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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Nokia Go Play dinner

Media attendees
Thanks to Dinesh and his Nokians for inviting me to Nokia's Go Play event today. Unfortunately, it was held in the day, and I had work to do, so I could only turn up for the dinner. Which was good too, so I'm glad I went down, though I was late because of work.

The event was all about "Ovi", Nokia's launch of their new "third arm", online services. "Ovi" ("door" in Finnish) is an online music and game platform. This had actually been announced before and I'd seen some inside information on the music platform. I'd also heard of the new phones that worked with Ovi, though I hadn't seen them. But for some reason, I didn't piece it all together till I arrived.

(More on Ovi in future entries (if time permits).)

The email invitation from Dinesh stated that dinner would be on the roof of a car park. Huh?? How could that happen? But I went to the top floor anyway and, when I turned around, I saw a huge black tent. A-ha!

Getting there was a challenge. Because I was late, all of the media attendees had already made their way to the big black tent. As for me, I had to navigate through passageways covered with black cloth on creaky, unstable floorboards. Then, I was greeted by a blast of cold air. Evidently, electricity is cheap and "to hell with global warming".

I met a few colleagues there. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised by their presence. They were surprised to see me too, though I was there in a different role: as a blogger. Haha! Yup, my second blogger invitation to a Nokia event (the first was an informal get-together some months back).

So off I went into the big dark tent. I had expected something informal, but this was a true-blue sit down affair. I hit my first hurdle at the entrance, though. The receptionist asked who I was, I mentioned my name, she looked at her list and couldn't find my name. So I mentioned Dinesh's name and said that I was a blogger. She then turned to the other receptionist and basically repeated what I had said. But the way she said "blogger"! It's like the word had been tossed into a pile of dung, stirred up till it was a slurry, then spit back with absolute disgust.

Behold: the power of mainstream media brainwashing!

Fortunately, another staffer brought me to meet Dinesh, who showed me to my seat at his table. The other folks at the table were a mix of bloggers, like Coleman and Popagandhi, and local media guys, and a softspoken lady from Youth.sg, Lai Chow, and Sue Lynn from Text100. (Hey, guys, I'm name dropping here, so if you read this, please give a shout-out in the comments below! Much love.)

Dinner menu Surf and turf dinner Dessert
I missed the appetizer and moved straight to soup, which contained winter melon and sea cucumber. Yum. Main course was a "surf and turf", i.e. fish and chicken. It was pretty good, but under the "damn the polar ice shelves, we're burning fossil fuels for cool comfort!" air-conditioning, it got cold and hard quickly. Yuck. Dessert consisted of a chocolate cake with strawberries, and also some other sweet delicacies.

Did I mention that this was really good food? It came from The Oriental hotel. Nokia was apparently pulling out all the stops for this event. That included the entertainment. Hosted by TV celebrities, Elizabeth Tan and Max Loong (okay, you're allowed to say "Huh? Who's that?" if you rarely watch local English shows), they promoted Nokia's new phones, especially the N95 8GB, and other features like the maps.

Shirlyn Tan's performance Corrinne May's performance Corrinne May's interview
Music entertainment came in three forms: classical, rock and easy listening. These were performed by violinist Minn Lee, rocker Shirlyn Tan and singer-songwriter Corrinne May respectively. I was too busy eating to really notice Minn Lee's performance. I didn't care much for Shirlyn Tan's loud music (and I was outside looking at the exhibits of the new phones anyway). I enjoyed Corrinne May's music, though her voice seemed strained at times. Alas, as she had the tail end of the segment, she was left with about one-tenth of the attendees.

Dinner officially came to an end at 10pm, though most people had left an hour earlier. Ours was one of two tables that had everyone staying till the end. (Yay, bloggers and local media!) As we said our goodbyes, Dinesh handed me a souvenir bag that contained some press materials (more on those in other entries).

