Tuesday, September 30, 2008

IZ Reloaded on Reuters: Singapore Grand Prix Reports


My 3 day report of the recently concluded Singapore F1 Grand Prix can also be read on Reuters: Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3. My original blog posts here, here and here.

Architectural Furniture: Furnitures for the space conscious

These Architectural Furnitures (video above) designed by Toshihiko Suzuki are so cutel! There's a Mobile Kitchen, a Foldaway Guest Room and a Foldaway Office. When they're not being used, you can fold them back into their original compact forms. I think they are great for homes that are tight on space.

Inside a North Korean arcade

It really sucks to be a gamer in North Korea. Those poor guys. Take a look at these sombre pics taken inside an arcade located in Pyongyang and you will definitely be more appreciative of your friendly neighbourhood arcade from now on.

New Obama and McCain comics

Presidential Material: Barack Obama and John McCain is a pair of graphic biographies featuring the two Presidential candidates of the Democratic and Republican parties in the US. Preview the comics here.

(Thanks Greg)

Transformers Mosaic

Transformers Mosaic is a collaboration of many talented artists and writers in the Transformers fandom. Each Mosaic is a one page webcomic set in the Transformers universe. I love the artwork in these comics!

The Observable Universe

How big is the universe really? For his latest xkcd webcomic, Randall attempts to answer that question by drawing the observable universe from top to bottom on a log scale.

(Thanks Andrew Long)

Policing Flickr

Here's an interesting inside look at how the folks at Flickr maintain "law and order" among its 30 million members. A must read for those of you who are interested in getting a job as a Community Manager at any internet company. From SF Gate:
The essence of Champ's job, she says, boils down to defending this imprecise but holy "spirit of Flickr." Indeed, imprecision is an art here. The list of community guidelines is an assortment of lawyer-vexing instructions like "Don't be creepy. You know the guy. Don't be that guy," and "Don't forget the children." If you've spent any time online, you instantly recognize these to be meaningful and clear edicts. Champ is only half joking when she says her is responsibility is to keep things from "encroaching on Flickr's serenity."

"The job always comes down to finding the fulcrum in the teeter-totter, the balance that benefits both the individual and the community," she explains.

Indeed, for all its color, the site is governed by gray. Take, for example, what I call the penis quandary, endemic to any operation like this: A photo of a penis will be flagged on Flickr as offensive and relegated to the site's version of an adults-only zone. But what about a photo of the word "penis"? What about a cloud that looks like a penis? What about a penis on a Greek statue?

Today's Singapore News

The following are stories that are making the headlines over at Topix Singapore News today, edited by yours truly.

-Rise in number of beggars: The number of beggars and vagrants rounded up by the authorities rose sharply in the first six months of this year, with many being foreigners.
-Singapore opposition head Jeyaretnam dies: Joshua B. Jeyaretnam, Singapore's best known and most dogged opposition leader who fought a lone battle against the powerful ruling establishment despite being driven to bankruptcy, died at a local hospital of heart failure.
-Bills to go up 21%: Electricity bills will go up about 21 per cent tomorrow, the highest one-time increase in about seven years, according to the Energy Market Authority (EMA).
-National Heritage Board to Spend $8 Million on Art Projects: The National Heritage Board of Singapore plans to spend $8 million (U.S. $5.6 million) over the next five years to help fund commercial cultural projects in the city-state.
-Singapore GP can be improved: After the dust settles and looking back at the first ever night race, could things have been better? Or should the organizers sit back and rest on their laurels?
-Most travellers not extending stay after F1: A dramatic Formula 1 night race yesterday capped Singapore's praiseworthy hosting of the Grand Prix. But the Republic doesn't seem quite as successful in getting visitors to extend their stay beyond the weekend.
-Singapore hopes F1 will rev up economy: The first ever F1 night race disrupted traffic and will cost taxpayers millions of dollars but Singapore hopes the F1 glitz will give businesses a much-needed boost and help the city state promote itself as more than a staid financial centre.
-Nightlife industry benefited most during F1 weekend: Nightspots in the city benefited the most from the F1 weekend, with customer numbers boosted by some 40,000 tourists in Singapore for the race.
-Gradual reopening of roads around F1 circuit: There were still reports of slight traffic jams around the Beach Road and Suntec City area during Monday morning's rush hour.
-Radical structural separation in Singapore: Singapore is proceeding with what some have called "the most radical structural separation of fixed telecoms in the world" after awarding its National Broadband Network passive network contract to the OpenNet consortium.
-Flats in great demand: The 50-storey Pinnacle@Duxton in Tanjong Pagar has attracted 1,467 applications for the 428 four- and five-roomers on offer - that is about 3.5 hopefuls for each unit.

Monday, September 29, 2008

2008 Singapore F1 Grand Prix: Day Three Report with Videos

It was a race full of drama for the first ever Singapore Grand Prix last night. Singapore's F1 night race was spectacular but it will not be remembered too fondly by the those in Team Ferrari for sure. They had a disaster of a night! Ferrari's Fernando Massa who took the pole position at the start of the race ended the race at 14th after a pit stop gaffe and to add insult to injury, his teammate Kimmi Raikkonen did not even complete the race!

It began so well for Ferrari. They had Massa leading the pack and everybody including me thought for certain he will dominate the race. But it all went bad when Nelson Piquet Jr crashed his Renault (video here) and the safety car had to come out. The race went into chaos. Williams's Nico Rosberg and BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica went into the pitstop when it was closed during the safety car period and had to serve stop-go penalties. Then when it's Massa's turn to pit, his pit crew could not pull the fuel hose out in time when Massa hit the pedal (video below).

