I have not been penning my thoughts much save for the scattered comments I make on news items. Please forgive me for that.
Here's some development on my new pad. I've just received the preliminary design of my new apartment and here's the proposed layout for my bed cum work-room.
I'm pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of a walk-in wardrobe which I thought was not possible given that my new room is not exactly very spacious. Some adjustments have to be made of course and I cannot wait for the end result come end August!
Truly speculation or just a mother's protective instinct to do damage control - I would like to see this couple stay together. Having followed Madonna since her debut, I seriously believe she's past the superficial celebrity shit. Someone should just burn these paparazzi folks at the stake like they do to suposed witches in the past - haha!
GUY RITCHIE - RITCHIE'S MOTHER SLAMS MADONNA DIVORCE SPECULATION 06/29/2008 02:15:27 PM
GUY RITCHIE's mother has hit out at reports her son wants to divorce his singer wife MADONNA, branding the rumours "works of fiction" dreamed up by the media.
The superstar couple has been plagued by speculation of a split for months, and reports heated up last week (23 Jun08) when it was claimed the pair had begun to seek legal advice from top lawyers.
Guy Ritchie and Madonna. The 2008 Cannes Film Festival - Day 8. 'I Am Because' - Premiere. Cannes, France - 21.05.08
But Ritchie's mother, Lady Amber Leighton, has been in contact with her filmmaker son and insists the couple have no intention to part ways.
The 62-year-old says, "It is absolute rubbish, worse than that. Guy will be furious at me talking to you but I feel I can't just let these reports go unanswered as they make me so angry and they are hurtful intrusions into their private lives.
"They are no different to most other couples and we all know that being together can be hard sometimes and marriages are not always a bed of roses.
"But like other couples they work at keeping their relationship happy and fresh and they are a close and loving couple who have a family to bring up."
She adds, "Madonna is in New York at the moment finishing off a tour and he will join her there after the weekend. That is not a couple splitting up. I'll say it one more time, they are not getting divorced; the speculation is TT - that's total tosh (untrue)."
June 24, 2008 Gamers love dying Death is sweet when it comes to videogames as players seem to get their kicks from being obliterated
Research suggests that a first-person shooter is so stressful that players are happy to get any respite, even if it means being blown to pieces -- PHOTO: UBISOFT ENTERTAINMENT
I CAN'T count the number of times or ways I've died.
Like most gamers, I've been slaughtered by AK-47-wielding terrorists, poisoned by eldritch spiders and blown up with alien frag grenades.
I've also been impaled on mediaeval swords, ripped limb from limb by dinosaurs and impassively stomped by 20-storey-tall, walking war machines that barely noticed my existence.
Yet here's the thing: It's possible that these deaths have been among my most enjoyable game experiences.
This is the fascinating argument of a new paper by Niklas Ravaja, a scientist who has done pioneering research into the emotions of gamers as they play. In 'The Psychophysiology Of James Bond: Phasic Emotional Responses To Violent Video Game Events' - published in the journal Emotion - Niklas reaches an amazingly counter-intuitive conclusion: Gamers don't like shooting their opponents but they're suffused with pleasure when they themselves are shot dead.
The findings were quite a surprise. For his experiment, Niklas took 36 gamers and wired them up with several sensors that minutely recorded their emotional states.
Then he had them play James Bond 007: NightFire, a first-person shooter that was, at the time, a pretty realistic videogame.
The results? When people killed an opponent, their electrodermal activity shot up, while their faces registered distress.
'That is, instead of joy resulting from victory and success, wounding and killing the opponent elicited anxiety, anger or both,' he said. When gamers themselves were killed, in contrast, the sensors detected 'positively valenced high-arousal affect', he said.
Dying was, in some way, fun.
Niklas wasn't entirely sure why gamers feel this way. But his much weirder experimental result, though, was our thrill at dying.
He thinks this might occur because getting killed is 'transient relief from engagement': A first-person shooter is so incredibly stressful that we're happy to get any respite, even if it requires being blown to pieces.
Yet, not all deaths are equal. This sounds strange to say but there are games I enjoy getting killed in more than others, because some designers have a much better sense of how to craft an aesthetically satisfying death.
