32 Weeks Have Passed And I Now Have My To-do List

Recently, I read an entry from one of my friend’s private blog.  It is kind of private because I promise her long time ago that I wouldn’t make a link into her site.  She said, six months have passed and she still doesn’t know what she wants to do.  And she has another six months to figure that out.

That inspires me to think: August is here, what have I done so far?  My friends ask me what happens to my band and I go … erm.  They ask if I still write songs and I go … erm.  What happen to that association?  Do you still paint?  I haven’t seen you for ages, what have you been doing?

Erm.

I update my Facebook status often.  Often on what I plan to do.  I reckon if I write something in public – like in here or in any social networking site – I am committed to something.  And there is a higher chance that something gets done, which is better than always thinking of doing something that never get done.

So from now till December 31, I am committed to do the followings.  All of the followings.  Items one, to seven.

1. Do up my MySpace page and put a song or two inside (est. effort: 40 hrs)

I love my band.  If it was up to me, I would set up a practice or recording session every weekend.  Maybe we shall have a summer break and a Christmas break.  But other than that, we should meet up regularly and jam.  Because I believe that any serious hobby warrants a once a week practice.  Like my Spanish lessons.  The reality is, we meet only once in two months, three months.

And if it was up to me, I would like to do some decent recording and share with the public.  But my [lower] standard is not the same as some of my band mates.  I am a blogger.  I produce contents on a near daily basis.  I am happy to share the demo musical works with my readers regularly.  Keep the engagement going.  To hear some feedback, and to grow.  Especially when that CD quality band recording seems so impossible to attain given our pace.  Time to do some solo works.  More like an incubator of for the band, at my personal turbo pace (everything in life is relative).

2. Finish digitalizing my CD collection (est. effort: 24 hrs)

As of today, I have already digitalized 11,127 music tracks.  Just keep going!  Don’t stop!

3. Clear the photo back log (est. effort: 75 hrs)

I would love to visit the Singapore Zoo and take some pictures but I don’t feel like doing so.  Because I have such a huge back log to clear.  The good news is that I have established some kind of Sunday rhythm to spend some time with the photo processing and categorization work.

4. Properly tag my 1,100+ blog entries (est. effort: 24 hrs)

Tagging is a new concept for me.  I put my entries into fixed categories, year after year.  Recently, I discover that there is something called tagging, alongside with categories.  I may be messy in real life.  But I love structures.  So I will have to go through each entry one by one and tag them nicely.

5. Spanish!  Onto Lower Intermediate and read a Spanish book (est. effort: 24 hrs + ?? hrs)

After 20 lessons of Beginner level, 20 lessons of Elementary level, Cynthia and I are heading to the Lower Intermediate class.  The date is set: August 25th.  But there is a catch.  We have to pass the examination on August 22nd.  That is hard!  Super hard!  I am really not good at the language department.  But I will try.

About that Spanish book … we shall see.

6. Quick recording of all my 158 songs (est. effort: 158 hrs)

Year 1994, I wrote my first song.  I reckon I still remember most if not all my 158 songs.  However, I know one day my memory may fade.  And some of those songs may be lost forever.  Now, that’s sad.  In view of this rather probable rather depressing reality, I have always wanted to record all my work.  It’s not as easy as it sounds.  I tend to spend time rewriting the parts that didn’t work, readjusting the key of the song, and on top of that, being a perfectionist, I wanted to do some decent recording.  That project didn’t last.

So now, I have reset my goal.  I need some quick and dirty recording.  Get it over and done with.  Some sort of documentation.  And then, I can pick ones that I like and do a better job.  Have them posted to MySpace (see point #1) for public sharing.

7. Seek direction on that blogger association I am associated with

I have to find an answer to that question: Where are we heading?  I am looking forward to seeing a new team.  Either way, my 1 year tenure will be up, after this year end.  A toast to all-good-things.

*     *     *     *     *

Wow, a total of 344 hours span over the remaining 20 weeks.  Now you know why I need a more balanced working life.  And unlike some of you, I am not inspired to work that extra hours for the big bucks plus promotion (otherwise, why would you trade more time with the same amount of reward?).  If I can complete all of the above before 2009 ends, I can start 2010 with a much lighter load.

