Thursday, December 29, 2005

people often ask me what is my favourite car. between mitsubishi evolutions and caterham 7s, in terms of design, the lotus elise is perfect in my view. the unconventional lines, fine detailing etc. the picture actually shows the lotus exige, its sister car, but the basic shape is similar. the new lotus europa s, on the other hand, is nowhere near as good.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

trance djs

better list down the fav trance djs b4 i forget
  • ferry costen
  • blank & jones
  • timo maas

Thursday, December 15, 2005

new PC casings

antec p150
cooler master cm stacker 830

both look like interesting concepts, will delve deeper...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Take 5! Guerilla Film-Making Challenge

Singapore History Museum presents - Soul to Soul
suffering from withdrawal symptoms after the 5 day film-making boot camp. Although it sounds cliche, I felt that this challenge changed my life. Mind-blowing stuff...

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Take 5! Guerilla Film-Making Challenge

Singapore History Museum presents - Soul to Soul
2 days before the start of what will be, I suspect, a harrowing experience for me. Will be trying to make a film within 5 days [actually more like 2 days, as shooting only starts on the eve of the 3rd day]. The more frightening part is that it will be the very 1st time that I'm shooting a film. hope that I manage to produce something at the end of the 5 days...

Monday, November 07, 2005

Weekly Newsletter Subscription: Digital Photography Review

Weekly Newsletter Subscription: Digital Photography Review
interesting info...
" users - Please complain to your administrator
Singnet appear to be repeatedly mistaking our opt-in weekly newsletter for spam, but instead of simply asking us, reading the message or contacting the receipient they appear to have chosen to automatically make formal complaints to our ISP, despite re-assuring them that our Newsletter is 100% opt-in we have heard nothing back from them on this subject and hence we will not be sending any newsletters to My advice, complain to the administrator, we've given up."

Friday, November 04, 2005

United Nations Statistics Division - Country and Region Codes

United Nations Statistics Division - Country and Region Codes: "There is no established convention for the designation of 'developed' and 'developing' countries or areas in the United Nations system. In common practice, Japan in Asia, Canada and the United States in northern America, Australia and New Zealand in Oceania, and Europe are considered 'developed' regions or areas. In international trade statistics, the Southern African Customs Union is also treated as a developed region and Israel as a developed country; countries emerging from the former Yugoslavia are treated as developing countries; and countries of eastern Europe and of the Commonwealth of Independent States (code 172) in Europe are not included under either developed or developing regions. "

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Germany tests 9ft 'micro-house'

BBC NEWS UK Germany tests 9ft 'micro-house'
a cool idea, although not a new one, i guess. wonder how they work out the sanitation arrangements though...
their website is here.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Govt should distinguish between substance, form

Story Print Friendly
Oct 20, 2005
Govt should distinguish between substance, form
I REFER to the letter, 'Don wasn't non-partisan in his analysis' (ST, Oct 14), by Mr Chen Hwai Liang, the Press Secretary to the Prime Minister.

Mr Chen seems adamant about imposing the partisan tag on Dr Cherian George by virtue of the fact that his analysis was based on an earlier academic paper which Mr Chen sees as partisan.

There are two problems with this argument. Firstly, the presumption of partisanship is justified by quotes that were taken out of context from the academic paper. Dr George clearly states that there exist 'gaps in our understanding of authoritarian rule' because of normative and conceptual reasons, and the paper was an attempt to bridge such gaps by 'focusing on the state' and 'taking seriously authoritarian rule'.

Secondly, to judge Dr George's intention in writing the article ('Managing civil disobedience'; ST, Oct 10) using a perceptual judgment (that I have attempted to refute) of an earlier paper by Dr George is faulty logic at best; it assumes the objective truism of such a judgment that is necessarily normative in nature.

Later in his letter, Mr Chen argues against all remonstrations that Dr George had commended the strategy of civil disobedience, when the latter merely suggested that the strategy is a mere 'predictable response'.

Certainly, one would not think that a doctor is commending the impending death of his incurable patient by stating reasons as to why such an outcome is medically predictable. Yet, such is the logic that is applied here.

I am pleased to be assured that the Government's response will depend on substance rather than form, but I urge the Government to make a clear and accurate distinction between the two.

Kelvin Chia Kwok Wai

Don wasn't non-partisan in his analysis

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Oct 14, 2005
Don wasn't non-partisan in his analysis
DR CHERIAN George, in his letter 'Govt shouldn't equate analysis with advocacy' (ST, Oct 13), regrets that the Government had 'cast (his) article ('Managing civil disobedience'; ST, Oct 10) in partisan terms'.

His article states that it was 'based on an academic paper on calibrated coercion'. This paper, titled 'Calibrated coercion and the maintenance of hegemony in Singapore', describes Singapore as an instance of 'authoritarian rule', declares that 'the normative thrust of this essay is directed at democratisation', and claims to offer a 'sophisticated understanding of what makes certain kinds of authoritarian rule endure - the better to resist and challenge them'.

