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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Meet-up with UW-Madison friends

Japanese display
Since Reginald was back, it was time for another meet-up among the few of us. After countless arrangements (thanks, Shu-min!), we finally arranged to meet today at Jie Hui's house for a lunch of pizza.

I arrived at 12:30pm, half an hour after the appointed time. I figured that I wouldn't be the last to arrive, and so it was. Besides, I was also reminded by this saying: "Never be the first to arrive at a party, nor the last to leave."

What struck me about Jie Hui's brand spankin' new house was how Japanese-inspired it was. The display said enough. For her dining table, she had a squatting-type table and cushions -- not for people with knee joint problems!

As usual, the conversation revolved around the following topics:
  • jobs
  • salary
  • memories of Madison
  • NUS friends (for the girls)
  • love lives
I had already mentally expected the first two topics before arriving. Not that it's a bad thing, since I don't normally talk about such stuff with other people.

We had pizza for lunch (including a Hawaiian pizza because it's the only non-vegetarian one that doesn't have meat from a four-legged animal) and ice cream (raspberry, no chocolate/vanilla/strawberry/the usual flavours) for dessert.

We were supposed to leave at 4pm, but the skies opened with a torrential downpour. So we hung around for another half hour before leaving. Joo Seng's a quaint li'l place, but I wouldn't choose to live there. I'm a west Singapore person!


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Wii party and crab dinner

It'd been a while since the few of us bloggers had met up... oh wait, it was at Angela's birthday party in November, which I didn't attend because of class (and I couldn't skip it because it was the all-important last class where exam tips are given out).

Anyway, Christmas was coming, so that was as good a reason as any to meet up. Besides, we'd be losing another person in our circle too (come January, Kelly would be on an overseas posting). We arranged to meet at Jeff's house. The last time we met there at Chinese New Year, we spent the time playing mahjong and poker.

This time -- and since some of us had just gotten Nintendo Wiis -- we had our very own Wii party! We met at Jeff's house with Wiimotes and Nunchuks in hand. I didn't bring any of my games since Jeff already had copies of them. Anyway, it's not like I had a lot to start with.

With so many of us, we focussed on multiplayer games so that we could all play together. We played tennis, then bowling, then moved on to WarioWare: Smooth Moves, then back to tennis and bowling, before ending with Super Mario Olympics.

While the games were fun, I have to admit that it's difficult finding multiplayer games that anyone can start playing immediately. WarioWare required some experience in order to know how to work the Wiimote. Experience with Super Mario Olympics also provides the player with an edge.

Some videos: tennis 1, tennis 2, tennis 3, boxing between Chin and Lynn, boxing between Eddy and Kelly

BTW it was supposed to be an afternoon of Wii and mahjong, but in the end, we only played with the Wii!

After playing for about four hours, we left for Ang Mo Kio to tuck into some crabs at Mellben Restaurant. We left in two cars and the first group arrived at 6:30pm. We were told that our crabs wouldn't be available till 8pm, so we resigned ourselves to our fates. At least, we got a table early!

But as luck would have it, food started appearing at 7pm. By 7:30pm, even two of the three crabs were on the table. Cameras snapped away, as if we'd never seen crabs before, haha!

We were done just past 8pm (when the food was supposed to start arriving), then headed on our way home. Unfortunately, some folks still have to work on Christmas Eve!


Friday, December 21, 2007

"The Heartbreak Kid"

The Heartbreak Kid
I realised that I hadn't watched a movie in a long time (excluding those that I watched on the crappy small screens in the airplanes) and had a craving for watching something silly to escape the drudgery of life. And there was only one comedy that looked like it was the answer: "The Heartbreak Kid". I figured that I couldn't go wrong with Ben Stiller and the Farrelly brothers, who also did that silly comedy, "There's Something About Mary".

I wouldn't put "Heartbreak Kid" at the same level as "Mary", but it was still funny enough to watch. What it lacked in crude visual humour, it made up for with lots of expletives and crude language. Actually, some of the dialogue was, I thought, beyond crude, but fortunately, these weren't very often. (I wonder if Ben and Jerry Stiller actually really talk like that in real life.)

Story-wise, the plot was predictable. Boy meets girl, boy marries girl, boy goes on honeymoon with girl, boy meets true love at honeymoon, boy breaks up with girl after a long-winded roundabout manner, true love marries ex-boyfriend, boy gives up and runs away, boy meets true love again (who has divorced), boy now has to break up with current wife. Like I said, predictable.

The jokes were moderately funny, nothing that really makes you burst out laughing. But they were amusing enough and kept the story moving. But it's Ben Stiller as the long-suffering new husband who really makes this movie worth watching. His ad libs are especially entertaining and his comedic timing is wonderful.

And there's nothing that will prepare you for the moment when the baseball bat lands on his back -- loudly!


Monday, December 17, 2007

Singapore won Asian Idol!

Asian Idol
Well, that was an interesting twist. Hady Mirza, the second Singapore Idol and the country's representative to this regional competition, beat the crowd favourites! Even the judges hadn't mentioned him, when asked for their final comments.

