Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Where is the love?

Sweet vintage, energy-saving lightbulb, アトム, Monet and his waterlilies, purple sailor.

All taken by Lumix GX1.

Monday, February 27, 2012

What is the 'iA' in the GX1 for?

There's this really cool 'iA' button - Intelligent Auto that automatically detects what kind of picture you wanna take and adjusts its settings.

Once you set the iA button, you'll see this interface on the touchscreen:

You see the line in the middle?  It's kinda cool cause it helps you to level your angle and will turn green when it's levelled.

The highlighted icon on the right is called the 'Defocus Control Function'.  When triggered, the bar at the bottom of the screen will appear for you to adjust the depth of field.  To the left - subject clear, background blur.  To the right - both subject and background clear.  But if you're shooting in a low light setting, then the entire photo will become dark as you will see later on.

To be really honest with you.  The picture quality is ah-may-zing.  Seriously.  If you're holding a compact point-and-shoot camera right now.  Burn it.  Sorry... I mean recycle it.  I'm not sure if the high-spec GX1 is really what you need but Lumix has other G-series variants.  But whichever model, seriously forget about compact cameras.  When the Babyboomer generation fades off, the entire category will become obsolete and taken over by camera phones.  So anyway, back to our photo-taking rendezvous.  So I've taken a variation of photos using the 'Defocus Control Function' with the 14mm F2.5 pancake lens (what it really means is, it's the flattest one, no zoom, good for portrait shots to create depth of field - yeaaaaap.  That's all you need to know).

Sample introductory no-brainer, point-and-shoot shot.  Nice depth ;) am liking it already!

So this is when I adjusted the different settings on the 'Defocus Control Function'.  So what you get under low light, is not cool.  Photo is underexposed and flat.  Yucks.

And I adjusted it to a mid-level, so what you get is 'half' cool.  Yup, we're getting there.

And once you set it all the way to the left, you get a really nice focal point and everything blurs out of your vision.  Your photo immediately becomes a composition :) Now we're cool.

See, again, Mao is dark and uninteresting.  Everything in the photo is flat and asking for non-attention.  This is not cool.

And then, Mao becomes the focal point and everything is blurred.  This pancake lense (without zoom) is really good for portrait shots.  You just have to zoom manually, which means using your own arms and legs to move forward and backward.  Don't look at me that way, I'm not joking.

This is cool.

This is not cool.

This is cool.

Then we change the focal point to a midway object.  Still works :) This is cool.

Paris is cool :)

What I found amazing about using a 'system/mirrorless' camera is, the photos above were taken simply with no particular thought about 'settings'.  They were not edited (whether in-camera or in photoshop).  What you see here is what you get.  I'm liking it already :)

If there're any tricks about the GX1, you wanna share, please feel free to comment.  I'm learning!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

How do you say hello to a Lumix GX1?

You take pretty pictures of it.  With your other camera. In my case, it was a Nexus S phone (that brings a thought to my mind, what if Google has a camera...) ...

Goodbye bul-gly professional cameras and hello GX1! I've not really gone into the specs, though I doubt it can deliver performance as high as your Canons and Nikons of DSLRs.  But I would think it's more than enough for the everyday professional-wannabe like you and I (okay maybe just I, sorry prof!).

Overall body is compact, reminds me of the really old skool manual cameras.  I used one when I was in high school but never really liked it because it was just too freakin' cumbersome!  So, smart, smooth, slick design are of course very much welcome.

I've started exploring it a little and will be sharing a lot more photos from now on.  Hopefully they are better than my Nexus S :S

What I found really funny last week?

