Thursday, February 22, 2007

QotW5: Identity Theft

My personal policy is that my IM account should be reserved for my friends or people I’m otherwise acquainted with. Ditto with my Friendster or Facebook account. I have three email accounts with Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo, and depending on my level of trust, I would decide which to use – Gmail for personal and professional communication, Hotmail for sign-ups requiring email verification and the like, Yahoo for the shady stuff. ;D

According to the Online Identity article on Wikipedia, "an online identity is a social identity that network users establish in online communities" (“Online Identity”, 2007). It is a mark of how important online identities have become today that there are numerous services purportedly dedicated to managing and even protecting your online identity, or identities (ClaimID, 2007; OnXiam, n.d.; ReputationDefender, 2007; Naymz, 2006) . Of late, in forums, and more recently IRC, I have taken to using the pseudonym Farinelli, as a tribute to the legendary castrato singer. It’s quite effective; I’ve yet to see anyone else use it. If someone else does, I’m pretty sure our paths don’t clash.

When I post on forums or reply to questions in IRC, I do so because, as mentioned by Judith Donath, I want to help (Donath, 1996) and feel that I have the adequate knowledge and relevant expertise to do so. I am in this way able to build a reputation for myself, if not for being an expert in a particular field, then at least for being a decent poster instead of a troll or flamer. In this age of highly increased interactivity on the Web, there seems to exist an underlying current of wariness towards newcomers until they prove themselves worthy of the forum’s trust.

In forums where media is exchanged, such as PDF form books or musical scores, video files of anime episodes, or image files of scanlated manga, being able to provide the material in question commands a certain amount of respect, and consequently reputation. In IRC or some forums, having the capability to act as a file distribution server also earns you reputation, and privileges as well, notably prioritized access to long-queuing files or a higher share of bandwidth. Long story short, the only alternative method to slowly building authority on a forum through exhibiting your knowledge is to have material possessions.

If one even has to choose a nickname, chances are that forum requires registration to utilize. Once I secure Farinelli, a newcomer probably has to be the moderator’s best friend to snatch that pseudonym from me. In some forums however, the login name is not necessarily the same as the displayed name, and malicious posters can simply change their nickname to Farinelli, post a whole load of incendiary trash, and change his nickname back to the original one. It is far from infallible, but it still takes a whole lot of time to track down, assuming the virtual community even thinks it might be someone faking my name. It is possible that for fear of losing track of the main purpose of the forum, they would just shun me aside in order to get back on track ASAP. Such is the level of damage I feel can be caused to the online reputation which I have taken time and effort to build.


“Amilgate” (2007, Jan 15). Online Identity. Retrieved February 21, 2007, from Identity and Deception in the Wikipedia Web site:

ClaimID (2007). About ClaimID. Retrieved February 22, 2007, from ClaimID Web site:

Donath, J. M. (1996, Nov 12). Identity and deception in the virtual community. Retrieved February 21, 2007, from Identity and Deception in the Virtual Community Web site:

Naymz (2007). What is Naymz? Retrieved February 22, 2007, from Naymz Web site:

Poulsen, K. (2007). About OnXiam. Retrieved February 22, 2007, from OnXiam Web site:

ReputationDefender (2007). ReputationDefender > About Us. Retrieved February 22, 2007, from ReputationDefender Web site:

Monday, February 12, 2007

Lee Kong Chian Reference Library Excursion

Er ok, it seems that people are actually expecting me to blog about this... but I was going to blog about it anyway. So here goes.

Before we start...


Nawww naww... NPs are nice people... mostly... just... stick to your own canteens ya. Cos we need to eat as well dammit.

As written in the Mission Brief, General Lim started our briefing at LT4.12 at 1140h sharp. We soon moved out to our buses - Joanne&Dionne, Sabrina&EeLin, HansGrahamMe, and MandyJoseMelvinJane&gang sat in our bus. Even with Kevin, Dr Holbert and Jill Peters (UGC lecturer), the bus had alot of empty space. Not complaining.

We got to the library really early. Actually, everything went far ahead of the schedule. We finished at... 1415 or something like that. But more on that later.

So we hung around Han's (not Hans's restaurant unfortunately) till it was time and the librarian-guides came down to meet us. We moved up and kept hushing each other along the way like some Primary 2 kids.

Up to the Possibility Room on the 5th floor, and just outside was the Singapore Literary Pioneers Gallery, exhibiting works of early Singaporean writers, I presume. Never got down to walking into the exhibition.

In the Room of Possibilities (or Possibility Room), ironically black-themed, we had our briefing, where the naturally soporific voices of the librarians, I'm terribly sorry to say, sorely tempted half of the class to fall asleep.

Apart from the green theme that seemed to pervade our class today, if you look carefully you'll notice Hai fighting the battle of his life. And hmm... what is Mr McKelvey doing? ;P

So we somehow got through the talk. The content was interesting, looks like we have kickass resources to help us about our research. It was just the librarians' voices. I always regret not recording these voices. They're really good for insomnia. After the talk we split into groups of 15 and went about our tours of levels 7 and 11. Unfortunately the observatory pods at level 16 which I daresay was a major reason for coming was closed for a CNY polish. Public tours however are available on... Fridays and Saturdays I think.

