Monday, April 27, 2009

Tiger Airways: Best of the time, Worst of the time

Traveled with Tiger Airways again. There is some significant changes in its inflight service.

First, Tiger Tales, the inflight magazine, has got rid of the catalog of duty free goods, and the menu of food & beverage available in flight.

Second, they don't seem to sell any duty free goods in flight anymore.

I wonder, is it a cost-cutting measure or they have earned enough that they don't need any income from in flight duty free sales?

My observation is that the flight to/from Guangzhou had been full for the last couple of times I traveled with Tiger. The price of the air ticket is going up instead of down.

Mmmh, interesting...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Changes at Singapore Budget Terminal

There has been some changes in Singapore Budget Terminal. The one and only Han's cafe there has been kicked out of its original location, to make way for a MacDonald outlet, which is still work in progress.

Yet Han's Cafe is not completely out, they have a smaller operation there, with only a handful of tables, and a small crew to manage their stalls.

In the restricted area of the Budget Terminal, more tables are available for the eatery outlets. More sofas and chairs in the waiting areas too. Now it may be a better choice to have your breakfast in the restricted area than outside if you're catching an early morning flight like me. :)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Microstock: ShutterStock on Facebook

ShutterStock has made a presence in the most popular social website - facebook! Wow...

Their facebook link is:

Microstock: 500

500, yes, this is my 500th photo at ShutterStock! Finally I have 500 photos in my ShutterStock portfolio. That was my target for last year. It took me 4 more months than expected to reach that goal.

The goal for this year is to reach 800 photos. I am already a bit late, but I still have another 8 months to work on it.

Yes, I will achieve it! Ganbatte!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The International

The International, a movie about evil banks :) Basically the story is about how a big international bank manipulates world events, and for the sake of their own benefits, the bank does lots of harm to the rest of the world, and they profit from it.

This movie is quite a test of your language ability. The locations are across Turkey, US, and some European countries. And the languages involved include French, Italian, and of course English.

In terms of plot, mmh, not too surprising, not very tense, just so so.

In terms of action, yes, there is quite a bit of action, especially gun fights, but not spectacular.

Ok, this movie is still watchable.

My rating: 2.5/5

A Cheap & Good Lunch Set

As I wondered around in Suntec's food court yesterday, I found this small little restaurant like outlet next to Pasta Mania. They have various set meals available, price is around S$4.50 range.

I ordered my 'Emperor herbal soup' set meal. It is actually not bad. They give you the herbal chicken soup, plus a small bowl of water crest soup, two side dishes, a portion of vegetables, and then rice with egg. The taste is not bad, at least comparable with any food court food. At a price of S$4.50, it is really value for money. And then previously this outlet was a restaurant, so they still have all the nice and comfortable restaurant tables & seats, not your usual food court tables.

One thing that I don't understand is at lunch time, the food court outside was packed, but this place still has plenty of vacant seats. Maybe because all the guys at this stall are from mainland China, their English proficiency is not very good, and their service speed is a bit low. It takes quite a while for them to serve one dish. A queue will quickly build up with just a couple of customers in line.

Next time, give it a try. I think this S$4.50 is well spent, much better than the more expensive but lousy food in the Suntec food court.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Star Awards 2009

In China, it is a tradition that the whole family or the whole clan gather together at least once a year to pay their respects to their ancestors. Suckling pig, together with other offerings, will be offered to the ancestors.

After the ceremony, the suckling pig will be divided in equal portions and distributed among all the males in the family or clan. In Chinese, we called this '太公分猪肉', which means as long as you are a male descendent of the ancestors, you will get a portion, regardless your status, or contribution.

Star Award 2009 is just around the corner. It is again this 太公分猪肉 time. Just in case you don't know, Star Award is a local award specially created to award our local TV 'stars'. There are numerous titles for you to grap. As long as you don't do too badly, or say or do something that leads to an uproar, then most likely you will get an award.

And really, what do our local TV stars do? Did they do a good job? Our local shows are so boring, shallow. The actors/actresses are acting so hard that you can tell that they are acting very hard. Always the same body language, always the facial expression, and always the same old & BORING plots.

Hello, wake up please!!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

SimCam - A Camera Emulator

If you don't yet have a full manual camera but you wanna understand more about photography controls, such as shutter speed, aperture, ISO, etc, now you can do it easily, online.

I just found this website which has a SimCam, basically a camera emulator. You can change the basic settings of a 'camera', such as shutter speed, 'take' a shot, and then you can see the results. In some cases, you can even compare the results of different settings, such as ISO.

I find it very useful, especially for people who are interested in photography, but without a DSLR yet.

