30 April 2007

A Personal Letter to Elaine Made Public

Dear 干女儿 (GNE), I visited your blog just now. Seems like I can't leave a comment there so I have no choice but to do it here in my own blog. I hope you don't mind.

While feeling rather sad that you are not blogging (temporarily or permanently), I can fully understand and agree with what you have said. I personally also find that blogging didn't seem so fun as 2 years ago when I first started doing it. What brought about this abrupt change to both of us at about the same time, I have no wish to speculate.

Suffice to say, this is what I have observed lately:

1. What started out as "horsing around" (jokes) can easily be turned into personal attacks in a public domain. There is a very fine line between the two;

2. What is meant as "horsing around" can be just as easily interpreted as a personal attack and evoke a vicious counter-attack which you least expect. It depends very much on the comfort level between the two of you. Even for close friends, you may not know exactly where this level is. Don't try to test it;

3. Old jokes are told repeatedly, ad nauseum. So much so that they don't seem funny anymore. Even irritating at times;

4. Some people dictate what you should or should not write. (Do they expect me to send my draft to them for approval first before I publish it? If so, I might as well write for a newspaper.); and

5. Some people use their blogs for innocuous social purpose while others also use them for commercial or even political purposes.

And this is what I have learnt:

1. If you don't want to be flamed, don't flaunt your assets (be they dimples, more erogenous zones, looks, age, sports cars and other properties);

2. Never react adversely and emotionally via the comment box which the whole wide world can read;

3. If you don't like what is written and have the author's personal contact details, send him a private email or sms him/her to say so, politely.

4. Never ever use vulgar words, in whatever language, however abbreviated. People can understand them and they will just reply "I wish you the same".

5. If they ignore your feedback, you can decide not to visit their blog anymore. (There are so many other blogs you can visit.) However, if they respond favorably to your feedback, it's up to you if you want to continue the blogo-relationship.

Disclaimer: Quite different from my other blog posts, this is a serious article and it is not directed at anyone in particular. The above pointers are just my personal observations and suggested solutions. They may be right or wrong and I am not passing judgement here. Please feel free to add your comments and opinions in my comment box but I will appreciate that no personal attacks on anyone or old wisecracks be made, at least for this post.

28 April 2007

Six Weird Things About Me

I've been tagged by Noel to do this meme.

1. I don't dig my nose in my car but I shave in it (my car, not my nose that is, LOL).

No, not with shaving foam and razor. (What, you think I am Mr Bean ah?) I am a very busy executive, you know? Besides, with all the time I spent blogging, especially mindless memes like this one, I always wake up too late to shave in the toilet so I end up shaving in the car. But if shaving in the car is weird, why did they come up with a product like that in the first place?

2. According to my friends who've since become my enemies, I have weird hands.

But frankly, I don't know what so weird about my hands. They also have 5 fingers each what. Oh you mean you see one hand much smaller than the other, is it? Aiyah, then you obviously don't know what is the meaning of perspective in art.

3. According to my enemies friends, I also have weird feet.

Again, what's so weird about my feet? They look different from each other? Of course what, abaden? They are left foot and right foot, for goodness sake. Don't you know that a man's left side of the face is also a little different from his right? Don't believe me? Just photoshop half of your face, say left (i.e. mask out the right side), make a mirror copy of the left, then paste the mirror copy as your right face. I bet you can't even recognise yourself, okay? Jisuz, even coconuts come in different sizes.

Still stubbornly refuse to get my point? (This phrase is also by courtesy of Chun See, just like his newly-coined OAMSN = on a more serious note.) Let me show you what I am trying to say by doing a little experiment.

(The subject of my earlier experiment had voiced dissatisfaction that I had defaced his photo. I am very sorry for any embarassment caused to the subject and I apologise unreservedly for the mistake. Subject's name has been withheld so that he cannot be identified. For those who had saved a copy of the doctored photo, you are advised to destroy it immediately.)

For the same experiment, I have replaced the earlier photo with a more deserving subject:

I think a lot of people would like to see the new subject cut up into a hundred pieces, not just halved. So there shouldn't be any problem with this one, I hope. Although for some unknown reason, the effect is not as great or as funny as the earlier one, you still can see the differences here:

The left photo was reconstructed using 2 right halves of subject's face while the right photo was reconstructed using 2 left halves of his face. Notice that the eyes, nose, mouth, ears and even the face shape are different between the two photos. A point proven beyond all reasonable doubt.