The fuel hose snapped and Massa with the fuel hose still attached to his Ferrari, had to stop 100m ahead while his pitcrew still in shocked, then ran frantically towards his car to pull the hose out. Incredible scenes! The pitstop howler slowed down Massa considerably and in addition, he was also given a drive-through penalty.

With Massa seemingly out of the running, Ferrari had to depend on defending champion Raikkonen to finish the race and get some points for them but he stupidly crashed his car (video above) towards the later part of the race. He was driving in fifth position during the crash.

The race was then won amazingly by Fernando Alonso of Renault who started at 15th position! But the biggest of smiles were reserved for Lewis Hamilton who finished third. He and his McLaren team must be happy that both Massa and Raikkonen did not get any points in Singapore - justice done, perhaps - as they look to win both the Drivers' and Constructors' Championship this year.

You can read all the drivers' comments after the race here and the full results here.

2008 Singapore F1 Grand Prix: Day Two
2008 Singapore F1 Grand Prix: Day One Report with Videos

Samsung's Nabee connects cameras to PCs wirelessly but not to your father

I wonder just how well will Samsung's Nabee sell in Singapore since it does sound like Nabeh which is a rude word that is used by some Singaporeans. Nabeh, oops I mean Nabee, allows for a simple, high-speed wireless communication between a digital still camera and PC. Plug the miniature dongle into the camera USB connector, and its matching dongle into the PC and it connects just like a standard USB cable.

Intel's Core 2 Duo as explained by Sony's weird elves

Sony's Vaio Sytle website uses two odd looking elves to explain how the Intel Core 2 Duo chip in your Vaio notebook helps you multitask. It's in Japanese but you can get a hilarious English translation here.

Also read: Sony unveils new VAIO direction with 3 new notebook models

Wikipedia Comics

WikiWorld is a series of comic strips based on various articles found in Wikipedia. The comics summarise and highlight some of the fascinating but little-known articles in Wikipedia's vast archives and represent the artist's visual interpretations of them.

Solar Light Cap harnesses sunlight to light up the night

You don't need a torchlight when you are wearing the Solar Light Cap. It is a baseball style cap featuring an integrated solar panel that charges up when there's sunlight. And at night when you need some light, just a push a button on your cap and it will use the stored solar energy to power its two LED spotlights.

PETA wants Ben & Jerry's to use breast milk for its ice cream

I always thought those folks from PETA are mad. This time, they have gone even crazier by insisting that Ben & Jerry's, my favourite ice cream maker, replace cow's milk in its products with human breast milk! From PETA:
On behalf of PETA and our more than 2 million members and supporters, I'd like to bring your attention to an innovative new idea from Switzerland that would bring a unique twist to Ben and Jerry's. Storchen restaurant is set to unveil a menu that includes soups, stews, and sauces made with at least 75 percent breast milk procured from human donors who are paid in exchange for their milk. If Ben and Jerry's replaced the cow's milk in its ice cream with breast milk, your customers--and cows--would reap the benefits.

Using cow's milk for your ice cream is a hazard to your customer's health. Dairy products have been linked to juvenile diabetes, allergies, constipation, obesity, and prostate and ovarian cancer. The late Dr. Benjamin Spock, America's leading authority on child care, spoke out against feeding cow's milk to children, saying it may play a role in anemia, allergies, and juvenile diabetes and in the long term, will set kids up for obesity and heart disease--America's number one cause of death.

Chinese takes first steps in space

Zhai Zhigang became the first man from China to walk in space! He spent about 20 minutes outside his spacecraft as his fellow countrymen and the world watched him solidify China's status as a space power. You can watch Zhai as he climbs out of his spacecraft in this video (above, with English subs) which was broadcast live. He and his fellow taikonauts Liu Boming and Jing Haipeng returned to Earth safely yesterday. Let's see if the Chinese can take on the moon next.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

2008 Singapore F1 Grand Prix: Day Two

Felipe Massa drove a perfect race in his Ferrari last night on Day Two of the Singapore F1 Grand Prix. He had the fastest time during the qualifying session and will start the race tonight in pole position ahead of McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and fellow driver Kimi Raikkonen. From BBC:

With overtaking difficult on the Marina Bay street circuit, grid positions are likely to be crucial - and Massa was understandably delighted to have pipped Hamilton at the death.

"The car was so nice to drive and it is so great that I managed to do a perfect lap," said the 27-year-old after his lap of one minute, 44:519 seconds.

"It was a great achievement. I made the corners perfect, so it is fantastic and one of the most incredible feelings a driver can have."

Hamilton insisted he was happy with second after he almost missed out on the pole position shoot-out, sneaking through in 10th, but warned that overtaking in the race will be almost impossible.

You can read more reactions from the top three drivers given during the post qualifying press conference here. The race tonight will start from 7.30pm and it is live on Channel 5. Massa for the win! Go Ferrari!

Update: 2008 Singapore F1 Grand Prix: Day Three Report with Videos

2008 Singapore F1 Grand Prix: Day One Report with Videos
Inside the Williams F1 Simulator
Singapore Grand Prix Preview Video
1966 Singapore Grand Prix
2008 Singapore F1 Grand Prix Road Closure and Public Transportation Guide

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Bumblebee Birthday Cake

Sugar Lust made this Bumblebee birthday cake. Standing at 15" high and made of chocolate, it really looks like the Autobot Bumblebee from the Transformers movie. I so want this for my birthday! And I'm not sharing.

