Monthly Archive for March, 2005

$traits Time$ says I’m worth $120, so how do I fix that?

Singapore Tag

Hypothesis: 1 x Singaporean gone overseas = -$120 for Singapore

When the Straits Times Interactive went down paid subscription access only in Mid-March this year, I thought about setting up some kind of web scrapin’ mirror site that would allow a me to “pirate” the news information using a paid subscription so Singaporeans around the world can keep up with developments back home. Alas, this Robin Hood mentality would be pointless as Singapore’s amazing legal powers would definitely not take to my liberty with their “property”.

So as I counted down the days before I start to lose a part of my connection with Singapore, I wondered what other Singaporeans felt about the paid access deal and whether they would subscribe. Most of my Singaporean friends in my university didn’t really bother and just started looking elsewhere for home news. At this point I thought how sad it was that Singapore was already losing local talent overseas (having spent so much on Contact Singapore as well as other “Singaporeans-Come-Home” propaganda), that a move like this seemed really stupid silly. Why cut off access to your fellow man/woman overseas for $120? Has Singapore calculated that $120 per year is the same amount Singapore loses with each citizen lost overseas? i.e: Is our networth $120 per person?!?

Opinions aside, I sought alternatives that Singaporeans might have taken to for news. It was when I read Sarongpartyfrens’ site about “Straits Times vs. Technorati” that it awoke the blogger in me… damn, how could I have forgotten! All that darn SexyBlogger meme floating around the Internet must have taught us something…

As with the origin of the Internet, “decentralization” was the key!

From a Singapore Angle said it best about the whole situation, as the key point bloggers were making was to use decentralized aggregated sources such as search engines and Technorati tags to read your Singapore news. Using the search term “Singapore News”, you would be able to find a wealth of information via Google News (which you can now customized as part of your Google News page or make a Singapore Google Alert!), searching Technorati,, Flickr and so on!

Using these social tagging services, Chinese students protested against the government’s ban of the public from accessing their Chinese university BBS system. Reactions and commentaries on the ban have proliferated in the blogosphere in the form of Blog posts, flickr photos, furl and bookmarks, which are all tracked via “smth” tag on Technorati or Flickr. As the news report mentioned, this is a very effective way to aggregate “sensitive information” through a distributive process in a politically censored cyberspace. This kind of decentralized peer to peer communication is in the rage nowadays… other technologies such as BitTorrent works in a similar fashion, sans the tagging part (but that could soon change).

Which comes down to this:
If you’re posting any news related Singapore, what should you do?

Well, Many2Many had an article which explained that even though it may be a little tedious “tagging”, instead of making you feel bad for “only” doing 99% (of the tagging work), a well designed system makes you feel good for doing 1%. As such, don’t worry too much about tagging, just write write write and you’ll be found. If you do want to be found quicker or help do good for the blogosphere, insert Technorati tags like “” into your blog posts as shown below:

<a href="" rel="tag">singapore</a>

Just click on that and you’ll see other people who posted with Singapore in mind. Together now… Stand up, Stand up for Singapore!

Links of the Day

Links of the Day

How do you beat stress?

Arbor Mist

With the semester almost closing in on us, many of my fellow comrades have fallen ill due to stress. For me, I have piles of boring and not-so boring chunks of work vying for my attention. I’m trying to follow Getting Things Done (GTD) techniques as recommended at, but I believe need a clean slate to re-organize my workflow… no correction, I simply have too much work to do. So it’s at times like these that I break out some alcohol, and though I don’t “drink”, a light cocktail called “Mimosa” never hurt anyone. You of all people should know what a mimosa cocktail is (thanks to Wikipedia)…

A Mimosa is a cocktail composed of six parts champagne and four parts thoroughly chilled orange juice, traditionally served in a tall champagne flute with a morning brunch. It is also often served to early guests at weddings, and in first class on jetliners.

The Mimosa cocktail was reportedly invented at the Ritz Hotel in Paris, France circa 1925. Some Mimosa fans think Orangina makes a better Mimosa, while another stratum insists on a tablespoon of Grand Marnier in the bottom of the glass (technically a Grand Mimosa). Only “label snobs” use top-quality champagne in Mimosas, but a cheap, fruity sparkling wine does not make a Mimosa, either.

“Champagne and orange juice is a great drink. The orange improves the champagne. The champagne definitely improves the orange.” – Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

My “mimosa for the weak” variation uses the Peach flavored “Arbor Mist” chardonnay which makes up 1/5 of the whole orange juice concoction. Before I go cuckoo, do impart with me your ninja techniques in beating stress. Cheers Franklin!

