Monday, December 31, 2007

Smart Cropping of pictures


Saw this a while ago...such a simple concept, yet it took so long for someone to make the breakthrough...

Robot remote-controller


Someday I won't have to fly down to the other part of the world to have meetings...i'd just send my mini-me robot, which i'd control from home....

Coolest Dancing Music Player


This has zero practical use but I'd still pay a fortune for this gadget!

Toyota I-Real


Segway competitor?

Aptera - cool ride!


This is a car I'd want to drive in!

Segway Promo Video


I just found out that my little bro Patrick actually never heard of Segway before...how sad! This is a cool invention! Wish i have one of these...

Fooled by Randomness quotes

I'm now half-way through reading "Fooled by Randomness" by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. It was a great read and really drives home some of the concepts that have been lingering at the back of my mind regarding luck, complexity that really can't be simplified into MBA-happy charts/2-by-2 tables and the counterintuitive nature of probability. The author says it much better, so I'd just reiterate a few lines from the book that struck a chord for me:

"...Einstein's remark that commonsense is nothing more than a collection of misconceptions gathered by age eighteen."

"People in most fields...do not have problems eliminating extreme values from their sample...a professor who computes the average of his students' grades removes the highest and lowest observations, which we call outliers...a weather forecaster does the same with extreme weather...an event, though rare, that brings large consequences cannot just be ignored."

"The frequency or probability of the loss, in and by itself, is totally irrelevant; it needs to be judged in connection with the magnitude of the outcome."

"Quite impressive poetry has been produced...with the aid of a computer (via Monte Carlo engine)"

FREE!


Chris Anderson's "Long Tail" is one of my all-time favorite books, and now he's working on his new book "Free", which I believe he'd also be releasing it for free...a worthwhile 45-min for those who want to find out why low-cost carrier works and music are mostly free these days...

Friday, December 28, 2007

It don't matter (cover)


A Donovan Frankenreiter cover.

Gimme some lovin' (cover)


A G Love cover...

Jason Mraz Covers

A month or so ago i started to really dig into Jason Mraz music...and came out totally hooked!

Curbside Prophet:


Geek in the pink:


The Remedy:

She's mine (cover)


A Brett Dennen cover...love this song!

Comiqs.com - Check It Out!

About a year ago, I had this idea of creating a online portal for User-Generated Comics. At that time I was working on some online map application, then it suddenly occurred to me that all those map zoom-in/zoom-out/dragging/resize functions can be applied to do a simple comic application. Of course a while after that someone told me about Comic Life, which is an awesome Mac App that does exactly what I was imagining in my head. However, their team stopped short of putting the concept online, which would have opened the users to a much bigger image database as well as the ability to do collaboration.

Right about the same time I was finally back in Singapore and attended some web conference when I met Michael Lim. He's a great guy who's been involved with web start-ups before and he was ready to take the plunge (ie full-time) after I explained to him my idea. For that I really respect and envy him...

In any case, after 9 months of labor and a few more people to the team, here's the result :)



Here's a short demo video:


We're still in private beta right now, but the team should be opening up to public very soon! I'm so psyched man :)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Indian Michael Jackson with English Subtitle


This is DEEP!!! it's gonna take me a lifetime to comprehend the inner meaning of this masterpiece!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Yahoo vs Google search

It's been ages since I last used Yahoo for search...but I've been having problems looking for the lyrics to a Bob Schneider song named "mudhouse" for a long time on Google to no avail. Then I finally tried Yahoo today and boy, I was surprised to be able to find this small site dedicated to Bob that I didn't see on Google. I'm not too sure if it's just me missing out the links on Google search, but what matters is that I found what i wanted....i guess it's good to still keep an open mind in using different search engines...

Friday, November 23, 2007

Pranks from "The Office"


I can't decide if the american version or the british version is better...

Insane Scissor Kick Goal!


Beautiful!

Human Transformer!


I've actually read reports on this before...but seeing in action is something else!

Norway: an amazing place!


This is an eye-opener!

Recent Thoughts 2

For the past 2 months, I've become much more focus on the Abu Dhabi project and haven't been able to spend as much time on the Islamic Finance side of work as well as my other "ECA" duties such as my role in the green committee and the library. In any case, the Abu Dhabi project has really been an eye-opener for me. My role as the guy doing the financial modeling gives me the legitimate right to "kepo" or get myself involved into almost every aspect of the project that would have a impact on the numbers (or in other words, pretty much everything). I now have a much better feel of the local market conditions, the typical development design process, the issues that are unique to a big integrated development, the intricacy with working with the partner in a joint venture setting, the importance of a thorough due diligence process and a strong contractual relationship, the accounting rules applicable to a real estate developer, the role of banks in mortgage services as well as project financing etc.

The fact that the business unit started out much like a start-up also allowed me more room to "hop around" the various functions and assume a wider spectrum of responsibilities than would have been the case if I were to start out in a much more established corporate setting. While I'd regret missing out the opportunity to see through the project to its first sale (which really is the true test of all the assumptions that I've used in the model), I do look forward to my next posting where I hope to gain exposure in a more corporate setting, where the focus is no longer on delivering on a specific project but the essential support functions that need to be put in place that keep the whole company going. That should be another fulfilling learning experience.

Meanwhile, my immediate concern for the next week is to do well for my CFA level I. I must thank Wenzheng for making me take the exam with him as the coursework really solidify the bits and pieces that I picked up from various finance-related books. It has been most helpful in making me more confident when working on the financial model as well as justifying the assumptions. But the exam won't be an easy one; I certainly hope that my initial investment of almost S$1k will not require any new funding after this first attempt!

Recent Thoughts 1

It's been a long time since I last blogged, so here're some recent thoughts related to my work...

Last week I attended this 2-day management program facilitated by our CEO. It actually reminded me of the sessions that I used to attend when I was still serving in the army, where my commander COL Yeo also shares very similar management methodology and chairs this sort of "brain-washing" sessions every now and then.