(Thanks mac96)

Japanese Steampunk Watchmaker

PingMag interviews Haruo Suekichi, Tokyo’s very own Steampunk poster boy about his incredible steampunk watches. Haruo is an expert in steampunk watch making with more than 13 years of experience. He has made 6,000 to 7,000 watches in his career!

Best Science Images of 2008 Announced

National Geographic has a gallery of the best science images of 2008. The awards are announced annually by the National Science Foundation and the journal Science for images that employ modern technology to visualize complex scientific topics. More on the 2008 International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge here.

(Thanks Marilyn)

2008 Singapore F1 Grand Prix: Day One Report with Videos

The first ever Formula One night race kicked off in spectacular fashion in Singapore yesterday evening as the teams tested the Singapore street circuit for the first time during their practice sessions. "Atmospherically probably the best pictures ever seen in F1. The scenery - it's unreal, it's like in a movie. It's a big, big step forward for Formula One," says Mercedes motorsport vice-president Norbert Haug. He wasn't the only one who gave the Singapore F1 Grand Prix a glowing review. Teams and drivers were also full of praise for the Singapore night street circuit.

None of the drivers reported any visibility problems at all under the bright lights that lit up the circuit but some said that coping with the numerous bumps on the circuit was the most serious challenge for them. A team-by-team look at the early progress here.

Lewis Hamilton from McLaren-Mercedes should be pretty pleased with his performance last night as he topped the time during the first practice session. The two Ferraris came in second (Felipe Massa) and third (Kimi Raikkonen) respectively. For the second practice session, Lewis Hamilton looked set to set the fastest time again but he was pipped by Renault's Fernando Alonso. Massa came in at third. Full results here.

A report of the historic first day of the Singapore Grand Prix will not be complete without videos of the F1 cars in action so here are some clips from YouTube for those of you who were not there yesterday.

Watch the F1 cars in action here (video above), here, here, here and here.

It will get more serious tonight with the qualifying sessions set to start at 10pm.

2008 Singapore F1 Grand Prix: Day Three Report with Videos
2008 Singapore F1 Grand Prix: Day Two

Inside the Williams F1 Simulator
Singapore Grand Prix Preview Video
1966 Singapore Grand Prix
2008 Singapore F1 Grand Prix Road Closure and Public Transportation Guide

Friday, September 26, 2008

Inside the Williams F1 Simulator

AT&T Williams has released a video of Nico Rosberg driving on the F1 track in Singapore using the team’s highly guarded state-of-the-art simulator. Keep a close look at Nico's right hand on the steering wheel as he shifts his gears up. The Singapore Grand Prix begins tonight with the first practice sessions. Tomorrow is the qualifying session while the actual night race is on Sunday.
Singapore Grand Prix Preview Video
1966 Singapore Grand Prix
2008 Singapore F1 Grand Prix Road Closure and Public Transportation Guide

My Little Stormtrooper Pony

This has got to be one of the cutest things I've seen this week - a Stormtrooper Pony! It is the brilliant work of Mari Kasurinen who also makes other My Little Pony variations such as My Little Pony Superman, My Little Pony Predator and more.

(Thanks Suzy)

How to defend yourself against men: A Japanese Manual for Girls

Pictures of what looks like a Japanese manual written for women to help them defend themselves against men. Love the headbutt to the chest and the knee kick to the groin! Ouch!! That sure hurts.

(Thanks Rickie)

BigDog is the most advanced quadruped robot on Earth

It runs at 4 mph, climbs slopes up to 35 degrees, walks across rubble, carries a 340 lb load and looks like a mean dog. Introducing the BigDog, a quadruped robot developed by Boston Dynamics and funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA). Watch the video of it in action. I'm impressed but I think they need to do something about the noise. Don't want your enemies to hear that you have a robotic dog walking your way aye.

Also read:
Videos of military bots in action at the Singapore Tech X Challenge
Singapore's Military Robot Contest

Which is the best Asian film ever?

CNN's The Screening Room is asking its audience to help pick the best Asian film ever. They have come up with a provisional list which not surprisingly has fueled debate among fans of Asian film. From Screening Room:
'Infernal Affairs' ('Mou gaan dou') Hong Kong/China
(Andrew Lau Wai-Keung, Alan Mak Siu-Fai, 2002)
Hong Kong cop thriller following the parallel lives of an undercover officer who infiltrates a Triad gang and policeman who secretly reports to a ruthless gang boss. "Infernal Affairs" breaks the mould of much of contemporary Hong Kong cinema by steering clear of over-the-top-action in favor of a slow-burning build up of psychological tension. Engrossing.

'Mandala' South Korea
(Kwon-Taek Im, 1981)
In the film that is considered to be his breakthrough as a cinematic artist, Im follows the lives and interactions of two Buddhist monks in Korea, and takes a contemplative look at the nature of individualism, religious belief and enlightenment.

'To Live' ('Huozhe') China
(Zhang Yimou, 1994)
Much lauded but banned in Mainland China because of its satirical portrayal of the Communist government, this epic, sumptuous film traces the personal fortunes of Fugui and Jiazhen as they fall from wealthy landownership to peasantry over 30 turbulent years.