Which just goes to show the wisdom of the crowds. Of course, Singapore was probably also helped by the "two vote" requirement, i.e. each SMS vote needed to include two singers/countries in order to be counted as a valid vote. That eliminated the domination of votes by large countries. I guess the final vote shows that either Singapore was seen as a "safe" choice, or Hady Mirza really can belt it out like the pros. Or someone rigged the votes ("kelong!").

Whatever it is, this will be a double celebration for Singapore. First, our athletes come back with 43 golds at the recently concluded Southeast Asian Games, and now we've won the first Asian Idol. Yay!

Sidenote: No, I wasn't watching the entire show. I only tuned in the last few minutes because I was curious.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Setting up my Nintendo Wii!

I spent this afternoon unpacking and setting up my brand spankin' new Nintendo Wii! The packaging wasn't as classy as Apple's, but at least it was neater and more understandable than some other electronics products.

Setup took about half an hour, because I was busy taking pictures too. As of now, I've created my Mii avatar (unimaginatively named "Hogo" for now, till I think of a better name) and played two games, "The Simpsons" and "WarioWare Smooth Moves". ("The Simpsons" was quite a letdown because it doesn't make full use of the Wiimote.)

2 free games! Inside the box
What comes in box A What comes in box B
Box A - manuals, console stand, sensor, nunchuk, TV cables Box B - console, Wii remote, power adapter
Wii Channels Mii!


Friday, December 14, 2007

XM Year End Party at Timbre at The Arts House

Last year, after I had won a 30GB iPod at the company's year end party, I was sure that whatever karma points I had accumulated was wiped out. At this year's party at Timbre at The Arts House, I learned that I had apparently saved up enough karma points to win...

A Samsung 19-inch LCD television set.

Which I promptly swapped with a colleague's prize to bring home...

A Nintendo Wii!!!

Here I was, saving up to buy a Wii, and now I had one in my hands for free! But I'm pretty sure that this is it. I've zero karma points in the bank. No more good luck for me.

And after I had the Wii in my hands, it was funny how all of these colleagues started coming out of the woodwork, saying things like:
  • "I'm so envious!"
  • "Didn't you win a top prize last year?"
  • and my favourite: "You have to bring it to the office for us to play!"
The thing was, I had already expected people to say that, so I had half a mind to bring it to the office for a short while.

Earlier in the day at the office, I received my Secret Santa gifts:
  1. a receipt for a donation to the Children's Cancer Society -- in my name!
  2. a set of couple's mugs -- one for me, one for my non-existent girlfriend
My last wish was for no work in 2008, but of course, that one will go unfulfilled.

Colleagues gathering
The theme for the night was "Back to School" and everyone was supposed to wear a school uniform. I wanted to, as well, but couldn't find the right clothes. But it was quite amusing to see everyone dressed up. And the usual joke going around was about how these "underaged" people were drinking and smoking so publicly!

Unlike last year, there were only two games this time. The funniest consisted of three participants repeatedly sitting on an air pump to blow up their balloons till the first one bursts. An added touch was allowing the other colleagues to "bet" on who would win. And as expected, the underdog won.

The rest of the night was spent eating, drinking and socialising. The lucky draw was run throughout and I was secretly hoping that I'd get either the iPod touch or Wii. And in the end, I got my wish, albeit in a sort of convoluted manner.

At 9:30pm, the place was open to the public, so a few of us stayed back to drink the night away. But that leads to another story, which cannot be shared in a public forum, so I'll have to end this here.

(BTW there is a Timbre at The Arts House. It took over from Q Bar.)


Friday, December 07, 2007

Apple stops sale of hacked iPhones in Singapore

Front page news today -- Apple threatened local sellers of hacked iPhones with legal action if they persisted with their sales. As a result, it's now going to be more difficult to find a hacked iPhone in Singapore... unless you know where to get one. And I don't, so don't ask me!

Note, though, that it's still legal to parallel import iPhones into Singapore. (Yeah, you can parallel import almost anything into Singapore, if it's in its "virgin" state.) So you should still be able to buy iPhones in Singapore, just not the hacked/unlocked ones.

Personally speaking, I used the iPhone a few times while on holiday in the U.S. and, seriously, the thrill dies after the third usage. That's why I don't plan to get one for myself. Besides, hardly anyone ever calls me on my current phone line anyway... (telemarketers don't count!)


Thursday, December 06, 2007

Facebook Beacon - protect your privacy!

Facebook Beacon is a way for your friends to find out what you've purchased through Facebook. It sounds like a good idea, right? Unfortunately, it also raises privacy issues, which is why now is a good time to turn it off. Here's how to block Facebook Beacon:
  1. Click on "privacy" in the top-right corner of any Facebook page.
    Turn off Facebook Beacon step 1
  2. Click on "External Websites" (below "Applications").
    Turn off Facebook Beacon step 2
  3. Check the box that says "Don't allow any websites to send stories to my profile."
    Turn off Facebook Beacon steps 3 and 4
  4. Click on "Save"!