Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Twinkle's portrait

twinkle's portrait

Perched on the ledge, Twinkle turns around and accidentally mirrors the painting of the cat on the wall behind.

The best moments in photography often take place when you're not looking - or looking the other way. I was busy trying to photograph Iffy (our other cat), who was playing king of the hill atop the display cabinet, when my wife said "Look behind you". (I cannot tell you the number of times this has happened; she spots things I don't see, and sees things I can't because I'm staring down a viewfinder at something else)

Twinkle was sitting on top of the ledge, and I immediately realised the possibility of her pose mirroring the painting behind. I had to wait: it took about 20 shots to catch her with her head turned up. Most were discarded because she was looking straight at the camera. One was a close miss, with her head turned too far and her eyes not visible, which to my mind made it harder to see her as a 'person'.

This one was the best remaining, and had to be sharpened a bit to compensate for the slight fuzziness from the handheld shot. The colour was not satisfactory at all: I couldn't get rid of the yellowish cast of the tungsten light without making the image dull and lifeless, so in the end I desaturated everything. That black and white image wasn't good either, so I brought some colour back, bit by bit: when the brown ledge looked recognisably brown again, I stopped. And that's how I got to this image here.


Checking in on the travel bugs

A year ago, K and I released our Before Sunrise-themed Travel Bugs, Jesse and Celine. Here's a little progress report, courtesy of Geocaching and Google Earth.

Travel Bug Jesse was dropped off in a cache in Vancouver on 6th Feb 05. Since then, geocachers have taken this travel bug through California, Utah, and now Nevada. All of which isn't anywhere near Vienna, but still, it's good to have it on the move ...1797 miles so far, and still counting. Quite a journey - from the cold of British Columbia, to sunny California, from Salt Lake City deep in Mormon territory, and now to a cache somewhere outside Las Vegas. A man of cosmopolitan and varied tastes, it would seem ...

Meanwhile, Travel Bug Celine was dropped off in Singapore, and has since made it as far as KL, by way of Thailand. I hoping some geocacher will take this Travel Bug out of Asia and a bit closer to Europe ...

Our original plan for these two travel bugs was to have them meet in some cache in Vienna (the movie will make things clear), but it looks like even getting these two star crossed lovers on the same continent will be difficult.


Sunday, January 22, 2006

4 meme

Got tagged by packrat and tscd with this meme, so here we go.

4 Jobs you've had in your life.
  1. Office boy at Iomega (I filed. I stapled. I photocopied.)
  2. Relief teacher at my old secondary school. I believe they made me teach History.
  3. Teacher.
  4. Curriculum planner.
4 Movies you could watch over and over again.
  1. Star Wars (I'm counting all 3 as one. That's Ep IV-VI, just to be absolutely clear)
  2. The Princess Bride (It's got everything - Spaniards, swordplay and revenge. Or was that Gladiator?)
  3. The Lord of the Rings (again, counting all 3 as one)
  4. While I can think of many movies I like, I can't think of any more that could bear repeated viewing. I'll toss in Labyrinth as a contender for this fourth position.
4 TV shows you love to watch.
  1. Lost
  2. Star Trek: Voyager (by "love to watch" I'm assuming "watched a lot of", and since in our first 2 years of marriage K and I watched all 7 seasons of Voyager 2 and a half times, I'd say that qualifies ...)
  3. Firefly (why, oh why, did they cancel it? Is there no justice in the world?)
  4. Dead Like Me (showed briefly here on Channel U or I - never could remember which was which - and definitely taken away from us before its time)
4 Places you've lived.
  1. Singapore
  2. Birmingham
  3. (that's it)
  4. (unless you count multiple addresses, in which case there's 2 in Singapore and 3 in Brum)
4 Places you've been on vacation to.
  1. Bali (beautiful island, wonderful people)
  2. Hua Hin, Thailand
  3. Angkor Wat, Cambodia
  4. Turkey (a long time ago ... and twice, though the second time was a mistake - stopped over to change planes, forgot to account for time difference, missed connecting flight by 2 hours, spent 3 days in Istanbul visiting all the places we'd missed on the first trip)
4 Places you'd rather be.

  1. No better place than here, no better time than now.
4 of your favourite foods.
  1. Lamb, any
  2. Nasi Lemak
  3. Good, restrained laksa (not those overblown ones you get in Katong that have enough cholesterol to choke the arteries of several Third World families)
  4. Oysters. yum.
4 Websites you visit daily.
  1. flickr
  2. slashdot
  3. delphiforums
  4. boingboing
4 tagged.
  1. malefactor
  2. kanadapost
  3. fatgoblin
  4. wes and jo

Thursday, January 19, 2006

iBook update

Update on the iBook: seems it dropped so hard that I cracked the screen bezel (the white border around the LCD screen), cracked the hinge, and cracked the internal frame of the notebook - i.e. the bit that everything else is screwed on to. The good news is that these parts are relatively cheap (total bill will be less than $300, which is a relief after hearing 1k yesterday). The bad news is that a drop hard enough to crack the internal chassis ... well, let's hope nothing else is damaged.