4. I am comfortable with any footwear, even if they don't come in a pair. So long as I have shoes, I don't complain.

I normally don't do that. However, on this occasion, I did it for a very good reason. You see, my family was at the bowling alley at NSRCC in Changi Coast Rd. After each of us had exchanged our left shoe for a pair of bowling shoes, I realised that my socks were in the car. So I borrowed my son's right sandal and wore it on my left foot. I had my own shoe on my right foot. Then I walked to my car to get my socks.

5. I have a pair of dimples (not to mention red luscious lips).

Don't they make me look like a cute Cabbage Patch doll?

Hmm... I must ask my wife if she married me because of my dimples, haha.

6. Yes, I still love Mr Bean shows. (Stop sniggering, Chris.) It's no shame if I'm capable of appreciating Mr Bean's humour. I know it's slapstick comedy but Mr Bean makes me feel so good when he seems to have stranger hands than my own. And no cute dimples too. LOL.

And now for the victims - I am tagging the following 6 people to do this meme:


Oh is that 7 people? I can't help it if I got so many blogger friends mah, hehe. One of you is the reserve tag. (Did I hear all of you wanting to be the reserve? Too bad, only one of you can drop out, haha.)

21 April 2007

When Will The Shooting Stop?

Last Monday someone shot to notoriety
Shot as in literally
His surname was Cho
He hailed from Seoul

His name was Seung Hui
Shocking act in a country most free
At Virginia Tech University
Where he was reading an English degree

Thirty two innocent people killed
America's worst school shooting it was billed
Pumped a bullet into own head
Rather than let the law catch up instead

Why the senseless killing
Was it an act willing
The way that he planned it
Pre-meditated is my verdict

Either that
Or he was mad
But now the question in mind
Is why a madman was not confined

It has happened many times before
In other campuses I recall
Their gun law seems non-existent
Right to own one is in the Constitution

Why is that so
I have no wish to know
What I'm asking those at the top
Is when will the shooting stop

Are you waiting for another madman to kill
(Happen again I am sure it will)
Before you review your gun law
Which now clearly has its flaw

Buying a gun is so easy
Whereas in my country
Getting chewing gum is harder
Can only smuggle a little from across the border

Here if you have a gun in your hand
Then you are either a policeman
Or a robber or intend to be
Who'll go on a crime spree

Background checks you may make
On sane gun buyers before a sale you take
But what if the buyer goes crazy
After the gun's been sold already?

Or the father who doesn't keep it properly
And his toddler lays hands on it playfully
Ends up shooting his sibling dead
I'd really rather the father be shot instead

Or when a driver loses his cool
Over a road rage incident perpetrated by a fool
Reaches for the gun under the seat
And kills a fellow motorist in a moment of the heat

Would you send a child to that country
To get that elusive degree
When he might get it only
If at all posthumously

My thoughts and sadness go to the departed
And their families who are most hurt
It is certainly difficult to get over
Let's just pray that it will not happen again ever

15 April 2007

Inappropriate Behaviour On The Web? (2)

"These days, I can't blog freely anymore. The blogosphere is getting scary. People attack each other with words (both explicitly & implicitly), the world is getting uglier." - quoted from Etel's blog, without her permission, of course.

What prompted her to say that could be the spate of news lately about bloggers' behaviour on the Web, especially on blogs and forums. (This post is a sequel to an earlier one.)

In an attempt to control online dissent, China had ordered its bloggers to register with the government almost 2 years ago. It was recently reported that China had an estimated 20.8 million bloggers at the end of 2006, of whom 3.15 million were active writers. With such colossal numbers, it is understandable if the state controls have met with little success so far. It is probably because of this reason that Malaysia has recently decided not to take a similar measure:

Recently too, a story about an attractive 18-year old Singaporean blogger made the news. She was 'flamed' for posting revealing personal photos of herself as well as blogging about what was viewed by the 'flamers' as her somewhat overly luxurious lifestyle. The 'flamings' spreaded to other Internet forums and there were several threads on her, each with hundreds of postings. Some comments were polite but there were also others which were nasty and insulting. The situation got so bad that Michelle made a police report on 28 Mar 2007 and posted the report on her blog. Needless to say, she was 'flamed' even more and accused of over-reacting to the incident.

One forum user, Helen Leong (28) even said, "If she can't take the flamings on the forum, then why did she post her pictures online? It's common sense: If you post anything online, you have to be prepared for flamings."

Of course, there were also others who were supportive of Michelle's action. Daniel Sun wrote a letter to the New Paper dated 10 Apr 2007 in which he applauded Michelle's action.

Besides yours truly, many bloggers have also blogged about this incident. (See another example here.)

