Don't get me wrong - they have very little in common (aside from the instruments and style). But I just love their album for that lazy weekend afternoon, or when I just want to be reminded of what spring feels like again. It's not perfect - some of the tracks, I found to be quite annoying. For example: Long Distance Lullaby and On The Rocks - were they trying to be ironic with the guitar track and drums, or what? But aside from these, I do think this album is a strong start for an indie band's first full album. I think this band has great potential, and I'd certainly look forward to what this band has to offer in future.

Rating: 7.5/10

First review on TSR. Hope it wasn't too bad! 

music chart for the moment

this is way overdue. But better late than never!

Music chart for the moment - 29 July 2010

1/ Closer to the Edge
30 Seconds To Mars
This is War

2/ Love The Way You Lie
Eminem feat. Rihanna

3/ Devil's Spoke / Sneh Ko Marg
Mumford & Sons, Laura Marling & Dharohar Project
Mumford & Sons, Laura Marling & Dharohar Project

4/ Witchcraft

5/ Kickstarts
Won't Go Quietly

6/ Ivy & Gold
Bombay Bicycle Club

7/ Prayin'
Plan B
The Defamation of Strickland Banks

8/ One
Swedish House Mafia feat. Pharrell
One [Single]

9/ Selfmachine
I Blame Coco
Selfmachine [Single]

10/ Airplanes, Part II
B.o.B. feat. Eminem & Hayley Williams of Paramore
B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray

Bubbling Under/ Captains Of The Sky
Sky Sailing (aka Adam Young of Owl City)
An Airplane Carried Me To Bed

There you go! Another music chart!


By the way, in case you were wondering how I look for songs to put into my chart, well, I'm going to let you in on a secret.

As you may know, I've been using things like Spotify and the Radio 1 Top 40 Chart [Link] to find out what's hot on the sales front, and test it out.

But recently, I've been using the BBC Radio 1 Playlists [Link] to look out for popular songs that are being hammered across the airwaves on BBC Radio 1. Some of these tracks may have appeared on my charts before - at the time of posting, there's "The Writer" by Ellie Goulding and "Islands" by The xx, for example. But aside from those that have been released in albums before, it does have new tracks, including some upcoming ones. If you're a new-music fan, then this site might be a good link to hit up.

Alright, then. Happy music-listening!

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Plan to fail, fail to plan.

Quote from a poster that I used to see in SAJS there.

I thought I'd share what my diary looks like over the next few weeks/months...

Of course, all these are tentative and subject to changes. That goes without saying, right?

Right, then. [btw, if the spacing between lines and my spelling looks wrong, blame it on the fact that I'm not on my usual keyboard - I'm using my bro's office PC, and it feels a bit weird to type on, plus Firefox on his PC behaves a bit funny - when I press the 'enter' (or 'return') key, the cursor doesn't follow.]

I'm still discussing my Singapore get-away trip with my parents, but if they're are fine with the plan, then I'll be visiting SG 5th to 10th August 2010. My parents will be coming along from 5th to 8th (because they think I'm 6, in spite of the fact that I did book and stay in a hotel alone when I went to Birmingham and Manchester), after which I'll be on my own to do whatever I want to do.

That's assuming I can get my Japanese Visa in time, because apparently, due to timing and availability reasons, our family decided not to go to the States this Lebaran. Instead, we'd be bound for Japan and Hong Kong. I was kinda upset - that means I can't cross anything out from my Bucket List yet. But nevertheless, I'd still try to apply for my US Visa on 25 August - that's when my appointment with the US Consulate staff is due.

Aside from that, I also have to apply for my UK Tier 4 Student Visa. Submitted the online application form, and call me kiasu, but I've even booked an appointment for 30 August. This is in spite of the fact that I am still lacking one crucial document (amongst others) - the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) letter number. That's not supposed to come out till the University has made their offer to me Unconditional Firm, and that can't happen until my results are out. That'll happen on 19 August. So, between now and then, it's the waiting game.

So, in summary:

5-10 Aug: SG trip (tbc)
19 Aug: A Level Results are out
25 Aug: US Visa Appointment
30 Aug: UK Visa Appointment (tentative, likely to change to an earlier date, since the US embassy does allow us to hold on to our passports while the application is in progress, albeit for emergency reasons only.)

