Monthly Archive for December, 2007

SeaStars Album: A Singaporean Story of Personal Triumph

SeaStars 2007 album review

One thing I’ve realized about friendship is that it is best ripened when individuals share a common ambition. Be it suffering together through national service, stressing out together on a video documentary, or cutting that new age music album with a long time friend.

That’s where Ivan Chew (aka ramblinglibrarian) and Adrian Loo (previously of the renowned Lizards Convention) come in.

Ivan once told me how he was in admiration of indie musicians who manage to keep going in Singapore. Those of us who are either purveyors or fans of the local music scene would understand this much, that as with most arts in Singapore, it rarely pays the bills. Aside from our incredibly workaholic lifestyle, to finally produce an album, is a personal triumph in itself.

As much as Ivan coerces gently prods me into writing a review for his album, I frankly wouldn’t (and couldn’t) pay attention to the music. New age music, attainable from the wellness aisle of the more established supermarkets, isn’t the kind of music you’d typically sit up in amazement, then run to your store to snatch a copy. It’s everywhere; in classy hotel elevators and fancy restaurants you bring your dates to. Like a dear friend, it’s there to sooth you, without bringing too much attention to itself.

That said, if I were to review a new age album, the goal would to see if helps me concentrate on my task at hand. For this case, in writing this blog post.

I’ve listened to the entire album, from start to finish, yet feeling unaffected, not a single yawn, which is a good sign. Seastars 2007 is pleasing as an electronic album, but a little jarring at some points where the canned animal calls and children laughter brought out the cheesed off frustration in me. Sure, these distinct environmental sounds help punctuate the mood, but at times a little too much. Instead of eliminating them completely, softly cross-fade them into existence. Less is more in this case.

On an interesting note, the SeaStars 2007 album has served as a neat social experiment for the duo. From an album blog, a band blog, an official Facebook group, to an iLike page. More significant was the construction of conversation via blogs, which turns any murmur of SeaStars into a full sentence in the minds of many. Contrast this to the 90s where all local bands had in the scene were homemade posters, flyers, word of mouth and at most, email.

Congrats to Ivan and Adrian. As I’ve shared with many, they’ve shown that true passion knows no bounds.

Take a listen for yourself by by downloading their entire album for free. Perhaps they could consider going Radiohead by doing a pay-as-you-like.

The “I’m a Mac” commercial you didn’t see… (hint: Wa Si Mac)

… because the first trip I’m making in the 2008 is to MacWorld Expo in San Francisco! Here’s hoping for that Ultra-Portable MacBook everyone’s talking about.

Oh yeah, if you’re going to MacWorld as well, drop me a line. I’ve gotten to know bloggers and readers from all over at these conventions, and would love to keep the tradition going.

Aside: Thanks to Youtuber Alson Chee for the awesome Hokkien-ized Apple commercial. See his profile for another!

The Local Alternative: a singapore music documentary (1996)

This is a 1996 documentary on Singapore’s indie alternative music scene. It’s the full monty, from rock ballads, punk / metal to experimental music.

Still relevant today, the film serves to highlight the dilemma of local talent being massively understated by their local population, in favor of foreign commercial acts.

Recognized anyone in the video?

This video is sadly low in quality and out of sync, because the S-VHS tape was badly preserved (e.g. fungus on tape), quickly digitized to VCD in early 2000, then uploaded online just moments ago. I was contemplating on sharing this, but figured it could be worth something to someone.

Ah those were the days… I remember when we stood in the rain at Substation, shooting The Padres performance with our big-ass video camera. Keeping the shot steady while getting electrocuted slowly was quite a way to go. The production team consisted of Rachel, Greg, Isaiah and me, and it was produced under our Mass Communication program at Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

If you want a blast from the past, check out our early web site about the Singapore alternative music scene at substitute.com. No updates since 1997, maintained as a digital artifact for all to see.

Question: Would these relatively well-known local bands, The Padres, Oddfellow and Humpback Oak, have been better off if social networking sites (e.g. MySpace, SOFT) were around in the 90s?

Update: This video is now available on Google Video as well.

Holdman’s “Hardcore” Christmas Display for 2007

If you haven’t got your fill of Christmas, perhaps Richard Holdman could help.