And then, we left together, making our way past the full blast "it's so cold that it could reverse global warming if it wasn't contributing to it in the first place!" air-con. (I have no idea how Lai Chow was able to tolerate the cold in her sleeveless dress.)

By the way, all pictures were taken with my Sony Ericsson K800i "Keta i". Why Sony Ericsson has never approached me, I'll never know. Personally, I think Nokia is taking a bold step in embracing bloggers, even if it's baby steps. I don't know if Sony Ericsson (or the other phone giants) has a similar programme. If it doesn't, now would be a good time before Nokia captures 100% mind share of bloggers and their readers. Especially since Sony Ericsson markets to the young, who tend to be bloggers and blog readers.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

(NSFW) Join a local sex orgy party!

Here's something you don't see everyday. Folks in Tampines probably want to keep an eye or ear out for the event. And I suspect the organiser will need to change his mobile number soon. Wow, and I thought things like this were kept out of the public eye.
SEX ORGY PARTY EVENT

Event Date : 7th Sept 2007 ( friday ) 8pm Sharp
Event Duration : till 8th Sept 2007 ( Saturday ) 12noon ends
Event Location : Tampines ( 4 room flat ) Singapore
Event Contact person : i3on3@msn.com John
Event Contact number : 9 - 0 - 1 - 4 - 1 - 5 - 8 - 4 (only SMS)
Event Payment : 198-46299-3 Posb Savings
Event Registration Date End : 31st Aug 2007
Event Max Pax : 8 ( excludes myself and event Girls )
Read more
Link

No, I don't know the organiser or his wife or the four girls who want to buy bags.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

When did "lor" become so widely used?

I've noticed a growing phenomenon, especially in the office. A lot of people are using "lor" more often! It used to be that "lor" was used like "lah", i.e. a familiar Singlish way to end a sentence.

Not anymore. "Lor" is now used so often, especially in these two circumstances:
  • to point out the obvious, e.g. "The sun is bright lor!"
  • to emphasise exclamation, e.g. "This test is difficult lor!"
Singlish is going crazy lor! Everyone keeps saying "lor" lor! It's such that I can't pass a day without hearing "lor" at least five times from three different people lor! And it's not just the young but people in my age group are also using it, maybe because it sounds cute lor! I use "lah" quite often, but hope that I won't succumb to using "lor" so often lor!

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Flash Forward

Flash Forward

This evening, I surprised a few colleagues by saying that I was going to Zouk. Since I'm not the type who goes there, especially on a weekday night, I had to explain that I was attending "Flash Forward" (which I called a "geek party").

Flash Forward was purported to be a night of drinking, dancing and discussing the future of gaming, virtual worlds, new media and Creative Commons. Instead, it was just another excuse for a social networking (as in the real, physical, offline social networking, not Facebook/Friendster/Ning/what-have-yous) session between different groups of people.

Yes, there were a few people talking about Creative Commons, but it was mostly just meeting familiar faces and being introduced to new ones. At least the entry and drinks were free, so I've no complaints there.

I met Brennan (who's enlisting in the naval diving unit tomorrow), Bernard (who came with his girlfriend), Choon Keat (whom I finally revealed to be working with his wife), Coleman and Preetam (from Tomorrow.sg and the Web Standards Group), U-Zyn (creator of Ping.sg), Nicholas (from TDM), and my sis. And got to meet a few other folks too, like Priscilla, a young lass who's a Tomorrow.sg moderator and working in Mindef(!).

I didn't stay for long because of an early morning the next day. In the end, I don't think I learned any more about Creative Commons than I did before tonight.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Learnings from National Day Rally: how to justify pay increase

I caught the first part of PM Lee Hsien Loong's speech at this year's National Day Rally. This year, his speech was about the widening income gap. He put the blame squarely on globalisation (doesn't everybody nowadays?), but also laid out his plans to reduce the pain as much as possible.