4-15 Sep: Japan/HK trip (rough dates)
25 Sep: Uni Orientation starts.

Monday, 26 July 2010

I wonder...

what happened to those "group blogs" which were so popular last time?

You know... those blogs that were edited by multiple users. Collaborative projects?

Blogs like the 4SA'08 Class Blog (

Or the 4SB'08 Class blog (

Or maybe the 4SA'09 blog (

How are they now?

Well, see for yourself!

Oh, do look at the tagboard. And maybe, just for fun, post something in the tagboard.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Here comes the blackout!

Quoting a song from Stornoway there. Did you get that?

Anyway, yes, there's been a major blackout in Jakarta, apparently due to a transformer meltdown. (see Jakarta Post article)

Thank God, my house had its power restored by yesterday night, even though it's in the North. Can't say the same for my bro's family - they live in Muara Karang, which is only ~400m away from where I live (Pantai Indah Kapuk), but they're not getting any power in their house. Well, not till their in-house generator is installed, or the transformer is fixed.

The point is, because of the blackout, my nephews have come to live in the house that I'm in (can't really call this my house - my parents'), which means they have taken over my room, and now I have to bunk in with Ronny, my elder bro.

Yeah, that's what's been going on in my house right now. I lost my room. I so want it back. I want my speakers. I want the TV in my room unplugged (call me weird, but I have this TV in my room that doesn't get plugged in at all, because I don't use it. Reception is terrible.).

Oh, in other news, I've been "working" in my dad's factory. Well, when I say "working", it's more like stoning, since they didn't have much for me to do. But heck, it's work experience - I'm shadowing my bro and my dad while they work.

Anyway, gonna sleep now - getting sleepy.

Oh, btw, to all thee merry Singaporeans, Happy iPad Day in advance!

And one more thing: Bombay Bicycle Club is awesome! Go listen!

Monday, 19 July 2010


Visa application forms. Oh how I love them. Not.

I seriously think visas are just some form of protectionism - people pay money for their application, only to find out they applied too late / didn't have the right supporting documents / can't afford to travel because of the application fees. We probably won't get back the application fees, and they avoid having us people in their country.

This is one form of bureaucracy that has dogged me whenever I want to travel. And it's not like the process is one that makes you feel welcomed in the country you plan to visit, either - you must submit a straight-faced photo of yourself, give them your biometric prints, and miss work/leisure time to wait a lot in a grim embassy office/building (often an office in an apartment, because they're too cheap to make a respectable building), before you can actually show the embassy staff your application form, only to be let known if you passed or failed the "visa acid test".

Nowadays, of course, you can fill in your application form online. But don't be fooled. The process is still not futuristic - you have to search for a PDF file in a website that probably looked modern in the Netscape days, and you have to print the PDF on paper - so much for environmental awareness. Then, you have to remember to bring the printed forms to the embassy. Forget that, even if it's a single page, and you're in deep trouble.

Oh, did I mention you have to book an appointment? Most often, the embassy opens in the most unhappy hours - my appointment with the US embassy, for example, is 7.30AM. And because I live in the North of Jakarta, while the embassy is in the central/South area, I'd have to try and beat the jams. Otherwise, I'd have to come back another day.

Embassies' consular services seem to open for 4 hours a day - 8am to 12am for the UK Visa application centre in Jakarta. I've been wondering why it's only open for such short hours, and why only in the morning, aside from security reasons. I don't know if the postal system have anything to do with the short opening hours, or maybe it's laziness, but who cares - I find it bloody annoying. If they open for more hours (I'm staring at the US embassy folks here), maybe they can serve more people in a day and have less of an appointment backlog that goes into the next century. Oh, maybe hire more staff as well? I know the US is trying to cut their budgets (well, not really, are they?) but I suspect the cost of taking on more staff will be less than the benefit of having more tourists and visitors enter your country.

The whole visa application process kind-of makes you feel second-rate. I understand they do certain things for certain reasons - the funding test is to see if we'll be milking from their benefits system, when we shouldn't be. The biometric scans and photo go into their databases for criminal investigation purposes - I'd want the authorities in the country I'm visiting to know who I am and where to send me if I were to end up in an accident. But sometimes, I wish the process was a bit more human and a bit less bureaucratic.

