Wednesday, March 19, 2008

How far should working-world simulations go in academic situations?

Yesterday marked a sour end to an otherwise enjoyable and engaging lecture. As usual, the lord of all this chaos was our COM443 lecturer, Principles and Techniques in Advertising. We had just received an individual and a group assignment, and were already conducting the typically Singaporean preliminary discussions as to how to approach it. That was when Fat Man and Little Boy were dropped.


"Due to the recent financial crisis affecting the United States," he started in an amusing old-man voice, "the BeBoP Corporation (that's what he calls it) is facing numerous problems and therefore are retrenching."

Cue: collective gasp and buzz.

"Please choose a member of your team to be fired," he continued in his usual voice, "the fired members will then come together to form a new ad agency (what he calls our groups)."

Everyone was staring at each other speechless. There was initial talk at insisting that all was well within the company and no retrenchment was necessary, but we knew well by now that he would never let that pass. Comical reenactments of the Survivor voting scene became reality for some groups. Joking suggestions of doing open numbers came to pass for other groups. (For those who don't know, open numbers is a system of selection by chance where at the intonation of ohhh-pen numm-bers! group members display a number with their fingers. The sum total is calculated, and the calculator starts counting in a circle until he reaches that number. Depending on the situation, the identified person is either first in a game, or the one who gets booted.) For a couple of groups like mine, we went by random selection.

No yeah, I took this picture after class was concluded.

Personally I feel that we picked the best method of handling such an unfavorable situation. However clear it is that we have been pushed into a corner into doing this, there is that key element of choice in voting. You made a choice to boot someone, and that someone was me. If the outed person knows he or she hasn't been contributing to the group, this only serves to lower that person's morale and confidence about his or her true capabilities. If he or she is oblivious to group members' sentiments of him/her not doing his due share of work, or if he/she was just the best candidate to pick out of all the others, he/she will start questioning himself/herself about where he/she had gone wrong. Was I an asshole? Didn't I do enough work? Should I have helped out more in X or Y?

Obviously there's still disappointment and upset in a random choice, but the unlucky person is at least comforted by the fact that there was no element of selection in this result. There can be little space for any sort of blame, unless everyone fold quarters you crush into a circle la. Then you asking for it right you try and be different?

My question today is: how far can a lecturer reasonably swing us through the mud of real life? How far down can he dip is in it without drowning us?

One has every right to argue that, wake up your ideas you young brat, that's what happens in the real world, don't argue against what you know nothing of. Now that's true. But flip the coin and look at this academically. For those booted out, their academic stability, at least in their minds, are churning 6 times over. They have to face the uncertainty of unfamiliarity all over again, and in such cases where there are known cock members (and where the member may indeed be one), it is in direct interference with their grades. There goes their A. Fuck, there goes their B! Is that morally right for a lecturer to do? Jeopardize students' grades with a possibly over-the-top simulation of the corporate world?

If one wishes to expose undergrad students to real world scenarios - dressing up for interviews, suiting up for presentations, working in randomly selected groups - I respect that. Better than us finding the world not as sparkly white as the walls of our lecture theatre. But I am of the opinion that lecturers should not carry the game so far as to affect the excellence of our grades.

What do you think?

Monday, March 17, 2008

LG KS20 Bloggers and Forumers Launch

So since I've talked about it over at 65bits, I thought I'd provide a more personal point of view of the event here. As Rinaz rightly pointed out, I was very glad to have not one, two, but a whole table of pingsters with me (as well as more in our immediate surroundings). It would have been cold and lonely to attend the event without anyone familiar. For that I suppose we'll have to thank fellow pingster Princessa Sabrina for inviting. Her friend was prudent to get her to help - she has great links through and even out of it.

This was the main table I sat with.

The people who brightened my evening... Left to Right: DK, Sheylara, Claudia, Rinaz.

Other pingsters who attended the event (yeah everyone I knew there were pingsters you got a problem?) were Geekonomics's Nicholas Aaron Khoo, Iz from I.Z. Reloaded, 9eek 9oddess Estee, nadnut and jayden. Those that I recognized anyway. I think there were a couple others.