But the part that I found amusing was at the start. He was explaining the reason for the widening income gap, even within the upper class. He gave the example of Tiger Woods, the professional golf player, who earns $100 million a year through games, endorsements and other means. The next highest pro golf earner, whose name I forget (haha, no one remembers No. 2!), earns less than half of that.

Bottomline: you must pay for the best. Therefore, the best must earn stratospheric incomes that are much more than what the next tier earns.

Not happy? Blame globalisation.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I don't trust Facebook any more

Once upon a time, there was a social network called Friendster. Everyone rushed to join it. Other networks arose and people rushed to join them too. But the problem with all of these networks was the lack of authentication. Any Tom, Dick and Harry Spammer could join them.

Then Facebook was created and it required a form of authentication. Targeted at college students, your identity was proven by matching your registered e-mail address and other details with what was in your school's records. How this was done, I'm not sure, but it was. And everyone enjoyed this new level of security. We believed that you were who you said you were.

Facebook grew and grew. And it expanded overseas. And then a new problem arose: it was difficult to authenticate non-U.S. students. Anyway, non-students were joining too. Authentication became a hurdle and...

Well, now any Tom, Dick and Harry Spammer can join Facebook too.

Facebook used to be the only social network where I put my real photo, my real name and a couple of real details. Comforted by its authentication mechanism, I was willing to take the risk to reveal more about myself openly, because only "real" people could join it.

But not any more. I've since replaced my photo with my usual "South Park" avatar. And I'm waiting for Facebook to approve the change of my name (a process that is less humorous than it sounds). All because I can no longer trust that the other Facebook users are not spammers.

My doubts had been lingering below the surface for a while, but it was only recently that they exploded. I was browsing through some networks and found suspiciously named users. Facebook recognises "illegal" names for the most part. Human ingenuity ensures that we can come up with countless permutations of such names.

One more thing: you no longer need to use a university's e-mail address to register yourself. To prove that, I created a new Facebook account with a Yahoo e-mail address using a fake name. Any spammer can create a Yahoo account, which means any spammer can join Facebook. And that spammer can hide behind a fake name too.

Thus, I've lost faith in Facebook. I've already amended my security settings so that only my friends can view my details. Everyone else pretty much gets my blank profile page. And I only approve friends whom I've met in real life. If I don't recall meeting you (even if we really did), I won't add you. It's as simple as that. Anyway, it's not like I'm using it actively. Chances are, I log in only because someone added me as a friend and I want to see who that person is.

Adios, Facebook!

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Facebook homepage source code revealed!

Just found out that, due to a server software configuration mistake, the source code for Facebook's homepage (and possibly other pages) was readily available to a "small number of users". The code's already available at Facebook Secrets, but I suspect that it'll be taken down soon.

Which is why I've copied it down, hehe. But I won't be posting it publicly anywhere because the Facebook claims that revealing the source code is illegal. Yes, I realise that I'm in Singapore, but we have something called the Singapore-US Free Trade Agreement, which sets rules and punishments for copyright infringement.

That reminds me: a similar situation happened to me once, this time at Yahoo's login page. I don't know if I still have the source code...

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Friday, August 10, 2007

"881" star is whose lover???

My contribution to the "scandal-sphere":
A star of Royston Tan's "881" is the lover of a high ranked media executive, according to a well-placed associate.
I don't know if this is common knowledge within the upper echelons, but it's certainly news to me. It's easy to connect the dots after that.

Then again, I shouldn't be surprised at such illicit relationships, even in staid Singapore.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Never the bridegroom

What's that saying? "Always the bridesmaid, never the bride." That saying was running through my head this whole evening. I've attended a fair share of weddings, and I'm always the guest, never the host. Once in a while, I'm also the videographer, but never the videographee.

A church couple held their wedding today, and the groom asked me to record the night's proceedings. That included both the wedding ceremony and the dinner after that.

Aside: Fortunately, my camcorder was still in good working condition. I haven't used it in months, but it still recorded and played well. Kudos to Canon!

