Monthly Archive for April, 2005

Podcasting our personal history together

UPDATE: EducateWandie had the idea for a new site called “” in which we collect oral histories of Singaporeans around the world. I personally think that ROCKS! :)

A fury of ideas sparked after La Idler posted on about bloggers wishing for an expanded use of podcasts. Essentially Mr. Brown’s article on collecting oral histories of Singaporean located in geographically distant places made sense as it coincided with recent events I encountered I’ve seen in my travels and studies.

I had two encounters with activities that involved oral history
I remember while walking around the New York’s Grand Central Station there was this exhibit in the shape of a box called StoryBooths. Within this booth was where people could have their “life stories” recorded. People on the outside could go to different “speaker ports” on the outside where they could hear different stories that were recorded prior. This was sorta like “real-time” oral history archiving… it was cool because it was had such a real presence. I soon found out that this was by StoryCorps and it was a public art project on the Oral History of Americans.

On a similar note, at the Educational Technology Center where I work, I’ve helped the two professors on their Uncrowned Queens web site which features an ongoing collection of oral histories from African American Women of Western American. At a showcase presentation yesterday, one of the professors explained her motivation very well by saying that we often hear about autobiographies of famous & popular people but fail to realize that everyone else also had a part to play in shaping America the way it is today. By hearing the smaller yet significant stories from the rest of the people, we can have a better view of what went on in history, and thus have a better appreciation of our roots and our future.

These events made me think about now the technology we possess now (e.g. podcasting, blogging), already allows everyone to leave personal histories behind for posterity. Perhaps what could be done to further this would be to define the “do it yourself” elements that would make for an ideal recording for such oral history.

Firstly, What is oral history?
According to, oral history is the systematic collection of living people’s testimony about their own experiences. Oral history is not folklore, gossip, hearsay, or rumor. Oral historians attempt to verify their findings, analyze them, and place them in an accurate historical context. Oral historians are also concerned with storage of their findings for use by later scholars.

In oral history projects, an interviewee recalls an event for an interviewer who records the recollections and creates a historical record.

event -> interviewee -> interviewer -> historical record

Oral history depends upon human memory and the spoken word. The means of collection can vary from taking notes by hand to elaborate electronic aural and video recordings.

How does podcasting fit into the oral history picture?
So far all the examples mentioned were before the time podcasts became popular. Perhaps now is a good time for bloggers to engage in recording the oral history of people around them and putting them up as podcasts on their blogs. Our current technology can certainly fill this need.

How can we start?
Academic oral history projects can be quite elaborate, with lots of planning and budgeting involved. For our own oral history podcasts, we can forego some of the complexities so that we can just do it and have fun at the same time. With that, here my quick start guide for starting your own oral history for podcasting (References StoryCorp and the at Harvard university):

    What you need:

  1. Figure out who you’d like to interview (e.g. family, friends, pets)
  2. Pick an event to talk about (e.g. 1970s, Tea-time dances in the hey days, 9/11, etc)
  3. Figure out a rough set of questions to ask (try this if you need ideas)
  4. Choose your Recording device (best if on iPod’s iTalk or equivalent mp3 recorder)
  5. Edit for podcast (put it on your own blog where people can find it)
    For the Interview

  • Find the quietest place possible to record.
  • Make sure you and your storyteller are comfortable.
  • Do a test recording, holding the microphone about one hand’s distance from your storyteller’s mouth. If anything sounds strange, stop and figure out what the problem is before starting the interview.
  • Double check that the recorder is actually recording (not on pause).
  • Start each tape with an ID: State your name, your age, the date, and the location of the interview. For example, “Hi, my name is Kevin. I’m twenty-seven years old. The date is April 30, 2005, and we’re sitting here on my ship called “Tomorrow never dies” in the freezing lakes of Ontario.” Ask your storyteller to state the same information: “Hello my name is Ah Beng, I’m fifty-four years old and I’m presently a retired dance instructor”.
  • Stay quiet when your subject is talking. Don’t say, “Uh, huh.” Instead, nod your head.
  • Feel free to re-record. If your storyteller makes a mistake or if a noisy truck passes by, feel free to ask hiim/her to repeat the story.
  • Ask emotional questions like “How did this make you feel?”
  • Look your storyteller in the eyes and stay engaged.
  • Stick with amazing moments in the interview. Follow-up questions often yield the best material.
  • Be curious and keep an open heart. Great things will happen.