Oh, by the way, stop asking questions like "Have you done anything that may not characterise you as a person of good nature?". Who, in their right mind, would say "YES I AM A MENACE NOW GIVE ME MY VISA"? (That's not shouting, that's block letters - forms must be filled in in block letters, right?) I mean, come on, I seriously think the IQ level of terrorists are way higher than the person who though up this question. Maybe it's a cold or sleep deprivation that caused that question to go through, but can we not have such things?

On second thought, keep that question there. It certainly brightened my day/night when I read that question, thinking "LOL what if I said YES for eating meat from animals?". All sorts of scenarios of behaviours that may be perceived as 'bad' pop up in my head - stepping on ants, stealing the moon, taking candy from a baby, kiasuism, irrtating people, being lazy, etc. What if someone repents their sins in a visa application form and answered "Yes"? What would the immigration staff do?

Oh darn, maybe I should have answered "Yes"!

Heck. It's just bureaucracy.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Brushing your teeth.

Having a bit of a sore throat today - probably due to the dinner I had
lat night, and the fact that I didn't brush my teeth.

That got me thinking - brushing your teeth - why is it that I choose
not to do it, even though I know from experience what could happen if
I choose not to do so?

Well, I have a theory about this, so strap in, behavioural economists.

As a teenager (whose parents don't really police me anymore on whether
I brush my teeth or not), I can choose for myself whether I'm brushing
my teeth or not. I know that the cost of not brushing my teeth will be
a sore throat the next day.

However, last night, I chose to ignore the cost, because I didn't
really think about it. Furthermore, I didn't really care at that time,
whether I have a sore throat the next day or not. You could say this
is a case of discounting the future - the future cost of not brushing
is just not significant enough at that time to make me drag myself to
the toilet.

And besides, the tap water in my house smells fishy, which just isn't
right. So in my case, the act of not brushing my teeth, which seems
irrational, is actually rational.

Gosh, I love behavioural economics!

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Say goodbye to the old, hello to the new!

Say goodbye to the old format...

and hello to the new!

Now, before I move on, I should point out that I'm reviving the "beta" term because the new blog layout is not finished yet. There's a bunch of things I want to do first before I think this blog is in a state that will remain for a long, indeterminate period of time. If you look to the right of this post (there should be a sidebar, unless I moved it), there's a "Things Still Not Done On This Blog" section. As of posting, I have yet to correct the colour and font consistency. I also haven't checked how this site looks in other browsers, especially mobile browsers - I'm quite keen on testing out iPhone compatibility, since most mobile browsers are based on WebKit, anyway.

And as with any update to this blog, I need to maintain that list of defunct blog links.

After all that, I will take off the beta status.

But there's one more thing that I'm hoping to try, assuming I haven't shot myself from trying to change the blog design. That's to tag my blog entries. All, if not, at least just the recent ones. This has been something I've been staying away from, but now that I'm jumping onto the new blog template, I think it makes sense for me to have tags. So, let's see how far I'll go with that one.

Oh, not in the list, but I'm thinking of changing the background - seems like I can't, but once I can find a way to customise that, I'll jump on it. But for now (I hope), bear with / enjoy the bright and cheery, new look!

--Ronald Liong
      aka ronfiles

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

A Grand Perspective helps.

Not sure if I talked about this Mac App (Yes, Mac) before, but I really think it deserves more spotlight, especially with the recent ordeal that I've been having recently with my Hard Drive.

Basically, I've ran out of space. With all the photos and videos that I've been taking all these years, and the ever-growing collection of TV shows and music, my hard drive has been filled to the brim.

I don't really want to talk about my night with Finder. It was more like a cage match than a walk in the park. But in the end, I won - I clawed back an astounding 25.7 GB - from a measly 50MB. And on my Seagate drive, I clawed back another 23GB.

Getting back so much space wouldn't have been possible if it weren't for my app pick for the moment. It's called GrandPerspective.