The links is:

Happy 'snapping' :)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Microstock: Buyers are Geeks?

Someone posted in ShutterStock forum saying microstock buyers are geeks. I don't know whether they are geeks, but for sure they are a special bunch. From the limited experience I have with microstock, every time when I think I will get some popular shots that will get me some ELs, some more downloads, they will end up in the portfolio, lying idle.
On the contrary, those that I think will not get me many downloads, will get some good results, and even some ELs. Not only me, some reviewers at microstock sites may get it wrong too.
For example, this David statue by Michelangelo in Florence was first rejected by a reviewer. Then later it got in after I made some changes. Then I got an EL on this photo last week!
In microstock, really just do your best, take care of the quality and creativity of your own photos, then business will take care of itself. And never get disappointed or discouraged by rejections. Rejections are only part of life :)

20Th Century Boys

20th Century Boys is a movie adaptation of a Japanese comic.
First and foremost, the title of the movie is nothing but a mis-nomer. It should be called 20th Century Uncles! The story is about a game or a story developed by a group of school kids turned into reality many years later when they grew up. By then, all of them are already uncles & aunties, but boys & girls anymore.
Second, there are too many jumping back and forth between now and past and future. Those flash-backs make me feel dizzy.
Third, the story is very loose and don't seem to come together organically.
My rating: 2/5

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Title: DeadLock
Author: Sara Paretsky
Publisher: Dell Publishing, 1984

For detective kind of novels, usually I can figure out the story and the murder/killer half way through the book, but for this one, the author kept the secrets to the very last. On the way, she managed to keep the reader's interest alive. I must say the author has excellent writing skills.

There are some interesting points about this book:

1. The book was published in 1984, the story was set in the background of 1981/82. Looking back, 1980s was such a backward, low-tech period. In the novel, the main character, Vicky, had to constantly looking for a phone to make phone calls, to try to reach whoever she wants to talk to. Such problems will be less of a problem in modern days with the proliferation of hand phones :)

2. I don't know US laws well, but in the beginning, the main character became both a beneficiary and will executor for his late cousin, hockey star Boom Boom. In Singapore's context, it will make the will be invalid as the executor and beneficiary can't be the same person under Singapore Law.

3. The story is about business in the shipping industry in the Great Lake area. It unavoidably has detailed descriptions of the ships, different parts of a ship, etc. Somehow I find the description not completely realistic as what she described is different from what I know, based on my short 2-month working experience in a ship yard. For example, the engine room. You can't really get to the engine room without getting dirty. Another example is that you can't really sneak onto a ship unnoticed, especially when the ship is at the dock and if you don't wear a hard hat, or a 'helmet'.

4. The author paints a very negative image about the police. In the story, the police is incapable and always go for the easy way out. I don't know how true it is in the US, but in some other countries, that's the sad fact :(

5. Women always eat very little but drink a lot :P

All in all, this is quite an interesting read.

Friday, April 17, 2009

How Much 'Weight' Do You Carry?

For photographers, it is always a pain to carry all that gear around. We know the gears are heavy, but have you ever do a sum of the weights of all your gears.

Here is mine:

1. Canon 20D body: 685 g
2. Canon EF 28-135mm IS USM: 540 g
3. Canon EF-s 10-22mm: 385 g

Total: 1,610 g

These are the three that I usually carry. You see, the total weight is already 1.6kg! This still excludes the weights of the bag, the batteries, any other accessories such as your water bottle, and the tripod, which is another 1.6kg! Easily the total weight can be from 1-2 kg to 5-6 kg. If you have one of those big guns such as a 300mm, then that will another few kilograms to the total weight.

Moral of the story? If you want to be a photographer, or even just a hobbist, be physically fit! :)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Digital Photography School

I am very bored these days at home, so I did some search on the internet looking for some new juice new ideas, or whatever that may be interesting on photography. Then I came across this website - Digital Photography School.

It seems pretty fun over there. They have a 101 for beginners. Useful tips for people who just pick up photography, or someone who want to improve their pictures after a while.

I skim through the page on composition. Interesting, especially the explanation on using lines. I have been taught about it many years ago, but then I have never applied it very effectively in my own photos. Their examples do give me a bit more understanding.

Their website is:

Check it out, it is fun :)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Stitches Removed

Today is 1 week after my surgery, so I went to TTSH to have the stitches removed. My scar is long, around 2". Every time I look at my own scar when I changed the plaster, I felt scared. The scar is SO big. Luckily I have quite a bit of fat in my belly, otherwise... I don't dare to imagine.

