Friday, August 31, 2007

Expired Films & A New Toy

Last Chinese New Year, I collected a few rolls of expired films from my Mum. So few people are shooting film these days, even my Mum is going digital :D The poor films just lied at the bottom of some drawer until they were 'discovered' and found expired. What the hell do I want to get expired films? Even non-expired films are of low demand in this digital age. Haha... My original intention was to use them as my product shoot 'models', but now, I discovered another way of making good use of them, a more creative way. What is it? Mmmmh, I would like to keep you guessing for now.

Tomorrow, I am going to the Army Open House to play with my new toy. Feeling very excited about it. What is my new toy? It will not be too difficult to guess if you read my recent blog entries ;P Keep guessing, and stay tuned.... :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Low-Key Studio Lighting Setup

I found another video from YouTube that gives me some ideas about how the studio lighting setup can be and what results it can bring.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Disgracing the Nation

A video at YouTube is being discussed amongst many Singaporeans. What is so special about the video? It is a video taken by a passer-by, or tourist about a Change of Guards ceremony in front of the Istana. (Istana is a Malay word for 'palace', in this particular context, it means the presidential house of Singapore). No big deal, isn't it? I bet many of you have seen enough Change of Guards ceremonies throughout the world. But this one is terribly bad.

You expect precision, synchronization and professionalism at such an occasion, but it turned out to be like a circus! So many of them were totally out of sync! It is such a disgrace of the nation. *Sigh*

Sunday, August 26, 2007

200 Pounds Beauty at Flash Point

There is a Chinese saying 月满则亏,水满则溢, meaning when something gets to its peak, it will naturally go nowhere but DOWN! Hong Kong movie industry was thriving in the last century, but now it is still in a recession. The Korean movie industry was also thriving a few years ago, producing many high quality movies, but now, it is going nowhere but DOWN.

200 Pounds Beauty

The story is simple. A fat & ugly but talented young lady had a heart-broken experience because of her being fat & ugly. Then one day, she decided to tranform herself through cosmetic surgery. After a year, she becomes a slim & beautiful lady and starts out her successful singing career & wins the heart of the man she loves.

It is supposed to be a comedy, but unfortunately I don't find it very funny. If you say it is a serious movie to bring attention to emphasis on superficial beauty in the Korean society, then it is not really that serious. Neither here nor there is my comment. Nothing really interesting other than admiring the beauty of actress Kim Ah-jung.

This movie won the 2007 Grand Bell Awards for Best Actress & Best Cinematography.

Rating: 2.5/5

Flash Point 导火线

A Hong Kong movie directed by Wilson Yip, starring Donnie Yen, Leslie Khoo, & Fan Bing Bing.

Typical Hong Kong police-gangster movie, with lots of fighting, lots of blood but lack of a more exciting plot. Everything is well-planned, everything happens as expected. There is no surprises, no twist, no turn, it is so straigh-forward that it becomes boring.

Rating: 1.5/5

Saturday, August 25, 2007


Lomography, or Lomo in short, what is it? Simply put, it is a form of photography where you take pictures without looking through the view finder; not from eye-level but more from waist level; non-intrutive; more fun; more special, using a Soviet/Russian-made toy camera - a Lomo camera. The cost of a Lomo camera varies, it can be as cheap as less than SGD$100, to around SGD$1000. Lomo brings more fun to photography, anyone can do it; and you can do it anywhere, anytime, it is part of your life.

More information about Lomography and Lomography cameras can be found at the official Lomography website:

There is rising interest in Lomo from Asia, especially Hong Kong, Japan & Singapore.

Below is a BBC documentary on Lomography. It is interesting to know the current President of Russia, Mr Putin, actually had a hand in helping Lomo to survive the difficult years after the collapse of Soviet Union.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Digital Photography Tips - How to shoot under high contrast conditions

More digital photography tips from YouTube...





Thursday, August 23, 2007

Digital Photography Tips - Fall Foliage

Some digital photography tips found in YouTube teaching you how to take some nice nature pictures.





MBA: For the riches only :(

After I came back from Italy early this month, life has been quite boring. With more time on hand, I would like to pick up some skills & "upgrade" myself, an MBA seems to be a good option. So I did some research on the local institutions that offer MBA courses.

1. Singapore Management University (

SMU does not really have an MBA course, but they have a course called Master of Science in Management. The curriculum is more or less the same as the MBA courses offered by other instituions. For admission, simple requirements such as degree holder with x years of working experience, GMAT, etc. The course fee? Roughly SGD$20,000.