I'd say this app is a virtual X-Ray of your Hard Drive. What it does is scan your drive, and then put them in a rectangle chart with hundreds, or thousands, or in my case, millions of smaller rectangle, each representing one file according to its file size relative to other files. What this means is that your large HD videos will pop out more than your small, measly Word Documents. For a guy like me, who really needs to get rid of those embarrassing videos of the family at Christmas or that old Top Gear episode, or maybe wants to find what's been eating my HDD space (maybe a recording of a musical?), this is a useful visualisation tool, especially because it drills down to the lowest subfolder and the hidden folders which the average person wouldn't bother to look (e.g.: the iMovie Events Folder).

You might say this app can be used for art. Maybe to make your next disturbing-looking wallpaper. But regardless, it is a very useful tool for visualising the contents of your hard drive. I know the UI is not exactly glamorous, but it's a useful app, and you might not need it now, but some day, when you're crying because you only have 2MB of space when you need 1GB for an important file that you need to work on, this app might just save you from a tear-jerking night.

Download it! Especially since it's FREE!

Friday, 2 July 2010

Oh, by the way,

I'm planning on changing the blog skin layout soon. Kinda bored with this whole monochromatic colour scheme and tabbed design.

I'm trying to see if I can actually serve up a different 'UI' for mobile web browsers (i.e.: Android, iPhone and iPad browsers) from the standard PC browser. It might be a huge challenge, but hey, I have time.

Watch this space!

Half-way point, how am I doing?

Here's a look back at my 2010 New Year's Resolution. Let's see how things are coming along thus far!


•I will score 3 As for my A Level. [tbc]

•I will get to a University. Either Warwick, or Exeter, if not Manchester. [Highly likely]

Score so far: 1/2

Athletics & Fitness

•I will log 250km of runs in 2010 on Nike+. [35.9 done. Not good. To be fair, there were a few unlogged runs due to sensor issues. Still, I have to admit, I've not been running much due to the peculiar English weather and the exams.]

•I will run a 10K in under 1 hour. [Far from it]

•I will try to run a full marathon in 2010. [Even further from it]

•I will keep my weight under 75kg. [So far, so good]

Score so far: 2/6

Charity & Church

•I will help at least 5 homeless people in Brighton directly [Safehaven!]

•I will work at the charity shop for 100 hours in 2010. (I have to cheat a bit on this one - I didn't think I'd be doing other sorts of volunteer work, such as Safehaven and Production Team, so I've decided to include those in) [~50h in BHF + ~24h at Safehaven + ~26h on Production Team = 100h!]

Score so far: 4/8


•I will pass my practical driving test and get a full license. [Ha!]

•I will buy my first car. [Not likely]

Score so far: 4/10


•I will attend at least 2 live events/concerts/gigs in 2010. [Owl City, Brian Eno, that's 2. And later this year, I'm watching Imogen Heap!]

•I will join a music team, be it the church music team, or a choir in Uni. [I'm putting a 0.5 on this for joining the Production Team at St. Peter's. Technically, it's not what I meant, but it is a form of 'music team', so 0.5]

Score so far: 5.5/12

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. [iPad]

•I will finish my short film project by the end of 2010. [Oh wait, I did that slow-mo thing! That's a short film of sorts!]

•I will get a new Time Machine HDD. [Not yet. Probably will when I'm in SG]

•I will post at least 200 blog posts. [currently 47. Not even 50%, is it?]

•I will post my 2,000th tweet in 2010. [As of posting, it's 1423, so this one's a no-go.]

•I will get my 5,000th view on my Flickr Page. [Yes]

•I will increase the number of uploads I have on Flickr to 400. [Yes]

Score so far: 8.5/19


•I will visit 6 UK cities in 2010. [Coventry, Birmingham, Manchester, Exeter, Brighton&Hove, London]

•I will go to at least 4 countries [Indonesia, Singapore, UK - yep. TBC: Malaysia, USA (New York), China (Shanghai)]

Score so far: 10.25/21

Well, that's almost 50%, isn't it? And it's only the first half of the year, so who knows! As the Netherlands vs Brazil game has shown, anything can happen after the second half!

Oh wait, that was a football reference. From me - a person who claims to have no interest in football whatsoever. Surely, that deserves another point on my New Year's Resolution Scorecard!


Oh, speaking of football, erm, may I recommend these 2 links which have been in my address bar, which I thought you may like as well?

First up, if you're interested in predictions and psychic animals, well, have you heard of Paul the Octopus? Well, The Huffington Post has this story which you should read.