The stitching removing experience many many years ago was not really that pleasant. The person who removes it for you plays a very important role. If not done properly, it can be a hell lot of pain. Again, luckily today, the doctor who removed the stitches for me is very experience, stitches were removed before I sensed anything, which is what it is supposed to be.

Now I don't have any stitches, I don't need to put on a piece of plaster on my tummy. Psychologically feeling better, actually I suspect still the same :)

News Borrowing Rule at National Library

Our national library has implemented a new borrowing rule. In the past, you would be barred from borrowing only if you owe the library more than S$6.00 in fines and/or fees. With the new rule, you will be barred from borrowing the moment you owe the library anything more than S$0.00. Even if you owe them 1 single cent, you will still be barred from borrowing.

Ok, this rule does not affect me much, but I think it is a good measure to deter irresponsible people from borrowing from the library.

It was once reported in the newspaper that our national library is owed more than S$1 million in fines/fees arrears. I also know in person someone who owes the library about S$30.00 since his secondary school days (now he is already a graduate, and working for more than 1 year).

Those arrears will hinder further services to the genuine users of the library. Kudos to the new rule!

ASX Machine Changes

This is a new change, unannounced, and change for the worse.

I usually pay my bills, including credit card bills using those ASX machines and pay by NETS. They used to accept any ATM cards from any of the local banks plus Citibank. Today, when I tried to pay my bill at ASX machine using my OCBC ATM card, the card was rejected. The message at the machine says my card cannot be accepted, then the list of acceptable cards are listed. Only DBS, POSB & Citibank ATM cards are not acceptable.

My gosh, with this economic crisis, there are so many changes and most of the changes are changing for the worse, not better. I'd better go home and quickly find my POSB ATM card :(

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Feeling Bored

Today is the 5th day after my surgery. I spent the first two days basically sleeping most of the time. The pain & the pain killer made me drowsy. Then the next two days watching movies, TV series. Now, on the 5th day, I don't know what better things to do.

I have already resumed my home-study course, but it is quite heavy in content. You can't really do it all the time.

I have already made sure I have photos in the queue waiting for approval at all the sites that I submit to.

I have run out of ideas of what movie/TV series to watch. It only reveals to me how boring our movies & TV series are. No, I am not watching Prison Break or Lost or CSI whatever, or Hero. They make me fall asleep.

The books at home are all somehow technical in nature. Reading any one of them requires some studying efforts, which I don't enjoy doing at this moment.

Mmhh.... maybe I should start day-dreaming... :P

Equipment DOES Matter

I have long been told that equipment does not matter, what matters is the person behind the camera.

Yes, it is absolutely right, to a certain extent. Good and expensive equipment will not make you a great photographer. Lousy composition, cliche ideas can be helped by your equipment. In this very sense, it is absolutely right to say equipment does not matter.

However, when you have reached a certain level, your equipment does play a very important role. Tell a bird photographer that equipment does not matter. Do you expect him/her to shoot a bird far away with my 28-135mm lens? Or you ask a macro photographer to shoot 1:1 true size with a non-macro lens?

Chinese saying, if you want to be good at doing something, you have to first get your tools ready. Using the right tools will improve your efficiency.

Hareluya II BOY

Ok, Hareluya II BOY is not exactly a movie, rather, it is a Japanese animation TV series.

The theme is mainly on Japanese high school violence. How the weak students get bullied by the scums & bullies in their schools. Then there is this superhero for the weak students, who is this Hareluyu II boy. He is strong, he fights well, always appears at a time when the weak students need some help.

I am not sure whether school violence is rampant in Japan, but this TV series definitely gives those students who have been bullied in school some hope, an illusion that someone almighty is out there and he may come to their help sooner or later.

The main character of this animation poses as the son of God, which by Christian thinking, is no other than Jesus Christ! This animation may not go well with Christians. And this series has quite a bit of violence, lots of gang fighting.

You can find the plot summary here;
and the description of main characters here.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Microstock:A Milestone, A Bottle-neck

At the end of March, I arrived at another milestone in terms of microstock income. The revenue from Microstock has covered most of my equipment cost, basically now my camera is free, my 10-22mm is free, my 90mm macro is free, my 28-135mm is free too. They have all been covered by the revenue from Microstock. It is great that your hobby can generate income to at least partially support itself.

However, I have also come to a bottle-neck. I can't seem to produce more sell-able microstock photos. My photos are going into a cliche, always the same perspective, nothing new, nothing novel. This is manifested in my last TFCD. I had a nice model to work with, but then just that I couldn't come up with great, or at least better photos.

It poses a serious problem to me: If my photos are not better than the many thousands already available at the many sites, why would people buy my photos? Why would they choose mine over others. Look at all those sunny, happy photos there, even I have some doubts.

