Monthly Archives: May 2009

Lens compatibility

I don’t actually have a lens for my camera right now, although I’m working on remedying that problem. Turns out the lens compatibility issue (my cheap camera isn’t fully compatible with older lenses) is hitting me harder than expected – the three lenses I’d borrowed from Kenny can’t focus automatically on my camera, and I’m not particularly good with manual focusing (as can be seen above).

I did play around with the 50mm prime lens though (since it’s comparatively easier to play with the focusing when not distracted with zooming). I managed to catch this photo which I think is actually pretty good – especially considering the fact that it was taken with manual focus. I’m finding this really enjoyable – I don’t think I’m giving up DSLR photography any time soon!

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Nikon D40

Am now the proud owner of a not-so-new Nikon D40, against the advice of my camera-Nazi friends. I think most of them don’t appreciate that I’m approaching this with quite a bit of apprehension – I’m actually prepared to sell it off again should I fail to take to DSLR photography, and at S$380 for the camera body, it’s not a particularly heavy investment.

I took a few pictures while inspecting the camera before purchase, and while it’s not particularly impressive (looks a little noisy – gotta figure out those controls soon), I thought I should just catalogue the very first picture I’ve taken on my new old camera. Hope my skills improve in the coming weeks!

Tap and Save

Citibank Tap and Save
(I’m not getting any money for this post, although I think maybe I should be! If they offered a referral bonus for savings accounts, I’d probably have posted this a lot sooner, haha.)

One thing I’d learned while I was in the UK was the value of having multiple bank accounts. Although UK’s ATMs can mostly be used by customers of any bank (for free!), there are still advantages to being a customer of a different bank. Back then, I’d opened a Barclays bank account for the Visa debit card they’d issued, while retaining my HSBC account for access to their high-interest savings accounts (although that’s no longer a big incentive).

When I returned to Singapore, I got rather fed up of queueing for DBS/POSB ATMs, and started shopping for a new primary bank account. After some looking around, I finally settled on Citibank’s Tap and Save account, which I’m currently convinced is the best option around for a salaried employee. Here’s why.

  1. No minimum balance required, if you set it as your salary account – not a problem since it’s currently my primary account, anyway. Most bank accounts charge a nominal fee (~$5/month) if your balance goes below a certain sum (usually $500 for local banks), but that’s no longer a concern.
  2. Chequebook provided. Not many savings accounts provide a free chequebook, and I’ve found that I occasionally need to write a cheque or two, so this is really quite a nifty feature.
  3. Mobile-based authentication. I really detest the DBS iB Secure Device system which requires me to have that little dongle on my person in order to utilise internet banking – Citibank (and many other banks) offer the option of using your mobile phone for 2FA, which has worked pretty well for me so far (and is a lot more convenient).
  4. ATM convenience. Citibank’s strategically placed ATMs can be found at most MRT stations around Singapore, and the queues for those are usually a lot shorter than those for DBS/POSB. They might not be as numerous, but they’re convenient enough and provide for a shorter wait time for use.
  5. An awesome debit card. This is probably the main reason why people sign up for this account, and I do think it’s a great card. Firstly, it acts as an EZ-Link card and can effectively replace your old one, netting you (slightly) discounted rides in the meantime. Secondly, it’s a Visa, so it’s pretty universally accepted (although it can’t be used for internet transactions, sadly). Thirdly, there is a 1% cash rebate for all Visa transactions. These rebates are automatically credited to you monthly, so there’s no need to monitor accumulated points before they expire. Lastly, it still qualifies as a Citibank card for purposes of restaurant discounts, and I’ve found that to be really useful so far.

The main disadvantages are that it cannot be used for internet purchases and lacks NETS facilities, but if you have other cards and an account with a local bank (I recommend OCBC’s Fairprice Plus), they’re nothing you can’t live without.

In my opinion, if you’re already carrying an EZ-Link card in your wallet, you should seriously consider getting yourself a Tap and Save account.

‘Disney label’ Transformers

This has gotta be one of the funniest Transformers-related comic I’ve ever seen. Based off the highly amusing (and confusing!) Disney label Transformers.

Trust Japan to somehow come up with a way to mesh their love of Disney with their love of mecha. I wonder if they’ll add any other figures to this line? A Donald Duck Megatron, perhaps?

Simple photography seminar

I’ve decided to go to this seminar on Saturday. I’ve been interested in getting a DSLR and learning more about photography for some time now, though the cost remains a relatively big barrier. In the meantime, though, I figure $10 is a pretty low price to learn some simple techniques, though 3h does sound pretty long. Hopefully what’s covered isn’t too basic, I’d hate to have wasted time listening to things that are available from the user’s manual!

(Anyone else interested in popping down?)

Fantasy femmes

I might not be embarking on that European getaway after all (too expensive, and somehow I’m not really too keen on solo backpacking right now), so the alternative leisure activity is obviously to lose myself in an online fantasy world and vegetate away.

(Also because Jun Da’s been thinking of picking it up again after his exams, haha.)