My second link is related to this Vuvuzella thingy. Have you heard of it? And are you a Rihanna fan? Well, you'll love this link. It's the Vuvuzella Song. Brilliant lyrics like:
"I think I might call Nelson Mendela,
To see if he can order me a Vuvuzella
(ella ella eh eh ...)"
Now, isn't that just the best rhyme ever? Well, there's more of such stuff, along with some football references, in this link:
Original Post:

Well, that's all for now.

And yes, this blog is back from hibernation!

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

yes, it was on hiatus!

(Title says all)

Yes, I'm back to full-time blogging from now on! I'm sure many have missed me!

Or maybe not, if my Google Analytics number are anything to go by.

I don't think I need to explain why I've been inactive when it comes to updating this plot of land on the blog-o-sphere that I call 'da ron files' - exams, studies, Facebook, no reason to blog, you get it.

I thought I'd put up something just to let you know how I've been. I'm fine. Bored, but fine. Seriously, I'm bored from all these exams now, I just want to get home and play around with Objective-C. That's right, I'm planning on making an app for the iPad/iPhone during the holidays! Oh JOY! I, a dude with no coding experience what-so-ever (other than HTML, but arguably, that's just coding for babies), am going to dabble into the world of App-making. Watch out for my app in an app store near you (hopefully, if Apple doesn't think my app is junk)!

Oh yeah, I've been preparing to go back to Jakarta (departing UK this Sunday evening, arriving Monday evening) for the summer break while I wait for my A Level results and Uni. Come to think of it, assuming I don't blog anymore until I'm back in Jakarta, this could be the last posting from Brighton. So maybe I'd spend a bit of time to reflect on my time in Brighton over the past 1 year and 2 months.

Brighton certainly has its bohemian characteristics - in fact, if people were to ask me to describe Brighton in one word, that's the word I'd choose - bohemian. This city is quite alternative - a walk along the Laines is enough to prove my point. It's also a fun city - there's the pier, the beach, the music venues. And I'm glad to have met so many people from different backgrounds; in church, at school, and at the charity shop. My time here hasn't always been pleasant (I shall not say why on this blog). Nonetheless, I'm quite sad that I'm going to leave all these behind in a few days' time, but I guess I have to move on to the next phase in life, wherever that brings me, right?

Anyway, talking about vacation-time, I'm going to be transiting in Singapore for a couple of days, before my Uni Term starts (obviously). My only dilemma is when. My Uni Orientation/Welcome Week starts around 25 September, and I might arrive earlier so I can get my stuff moved over from Brighton to Exeter/Coventry. Aside from that, my parents were also planning on heading to Shanghai for the World Expo, but no dates have been committed for that. Then, I heard Founder's Day in SAS is late August - one month before I should start heading off to the UK. So, what's the plan? At the moment, I have none. But I'm definitely heading to Singapore between now and my Uni term. So, keep watching this space (or my Facebook status updates, or Twitter), as I'll update when I have updates! (redundant redundancy!)

Alright, then. Cheerios, people! I have an Accounting and MacroEcons paper left to study for. See you on the other side of the globe!

Monday, 7 June 2010

iPhone 4. Welcome to 2004.

Seems like the Gizmodo leak was no early-day prototype, if the photos from the major news sources are anything to go by.

Yes, world, we have a new iPhone, and the phone from the future phones home from the past. We have video calling. Sort of.

Video Calling: So Late
I don't understand why it took Apple Inc. 4 product life cycles to come up with a feature that we've had on our Nokia smartphones since the advent of 3G [WCDMA, not even HSDPA] technology. Apple just took that same idea, bumped up the resolution (and as a result, the bandwidth requirement), and locked out the option to call over 3G thanks to their uncomfortable marriage with AT&T in the USA. So much for the "Innovation happens because of the synergy between Cingular and Apple" mantra. Of course, that was Cingular, and nobody mentioned what would happen when Cingular merges with another Telco to form AT&T, the largest telco experiencing growing pains and diseconomies of scale. Face it, at that level of service, the network is sinking into oblivion - service-wise, that is.

I still don't get why Apple can't include video calling since iPhone 3G, and since they have included a front-facing camera, why not allow video calling via 3G outside the US? I mean, Apple managed to block visual voicemail and tethering just fine for certain users (me). Why not video calling?