First of all I think it's really admirable for a man of his position to actually spend 2 full days with the staff to discuss about management concepts and the values of the company. Many of the topics he covered seemed to be direct reiterations from the concepts from "Built to Last", one of my personal favorites, except that he backed them up with a rich library of real-life stories that are fitting for a Hong Kong serial drama, which made the discussion much more engaging.

Out of the 2-days discussion, there were 2 particular points that really stood out for me. One was his point that "...a person's value system will be his lifelong limitation..". As usual, he went on to illustrate his point with a blockbuster-worthy story of how one of his ex colleagues (labeled the "black tiger"), though an extremely intelligent man, went through a few cycles of rising then hitting the "ceiling" because of a fundamental lack of integrity. I think this is the greatest advice he can give to a young man starting out like me. In a way, I think I'm in safer ground as money or most materialistic satisfactions (which seem to be a common cause for the downfall for many great men) don't really motivate me. Having said that, I'd be the first to admit that I'm an ambitious person who really want to have an impact in the world, but I must only pursue my dream without jeopardizing my integrity. Somehow, the notion of "对得起天地" that I picked up from watching all the "武侠片" since young has taken deep roots in me.

Another point that made me think hard was his graph on career development. It's essentially a S-curve that depicts how a young executive must start out building up a strong technical skillset in his/her own field of expertise, before moving on to a more managerial role where one has to balance the expectations from the subordinates and the bosses; and finally a leadership role where the ability to convince others to buy into the vision and people skills become paramount. He also has a corresponding timeline/age associated with each stage and states that each person will have a natural plateau point (ie. "Peter Principle"). I was actually asked by him to give some comments on the discussion and I mentioned that I did not fully agree with that particular slide on his take on career development. While I agree that building up one's core technical expertise is important and that there's certainly some truths to the "Peter Principle", I'm quite hesitant to accept that a career development needs to adhere strictly to that S-curve.

Firstly I'm not sure if I should just blankly accept the timescale presented and while he pointed out that it could a different timeline for everyone, I don't necessarily agree that things has to proceed in that order. Lee Kuan Yew became the leader of a nation at 36, Steve Jobs (one of my idols) was 25 when Apple went on IPO. Of course there is always the danger of putting a person in an influential position when he/she is not ready; it's bad for the person and worse for the organization. Having said that, conventional methods yield conventional returns. If I really want to have an impact in the world and do great things in my life, then I think accepting the S-curve is almost equivalent to automatically setting a lower target for myself. Some of my colleagues (who meant well) pointed that I must be patient, but I think it's not a matter of being patient or not. It's about a fundamental belief in oneself that you can "rise to the occasion" regardless of the scale of the task given to you. It is the typical Hong Konger belief of "gaodim". Indeed it might appear that I'm being over-ambitious and "not knowing my place", but I think it's just a state of mind where I'm comfortable with having a high "Creative Tension" (coined by Peter Senge of "Fifth Discipline") of having a larger-than-life vision, but grounded in a realistic knowledge of where I stand now. So if I were to re-draw that "career development" graph, I would draw it as a rectangle throughout the time-scale (instead of a S-curve), where all the different level of skillsets can and should be enhanced or practiced at all stages of a career.

Friday, November 09, 2007

This guy is the genius of genius...amazing mental ability!


He can calculates a division to almost 100 decimal points! Must Watch!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Brett Dennen

This guy is brilliant in a weird way...but I dig his stuff! I'm gonna start learning his songs :)


"She's mine"


"Aint no reason"


"The one who loves you the most"


"Darlin do not fear"

John Butler Trio MTV

And they've got really cool MTV too!






This one's real funny at the beginning!

John Butler guitar

And this guy plays some mean guitar man!





John Butler Busking

I told myself, one day I wanna busk like this guy...he's got the vibe man...simply AWESOME!















沖上雲霄


Great song by Eason Chan...makes me feel like watching the series~

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Abu Dhabi dreamin'

My good friend Ahmed brought me to get the typical attire that the local Emiratis wear in Abu Dhabi...i know i look quite awkward here...think i need to grow some beard to get the right look :) in any case, it was a really interesting experience dressed in my "thoub" (the long-sleeved one-piece dress) and "gutrah" (the white head cover) while walking around town and the local shopping mall~



Saturday, September 08, 2007

Karate Baby


hahahhaha! must-watch!

Japanese Sword vs Bullet


This is amazing!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Friday, August 31, 2007

Recent Thoughts

It's been a long time since I last blogged...so just wanna write down some recent thoughts...

Taking Risks:

While I've enjoyed my 1st rotation in my job so far (plenty of exposure and given a lot of responsibility), somehow I felt that something is still amiss. At the beginning, I thought it was probably because I was kind of disappointed with my level of creativity at my work. I always pride myself to be the "guy with the ideas" and consider my ability to day-dream aloud as my strength. Although I've recently experienced a rejuvenated rush of ideas (3 new ideas last week :) ), most of the new ideas can't really be applied to my work (though some of them were inspired by my work). Initially, I attributed that to a lack of in-depth knowledge of real estate and a lack of time commitment to continue to read up on a wide variety of topics (I used to subscribe to over 250 RSS feeds that cover media, econ, business, china, japan, design, politics, internet, nanotech etc).

However, lately, I begin to see another dimension of my "frustration". A big part of the fun in generating ideas is the actual execution of these ideas and see if they work at all. In the past I've had my fair share of minor successes and (mostly) failures in trying to make my ideas a reality. I always thought that I owe it to the ideas to at least try them out and see if they deserve a place in reality, and most importantly, I always had fun doing it. But to try out an idea means taking risks, which I'm slowly beginning to see as the reason for a lack of that special spark.