Time to be more creative, go by my own way, instead of mimicing others.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Buyer Searched After - A New Dreamstime Feature

In Dreamstime's stats page, there is a new colume now showing 'Buyer Searched After'. The key words that the buyer uses to reach your image is recorded in this colume.

I think this is a very good feature. It helps me to better understand buyer behaviour, what kind of key words they will use for search. Then I can better keyword my photos, so that a wider audience will be reached.

Kudos to the Dreamstime team!

A Day Surgery at TTSH

Underwent a day surgery at TTSH's day surgery center. Started fasting at mid-night, then no water after 7am. Reported to the Day Surgery Centre at 11.00am, my surgery was scheduled for 12 noon.

Then I started the long long wait. The 12 noon operation time was delayed all the way to 4.20pm. For all these 16 hours no food, no water. By the time they wheeled me into the operation theatre, my mind was hardly clear from hunger and thirst.

The doctors in the operation room was still discussing the previous patient, who they operated on from 11am all the way to almost 4pm. They were saying that case was the mother of all hernia. My god, bad luck, how come my operation is after his.

I asked the surgeon who was to operate on me whether he is ok, as he has been working long hours. He said he was ok. I asked him if he was alright. He said he was only half right, the other was left. A light-hearted joke, just to lighten the mood.

Then someone told me he was Dr. Dennis something, and soon I felt asleep. By the time someone woke me up, it was around 5.15pm. I was naked in the bed, with a big patch on my adomen area, and feeling nausea.

Close to 8pm, HJ came to sign me out, so that I spend the night at home, instead of the observation ward. I actually walked all the way to the emergency department's pharmacy to collect my medicine. There, there was a sudden attack of pain. I felt like vomitting, but I know I had nothing to vomit. Cold sweat, and my face turned pale. Rested for a while, collected my medicine and then took a cab home.

Obviously I under-estimated the pain from this operation. I thought since I could go home on the same day, then I should not experience too much, but it is not. I don't like pain-killer, but then now I must take pain-killer at least once a day.

And then I am given 15 calender days of medical leave. Well, a break from work, in exchange for pain, neither is too good an option.

Ong Bak 2

Ong Bak 2, is another Tony Jaa film, starring & directed by the Bruce Lee of Thailand, Tony Jaa.

As a Kungfu movie, Ong Bak 2 is not bad. In summary, it has the following elements.

1. Fighting. There are lots & lots of fighting scenes. They are carefully staged, you have take the time and watch the fighting scenes to appreciate the great efforts the actors put in. However, some of the scenes are a bit too fake, you can clearly tell they are staged. This is a point for improvement.

2. Big scenes. It has many grand scenes, one of them is Tony taming the head elephant of a herd. That scene is nice to watch. Another scene is in the palace where the king was enjoying the dancing.

3. Costumes: The costumes are a fusion of many. You see Arab, Chinese, Thai, and Japanese ninja style of costumes in the movie. It is a bit too mixed.

4. The story is not bad considering this is a kungfu movie. It actually has a plot, revenge, betrayal, love, you have all the elements in this film.

My rating: 3/5.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Uploading Photos with Model Release to ShutterStock

To upload photos to ShutterStock, I find doing it this way will be more organized.

If you have a series of photos of the same model from the same shoot, upload 1 photo first. When you submit the photo, you will be asked to upload the model release. Once the model release is uploaded to ShutterStock, then you can use the 'use archive' feature to attach the same model release to all your subsequent photos.

If you upload many photos of the same model the first time, you will be asked to upload model releases many times, and you will end up with many model releases of the same model, from the same shoot in your archive, which is going to make things messy.

Ok, just my thoughts. :)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

S.A.M Machine Upgrading...For Your INCONVENIENCE!

Yes, the title is correct, for your INCONVENIENCE! Recently most of the S.A.M. machines at various MRT stations have been upgraded to the new generation machine. With the upgrade, I expect it will be more convenient for the users. However, to my great disappointment, this upgrade seems to have taken out some convenient features of the old machine.

1. With the new machines, only at selected locations there is a weighting scale for people to weight their parcels to determine the postage.

2. All the new machines only allow NETS transactions, which imposes a minimum transaction amount to be S$2.00. If you want to buy a 26 cents stamp, then you have to buy more to make up for the S$2.00. The feature to use coins has been removed.

I don't understand why people want to replace functional machines with less convenient machines. Sigh...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Everything you do is wrong...

Starting the day at 6am, arrived in office at 7.45am, then left office at 10.20pm. A long and tiring day. Guess what I did for the whole day? Well, I spent most of the time doing checks. Some genius wants us to everything right, so he/she came up with a check that will check for our mistakes. And we have to go through all the mistakes one by one, to make sure that our work is perfectly done.