My hands-down favourite is probably Halo 3 in online multiplayer. The instant you die, the game switches abruptly from the first-person perspective to third-person.
This is, in essence, much like the out-of-body experiences people report during near-death moments. Even better, really, because Halo gives you a very high degree of camera control. While I wait to respawn, I'll poke around like a curious ghost, dispassionately examining my former human shell. It's an oddly graceful moment of Zen and it works in beautiful contrast to the fight-or-flight riot of battle.
Most shooters execute this third-person shift, of course. But Bungie has made it into an experiential tone poem. You could think of it as 'the architecture of death' and game designers ought to pay more attention to it. Because one thing's for sure: We're all going to die.
June 23, 2008 PAINTBALL Paintball fast catching on By Soh Kai Wee
PAINT WAR: A player running for cover while his teammates provide fire support duriing a contest in the Singapore Paintball Novice Series at Bottle Tree park in Yishun. -- ST PHOTO: LIM WUI LIANG
What is paintball?
Paintball is played between two teams, usually with three, five or seven players on each side.
It is an adversarial game, like a modern-day version of cowboys and Indians - complete with 'guns' that shoot balls filled with water-soluble paint.
The objective is to capture the opposing team's flag.
Players are eliminated if they, or any part of their equipment, are hit by paintballs.
The duration of a game depends on the number of players and can last from five minutes to over an hour.
OUTWIT, outsprint, outshoot.
That would probably be the motto for a triumphant Marcus Pitobabao and his teammates from PSG Warfreakz.
They captured the second segment of the three-leg Singapore Paintball Novice Series by beating Red Shadows yesterday.
Pitobabao is one of the growing number of paintball enthusiasts in the country.
'The number of people playing the sport has increased significantly in the past year,' said Jane Koh, president of the Paintball Association of Singapore, which was formed last June.
She estimates the number of recreational paintball players to be 'in the thousands', while the number of competitive teams has doubled in the past three months.
What is paintball? Paintball is played between two teams, usually with three, five or seven players on each side.
It is an adversarial game, like a modern-day version of cowboys and Indians - complete with 'guns' that shoot balls filled with water-soluble paint. ... more 'We had seven teams in the first leg, held in March,' she added. 'This leg attracted 15 teams and more than 250 people attended this event.'
There is even a national team, the Red Sevens, formed in 2006.
The growth can be partly attributed to the rise in the number of facilities for the sport.
Previously, players had to travel to Bintan or Malaysia.
Now, they have three grounds to choose from - Crossfire Paintball at Singapore Discovery Centre, TAG Paintball at Orchid Country Club and Red Dynasty Paintball Field at Bottle Tree Park in Yishun.
It was the action at Yishun that led Raffles Junior College student Lum Hui to don 'battle fatigues' of jersey, pants and mask.
'I saw people playing on the field as I passed overhead on the MRT,' said the 16-year-old. 'It looked very exciting, so I looked them up on the Internet, and later set up a team with other members from the weplaypaintball.com forum.'
The tournament's Most Valuable Player, Thomas Lee, a 23-year-old tertiary student, said: 'The game's fast pace forces you to make quick decisions and I get a rush when I outwit my opponents.'
Paintball's growth as a recreational activity has been welcomed by the Singapore Sports Council, which sponsored yesterday's tournament.
'Paintball has grown in popularity among the youth and young working adults here,' Dr Bervyn Lee, the SSC's director, sports culture, sports marketing group, said.
'Based on its potential growth, the sport would add to the vibrancy of the sports scene in Singapore.
'This is in line with the Let's Play movement that was recently initiated to ... encourage everyone in Singapore to be involved in sports, in all ways, at all times, simply because they enjoy it.'
Object of lust: The iPhone 3G from Apple. -- PHOTO: APPLE
WHEN SingTel opened its website for potential buyers of the new iPhone 3G, I was one of the first to register.
The features are too irresistible. With its new high-speed 3G feature, I won't have to worry about finding a Wireless@SG hot spot any more.