Before I got married and started work, many things that seem low-risk back then are now becoming fairly risky. For instance, when I had that "myschooltube" idea in Berkeley, I just went ahead and did it. I didn't have to worry about how it'd affect my grades because firstly, I always thought grades are a bad gauge of a person's true ability and more importantly, even if I had bad grades I'd be the only one liable. In other words, most of the risks I took are "self-contained". These days it's a different story. If I want to try out an idea, I'd need to think of how it'd affect my performance at work, my wife and family and for ideas associated with my work, I'd need to really justify them from the perspective of the company. Hence, even though I might have a big appetite for risks, because my actions these days would also have a big impact on others, I often need to consider their risk appetite as well.

Case in point: I was trying to push for the use of Google Earth as a new marketing platform for our project and when I finally got a quotation from this consultant, I started having second thoughts and began making direct comparison with the cost of just making a video fly-through animation. Whilst in the past I might have just gone ahead and do it, I'm now taking more time to consider (especially since I know full-well the impact of cost as I'm also the one running the financial model). I'm not saying that having more time to work out the various scenarios is necessary a bad thing, in fact it's probably for the better as it'd allow me to have a more complete picture, but somehow one has to balance it out with the opportunity cost of wasted time, especially if the idea is a fairly new and might constitute substantial first-mover advantage.

Clearly, there has to be a balance between risk and return. Looking back my 6 months in the 1st rotation, while I must say I've learnt a lot and seen a lot, I don't think I'm taking enough risk given the kind of "reward" I have in mind. I don't see the "Just Do It" Michael that I know I am. I think I ought to take more calculated risks moving forward.

Is there such thing as a stupid question?


2 weeks ago I had a pretty good conversation with my colleague on the question above. We were chatting about our experience so far in the company, and while we both had plenty of good things to say, our chat inevitably arrived at a discussion on what's lacking and we both agreed that there's a certain stigma in asking questions in the company. I do think there's a general sense of encouragement to speak up, but somehow reactions to certain questions often serve to counter someone to really speak up.

There is of course the element of being respectful, especially in an Asian setting, while posing questions. I must confess the EQ involved is certainly something I myself also need to improve on, but beyond paying attention to being respectful so that we don't offend anyone unnecessarily while posing questions, I suspect that there's another barrier to asking questions in our work culture. To me, if I pay respect to the person whom I'm asking the question, I'd like the other guy to treat the question seriously, regardless of how irrelevant he/she might think of it.

In reality, it's much harder to practice and hence I make a conscious effort to have this mindset that "there's no such thing as a stupid question". Now I know I'm pretty thick-skin so appearing stupid is not really a show-stopper for me but I could imagine it being a significant barrier for some, and that's a major innovation-killer. If I have to go through all these filters of whether I'm using the most appropriate and respectful tone and then have to worry about whether I'd jeopardize my "reputation" as a "not-so-stupid person", then it's quite likely that I'd just skip the question. There is, of course, a continuous degree of this stifling effect, and while we're probably somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, we really need to change if we want to achieve the vision of becoming a "world-class" and "entrepreneurial" organization. Indeed, I think it'd really do us a lot of good if all of us start developing the mindset that "there's no such thing as a stupid question".

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Wooden Mirror Computer


"Wooden Mirror: by Daniel Rozin
Incredible ... a mirror made completely of wood, comtrolled by a camera and computer.
830 square pieces of wood, 830 servo motors, control electronics, video camera, computer, wood frame.
Size - W 67" x H 80" x D 10" (170cm , 203cm, 25cm).
Built in 1999, this is the first mechanical mirror I built. This piece explores the line between digital and physical, using a warm and natural material such as wood to portray the abstract notion of digital pixels"

Amazing!

Things look better in slow motion!


Amazing slow-mo camera!

Zeitgeist Movie - Conspiracy Theory?


Rather thought-provoking...fact or fiction? You decide.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Street-singing in Clarke Quay

Clarke Quay's now my favorite street-singing spot in Singapore! It's a lively place, especially on Fridays and Saturdays. I usually setup my spot on the bridge that links from Clarke Quay to Riverside Point; it's got regular foot traffic and yet a fair distance away from all the pubs and restaurants on both sides of the river such that it's not as noisy compared to Orchard. Incidentally, I happened to know the architect, Stephen Pimpley, who designed Clarke Quay...I'm thankful that he has created such a vibrant place in Singapore...and a great place for a street-singer like me.


And I bumped into an old friend, Ah Ping, from my Michigan days while doing my thing at Clarke Quay...what a pleasant surprise!


Tourist, being tourist, just love to take picture of the random street-singer...


As the world goes by...

Monday, July 23, 2007

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Future of Multi-Touch (by Perceptive Pixel)


This should be in every household/shopping mall 10 years from now.


Or see how Jeff Han explains this creation...

Tommy Emmanuel Concert

Last night Tammy gave me a big surprise by bringing us to the Tommy Emmanuel concert in Esplanade. I have no idea he was in town and I'd definitely kicked myself if I missed this one...so once again I gotta thank my fav girl for making this happen...I've never heard a guitar being played like the way Tommy did with his...all those YouTube clips don't do him justice...he's so damn good playing live! While he's well-known for his blazing fast fingerpicking, the number which stood out most was "Over the Rainbow"....I almost cried after he finished playing it. It is absolute heaven...


Me and da Man after the show...he was signing autograph outside of Harry's...


Tommy's signature...we got the picture for S$5...couldn't afford those $71 DVD that they were selling...


Tommy and Paul Ponnudorai (another great local musician who even had a Time article to his name!) jamming away at Harry's...it was great to be able to see close-up as they jam away...


A short clip of them jamming away...sorry for the bad lighting...


One of Tommy's best clips on YouTube....absolutely brilliant!


Tommy playing Angelina...a song he wrote for his daughter...


And so it goes...


Over the rainbow....beautiful....this one can move you to tears...

The greatest "Thriller" Dance (by Philippines inmates)


When 1,500 inmates have too much time on their hands....must-watch!

A war gone wrong..


Somehow I never gotta see footages like this while in US...

