mostly sweet, sometimes sour

Random Musings

Morning flights at the airport- everyone has a coffee

Catching the first flight out again for work. Zzz.

coffee at the airport


Just updated iOS5: iMessage vs Whatsapp

I just updated my iOS 5. I love the cloud, the wireless syncing, and the notification center. iMessage is also neat. But can it replace Whatsapp?

I tried it. The short answer is, no. With one major caveat.

But first, three reasons why it doesn’t replace Whatsapp for our mobile phones.

One, it doesn’t instantly know whether a recipient is a iPhone user, so you either wait while it checks, or you send and risk sending SMSes instead. (unlike Whatsapp).

Two, the default is to ‘send by SMS’ when iMessage doesn’t work. This means that sometimes when my connection falters, I end up sending a frivolous chat message by SMS, in chunks of many different messages, vs consolidating info into one paid SMS like I would normally do if I really were to send by SMS. Sucks. Happened twice to me already, in the space of five minutes. Not so bad in Singapore where SMSes are bundled, but in the US, where both incoming and outgoing SMSes are charged at like 20 cents a pop, that’s very dangerous.

Three, you can turn off ‘send by SMS’. But that also means you can no longer send SMSes to non-iMessage users. Also not a good option.

In the end, iMessage works not as a replacement for Whatsapp, but as a replacement for SMS. If you really want to SMS someone, fire up Messages and just send, knowing it will be a ‘bonus’ if you manage to send to someone via iMessage not SMS. This is really only useful for you to save money messaging who have iPhones but no Whatsapp, or for important messages that MUST go through NOW. (sometimes the Whatsapp server runs into problems) If they have Whatsapp and it’s not an important message, you’re better off using Whatsapp. Plus, Whatsapp is cross-platform. iMessage is not.

For phone messaging, iMessage really needed to exist as a separate app. Too bad they tried to integrate too much.

—-

PS, there IS one instance where iMessage is wonderful: chatting on the iPad. Now full conversations can be carried out on your big iPad screen. Whatsapp doesn’t exist on iPad. So you’ll suddenly be able to text and converse with others through your iPads (and theirs). I can see lots of use for this (especially in the corporate world) already…


The smallest part of the picture is sometimes the most tragic

I just saw these two pictures on life.com. There is a lot of ’empty space’ in the two pictures. Lots of stuff that are not key to the picture. The most important elements take up less than 5% of the whole picture. But that small, miniscule 5% is incredibly tragic.

This first picture caused the photographer to quit journalistic photography after taking it. Her sense of helplessness was too great.

plane attacks twin towers during 9/11

In this second one, the photographer rationalises what he took as a moment in the faller’s life- not a plummeting towards sure death. It may have helped him keep his sanity, but that’s certainly not a moment of life we see here.

man falls from building during 9/11

See the full slideshow on Life magazine here: http://www.life.com/gallery/63761/image/ugc1279821/they-were-there-911-photographers#index/0


Just one of those days

The perfect respite after a busy few weeks.

ice cold beer


Night at the Museum

On Saturday night I visited a few museums. August being National Day month and TT being just sworn in and all, I guess the nation is in a celebratory mood so everything was free. The museums were all within walking distance from one another, and featured special multi-media/ interactive art. Flash photography was allowed, the audience was mostly encouraged to interact with the art, and every other person I saw was carrying a big-black CaNikon camera + a big-ass tripod.

the singapore art museum is packed

Singapore Art Museum

So of course I got in on the act as well. I haven’t been to the local museums in years, so this was interesting. Truth be told, the quality of the art wasn’t that awesome. The main exhibit was a light show that had first been shown years ago and had finally made it onto our shores. The light was projected onto the facade of the building, and gave the building interesting shapes- at one point it was even a face. Keeping with the theme of the night, it was extremely interactive. The audience was encouraged to come out and sing/ talk into the mike, and supposedly the music and lights would change to suit their voices. This being Singapore, only kids volunteered. Too paiseh la.

the main exhibit: light and sound show at the singapore art museum

There were also other very accessible pieces of art being displayed that night (accessible = interactive and inspired by bold patterns), and we walked around a while soaking in the atmosphere. Good thing patterns always make for good photos.

patterns on the wall make good photos

portrait on a patterned background

As we wandered around the museum, we also found a single room that was very empty, but yet seemed like something should be happening there. Turns out a jazz recital was going to start in half an hour, and we ‘weren’t supposed’ to be in there. That meant that I was probably the only guy with a camera (out of like 3000) to get this picture of the empty set that night!

jazz-recital-to-be at the singapore art museum

National Museum of Singapore

After we were done with the Singapore Art Museum, we moved on to the National Museum of Singapore. It was just across the road, and we were going there to check out the other big exhibit of the night. It really wasn’t much- a row of similar but ordinary white cars with lights installed within them for another light show. They looked a bit like automated robots, actually. Another play on patterns and conformity, I guess- time-honoured themes of art. Unfortunately, because cars are expensive and light is not, the audience was kept away by fierce-looking security guards protecting their prized fenced-up exhibit. Too bad, really put a dampener on things.