The built-in GPS capability is another attraction. If Steve Job's video of the iPhone 3G at the WWDC 2008 launch is anything to go by, I can use third-party applications like Loopt (www.loopt.com) to locate my buddies and keep in touch.
However, I am a little apprehensive about giving up some features when I move over to the new iPhone.
Top of the missing features list is video-recording and conferencing. Next is the lack of MMS capability.
Connecting to a PC via Bluetooth is also a feature that is sorely absent.
What weighs on my mind now is the price of the iPhone 3G. Will SingTel adopt Apple's US retail pricing of US$199 (S$274)? Customers will queue around the ComCentre if it does this.
A quick check of www.singtelshop.com shows that competing models in this price range include the Sony Ericsson P1i ($298), Nokia N76 ($288), Samsung Soul ($298) and LG KU990R Viewty ($288). The prices are inclusive of a two-year iOne Plus subscription plan of $25.88 a month.
All these popular models will be left on the shelves if SingTel offers the iPhone at $299.
So a higher price is likely. SingTel could set it at $799 which will bring it closer to the likes of the HTC Touch Cruise ($698), HTC TyTN II ($688) and the MWg Zinc II ($698).
But this will result in a much diminished take-up rate. I for one will probably forego my iPhone 3G reservation and wait a few months for the inevitable price reduction to occur once StarHub and M1 come into the picture.
SingTel will also be seen in a negative light for skimming the market with this premium pricing strategy.
Perhaps SingTel should take into account the experiences of service providers such as AT&T in the US and Deutsche Telekom AG in Germany.
Both reported increased data usage from the iPhone - over 30 times higher than any other comparable handphone.
By design, the iPhone automatically switches to a data connection when a Wi-Fi hotspot is not found in the vicinity.
First-time users will get a rude shock when they see their first month's bill. If they only have a voice plan, the pay-per-use data usage is billed $0.0038/kB. It may look low but assessing all those YouTube video clips and e-mail messages will quickly add up to a hefty bill.
As such, it would make sense for SingTel to consider bundling the iPhone 3G together with a mobile broadband plan.
Perhaps a more palatable introductory pricing strategy would be to keep the initial price at $499 and bundle it with a 24-month voice plus mobile broadband plan. You could spend another $29 to $49 a month depending on the plan that you select.
The sweetener could be a $200 trade-in price for the existing cellphone which means that a customer can walk away with the new iPhone for only $299.
There's also the group of StarHub and M1 subscribers waiting eagerly in the wings to take advantage of the new number portability system.
The iPhone 3G at the right price may just be the perfect bait to tip this group over to SingTel.
Acer Aspire 8920G From $3,298 Get it from authorised dealers
A MONSTER 18.4-inch full HD screen, powerful gaming engine and great built-in speakers - what more can a gamer, movie or music lover ask for in a notebook? Indeed, Acer's latest offering - the Aspire 8920G desktop replacement notebook - had me drooling the moment I laid eyes on it.
Bulk and beauty rarely go hand in hand but Acer showed how it could. At its locked position, this giant notebook occupies the space of two mid-sized notebooks or three ultra-portables put side by side. Weighing in at 4kg, it is not something you would want to carry all day. But what makes this notebook irresistibly charming is its glossy black finish, contoured edges and the sprinkling of pretty blue LED lights.
Under the hood, you'll find mostly top of the line specifications like an Intel Centrino Core 2 Duo 2.5 GHz processor, 3 GB DDR2 SDRAM and 320GB hard disk. Additional firepower includes an 18.4-inch full HD widescreen monitor that can display up to 1,920 x 1,020 pixels. Complementing the full HD screen is a built-in 2x Blu-ray DVD burner and its beautifully designed, quick access and touch-sensitive DVD playback control buttons.
Completing the multimedia package is a set of stereo speakers packed with Cinesurround Sound 5.1 and a Turbo CineBass booster. Watching a battle scene from the movie Saving Private Ryan at full volume late one night got me an earful from my sleeping spouse.
Reluctantly putting on my headphones, I then played Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. With an Nvidia GeForce 9650M GS graphics chipset, this notebook had more than enough gaming muscle to run the game without much fuss. Not surprising, it scored an impressive 4,987 points on the 3DMark 06 benchtest.