1) Was driving to work and the DJs from a particular radio station was doing a 'fix it' segment.  The basic idea is, if you have a problem, call in and the DJs will help you to sort it out.  What I found really funny was, an undergrad called and complained that her lecturer was bias.  He grades boys better even though sometimes she feels that she fares better.  The lecturer when confronted by the DJs denied the accusation (naturally, when you're on national radio).  He explained that the girl was not attending classes to which the girl denied and sounded kinda hurt - this shows that the lecturer have not been paying attention to her at all.  Okay, well... point taken.  And then the debate on the quality of her assignments which resulted in low marks ensued.  The punchline was?  The girl asked: Who are you guys (DJs inclusive) to judge my work and say that it's not good enough?  *cue crickets* YUP.  Well, the DJs explained... first of all, he IS her lecturer and was hired as a qualified professional to do his job which is essentially to teach and evaluate students' work.  Ahem.  DJs 1, Lecturer 1, Girl 0.  I mean... seriously?  I'm all for challenging authority (when there's a reason to!) and this one simply escapes me.  If you want better marks, then work harder, produce better work quality!  No?

2) When people upload double meaning posts online, it usually turns sour.

3) Was driving back home and a DJ from a particular radio station was doing a 'hook up' segment.  No, I'm not joking.  I'm serious.  So, the idea is you call in if you're too shy to tell someone what you feel inside and let the DJ do the dirt job for you.  Question: Usually we don't want to tell someone how we feel about them because we're afraid of reaction and rejection, right?  So.  Asking someone else to do it will not change the situation of a) the person now knows how you feel, b) the person doesn't feel the same way subsequently c) rejects you which d) changes how you would face each other from then on.  No matter who is the 'asker', the fear of such sequence is the same and if it really happens, the outcome is the same.  So if the outcome is gonna be the same, then why not do it yourself?  Hmm.  Peculiar.

4) When you put up a lot of papers on the wall all around your room, it will immediately feel smaller than its original size.  And it feels... weird to be inside.  Can't wait for the project to be over so that I can take them all down.

5) No matter how tough a guy looks, when you say the right words, you can make him cry.

6) There's always a reason why senior management makes certain decisions.  Only people who don't bother finding out why will jump into their silly conclusions and make a fool out of themselves later.

7) Someone whom I just met saw something I own that's cool and she exclaimed, "Holler!".  I always watch that on YouTube and American TV shows but finally heard it in real life.  Best part is, I don't really know what that means.  Heh~

8) When shit happens, they come in three.  Good thing they only come in three! And they too shall pass :D

9)  Laura Fygi :)

10) You can actually set your thinking in auto-mode so that it processes data and information faster and clearer O.O

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What's in a purple bottle?

These are some of my favourite scents, with my favouritest of the favouritest of the all time favourite, Escada's Summer limited edition called Moon Sparkle (nope, spark no coincidence there!) which is out of production.  Forever :(

So... did they piqued your curiosity?  Because they sure did mine.  Something that really intrigued me was... purple is not my favourite colour yet for some strange reason I'm attracted to scents in purple bottles.  Isn't that queer?  It's probably pure coincidence cause there may be more purple bottled perfume out there that didn't take my fancy.  And what's even stranger is, I have none of the above except for Escada Moon Sparkle which I tried my best to stock up when it was launched couple of years back which eventually, ran out. I wonder if the ingredients (which gave that wonderful and attractive bouquet of notes) determined the colour of the bottle?  Is that how designers do it?  Hmm.

And the strangest thing, is my current set of perfume... are all in pink.  Yeap.  All.

Does colour to a certain extent influence our olfactory choice without us knowing?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What is your gift?

I read a beautiful beautiful beautiful, insightful insightful insightful piece of writing yesterday that was dated last year.  Nevertheless, it spoke right to my heart.

Ken Page wrote about how your deepest insecurities are in fact your greatest gifts.  And I have have have to admit, #damnitstrue!