2. Insead (

This is a prestigious French institution. Their curriculum seems to be very rigious and exciting. You are required to pick up a 3rd language during the course (other than your mother togue & 2nd language); to study on campus in France & Singapore for the EMBA course, & Singapore/France/Beijing for the joint MBA course offered by both Insead & Tsinghua University. The course fee? 85,000 euros for the Executive MBA (EMBA) & USD$65,000 for the joint Insead & Tshinghua MBA!

3. Nanyang Technological University (

They offered a variety of different MBA courses. Again the school fee is about SGD$20,000.

People have been saying MBA is for you to network with the 'right' (read 'RICH') people. 85,000 euros plus all the travel expenses for trips to/fro France, Singapore & Beijing, you really need a deep pocket. For the less expensive, SGD$20,000 is still no small sum for any average engineer.

Does anyone know of any management course (may not necessarily an MBA course) with a more reasonable fee? I want to pick up a management course, as it seems what they teach will be increasingly necessary for my daily work. It will be good for my future development, too.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Vietnam - Mekong Delta

Mekong river runs through Vietnam, provides the country with rice & fish stock. It is the life line for many, however, sadly to say, the river is heavily polluted. Over the two days of my visit to Mekong delta, I have not see any section of the river that is slightly clean. Muddy, always muddy, sometimes coupled with a foul smell.

Life is very primitive on this futile land. People live in sheds, note, not houses. Their shelter is nothing more than a few wood spanks, plus a roof. These are considered to be the good ones. Some just used hay and mud for the walls.. That's it. The coconut candy factory, rice noodle factory are both housed in those sheds. I didn't see many disabled people or beggers in the streets. Thank God.

Anyway, just share some photos from the two-day trip. At the end, I will tell you my opinion about the Mekong delta trip :)

Griding the Coconuts

Making the Coconut Candy

Our young boatman
Bump Boat in Mekong River

Happy Fisherman

Something Exotic - Try at your own risk

My opinion:

If you have never been to South-east Asia, never seen any swamps before, then I suggest you go a for 1-day Mekong delta tour. It will be sufficient for you to get a taste of the frugal life.

If you are like me, who had been in South-east Asia for long enough time, then probably just forget about it. It is not worth the money and time. The tours are not expensive, US$14.00 per person for a 2-day tour, including one meal & one night stay, but it is the time that is more precious.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Vietnam - Ho Chih Ming City (Part II)

This is Part II of my Vietnam series. You can find Part I here.

The handful of landmarks in Ho Chih Ming city are mainly left by their French masters during the colonial days, and luckily survived all the wars. The Americans & Chinese made their contributions, too. However, truely "made in Vietnam" landmarks are hard to find in Ho Chih Ming city itself.

People's Committee Building, HCMC

Central Post Office

Notre Dame

Interior of Notre Dame

The Stain Glasses

This is the contribution from the Vietnamese Chinese community. It is a very typical Chinese temple that is a mixture of Buddhism, Taoist and some folklores and superstitions. The interior is dark and shady. The altars had turned black from years of incense offerings. The gods are crowded in the altars, sharing the tiny little space.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Salaries in Singapore

Ever wonder how much others are earning? Salary is always a point of interest for many, yet it is always a sensitive topic to discuss. Recently I was directed to this website about salaries in Singapore -

It is eye-opening. The statistics are readily available, how much each profession earns is listed. However, those numbers may dash the hopes of many youngsters. Life is actually not that rosy. Professionals, managers may not earn as much as you would like them to. The median salary of a professional between 35-40 years old is only a mere S$4200! Consider an ordinary Singaporean man who graduates at the age of 25, by age 35, he has worked for 10 full years. The managers fare a bit better. For the same age group, the median salary is ~S$6000. It is considered as 'high' income, but still far from a luxury life.

Moral of the story? Strike out on your own, be your own boss :)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Self-glorification & "security issues"

We had our quarterly departmental meeting today. As usual, some self-glorifications from a certain faction of the department was rampant. During the teabreak, I "congratulated" the actual person who handled that situation, and we both ended up mocking each other and had a good laugh. I can hardly imagine some people can actually come out with such shameless self-praising speech. Mmmh, maybe it is not true. Don't you think the local PAPeRs are a good example?

Then a director again brought up the "security issue" to limit our access between workstations and PCs. The sole purpose? Of course to make people's life more difficult lah! What else?! If our life is too easy, then how can we feel his presence? his power? his great "responsibilities"? "Security" has always been used as the perfect excuse to make life harder and harder. This kind of A-hole can only survive in Singapore. He would have been told to f*** off if he dares to do it in Europe. Too bad, we are in Asia, and must respect the Asian culture. Being an Asian myself, when did our culture become A-hole culture?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Traveling "Business Class"

Well, I traveled "Business Class"! When I boarded the flight from Milan to Amsterdam, the lady happily told me "Now we travel business class!". I was like "Er? Business class? From Milan to Amsterdam? That 1 hour 30 mins flight? On a Fokker 100 Jet?" What kind of difference can you expect between a "business class" and an "economic class" for such a small plane?