I was equally impressed with the 112-minute battery life. Desktop replacement notebooks that I have reviewed previously, such as the HP HDX Dragon and the Dell XPS M1730, lasted no longer than 70 minutes.
Around its huge frame, Acer packs all the necessary connectivity options that I want. Apart from the standard wired and wireless networking features, there are four USB ports for external devices and a six-in-one multi-memory card reader. 'Wow factors' include a HDMI port for high definition content and a TV tuner for watching free-to-air TV channels like Arts Central. Other goodies include a webcam for video chat and a fingerprint reader for added security.
The software bundle is good to boot. Highlights include the Acer Empowering Technology suite of utilities that allow you to secure data in the notebook and perform data backup and recovery, NTi Media Maker and Norton Internet Security.
Expect to be blown away.
By Adli Yashir, an executive sub-editor with my paper Digital Life, The Straits Times
46664. That was Nelson Mandela's cell number in South Africa many years ago.
We all know by now that he was imprisoned simply because he spoke up for coloured people. For fighting to end racism and white minority rule, he spent the prime years of his life behind bars. If not for Mandela's spirit, the world would have been a much darker place today. He is truly one legend who will be forever remembered for having changed the ugly head of racism forever.
June 28, 2008 Stars pay tribute to Mandela ahead of 90th birthday
Mr Mandela (left), South Africa's first black president, officially retired from politics nine years ago, but he is still a moral authority admired the world over. -- PHOTO: AP
LONDON - STARS of the screen, stage and sporting arena paid tribute on Friday to Mr Nelson Mandela, whose visit to London was overshadowed by events in Zimbabwe where disputed elections have just ended.
Hollywood actor Will Smith hosted a birthday celebration concert in front of Mr Mandela, who turns 90 next month, and nearly 50,000 cheering fans in London's Hyde Park.
Smith was joined on stage by Formula One racer Lewis Hamilton and pop acts including Queen, Simple Minds, Amy Winehouse, Leona Lewis, Annie Lennox and Razorlight.
The event was organised to support Mr Mandela's HIV/Aids charity '46664', named after his prison number, and comes 20 years after the London hosted another concert for the statesman when he was still behind bars for his stand against apartheid.
'Twenty years ago, London hosted a historic concert which called for our freedom,' a frail-looking Mandela told the waving crowd after they had sung him 'Happy Birthday'.
'Your voices carried across the water and inspired us in our prison cells far away.
'As we celebrate, let us remind ourselves that our work is far from complete. Where there is poverty and sickness, including Aids, where human beings are being oppressed, there is more work to be done.
'Our work is for freedom for all ... We say tonight, after nearly 90 years of life, it is time for new hands to lift the burdens. It is in your hands now, I thank you.'
DESPITE the grunting, shrieks and yelps, Maria Sharapova still lost to fellow-Russian Alla Kudryatseva.
But the 2004 champion did not go down with a whimper. Using a digital sound level meter, The Telegraph recorded maximum decibels of 103.2, louder than a motorcycle or a lawnmower.
Last year, Sharapova broke her previous record of 102.7 - equivalent to an ambulance siren - by yelling at 103.7, greater than the noise of a small aircraft landing.
'It's difficult for me because I have been doing it since the age of four,' she once said. 'I don't necessarily like it when I watch myself on television but it's just automatic for me.'
Sharapova is the noisiest player on the women's professional circuit. Next is Serena Williams, at a much lower 88 decibels, and her sister Venus, at 85 decibels, the equivalent of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
Britney: A Second Chance At VMA Glory? DERRIK J. LANG - June 27, 2008
LOS ANGELES — MTV isn't ruling out giving viewers more Britney Spears at this year's Video Music Awards. "Everyone deserves a second or third chance, right?" Van Toffler, president of MTV Networks Music Group, playfully told The Associated Press during a telephone interview Friday. When asked if he was just joking, Toffler said "sorta."
"Who knows?" he said.