A lot of times, there were things about me that I try to tone down because they got me into trouble countless times.  These 'values' were so significant and made so much sense yet they convulse the greatest internal conflict because the results, obviously did not measure up.  It's like a double-edged sword.  When you're too passionate, you risk burning everything in your path and that includes The One in front of you, the dream job (your colleagues think you're power famish), the business deal (your client thinks your psycho), or whatever the situation may be.  So you tend to cover it up with ashes, like how Ken knowingly put it: So, most of us set up shop at a point where we are close enough to be warmed by our gifts, but far enough away that we do not get burned by their fire. We create safer versions of ourselves to enable us to get through our lives without having to face the existential risk of our core.

So there are values that get us into trouble and as we grow older, we try to suppress them, we try to change them, we try to avoid them.  It reminds me a little of autism.  Autistic people, I believe, are geniuses buried deep within.  And it takes someone, just one person who is patient enough and who is blessed enough to see that gift and draw it from them.  And from then on, they transform and fly into awesome :)

But that's pretty much what we face every day, innit?  Us and our greatest gifts.  A friend told me he doesn't wanna be nice anymore, because people take advantage of him.  I couldn't agree more because this world is made up of a lot of suckers who leech on others till they are dry of goodness.  But isn't being 'nice', one of the bestest gifts you could ever be blessed with?  Not everyone is nice and tell me you don't agree with me?  So I had a huge gaping question.  Wouldn't it be such a waste to forego such a beautiful gift just because of these low life scums that perhaps should have been gotten rid of yonkers ago?  Why would anyone sacrifice such an important part of themselves just because the world failed to appreciate that?  Learning from Ken, perhaps the wiser way is to use this 'niceness' as a relationship thermometer.  You could immediately tell who's your friend and who's not.  Who's genuine and who's malicious because the result will show.  Sho' it hurts when you find out others took advantage of you, but at least you know that when you go through life, the remaining people are the ones who will never, and I mean EVER, take advantage of you.

I know my kryptonite too but I'm not about to share it here.  But yes... guilty!  I thought I was cursed.  Because they made me vulnerable.  People saw me and thought I was crazy.  They didn't believe I was genuine.  They didn't believe there was no catch.  I was misunderstood.  I lost friends.  I lost people whom I thought I could trust.  So on and so forth - yea, the usual.

But well, thanks to Ken Page, I now have a different perspective.  The ironic thing was I could see it when my friend was telling me the exact same thing.  Yet, I could never have worked it out on my own :)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Who am I?

Fact: Digital is pervasive in our daily life.

Proof: If you were sitting alone with your phone in your hand, waiting for just 5 minutes.  What would you do?

Yup.  You surf.  You check your Facebook (even if you've checked in like 5 minutes ago), you check your Twitter, you check your email, you Stumble Upon, you Whatsapp, you continue your Plant versus Zombies, anything.  You would do anything except to sit still for just.5.minutes.

Today, I read about BBH's take on our virtual self versus our real self.  The continuous debate on transparency online.  Thanks to Facebook for putting a profile on everyone of us, it seemed natural to take information and assume it's real from the social site now.  Thanks to Facebook again for their timeline, we now can forever immortalize our status updates or our lunch last Saturday.  Of course everyone is worried, especially when 'face recognition' technology's usage is becoming more and more pervasive online.  Last night's party now spills over to next morning's horror.  What's said here, doesn't stay here anymore - it travels everywhere.  But... are we over-worrying ourselves?

Well, I believe there're generally two camps of thoughts.  The Fearful One - what's gonna happen to my privacy?  I don't want everyone to know what I had for lunch.  I didn't upload my photos but my celebrity-type friends decide I should relish on the same status.

Well... there's one way to conquer that fear, you know.  'Disconnect'.  But yes, of course... you want that cake but you don't want the whole cake.  And you just want the good bits of chocolate without the cream, hey I understand.  Here's an idea... why don't you build your own Facebook and stay there?  People greatly underestimate their power over social sites - they can control a lot more of their privacy settings to ensure their anonymity but of course, you need a bit of homework and tinkering around to come to terms with what you want to share, and what should remain in the closet.