For those of you who are interested, Michelle's blog is here but do note that she may have removed some of the postings which caused the furore. Her blog is titled "There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved". Indeed, it is quite obvious from the photos on her blog that she is deeply in love and with whom. Not only that, it seems that young and pretty girls like her are not afraid to let everyone know their age. Of course, if she's a middle-aged woman who's wrinkled and past her prime, then things could well be very different. In fact, she also stated her birth date very clearly on her blog as 10 Apr 1989. (Happy belated 18th birthday, Michelle.) She also revealed her real name (I believe) because it was also published in the New Paper.

Hey, I just checked technorati's ranking. Her blog is ranked 190,600th while mine is 161,660th. So this 51-year-old is still ahead of her by almost 30,000 counts. Hmm... I wonder how is that possible? No wonder they say that statistics can lie - her statistics (in all senses of the word) should be much better than mine - no mistake about that, hehe.

As usual, I leave you to ponder over whose action you think was more right - Michelle's or the forumers who were critical of her. On this note, I end this post with a quote from Mr Tim O'Reilly (who is credited with coining the term Web 2.0) which appeared in a recent article (first photo above):

"That is one of the mistakes a lot of people make - believing that uncensored speech is the most free, when in fact, managed civil dialogue is actually the freer speech. Free speech is enhanced by civility."

Fill this dreary old world with more love and less hatred and it will be a better place for all of us to live in.

08 April 2007

Funny Wrong Number SMS-style From "Bob"

Have you ever wondered how a wrong number will play out, sms-style? Today I received an sms from someone called Bob:

Obviously, the sender got the wrong number. So I replied:

Bob was apologetic:

But I was playful as ever:

Since Bob didn't object, this short but funny post was written. Bob, thanks for your silent approval for me to write this post. I hope you don't mind as this is just for fun.

New Paper Articles On Not-so-young Bloggers

Early this week, I received an sms from Chun See. He said that Mr Ho Lian-Yi, a reporter from the New Paper had interviewed him earlier and he would like to interview me as well. Chun See asked if he could give my hp number to Mr Ho. I replied the sms half an hour later saying, "May I have his hp number instead?" Chun See responded almost immediately, "Since no reply, I gave him your hp no. already." Oh my, that was the first time someone considered my half-hour sms response time as "no reply".

So thanks to Chun See, an article about my blog appeared in the New Paper today. Mr Ho is of small build and looked like he's in his 20s. He came to my office's cafeteria with photographer Mr Mohd Ishak who brandished a very professional-looking Canon EOS-1 Mark 2 digital SLR which cost several thousand dollars. He took a few dozen photos of me posing 'facelessly'. The two powerful flashes alerted one of the security staff who came and investigate what was happening.

Reproduced below (portion in blue) is the article here for all who care to read but especially for my good friend and colleague Chris who'd rather save 80 cents on the price of the tabloid. He just refused to buy the paper even though I told him that our mutual friend Chun See was also featured. I don't know why Chris is still my good friend. Maybe next time I'll just call him "my colleague".

'Old dogs' can do good blogs

Mr Victor Koo, 51, owner of
victorkoo.blogspot.com, in which he writes about everything under the sun

He wanted to show that "every old dog could do a good blog".

So when IT consultant Victor Koo's younger colleague threw down the gauntlet two years ago, he promptly picked it up and started up his blog Taking Up The Challenge (victorkoo.blogspot.com).

Light-hearted and jokey, Mr Koo writes about everything under the sun.

One funny post about "
Chingrish" (his word for Singlish) involved having his readers guessing an object based on a poorly-written label - and he even created funny awards for the contestants, including a "Booby Award".

"There's a joy in blogging - you have to be in it to realise it," he said.

"I'm my own writer, my own publisher, I don't need permission from anybody. There is no need to censor myself - within reasonable limits," he added.

Almost too much joy sometimes. His wife, a civil servant, is not in favour of his hobby because he spends too much time on the PC.

She prefers him to coach their two sons in schoolwork instead.

"So I have to show some self-restraint sometimes, kek-kek (pretend) go and do some coaching," he joked.

However, Mr Koo also values his privacy. So he refuses to put any clear images of himself on his blog, relying instead on the relative anonymity of his name. Which is also why he declined to show his face for this report.

"You have less inhibitions to say what you want," he said. Once you identify yourself, you have restrictions. Your relatives will know. Your friends will know. You become more guarded."

His is in contrast to former chief executive officer of insurance giant NTUC Income Mr Tan Kin Lian's blog,

The 59-year-old has been blogging since 2005 and has gained a sizeable following for his blog as he dispenses his views on financial matters and insurance, and the occasional tidbits about his personal life.

"Many people write to me for advice. I also wanted to give my views on social issues, so that more people can learn to live a better life in Singapore," he said.