A Car's Life: First ever YouTube Game

Indian mobile entertainment company Hexolabs has found a clever way to use YouTube's Video Annotations as part of the gameplay for its YouTube interactive game called A Car's Life. Click on the Annotations (the click button) that appears in the video to move to the next stage. Don't let the car crash! From Hexolabs:
Our research shows the branding videos with interactive story telling features retains user's interest for a longer duration. The interactive features in the videos gives immersive branding value. We are currently engaged in a research on this new advertising media which levarages youtube as a gaming medium. Advertising through this medium guarantees more relevant brand experiences for the consumers.

China's Massive Earthquake: A Commemorative Exhibition

China's New Graphic Magazine organised a commemorative exhibition featuring the works of more than 200 artists, designers, film makers and musicians from across the world to to raise funds for the victims of the Sichuan earthquake.

(via Walter Vasconcelos)

T-Mobile G1 Press Conference

Watch the T-Mobile G1 press conference held in New York earlier this week. The T-Mobile G1 is the new mobile phone launched by T-Mobile together with Google and HTC. It is the first mobile phone to be powered by Google's Android. It looks great but I don't think it's going to be an iPhone killer.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Miniature War Scenes

I'm totally blown away by these pictures of war scenes recreated using models and figurines. Even the water, clouds and smoke look so real.

(via Neatorama)

Embroidered text messages

Ginger made 20 embroideries of love text messages that she received on her mobile phone from 02/06 to 04/07. What a neat idea!

(via Make)

Motorola ROKR E6 transforms into a robot

A Taiwanese modder has successfully reconstructed his Motorola ROKR E6 mobile phone so that it can transform into a robot like one of those Transformers. I'm not sure how real this is but if he really did it, then I would want him to transform my LG Secret too.

Music from the Soviet era

Dude has assembled a collection of songs from the old Soviet era. Check out his top 20, including my personal favourite, The Saint War, a song first appeared when Hitler attacked USSR in 1941. You can also download the MP3s. From SovMusic:
The music submitted on this site - is an evident sample of a totally new culture, which completely differs from all that, with what Hollywood and MTV supply us so much. This culture, being free from the cult of money , platitude, violence and sex, was urged to not indulge low bents of a human soul but to help the person to become culturally enriched and to grow above himself.

Cheerful and optimistically by its nature, the Soviet music was spreading a cult of friendship, collectivism, mutual assistance and respect to the working people. Not all songs appeared to be praiseworthy; also some unsuccessful things came alone. But nevertheless it is possible to tell with confidence, that the purposes, which were set upon the Soviet culture, namely spiritual education of the new, Soviet person, were achieved in much ways.

Sony's 24.6-megapixel DSLR for megapixel hungry shooters

Alpha 900_low res1 - Share on Ovi
Sony's latest high-performance digital SLR, the α900 will be available in Singapore from end October 2008. Equipped with a 24.6-megapixel 35mm full-frame size CMOS sensor Exmor, the α900 is the world’s highest resolution full-frame DSLR.

Other notable features of the α900 include the SteadyShot INSIDE and the new dual BIONZ image processing engines.

SteadyShot INSIDE is a body-integrated anti-shake system which will allow photographers to capture sharp images with shutter speeds up to 2.5 to 4 stops slower than would otherwise be possible despite the larger and heavier sensor.

The BIONZ image processing engines enable the α900 to deliver the fastest image processing possible as both processing engines work in parallel to process the high amount of image data delivered from the 24.6-megapixel sensor.

The α900 also sports a full-size optical viewfinder, a dual-cross 9-point AF Sensor System and Intelligent Preview function, which allows users to capture a shot into the internal camera memory, and simulate the effect of various camera settings on it, such as exposure, white balance and D-Range Optimizer.

Also read: Sony unveils new VAIO direction with 3 new notebook models

Today's Singapore News

The following are stories that are making the headlines over at Topix Singapore News today, edited by yours truly.

-Good business and bad business for shops during F1 season: Unlike other less lucky tenants in the Marina/Suntec area, retailers and food and beverage outlets at the underground CityLink mall have been savouring a boom in customers.
-Singapore escort girls cash in on Grand Prix traffic: Big spenders in Singapore for the city state's first ever Formula One Grand Prix this weekend have boosted business for high-end social escort agencies by a fifth.
-Only 3 of 11 trackside hotels booked fully: Just days before the Formula One race kicks off, a majority of the 11 trackside hotels are still not fully booked.
-F1 tickets sold online buck high price trend: People fishing for a quick buck are trying to sell their F1 tickets on popular auction websites such as Ebay just days before the race is flagged off this Sunday.
-Singapore firms get lucrative contracts for F1: At least 12 companies - including many small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) - have snagged lucrative contracts to help race organisers make this weekend's mega-event a success.
-Singapore says WSJ waging campaign against judges: Singapore's attorney general accused the Wall Street Journal of waging a campaign to tarnish the country's judiciary, but said he is not pushing for the harshest sentence in contempt proceedings against the newspaper.
-Tiger offers 50,000 free seats: Tiger Airways announced that it has received the all-clear to operate five daily flights between KL and Singapore. To celebrate, it is offering 50,000 free seats.
-Queues formed outside BEA: Queues have formed outside the Bank of East Asia building at Market Street. Some 80 to 100 people concerned about their deposits have made their way to the bank.
-Case and NTUC Income not anti-competitive: A regulatory agency has thrown out complaints by a private school group that the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) and NTUC Income were being anti-competitive.
-5 more China-made products found tainted with melamine: Five more China-made food products sold in Singapore have been detected to contain the industrial chemical melamine.
-Parents and students pay respect to Confucius: Thousands of students and parents flocked to temples yesterday to pay their respects to the Chinese thinker-philosopher Confucius, ahead of his birthday on Friday.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Singapore girls show off their bums (and more) for contest

Check out the Singapore contestants in this year's Show Me Your Sloggi contest. Here are the top bums that have been voted by online users. The winner has already been chosen to represent Singapore in the Show Me Your Sloggi Worldwide contest. She will vie for the title of the World's Best Bum. You can watch videos of the Singapore finalists and their bums in action here, here, here and here. Enjoy!

