For My Parents With Love In The Beautiful Landscape of The Singapore Botanic Gardens

My Parents at the Singapore Botanic Gardens

My 74 years old dad said the funniest thing.  He told me that these days when he went fishing, along the harbor of Hong Kong, young photographers often take him as their photo subject.  And in his tone of reminisce he said, “When I was a young photographer I was doing the same.  Now that I am an old man, it’s my turn [to be photographed by the strangers]”.  We all laughed.  But on what?  We don’t know.  I don’t know.  I don’t want my dad to be old.  I want everything to stay the same.

Reality is, we all get older as time goes by.  Decades ago I was my dad’s photography subject.  Who doesn’t like to see little babies, little kids, so full of innocence, so full of joy on pictures, on prints?  Decades later my parents have become my photography subject.  Kids and old folks – the two most common picks for the photographers on human portraits.  It is the innocence and the wisdom; it is the sign of creation and the mark of time; it is a blank story book filled with possibilities and a memoir that inspires.

Why the Singapore Botanic Gardens?  It’s rare that both my parents are in town, thanks to my sister’s wedding.  It is the green and the fresh air, the flowers and the butterflies.  My family loves to visit parks.  Back when I was in Hong Kong.  A tradition that I still carry with me today.  Some of the happiest moments of my life happen in the parks.

That’s why.

For the viewing of a personal photo collection dedicated to my parents, please click here.

P.S. An entry written with my Nokia N96 the sms style hours before my sister’s wedding dinner at a cafe at China Square Central while waiting for Cynthia’s make up session at Raffle City to be done, synchronised with Nokia free OVI service using the free Wireless@SG wi-fi network.

Part One: Nokia Comes With Music – Too Good to be True? – A Media Event

Nokia Come With Music - Media Event

Imagine this: you buy a phone and it comes with 4 million songs for you to download for free for a year – via your PC or your Nokia phone.  And you get to keep all the tracks even after the service period is over.

It is not a question if what Nokia is attempting to do is revolutionary.  It simply is.  No doubt about it.  The questions are: Is this a step towards revitalizing a dying music industry that the existing business model is unable to cope with the way the mass public consumes music?  And more importantly, what is it in for Nokia and what is it in for you and I?

October last year, I had the privilege to attend the Nokia Remix event when the upcoming Nokia model 5800 XpressMusic was announced.  Last Friday, I have attended the media launch event of “Comes With Music”, had the opportunity to try out the phone one more time and find out more from the Nokia team on this new service.  In part one of this blog entry, you will get to read more on what this service is about.  And in part two that I will publish next, you will get to read my personal take on the impact of this new service in a larger scheme of work.

Comes With Music and the New Nokia 5800 XpressMusic

The new Nokia 5800 XpressMusic touchscreen phone is awesome.  I will not repeat what I have experienced last October.  What I did try out last Friday though was the browser capability.  Intuitively, I touched the screen, moved my thumb up and down and the web page was scrolled accordingly.  Neat.  I tried double clicking onto the page and it zoomed right in.  Very cool!  All by intuition.  I could zoom in and out smoothly via a side bar too.  In case if you wonder from the pictures below what kinky video I was watching, it was nothing R rated.  I opened up YouTube and watched one of the videos from my favorite French artist Mylene Farmer.  When I double clicked onto the video, the player went into full screen mode.  I may consider an unlimited mobile data plan if I have one of these hot babies.

OK.  Some pictures to show taken during the event.  The band All American Rejects was in the house, our local DJ team The Muttons was in the house, the event was held at Velvet Underground, and many were queuing outside for the band to perform live!

Below are some key facts about the new service “Comes With Music”.

  • Selected Nokia phone models including the new 5800 XpressMusic literally comes with music.  You can download any of the 4 million tracks from the Nokia Store for free for a year.  And you get to keep all that you have downloaded via your PC or your mobile devices.
  • Nokia is yet to announce what the service fee for subsequent years is going to be.  I am not sure how often people upgrade their wireless phones.  Personally I hope that Nokia will take this into consideration when they create a service model for “Comes With Music”.
  • You can only listen to the music downloaded via your PC or your wireless phone.  I asked: what if I upgrade my PC?  According to Nokia, I can deactivate my old PC and then active my new PC.  Pretty much like the DRM (digital right management) model that the gaming industry has adopted.  DRM doesn’t go too well with the legitimate paying gamers.  “Comes With Music” is an interesting case because of the shear amount of songs you can potentially download over the service period that come with the phone.  But if “Comes With Music” comes with a price after the first year, it all depends how much it would cost to justify the inconvenience.
  • No, you can’t burn the music onto the CD.  Again, you are not paying a lot for that 4 million song list at least for the first year.
  • What if I need to upgrade my PC after my “Comes With Music” service period is over?  I was told that there is quite a long grace period.  You can still transfer your downloaded tracks from one machine to another.
  • Which are the music giants on board “Comes With Music”?  EMI Music, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, Warner Music, as well as Asian independent labels.