On a separate note, one day I was really excited setting up my N97 as a web server – a future looking solution from Nokia Beta Labs.  What is more interesting is how people react to this ‘concept solution’.  One friend listened with interest and immediately, you can see his mind was working fast and he nodded: this could be useful.  One friend cracked some jokes on the potential applications, kind of similar to my initial dramatic thought that involves a striking long legged spy and her N97 (you can activate the phone’s camera remotely via Internet anywhere in the world amongst other bizarre things you can do).  Another friend, a Nokia non-supporter said: It is kind of pointless eh?

Life is full of pointless little things, I think.  At times I wonder what is the point in spending time with those social networking sites.  Recently, I looked into the periodic table via a free application called “Elements” from the Nokia OVI Store.  Did you know that there is an element called Einsteinium (Es)?  Its existence, from what I read, is pretty pointless.  Named after you-know-who.  To artificially create Einsteinium, first you need to irradiate plutonium-239 inside a nuclear reactor for couple of years.  Then mix the resulting plutonium-242 isotope with aluminum and further irradiate this mixture inside a nuclear reactor for another year or so.  The result is a mixture of Californium and Einsteinium that can be separated.

So, what’s the use of Einsteinium?  It could be pointless to some.  Or as an intermediate step in advancing scientific research to others.  I wonder if it would be safe to drink from a mug made in Einsteinium.

Einsteinium on Nokia app Elements

Speaking Up Not As Secretary of Association of Bloggers (Singapore)

Ever since the local news is out after my interview with The Straits Times (scanned copy)  and Jayne’s with TODAY  (scanned page #1 and page #2), I have received numerous personal messages from my friends and families.  Thank you for your support and I hear your concerns.  This is not an easy time for me, nor is it an easy decision to make.  I hear your questions and I would like to shed some lights on my side of the story, in my personal capacity, for those who wish to know more, as a friend.  I will not address to specific questions on the association here as you may find more answers from the temporary website’s FAQ section.  This website is my personal space to share my thoughts and my hobbies with my families and friends and new friends from the online world.  I wish you could respect that.

  • Two Options, Period – I have two options.  Step down like the rest or step up and drive this legal entity forward.  Personally I feel that there is a certain level of responsibility when I agree to a role offered, when I have signed a legal binding document submitted to the government.  Beyond that, even if I were to step down, I would prefer to have a transition period to help the next team on board to come up to speed, to minimize the impact to this entity.  And given these two options, I choose to step up, institute change that will take the association forward.  I can only do so if I stay on.
  • Why the Rest Have Stepped Down – The Straits Times reported that it is due to the family and work commitment.  Some friends asked me how true it is.  While I cannot and should not speculate the reasons behind (as decisions are made more than the rationale mind, there are emotions and background involved as well), here is what I can share with you.  We were ecstatic as a team when we first announced the news publicly (you can trace back our previous entries) but what came next were pure stress for all of us.  Most if not all of us were actively monitoring the responses from the public, from the Blogosphere, and we have dedicated a team to be on the ground and address these responses.  The initial response was largely not good, I admit.  It was (still is) very draining and stressful if you may imagine and it added strain to work and relationship and studies, for those weeks of the Internet that never slept.  That much I can share with you.  I respect those who were in the talented team.  They are great people to work with.  I wish the working relationship could have lasted longer.
  • Guilt by Association – I am aware that Jayne does not have an unblemished record when it comes to how she has responded to the public in the past.  My sister has too approached me and offered her words of concern.  I wish we had a prominent unblemished Singaporean blogger who steps up and create an association for the blogging community while raising our profile through networking with valued partners, bringing in high profile projects, but there is none.  Association of Bloggers (Singapore) is first of its kind and if not for Jayne, there will still be no such entity.  But I am not a blind follower.  I will hold her words to see through a transparent AGM (annual general meeting) for the election of the most appropriate leader for the association.  And I can’t see that through if I am not in it.  Jayne, if you are reading this, just so to let you know, I am watching you!
  • A New Untested Platform – Personally, I feel that it is fundamentally challenging to thread the boundaries between strong opposing political views and commercial influence – both we need to stay away because of the Societies Act and the fact that AB(S) is a non-profit organization.  The guiding principle to me would be to mimic Singapore’s unique environment and to maintain the harmony guided by the government.  It is not easy because every decision the team faces has to go through rounds of debate in view of potential abuse.  We are still learning our way in this untested platform.
  • Random Thoughts – I understand we could have been much better off if we were to hold off our announcement until the association is officially launched; I understand we could have been much better off if Jayne didn’t have baggage from the past; but I also understand why we need to move fast because the upcoming high profile projects coming our way that demand us to be so.  I wish the general public has a better understanding on how an association is set up in Singapore; and I wish that the public is more forgiving and to give this entity a chance to grow and evolve.  I still want to help creating something tangible for the good of Singapore.  Besides this primary motivation, I am blessed and motivated with all these opportunities that will make me a better, stronger person.