Gee, thanks for comparing me to a former CEO who is still a household name, Mr Ho. Why is it that suddenly, I feel not only faceless (in every sense of the word) but also so small?

For the benefit my colleague Chris, here is the part where Chun See mentioned his (Chris') blog:

But hanging with the younger folk online isn't always easy. One of the blogs he frequently reads simshaddy.blogspot.com, often ends each post with the letters LOL.

For a long time, that confused him.

"I didn't know what was LOL. I thought LOL meant 'lots of love'," he said.

Now wouldn't you LOL or even ROTFLOL (roll on the floor laughing out loud) at that?


06 April 2007

Inappropriate Behaviour On The Web? (1)

The Internet has pervaded our lives since the 1980s and has been with us for about 2 decades now. Ever since it was invented, there have been on-going discussions on whether it was a good or bad thing. I guess it can be both good and bad - it all depends on how the netizens use it. After all, the Internet is a tool and as with all tools, a bad workman shouldn't be blaming his tools.

It would not be far from the truth to say that the Internet is the greatest invention in the last 2 decades. It is a tool that has many good uses - communication (email, VOIP and video-conferencing), advertising, publishing, e-commerce, auctions, file-sharing (of music and videos), gaming, etc. On the other hand, the Internet has its ills - pornography, gambling, viruses, hacking, phishing, etc. Especially within the past few years, the Internet has gained even more uses, notably as a platform for blogging and discussion forums.

Recently there has been a lot of news about behaviour on the Web, in particular on blogs and discussions forums. Both of these media are public in nature unless the owners decide to make them private.

There were separate articles in the Straits Times of 4 Apr 2007 and the New Paper today about a heated discussion in mycarforum. What happened was that a guy by the nick of Dracon had started a thread in the forum on 21 Mar 2007. He raised a seemingly innocuous issue, i.e. he was undecided on whether the Volkswagen Golf GTI or the Subaru WRX STI-S was a better buy and asked forumers for advice. (Both models are powerful high-performance cars.)

The discussion started well, with fellow forumers offering opinions and suggestions. Then somewhere along the way, someone by the nick of Legendkiller pointed out that Dracon (his real name was reported to be "Regan Lee") was the person who was test driving a Mazda MX-5 on 29 Oct 2005. Mazda sales executive Angelia He Xueli was seated by his side. The car was involved in what looked like an accident caused by reckless driving. Ms He suffered a cardiac arrest probably due to extreme shock and also broke her neck. She didn't survive but ironically, the driver of the car walked away from the wreckage with nary a scratch.

Forumers were furious that his recklessness had claimed an innocent life and yet he ironically survived the crash. Perhaps what was even worse was that the driver did not show any repentance at all. As if to rub salt into the wound, the driver had not been officially charged in court yet as police were still investigating the case. The forumers also questioned why the police was taking so long to investigate the accident and why the driver was allowed to hold a valid driving license while under police investigation. They felt that the driver could cause potential harm to other road-users with his aggressive style of driving. The driver even had the cheek to shop around for yet another more powerful car. The forumers mobbed and flamed the driver terok terok (severely). Some people even called the driver an animal. (Hmm... why does that term ring so familiar?)

The above issue generated so much debate that by 5 Apr 2007 (about half a month after Dracon's post) there were already 665 posts on the thread which attracted possibly several tens of thousands of page views. Apparently, the moderator of the forum then decided to lock the thread to prevent the discussion from getting out of hand. The online attack spilled into other online forums such as Sammyboy.com, Hardwarezone and Singapore Bikes Forums.

Ever since the controversy started, Dracon disappeared without a trace from the forum. (Forumers suspected that Dracon came back a few days later with a new nick called Publicservice who wrote a thinly disguised post in support of the driver. Needless to say, Publicservice was flamed as well and disappeared too.) Legendkiller claimed to know the dead victim and said that he spent $1,000 in PI fees to track down the real identity of Dracon. He was quoted to have said that he was "very, very, very sure" Dracon was the alleged driver. Indeed, if Dracon was not the guilty party then why didn't he defend himself? Whether Dracon deserved the flaming by mycarforum's forumers is open for debate. Did the forumers go overboard or was Dracon "asking for it"? I will leave that for you to decide.

(For the background to the story together with photos of Ms He and the suspected driver, click here.)

Results of Chingrish (2) Contest

There were 8 entries this time. (Well, actually only 6 as you shall see.)

A recap of the entries:

1. Shilpa - Laxative.

2. Chris - (No guess.)

3. Cool Insider - Job that requires running about.

4. Etel - (No guess.)

5. Tigerfish - Do BIG toilet business.

6. Chun See - Business continuity assurance. (Or something to that effect. Trust a management consultant to come up with a term like that.)