In this Sept. 9, 2007, file photo, Britney Spears performs at the MTV Video Music Awards held at the Palms Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, file)
Spears' out-of-it "Gimme More" comeback performance during last year's MTV Video Music Awards at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas was one of the most-talked televised moments of 2007. The drama-filled VMAs drew 7.1 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. Another Spears redux could equal even more eyeballs.
"I'm not sure how we top Britney opening the show," said Toffler. "We are working on it every minute of every day."
This year's MTV Video Music Awards will air live from Paramount Pictures Studios in Los Angeles on Sept. 7. (MTV and Paramount are corporate cousins within Viacom Inc.)
Toffler said the award show's performances will occur on the lot's various sound stages, rooftops and faux city streets.
"The backlot gives us versatility," said Toffler. "You can do street performances, on-top-of-building performances, on-the-side-of-a-building performances, inside-of-a-studio performances, so we're pretty excited."
June 27, 2008 Bill Gates exits Microsoft SAN FRANCISCO - MACINTOSH computer fanatics won't have Mr Bill Gates to kick around anymore.
The Microsoft co-founder and driving force in the company, whose boyish face and nerdy manner epitomises the US software colossus, spends his last day at the office on Friday.
However Mr Gates, 52, remains chairman of the Microsoft board of directors and the company's largest shareholder.
After decades devoted to Microsoft, Mr Gates turns his attention full time to the philanthropic Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation he established with his wife.
Yahoo shakes up management team SAN FRANCISCO - YAHOO is setting up a new chain of command amid the turmoil triggered by the embattled Internet icon's snub of Microsoft's US$47.5 billion (S$64.8 billion) takeover bid.
Under the new pecking order announced on Thursday, Yahoo Executive Vice-Presidents Hilary Schneider and Ash Patel are being given expanded responsibilities over the Sunnyvale-based company's products and sales teams.
Ms Schneider, a former newspaper executive, has been moving up the ranks since she joined Yahoo in September 2006. Mr Patel has played a key role in developing many of Yahoo's most popular products, including its finance section and instant messaging service, since joining the company 12 years ago.
Yahoo also is reorganising its technology division in an effort to use its computing power more effectively and improve the coordination between its product developers and engineers.
This is the third time in 19 months that Yahoo has redrawn its management chart as it tries to snap out of a financial malaise that has ravaged its stock price, jeopardised its independence and demoralised employees.
In the other two shake-ups since November 2006, Chief Operating Officer Mr Dan Rosensweig and Chief Executive Mr Terry Semel resigned.
This time, both of Yahoo's top executives - Co-Founder and CEO Mr Jerry Yang and President Ms Susan Decker - are staying put despite shareholder unrest about the company's recent decisions.
Ms Decker said in an interview that she and Mr Yang had been working on the latest changes for several months as part of the company's efforts to become a one-stop destination for online advertisers and build an even more appealing website for consumers.
The overhaul comes as the company tries to fend off a shareholder mutiny led by activist investor Mr Carl Icahn and to fill a leadership vacuum created as dozens of senior managers and top engineers have headed for the exits during the past year.
The exodus has accelerated since Yahoo signalled a lack of faith in its own technology earlier this month by turning to Internet search leader Google to help boost advertising revenue.
Samsung unveils management shakeup to boost transparency
SEOUL - SAMSUNG unveiled measures on Wednesday to bring more transparency to its management structure following a scandal that led to the resignation of its chairman, but critics said the reform did not go far enough.
In April, Chairman Lee Kun Hee stepped down after 20 years as chief of South Korea's biggest conglomerate in the aftermath of his indictment on tax evasion and other charges. The charges followed high-profile special prosecutors' probe into the conglomerate.
Same price, but not same size American food manufacturers shrink package sizes on the quiet
WASHINGTON - AS AMERICANS struggle with soaring fuel and food prices, it must come as a relief that the prices of some items in their shopping baskets are staying the same.
Or are they? While the price tags on some processed food may be unchanged, the amount that Americans get for their money is surreptitiously shrinking.
'There's a grocery shrink ray that has been unleashed on supermarkets,' said Mr Ben Popken of Consumerist.com, a consumer information website.