Closing Note and Coming Next

Now you have read what “Comes With Music” is as well as get to hear more about the new Nokia 5800 XpressMusic.  I am a passionate music listener and I have had the opportunity to talk with many on the current situation the music industry is facing.  I get to have a better appreciation on what are the different types of listeners out there and their preferred mode of music delivery.  In part two of this blog entry, I will share more on my take on how brilliant Nokia’s move is going up against the successful Apple iTune and its products by defining their own rules and what are the implications.

When Cynthia read the advertisements on the Saturday papers, she got very excited by the new Nokia touchscreen phone that comes with music.  And she asked, “So I can download the entire album of Pussycat Dolls for free?”  I smiled and replied, “Not only that, you have 4 million songs to choose from!”  I looked at the pricing of a new “Comes With Music” Nokia phone and it doesn’t seem excessive.  For what it is worth, you can think of paying a nominal amount that is factored into the price of a phone and that opens up a world of music for you to listen to, a freedom that now you can legally experience.

As you may have noticed by now that I always love to write a small thank you notes on most of the events I have attended.  It is because what I usually enjoy most is the people I come to interact with, time and time again.  So, cheers to the Nokia team especially to the one who was so patiently showcasing the new phone to me last October and again showed me what else 5800 can do last Friday.  And of course to the lovely Text100 team, thanks for the chat and the little walk around at the stage area.  Yes, one day our band would be there and I will get your help!

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for part 2.

Photos of Bandung North – De’Ranch, Maribaya, and Sapulidi (A Ranch, Waterfalls, and A Restaurant)

Cynthia and her mother underneath a tree at De'Ranch, Bandung North, Indonesia

As you may or may not know, the northern part of Bandung, Indonesia, is beautiful.  Approximately an hour’s drive away from Bandung – the Capital of West Java – it is a place of foliage and waterfalls, ranches for the animals, and restaurants against the backdrop of natural serenity.

I am not going to write too much here and let the photos and the lighthearted captions do the talking.

  • Click here to view the photo album with captions in high resolution

I had a lot of fun playing around with the photo processing and the Nik Software Color Efex Pro 3.0.  This Nikon software is developed with the professional photographers in mind and I love it.  There are quite a few photos that Cynthia and I both like a lot.  We hope you enjoy our album too and you may wish to visit Bandung North the next time you plan your holiday.

So, tell us, which are your favorite ones, if any?

PS. Photos taken on December 14, 2008.

Related Tag: Bandung December 2008 Trip

Journal of a Blogger Attending “Showcase Nokia 2009” Event

The New Nokia e75

I always enjoy attending Nokia events.  With a brand valued at $36 billion, as a consumer, I am keen to learn what new products and services Nokia have in store for us in the year 2009.  Nokia has always been more than just a phone to me.  It represents a constant advance of the technology frontier and new concepts, opening the door of possibilities to the end users.  Granted, not all new ideas become instant hits at the first launch.  Nokia always finds ways to improve.  That’s why I like the brand.

Arrived at ZIRCA formerly known as Ministry of Sound 15 minutes before the start of the media registration, by the Singapore River I took half an hour break and finished reading the book sent by McGraw-Hill.  As their book review blogger, I try to publish one book summary a month.  Some asked how I find time and energy to do all the things that I do – at least from what you read in here.  I guess if we actively manage our time, there are a lot we can accomplish.

When I entered the venue, I recognized some familiar faces from the local blogosphere as well as one overseas blogger from our friendly neighboring country.  Then I learned that “Showcase Nokia 2009” is a regional event and Nokia flew in the media teams – traditional and new – from around the region.  There was one from Vietnam too!

At around 7pm, Chris Carr, VP Sales of Nokia took the stage (event photos below).  The anticipation was high; cameras were ready; the video camera from the local news station was in position.

The first new phone that took the stage was the e75.  For those who want the best email experience and are into office productivity applications, this e-series baby is no stranger.  It looks slim and stylish and I took a picture of it as featured on top of this post.  I have tried out the QWERTY keyboard and I love the feel of it.  It is not ordinary rubber, yet there is this anti-slip feel to it.  The red color model is very striking.  e75 is planned to hit the store in Q1 this year.