These statements, which show Dr George's true intention, were omitted from his Straits Times article, which was a sanitised version of his original paper. Is this being non-partisan?

Dr George also denied that he had 'commended' the strategy of civil disobedience. He protested that a terrorism expert who explains the motivations of terrorists is pursuing academic research, and not siding with the terrorists.

But if the expert goes further to suggest that there are good and legitimate reasons why a person has to resort to terrorism, that must be a different matter.

Indeed, Dr George's article did not directly commend civil disobedience. However, his attitude can clearly be inferred from its conclusion, which I quote:

'Mixed Blessing

The contemporary scene of calibrated coercion is a mixed blessing for Singaporeans who want more freedom. This is bad news for pro-democracy activists, who consequently have a tough time reminding Singaporeans that they should care about political liberalisation. That is where Dr Chee (Soon Juan)'s strategy of civil disobedience comes in. It is a predictable response to the PAP's success at calibrated coercion.'

I am, however, happy that Dr George has now clarified that, in his view, Singaporeans who want to press for change need to do so within the law.

It is no surprise that critics of the Government, especially those who are academics, will want to portray themselves as being dispassionate observers who are above the fray.

However, the Government's response will depend on the substance of what they say, rather than the pose they strike.

Chen Hwai Liang
Press Secretary to Prime Minister

Govt shouldn't equate analysis with advocacy

Story Print Friendly
Oct 13, 2005
Govt shouldn't equate analysis with advocacy
IN MY article, 'Managing civil disobedience' (ST, Oct 10), I analysed 'calibrated coercion' as one under-appreciated governance skill of the People's Action Party, and speculated that the opposition's strategy of civil disobedience presents a new challenge that the PAP would have to manage carefully.

The Prime Minister's press secretary, Mr Chen Hwai Liang, has responded by presenting the Government's position on its own success factors ('Govt doesn't depend on 'calibrated coercion').

I will continue to refine my own analysis based on Mr Chen's and other responses. The PAP's record of political stability is unique in the world and deserves nuanced and sustained study, which I, like others in the academic fraternity, are committed to. I therefore welcome the Government's engagement with my ideas.

However, I am saddened that the Government has chosen to cast my article in partisan terms. Worse, it claims that I 'commended' the strategy of civil disobedience. This is not just a misrepresentation of my views. It is also a serious accusation, as it suggests that I was inciting readers to break the law.

I did not. I tried to explain Dr Chee Soon Juan's strategy, not champion it. Unfortunately, Mr Chen has chosen to equate analysis with advocacy. By this token, a historian who studies the rise of communism must be a communist himself. The terrorism expert who explains the motivations of Al-Qaeda operatives must be siding with terrorists. And a sociologist analysing Stefanie Sun's international appeal must be a groupie. Such labelling would make much academic research untenable.

Only time will tell conclusively whether Dr Chee's application of civil disobedience to Singapore is as irrelevant as communism, as dangerous as terrorism, or as benign as a Stephanie Sun song.

However, until experience tells us otherwise, my own hunch is that it is possible to work legally for a better Singapore, and to call for changes in laws without breaking them. Most Singaporeans who are in favour of faster political liberalisation (including opposition leaders other than Dr Chee) appear to share this faith.

I also share the view of PAP MP Charles Chong and his grassroots leaders that Singaporeans who want to press for change need to be 'very creative, but within the law'.

That does not mean alternative approaches, such as Dr Chee's, don't deserve close and dispassionate scrutiny. Sadly, readers may get the impression from parts of the Government's response to my article that it will treat such study as equal to instigating others to break the law, and therefore out of bounds.

As for me, I will choose not to come to this pessimistic conclusion despite the unfair accusation, and accept on faith that there remains room in Singapore for the critical discussion of serious issues.

Cherian George (Dr)

The Australian: Unmasked: the hangman who will send Aussie drug courier to 'a better place' [October 28, 2005]

The Australian: Unmasked: the hangman who will send Aussie drug courier to 'a better place' [October 28, 2005]
what a story...

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Govt doesn't depend on 'calibrated coercion'

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Oct 12, 2005
Govt doesn't depend on 'calibrated coercion'
IN 'MANAGING civil disobedience' (ST, Oct 10), Dr Cherian George regretted that the PAP Government's 'calibrated approach to coercion' and its self-restraint had made it harder for 'pro-democracy activists - (to) remind Singaporeans that they should care about political liberalisation'.

He noted that 'that is where Dr Chee (Soon Juan)'s strategy of civil disobedience comes in', and commended it as a 'strategy (which) turns the state's monopoly of force against itself'.

Dr George has mixed up several different issues. First, the Government does not depend on 'calibrated coercion', but derives moral authority precisely from what Dr George himself acknowledged - 'an outstanding record in delivering the goods, internal discipline, ability to win genuine freely-given loyalty from the majority of Singaporeans'.

Second, this record of good and clean governance depends on rigorously upholding the rule of law in a plural and democratic society.

The Government must act when the law is broken, whether by opposition politicians or government supporters, and whether through violent or non-violent means.