'Manufacturers have kicked up the stun rate of the shrink gun this year because of rising oil prices and the rising costs of commodities like grain and milk.'
THEN: 32-ounce jar
Hellmann's mayonnaise - a vital ingredient in the egg or tuna-salad sandwiches that feature prominently in bag lunches - has seen its jar trimmed from 32 ounces (907g) to 30 ounces, said Mr Dean Mastrojohn, a spokesman for Unilever, the global conglomerate that makes Hellmann's.
NOW: 30-ounce jar
READ BETWEEN THE LINES
'So many times, they put 'new improved package' on the label but they would never put 'new, improved and smaller'.'
MS DEIRDRE CUMMINGS, legislative director at consumer advocacy group MASSPIRG, who says package-trimming is thinly disguised price-boosting
It's happening in S'pore too THE package size of some products being sold in Singapore is also shrinking. The items include some Malaysian brands of biscuits.
For example, a pack of Hup Seng cream crackers, which used to weigh 500g, now weighs 428g. In addition, the price has gone up.
A company spokesman said the quantity was changed because of the higher cost of manufacturing.
'Flour, palm oil and electricity prices have doubled. So we had to change packaging for 90 per cent of our biscuits,' she said.
A Straits Times check of some American products sold here - including Tropicana orange juice and Hellmann's mayonnaise - showed no change in the size of the packaging.
Manufacturers here said they would not take the downsizing route even if the price of raw materials rises further because it would not be cost-effective in a market of Singapore's size.
'If we change the size of our products, we have to change the size of all our packaging and even have to adjust settings on our machines. It is impractical,' said Mr Thomas Pek, the owner of Tai Hua Foods, which makes soya sauce.
'Anyway, we do not supply on a large scale like some US brands,' he added.
JESSICA LIM adapted from "Same price, but not same size", The Straits Times
26 June 2008 Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang (left) and co-founder David Filo. Yahoo has sent a letter to stockholders defending its alliance with Google and criticizing Carl Icahn's campaign to install a Microsoft-friendly board of directors. - AP
Have you received an email claiming that a tigeress was suckling several tiger-costumed piglets to counteract her depression after losing her own cubs?
What the email claims :
In a zoo in California, a mother tiger gave birth to a rare set of triple tiger cubs. Unfortunately, due to complications in the pregnancy, the cubs were born prematurely and due to their tiny size, died shortly after birth.
The mother tiger started to decline in health, although physically she was fine. The veterinarians felt that the loss of her litter had caused the tigress to fall into a depression. The doctors decided that if the tigress could surrogate another mother's cubs, perhaps she would improve.
After checking with many other zoos across the country, the depressing news was that there were no tiger cubs of the right age to introduce to the mourning mother. The veterinarians decided to try something that had never been tried in a zoo environment. Sometimes a mother of one species will take on the care of a different species. The only "orphans" that could be found quickly were a litter of wiener pigs. The zoo keepers and vets wrapped the piglets in tiger skin and placed the babies around the mother tiger.
Would they become cubs or pork chops????????????? Take a look........ you won't believe your eyes!!!!"
This email forward arrives with photographs of a mother tiger suckling several piglets cutely clad in "tiger" suits. The message claims that veterinarians at a Californian zoo introduced the disguised piglets to the mother tiger in an effort to alleviate her depression after she lost her real cubs. The photographs are genuine. However, the explanation is a work of fiction.
The photographs were actually taken at the Sriracha Tiger Zoo in Thailand and not in California. The zoo is renowned for its rather bizarre cross-species displays. According to a 2004 article in the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) Quarterly:
The Sriracha Tiger Zoo, an hour outside of Bangkok, Thailand, is truly an amazing place. Boasting more than 400 tigers, a handful of Asian elephants, piles of crocodiles, camels, snakes and other exotic animals, the zoo has some intriguing, yet troubling exhibits.
In one glass room, a farrowing crate entombed a pig who, lying on her side, nourished both her piglets and tiger cubs. Across the hall, another glass room housed a female tiger, who fed piglets adorned in tiger-print costumes. This incongruous display was replicated elsewhere, where enclosures housed tigers, pigs, and dogs together.