V for Vendetta

I just re-watched "V for Vendetta", one of my all-time top 100 movies. What a great movie it was! Here's some memorable lines from V:

V: [Evey pulls out her mace] I can assure you I mean you no harm.
Evey Hammond: Who are you?
V: Who? Who is but the form following the function of what and what I am is a man in a mask.
Evey Hammond: Well I can see that.
V: Of course you can. I'm not questioning your powers of observation I'm merely remarking upon the paradox of asking a masked man who he is.
Evey Hammond: Oh. Right.
V: But on this most auspicious of nights, permit me then, in lieu of the more commonplace sobriquet, to suggest the character of this dramatis persona.
V: Voilà! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of Fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a by-gone vexation, stands vivified and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin van-guarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition.
[carves V into poster on wall]
V: The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta, held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous.
[giggles]
V: Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it's my very good honor to meet you and you may call me V.
Evey Hammond: Are you like a crazy person?
V: I am quite sure they will say so. But, to whom am I speaking with?
Evey Hammond: I'm Evey.
V: Evey? E-V. Of course you are.
Evey Hammond: What does that mean?
V: It means that I, like God, do not play with dice and I don't believe in coincidences.

And here's the speech V broadcast to the whole of UK:



V: Good evening, London. Allow me first to apologize for this interruption. I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of every day routine- the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition. I enjoy them as much as any bloke. But in the spirit of commemoration, thereby those important events of the past usually associated with someone's death or the end of some awful bloody struggle, a celebration of a nice holiday, I thought we could mark this November the 5th, a day that is sadly no longer remembered, by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat. There are of course those who do not want us to speak. I suspect even now, orders are being shouted into telephones, and men with guns will soon be on their way. Why? Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn't there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who's to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you're looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror. I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn't be? War, terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to the now high chancellor, Adam Sutler. He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent. Last night I sought to end that silence. Last night I destroyed the Old Bailey, to remind this country of what it has forgotten. More than four hundred years ago a great citizen wished to embed the fifth of November forever in our memory. His hope was to remind the world that fairness, justice, and freedom are more than words, they are perspectives. So if you've seen nothing, if the crimes of this government remain unknown to you then I would suggest you allow the fifth of November to pass unmarked. But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek, then I ask you to stand beside me one year from tonight, outside the gates of Parliament, and together we shall give them a fifth of November that shall never, ever be forgot.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Snail Transformer


Great CGI work here man!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Friday, June 29, 2007

Japanese Tetris Game


Watch till the end...you won't regret it...hahahah!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Robots created by Chinese farmer


When there's a will...there's a way....this farmer's so much geekier than me man...

Awesome Japanese Pitcher


I'm not a baseball fan...but this is wayyyyyy cool man!

Man with only 7 sec memory


What is the presence, without a sense of time? I really admire his wife..

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Awesome video about the future of media


Very well-done...must-watch! Pretty imaginative and quite possible predictions in there too!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Football in another dimension!


Great stuff man! Playing soccer in a billboard..only in Japan!

Real-life Transformer


The Japanese did it again!!! Amazing stuff!

Bad Fall...


Demonstration of an "Emergency Safety Device" gone bad...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Superman looks awesome in Grand Theft Auto!

When superman turns to the dark side...this is awesome!

Friday, June 15, 2007

"I'm Steve Jobs"


For the Apple fans out there~

流星的夜晚


A chinese song I wrote.

我只想跟你走


The first song I wrote for Tammy, some 12 years ago.

Angel in Cambodia


A song I wrote for a kid I knew from Cambodia.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Story in May



The clouds are reaping across
And floating beyond the bright blue sky
And receding and fading into a mellow white

The lights that are shining thro'
Are shaping my shadow
For which I know is my only company today

The trees behind me are shedding their leaves
As I shed my very own tears

And the wind is blowing and whispering
And telling me a story too old, too sad

I heard a new broken heart's silent cry
And the wicked laughter of the thief who stole her pride
I smelled the scent of hope that love promises to bring
Yet you wouldn't know till it's all rotten up inside

And now my love for her
Is crushed beneath all the lies
In this story in May

My eyes are shot by the flash of light
That was meant to bring me home
And far away from the tormented times

My feet are too tired
They won't carry me any further
On this road I've been traveling for too long

My mind's too empty
My hands' too filthy
They're just reflections of what's left behind

And it seems my life's like a play
So badly written
In which I must play till I die

My days are numbered
As the curtain comes down
And I shall leave as silently as I've come

And it shall spell the end of this story in May

Young Man



Young Man, young man
Do you know what you have done to her
You have smeared her blood on every news
Killed her with your photos from hell

Young Man, young man
Who claims you can prophesize with your pen
Do you know what's driving me so mad
Now I've lost all my trust in press

Chorus:
He said "I'm just doing my job and afterall
It's freedom of speech we call for,
So I shall be released"
"And I'm just doing what everybody likes to read about, and if that too is wrong
then everyone is to be blamed."
"I've got a filthy job, got a filthy job"

Young Man, young man
Is it the money devil that you serve
But remember on the silver coins you've earned
There's a face staring, planting her curse

Young Man, young man
Now you've got what you want with your crazy gang
But this time what you gonna do with your pen
One whole nation bent on crucifying you

Chorus:
He said "I'm just doing my job and afterall
It's freedom of speech we call for,
So I shall be released"
"And I'm just doing what everybody likes to read about,and if that too is wrong
then everyone is to be blamed."
"I've got a filthy job, got a filthy job"

Young Man, young man
Now you wont even look at your bloody hand
There ain't no use now even if you repent
You've done what a devil can't comprehend


Young Man, young man
And all of your kind throughout the land
Don't turn your head and then just pretend
You're just another freelance man

Chorus:
He said "I'm just doing my job and afterall
It's freedom of speech we call for,
So I shall be released"
"And I'm just doing what everybody likes to read about,and if that too is wrong
then everyone is to be blamed."
"I've got a filthy job, got a filthy job"

Help me!