View from the lift

So we first moved up to level 11, where the Singapore and Southeast Asian Collections reside. This includes local magazines (they actually bothered to bind Teenage magazine into leather volumes) and literature from the region. For local publications, The National Library Act mandates for 2 copies to be given to the National Library to keep as heritagal reference.

Outside every reference library (floors 7-13) there are lockers to store one's belongings, while bringing only pen and paper in. For the tour we were spared the trouble.

Along every bridge leading to the library area there would be this sign...

And then the reference section name.

The designers, who were Malaysians, designed the bridge to seperate the reference library and the entry area because the research area is made to be as quiet as it can possibly be. Also there is temperature regulation in the interest of book preservation. All the noisier activities - toilets, escalators, lockers, are located on the other side of the bridge, with warmer temperature, and where one can afford to make more noise. The Information Counter, in my opinion, is an artistic masterpiece, but photography in the library itself is disallowed, so it's a real pity.

In the reference library there is a ground floor of books, open to the public. There are two more floors however, with special archives of a rarer nature. Only 'serious' researchers with credentials as proof are allowed up there, where there are individual cubicles to work in utmost quiet. There is, however, a dark microfilm room with about 8 or 10 reading machines to view microfilm archives. Rarer books can sometimes be accessed this way; the only reason why the actual copy is kept from just any person is because of preservation purposes. So they sometimes make a microfilm copy and then whoever needs to read it can zip through the pages as fast as they want without worrying about tearing anything. There is also an AV room to view VHSs or video discs, or listen to CDs. The 11th floor is the only floor with AV materials, and none are loanable.

We didn't get to go to the 16th floor pod, but we did get a glimpse of what we would have seen from the splendid view from the 11th floor windows. We were allowed to point our cameras out to take the scenery, just not the libary itself. I was tempted to snipe some pictures, but I thought it wasn't worth if I were to be caught by... ISA... or something.

Proceeded to the 7th floor - Social Sciences and Humanities, Science and Technology Collections. The order of things again...

Yes the first two pictures are the same.

The 7th floor looks smaller than the 11th. But the collections were impressive all the same. I noted that magazines weren't bound as those on the 11th floor were, and the librarian explained that binding was generally saved for heritagal material, since it wasn't cheap.

Thus ended the tour. We went back to the 5th floor to fill the survey forms out, and wrapped up for the day. And that was it. Ended very early.

On our way walking to Peace Centre, Graham and I passed the Singapore Art Museum (should be ba...). And the exhibit outside were these four... things that looked remotely like girls. Graham didn't capture it, but the two girls I was posing in between had their right arms pointing diagonally downwards to the left, so I um... tried to mimic them. But whatever, it still turned out not bad.

Reunion Dinner

Well not really. We were treating it something like one because my first aunt was flying off to have fun during CNY and we thought we'd gather for dinner before she did. We didn't even eat together at one big table. Never did. Our dining tables were always too small for that.

This was held at my cousin's house, whom my aunt stays with. On the way to the house, I saw this displayed outside one of the neighbouring apartments.

This owner has some strange liking to these creatures because there were a couple more sitting around.

I decided to relax at the table outside because it was windy and I could do with some fresh air. It wasn't really stuffy inside, it just was fresher outside. I drank Coke while my cousin and uncle drank Heineken. This shot per se was horrible, but I totally love the color contrast.

And finally, my adorable nephew! He's actually more mischevious than he looks here, and he bites. Again because of the lighting, these aren't the best of shots. But just as long as you see his face.

Trying to pick the fat dog up. He's already picked up from his parents and grandma how to scold the dog. When the dog starts barking instead of crying he would walk to the dog and go 'mlieuh-bluh-bluh!' while waving his hand at the dog.

Playing with the remote. He flipped the channel at least 4 times, and I being the most savvy in the place had to flip it back to AV1 (my cuzs are on cable) the same number of times.

Posing in front of his impressive toy collection.

Carried by the maid.

Happy times. :)


A few bones to pick and other things that I found generally interesting.

I came back from school to find this box on my table, and my father came in to tell me it came with...... well something else. And I was mildly surprised, because the packaging was so big I thought it contained like 10 packs. But when I scanned around the box, I was very surpised to find that it was only 4 servings.

4 servings so big box for what?!

And when I opened it up later, the 4 sticks of coffee-mix were so loosing rattling around inside the box. I thought it was such a waste of space to put 4 packs of mix into a box that could easily hold twice the amount. I guess when it really comes down to the bare costs, profit notwithstanding, it's minimal to the company to make larger-than-needed boxes. It's probably an enticement to buy whatever it was attached with, because the free attachment looks so big.

Next, Graham called this to my attention on our way home. I nearly missed this shot, hastily taken as it is. Lucky the bus had to stop to give way or something. And I took the chance to snap. I didn't want to zoom because previous experience already told me that the stupid camera just magnifies the pixels , and if I were to zoom, I'd probably have gotten a 100x75px shot. See the ultra-small car in the centre? We were of course too far away to get a look at the brand, but we've never in our lives seen a car this small, so we deduced that it was most probably imported. Which I thought was quite idiotic, to spend big bucks importing a car that would probably accordion with the slightest impact. Too much time, too much money.