This would be a great way to get to know your grandpa or friends even better. Hope you have fun trying it!

Japanese girls going nuts over “Nintendogs” !


Nintendogs is the latest gaming craze to hit Japan. There’s not much information that’s in English but from what I see, it’s a new take on virtual pets, one with an ultra-realistic tactile edge.

You start by purchasing a Nintendo DS cartridge that features your favorite breed of puppy. The puppy or puppies intereact with the environment, with each other and with you via touchscreen technology. The dogs apparently also respond to your voice (via built-in mic) and see to have various other interactions via wireless connection (perhaps even through the Internet).

You have to see to believe the realistic behavior of these dogs as they respond to the ways in which you play with them, for example by petting, showering the dog and feeding it all with the stroking of your stylus. The video on on the bottom of this main page shows how the dogs interact with objects like a balloon, fight over toys and let you take it for a walk on a leash. The video on this other page shows how you can select/create gifts for your dog.

Given the number of ways you can play this game/simulation, I can sense the thrill of discovering the various life-like ways in which the dogs will respond to you. This has definitely gone more places than the tamagochi. I wonder if they’ll make a cat version… I think cats are smarter. :P


Investigating “leakage” as a social issue of online gaming

If you play Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOG) such as World of Warcraft, Everquest 2, Matrix Online and the likes, please spend a few minutes with our research to have a say in shaping the future of online gaming. You can participate now at Here’s the press release we prepared:

On Oct 2004, Microsoft announced that pre-orders for Xbox-exclusive title Halo 2 passed 1.5 million in the United States alone, breaking videogame records and guaranteeing first-day revenues higher than any movie in history.

Given the popularity of games, much of the concern about the social effects of gaming has to do with what we refer to as “leakage”. This idea can be seen in David Cronenberg’s film “eXistenZ”, where a highly immersive multiplayer online role-playing game leaves players straining to differentiate the game world from the real world.

The mass media depicts “leakage” with everything from the Littleton school shootings to the death of an infant neglected by his game-playing father (Karp, 2001). Likewise, leakage in the other direction, the real to the game world, has be seen through many game research literature.

A research team at the School of Informatics, from the University at Buffalo (SUNY), addresses the issue of how such “leaks” between the real-world and the game-world might affect individual identities. This formal research into the social impact of Massive Multiplayer Online Games (MMORGs) is entitled “Playing Myself: The persistence of self-image in MMOGs”.

Through an online survey at , this research hopes to gain an understanding about the social impact of online gaming and to help provide reference to the formation of public policy. For gamers, this study allows them to engage in a conversation of what gaming means to them and to consquently help shape the future of online games.

If you have any questions about this study, you can contact the project leader, Alexander Halavais. You can reach him by email:, or by telephone: 716-645-2141 x1192. When the research is complete, a copy of the initial findings will be made available at .

Tiger vs. Longhorn: A biased look

As the rest of the world gets to drive a Tiger tomorrow, here’s a quick comparison of Tiger vs. Longhorn (See ugly screenshot above!). Yes, some may say to judge the OSes on their own merits instead of comparing them, but come on, Tiger is already done, while Longhorn is far from done!

Information on Longhorn (the next Windows OS which has been delayed countless times) comes as Microsoft recently presented to technology journalists at their recent “status update” press conference. This “see we have it already” tactic is one where Microsoft clearly feels threatened by Apple’s feature-filled OS, so the public wouldn’t point fingers if similarities happen to occur when the next Windows OS comes out. Well, let’s see if they can cover their ass convince us by looking at what they presented versus what Tiger already has. According to Ina Fried’s (CNet news) report on Longhorn’s demo, this is my quick summary of how Microsoft shouldn’t have even bothered with the presentation:

Microsoft’s Longhorn

Apple’s Tiger

File icons are a representation of the first page of the document itself

Erm, ever heard of thumbnails? Tiger does this with PDFs already

Files can be grouped in a variety of "virtual folders" according to criteria such as "created by Mary" or "modified in the past week.