Standing right here in a stagnant pose
The clock keeps clickin', it's getting close
It's a muted night by a quiet road
Threads of lights with that dusky glow

The hands are numb, can't feel the cold
The rain is pouring at a crazy angle
The wind's been raging a ruthless blow
Yet all is still 'cept the mind's all tangled

Fair is foul and foul is fair
Lies and contempt fill the air
Twisted hate and blinded love
It's hard to tell the good from bad

Men and women lining up on the streets
Their candles flames swiftly fading in the wind
They're calling out crying out singing aloud
This slanted, hideous, despicable sin

Yet the troops kept marching on
The mightiest fighters coming in thousands-strong
They come here in the name of this righteous cause
They'll free the oppressed, eradicate the wrong

Holy words flood across the land, it says
The brave will take up your arms and come prepared
Along this glorious path of the mighty's plan
But it seems to me things are getting out of hand

Chorus:
Help me!
I don't understand this seeming blasphemy
The hour's running too slow to heal
Help me!
This dreadful rain kept pouring on me
My misty eyes can hardly see
Help me!
They're dancing with insanity
There's always just a fine line between
Help me!
The shaken earth kept spinning around me
Nothing is what it seems (more)

I'd be your boy



I'd be your yellow when you feel so blue
I'd be your rainbow when it rains
I'd be the sun in your secret garden
I'd be your joy everyday of our lives

I'd be your prince in your magic kingdom
I'd be your pillow on your bed
I'd be your ice in the scorching summer
I'd be your everything

Well you've got me
And I've got you
That makes the most beautiful song
Cos this love
Is 10 years in the making
And I can't wait for more

Chorus:
I'd be your boy for this chance of a lifetime
I'd be your boy everyday
I'd be your boy for this love's overflowing
I'd be your boy everyday of our lives

I'd be the ring on your forth finger
I'd be your carrot cake
I'd be your song in your lonesome hours
I'd be your everything

I'd lay this kiss on your head
And I'd whisper in your ear
I'd hold you in my arms
And I'd sing this lullaby for you

For you...

The Blind Man



Yesterday I saw this blind man, standing alone on the street
Dressed in those ragged clothes, looks like a beggar by his trade
Their sympathetic eyes reflect the suffering on his face
But everyone of them just pass him by and go away

Then he took out his harmonica and roll out this moving tune
Then people started to stop and listened to him play
The melody heard in the air, seemed like a sound they've heard before
It reminded them of the cause they're born for

Chorus
You're born to care (cheat)
You're born to smile (hide)
You're born to feel (pretend)
You're born to love (lie)
It goes 'Hey.......Hey.......'

As they watched him play the song, some of them sang along
A few were so touched, they tired hard to hold back their tears
I wonder what if he could see, what if the blind man could see them cry
What would he be thinking, if he ever see them cry

As he completed the song, they gave him a coin or two
Then he packed up his bag and strolled towards the park by the road
As I followed, I was wondering: "Doesn't he need to be guided?"
But by then, he was in his car and had driven away

Chorus
You're born to care (cheat)
You're born to smile (hide)
You're born to feel (pretend)
You're born to love (lie)
It goes 'Hey.......Hey.......'

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Real-life Tetris Game


It's amazing how the japanese can always merge concept from games into real life...makes for great tv entertainment!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

I'd be your boy



I’d be your yellow when you feel so blue
I’d be your rainbow when it rains
I’d be the sun in your secret garden
I’d be your joy everyday of our lives

I’d be your prince in your magic kingdom
I’d be your pillow on your bed
I’d be your ice in the scorching summer
I’d be your everything

Well you’ve got me
And I’ve got you
That makes the most beautiful song
Cos this love
Is 10 years in the making
And I can’t wait for more

Chorus:
I’d be your boy for this chance of a lifetime
I’d be your boy everyday
I’d be your boy for this love’s overflowing
I’d be your boy everyday of our lives

I’d be the ring on your forth finger
I’d be your carrot cake
I’d be your song in your lonesome hours
I’d be your everything

I’d lay this kiss on your head
And I’d whisper in your ear
I’d hold you in my arms
And I’d sing this lullaby for you

For you…

For Tammy


This one's for Tammy :)

So I'll sail you to the moon
Where my love lies waiting for you
And when you hear this song in June
You know I'll come back for you

I'll plant this soft kiss on your watery eyes today
I'll cast away this shadow hanging upon your weary face
I'll lift you up to this heavenly blissful place
I'll shelter you from this baffling dreadful maze

I'll paint you the most beautiful portrait
Of the most benevolent girl I've ever known
I'll write you these words of our loving fate
And show you our path on this age-old, timeless tale

The rainbow will shine its rich array
Slants of light will lead the way
The trees will all bow down and chant in praise

Peddles of dreams shall glow in bloom
Oh love don't you cry too soon
And you'll hear the wind singing in tune
The day I come back for you

So I'll sail you to the moon
Where my love lies waiting for you
And when you hear this song in June
You know I'll come back for you

Love at first sight


One of my few attempts in making a Raggae number...enjoy~

My heart is pumping so fast oh yeah, oh yeah
My heart is aching so bad oh yeah oh yeah
My heart is burning with fire oh yeah oh yeah
My heart is aching with desire oh yeah oh yeah

Come on baby, come on

I'd climb the highest mountain for ya, for ya
I'd fight with a 6-foot brown bear for ya, for ya
Swim in a pool of piranhas for ya, for ya
I'd even do a full monty for ya, in front of my mum

Bridge:
All because of this funny feeling that i've got
All because of this funny thing they call love
Oooh this magical moment you've left me
You kept me jumping around, I wanna tell the whole world

Chorus:
Oh, oh, oh, oh It's love at first sight well I'm out of my mind
Oh, oh, oh, oh It's love at first sight well don't leave me behind
Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh It's love at first sight if the moment is right
Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh It's love at first sight oh baby let's spend the night

The Performer


I love this song! I wish I have a full band with me while jamming on this one~

On the lights my friend, shine on me
Open up my friend, hear me please
For the night's still young, wanna hear you scream
All i've gotta give, All you'd ever need
I'd show you, I'd show you tonight
And i'd please you, I'd please you tonight Yeah

Leather pants my friend, shinning boots
Golden rings my friend, necklace too
I'm ready for the night, so will you
Music's in the air, old sweet melody
I'd sing you, I'd sing you tonight
I'd please you, I'd please you tonight

Oh oh oh
The band is high and the chorus rhyme
we're pumping
oh oh oh
I want you all to raise your hands up high
Yeah you'd love me, you have to love me
For I'd be the one who'd thrill your night
Bring on all you've got now
Are you here with me tonight, here with me tonight?