And it looks like our church is expanding beyond our control! I went for the second service with my younger cousin, Sandra's sister. We reached there 10 minutes late, and almost every wall was lined with people standing, and the aisles filled with people sitting. This shot far from captures the crowd, but it was amazing during Praise&Worship. I've never heard such a loud chorus from the audience before.

Last one. SBS. What are you trying to say with this huh? You justifying your crapped up scheduling with such ambiguous words? Unseen reasons? What unseen reasons? You mean like drivers taking their own sweet time to drive, accelerating and braking like rally drivers making the whole bus feel like puking in his face? Or maybe like, oh, drivers ignoring people rushing for the bus, closing the doors and taking their own sweet time to pull out of the bus stop mocking the unlucky would-be passengers?

How the hell did this tagline even pass the board? We know that you know how terrible service can be. Even if you meant something else by that sentence, have you never thought of alternative connotations? Or maybe you didn't bother to run a pilot test to gain a sample of public reactions? Or did you just call some middle management guys to the computer to have a look and tell you what they thought?

I hate having to make this clear, but I've long lost my hope that humanity has a general intelligence I can trust in. Listen, I'm not slamming SBS drivers. Just today a kind driver saw me running for the bus (yes I can run) and stopped it for me. I am merely bringing this up to/against SBS for making such ambiguous, know-it-all statements. That may not be the intention, but that was what I got. And probably, so does half a million other people. And I say that literally. Singapore has 4+ million people. I would count on 500 000 of these to be educated and frustrated enough by bus services to have the same path of thought.

Damn. Photobitching rocks.

Friday, February 9, 2007

QotW4: The Listserv as Gift Economy

Towards the end of 2003, I was introduced to a new genre of music. I was listening to Russell Watson and looking through the liner notes, decided to look for Puccini’s Turandot, where one of his most impressive songs, Nessun Dorma, was taken from. I went to the library@esplanade and found Maria Callas’s recording. And it was thus that my love for opera was born.

My journey into the depths of opera was complimented by my gradually increasing use of the computer, and the Internet. In 2004, while I was surfing around for anything opera, I chanced upon the Opera-L Listserv. What I saw as I explored the site and the message archives greatly excited me. An online community talking about nothing but opera, with messages delivered right to my inbox?! It did not take long for me to sign up. And there I would stay for almost two years.

Opera-L has the distinct characteristics of a gift economy, explored in the following paragraphs.

Information that would otherwise be exclusive is shared. Recently a trend in Opera-L has been uploading videos to Youtube. A good majority of the community is middle-aged or elderly, and are not that tech-savvy as they would like to be. A poster who did not get any response when she asked for a solution to rip DVD clips out fit for uploading earlier posted and thus shared a solution which she stumbled upon (Curtis, 2006). For the younger folks such as I, we often dispense technical advice on uploading videos to Youtube, ripping songs into MP3 format, transferring those MP3s into the iPod and so on. We also do not hesitate to post queries about stuff like the significance of the use of a particular instrument in a particular passage of music, or the changes in musical dynamics that seems rather strange, or about the roles a particular singer was famous for. This reflects the give-and-take mentality, contributing to solving issues raised in the community you are in with an implicit expectation of reciprocated help when you need it (Kollock, 1999).

Kollock also mentioned that a characteristic of public goods, which the information and media in gift economies typically are, is that 'the size of the group necessary to produce many public goods is often reduced to one' (Kollock 1999). Take this example of a lister who posted the following message:

Date: Fri, 6 Jan 2006 15:29:58 -0500
Reply-To: glhoffman@COX.NET
Sender: Discussion of opera and related issues
From: Gary Hoffman
Subject: Mozart's Requiem Uploaded for Streaming
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1

I have uploaded Mozart's Requiem to my web site. It is available for streaming. The performers are Irmgard Seefried, Hildegard Rössel-Majdan, Anton Dermota, Gottlob Frick, Wiener Staatsopernchor, Wiener Philharmoniker, Karl Böhm (cond.). It is a live recording from Vienna, 20 November 1955. Windows Media Player and Winamp are recommended.


Gary Hoffman
Opera Today []

This is another example of sharing. It is not uncommon on Opera-L to upload recordings to your personal website and then notify the list, so contributors can have a confident expectation of accessibility to other recordings in return. But notice that this lister obtained the CD or audio record, ripped it out, and put it on his website for streaming – all by himself. Not every gift economy has to be Linux-like – hundreds of thousands of people somehow coming together to achieve an ambitious goal. Little bits of information that are being posted and exchanged with each other daily can also turn a community into a valuable source of information.

Finally, Kollack comments that the Net ‘works a bit like a committee: you'll need a few dedicated persons who do most of the stuff or nothing will get done.’ (Kollack, 1999). Strictly speaking, there is only one person overseeing and moderating posts where necessary. But over the decade or so that this listserv has been around, several regulars have taken on an informal role of what I call sub-moderators. They enjoy no special privileges, except perhaps a certain amount of respect from the group, but are very knowledgeable and often correct wrong perceptions, or step into arguments to clarify the facts. These members of the group may simply be veterans, but without them, it is clear that the moderator will have much much more to cope with than he already has now.