I love the food provided at Corduroy Cafe, where the event was held. The ambience there is welcoming and cosy, and the food is mostly delicious. It's quite obvious that LG didn't hold back on their costs.

The event, I would say, was a great success. Again, Fleishman and LG have Sabrina to thank, because we bloggers really made each other's night better. Proof?

DK invents Endorsement 2.0

The IXUSes

The LUMIXes (FX1 and FX12 how cool is that? Front still looks the same after all these years)
Courtesy Rinaz

Goofing off with camera flash competition (and I cheated :P)
Courtesy Rinaz

Trying to work my way around the phone (and Windows Mobile 6)
Courtesy Nicholas

My first impressions of the product, however, were terrible. Perhaps it was due to the inherently messy interface of Windows Mobile 6. But I don't want to pass final judgment on a product after a nett playtime of 5 minutes. I'm gonna want to use it for as long as possible before coming up with a detailed review.

But as far as first impressions go, I interviewed Nicholas, DK and Rinaz. I'll probably post that over at Channel65, so watch out for that. And Rinaz interviewed me in return. It was actually quite embarrassing for my ego as a tech podcaster and reviewer, because that was like the worst interview I ever did in my life.

Overall, I quite enjoyed myself. Companies should take a leaf from LG's book when it comes to PR events. As for products, LG may have well have to take a leaf from other books.

"I mean, what do you think when you think of LG?"
Simultaneously: "Washing machines"

Other bloggers who wrote about the event... Check em' out!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Furniture Revamp at Geek Terminal!

So, before the LG bloggers' launch event, I had alot of time to kill, and alot of energy to recoup, so I went to Geek Terminal to chill my afternoon away. It's a good thing I didn't fall asleep in the comfy couch/lounge thingy, although I took some liberties in stretching myself out. I cleared like 6 7 videos. It's actually more exhausting than relaxing.

It must have been in between videos when I was resting my senses when I noticed Danny beckoning Chris over. I saw Danny sit triumphantly into what looked like quite the ordinary black chair, as if he'd just been appointed Archbishop of Canterbury. Unable to resist my curiousity I walked over and took a good luck at the new chair. My opinion didn't change from when I was a distance away - it looked plain. The cushion looked thin. When I sat in it however, at the kind invitation of the two bosses, it felt surprisingly comfortable, and supportive. And you know for someone of my size, it feels particularly gratifying to know that not only the chair but the cushion can support your weight well. Here's what it looked like.

The armrest



The cushion from the side

Geek Terminal is apparently doing a huge ass revamp. In fact I wanted to blog about the garage sale that happened yesterday and today, but... well time just passed too fast. There were loads of old product stocks going for sale, and even the old "classic" GT furniture. Hope they stretch it beyond this week. Meanwhile, the next time you go to GT, don't be surprised to see a whole new look!

By the way, before I left, Chris dumped a dubious looking half finished espresso on my table.

"Try it. Nice!"

Oh my God the first sip nearly physically knocked me over.

Turns out Chris gave me a cup of moscato espresso. Moscato is the semi-sweet Italian wine, although the taste makes it feel like semi-sweet Italian hardass liquor.

Not bad. Watch out for it. Get drunk and high. Oh yeah~

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Net is Torn

Okay okay okay. Okay.


I HAVE alot of material to post up (no excluding the ones that I said I would follow up with but never did, sorry about those).

Tonight, the murderfishing Internet connection is faulty, and no video can be streamed, no video can be uploaded, no PHOTOS can be uploaded.

You wait. I'll show you. Got a load to shove down your throat.

Don't be sick la please.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Mah nu bebe! Part I: Getting it


I popped by the IT Show '08 for the second time yesterday. Today's the fricking third time, but that's for another post. The first time was on Thursday, to recce (or racky, or raq-key. However the hell you spell it. Short for reconnaissance, ok?) I collected Fujifilm, Nikon, Sony, Exilim, and maybe a couple others. My budget was $250, $300 maxed out. And for that price (those brands that had an option around that area anyway), no brand could beat Sony. In itself the camera(s) already have such wonderful specs, and to top it off with fireworks (or cream-shrouded cherries) they were offering freebies galore.