Smart alarm clock for mobile phones

HappyWakeUp ArousalClock is a smart alarm clock for your mobile phone. The alarm time is set normally with the mobile phone. You put your phone beneath the pillow or the bed linen or near you while you sleep. It then actively monitors your sleep using the microphone of the mobile phone by listening to your movements in bed. It then looks for the appropriate almost-awake moments. During the last 20 minutes before the ultimate alarm time, the analysis is activated to give a soft alarm signal, if there are movements indicating that the you are awake or "almost awake". If you are sleeping calmly, no alarm signal is given before the ultimate alarm time.

Metal for Monsters

To raise money for Unicef, Blend Creations has collaborated with various artists to create a special line of limited-edition stainless steel pendants featuring illustrations of cute monsters and creepy creatures.

(via Drawn)

Pinhole Skull Camera

This has to be the strangest (and creepiest) looking pinhole camera ever! The Third Eye Camera is made from aluminium, titanium, brass, silver, gem stones and a 150 year old skull of a 13 year old girl. Light and time enters at the third eye, exposing the film in the middle of the skull. Here's another one made of a blessed Tibetan skull!

(via Nerdcore)

Today's Singapore News

The following are stories that are making the headlines over at Topix Singapore News today, edited by yours truly.

-Singapore still least corrupt in Asia: Just like last year, Singapore has been ranked the fourth least corrupt country in a global corruption survey.
-Carpark abusers deny genuine park visitors of parking lots: Car owners are exploiting the free parking services at public parks by leaving their weekend cars at the parks over the course of the day.
-Editor 'defamed' Singapore leader: Singapore's High Court has ruled that the Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER) magazine defamed Singapore's leaders.
-Security tight at Singapore's F1 Race: Almost 1,000 armed and unarmed security guards will patrol the Singapore Grand Prix circuit this week and the message is, leave bags at home.
-Budget hotel occupancy during F1 week disappointing: Budget hotels aren't doing any better than their high end counterparts when it comes to occupancy rates for the F1 weekend.
-Road closures due to F1 lead to traffic jams in some areas: The first day of F1-related road closures in the Marina Bay area has turned into a traffic nightmare for some, with road users stuck in traffic jams for up to an hour during the morning rush hour.
-Ensuring the safety of F1 racers: Close to 400 medical professionals and volunteers will be on standby to respond to any emergencies that may happen during the F1 night race in Singapore.
-Singapore unlikely to meet tourism target: Singapore - due to host tens of thousands of foreign visitors for its first Formula One Grand Prix this weekend - said Tuesday it is unlikely to meet its annual target for tourist arrivals.
-AVA allays melamine concerns: Singaporeans who may have eaten three tainted Chinese dairy products recently yanked from stores have little risk of falling ill.
-Singapore GIC earns 4.5pct real return: The Government of Singapore Investment Corp (GIC), one of the world's biggest sovereign funds, said it achieved a real return of 4.5 percent over 20 years to March but saw a tougher environment ahead.

Eric visits North Korea

French photographer Eric Lafforgue visited North Korea in April 2008. He stayed there for two weeks. Accompanied by two North Korean guides, he travelled around the country, taking beautiful photos of the people and places there. These are his photos.

(Thanks Sir Thomas)

Mini Guitar MP3 Player

In a world dominated by iPods, it's nice to know that there are still companies out there making interesting portable media players such as this 1GB Mini Guitar MP3 Player. It looks like an electric guitar - complete with strings and volume knobs - and also comes with its own speaker styled like a little Amp!

Sculpted Beastlies

Leslie Levings makes cute miniature sculptures of beasts using polymer clay. Check out her Sculpted Beastlies Flickr photoset. She also does a live broadcast of her beastlie making over at Ustream on Mondays.

(via Mefi)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

It's confirmed! Asian bloggers love advertising.


According to Day 1 of the State of the Blogosphere 2008 report, which will be released in five consecutive daily segments by Technorati, 60% of Asian blogs carry advertisements and these blogs have a median annual revenue of US$120. Asian bloggers are twice as likely to sell advertising through online ad network such as Adverlets and are three times as likely to have paid postings on their blog. Interesting.

Videos of military bots in action at the Singapore Tech X Challenge

Results of the Tech X Challenge organised by Singapore's Defense Science & Technology Agency (DSTA) are out. Surprise, surprise! No winner was announced so everyone shares a bit of the prize money. Looks like navigating around obstacles, climbing stairs, finding a lift and pushing a button are just too difficult for the robots. I guess we have to wait a little longer for Singapore to have its own Terminator to join our NS boys in battle. Videos of some of the bots in action and a report of the Tech X Challenge here.

Previously: Singapore's Military Robot Contest

Today's Singapore News

The following are stories that are making the headlines over at Topix Singapore News today, edited by yours truly.