Opera-L has proven itself invaluable in keeping me up-to-date with knowledge of the opera scene around the world. Listers, no matter how few, never fail to somehow respond to a query or request, and it also pleases me greatly when I give back to this wonderful listserv in the form of IT or electronics advice. I slowly realized, however, that I was gaining less and less from the list, that clearing the digest emails were getting to be a chore. A few months back I made the decision to turn off the emailing function, ceasing the daily updates. My experience with the list, however, has equipped me with the firm knowledge that if ever I need or want to look up opera-related news, there is somewhere, someplace, on the almost infinite Web, that I can trust for that information.


Kollock, P. (1999). The Economies of Online Cooperation: Gifts and Public Goods in Cyberspace. Retrieved February 9 from

Hoffman, G. (2005). Mozart's Requiem Uploaded for Streaming. Opera-L archives -- January 2006, week 1 (#327). Retrieved February 9 2007 from

Curtis, G. (2006). Uploading to YouTube. Opera-L archives -- September 2006, week 4 (#76). Retrieved February 9 2007 from

Studying Youtube Flamers

I was waiting for the part 1 of the latest episode of Bleach to load when I scrolled down to the comments portion. I have copied the relevant posts out, in chronological order for easier reading, instead of the usual reverse order on Youtube...:

WillBlaze718 (6 hours ago)
That was great. Thanks for the upload. When is Ichigo going to learn how to be a Vizard? When is team Ichigo going to get another member? The girl who does martial arts must have some special ability.

oddomar (6 hours ago)
you obviously haven't read the manga retard.

At this point an evil thought presented itself to me. Whoop oddomar's ass and observe the reaction(s). Very quickly that thought developed into what I'm telling you guys about now. I shall engage myself in ethnography and make a study out of Youtube flamers.

Now here is the hard part: planning the study. Cos I seriously have no idea how I should go about it. For now, I'm thinking of monitoring several scenarios:

- One where I am a passive observer, where other users are trying to screw each other.
- One where I pose as a flamer and attempt to start a flame war.
- One where, like the above example, I will reply to the flaming comment and again attempt to start a war.
- One where I attempt to post a comment most likely to be attacked by flamers.

I would like to invite anyone out there, anyone at all, even if you are not part of the class for which this blog was set up for, to assist me in this. And to my classmates and especially Kevin, if you can find the time to help out, I really would appreciate it if you could lend your support in any way you see fit - helping in the research design, passing me Youtube links which may help in my study, etc.etc. If by any chance my US counterparts from Buffalo are reading, you're more than welcome to help out too! I'm sure the findings should be quite interesting.

One thing I can't decide on is the number of videos to observe per scenario. I was thinking 5, but it would take some time to sufficiently gain data from 20 video pages' comments. And Youtube doesn't have RSS to track, though I haven't yet satisfied myself that there aren't other ways to track the videos, other than my present method of sending a shortcut for each video I'm interested in monitoring.

So go on! Spread this link and message to your friends! Comment and suggest how to make this study work.

Just don't flame. :)

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Web 2.0 - The Machine is Us/ing Us

Hans and I stumbled upon this video while Youtubing (what! we're free what! surf lah). This is such a good and emotionally moving summary of Web 2.0. The concept and animation work is brilliant! Awesome! OMGWTFBBQ! WHATEVER! It's really good!

Like I said on the comments, I feel real honored after watching this video to be part of Web 2.0.

As always, enjoy.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Mr Deity

Found this. It takes a huge ass dig at Christianity. So be warned that some of the jokes may seem to be quite blasphemous. I didn't want to spoil the actual episodes, so I decided to stick this special up instead which is equally funny. When and if you look up the main episodes, I highly recommend the latest episode, episode 5. I laughed really hard.


Drink Coke = Nice Guy

As one of the users aptly commented, Grand Theft Coca-Cola.

Dotz is the word of the day people.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Stopping to Listen

For this blog post I would like you to read it straight from the paper I wrote it on. Enjoy.

For now I can't seem to tweak the fecking HTML to make the images readable. So sorry la click on it please. If I can I'll find a way to blow it up somehow, I will do it.

Beef Yakiniku

Before we start, a quick look at what Kaiyan likes.

I swear I never knew he was into stripes.

Moving on, Graham and I were quite hungry today, so we decided to go for our ultimate super hyper meal (bankai mode, for those who know what it means).

Beef Yakiniku! -niku -iku -ku -ku...

For some reason when either Graham and I or Hans and I order yakiniku (-ku -ku -ku), I'm like the one to dictate the order to the... whoever's behind the counter. Today we were early, so it was the auntie (later = horizontally challenged 4by2 guy).

Auntiee.. (not a typo.. it's more polite to stretch e abit, but I thought putting three eee's were abit too much).

Ok ok semula.

'Auntie... Beef yakiniku bu yao (don't want) onion jia fan (extra rice) liang ge (two sets).'