The zoo features a tiger circus and a variety of displays and shows designed to entertain guests, including crocodile and elephant shows, pig racing, "the genius pig that can calculate in 5 languages" and "Scorpion Queen, the girl with over 100 scorpions on her body". In spite of the claims in the email forward, the tiger suited piglets were not given to a grieving mother tiger to help her depression. Instead, they represent a callous manipulation of animals for the gratification of their human visitors. Other photographs show the piglets interacting with a tiger without their "tiger" disguises, so the tiger suits are clearly to increase the entertainment value of the display and are not really required. Photographs also depict a mother pig returning the "favour" by suckling tiger cubs.
It seems apparent that the author of this email forward has simply invented a touching story to suit a set of rather intriguing images. The photographs are certainly interesting. However, they do not depict an act of kindness by concerned humans intent on helping an animal in distress as implied in the message. Instead, they exemplify our unfortunate willingness to exploit our fellow creatures for our own selfish purposes.
As I always say, Amazing Thailand does it again! That doesn't change the fact that the country is still my favourite Asia destination okay.
These Jap whalers just don't get it! In my opinion, they are just so FOS.
26 June 2008 A Japanese whaling ship in Antarctic waters. Japan defended its practice of 'scientific' whale hunting at the annual International Whaling Commission meeting on Wednesday, insisting it had yielded important scientific results. - AFP
26 Jun 2008 North Korean soldiers (R) and their South Korean counterpart (L) at the border village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone. North Korea was expected to finally deliver an overdue account of its nuclear activities on Thursday. - AFP
This blog has never covered the topic of fashion until today. Besides, for an individual who's mostly in tees and shorts and rarely seen otherwise, what does he know about fashion? Right. I choose practical attire at the work place (and get away with it!) and even when I hit the town over sweating my ass out in shirts and pants due to this unforgiving humid weather.
Anyway, I was browsing the news sites when I stumbled upon some pictures of the recent Milan Fashion Shows. The following selections are what I call the evolution of male wear or the effeminisation of male fashion. Follow me down the fashion runway and see for yourself.
Milan Fashion Week
Alexander McQueen was another designer who presented his spring/summer 2009 collection in Milan. Photo: Giulio Di Mauro/EPA
Hmmm, how many of you guys dare put that on even on a special occasion? NOT me.
Alexander McQueen. Photo: Guiseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty Images
Woah! The formal leather version of sport sandals plus the sheen! Perhaps an upscale version of the popular Havanas.
Alexander McQueen. Photo: Alessandro Garofalo/Reuters
Steve McQueen was a famous sports car racer who projects the gritty and manly image. This McQueen's designs and the overall packaging of the model is quite the opposite of course.
The runway of the Versace spring/summer 2009 men's show.
Nice sky blue and whites.
Versace. Photo: Antonio Calanni/Associated Press
Okay, this is what I consider funky street wear with an attitude. Definitely very practical for the tropical weather!
Prada. Photo: Antonio Calanni/Associated Press
I like the colours but the overexposed shoulders is way too much for me to handle. Haha.
Scottish highland wear? Something's not right here. Too drag.
25 Jun 2008 Philippine Coast Guard rescuers search for victims near the sunken passenger ferry the MV Princess of the Stars off the Sibuyan Sea in central Philippines. Philippine investigators are to open an inquiry on Wednesday into the ferry disaster. - AP
The Dynamic Tower will constantly change its shape.
The world's first moving building, an 80-storey tower with revolving floors giving a shifting shape, will be built in Dubai, its architect says.
The Dynamic Tower design is made up of 80 pre-fabricated apartments which will spin independently of one another.
"It's the first building that rotates, moves, and changes shape," said architect David Fisher, who is Italian, at a news conference in New York.
"This building never looks the same, not once in a lifetime," he added.
The 420-metre (1,378-foot) building's apartments would spin a full 360 degrees, at voice command, around a central column by means of 79 giant power-generating wind turbines located between each floor.
The slender building would be energy self-sufficient as the turbines would produce enough electricity to power the entire building and even feed extra power back into the grid, said the Italian architect at the unveiling of the project in New York.