Having done this last year as well, Holdman’s managed to turn his home into a Christmas spectacle. This year he has about 176 channels of Light O Rama and 45,000 lights. If all the lights were activated at once, it would consume about 300 amps, which is managed by 17 dedicated circuits. In all, his power bill for 2006 was only about $80 more than normal.

See holdman.com/christmas for the works.

Before this year ends, ask yourself how you did…

infoporn: theory.isthereason

Just a little something something I put together for the end of 2007.

Go ahead and design one in your own flavor. This infoporn was inspired by Jason Shellen, originally from Blogger.com and more recently someone who left Google.

Aside: Here’s a useful “fastest rising search queries” chart from Google this year.

Housemates Kenny & Hai Lee return to Singapore

Today, my housemates Kenny and Hai Lee leave Buffalo for home, Singapore. They’ve been the most fun yet responsible couple I’ve ever had the pleasure to have living in my apartment. Well, I’ll just have to deal with loneliness for the coming months. Anyone who thinks I’m having a ball of a time here is sorely mistaken.

Here are the last few photos I’ve had with them…

Update: There’s a snowstorm right outside my apartment (video by MrBig).

theorycast.34 :: Cradlepoint EVDO wifi router (3G iPhone anyone?)

Topic: Cradlepoint CTR-350 EVDO Travel Router • Show Guest: Dr. Peter Lin • Show Length: 13 mins

With mobile broadband becoming more affordable for everyone, this device lets you create your own personal portable wifi hotspot out of your EVDO mobile broadband connection (e.g. via cellphone, usb cellular modem).

In this episode of theorycast, we introduce the amazing Cradlepoint EVDO wifi router, show you how we rigged our own battery pack for it, and at speeds of 1200kbps downstream and 700kbps upstream, you can run a decent mobile Wifi hotspot. That’s great news for lifecasters or anyone who wants a “3G iPhone”? ;)

You can learn more about both Cradlepoint routers, the CTR-350 (with WAN Ethernet port) and PHS300 (with internal battery), from a web site we like called EVDOinfo.com, as well as their online forum. In fact, details of the constructing a battery unit for the router can be found there.

Almost Christmas, and if you’re missing snow…

Snow Storm @ Buffalo
See my snowy slideshow here…

… I’ve got plenty here.

In fact, I’m kinda sick of it… having to put on so many layers to keep warm, having to carve out my car in the morning, etc. Please take as much as you’d like. See more more of my photos here, otherwise check out my photographer friend’s (John Waller) photo set as well..

On the flipside, here’s a snarky video of some Ang Moh friends (actually Microsoft’s Leon, Kurt and Nic) celebrating their Christmas in snowy tropical Singapore.

Wanna trade places guys? ;)

Thankfully, this weather still beats last year’s devestating Oct 13th snowstorm… that was a mean one.

LOOK: a clever movie on our surveillance culture

Ironically, I actually have video footage of myself telling the ZaoBao newspaper journalist about an idea of making a movie based on sousveillance footage (I tagged it as “First Person Drama“). Looks like someone in Hollywood liked that general idea too.

I’m intrigued by how passively powerful surveillance technology can be, how you won’t know it till it hits you. Here’s Wired News interviewing Adam Rifkin about his upcoming movie, LOOK:

Wired News: What inspired you to make a movie about the culture of surveillance?

Adam Rifkin: I got a traffic ticket in the mail from the police department. I didn’t know it even happened, but they sent me this picture of myself going through a red light, and you could see my face clear as day, singing to the radio, making a horrible expression. The idea that a photograph could be taken of me without my knowledge and then sent to my home address freaked me out a little bit. I started to think, “What other cameras are out there, taking shots of me that I’m not aware of?” For me, that’s when the whole thing started.

My favorite part of the interview was how Adam had to “dirty” up the footage to make it more surveillance-like. You can read the rest of the interview here, or check out the LOOK movie web site.

Finally! Flickr Pro users get Stats… including trackbacks!

Flickr Stats! (for Pro users)

Other than my blog, Flickr is very (VERY) important to me… Here’s another reason to upgrade to Flickr Pro.

Not only do you have all the space you need for your images, but now you can finally see where visitors are coming from (i.e. trackbacks). It’s been a missing feature I’ve tasted while playing with Zooomr, a previous Flickr challenger. Flickr just went one up by going the full monty with the fully detailed stats page.

Oh, and they have a new Flickr Uploader 3.0 for Mac and Windows too.

Go activate now! Details on the Flickr blog…