One thing I noticed. Maybe I wasn't paying too close attention at previous shows, but many major camera brands were SPAMMING memory cards like they were all mini-timebombs. Olympus offered 3 2GB xD cards. 6GB of memory? Are they that disposable nowadays that you can offer people too much memory just to buy your camera? Even if you were one for card-switching, and I honestly can think of no reason why you wish to make your life such a misery, you don't frigging need that much memory.


Ok carrying on...

After dashing around yesterday, Jerrick and I had narrowed it to either Sony or Panasonic. For Panasonic the Mega O.I.S. was the star attraction. For Sony, its lenses, image sensor, and clarity were unmatched. Samsung pranced into the picture for awhile, with good physical looks, good snapshots, and a good screen to display them, but when we realized that they were trying to market it as an all-in-one PMP-camera, it immediately fell out of the league because we didn't wish to pay for something we weren't looking for, more so since we both already have dedicated PMPs.

In the end, Panasonic as an overall image capture brand triumphed in these two consumers' minds. The Mega OIS totally won us over. I had quite a tight budget of 250. While Jerrick had abit more liberty, he wasn't about to go crazy with the 7-800 dollar options anyway. So I took out a loan of a hundred from him and decided on the FX12 selling at $299, while he with a hundred more went for the FS3 at $399. I'll just gloss over the FS3 first.

The main attraction of this camera would be the Intelligent Auto system, known in short as iA. In a nutshell, iA assesses the photography conditions and assumes the appropriate mode, totally eliminating the need for the mode dial, as well as plenty of flustered users. Very good for 1) tech idiots, and 2) lazy geeks. For example if you wanted to snap a hi-res picture (8.1MP) of someone's festering pimple for further examination in the comfort of your room, and you brought the camera really close to the guy's face, iA kicks in and switches to Macro mode. Quite snappy, as far as my limited experience with it goes, but I dunno just how intelligent the program gets. Jerrick?

Read about the FS3 at its official product page.

Mah cam.

The FX12 keeps in line with earlier generations of Lumix cameras. The quintessential mode dial is there, as are the buttons and round-the-shutter zoom lever, but subtle improvements have been made to smoothen the user's experience. Modes on the dial have been shifted around in terms of usage, new modes have been added. A major add-on is the Intelligent ISO mode, which is supposed to assess the best ISO to suit the lighting conditions. Alot of scene settings have been added in as well, including a much-welcome aerial photo scene mode. More detailed specs:
  • 7.2 megapixels
  • 3x optical zoom + 4x digital zoom (total 12x)
  • f=5.8-17.4mm (35mm equivalent: 35-105mm) (whatever the frick that means)
  • Leica DC Vario-Elmarit Lens
  • ISO: Auto / 100 / 200 / 400 / 800 / 1250 (High Sensitivity Mode: 3200)
  • Scene modes:
    • Portrait, Soft Skin, Scenery, Sports, Night Portrait, Night Scenery, Self-Portrait, Food, Party, Candle Light, Fireworks, Starry Sky, Beach, Aerial Photo, Snow, High Sensitivity, Baby 1&2, Underwater, Sunset, Pet
  • Motion picture: up to 640x480 30fps / 848x480 30fps
Yummity! The camera is packaged with a wrist strap, a battery and its case, and a charger. AND, to top it off, they showered the following freebies on me:
  1. 4GB SDHC
  2. SD(HC)/MMC Card Reader
  3. Official Lumix Camera Leather Case
  4. Screen Protector
  5. Lens Cleaning Kit
  6. Mini-Tripod
  7. Mobile Phone Charger
  8. Extra battery with case!!!
Read more at the official product page.

For Jerrick's FS3, they gave memory cards instead of the extra battery, making me all the more happy with my purchase. 4 + 2 + 2GB... for what you tell me. -.-" The card reader's just another China-made one, complete with horrid English, but that's one product I don't need a brand for. The camera case is just sexeh, the usual magnetic snap-close leather case. The screen protector, I'm impressed with its transparency and applicability. You have to be very careful about it, but when you do it right, it glues on like a magnet, with no bubbles. Fantastic. That mobile phone charger is that thing where you slot an AA battery into an aluminium tube and plug it to something or the other and it can charge on the go... perfect for flat phones and devices. The ones old leering uncles try to sell you for anywhere between $16-$22.