As far as I can tell, my data is alright: I make it a habit to back up to an external drive as often as I can, and as luck would have it, I backed it up just a few hours before the accident. The iBook remained functional enough for me to retrieve some more data after. I wouldn't like to have to reinstall all my applications though ...

I mentioned that I had been trying to fix a wireless connection that had gone all wonky on me when this accident happened. Well, fixed it - by going out and getting an Airport Extreme base station to replace the old Airport (non-Extreme, very Sedate) base station.

The one silver lining in all this? The Firefly DVD, which I've been watching every night. So good, I think I'm going to watch the whole series all over again.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

iBook + Floor = Unhappy user

The new MacBook Pros come with a feature called Magsafe - a power cord that's magnetically coupled, so that if someone trips over the power cable, the cable comes clean away, and your notebook doesn't come crashing down to the floor.

When I first read this, I thought "Interesting feature. Innovative design. Bit pointless really - I mean, come on - did they get that many complaints about notebooks plummeting to the ground held in the death-grip of a power cable that just wouldn't let go?"

I now join the ranks of the sadder and wiser.

Last night, after a frustrating hour spent trying to fix a suddenly malfunctioning wireless connection (that's another story), I stood up from my chair and walked away, to find my iBook following me ... over the edge of the table ... and on to the floor. Pulled by the power cable. As a bonus, the plug part of the power adaptor (where it plugs into the iBook) also got trashed in the process, squashed out of shape, so I'm short of one power adaptor as well.

The iBook still works, but as you can see from the photographs, the lid is completely misaligned, sitting at a slant to the rest of the notebook. This is why the old TiBook has been called out of retirement, and why the iBook is going to the shop for repairs this afternoon. I should send the TiBook in as well (a bunch of problems with this machine), but I'll rotate them.

Needless to say, I'm not quite happy at the moment.

Update: The repair centre quoted a ballpark figure of up to $1000 (to be confirmed) - this is assuming that the entire screen/lid is replaced. It'll probably be lower, but when I heard it, the first thing that came to mind was to go and check prices on a MacBook. The actual quotation should come in today, after they've had a chance to examine the iBook properly.

Friday, January 13, 2006

A break in the weather

It wasn't until after my colleague asked me if I could draw the curtains that I realised what was different:


The first direct sunlight I've seen in 2 weeks, certainly, and possibly a month. That is how long it's been raining over here. I feel like heading for the nearest beach and basking. The weather satellite picture shows a clear patch over Singapore (compare this with the previous image), a sign of hopeful things to come ...

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Google Earth for Mac

Just a quick post to note that they've finally released Google Earth for Mac - something I've been waiting for a long time for! It looks even better on my iBook than it did on the office PC - of course, the real question now, post-MacWorld, post-Keynote, is how good it'll look on a MacBook Pro.


Sunday, January 08, 2006


A close friend asked me the other day "Do you remember when we were kids, and it used to rain for days on end?".

I remember - one particular January it rained for 3 days in a row without stopping. I used to think that those days were past, but just recently it rained for a week - something I also remember painfully since I was on reservist training then, and we experienced the weather in the most direct way possible.

This January seems to be headed in that direction. What the rain lacks in intensity, it makes up for in endurance - it goes down to a dribble, and then rises to a proper pour, but never quite stops. Unlike Tym, who seems to like the rain, I'm getting quite sick of it already, in particular the whole shoes-wet-socks-soaked part of it. Here's to the hope of sunnier days ...

[If this post sounds familiar, it's because I've forgotten to mention this little thing called Metroblog Singapore, which I've been posting on for the past few weeks. One of the problems of posting on multiple blogs is the question of repeating material. I try to do so as little as possible (keeping my computer gaming, wargaming, and meta-wargaming blogs separate, for example), but eventually it happens, and this is one of them]

Monday, January 02, 2006

Iffy examines her own x-ray

Iffy examines her own x-ray, originally uploaded by Wahj.

Our cat gave us a bit of a scare last week, when she stopped eating and drinking, and started to throw up. More worryingly, Iffy also stopped drinking.

The vet thought she might have swallowed something that was blocking her gut, and sent her for an x-ray. You have to understand that all our cats are scaredy-cats, and so Iffy was incredibly traumatised by the visits to the vet: she'd fight us to stay out of the carrying cage, and be shivering and trembling with fear when in it.

Right after the x-ray, Iffy recovered on her own: we still don't quite know what caused the problem, but I'm just relieved she's alright.

I put her x-rays up on the window for her to examine, and took this photo of Iffy taking a close look at her own gut.