There was even a line of people queuing up at a choice spot to take photos of the row of cars. I found that very boring, actually, so I took this ‘fake fisheye’ picture of a single car by extending the shutter speed and shaking the camera in a circular motion.

car exhibit

After that we went inside, where we saw an exhibit of what my GF called ‘sh*t holding balloons’. They really do look like sh*t, haha. Here’s my own patented interpretation of this exhibit: as with all art, the joke’s on us- we’re the little buggers who carry balloons to celebrate. When others look at us, we’re faceless, just like these little figurines.

sh*t holding balloons

the balloons

Apart from this exhibit in the hall (which also attracted hordes of photographers + tripods), we also saw the other exhibits there. There was a pretty cool one where they put up three projection screens and arranged for the scenes in a movie to be shown across the three screens depending on how the action moved- left, right, or centre. It was pretty interesting because in real life when something happens, we actually really do have to move our heads to follow the action. But when real life was replicated in the movie-experience, it was very jarring. We’re so used to watching everything on a single screen, that when we are forced to move our necks to follow the action, it felt fake! How ironic.

one movie, three screens

There was also a section on the history of photography. The area was furnished with tables and chairs where visitors could sit and flip books about photography. It was pretty cool looking at all the old cameras, and taking pictures of them with my modern one!

sittin' and browsin' the history of photography

We also spent a few minutes checking out the only ‘classical’ art on display that night: Chinese calligraphy and Chinese painting, albeit executed in a very modern style fairly recently. None of the classical Wang Xi Zhi stuff to be found here. This calligraphy had jagged, even triangular bits in each stroke, and the chinese painting looked more like modern watercolour than traditional ink painting.

vast gallery of modern chinese art

Before we left, we took a photo together in the ‘textiles’ room. Nice and bright colours!

portrait in a textile room

Surprise Dance-off at Parklane

On our way back, we happened to walk into Parklane and heard loud music coming from the second floor. Surprise, surprise, it was a dance-off! Super cool! Local b-boys and b-girls were facing off in a competition at the Danz People studio. Or maybe they were l-boys and l-girls (l for ‘lockers’). We stood there watching for like half an hour. It was awesome! Not quite step-up 3d, but well, this was in the flesh!

dancer does his thing, the opposing team points and poses

two dance crews face-off

All in all, it was a pretty cool night. Turns out Singapore can be pretty happening. Hope your Saturday night was exciting too!


Excursion into scenic.. Bishan??

My life has revolved around Bishan forever. I’ve lived here all my life, and spent many years going to school here too. But since I came back from the US last year, I haven’t really been able to explore the area. So last night Wendy and I went on a romantic stroll.

My favourite Bishan Park, that place where I spent hours walking, looking at the pond, and all, is now under construction, and it now serves as a glorified bicycle/ pedestrian path while it’s being upgraded. Ah well. Anyway, Wendy and I headed to the spanking new 24hr McDonalds, right next to the HUGE (but empty, since it hasn’t officially been completed yet) Clover by the Park condominium.

we set off on our adventure!

The area is actually remarkably serene and scenic, now that the condo is basically completed but the people haven’t moved in yet. The McDonald’s is quiet and has a nice ambience, and attracts quite a cool crowd looking for nice al-fresco dining/ drinks by the Park.

cool kids hang out here

Lastly of course I was pleasantly surprised by Clover by the Park. Very very nice. Would be a great place to live if it was closer to the MRT. But I guess then it wouldn’t be so serene. (although once the hundreds of households move in, this place is probably gonna be crazy anyway. But for now the atmosphere is awesome).

a lonely fire hydrant lives near the massive Clover by the Park


From Flea Market to Geylang – all in a day’s work

It was an eventful weekend. On Saturday, I took a trip to Orchard for a flea market, and then to Geylang for food. Here are the photos to prove it!

saw this yellow pick-up parked at a yellow hump as I headed out the door. I wonder if the owner realised he was being so poetic.