Next was the e55.  Up to 28 days standby time, imagine spending a month in Timbuktu without the need to charge the phone!  e55 comes with a somewhat slightly extended keypad and it is dubbed the smallest Nokia messaging device.  In this small island that the residents are so in love with email and messaging, this could do well.  9.9mm is a pretty slim phone.  Scheduled to release on Q2.

Remember the days of the good old “banana” phone that the film Matrix has made famous?  Nokia 6720 Classic (Q2) and 6710 Navigator (Q3) are interesting additions to the family.  OK, they are not quite like that good old phone that Neo used to step in and out of the Matrix.  They do have the ergonomic design that curve slightly to our faces.  With the Nokia 6710 and 6720 Classic, you can pre-plan your trip at your computer via the OVI Map (I tried that last night and it works), get plugged into your phone and be awed by the high resolution aerial images, 3D landmarks, terrain maps, weather service, traffic warning, and for those who tend to get lost on foot or inside a vehicle like me, a compass is provided (that I haven’t tried).  I really shouldn’t mention that Navigator may even have the knowledge of where the speed cameras are.  Beware!  Agent Smith is around the corner!

The highlight of the evening is perhaps the new Nokia N86 8MP (Q2).  The press related information was embargoed until yesterday.  I previously had a N80.  This N86 is a pure beauty.  For those who are into taking good photos with your phone, check this out.  Wide-angle 8MP Carl Zeiss Tessar optics with variable aperture to cater for low light condition, N86 comes with a premium authentic design: scratch resistant glass front face surrounded by prestige metal details.  It looks good on day one.  It may still look good when you take it to Timbuktu and back.

I met Damien from Helsinki in the event.  He is the man behind the new OVI Mail initiative.  OVI Mail is an interesting new service targeted at those countries that may not have a high Internet penetration.  In Singapore, email is part of our daily lives.  But that may not be the case elsewhere – like the remote towns of Indonesia, India, Vietnam, and etc.  So what Nokia has done is to integrate OVI Mail into the new series of low-cost phones.  I was at the counter and Damien proudly handed me one of the new phone and said, “Try it and see how easy it is to create your mailbox!”  I tried it on the spot and the registration is very straightforward.  No guessing of what my ovi.com email address is.  With email integration and support to a dozen native languages, these devices could be a life changing experience to many.  Imagine the first experience of email ever, on a wireless phone.  I have travelled to remote towns in the region that do not have a decent Internet connection.  It is easy to take whatever we have around us for granted.

I reckon some of you may be interested to see how the new Nokia 2009 lineups look like.  I am a simple guy so what I have done is to dump all the press images into OVI.  Enjoy!  As always, thanks to Nokia and Text100 teams for the invite.  Supriya and Felicia, good to see you in the event.  You both look fabulous!

External Link: OVI by Nokia

Auditioning Female Models for Upcoming Brüttal (Lingerie) Fashion Show in Kuala Lumpur

One of the African Models

OK, enough of serious blog entries these days and I need something sexy, something light to spice up my life site.  Believe me, it was a hard choice between:

  1. Staying in Singapore and accepting an invitation for a (free!) photo shooting session at the Singapore Zoo as well as to cover the finale of the River Hongbao event over the weekend
  2. Driving up to Malaysia and help out my friend Adeline to audition the female models down to their underwear with my … camera.

Cynthia and I couldn’t cancel the hotel booking at the last minute so we stuck with the original plan even though the circumstances have changed.  I am actually glad that we went because:

  1. Our friend needed emotional support that evening and we were there for her.  Talked with her till 4 in the morning (and Cynthia insisted on waking up early the next day not to miss the breakfast).
  2. I did have a role to play because Adeline couldn’t have photographed these candidates as she was busy showing them what to do.  It is good to refer to the photographs after the audition.

Below are the pictures taken during the audition.

… Nah!  They are PG rated.  Wait till we go for the actual Fashion Show with the actual Brüttal products.  Super chick n sexy lingerie that Brüttal carries.

So how was the experience?  Broadly summarized as follows.

  • Stressful.  It is hard to frame and capture the moments.  It is even harder if the models are inexperience.
  • Nervous.  I was the only guy in the VIP room.  I was worried that I might be eaten up by the girls.
  • Exciting.  Actually only one moment of excitement.  It was when all the models stripped in front of me down to their underwear, at the same time.

Now, why Africans?  I don’t know why the club “China White” is a popular place for the Africans and why Adeline goes for such a theme.  Maybe Africa is in these days?  Think about the next World Cup hosting country, the current F1 champ, and the new American President …

I have no clue how Adeline is going to train these brand new models for her Brüttal Fashion Show in March.  I am keen to cover the event for Brüttal and perhaps I may need a telephoto lens when that time comes (any one wish to lend me a 50mm f/1.4G?!).