Then there's the other camp - The Exposed One - social sites are becoming more and more a personal branding tool - whether it is to get more friends, more business, more exposure, more stalkers - these people are truly enjoying the power of social media and making it work for them, instead of the other way round.  There's no such thing as privacy setting to them because their nature is like a virtual butterfly.  Now, I know this sounds a little negative... which brings me back to a conversation I had with a dear digital friend the other day.  IF social media is indeed a personal 'branding' tool of some sort for some people (e.g they sound overtly optimistic on Facebook even though in real life, you know they're not), my question is; is it that bad when these status updates are actually a way for them to intra-fuel themselves to be someone better?  Well, at least that's how they want the community to perceive themselves to be.  So, they upload photos that make them happy or show them doing happy things.  Is it not also a double-edged sword that truly rings the saying 'fake it till you make it'?  They may be faking it initially, but I believe they will come around and they will be more optimistic at the end of the day.  Thanks to?  Status updates.  Well, of course we can go on debating on this for a long time.

Personally, I think old skool rule works for me.  RESPECT.  If you know your friends don't wanna be tagged, DON'T tag them - these has nothing to do with privacy settings but e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g to do with common sense.  If you don't like what some of your friends are saying on Facebook but not enough to 'unfriend' them, click UNSUBSCRIBE - don't be a hater.  Don't diss someone online if you don't have the balls to do it offline.  And if you don't want people to think of you in a certain way, then DON'T upload that photo.  They may not say it but it doesn't mean they don't think it.  If it bothers you, time to edit your friend list!  The problem here is that we're opening up the Johari Window for debate and a lot of people can't handle that.  The level of transparency on social media allows people to love and criticize us, and ultimately to discover more about ourselves breaking that physical proximity.  If that kind of emotional proximity freaks you out, then keep calm and moonwalk away from the web...

Social media is just... another messenger.  It's a tool, it's neutral.  You use the hammer to secure nails or use it to hurt, it's entirely up to you.  Don't blame the hammer for human's lack of control of their intention and motivation.  If your partner threw a fit because of your sizzling photos with your ex on someone's wall, don't blame Facebook.  Blame yourself for not sorting your ex-files out.  You could, still... in a very far-fetched, low blow sort of way, blame your friend for lacking common sense :) But don't blame technology.

As the digital space evolves out of proportion, it's easy for us to retaliate with negativity because we don't know what's gonna happen in the future.  We all fear what we don't know and when we fear, we do stupid things.  All I'm just sayin' is, whatever stupid we intend to do, do not control the growth of what's natural lest we evolve back to stone age.  If our office network system is prone to virus attacks, you do not, I repeat, DO NOT unplug the router and expect people to stop downloads.  You improve on the system, monitor malicious sites, zero in on guilty individuals (not collective punishment!) and upgrade the darn anti-virus software!  Speaking from actual experience yea?

Well... thanks BBH Lab for opening the can of worms on this beautiful albeit wet Monday morning.  I'm lovin' it and a good day to you too :)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

How do you say goodbye?

Today was the funeral of Whitney Houston and CNN had it covered live.  Didn't manage to catch it but thanks to YouTube, I've watched probably the most important bits.  When Kevin Costner spoke, when R Kelly sang, when boyfriend Ray J broke down as the casket was carried away.  It was truly an emotional experience.

So many of our great stars left us - MJ, Winehouse and now Whitney.  At least we know, the house of God is rocking with good music :)

Every time we are caught by such news, we kinda question ourselves a bit, don't we?  About the value of life.  The meaning of fame.  The meaning of work that we hope, will one day rise us to fame - in at least our very own context.  When we leave, will people remember us?  What will people remember us by anyway?  Honestly, what legacy would you have left behind if your time was up?

Maybe if we sit down and think about these questions for a bit, it'll help us prioritize a little, sober us up a little.  For us to kinda figure whether what's worthy and what's not.