The Flea Market

My first stop was a flea market, “What the Flea”, happening at *scape. This place was crazy. There were at least 50 different stalls crammed into a dark and unventilated space under *scape. (Each of them paid $55, so that was something like $3,000 earnings for *scape, not including extra human traffic. Not bad.) It was quite an interesting event, with a flea market happening right next to a skateboard park and basketball park.

potential buyers pore over beautiful clothes galore at Sunflowers On Her Hair (my gf's stall- that's her on the left!)

skateboarders doing their thing at *scape, next to the flea market

a pair of heels sold by Sunflowers on Her Hair

Food in Geylang

After leaving the flea market I went to Geylang for dinner! I followed the recommendations from this link, but really only got to Kwong’s satay and the hokkien mee next to it. The satay was amazingly succulent and not dry, and the hokkien mee was literally dripping with wok hei charred flavour. Yummy.

heading to Geylang with my buddy Soon

arriving at the coffeeshop (at the intersection of Lorong 29 and Geylang Road) for Hokkien Mee and Satay that was to-die-for.

delicious satay at Kwong's- Pork, Chicken and Beef.

we took a walk after dinner, and were surprised to find beautiful colonial-style buildings in Geylang

As far as weekends go, this was pretty enjoyable. Got to see youngsters in Singapore ply their wares at a flea market, and enjoyed amazing food at cheap prices (without much queuing, too!) in Geylang. It got me all recharged for the week ahead!

PS, this weekend I also did a photoshoot with my sweet gf Wendy. You can check out the end results here at her blog. She missed out this beautiful picture though.

*cue music* pretty woman.. walking down the street


The American media ‘discovers’ the benefits of not overpaying

This is how strange the media industry is: trying to win a bid with the LOWEST possible price now counts as “news”. In most other industries, that’s exactly how all bids should be. In the media, however, prestige and ego matters a lot. Being able to ‘soundly beat’ the competition is seen as a source of pride, rather than an act of foolish over-paying.

Economics has finally caught up with them, however, and they’re now facing a proper negotiation. And it’s looking to be a classic.

The Issues

Time-zone issues: The Olympics occurs at non-prime time. NBC had great success with delayed telecasts in prime-time (see: 30 mil delayed-Olympics viewers vs 3 mil “Live”-World Cup viewers). However, sports purists have been upset, since they typically find out the results before seeing it live. ESPN and Fox are suggesting an alternative- “Live” for everything, but also a second delayed prime-time telecast for the top sports, like the Century Sprint.

The Low-Down: The Olympics Council and the networks are aligned on this. Both sides want the highest-possible number of viewers, to boost their profile. So this is unlikely to be a big deal.

Dollars and Cents: NBC lost heavily ($$) on its previous telecasts. This was the classic Winner’s Curse.

The Low-Down: This should factor heavily into the networks’ bids this time around. If it doesn’t, somebody’s not doing their job.

Game-Theory: What the other networks might do is a big issue. There are only a few basic competitors (Fox, ABC, NBC, TNT,  ESPN) bidding in what is basically a repeated game. This is not a one-off. There are major sporting events held every few years- Winter Olympics, Summer Olympics, World Cup, and so on. There are also rights to broadcast league games (NHL, NBA, NFL, Nascar, NCAA, etc). Anticipating and reacting to their rivals’ moves are huge. BTW, because of the winner’s curse, sometimes pushing the winner to bid too high might even be the best strategy.

The Low-Down: Especially in the era of declining media-economics, this is likely to be a bigger and bigger factor. Nobody wants to be caught bidding too high, as the value of the media market continues to fall. If the market picks up, they can easily just bid more the next time around- and ‘the next time around’ really isn’t that far away.

The IOC’s Leverage: According to the article, the IOC can simply refuse to award a bid and reorganise it. We saw this in Singapore, where FIFA almost refused to bring the World Cup here. But we are Singapore- aka, TINY. This is the USA. Can the IOC really afford to shut the USA out? No.

The Low-Down: This is basically irrelevant.

Prestige: Because the media industry is so strange and ego-driven, this still matters. A network benefits from prestige, and indications that it has gained some momentum in the fight over its other networks. But is this as big as before? I highly doubt it. The market for entertainment has greatly fragmented, with lots of online entertainment options (as well as video clips) diluting the influence of these big networks.

The Low-Down: Still a factor, but not as big.

How will it all turn out?

These media executives are probably great at negotiating. After all, in the sports media you negotiate all the time, for league rights, for Super Bowl Rights, for these Olympic rights, and so on. This time around, however, they’re faced with a more stark situation, because nobody wants to be the next ‘winning loser’. It’ll be interesting to see how it all pans out.