I'm not treating you like a Chinese-illiterate idiot la I'm just want to make sure it's understood, ok...

And just because I was feeling cheeky and to try my luck, I added as an afterthought, 'Gravy zueh zueh' (with alot of gravy... their gravy... never mind you'll see).

And that auntie, bless her, turned to me and asked in Chinese, 'You want more of the gravy is it?'

So I said yes and I thanked her very very nicely.

By the way the complete 'native' name is be calls:
Beef焼き肉 不要洋葱 加饭 Gravy多多.

Mmmm see? I's many-ringuals erucated.

SO. How does BeefYakinikuBuYaoOnionJiaFanGravyZuehZueh look like?

And the gravy?

Mmmmm ohhh my God can you see the beef swimming in the gravy uwahhh and what we do is we hold the beef back and we tip the gravy into the rice.

O hallelujah praise the Lord amen.

Yeah we just took the photos to show Hans what he missed by oversleeping. Cos we guessed that if the fat man was serving us he would have charged 20cents for the extra gravy. We'll try next week.

And let you know.

If we aren't too upset to remember to take a picture.


I remembered as I got off the 151 bus yesterday to change to bus 65 that I had yet to top my EZ-link card up, so I had to break my $2 note because I didn't have sufficient coins. How convenient that there was a mama shop a few steps away.

I considered just asking for change at first, but decided to be nice and to just buy something small and use the change for the fare. The whole place looked quite shady actually... candy lined in age-old boxes, condoms and playing cards put next to each other in a glass-front cabinet. I still was itching at that point to just break it into two $1 coins, but I'd been staring at the products so long, I thought it best to just pick something up.

I settled for Ovalteenies, something I was totally crazy over for a short while, and which I hadn't taken in a long time. It's actually no more than Ovalteen compressed to make a tablet, not unlike medicine. But it was just so good to chew and crack into powder, quite like taking Milo dry.

I looked forward to a somewhat nostalgic taste. What I got was this:

When I got hold of the first tablet when I dug in, three more came out along with it, glued together. Long story short, Ovalteenies are good dehumidifiers. They suck moisture like hungry freaking hippos and turn into that awful rear-end-refuse color. After chewing my way through two I threw the whole packet away.


Monday, February 5, 2007

"Helpline for fearful fans of Harry Potter"

The headline, which I copied straight into my title, is quite sensationalizing. But I think it's something to be concerned about rather than to wahwah about.

I got this news off Mugglenet, one of the top, if not the top Harry Potter fansite. They linked it to the link you see above.

While the thought of an 8-year-old pouring out his grief on the telephone and the counsellor on the other end saying 'Mmmm... and how do you feel about this?' is mildly amusing, I also think it is a mark of how the world has evolved. Young readers possibly getting depressed and suicidal after reading the ending to the book just because it was a popular series they had loved and embraced for probably more than half their lives is quite morbidly fascinating. I wonder if any researchers will be standing by when the book gets published.

This move, though, shows that Waterstone actually cares for the possibly adverse effects of its publications. No doubt the possibility is very real, but it's nonetheless no small sum to have such an initiative on such a big scale, especially since the move is just a pre-emptive one.

Anyhow, I wish Waterstone all the best.

Special(ly) Mention(ed)!

I was pleased to find that I made it to the list of Special Mentions for my QotW3. Some notes about what I've done before/while/after putting the medal on my blog.

Firstly I got the original-size image off Kevin's Flickr, then cut it up into individual medals using Microsoft Office Picture Manager (handy tool for basic editing - brightness/contrast, color shading, cropping, resizing/compressing, etc.etc.... Let's call it MSOPM). Having done that, I opened each medal in Photoshop and erased the white background to make it nicer/more authentic. Finally I went back to MSOPM and resized the images so it fits as a small image befitting of a pictoral medal. The original image of 5 medals was like 3063x1259px... after I had cut them up each medal was 544x1259px. Crazy to put something like that up.

Fresh from the lecture on Copyright and Piracy I thought I'd better check out the Creative Commons license that Kevin attached with the image. And the terms are really interesting. If you would care to scroll down later or click the permalink above, or perhaps if you already opened the link in another window/tab, I used the same CC license for my edited image as Kevin, known as the BY-NC-SA license. And the only reason why
I did that was because the SA part of the license stands for Share Alike, meaning that 'If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one.' (Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike 2.5, 2007).

I don't think I misinterpreted the terms. It's made really clear with the word identical.

So there I have my first stamp on my derivative work. Well it's not really my first, but all my previous copyrighted works that next to no one reads. I guess one of the things about copyright and CC is that it makes authors and creators proud of their work, proud to say 'I did this.' It's really cool, you guys should try it sometime. I notice Valerie's already superimposed her Multiply URL on a couple of her pictures.

You can get the medal images from me if you want. Just don't put it up for fun.

Fun with Star Wars

Referred by Hans. Funny shit, especially the second one.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

PAP's Web Crusade

Although I don't usually support the PAP, I think it was imprudent of them to announce what they've been doing. They really should have just shut up about it.