The apartments, which will take between one and three hours to make a complete rotation, will cost from $3.7m to $36m.
There are also plans to build a similar, 70-storey skyscraper in Moscow.
"I call these buildings designed by time, shaped by life," said the Florence-based architect, who has never built a sky-scraper before.
"These buildings will open our vision all around, to a new life."
The skyscraper will cost an estimated $700m to build and should be up and running in Dubai in 2010.
Check out the source, BBC News, for the computer animation that shows what the building would look like in motion.
The M1 operator claimed that this only affects handphone models Nokia N95 8GB and the 6**** something (I forgot the other digits). I'm referring to the SMS 2.0 application that she claims comes preinstalled with the 2 phones and it has nothing to do with M1. I have my suspicions because the applications has the M1 logo on the top left/right hand corner.
The offending application which sends advertisements with every sms.
How does the irritating SMS 2.0 work? Perhaps if there are some of you who love your privacy being invaded by advertisements with every SMS sent, then you might think I am making a big fuss out of nothing. Anyway, here's the 2 sources of irritation the application posed for me:
1) While composing an SMS, a text-advert will appear as a horizontal bar at the bottom of the screen. 2) After sending out an SMS, a full page advertisement will appear and you have to click one button on the keypad to clear it.
One click only, what's the big deal? Well, not if you have to do this for every sms you send out and the advertisement just seem to hang for awhile before the details are cleared from the screen. It was a novel experience at the beginning but after 50 or more clicks, it grew tiresome and annoying.
To me, the matter is clear : this is a obviously an intrusion of one's privacy. Imagine someone shoving a printed advertisement into your face everytime you turn a street corner - I believe that is how many SMSes we send out daily - or more. What would you do? Remember, IN YOUR FACE. Moreover, last I recall, none of the advertisers had paid me screen space to flash their annoying ads. Get my drift???
WAIT A MINUTE. I am really annoyed now. I just googled SMS 2.0 and guess what I discovered?!! Click here to go to the SMS 2.0 web on a separate tab/ window to follow my train of thought.
The M1 operator claimed that the software is not their doing. Apparently, it may not be so.
See bottom center of the page. SMS2.0 is brought to you in Singapore by: M1 [the logo]
What a blatant lie made by the operator!
Check the following information out under the CHARGES link at the bottom left:
Charges Download of SMS2.0 application is FREE! No data charges during download. Content received from SMS2.0 is FREE! AND IRRITATING!
Standard data charges apply only when you choose to connect to the Internet and browse for more information on the free content.
Read in between the lines. However cleverly worded "choose to connect" may be, it does mean that you CAN ACCIDENTALLY click on the free content which leads to PAID content based on STANDARD DATE CHARGES. Accidents can be costly - M1 knows that and it is probably exploiting this loophole stumbled upon by unknowing customers. Very insiduous indeed!
SMS charges remain as per your mobile service plan. Terms and conditions apply in the use of this service. For more details, visit www.miworld.com.sg. Note: When roaming, data charges including taxes/levies imposed by the foreign mobile operators may apply.
I've just spoken to another M1 operator. He did not deny the fact that M1 is behind the SMS 2.0 software. When I asked him why is the customer not informed that s/he would be bombarded with advertisements with every SMS composed AND sent, he repeated the same line like the previous female operator :
SMS 2.0 is a feature that comes with yours and other selected phone models.
My followup enquiry :
Do the other telcos sell the same handphone models with SMS 2.0? Am I right to say that I had paid just for the handset? That I had paid M1 just to use the telephone and sms services? That I DID NOT pay for advertisements to appear on my handphone incessantly? Why did M1 not notify me that it has modified my brand new handset and without my consent?
The reply : Sir, you can remove the application easily.
I rest my case.
To all of you out there who have yet to suscribe to M1 service : this is clearly an invasion of privacy which some futurists had warned about regarding 3G phones.
M1, by pre-installing /modifying handsets without the owner's prior knowledge, and an operator probably instructed to deny its association with SMS 2.0 with a white/grey lie until cornered by the irritable customer like yours truly? - is just TOO MUCH.