Oh la la
(Yeah you look at me now Won't you look at me) x4
Yeah

Thousands come this far, to feel this beat
Hold on tight my friend, before you're swept away
I will lift you up to a higher place
You will melt away with this song
that I'd sing you, I'd sing you tonight
Yeah I'd please you, I'd please you tonight

Oh oh oh
The band is high and the chorus rhyme
we're pumping
oh oh oh
I want you all to raise your hands up high
Yeah you'd love me, you have to love me
For I'd be the one who'd thrill your night
Bring on all you've got now
Are you here with me tonight, here with me tonight?

Oh la la
(Yeah you look at me now Won't you look at me) x4
Yeah

Oooooh..
Dancing all around, lots of shakin' going on
Everybody's on a roll so what the hell you wanna bitch about
The house is full and the house is movin'
The whole place full of lovin' punk and groove
You can fool some people some time
But you can't fool all the people all the time
Now you see the light, stand up for your right

Oh oh oh
The band is high and the chorus rhyme
we're pumping
oh oh oh
I want you all to raise your hands up high
Yeah you'd love me, you have to love me
For I'd be the one who'd thrill your night
Bring on all you've got now
Are you here with me tonight, here with me tonight?

Oh la la
(Yeah you look at me now Won't you look at me) x4
Yeah

So I'd sing you the song of everlasting melody
And I'd give the greatest love, oh that you'd ever need
you'd ever need, you'd ever need....

Solo gig at Esplanade Library

2 weeks ago I managed to talk some time off work (finally!) and did a solo gig at the library in Esplanade. It's been a while since I do a full set by myself (street-singing is a different story of course), so I really want to seize this chance to do only originals. The last time I did a full show singing my own originals was more than 2 years ago, so it felt really great to re-experience my own music again.

While I couldn't afford the time to fully prepare for the gig (in fact I only decided on the song list that very morning), I thought the whole thing went well. I was quite surprised too when I found out that my name was actually mentioned in Straits Times (the local newspaper) in the FYI section (I guess the National Library Board probably submitted the event to Straits Times). It read something like "Michael Cho will discuss the different aspects of song-writing". Well, I wasn't gonna do any discussion on that topic, but I was definitely gonna do all originals. To my surprise though a few people actually turned up because of what they read in the newspaper. I hope they didn't leave the show feeling disappointed, though I tried my best to describe the background behind each song that I penned.

It's also the first time that my whole family (including Tammy's gong gong, mum and Nicholas) turned up for my show. I'm not too sure if my folks actually appreciate my kind of music, but I think my 2 other brothers seem to enjoy it. It's a pity that we didn't get enough time to rehearse; if not we could have pulled off 1 or 2 songs together. I'm really looking forward to the day when the 3 of us are jamming on the same stage.

Anyway, more videos and pics later:



Saturday, June 02, 2007

Seplilng anit taht ipomrantt!

Came across this from my buddy Mark Liew's blog:

"fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too. Cna yuo raed tihs?

i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmnael pweor of the hmuan mnid! It dseno’t mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!"

somehow i always knew that spelling aint that important...and all gd programs should have text correction built-in isn't it? well..too bad the one at my work place dont! arggh!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Convergence of digital and physical world

Given my geeky Web2.0-crazed background, I can't help but constantly think of ways in which those web2.0 concepts can be applied to a big real estate developer, such as my current workplace. For the past few weeks, the thought of combining the virtual awe of Second Life with a "real" real estate project launch seemed to make more sense every time I think about it. Well, as with all more "new" ideas, someone else have already done it before. An example is the hotel that Starwood was about to build but decided to put up a virtual model on Second Life first (link here). I think that's a really cool idea. I wonder if I can convince some folks within the company to consider using this method as a marketing tool. Justifying the virtual land cost and design cost would be abit difficult. But I have no doubt in my mind that this is the way to go, but I'm still not entirely sure if this is the time. After all there've been plenty of instances for big corporates to venture into Second Life, yet the impact has been less than stellar. Hmm...perhaps I should ask my boss what he thinks of it (possibly at the risk of appearing silly..)...then again, I should "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish."

Monday, May 21, 2007

time...or lack of...

Work Work Work. Now I'm beginning to realize what people mean when they say "work never ends". I'm certainly learning a lot, but it's all very specific to domain knowledge relevant to my work scope. I hardly could find time to catch up on Digg, likewise for my 200+ blog feeds. I think I need to really put a stop to my working hours (which now could easily occupy all my waking hours) and allocate more time to read, to hang out with my family, to exercise and to spend time on my music.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Work Life

These days I'm a tired man, literally. I'm one of those who can't really function unless I get at least 8 hours of sleep and for the past month I'd be lucky to get 6-7 hours. Such is the reality of work life in Singapore. Actually, I'm really not in a position to complain; in fact from a logical point of view, I couldn't have landed in a better environment to start my career.