SG’s legal/ media system Pt 2: Guilty even after proven innocent

This is a follow-up to my previous post on how Singapore’s system penalises people after they’ve been charged, but before they’ve been proven guilty.

In that post I’d focused on the pre-decision implications of this system. But what happens after the court rules? The accused is either guilty or innocent. If he’s guilty, then I guess he wasn’t wrongfully penalised. What if he’s innocent? Should the media report this?

The Case for Yes

If an individual has been accused, then he or she needs to have the chance to clear his name. Printing a follow-up will not reach every single person who’d read the initial accusation, but it’s better than nothing.

The Case for No

These associations are negative ones, and the sooner the accused can put some distance behind them, the better. Besides, the media (in Singapore, at least) tends to try to print two sides of the story, so the story will come with testimony made by the other party, details of the accusation, and so on. Even if the reader knows now that the accused has been proven innocent of the crime, just being associated with such lurid testimony is enough to cause more negative perception and damage.

Is it even effective?

Let’s consider the most rosy scenario. Assume there are no new negative associations. Assume also that the follow-up reaches everyone who saw the initial report. Is the follow-up report effective in completely removing all negative stigma? According to psychological science, no. Prospect theory tells us that people lose more utility with a given loss, than they gain back when an equal but opposite gain occurs. In simple English: when I take a thousand dollars from you, you feel more hurt than you feel happy, when I give you a thousand dollars. People are risk-adverse.

So if I’ve incepted into your mind that an individual could be a criminal, people go into damage control mode (‘better stay away from him’). Even if I later tell you to completely ignore that statement because he is in fact innocent, you will still be risk adverse- (‘STILL…. better stay away from him lah’).

What this means- getting penalised even after being proven innocent

In addition, there’s one last part to this whole equation. Would the media even WANT to print news of the acquittal? Unfortunately, acquittals frequently count as ‘not news worthy’- meaning they’ll probably never even be reported on in the first place.

To sum up, you likely won’t get a chance to clear your name, and even when you get this chance, it is not wholly effective- not even in the best-case scenario.


Singapore’s legal/ media system- Guilty until proven innocent?

I’ve always thought that in Singapore, all are innocent until proven guilty. While this is certainly true from a legal standpoint, I’ve recently found that this is not completely true. At least, not from a media standpoint.

My curiosity was piqued when I saw that individuals who were being charged- and hadn’t yet been pronounced guilty- were being named in the press. The articles always took care to be legally accurate. That is, Mr XYZ was always ‘being charged’, not ‘is guilty’ of something.

Apparently the press is acting entirely within their legal limits by naming the accused. But in truth, the court of public opinion doesn’t always distinguish so objectively or accurately between the two. For instance, if someone is ‘being charged’ with rape, even if he’s found innocent later, the damage to his reputation has probably long been done.

In short, the media system was punishing someone before they were proven guilty. So why is this allowed?

1) According to my friends in the legal profession, this makes sense because a person will only be charged if there is sufficient evidence to suspect that he is guilty.

This is simply illogical. Suspicion is not proof. If it was, then there would be no need for anyone to be charged: we can just let the prosecutor decide. But our justice system does not work like this. We have chosen to separate the roles of police, lawyer and judge, and only when all three concur should the accused have been considered ‘proven guilty’. Until that happens, we should treat the accused like an innocent man- and innocent people don’t get named as potential criminals in the press. That might constitute defamation.

2) Maybe there is a public service part to it. ‘Since this guy is potentially extremely dangerous, let’s warn society about him in advance.’ This too makes no sense, however. If you want to do this, there is a more immediate and effective method of achieving this. Simply lock him up and don’t grant bail.

3) ‘Charging him and taking him into custody are surely also hits to his reputation. Don’t tell me we shouldn’t do those either?’ I’m not arguing that we shouldn’t do anything. After all, there obviously comes a time when you need to bring a suspect in for questioning; or even want to keep him under watch because the stakes are too high. Also, you have to charge someone for the legal system to run its course. I completely understand. But the difference in negative reputational punishment between charging someone/ taking him into custody on the one hand, VS being named in the media on the other hand, is vastly different. The former actions are likely known only to friends, colleagues, family and others who know you personally. The latter reaches millions of readers across Singapore.

Hope and Pray

Anyway, this seems like a system with absolutely zero benefits. You’re basically screwed if you ever get charged by the prosecutor (even if you win, the reputational damage has long been done). This scares me a lot. What if some random person popped up and claimed to have been the victim of a crime carried out by me, in one of those he-says-she-says cases? I might eventually be ‘proven’ innocent, but not before I’ve long been hung up to dry in the court of public opinion.

Yikes.