The Screen & Steel
There were some features of the iPhone 4 (no G!) that I did like, though. the 960x640 screen will definitely look good, although, again, why IPS technology, I still don't understand (it drains the battery, remember?). And the fix to get better reception is just brilliant - use the steel bits on the side of the case as the antenna. Let's wait and see what the FCC thinks about the radiation level on that! (Oh wait, it's been approved?)

At this point, I'd also want to moan about the camera quality on the iPhone. But I'm glad Apple actually tried finding a way to improve the image quality - or so they claimed. I'll have to see to believe it.

The Second Mic?
Another thing I'd like to see, or should I say, hear more about is that second mic. Apparently, it's meant to help block ambient noise during voice calls. That's an interesting addition, because when I make a call in speakerphone mode on my iPhone 3GS, nobody can hear me on the other side, even if I'm speaking directly to the mic.

I'd say that overall, there's not enough to make me want to pre-order an iPhone directly from O2 or Orange. A lot of the things I want, I will get in iOS4 anyway - multi-tasking, creating playlists, bluetooth keyboard support. And I have accessories which are designed for the 3G/3GS's sculpted design - my JBL speakers, and the Mophie juicepack. And besides, I'm still thinking of switching to another carrier for my next phone - I first need to see the reception level at my Uni first.

Overall, A Lackluster Announcement for an otherwise decent phone.
I say I'm not pre-ordering on Day 1 of pre-orders, but I will probably buy one eventually because my 3GS has not long left in its life - the battery seems to be depleting more quickly, even though it's plugged in most of the day. I plug it in hours before I go to bed (8pm), unplug it before breakfast (8am-ish), and by the time I'm plugging it in again (another 12 hours), it goes from 100% to 40%, even though it's not doing much other than fetching my mail and push notifications from Facebook over 3G. In the past, heavy web-surfing for an hour + 12 hours standby = 50% drainage. So, obviously, the battery has aged a bit, and unlike wine, this ageing process is not graceful.

The 3GS will be unlocked, and it'll become my world phone - it has a standard SIM card slot, rather than one of those Micro-SIMs that only the new kids on the block have. Again, I want to rant on how stupid an idea I think the micro-sim is (at present, when not all countries have Microsim, post-paid and pre-paid). But hey, MicroSIm is a standard, and I'm sure it'll overtake the standard SIM one day, at least in the smartphone world.

One more thing: The next iPhone?
At this point, the next iPhone is probably still in the drawing boards. I have questions, though. What the heck is Apple going to call it? They've really messed up the naming conventions, haven't they? iPhone, then they jumped a number and called version 2 the iPhone 3G. Then, they realised their earlier mistake, and can't jump to the number 4, so it's iPhone 3G S [there's still debate on whether there is a spacing or not]. Now, Gen 4 is here, but it'll be morally and legally wrong to call it the iPhone 4G, since it doesn't have the 4G technology as implied by its name (4G = WiMax or LTE, the iPhone 4 only has HSPA, which is 3.5G). Now that Gen 4 is iPhone 4, what's iPhone 5 going to be called? iPhone 5 sounds more like an over-run movie than a 5th-gen product running on a 4th-gen network (I'm assuming 4G to be ready by next year, of course).

Also, if the keynote is supposed to indicate anything to me, it's that Apple may be running out of steam soon. Yeah, they can bump up to 1080p, 8 megapixels, better flash, better front-facing camera, a better processor, longer battery life, more RAM, smaller size, greater durability, etc. But how else can they innovate? The pressure is on this company to churn out new products every year, it seems. They may take a break for WWDC next year and say they're focusing on OS X. But can they afford to do that?

Scoring the WWDC...

The Basics.
1. Steve Jobs and Scott Forstall will present most of the keynote. (5m for each presenter) 
2. iPhone OS 4 will be given a final release date (10m if within one fortnight of the keynote, 5m if within 6 weeks, 1m if any date/timeframe is mentioned that is greater than 6 weeks)
[10. June 21st]
3. iPhone 4G will be unveiled. (10m if yes, 0m if no) 
[8. The 'G' is worth 2 points.]
4. New Safari 5 will be unveiled. (10m if yes, 0m if no)
5. iPhone 4G will actually do 4G/LTE where available. (10m if yes, 0m if no)

More on the iPhone OS 4
5 points for any new features not mentioned earlier this year/not discovered by the blog-o-sphere yet.
[5. Bing Support.]