Let me make it clear first that I don't condone hiding behind anonymity online. There were occasions on my Victoria School forums where some students were critical of certain actions of the Prefectorial Board (when they didn't even understand or bother to ask about the rationale behind it), and since the complaints forum was auto-anonymous, students from the Prefectorial ExCo and some others who were closer to them, including me, defended the ExCo and left our name and class for all to see. Now I won't feel so safe doing that on public forums, and I thought that some of the guys were asking for it to have put 'Anything you want to discuss come find me' because... it is a boys' school after all and the hell there are some who'd take your offer up anytime. Not smart.

So I don't condone online anonymity. More so because this is the PAP defending their actions, not dissidents in danger of being summoned for that dreaded cup of coffee with intelligence officials. You are the government, our leader. What are you demonstrating to your people with these actions? That it's ok to hide behind a one-way mirror just to disagree? You guys should be least afraid of putting your names down, this is Singapore. You were the ones who made it safe.

However, my dear audience, from the perspective of their PR with us citizens, they would have totally been better off just doing this quietly. Doing something like this that isn't really condoned or positive in the community that you're in, then announcing that you have been doing this, is like going around executing bank robberies to textbook perfection, then holding a press conference to tell the whole world that you have been doing it - you're just sticking a flaming target to your chest and inviting one and all to screw you upside down aren't you?

Governments, as I said, have to keep up with the newest communities to address issues before they go out of hand. So it is admirable that the PAP are attempting to extend their influence and presence to the online community. But what they are doing reflects that they have next to no idea what and who they are dealing with. It's really like walking into some Afro-American slum and going 'HEY! HEY! HAHAHA! LEMME TELL YA A JOKE! YO' MAMA SO BLACK, PEOPLE TRY TO USE HER FOR CHARCOAL! HURHURHURHURHUR!'

Dude, You. Will. Die. Certain places you can't do certain things, and those who have been posting, along with the monitoring committee, are obviously concerning themselves only with righting what they think are wrong perceptions, and not with the way the Web 2.0 works. Posting anonymously, saying things like 'to moderate the vitriol', 'the identity is not important'... these things are infuriating to just about any active member of Web 2.0 who understands that at this point in Web history you do not do or say these things. It's total lack of netiquette. 'IT-savvy party activists'? Riiiight...

Now look what you've done. You've gotten just about the whole blogosphere majorly pissed at you. Call it 'counter-insurgency' if you want - you made it anything but 'quiet'. And what are you supposed to do after this? You revealed your plan to an offended cyberspace and you still expect people to listen to you? You try posting now la. The only thing you'll gain from it is an increased knowledge of expletives from 5 languages.

Sit up boys. Do your homework first.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Poto Poto

For some strange reason there was a whole wealth of occassions for me to snap photos of things I observed on-the-go. Here I be shares with you.

Before I start on today, here's a photo of a Jaguar I took when I spotted it on the bus at Paya Lebar MRT. It's not world-class, but then I'm just trying to show you what I saw. Damned reflection. From what I could make out from my seat the model looked like XG-A4. No idea whether that's right or not. It looks quite like my kind of car though dimension-wise. Stretched, rather low, and quite a tank of a vehicle too.

So while walking to Tampines MRT station this morning, passing through the Sports Hall side walkway, I saw this interesting bird. A terrible pity that my stupid phone's resolution actually gets smaller as I zoom. But I was so afraid of scaring it away. I actually took two pictures before the one you're about to see, and when I stepped closer for this shot, the bird whipped round to glare at me. I thought that I got a good shot so I walked away from that. Oh well, lesson learnt.

I don't go on trains that early in the morning on Saturdays often. It was a blissful lack of the usual crowds of depressingly furrowed faces.

And on the way to SIM on bus 74, the small flower shop (I won't call it nursery, it's different) which had just a few pots put out a week or two before was suddenly filled with these kumquat plants in anticipation of CNY. I was strangely compelled to snap it, so I might as well share it with you.

Lastly, I saw these two kids opposite me while on the train after class. I initially thought they were from one of those independent schools where super rich kids go, with their polo+berms uniform. But I saw no logo or badge or pin, and they were dressed differently anyway. What was interesting though was that I quite sub-consciously noticed and picked out telltale signs that spelt R.I.C.H. Take a look.

Pity that I couldn't snap their shoes. All I remember that it was branded - Adidas or Nike or New Balance or something like that, one of those major brands. I got my phone cam ready just as we exited the Town Tunnel going to Kallang, and before I could get a good shot (with their rich faces :P) the train was already slowing down.

Finally, for those of you who haven't seen it yet, this fanfilm is THE best saber fight ever. Other fanfilms have great storyline and all but this one's just meet-stare-fightfightfight-die.

That's what I'm talking about man.

Cheerio all.

QotW3: Pleasing Both Sides...?

Record labels are tyrants whose sole aim is to suck money from music fans. Pirates are simply rebels risking their lives and sacrificing their time to make the people's lives better by sneaking rice and meat, expensive commodities, to them for free. Unable to have any precise method of pinpointing the culprits, the tyrants close their eyes and fling their axes out – whoever happens to be standing where it lands get it hard. Life sucks, but the peasants are getting smarter, and a rebellion seems to be brewing hot and fast...