As it turned out, indeed there were some differences. Economy class had only a crappy sandwich for lunch, while we got a crappy meal :) We also have a little bit more of leg room. You can stretch your legs all the way, isn't it good?

So there was my very 1st time traveling "business class". I couldn't help laughing when I typed this. It is more like a joke than real :D

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A 10 Dollar Watch and the Experiences It Brings

I bought a S$10.00 watch at Suntec city before I left for my trip to Italy. I was just hoping it would not give me any trouble, and if anything happens to it, I don't care. Things are always unexpected, this watch actually brought me some interesting experiences.

As I mentioned before, a border guard at the Swiss-Italian border town Chiasso noticed my watch during his normal inspection when I traveled from Switzerland back to Italy. So coincidentally that he has a very similar watch! He was thrilled! Walked up to me, put his hand side by side with mine and compared our watches, then he exclaimed, "the same, we have the same watch!" And he told other guards as well. It just surprised me. I didn't expect a similarly designed watch would appear here in Switzerland!

Then today, when I took the Metro home, an American guy noticed my watch, too. He asked me where I bought it, and said he liked it very much. Then we started a conversation. His name is Patterson, a missionary from Arizona. He has lived in Italy for one year, so he can speak pretty good Italian. There is one more year to go before he returns to the states. A very cheerful young chap. He also showed me some of the leaflets he had on hand and the website address of their church, which is

Maybe he just used the watch as a starter to strike out a conversation with me, but hey, he really brightened my day. I was quite upset as today is my last working day here in Italy and everybody has gone for holiday. Milan now is like a ghost town with few people around. Sitting in the train alone, that was kind of lonely. It was so nice to have someone to talk to, especially in a language that you can understand.

Thank you, my dear watch, for the experiences you brought me.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Any Website that showcases GOOD Chinese Food?

Does anyone know of any website that showcases GOOD Chinese food? One of my Italian colleagues asked me about the Chinese food. He had had Chinese food for a few occasions in Chinese restaurants in Italy, but the food was so terrible that he felt like trashing it straight away to the rubbish bin! He also commented that the Chinese food was very oily! I must agree that Chinese food in western countries tend to taste terrible. I only had Chinese food once in LA, and I can still remember how bad the food tasted! That is the reason why for my two-month stay in Italy, I had never stepped into a Chinese restaurant before. ;P So now I am looking for a website to show my colleague what true Chinese food looks like, especially the good ones. I can't let the bad taste 'overseas' Chinese food tarnish the reputation of the real Chinese cuisine, can I? Any one? Any website?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Studio Lighting Demostration by Ken Henderson

An 8-part series of Ken Henderson's studio lighting demostration.

Part I:

Part II:

Part III:

Part IV:

Part V:

Part VI:

Part VII:

Part VIII:

Sunday, August 5, 2007

YouTube - A Treasure Mountain

Internet is one big treasure mountain with gold awaiting for the savvy gold-digger to discover. Among this gold mine, YouTube is a gold mine within a gold mine.

Some may just dismiss YouTube as a trash bin where people having nothing to do upload their nonsense to create more internet garbage. However, as I find out, it is far from the truth. Very much to the contrary, YouTube has just as much infomration as the internet in general provides.

People share videos from how to do Photoshop tricks, to Chinese Kongfu, to swimming instructions. Better than the old internet where you can see words & maybe some still pictures, you are now shown the steps in motion.

Just to show you some examples:

1. Photoshop tutorials

2. Tai Chi

3. How to Swim (in Chinese)

YouTube's address, is of course,

Friday, August 3, 2007

Santa Cristina - An Affordable Italian Wine

When it comes to wine, Italy is a heaven for any wine lover. There are many many different varieties, and the price is no much more expensive than water. One of my colleagues, Fabio R's father, actually has a vineyard and a small brewery. They have their own family wine. Another colleague, Paolo C., who is from Venice, told me that his parents trained them with wine since young. He grew up with wine. Thanks to his good taste in wine, I drank LOTS of good wine for my last trip to Milan.

Michele B. recommended me an affordable wine - Santa Cristina. It is a red wine from Tuscany. The moment you open the bottle, the fragrance immediately tempts your taste buds. The wine is clear, with no visible sediments. Take a sip, very smooth. Most importantly, it does not have the bitter after taste. Instead, it is sweet, not too sweet, just nice, perfect.

For a 750ml bottle 2005 Santa Cristina, guess what is the price? Between 4.50 - 4.79 euros from the local supermarkets! This wine is an excellent choice to go with your red meat dishes. Give it a try when you are in Italy next time. You will not regret :) My personal guarantee.