-Shoppers switch to non-China milk: Shoppers are already switching to milk products from Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and Japan, said a spokesman for Giant hypermarket.
-Milk scandal sparks confidence loss but effects temporary: China's tainted milk scandal has sparked further confidence losses in products made in the country. But businesses 938 LIVE spoke with feel it's temporary and given the products involved, isn't likely to affect sales too much.
-Major supermarkets recall over 15 brands of China-made food products: Over 15 brands of China-made products have been taken off the shelves, amid growing consumer concern in Singapore over the tainted milk scandal.
-Big brands ride on S'pore GP: The world's attention will be centred on the inaugural SingTel Singapore Grand Prix (SGP) this weekend, and many companies have jumped on the Formula One bandwagon for more eyeballs and branding mileage.
-Singapore GP book flying off shelves: Barely nine days after its launch, the first run of some 5,000 copies of "The Singapore Grand Prix: 50 Years in the Making" is almost sold out.
-Smooth traffic on KPE: Singapore's newest expressway handled morning peak-hour traffic for the first time yesterday, carrying about 5,100 cars from the north-east to the city.
-Smooth parking at Holland Village: The next time you drive into Holland Village, you will be greeted by marshals who will direct you to the nearest parking lot.
-5,000 policyholders terminated AIA contracts: Just under 5,000 policyholders have terminated their insurance contracts with the American International Assurance (AIA) so far, a small percentage of the over two million policies that AIA has in force in Singapore.
-Singapore Exchange tightens rules on short-selling: Singapore Exchange said late on Monday that it would tighten rules to discourage "naked" short-selling as part of a global move to stem the selling of shares by speculators who do not own the securities.
-Singapore wage growth to halve if recession hits-union: Wage growth in Singapore will probably halve to 2-2.5 percent in 2009 from around 4-5 percent this year if the country slides into a recession.
-Singapore's economic growth slows to below 4%: The Singapore government on Monday said that the country's full-year economic growth may dip below its earlier forecast of between 4 and 5 per cent

Star Wars Rebel Attack in Lego

Tim Goddard has outdone himself this time with this incredible Lego re-creation of a Rebel attack on an Imperial base and mining installation. About a year in the making, his Lego installation is 75 by 125cm and is built in 1:200 scale.

Previously: Tim's Lego Star Wars Imperial Base

Takaratomy Air Guitar

I have to get myself one of these Air Guitars by Takaratomy. They have a Pro Electric version and an Acoustic one. Each Air Guitar consists of the upper neck of a guitar with infrared ray strings that make the sound as your fingers hit the fretboard. The controller has seven buttons on the front to press to hold down chords and also buttons on the side to identify the chords as major, minor, augmented or diminished. Video of the Air Guitar in action here and a demo here.

Cleaning Instructions for the Boyfriend

Chimes made this quick little guide for her boyfriend so that he can learn how to clean his dirty kitchen and toilet. She writes: "He needs to learn so he can help out next time we move in together. I'm not going to clean our place forever. Also, I'm super picky about how stuff is cleaned, so I figured he should get trained at some point."

Monday, September 22, 2008

Singapore's Military Robot Contest

Popular Mechanics gets a sneak peak at the robot showdown contest organised by Singapore's Defence Science & Technology Agency (DSTA). From Popular Mechanics:
The six teams participating on Sunday are sponsored mainly by Singapore universities, and half of them plan to compete with off-the-shelf robots developed by iRobot. Evolution's Uni-Seeker is based on ATRV Junior, a small robot designed in the early 1990s for research purposes. Ge's X-1 team, which consists of students and staff from the National University of Singapore and the Institute for Infocomm Research, and FANTASTICFOUR, another team from NTU, will both enter modified versions of PackBot, which has been successfully deployed in places like Afghanistan, where it clears caves, searches bunkers and crosses minefields. SP Freiburg, a joint effort by Singapore Polytechnic and the University of Freiburg in Germany, uses a modified German-built teleMAX robot, which is normally a remote-controlled machine that disables explosives. But Toh's AZROBOWAR team built its bot from scratch. The team is not affiliated with a university and is composed of friends who worked on the project in their spare time. TP Robotics, from Temasek Polytechnic, also built its robot from the ground up.

Although not a guarantee, it's a distinct possibility that one of the teams will be able to emerge from Sunday's contest with a lucrative government contract. "We've already identified certain technologies we want to explore with some of the teams," says DSTA spokeswoman Isabelle Lee.

GoateeSaver: Real men wear goatees

I think I'll look silly with the GoateeSaver but real men who wear goatees swear by it. Really! GoateeSaver revolutionizes the way you shave and trim your goatee. The top, middle, and bottom of the GoateeSaver can be adjusted to the shape that makes a perfect goatee for you. Bite its mouthpiece and then safely shave away with your razor.

I Love You Mouse

This could easily be one of those unnecessary gadgets that come out of Japan but then I realised that the USB I Love You Mouse - which cries out the words "I Love You" whenever you click it - may be the perfect companion for those of you who are longing for some cyber love in the middle of the night while surfing through all those online dating sites.

Giant Subbuteo Inflatable Football Pitch

The Subbuteo Giant Inflatable Football Pitch is a cross between Subbuteo and five-a-side football. It looks fun but I don't think you would want to carry it around. It definitely weighs quite a bit especially with the massive electric blower that is needed to inflate the pitch.