I "played by ear" a lot at the event. I hadn't been briefed about it and only managed to sneak a glance at the schedule just before the ceremony. Fortunately, based on my previous wedding recording experiences, I knew what to expect. But it was always the little things that I had to watch out for, like making sure the photographer wasn't blocking me or vice versa. Or the other guests (and children!). Or even the other videographer.

But as I looked around the hall, I couldn't help noticing a lot of couples in my peer group. There is still a handful of us singles, but the majority is married, and some couples have children.

It made me wonder. It's not like I haven't been putting myself "out there". Nor am I asexual! Is it an impression that I'm projecting? I certainly get that feeling sometimes.

What's that other saying? Oh yeah. "Left on the shelf."

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42nd National Day Water Parade

Singapore celebrates its 42nd National Day today at the Marina Bay. To me, it's funny that we are "rediscovering" water activities. I remember when I was much younger, someone remarked that Singaporeans are probably good at swimming because we live on an island. I don't remember who said that, but it was really ironic. Though we live on an island, most of us swim in a swimming pool!

With the National Stadium being torn down and the Parade not scheduled to be at the Padang for another three years, there was a need for a new venue. I remember that some Parades used to be held at regional football stadiums, but I guess those aren't good enough any more. After all, Singapore is rich, why hold a grand celebration at a paltry location?

Thus, enter the Bay, especially with the recent re-excitement over water. Water sports at reservoirs and the rivers are becoming popular. The Marina Bay will be blocked off to become a freshwater reservoir (though with global warming, a lot of water will evaporate off). So why not have the Parade at a watery location too?

The hype machine has been in overdrive in the last two months, especially about the floating platform, which is apparently the largest in the world. Keppel Corporation, a local company, has the unique distinction of being the largest oil rig builder in the world. Not bad for a company based in a country that has no oil fields! Anyhow, it was apparently this expertise that was tapped to construct the platform.

Whatever it is, it looks like this will be a unique Parade... as they all are. But I won't be watching it "live". I'm attending a church friend's wedding and have been tasked with recording the ceremony. I'll probably catch the repeat telecast of the Parade next week.

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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Drive, don't walk, to save the Earth??

I came across a fascinating article that discusses the amount of carbon dioxide released to achieve certain activities. It turns several "green" beliefs on their heads because it calculates the total carbon footprint, i.e. the amount of carbon dioxide produced from start to end of a process.

For example, driving for 3km produces about 0.9kg of carbon dioxide. To walk that distance, the average person will require 180 calories, or about 100g of beef. To supply that amount of beef, the cow would have produced 3.6kg of carbon dioxide!
"The troubling fact is that taking a lot of exercise and then eating a bit more food is not good for the global atmosphere. Eating less and driving to save energy would be better."
-- Chris Goodall,
Green Party parliamentary candidate for Oxford West & Abingdon
That's a distressing conclusion for green activists -- or even the average layman! Here we are, telling everyone to save energy and cut down on carbon dioxide production. And yet, through our own little activities, we are exacerbating the situation.

Of course, the above example assumes that we get our energy from cattle-based products. Still, it made me think about carbon footprints in general. There's the whole process to think -- and worry -- about. That's especially so for a country like Singapore, which imports a lot of its raw materials and food. Importation requires transportation, which require burning of fossil fuels, which produce carbon dioxide.

The article includes a few other "nuggets", such as:
  • traditional nappies are as bad as disposable ones due to the water, detergent and energy needed to clean them
  • travelling by diesel train (a form of public transportation) could produce more carbon dioxide per person than travelling by Land Rover (private transportation)
  • some trees may be more harmful because they produce methane, which is a worse greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
No wonder no one wants to think about the environment. There are too many factors at work here! But I say that we should stick to doing what we can do, such as switching off unused devices, buying locally made products, and raising the air conditioner temperature by one degree.