OK, Apple had it since iTunes came around. In Tiger, you can create the same thing in the desktop called "Smart Folders"

An Internet Explorer window in a test version of Longhorn shows the graphics improvements in the forthcoming operating system, including translucent windows

Mac OS X has always had Quartz Extreme graphics capabilities, which includes transparency, shadows, blurring and so on. In Tiger, Core Image is more powerful with a bigger range of real-time effects on your desktop


CopyCat! Microsoft can’t even innovate and had to scale down key differential features in Longhorn just to make sure it doesn’t get delayed any further.

An Operating System that’s simply generations ahead of the rest.

Sure, you can call this Windows-bashing, and you’re right. My point is that Microsoft should just give it up. If you haven’t listened to the PC laptop user’s horror story (mp3) which I posted earlier, you might want to now. Get a Life, Get a Mac! :P

Don’t Fear. Blog and you will be heard…

In Singapore where citizens say there’s little hope for the layman to be heard (who owns the media corporations really?), works like a spotlight that pierces into the murky depths of the World Wide Web, casting a life-enduring light on the rest of us who have a voice with something worth listening to. This adds credence to what I often preach to people when it comes to wanting to be heard in an attention-centric economy…

theory.isthereason 3:16
One should not fret with thoughts of one not being heard,
For one will be if one has a voice that is blogged.
For one’s blog may be found by the fortunes of Google,
And blessed by the likes of BoingBoing or
One will find redemption from the love of others,
Witnessed through one’s blog being blogged by other blogs.

I can sense how can truly be a catalyst for greater things to happen for Singapore. So whether infantile or smart-alecky, everyone should just blog, blog, blog. Don’t worry, blog and you will be heard…

UPDATE: Yes, we know AcidFlask’s blog recently got shafted by a Singapore government official, but at least he’s gotten incredible exposure on numerous blogs and news sites. In anything, the shafting was definitely heard…

Peter now officially an Apple Consultant

Peter on his way to MacWorld SF 2003

Congrats to my buddy Peter of for qualifying as an official Apple Consultant. I also intend to take the Apple technical exams as soon as I get most of my academic work done; should give me a rounded edge as an Technology Consultant in the future. Peter and Steve (a fellow Singaporean living in Buffalo, NY) also run TunedWeb, a web hosting company which puts up with my bandwidth hogging web sites, including theory.isthereason,, Singaporeans in UB and the Communication GSA web sites. Big shouts to them for helping us make it all happen! :)

Podcasts to broadcast on America’s radio on May 16th

Just a few days ago, I was dreaming of setting up a campus wide pirate radio station that would pump out unlimited content from the world of podcasts. This is in hope there would finally be better things on radio to listen to. Alas I didn’t blog about it soon enough, so the men in black came forth with the same innovation…

As seen on Reuters, Infinity Broadcasting, one of the largest radio broadcasting companies in America, announced that they would start to air podcasts on the radio.

They’re doing this by launching the world’s first all-podcast radio station on May 16, dubbed KYOURadio. The company is converting a previously talk-radio format San Francisco AM station, to an entirely listener-submitted content.

Podcasters would submit digital audio files for consideration, which would be reviewed for quality standards and FCC guidelines before being simultaneously broadcast over AM and streamed online at The coolest bit is that Infinity is going to cover licensing fees so podcasters can use major record label music in their shows.

This entire movement, which is mainly driven for commercial reasons, can benefit podcasters and the overall Internet community as it potentially means for more public participation in mainstream media. But before we get our hopes too high, let’s see which podcasts they are planning to air… nothing that plays Britney Spears please.

Today’s Links (hug your geek today)

Secret recording of “Saving Private PC”

Fixing stuff rocks!

I work with computers quite a bit, so friends often ask me to fix their PCs for them (Macs tend to have less problems). Last night I received a call from a stressed out friend trying to get help on her dying Windows laptop. I decided to have fun by putting the whole conversation on speakerphone and having everyone in the apartment give moral support. In the end, we didn’t fix her PC, but that wasn’t the point was it?

Pseudopoetess as the deranged out PC user
Our friend Hong En, Penny and me as the pseudo computer technicians
Dying PeeCee Laptop as Dying PeeCee Laptop

Listen to the mp3 (15mins / 3.6mb).

Today’s Links (pretty handy stuff)

Busty Mouse Pads