I've got a great boss, who's working for an even more inspiring boss. My colleagues are all genuinely nice folks, and they've been so patient with me as I slowly learn the ropes. The project I'm involved in would certainly come across to most as exciting and full of adventures. Indeed, there're so many aspects regarding the project (such as setting up a JV, negotiating, operations, financial modeling) that I now have the privilege to be exposed to, and really get my hands dirty working on them. Of course I'm fast becoming the "sai kang" boy in the office, but I absolutely agree that all these trainings will be good for me, as my boss keeps telling me that learning the basics is absolutely required to be a good manager. He is really spending efforts to groom me, just as many others in the company have come to given me opportunities to learn because of the management trainee program I'm enrolled in. I feel that I don't deserve their attention, but am very grateful that I have all these support and advice.

But despite all these, I feel that something is amiss. Perhaps it's really too early to tell, because I'm only barely one month into it, but somehow, the kind of passion that had driven to do all the things I've done in the past is somehow missing. This is by no means a result of the environment I'm in (which frankly speaking couldn't have been a better place to learn), but purely my own internal psychological struggle that for some reasons, the sheer drive that used to make me feel invincible and hence have the courage to dream big is not really there. I guess the best possible explanation for all these thoughts is that I haven't found the meaning in my job that I can truly relate to yet. My sense of responsibility towards the tasks "arrowed" to me give me just enough energy to carry them out, but the passion or rather the desire to do something extraordinary is not quite there.

Perhaps it's the pace that we're moving in the project, and the sheer volume of work to execute and info to digest. There's hardly any time to really stop and reflect, let alone be creative with my work. Those who know me would know that I really pride myself as the guy who can always come up with some whacky ideas. To be true, I've come up with a few since I started work but the zealous daydreaming I used to have whenever I come up with a new idea don't really happen anymore.

I think the bottom line is that I really need to manage my time. I guess it's understandable that I'm new and hence quite slow in executions. But I must make sure that I get my fair amount of rest, get sufficient time to keep reading and getting updated on news outside of my work (my 200+ rss feeds!), keep a close watch on my health and spend sufficient and quality time with my family and Tammy.

I also need to be more patient with myself when it comes to coming up with ideas in my work place. After all it's hard to think outside the box when I don't even know the boundary of the box.

Anyways, i'm getting really sleepy...zzzz...more thoughts on work life next time~

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

April

...has been real busy! Just a quick post to let the world know I'm still alive. The project I'm currently involved in is moving at lightning speed. While it's been a great learning experience so far, I think I'm not giving myself enough time to sit back and do some thinking. I'm also not reading enough, somehow I don't think I can still keep up with the 200+ blog feeds I subscribe to. Still, reading widely is one of the best way I know to stay creative, so it'd be something that I have to somehow force myself to keep doing. Taking public transport to work actually helps; now I'm reading "Freakanomics", with my weekly dosage of Economist.

On another note, me and Tammy re-watched "Inconvenient Truth", this time with our families. I'm glad that both Patrick and Nick both really dig the theme and have blogged about it respectively here and here. Gonna pass the DVD around my office, hopefully my colleagues will dig it too!

Monday, April 16, 2007

More street-singing in Singapore


Singing "Hitomi wo tojite", one of my favorite japanese song from a really moving movie named "sekai no cyushin de ai wo sakebu"


Singing "if", a Danial Chan cover.


Singing "Over the rainbow"


Singing Simon & Garfunkel's timeless piece "Sound of Silence".


Singing Damien Rice's "The professor, la fille dance".


Singing "一生何求".

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Why street-sing?

My buddy Wei Jin (the bass in my ex-acapella group skritch) pointed out this excellent article by Washington Post to me. Evidently, they did an experiment by asking an internationally acclaimed violinist (Joshua Bell, who just a few nights ago played for a crowd who paid $100+ ticket to see his performance) do a street-performance (playing a $3.5m instrument) at a train station at DC and see what'd happen. In the end, nothing much. What followed was in my opinion, an excellent article on the psyche of the street-performer, and how he interacts or rather ignores his surrounding in pursuit of a musical high. There're so many lines in this article that really captured how I feel towards singing on the streets; I'm really not much of a writer, so I'd let this journalist speak on my behalf:

"Each passerby had a quick choice to make...Do you stop and listen? Do you hurry past with a blend of guilt and irritation, aware of your cupidity but annoyed by the unbidden demand on your time and your wallet? Do you throw in a buck, just to be polite? Does your decision change if he's really bad? What if he's really good? Do you have time for beauty? Shouldn't you? What's the moral mathematics of the moment?"

"It was all videotaped by a hidden camera. You can play the recording once or 15 times, and it never gets any easier to watch. Try speeding it up, and it becomes one of those herky-jerky World War I-era silent newsreels. The people scurry by in comical little hops and starts, cups of coffee in their hands, cellphones at their ears...he seems so apart from his audience -- unseen, unheard, otherworldly -- that you find yourself thinking that he's not really there. A ghost.

Only then do you see it: He is the one who is real. They are the ghosts."

""It wasn't exactly stage fright, but there were butterflies," he says. "I was stressing a little. When you play for ticket-holders," Bell explains, "you are already validated. I have no sense that I need to be accepted. I'm already accepted. Here, there was this thought: What if they don't like me? What if they resent my presence . . ."

"So, for the first time in his life, Mortensen lingers to listen to a street musician. He stays his allotted three minutes as 94 more people pass briskly by. When he leaves to help plan contingency budgets for the Department of Energy, there's another first. For the first time in his life, not quite knowing what had just happened but sensing it was special, John David Mortensen gives a street musician money."

""The awkward times," he calls them. It's what happens right after each piece ends: nothing. The music stops. The same people who hadn't noticed him playing don't notice that he has finished. No applause, no acknowledgment. So Bell just saws out a small, nervous chord -- the embarrassed musician's equivalent of, "Er, okay, moving right along . . ." -- and begins the next piece."

"There was no ethnic or demographic pattern to distinguish the people who stayed to watch Bell, or the ones who gave money, from that vast majority who hurried on past, unheeding. Whites, blacks and Asians, young and old, men and women, were represented in all three groups. But the behavior of one demographic remained absolutely consistent. Every single time a child walked past, he or she tried to stop and watch. And every single time, a parent scooted the kid away."