Singapore Grand Prix Preview Video

With the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix just four days away, Mark Webber of Red Bull Racing takes us on a computerized practice session (video above) around the street circuit of the first ever night race in Formula 1 history. Awesome video and great commentary by Webber! You can also watch it on the Red Bull Racing website here.

(via Autoblog)

1966 Singapore Grand Prix
2008 Singapore F1 Grand Prix Road Closure and Public Transportation Guide

Today's Singapore News

The following are stories that are making the headlines over at Topix Singapore News today, edited by yours truly.

-High-rise littering on the rise: The National Environment Agency (NEA) saw a 12 percent increase in the number of complaints on high-rise littering from January to June this year as compared to the same time period last year.
-Singapore's financial institutions stable: Singapore's financial institutions are well capitalised and regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), says Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.
-3,821 jaywalkers caught: In the first half of the year, 3,821 people were caught jaywalking, up from 2,070 in the same period last year.
-For Indian students, Singapore is much more than a second home: It is the cost factor that first attracted them to Singapore for education, with the fee structure about one-third of that in the US or UK. But for Indian students, enrolled in educational institutes here, this cosmopolitan city state has become more than a second home.
-Drawn to the bright lights of Singapore: Talented academics from the US cite Asia's growing influence, coupled with the possibility of conducting highly innovative research and other factors make Singapore a compelling destination.
-New way of teaching math comes from Singapore: Chase Nielsen goes to school at St. Andrew's Academy in Mahtomedi and he said, "I'm doing pretty good with the Singapore math. It's kind of new, but I'm doing pretty well."
-Neighbourhood schools doing well: Schools that have done well in the new MOE Achievement Tables include neighbourhood ones like Yishun Town Secondary, Kranji Secondary and Hai Sing Catholic School.
-Singapore Biennale volunteers get trained: There are over 400 volunteers participating in this year’s Biennale, with nearly a hundred of them lending their time as tour guides.
-F1 volunteer race officials go through paces before race: Exactly a week before the world's first Formula 1 night race kicks off in Singapore, almost 1,000 volunteer race officials went through some of their final paces on Sunday.
-Tainted milk items in S'pore: White Rabbit Creamy Candy, a milk-based treat popular with children and adults here, has been found to be contaminated with melamine.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Star Wars R2-D2 Backpack

The R2-D2 Backpack just oozes cuteness! Similar to the Yoda Plush Backpack which I blogged some 2 years ago, the R2-D2 Backpack is big enough for you to put all your books and other stuff. Just carry it on your back and you'll have the trusted R2-D2 droid close to you at all times.

Previously: Yoda Plush Backpack

USB Rechargable Batteries

Usbcell looks like your average battery but the way you recharge it makes it revolutionary. Simply plug it into any USB port to recharge! There's no need to carry chargers, cables, adaptors or travel plugs ever again. Yay!

Xylish Wacky Boxer Briefs

To promote its popular Xylish chewing gum in Japan, Meiji is giving away specially designed wild and wacky boxer briefs to 10,000 lucky Japanese who buy the gum. Check out the commercials here.

(Thanks Rakuboy)

Star Wars condoms not for the Jedi in you

I know some of you Star Wars geeks may be excited to see this pack of Star Condoms - yup, it's a rip-off of Star Wars alright - but it's wise not to trust condoms with such bad English like: "A long time ago, in a galaxy for, for away". I'm sure even the great Yoda will not approve this.

Dating Escort Girls

Dude dates several escort gals/hookers but not for sex, instead he takes them out for golf, bowling and ice cream. How sweet! From New Times:
The first place I turned, naturally, was to the back pages of this very publication. I started dialing numbers from ads with photos of women who, for whatever reason at the time, I felt might be more likely to indulge their intellectual inquisitiveness — or at least humor me. I called girls with ads that said: "New to town! Show me around!" "Because I'm worth it!" "Just broke up with my boyfriend!"

I got turned down. Cold. Every time. "Hi. I'm a reporter working on a story about dating local escorts. There wouldn't be anything sexual, just a game or two of miniature golf. And I'll pay for this date, of course, but I really don't have any money to give you for — hello? Hello?"

After two days of ego-smashing rejections from prostitutes up and down the tricounty area, I decided to ditch the idea of enticing hookers to date me for free. My new pitch: "I've got $100, and I want to play miniature golf with an escort."

Also read:
Singapore Escort Ads on Yellow Pages
Invisible Trade II: Secret lives and sexual intrigue in Singapore
A Gallery of Phone Sex Operators
The day I joined a website looking for no strings sex

What happens when we die?

Time interviews Dr. Sam Parnia, one of the world's leading experts on the scientific study of death about his Near Death Experience project. From Time:
What sort of methods will this project use to try and verify people's claims of "near-death" experience?

When your heart stops beating, there is no blood getting to your brain. And so what happens is that within about ten seconds, brain activity ceases —as you would imagine. Yet paradoxically, ten or 20 percent of people who are then brought back to life from that period, which may be a few minutes or over an hour, will report having consciousness. So the key thing here is, are these real, or is it some sort of illusion? So the only way to tell is to have pictures only visible from the ceiling and nowhere else, because they claim they can see everything from the ceiling. So if we then get a series of 200 or 300 people who all were clinically dead, and yet they're able to come back and tell us what we were doing and were able see those pictures, that confirms consciousness really was continuing even though the brain wasn't functioning.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Wolverine vs Zombies comic

Jeffrey Brown writes and illustrates a non-commissioned, 20-page story called Wolverine: Dying Time. In the comic, Wolverine from The X-Men has to face a group of zombies. An interview with Jeffrey can be read here.