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Saturday, August 04, 2007

My first time at 328 Katong Laksa

328 Katong Laksa
I've heard a lot about the infamous "Katong laksa" for the longest time, but never had the opportunity to try it out for myself. Not until today, when I undertook an hour-long trip to 51 East Coast Road, home of 328 Katong Laksa. (Yes, there are a few other Katong laksa outlets, but I chose this one because of a class project.)

Though there was a huge sign and lots of seating places, 328 Katong Laksa consisted of just one stall in the coffeeshop. Which surprised me, because I expected something bigger. There was no menu, so I couldn't tell what else was sold besides laksa. Which meant that I'd just have to play it by ear. I wonder how other new customers know what to buy (besides the obvious laksa).

I contemplated sitting outside, but the weather was too hot, so I went to the air-conditioned area. A waiter saw me and ushered me to a table. He took my order of a bowl of laksa and a cup of iced tea. I didn't know what else to order since it was my first time there. But looking around, I saw that some patrons had ordered otak as well. I also saw a menu stuck on a wall listing some porridge dishes.

Photos with celebrities
Also plastered around the walls were photos and photos of the owner posing with celebrities. Local celebrities, foreign celebrities (mostly Hong Kong and Taiwan stars), they were all pictured there with the beaming owner. I was quite amused by this. It's like celebrity endorsement, but in a cheesy kind of way. I see such photos at other food outlets, but never this many! It was as if the owner needed to overstate her point.

My bowl of laksa
My bowl of laksa soon arrived... and it was less than what I had expected. Or maybe it was because of the size of the bowl. I paid up ($3), then dug in with just the spoon. Yup, the noodles are cut short so that they can be eaten with just the spoon. No chopsticks or fork needed. Apparently, that's the characteristic of "Katong laksa".

Close-up of my bowl of laksa
The gravy tasted mild, which made it very tasty actually. Maybe it was the strong coconut taste, I don't know, I'm lousy at identifying ingredients. It also wasn't too spicy, which was good for me since I don't tolerate chilli very well. More importantly, it didn't have little bits of foodstuffs floating around, suggesting that the pot of gravy hadn't been simmering over the fire for too long (which would've caused food to break down into little bits). I actually quite liked the gravy, and readily swallowed it with the noodles, fish cake and prawns. (No harm (cockles) for me.)

Incidentally, I forgot to stir up the shredded daun kesum (laksa leaves, or Vietnamese coriander) till I was halfway through! D'oh!

Business seemed quite brisk, even at 3pm, and the waiters were kept busy all of the time. That speaks well for the stall. I suppose I'll have to sample the offerings from the other Katong laksa stalls to make a fair comparison. For now, I can safely say that I know what Katong laksa tastes like, and why it's become so popular in Singapore.

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Networking with fellow advertising folks

Here's a truism: the advertising industry in Singapore consists of people who move from one place to another in the blink of the eye... but it's still the same circle of familiar faces! I've attended a few seminars/conferences/workshops and always bump into the same people. This evening was no different.

I attended an event that was organised by DoubleClick, the advertising company. It was to showcase the effectiveness of rich media in advertising. It was quite an interesting session, and I'm looking forward to receiving the full presentation from Microsoft.

The real fun was later, when we were treated to finger foods and two complimentary drinks. (In the end, I took only one, and now I can safely say that Carlsberg sucks big time next to Heineken!) That's when I saw some familiar faces, which led to introductions to unfamiliar ones who have now become familiar.

Here's a shout-out to four people:
  1. Olivia, my ex-colleague from whom I learned a lot about advertising and the industry, since I didn't come from the field previously,
  2. Rosalind from Yahoo, whom I actually worked with in my previous job, and introduced me this evening to a few other advertising folks,
  3. Ming Shen, co-founder of Nuffnang, who already knew me through my blog and wanted me to state explicitly that Nuffnang is a Singaporean company, and
  4. David Temple, a "search guru" who moved to Singapore recently and is anxious to meet the rest of the local blogosphere.
It's meeting people at events like this that make me go, "Wow, how was I so lucky to end up in this field?"

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