Whether the above analogy provides a biased or unbiased view of the situation between the major record labels and the common folk today is debatable. That, however, was the point of view I got from reading the articles related to this tricky little issue of copyright and piracy. Equally tricky though is the question of finding a solution that would please both sides – a win-win situation. But when the primary objective of this game is profit, can both parties really gain, or must one lose?

Music fans want easy and cheap access to their favorite bands’ songs. The advent, though, of P2P and file sharing technologies where the only major investment is time (even then multi-tasking allows one to do five different things while the P2P program searches in the background, and ten more while it downloads), may make it a little hard to lure the fans back to paying for their music, however nominal or arguably reasonable the fee. Record labels on the other hand, want to maximize their profits, not reward their artists. They have tried working with companies to introduce MP3 download sites like the iTunes Music Store, offering cheap MP3 files without the usual frills of covers and liner notes, but compared to the 5 billion files shared over Kazaa every month, the 100 million downloads iTunes managed to score in its first 15 months of operation (von Lohmann, 2004) is dishearteningly measly, and confirms the hypothesis at the beginning of this paragraph that given the candy of free music, fans would rather stick to that over the iced water that are cheap MP3s.

Some bloggers, in discussing this issue, have suggested purposely setting up a record company which offer artists a better portion of profits and steal all the big names over (Baude, 2003). That would require a lot of goodwill and money from a few people, but it would certainly help artists should they choose to boycott big name labels for exploiting them and the music industry. We know that a lot of bands who have not been totally blinded by the money retain their musicianship’s integrity that the fans, especially in the heavier side of the rock/metal scene, so respect. When two DJs came under fire from the record companies for remixing Green Day’s American Idiot album ‘with music from a variety of other artists including Aerosmith and Eminem’, ‘Green Day came out publicly to say they were flattered by the album, and liked it’ (Catapult, 2005). This is a stark example of artists’ current dissatisfaction with record companies. Thus by choosing labels whose primary focus is to fulfill the wants of music fans, artists can have their fair share of profits for their hard work and dedication, the label will earn either because of the number of bands defecting to their side, or from the exponential leap in album sales, and fans of course can get their music at a cheaper, more affordable and reasonable price. This is quite a one-sided solution in favour of the music fans, but the underhand tactics with which the record companies try to make profits and more profits frankly does not leave the desire for much negotiation.

Another solution which would be fairer to the record companies would involve them slashing the prices of online MP3 files by 1) doing away with CD production (or producing limited copies) and 2) selling the files directly from their websites, without a middleman such as Apple, Creative and Soundbuzz. Doing away with CD production and eliminating the middlemen will greatly reduce unnecessary costs that the record labels would eventually push to the consumers as part of product costs anyway. With these two measures I predict a possible cut in prices of 50%, if not more, effectively creating a significant gap between CD prices and MP3 files online. This would make music fans feel more like they are paying to support their artists’ work, instead of feeding the record companies.

I must admit that as a consumer myself, I suspect I am quite strongly biased whether I like it or not towards the consumer point of view. All I can say to the record companies, as objectively as I can be, is that if in their quest for profits they are not willing to let off on the exorbitant prices, there is a new generation of indignant music fans waiting to take over the music scene. You guys should do some re-thinking before you go out of business.


(2005, May 23). Remix culture: a rights nightmare. Retrieved February 2, 2007, from Catapult (ABC Online) Web site:

von Lohmann, F. (2004, Sept 9). Is Suing Your Customers a Good Idea?. Retrieved February 2, 2007, from Web site:

Baude, W. (2003, Sept 13). Are Music Companies Evil? or The Founding of Baude Records. Retrieved February 2, 2007, from Crescat Sententia Web site:

Friday, February 2, 2007

Seth MacFarlane's Harvard Speech(es)

Seth MacFarlane, creator and voice actor of hit TV shows Family Guy and American Dad! (the ! is part of the title... it's not like I dig that show... I prefer Family Guy) was invited to Harvard to give a speech. And a speech he gave in four parts, as himself, and then as Family Guy characters Peter Griffin (ngieheheheh), Stewie Griffin (victory is mine!), and Glen Quagmire (giggidygiggidygiggidy goo! alright~). Of course, if you're not familiar with the series and each character's idiosyncracies, you won't get all the jokes, but it's still funny enough. I present to you, Seth MacFarlane's Harvard 2006 Graduating Speech in four parts.


Reach! ... What I'm Reading

Ok, I'm finding it abit redundant to keep posting videos from Kevin's blog just to laugh about them, so may I draw my honorable readers' attention to the long bar on the left. Right after the Labels box is my newest addition, fed from Google Reader. It shows, more accurately, what I wish to share with
you guys, from among the feeds I've been reading through. So really, do have more than just a glance at it, because I'm thinking more about my friends' interests as far as this roll is concerned. I've already got my interests well covered thanks. :)

Moving right along, this video is what I saw from Kevin's blog today. He said given the deal he made about more creative break-request=longer break, we might just be doing this by the end of the semester. Although by the time we're finished with whatever item we cooked up break would probably be over...