More on the iPhone 4G
5 points if the specs match what's already out there (specifically: IPS display, front facing camera, flash at the back, same design, Micro SIM, Apple A4 chip)

More on the event in general
5 points for every intro/background video showed. 
[15. 5 for the news clips, 5 for the iMovie clip. 5 for the iPhone 4 video.]
10 points for every ad showed.
[10 for the Nissan iAd.]
15 points for every ad that was showed twice.
20 points for a 'one more thing'.

+10 points for Steve telling the Live Bloggers to shut off their WiFis and MiFis. LoL.
+10 points for Gyroscope and external antenna - the gyro is awesome, and the antenna is just brilliant thinking. 
-20 points for killing off the Live Streams. Hmmph.
+5 points for FaceTime. Brilliant idea. Unfortunately, it's an idea from 2004. And what's with the iPhone4-to-iPhone4 WiFi-only policy?

Points to pass: 50.

Score: 108!

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Taking a break from exams - WWDC Predictions

Because I've been looking at the news while revising for my exams, I am aware that WWDC is tomorrow (7 June 2010). So, here's my predictions/scorecard for the Apple announcements tomorrow.

The Basics.
1. Steve Jobs and Scott Forstall will present most of the keynote. (5m for each presenter)
2. iPhone OS 4 will be given a final release date (10m if within one fortnight of the keynote, 5m if within 6 weeks, 1m if any date/timeframe is mentioned that is greater than 6 weeks)
3. iPhone 4G will be unveiled. (10m if yes, 0m if no)
4. New Safari 5 will be unveiled. (10m if yes, 0m if no)
5. iPhone 4G will actually do 4G/LTE where available. (10m if yes, 0m if no)

More on the iPhone OS 4
5 points for any new features not mentioned earlier this year/not discovered by the blog-o-sphere yet.

More on the iPhone 4G
5 points if the specs match what's already out there (IPS display, front facing camera, flash at the back, same design, Micro SIM, Apple A4 chip)

More on the event in general
5 points for every intro/background video showed.
10 points for every ad showed.
15 points for every ad that was showed twice.
20 points for a 'one more thing'.

Points to pass: 50.

Monday, 31 May 2010

Macroeconomics: Things to check out

Since I'm revising for my Unit 2 (MacroEcons unit) exam, I thought I should share a few links to web resources/videos that might help/be of interest to Econs students.

1. BBC Documentary: The Love of Money (2009)

This 3-hour documentary looks at the world financial crisis of 2008-2009 and the events surrounding it - the Greenspan years, the collapse of Lehman, and the response by politicians. It features accounts from key players in the crisis - Alan Greenspan, Tim Geithner, Alistair Darling, Gordon Brown, and many more. It's no longer on the BBC iPlayer, but fortunately for everyone (especially those not in the UK, I found them on YouTube. (I typed the title of the episodes as used by the BBC, as well as the title used by the YouTube member in brackets)

Episode 1: The Bank That Bust the World [The Fall of Lehman]

Episode 2: The Age of Risk [The Boom and Bust Years]

Episode 3: Back from the Brink [The Last Days of the Banks]

2. iTunes U

A feature that was added to iTunes not too long ago, iTunes U is one of the places to go to for free, publicly-accessible web content (tutorials, talks, etc.) from some of the biggest universities/academies around. Obviously, some of these are way beyond A Level Economics. But you can watch them just to get a feel of what Economics (or whatever course you want to do) at Uni might be like, I guess

Some of the ones that I've downloaded (long ago and starting to watch now):

University of Warwick: The Global Credit Crunch and the Global Economy

MIT: The Economics Meltdown: What Have We Learnt, if Anything? by Paul Krugman

3. Spot of Economics Blog

A blog by one of the Econs teachers from my college, Mr Spottiswoode. It's more for the UK syllabus, so if you're reading this from Singapore, there may be some stuff that's a bit different/irrelevant (I don't think you'd care about the UK Balance of Trade as much as I have to for my exam). But still, it's a good read.

Hope you found the links useful!