When we talk about mistakes, we are not talking about tens or hundreds, but thousands and thousands. Basically everything that we do is wrong. The check is very thorough, it checks all combinations that is possible, making sure that whatever you do, the check will flag an error.

After checking hundreds of the so-called mistakes, I decided not to bother about it anymore. Whoever thinks highly of those checks, please verify the errors the checks flag himself/herself. I am not going to spend my precious time doing such idiotic things.

Some may argue that there may be some genuine mistakes being flagged. Yeah, right! Even if there is one, are you sure you will not miss it in the hundreds of thousands of falsely flagged errors?

The only sure thing in this world is human stupidity :P

Monday, April 6, 2009

TFCD with V. E.

Did a TFCD with a very nice young guy V on Sunday morning at Tanjong Beach in Sentosa. The shoot was more difficult than I had previously estimated. The sun was playing hide & seek with us, sometimes it was shining brightly; sometimes it was so shy that it hid behind all the black clouds :( It does not help that Tanjong beach was strangely crowded on that day. People looked at us with great curiosity, wondering what these two guys were doing. And considering that Straits Times featured a not so positive article about photo-shoots in Clubsnap on that Sunday too.

Anyway, the shoot was enjoyable in general. We tried many things, although many failed. The beach is a lot more cluttered than I thought, and I under-estimated the difficulty in avoiding all the clutters.

V was very co-operative and willing to attempt all the funny stuff. I think he must be cursing me for asking him to jump numerous times, and had to face the shining sun, making it painful for his eyes.

I learned quite a lot through this shoot. There are some other shoots in the works, but before that, I need to settle something much much more important in life, something good and I am looking forward to :)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

AI Focus vs AI Servo vs One Shot

This is a note to myself. I learned it the hard way, that means I made mistakes to learn this.

AI Focus is for you to focus on something originally stationary, then it starts moving. If you focus on a static subject, and then you move your camera away, the focus will continue to change. There is no focus lock. This mode works very poorly if you are thinking of focusing on a static subject, lock the focus and then point to something else. In the Canon 20D, the focusing points will continue to light up, signalling to you which area is in focus.

AI Servo is for you to focus on something that is ALREADY moving, and you want to continue to focus on that subject. The camera's focusing points won't light up. You will have no idea which point is in focus which is not. The use of this focusing mode can be quite terrible, and many pictures will turn out out of focus. If you use this mode to shoot static subjects, you might kick yourself for not even being able to focus on some simple, static subjects.

One Shot is for you to focus on static subject.

All the above are actually written in the camera manual, just that I don't really understand everything after reading the manual. Nothing is better than practice to learn something, although it may be the hard way.

As I used the wrong mode in a recent shoot, many photos are out of focus, even some simple ones. Sad, sad sad...

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Handsome Suits

This is a Japanese comedy about a fat & ugly looking chef, who transformed himself into a handsome guy after wearing a magical 'handsome suit'.

A very typical preaching of the old values of putting more emphasis on a person's internal beauty rather than a person's external beauty. Go deep instead of superficial.

The story is quite cliche, the funny ideas are not really that funny. Well, if you have nothing better to do, and want to have some laughters, then give it a chance :)

My rating: 2.5/5

Departures (Okuribito)

This is a multi-award winning Japanese movie. The story goes around Daigo Kobayashi, starring Masahiro Motoki, who lost his job in Tokyo and moved back to his hometown Yamagata with his wife Mika, starring Ryoko Hirosue.

He found a job as someone who does the cleaning, make-up, and changing the clothes for the dead, hence the name of the film - Departures.

The movie is a bit on the heavy side for me, emotionally. The director did try to mix in some humours and light-hearted moments, but still they don't diffuse the heaviness of the theme.

This is not really my cup of tea.

Suspect X

Suspect X is a continuation of the popular TV series of Detective Galileo. The same cast moved from the small screen to the big screen. However, this big screen debut is very much a let-down for me.

The weakest link in the big screen debut is the story line. First 3/5 of the movie has been used to lay down the plot, or the mystery. It is so successful that I actually feel very bored when I watched the first 3/5. A simple murder story, and I already know who the murders are, how it happens, totally no suspense at all. Then only the last 2/5 of the movie makes a 180 degrees turn, and presents to the audience a surprise. However, the surprise is not that big. It is like you walk up a 100m hill and then walk down. You do have a turning point and a peak, but the peak is not that high.

Further more, the fun elements in the TV series is almost completely gone in the movie. It makes the movie even more boring.

My rating: 2.5/5