And then it hit me.  Do everything from your heart or do not.

It sounds simple but so hard to do.  To be very honest with you.  It's not easy to be that.  It sounds right, it should be right.  Well, for one, when you do things from your heart - you're essentially opening it up to all things good and all things bad.  Do whatever - from work to telling someone how you feel - you face both the possibility of success and rejection.  And... life, as I'm sure you already know, is not as kind as we would like it to be.  It's the same theory as 'being nice and be a doormat' - people who are nice feel they are being taken advantaged of.  Likewise, when you do things from the heart - however sincere and pure your intentions, it may suffer when not reciprocated.  While growing up, I realized that not everyone practices that and things could get tricky from that.  Well, it's definitely a risk but it's up to you to take it.  At least, you know you lived with meaning.

Here's to you who need a little strength for anything. I wish I could reach out to protect you.  Just know that you're not alone :)

Had cake, the couture kind?

Last week, we had a small birthday celebration with the team and I was in charged of the VIP - what else but the cake.  Because everyone was flocking to Secret Recipe on every birthday whim, I decided to go the other way.  Underground.  Online.  And I found Garden from Pastry Union 

If you're the kind who believe that the first feast is of sight, then welcome to cake couture ;) Chef Yin has got some other lovely ensemble which you can check out at the link below.  Garden (pic above) is a modern rendition of our childhood Blackforest - chocolate cream with cranberries.  I thought I made a boo boo, cause I ordered a 700g cake which turned out to be really small (5x5 inches) and there were 13 of us.  But you know what, turned out it was just nice because it was also an after dinner desert.  From my previous all of my past experiences, no one and I mean, absolutely no one finishes the birthday cake.  True to my personal goal of being less wasteful and more efficient (whenever I can), a 700g cake turned out to be the perfect order of the day ;)

Well, now don't just start drooling here, have a piece yourself

Saturday, February 18, 2012

What does a night in the museum really feel like?

Definitely none of those nightmare-ish experience where ancient animals survive to claw you alive.  I've stayed in an art museum before - well, sorta.  To be exact, it's an entire art island on its own which is called Naoshima in the South of mid Japan, which was truly an unforgettable experience.  Just to give you an idea how beautiful it was:

The Bennese Art Site at Naoshima was designed by Tadao Ando and he is one of the world's most revered architects.  Speckled around the island are some of the world's finest artists and one for example is Yayoi Kusuma's spotted pumpkin - you could see works by Andy Warhol and Claude Monet (yup, there's where they kept em' waterlilies!).  If art is your thang, you've come to the right place.  Dug out some of my photos I took when I was there in 2008 and boy, that's nostalgia...

Here's Cat conquering the world.

Yea, little guy likes ice cream on waffles :)

The underground museum that you could 'experience' art via immersion like the first picture you saw on this post.

Yup, that's me.  Walking Cat.

Yayoi's famous spotted vege.

Up, close and personal with the pumpkin.

The Benesse Art House, hotel.

Clean, simple design - truly Andao's blueprint.

The rooms were simple, equipped with 'smart' carpentry system.  A push and a pull of a board/cover/wall, you could transform the place to something else.

Cat reading up on Naoshima.

Love healthy breakfast :)

That's Cat and my Japanese mom asking for directions.

Glass steps to the shrine.

Beautiful 'noren' - the piece of cloth that's hung at the entrance of Japanese traditional homes.

Functional art - toldja they were speckled everywhere.

Another of Yayoi Kusuma's pumpkin installation.

Yes, brought back so much memories.  And in my pursuit of extraordinary travel experiences, I came across another boutique art hotel recently.  Now if this doesn't make your heart leap in excitement, I don't know what does:

Ladies and gentlemen, introducing HOMA - Hotel of Modern Art, Guilin, China.  Who would have thought there's such a fine piece of design in Guilin?  

Am planning a trip there in April.  Hey, landscape baby, wait for me :)