7. Fr - No peeing here.

8. Firehorse - Related to toilet stuff.

Thanks to all of you for your entries. And the results are...

*drum roll*

Sorry, none of your guesses were correct. The photo in the last entry was part of a sign hung at the door of a Taiwanese restaurant in Joo Chiat Road:

The traditional Chinese words, written in simplified Chinese as 营业中 means "operating" or "open for business" or simply "open" - any of the 3 English answers would have been correct. Chun See's "business continuity assurance" guess comes close but not quite correct.

Nevertheless, everyone of you still walks away with an award, as usual.

The Persistence Award goes to Shilpa, Tigerfish, Fr and Firehorse for participating in this contest for the second time:

And now, the Special Awards.

The Lame Out-of-guess Award goes to Chris for not only his lame remarks but yet tagged me with a lame meme which he knew that I won't do:

The Maiden Effort Award goes to Cool Insider for guessing for the first time:

Finally, the So-close-yet-so-far/Goggle Award goes to Etel and Chun See for coming so close to making a correct guess but didn't:

Etel did a Goggle Google search but yielded no results. She had probably used the terms ["to run business" chingrish] in her unsuccessful Google search. If she had used ["to run business" chinglish] or even ["to run business" engrish] she would have found that celebrity blogger Kenny Sia had blogged about it before here. Wikipedia even has an entry on it and so do dozens of other websites like this one.

Having said that, I would like to clarify that when I posted this poser on April Fool's Day, I didn't know that this Chingrish sign had already been documented by so many websites. It was only after Etel gave me the idea to do a Google search on it that I discovered it was so.

So what's the moral of the story? Without any intention to sound smug, there are two things that I learnt here:

1. When looking for information using Internet search engines, it is very important that you specify the right search words; and

2. It doesn't necessary mean that you are less Internet savvy when you reach my age.

So take heart, Chun See and Fr.

Disclaimer: As usual, this post is meant to be light-hearted and fun. I apologise if anyone is sore about his/her award. He/she has 2 recourse - go apply some ointment or go ahead, strike me off from your "favorite blogs" list.

01 April 2007

Chingrish (2)

About a dozen fun people responded to my earlier Chingrish poser. Thanks again. Since it was so much fun (at least for me) and it's April Fool's Day today, I have come up with a 2nd poser here:

I can't give too many clues to this one as it will give the game away. I can only say that I saw it today somewhere in the east coast of Singapore. There were only 3 English words as shown in the above photo. The other words were in Chinese.

At first, I thought that the words had a literal meaning - teaching people how to become entrepreneurs, toeing the Government's policy of turning more Singaporeans into the likes of Sim Wong Hoo. (Despite much encouragement from the Government, this policy, like the "have more babies" policy, apparently has not been very successful so far. You can't really blame Singaporeans. Starting a business is not without its attendant risks and Singaporeans are generally known for being risk averse. If for whatever reason a business fails, our laws can be quite unforgiving.)

If you thought that the 3 words were from a "marketer and publicist" just like Walter, then sorry, you are also wrong.

That's two down for you so it should be easier to guess. Your job is to guess what the writer of those 3 words had intended them to mean. (Another clue, which should be clear by now, is the obvious meaning of the phrase is not the right answer.) Please read the "Terms & Conditions" below before submitting your guesses. The answer will be revealed in 5 days' time. As usual, winners will be awarded virtual prizes. Have fun guessing and Happy April Fool's Day.

Terms & Conditions

1. Anonymous guesses are not allowed. Anon1, Anon2, Anon3, etc are considered anonymous. So are Just Passing By, Just Browsing, Anyone, Someone, Somebody, Nobody, Noone, Noname, HorseWithNoName, ManWithNoName, Linlaobeh, Linpeh, Me, I or anything similar.

2. Each person can submit only one guess. Although you can submit more than one guess under different names, I seriously can't figure out why anyone would want to do that unless he/she is desperate for a virtual prize. (This rule applies especially to Chris.)

3. This is meant to be a fun post for fun people. If you don't find it fun, please don't guess. Better still, don't visit my blog. Go away, you are on a different wavelength with me. You've hopped to the wrong blog.

4. If you don't like your award, simply don't claim it. Under no circumstances should you utter expletives in whatever language, whether in revenge or in frustration. Personally, I can take it but please understand that this is a family blog - there may be young children reading my blog without seeking parental consent.

5. Never apply any pressure, subtle or otherwise, on the blog owner to come up with the next poser. This is not a regular series as this type of poser is "by chance" only. I don't make a living out of this, okay?