Wargaming with Plastic Army Men

Combat Storm is a strategic a table-top war game where players use green and tan plastic army men as their game pieces and a large playing area, such as a large table or living room floor as their battlefield! Players deploy their squads of soldiers and vehicles into battle to fight against one another. Dice are used to calculate outcomes and tape measures/rulers are used to measure distances. I've played with plastic toy soldiers when I was a kid so this looks really fun but it's a pity that you need to buy their rulebook in order to play this game with your plastic soldiers.

My Sketchbook

Singapore illustrator Rakugaki has been drawing cartoons regularly on his blog My Sketchbook for the past 2 years. His cartoon sketches are based on daily local news and politics. He has a lot of good stuff there. Do check him out aye.

Chinese Kampongs in Singapore

Lam Chun See writes about the difference between the Malay and Chinese kampongs that used to exist in Singapore. From Good Morning Yesterday:
There were also a number of things in a Chinese kampong that you would not find in a Malay kampong. These were usually related to the difference in religious faiths; Malays being mostly Muslims. For example, in a Chinese kampong like Lorong Kinchir which I grew up in, pigs roaming freely was a common sight. Another thing which was mandatory in a Chinese kampong was the Tua Pek Kong temple and wayang stage. Depending on the size of the kampong, the size of these two features also tended to be different. During the Lunar 7th Month, opera shows would be performed. Another thing we had was the Chinese Medicine Shop. Practically all Chinese kampongs had one of these. Today, they are still a common sight in our HDB heartlands.
(via Oceanskies 79)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Robots expressing themselves

Yesterday, I blogged about Nexi, the cute Mobile, Dextrous, Social robot by MIT Media Lab. You can watch Nexi and other social robots talk and mimic human emotions in realistic ways in this 3 minute video taken at the recent conference in LA called the Special Interest Group in Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques.

(Thanks Marilyn)

Microsoft's weird press kit for Internet Explorer 8 Beta

Microsoft sends out this Emergency Accident Kit containing a pair of scissors, several dressings, bandages, tapes, etc to members of the media in the U.S. to promote its Internet Explorer 8 beta 2 browser.

(Thanks NYker61)

Backflow the mobile game

I've just played Backflow, a fun mobile game developed by the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab. The game is a finalist at the Independent Games Festival Mobile 2008 for Innovation in Mobile Game Design category and the IGF Mobile Best Game. In the game, you take control of the waste disposal infrastructure for a city. You have to make sure each type of waste goes to the right place. Try it on your PC for free. The actual mobile game for certain Nokia and Sony Ericsson handsets is available for download at US$2.99.

1000km across the roof of the world to Everest on a Unicycle

Dude is going to ride his unicycle 1000km across the Roof of the World, from Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal to raise money to help improve the educational facilities and amenities in a remote village in the Himalayas. All the best to him!

Malaysia has the world's worst taxis

Next time before any of you decide to complain about taxi drivers in Singapore, please spare a thought for our Malaysian friends. The Expat magazine surveyed some 200 foreigners from 30 countries and finds that the country with the worst taxis is none other than Malaysia. From AFP:
Abdul Razak, operations manager for Dubai-based Citicab which launched here (Malaysia) in January, said that even in poorer nations such as Thailand and Indonesia, taxis are smarter and the drivers far more courteous.

"I would say it is the worst in this region, undoubtedly. I have travelled to all countries in this region and our company operates taxis in many parts of the world. The situation here is the worst I have seen," he told AFP.

"The vehicles are in shabby condition, the driver will take you if he likes your face -- that is, if he agrees with where you want to go for the price he insists on."

The Malaysian Bigfoot Enigma

In 2006, a team from Asia Paranormal Investigators (API), a paranormal research group based in Singapore, travelled up to Malaysia to investigate several sightings of the Malaysian Bigfoot. They then published an online research article titled "The Malaysian Bigfoot Enigma". It's an interesting read. From API:
From Event 10 of Section 7 , we learnt from Alan (Kampung Punjut Shaman) that there was one encounter with a Bigfoot creature some 30km from his village at Batu 25, which involved allegedly three individuals (we realized later that the 'three' referred to by Alan actually meant a group, not necessary three.), who went there together. Among them was an Orang Asli named Herman Deraman, whom Alan and the press article called Along. The article by Bernama News cited Alan's account of his brother-in-law's (Along) encounter with a Bigfoot while driving along a logging track in Lenggor Forest. In an article by The Star, Amir Md Ali was reported to have met his Bigfoot while on his way to the Gunung Panti jungles. The same report also recounted Along's encounter with the Bigfoot at the usual place where he collected bamboo. In a Reuters' article, Hashim Yusoff, the Director of Johor National Parks Corporation had driven into Sungai Madek Forest Reserve to ask indigenous people of reported sightings of a 10 feet tall ape standing on two legs besides a river in a heavy rainforest in Johor State.

1966 Singapore Grand Prix

Everyone is excited about the first F1 night race which will be held in Singapore later this month but do you know that back in the 60s, there was already a Grand Prix in Singapore? Yup, back then Singapore hosted races for the Formula Libre and the Australian AF2 at its Thomson Road Grand Prix circuit which was located at Thomson Road encompassing Old Upper Thomson Road. You can relive the excitement of the old races by watching this video of the 1966 Singapore Grand Prix which was the motorsport event to watch in South East Asia during those years.

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