I got it free. Bite that you mothercheaters.

Panasonic must have snatched alot of customers with that extra battery there, only thrown in as additional enticement on the third day. While we were off deliberating, we zipped past the Lumix booth again and Jerrick noted that the FX10, the 6MP brother of the FX12, had already been sold out. That one was running for either 249 or 259. Today, the last day, I brought my aunt's good friend in to get another FS3, and pink was already gone. By the time she filled the order form, black was only collectible two days later. Finding it a bother, she picked the silver and brought it home immediately. If I can remember correctly, the FX55 was also totally sold out as well.

Roaring business I tell you. Congratulations to you Panasonic. The result of good, revolutionary R&D.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Schoolhouse Rockz - Is Kids Central finally going somewhere?

So I recalled my friend verbally rolling her eyes at what seems to be Kids Central's weak attempt at a Singaporean High School Musical - Schoolhouse Rockz. Complete with the kawaiix/cool dudz zZz at the end to replace the now boring S.

As expected of Mediacorp, a search for "kids central" "schoolhouse rock" (yeah I searched without the Z at first) turned up fack all, and I had to go through Kids Central, where they prominently located a banner ad linked to a microsite.

I went to the toilet and came back to find, with mixed surprise, a video streaming on the site. And it turns out to be the music video to the theme song for SHR.

After awhile, my expression morphed into something you might see me make if I saw a rotting dead body chopped into parts with the skin stripped off.

But then I recognised everyone's favorite cute Campus Superstar Shawn Tok's face, and ever a sucker for cute things (in the kawaiix way not the kinda way), I let the video run to the end.

And it auto-looped right back to the beginning.

Well that did save me some clicking, but would the site's audience appreciate that? Most likely only the techier kids who'll leave the window open and let the song run all they while they complete their English Maths Science Chinese and Moral Education homework.

So having had enough of the cheesy lyrics (and coming from me who freaks out in joy every time I see quattro formaggi on the menu, that's something. Seriously.) I turned my attention to... well everything else. And actually, it doesn't look all that bad. Cute SFX (magical comet trails all), sharp video sequence editing, and very very well practiced slick moves. All that's left is the content, and I'm really interested to see the casts' skills and the script content (plz plz plz no more cheese plzkthx). This is a welcome change because from being a fatass giant glued to the sofa every Saturday morning cheering on Tweety Granny and Sylvester as they alternated between chasing each other and criminals around, to cringing everytime Dora the Explorer smiles and me and waits patiently for my answer. I serve in Children's Church and I absolutely refuse to believe that today's kids are so deprived of an intelligent education that they have to learn that yellow + cat = yellow cat before being able to appreciate the complex multiple plots of Teen Titans.

Watch the video by clicking on the link to the homepage at the top of the post. Lemme know what you think. This could be a positive sign that Kids Central, if not Mediacorp, is taking a step in the right direction.

About content though. Seriously, spend some money and get quality script writers. Foreign writers != loss of local flavor. Get a local storyboard supervisor la, aiyoh.

A few things


What the fuck! Seriously! I cannot believe I lost ALL my pictures from interesThink! Stupid computer... I must have tried to move the file from Desktop to My Pictures and the computer denied it. The next day I forgot that the computer denied the transfer and cleared the copy from my desktop.

Oh ok. I found it. Under my Happy Tree Friends folder. Accidentally shifted it in there.

What! If I hadn't blogged about it I wouldn't have thought about looking through the folders again.

Effies coverage coming up soon. I've been damn tired with the endless revisions and work. I probably say or think this every semester but I really just want to curl up in my bed, hugging my bolster, with my blanket over me, and let the sound of the pouring rain wash me to sleep.

I'll wake up, eat, do my Netichores while waiting for the food to digest, and get right back to the rain-wash-sleep gig.

Without getting fatter.

I wish.

Oh God, let me rest, please....................