"Watching the video weeks later, Bell finds himself mystified by one thing only. He understands why he's not drawing a crowd, in the rush of a morning workday. But: "I'm surprised at the number of people who don't pay attention at all, as if I'm invisible. Because, you know what? I'm makin' a lot of noise!"

Bell wonders whether their inattention may be deliberate: If you don't take visible note of the musician, you don't have to feel guilty about not forking over money; you're not complicit in a rip-off."

"Hessian was one of those people who gave Bell a long, hard look before walking on. It turns out that she wasn't noticing the music at all. "I really didn't hear that much," she said. "I was just trying to figure out what he was doing there, how does this work for him, can he make much money, would it be better to start with some money in the case, or for it to be empty, so people feel sorry for you? I was analyzing it financially.""

"Souza (a shoe-shiner who works at the station) nods sourly toward a spot near the top of the escalator: "Couple of years ago, a homeless guy died right there. He just lay down there and died. The police came, an ambulance came, and no one even stopped to see or slowed down to look. "People walk up the escalator, they look straight ahead. Mind your own business, eyes forward. Everyone is stressed. Do you know what I mean?""

"(Picarello, a passer-by said,)"Really. It was that kind of experience. It was a treat, just a brilliant, incredible way to start the day."

""It was the most astonishing thing I've ever seen in Washington," Furukawa says. "Joshua Bell was standing there playing at rush hour, and people were not stopping, and not even looking, and some were flipping quarters at him! Quarters! I wouldn't do that to anybody. I was thinking, Omigosh, what kind of a city do I live in that this could happen?""

To end off, just watch the following video of Bruce Springsteen singing on the street. If a mega star like him still does this, I think it says a lot about busking. To me, it is a journey and feeling unlike any other.

I've found my (street-singing) home!

Yes! After my first 2, rather unpleasant, experiences busking on Orchard, I think I've finally found the spot that will keep me happy for at least the next few busking trips! It's at the underground tunnel that connects Wheelock's place (borders) and Shaw Center. It's still Orchard but the crowd traffic is actually just nice, not over-crowded but not so dead either. What's more is the awesome acoustic of the tunnel, plus it's air-conditioned too!

Actually I've known that place for a while now, but if I'm not wrong that tunnel is not among the 100+ ocations that National Arts Council has spelled out in this very-specific list. However, I realized that actually other buskers do their thing there quite regularly so I decided I'd just give it a go, and boy it was ecstasy!

For the first time in half a year I felt that I'm really connected to my music again. I didn't give a damn if people would drop me a coin, I just want to keep playing and playing. And in the end I played for more than 5 hours straight!

I also made friends with several veteran buskers who frequent that tunnel. Peter is a full-time busker who street-sing everyday while Stanford does this on weekend. They were really friendly folks and we jammed together for a good hour. It was great! I felt liberated, and when I closed my eyes jamming to the tune of Bob Marley's Redemption Song I could "see" myself doing that same song in front of the Bart Station in Berkeley. It's hard to explain, but despite the enclosed surroundings, I felt free.

Tammy, always my biggest fan, came down to film me for a bit before I "closed shop". My friends adeline and brandon also swing by together with their other-halves :)

Interesting anecdote:
- A young boy (probably 5 or 6 yr-old) came up to me after I sang "I'll remember you" and asked in his innocent voice "Are you a man?" To which his embarrassed mum hurriedly apologized for her son. Haha, I must have had this question asked more than dozen times over the course of my street-singing career...i personally find this boy pretty courageous compared to those whom I'd overhear saying "is he a he or a she? ohoh..look at his throat...sld be a guy..right?" hahaha

- Tammy's relatives from Perth (whom I just met for the first time a few months ago while in Australia) were actually in Singapore for a few days of vacation and they actually bump into me at the tunnel! How small can this world be!


Singing "I'll Remember You" by Tanya Chua


Singing "Blower's Daughter" by Damien Rice


Singing "Hallelujah" by Jeff Buckley


Singing "I'm yours" by Jason Mraz

Still uploading more song...will post them in the next post~

$$ advice from an ex-CEO turned blogger~

I've been following mr Tan Kin Lian's blog for a while now. Initially I tracked his blog cos he's one of those few C-level executive (albeit a former one, ex-CEO of NTUC Income) in Singapore who actually blog. After a while, I read it for the sound advice he actually responds to his readers' specific questions. And he seems really approachable too~ He replied my email to him (i just wanna let him know I appreciate what he was doing with his blog) within an hr and he actually offered this woman to call his number directly to seek advice from him....sounds like a nice guy eh?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Thinking about Middle East

It's amazing how life changes. One moment I was worrying so much about A-levels, the next moment I was carrying M16 in a Brunei jungle, and then came all the day-dreaming in America, and finally, just when I thought I'm finally back in Singapore for good, I now find myself with the prospect of working in UAE, a country in a region that I hardly know anything about besides being blessed with oil wealth.

The world is so big, so many places to travel, so many languages to learn, yet so little time...I do hope to make the most out of this opportunity thou. It'd be a great "excuse" for me to really spend time learning about the culture of the region, perhaps pick up a bit of Arabic too? Who knows, they might have a vibrant blogging or web culture there too!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Virtual vs Indoor "Sky Diving"


Skydiving in Second Life.


Skydiving in an indoor wind tunnel!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Street-singing in Orchard

Just a quick post on my second time street-singing on Orchard Road. The experience is largely similar to the first time; hot, humid, sweating and trying my best to fight the surrounding noise. A friend told me about the tunnel linking Wheelock's Place and Shaw...I checked it out and it looks quite promising. Enclosed area (which means good acoustic) and optimal human traffic...I think that's where I'd try next.

Interesting anecdote:
A woman actually came up to me half-way through singing "Vincent" and asked me "Son, why are you doing this?", to which I applied, "for the love of music". And then she gave me $2. That felt great :)