Now, if I could go back to my happy-go-lucky life and focus on making babies my photography and music and writing, I would much appreciate that.  Thank you for listening to my side of the story.

River Hongbao 2009 Opening Ceremony – A Media Coverage

A sample of photos taken during the River Hongbao 2009 Opening Ceremony

I am honored to be invited as part of the media crew to cover the River Hongbao Opening Ceremony.  Having no prior experience to cover event of such scale and significance, I followed closely to EastCoastLife, the president of our Association of Bloggers (Singapore), listening to her advice on who is who, what to anticipate, and the general tips to cover events and etc.

In this blog entry, I am going to share two photo albums with you. 

  1. Click here (or onto the image above) to view my personal favorite collection created using Nikon Capture NX2
  2. Scroll down to view the event collection created using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.2

On the Event

From now till Feb 1, there are many reasons to visit the Floating Platform just off Marina Square.  First, you get to walk around the platform built originally as a temporary location for the National Day Parade.  The last time I visited the same location was during the National Day Parade Preview back in 2007.  One fine piece of work built by the Singapore Armed Force, MINDEF, and DSTA.

Second, there are lots of photography opportunities.  Beautiful light with lots of color.  At the center of the Floating Platform is a performance stage.  Check out the show schedule here.  Lots of talents.  EastCoastLife and I enjoyed the cultural performance thoroughly.

Third, admission is free.  The venue is well organized and secured.  Tripods are allowed so bring your family and friends and take some memorable shots!  If you drop a link of your photo album here, I will gladly take a look.  Let’s learn from each other.

A Media Crew’s Journal

It was the first time I stepped into a Press Conference.  We were side by side with the traditional media.  And I am happy that my camera is of an industrial standard as compares to what the pros are using.  We are all Nikonians, we are friends immediately without the need to exchange words.

Peggy Chen, our friendly media point of contact, walked us through the program in Mandarin.  I tried very hard to understand what she said (I am a Cantonese) because she did give out useful information on what to expect, where to take your best photo shots.  I think I understood about 70% of what she said.  When she repeated the information a second time in English, I was in tears of joy.

The professional photographers move very fast.  We were dashing ahead, turning around to take some killer shots, and dashed out again – as our VVIP (very-very important people) walked amongst the crowd.  Over 800 shots were made on that evening and I am amazed on how Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Wong Kan Seng managed to smile in almost every photo I took throughout the entire event.

I was told that firecrackers were banned in Singapore and now recently lifted.  When EastCoastLife asked the security guards if we could get up close to the firecrackers and they were shocked, politely said no.  After seeing how explosive those firecrackers were, I personally am glad that I was nowhere close.

As you can see in the photos here, the performance was beautiful, professionally done.  Apparently, EastCoastLife has seen the preview and was tipping me on what shots to take.  Neat!  My personal favorite of the entire collection – besides the picture of a very pretty Chinese girl on stage – is the 6 men stacking up in the form of a totem

Sharing of Photography Experience

I have many photography mentors to help me with this learning journey.  So, I wish to thank Ken for the wonderful tip on: bring more than one lens for the event and change on the spot.  Because of this tip, I brought along my telephoto zoom lens as well.  I am so glad that I did.  I would have missed quite a number of shots that turn out to contain some of my favorites.

I also wish to thank Mathew to convince me that there are industrial strength battery chargers out there and with the right batteries, my camera can perform as though it is on steroid.  And just the day before, I invested S$200 for a charger and countless batteries (12 high capacity ones and 8 free not too high capacity batteries that come with the charger).  That makes my already heavy camera even heavier.  But that is no big deal, just need to do more weightlifting.  With all the quality batteries, my camera was shooting at 8 frames per second with the flash gun to match.

Two awesome tips!