So I scanned through this prank group's Youtube page, and I found all their other pranks there. The following one caught my attention. It turned out to be their best prank.

Young adults walking into the train and rambling on abruptly about protein generation, visual perception, Kant and religion, 20th century architechture and combinatronics. And by the end of their 'lectures' (unlike the musicals they had no plants this time), people were actually participating! Amazing these people... just inspires me (and alot of other people apparently) to want to do such crazy things.

Thursday, February 1, 2007 Tactical Gaming

Here's a video of the war game some of our friends got together to play on Wednesday. The equipment was supplied by, an online company specializing in laser technology war/tactical games.

You don't see any action here, but you probably can tell how seriously they were all taking this and how tense it was at that point of time. The two scouts, Ben Chen and John Tan, were basically out in the open with only each other for cover to get to a strategic point, that big palm tree thingy they disappeared into.

The Sound of Teamwork


There's an idiot in every story, and in Dilbert, it's got to be the boss.

I'm blogging alot. I know. Oh yeah.

I'll be using this as my temporary main blog till the end of semester, and Fortissimo as my secondary one. When I have the time to spare during the break, I will do the move to Wordpress.

My Future Workplace

I was referred, so to speak, from the links on Kevin's blog to his friend's (uh should be la) blog, and I saw this post.

I'm trying my best to refrain from coming to the conclusion that a Mac is a better computer solution, just because my friends and almost everyone I read praises it to the max. But it's appealing to me more and more. I really won't bet my life on a Mac's uncrashability. I've seen some of its problems and heard some of the more major ones. But it's not like it's super hard to use. I've used PCs all my life and only recently dabbled with my friends' Macs, and already I can navigate pretty well.

So here's the plan. I was thinking off pulling pieces off the Net to Photoshop into an idea, but I've not enjoyed great success in this genre of Photoshopping, and besides I'm swamped as it is with work.

Firstly, my computer systems. I will have a gaming-oriented PC, possibly self-built (I say self-built but I'll probably just pick out the parts and get someone to knock it all together for me). I'll only be getting this when I'm sufficiently running into my career, when I have the money, so I will spare no expense. I'll get a good motherboard, maximize my RAM (actually 4GB should be enough... or not?), get two disc drives, two hard drives (I'd rather get two 200GBs, instead of one 400GB), multi-card reader, a good number of USB ports both at the back and front of the CPU, a kickass video card, and a x-Fi or better audio card. And depending, I might need a cooling system (nothing flashy), and might get a 5.1 or 7.1 speaker system to go with my card. The speaker system will be aligned for the PC, of course, since that's where I'll be gaming and where I'd expect to do a majority of my work. Depending on whether I'm lazy, or whether I've space, or what I decide to do with my old pair of speakers, I might plug a 2.1 for the Mac, or play it straight from the in-built speakers. I hate displaced sound, and I don't want to bother with turning speakers to follow me. And even if they can follow me automatically, they'd be all blasting from one side anyway, so no. Old 2.1 or in-built.

Mouthful, innit? Of course, a gaming computer should more or less provide for speedy navigation as well, with the huge excess of RAM at one's disposal.

At the side (yes I'm not done), I will have a Macbook Pro, or actually whatever is its equivalent at that time... a Mac laptop la. Assuming the colors stay the same, I normally like black, but silver looks better, so there it is. Mac would of course be used for designing. Photoshop (CS5?), iMovie/Final Cut, all that jazz. Might add RAM to clock up the speed as well, if possible.

As for the extra screen... I'm not sure what's the best solution, really. Remember that this concept has economy on the low end of priorities. But I'm not willing to spend for something of little use, which would only clutter up space. The most convenient would obviously be two more screens (LCD... 21"?) for each computer, but how often will I employ those two screens? If I get one screen with a switch to toggle between displaying from the Mac or PC, what if I need to run both computers? Or will it be enough to just have both computers on, and depending on which one I'm using, use the other as the monitor? But then as pointed out by the above post, one of the conveniences of a second screen is to have two desktops possibly opened to two different sections of the computer to facilitate drag&drop.

Actually, one extra screen seems the best on second thought. With the switch behind I'll work on the main computer with two screens, and use the other as a monitor.

And of course, ideally a printer and scanner, or an all-in-one PrinterScannerPhotocopier. PrinterZapper would be useful, and the scanner portion will depend on whether it's still useful in the future. And yes it will be LaserJet.

Actually (ughhhh, you say, rolling your eyes), we should add a fax/telephone to that. a FaxPhonePrinterPhotocopier(Scanner). Or maybe a seperate land phone. Or maybe I'll be working in the future from my mobile. In which case I'll want a handphone stand and my handy charger.

And that would more or less be my empty desktop. Physical desktop. I could go into what would be in my drawers, but I'll have mercy on you.

Actually, I'd probably need 6 drawers and fill them all to the brim.


Got this from Kevin's 242 blog.

As I commented, give us a few more tries and we'll be using pompoms and pyrotechnics.

B! R! E! A! K! ... Breaaakkk~! YAYY!