This post isn’t about that, though. It’s about the background art that’s visible while running the WoW installation program – the focus of the image seems to be that (blood elf?) chick wielding a big-ass knife. More specifically, though, her half-exposed chest. It makes no sense – doesn’t it get cold out there? Doesn’t all that exposed flesh kinda reduce her stealthiness, given the skin tone? Does it perhaps give her some sort of tactical advantage, like an added distraction against male enemies (and some female ones, I bet) granting her +2 to her backstab rolls? (I know, I’m mixing up game mechanics here.)

Not that I’m complaining (too much), but can anyone think up any sort of rational explanation, other than the possibility that fantasy artists are simply horny? Maybe someone should let them know that it’s not that kind of fantasy…

Yesterday once more

Practicum’s over now, so I figured it’s as good a time as any to share some pictures of the experience.

It’s kinda weird taking the bus to school daily (I gave up on cycling in the last 2 weeks, the sudden heavy downpours are just too daunting). I don’t really go to that bus stop all that often (the buses to town are in the opposite direction), so walking there really reminded me of the old school days. As did waiting for the bus home from school – they’ve shifted the bus stop (and thankfully added a sheltered walkway), but it still has that old familiar feeling.

The school itself is much the same, yet quite a bit different as well. Upon entering the school via the side gate, you’re greeted by a long wooden (table?) which I’m pretty sure wasn’t there before. The bust of Raffles outside the general office is still there, as are the Headmasters’ pictures hanging in the atrium. The canteen is radically different – it’s all enclosed now (less bird crap, yay!) and also hosts the school’s (Popular) bookshop. I can’t even remember what the bookshop was like in my day – I guess there must have been one, and it definitely wasn’t an external vendor, but for some reason I can’t seem to recall anything about it!

Friday is combined recess for all 4 levels (usually it’s split into two sessions) – I’m not too sure why they do this, but it results in a shorter work day so I’m not complaining. There’s usually a performance at the atrium (Arts at the Atrium, they call it) during this recess, and since it was SYF season the various clubs were taking the chance to showcase their competition pieces to the rest of the school. I thought this was a wonderful idea, and I really do wish I had taken other photos/videos other than this one performance, but I guess I was too engrossed in enjoying the (free!) performances.

We had a temperature-taking exercise before we actually went all ‘orange alert‘, and it was pretty surreal watching all the students taking their temperatures in the parade square (which is, incidentally, no longer on the AstroTurf field). I guess it’s happened before (during the SARS period), but the sight of hundreds of students with thermometers in their mouths was really just… weird.

Lose your man boobs

It’s almost as though Google knows I haven’t been exercising lately – I keep seeing this everywhere I go! I wonder if it’s a case of cookie-based targeting – if so, I’m not quite sure if I should be concerned, worried or offended that Google’s trying so hard to push this advert onto me.

(Plus, man, that picture is just plain gross.)

Time to start jogging again!

Chinese VVIPs visit

About a week ago, I received the following email.

Dear Colleagues

We will be hosting a delegation of more than 20 Chinese political and senior government officials from PRC this Friday, 24/4/09, from 8.30 a.m. to 9.10 a.m.

The delegation will be headed by  HE Mme. Liu Yandong, PRC State Councillor (equivalent to DPM rank).  The other high ranking officials accompanying her include PRC Minister for Education; PRC Vice-Minister of Science and Technology and China’s Ambassador to Singapore.

Their visit is important for RI and Singapore. It is our honour to be able to showcase RI and all the wonderful things that the teachers and students here are engaged in. It is also our privilege to be able to highlight what Singapore education is all about and that RI represents something special.

They have requested to visit RI and to understand us better. They will be engaging some of our students, observe a classroom lesson and have a dialogue with PRI and all the DPs. Their route of tour will begin from the main office through Heritage Centre and to the Science Hub.

Some students will be disrupted from their classes to welcome the entourage and participate in the morning welcome.

Ms Ho Peng, DGE, will also be joining us at RI to welcome them.

As such, the dress code for this Friday will be the usual dress code adopted from Monday to Thursday for all staff. Kindly refrain from being in polo T-shirts or anything very informal, please.

If you have any queries, please feel free to contact me or any EXCO member.

We seek your understanding and cooperation.

Many thanks.

I wasn’t personally involved in any way, but since I wasn’t having lessons during that timeframe, it was the perfect opportunity for me to kaypoh a bit and check out what was happening. Since I wasn’t actually helping out, I didn’t really get to see much aside from the fanfare made when the visitors arrived and left, but it was still quite exciting to witness the vehicle convoy (including police motorbikes) arriving and leaving.

(Or perhaps I’ve just become too used to the pace of everyday school life?) Ah, the benefits (?) of teaching in a premier school…

Student discovers time travel

Marking Physics work is a lot easier than marking English essays, but it’s usually also less interesting. Occasionally the students’ responses are still able to entertain – usually in the mistakes made. One student managed to mention something about ‘time travelling’ rather than ‘light travelling’ (taking a shorter time to do so?), but somehow I was really tickled when I saw it…