Links of the Day

Why Librarians should blog…

National Library Courtyard by Yeh Teng Hock

Kevin, I’m looking into how public libraries are using blogs as a way to enhance their services as well as a kind of advocacy and user-education tool. I found this recently, from Omro Public Library in Wisconsin USA. They are using a blog to provide timely updates on new arrivals. Simple but effective, and precisely the kind of things that users want. Of course the challenge is how to get users to learn about RSS to fully optimise the blogs. – Ivan Chew (Singapore’s National Library Board)

Blogs have been adopted by scholars and made relevant to our work. But what Ivan said is true in that libraries are very much about information management and what better a tool for librarians than blogs?

As Ivan mentioned in the Omro Public Library example, blogs can be advantageous for libraries as:
1. The speed of updating a blog with recent acquisitions would be an asset to librarians
2. The ease at which updates can be read via RSS would be of benefit to the public (self-serve)

However, a third and possibly more potent point might be how a library’s blog could act as a central resource for meta-information on books. An important benefit is the interaction between blogs, comments, trackbacks and technorati tags. The meta-information on say a book title might not need to come from the librarian himself, but by previous readers who can leave comments on books they’ve read, or even as reviewed in their own blogs. The big idea is similar to how Amazon has their customers provide reviews on products.

For a library blog, this can be naturally aggregated through pre-defined trackbacks and technorati tags. For example, say I read a book called “The Art of Persuasion”. The library could offer a technorati tag (which borrowers could see when they lookup their loans via online library accounts) called “artofpersuasion” and have anyone write and tag it as so. Needs refinement but the idea is to have minimal work, yet maximal output (i.e. laziness is a virtue). Interestingly, this would go in line with NLB’s latest campaign called “My Library Movement” where the library seeks to engage members of the public to come forward and take an active role in shaping “my library”. What are your thoughts?

DIY iPod stand hack

Like my “shufflevisor“, being bloody cheap by saving $29 for other things can be cool. Here’s an iPod stand (or dock) you can make out of magazine paper and heavy card stock, just follow the PDF template (released under Creative Commons) available from

Links of the Day

Quick cognitive maps for small groups

Cognitive Mapping

Even in a small group setting, equal contribution among members can be tough. To get a fair spread of effort from everyone, Prof. Halavais handed out three pieces of paper to each one of us and had us write a meaningful question on each piece for our time-strapped online gaming survey. By laying out the various ideas on a big table, we were able to form clusters of relevant concepts which we could then refine and use as foundations for our overall “Gamer self vs Real self” research. I love these kinds of quick mapping techniques as they actually produce fast results.

The “Symantec Anti-Virus for Mac” Bullshit

Symantec Bullshit That latest Symantec anti-virus press release about Macs being infected by viruses sooner or later really ticked me off. It’s popular knowledge that the more popular Macs become, the more likely they will be attacked by hackers/virus-writers. But just check out this quote from Symantec: “The market penetration of Macintosh platforms will be accelerated by the much lower priced Mac mini, which may be purchased by less security-savvy users. As a result, the number of vulnerabilities can be expected to increase, as will malicious activity that targets them”. Come on… isn’t this just a lousy ploy to scare users into buying your $70 product or $150 security suite!?!

My biggest peeve was that the entire report was completely groundless. They even had the cheek to mention that in 2004, 37 security breaches were identified on the OS X. Hmm, isn’t that a really low figure compare to other operating systems we know of? Furthermore, all of them were quickly handled by Apple before anyone could do anything about it! Just read eWeek’s article “Mac Threats: Is Symantec Crying Wolf?” for more Symantec sillyness.

So now that you know how much I dislike Symantec, here’s something about their Norton Anti-virus for Mac product… What virus? OS X has yet to be infected for me to install it. The opportunity cost for Norton auto-protect is that it takes up precious system resources which could be better used by other more important applications. Still, taking David Coursey’s cue about spending too much on Mac security, I decided to find an alternative solution just in case viruses or exploits do spread to the Mac.

I found clamXav. clamXav is a free virus checker for Mac OS X. It uses the tried, tested and very popular ClamAV6 open source antivirus engine as a back end. I’ll be trying that out and saving my money for a Sony PSP or something more intelligent than the Symantec Anti-Virus for Mac B.S.