Besides the two lenses – wide angle and telephoto – I brought my tripod and shutter release cable as well.  That night was also the first evening I tried the MUP (mirror up) function to minimize the mechanical vibration caused by the movement of the mirror inside the camera.  MUP only makes sense if you have a shutter release cable.

I have nearly underestimated the number of photos I would shoot especially with high speed shooting mode.  My 8GB Extreme IV memory card was barely enough (for over 800 shots taken).  I have completely depleted the 8 AA rechargeable batteries on the grip.  And I reckon my flash gun would need new batteries really soon.  Hence, lessons learned are:

  • Always anticipate where the VVIP will be heading.  And keep dashing forward (without knocking anyone down!).
  • Observe where the professional photographers stand (great tip from EastCoastLife).
  • If you can’t afford an extra camera body (like me), bring extra lenses for the event.
  • And if you are using one of the entry level dSLR cameras, do yourself a favor and get the 18-200mm lens (for my D700, I use the 24-70mm and 70-200mm, both at f/2.8).  It costs S$1,000 but you can almost shoot anything from any distance especially with the flash gun mounted.  Not large enough aperture is seldom an issue with flash.
  • Bring extra memory cards and batteries.  Even if you may not need to use them, they offer a good peace of mind.
  • Bring along an assistance to help you with your gears.  Better still, bring a pretty one so that he or she can be your subject if need to too.

Afterthoughts

As a blogger who participate in the New Media movement, I can certainly see the benefit of being part of a legal entity that complies to the Singapore Societies Act.  Much like how bloggers – myself included – get into company events through the PR companies, an association for the bloggers get us in touch with the events of national significance. 

Being bounded by the Societies Act does have its restriction, especially in the areas that touch onto Singapore politics.  But the upside is that not only the government, but also other established associations acknowledge our existence.  More doors will be open for us to “promote, protect, and educate” our members.  And inevitably, our key stakeholder list will expand beyond the Blogosphere – for the better I reckon.

At times I wonder how many active societies are there in Singapore.  I think in time to come, there will be more and more associations for the different groups of bloggers to cater for different special needs.  Is there a one size fits all?  Probably not, in my personal humble opinion.

Related Link: Personal Photo Collection – River Hongboa Opening Ceremony (A Highlight)

Association of Bloggers (Singapore) – This Is Your Secretary Speaking

Association of Bloggers (Singapore) - First Group Photo

Here is one secret of mine that no one knows except my mother.  When I was young, I dreamed of being a bus driver.  I would pace around my home in Hong Kong for hours imagining that I was shuttling my passengers around.  Little did I know that instead, I would become a secretary one day.

Maybe I could look cute in skirt.  That’s why our president EastCoastLife has appointed me as the association’s secretary.  When the prominent local blogger EastCoastLife – whom we have been dropping comments at each other’s sites for years – invited me to meet with other Singapore bloggers in person, I was curiously excited.  A series of events since the days of the Singapore F1 that lead to our association formally registered in Singapore – first of its kind.

Hooray!

Blogging is my passion.  And I am excited to be part of this association.  As a first generation immigrant of a country that I love (since 98), I am honored to take part in building something tangible here.  This is my sole motivation.  And as for the key stakeholders – in my personal view – they are (1) Singapore, (2) the public, and (3) the members.  My personal vision of success in mid term is to contribute in building a strong and sustainable blogging community in Singapore as the frontier of the New Media.  Some of you know that I have been a Management Consultant for more than a decade before moving into the industry and now helping to drive global initiatives.  I aim to bring along my experience of working with the leaders of the organizations – both profit and non-profit – into this new association.

Back to this secretary role, I hope it is just about taking minutes, co-signing cheques, answering phone calls, buying takeaway, babysitting bosses’ toddlers, taking pictures, and screaming at everybody but the bosses.  I mean, that is the job description of a secretary right?

Above are some of the pictures taken during one of our meetings (note: written consent required by the association before used).  Below are the links to the websites of our founding members.  They are really fun people to be with, so much talents from a diverse background.  I can’t say too much on the upcoming events now and we shall hear it from our media team later (hmmm … where have I put my media team hat).  Stay tuned!  This is a beginning of many great things to come ~ to quote EastCoastLife.

PS. Association of Bloggers (Singapore) is covered by Today’s TODAY newspaper, the morning edition.

Association of Bloggers (Singapore) – Committee Members