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!