If a law is unjust, there are established avenues for reviewing and changing it. Neither Mr Chiam See Tong nor Mr Low Thia Khiang has had to resort to 'civil disobedience' or defamation in order to be elected as MPs.

Our defamation laws follow the English model, and keep our public discourse responsible and honest. Dr George described defamation civil suits as 'the state's weapon of choice', but ministers can sue successfully only if they have been defamed, and they do so on a personal basis, not on behalf of the state.

Opposition MPs themselves have sued when they considered themselves defamed.

Third, zero tolerance for law breaking does not equate to zero tolerance for dissenting views. On the contrary, we encourage people to speak up and express their opinions on national policies and community life, so that out of the diversity of views a consensus can be forged, and a better decision made for the good of the nation.

Dr George's critical article was published in The Straits Times, contradicting his own claims.

Of course, where criticism is directed against the Government, then the Government has to respond to it or rebut it, or else lose the argument and the respect of Singaporeans. This is what it did a decade ago in response to Dr Catherine Lim.

Such exchanges do not represent 'PAP intolerance towards dissent'. They are part and parcel of public discourse in a democratic society.

Dr George is, however, right that the PAP has not 'undergone a fundamental philosophical conversion towards liberal ideals'. He offered no supporting arguments or evidence why these are the right ideals for Singapore.

The Prime Minister has explained why he does not believe that liberal democracy as practised in the West will work here.

Singaporeans know that we have thrived on a different approach - the PAP has won every election since 1959 because it enjoys the trust and support of the people, governs in their interests, and involves citizens in the large issues that affect us all.

Chen Hwai Liang
Press Secretary to the Prime Minister

Managing civil disobedience

Story Print Friendly

Oct 10, 2005
Managing civil disobedience

By Cherian George
For The Straits Times
THE 'white elephants' affair has resulted in a 'stern warning' to its unnamed perpetrator. After this case, people will be more careful to check that they do not accidentally flout the law, as the unfortunate Mahout of Buangkok appears to have done.

However, this is unlikely to be the last such case. The stern warning will not deter opposition activists who believe in deliberately breaking the law to make a political point. Their attempt to inject civil disobedience into Singapore's body politic represents an intriguing challenge to the People's Action Party's ideological hold. It calls for deft handling. While thwarting a protest is easy for the authorities, the question is how much political capital they will have to spend in the process.

This is the real power of such campaigns. By deliberately but non-violently flouting laws that they deem unjust, opponents put the authorities in a fix.

The state could choose to close one eye, but this would diminish its authority and probably invite follow-up breaches until these are too large or too flagrant to be ignored. If the state responds with force against a peaceful protest, the activists can still try to claim the moral victory. They may succeed in convincing the wider public that the law in question - and the state's power in general - is neither just nor moral, but instead backed by sheer force.

Thus, campaigns of civil disobedience test a state's moral legitimacy, revealing whether its rule is based mainly on consent or on coercion.

Dr Chee Soon Juan has been dabbling with this strategy for some years, at least since 1998, when he spoke in public without a permit and landed up in prison. His new book, The Power Of Courage, promotes non-violent civil disobedience as an opposition strategy in Singapore.

The Government has responded that the rule of law must be respected. Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng said that wilful law-breaking 'regardless of whether you think it is a silly law or not...does violence to the rule of law', even if the actions are peaceful.

While the principle of zero tolerance for law-breaking is straightforward, applying it will be a challenge. Civil disobedience will test a key element of PAP governance: its acumen in calibrating its use of force against political challengers, such that opponents are neutralised with minimum collateral damage.

This is not to deny the other - and much better-understood - sources of the PAP's strength, namely its outstanding record in delivering the goods, its internal discipline and its ability to win genuine freely-given loyalty from the majority of Singaporeans.

But every state, by definition, also comprises instruments of force. And the intelligent use of force is no less a dimension of good governance than, say, an efficient bureaucracy or long-term urban planning.

Its calibrated approach to coercion may be one of the least appreciated of the PAP's many skills. Indeed, stating it this way will probably provoke some incredulity. After all, even some of the PAP's most ardent supporters think it is guilty of occasional overkill. PAP leaders themselves are not coy about their macho side. Mr Lee Kuan Yew talks of knuckledusters and nation-building with equal aplomb. If the PAP were to develop and market a computer game, it would be a cross between SimCity and Street Fighter.


IMAGE aside, however, the facts show a government increasingly aware of the need to exercise self-restraint in its use of force. Yes, it has an array of repressive tools within easy reach. But, compared with other states that possess similar tools and are controlled by similarly strong-willed leaders, Singapore's Government has been relatively judicious and sophisticated in their use.

The spectrum of coercive tools available to an authoritarian regime today ranges from political murders and disappearances, and torture and imprisonment without trial, to criminal prosecution, civil action, the banning of organisations, sabotaging opponents' means of earning a living and character attacks through state-controlled media.

The most extreme of these tools have never been used in Singapore. And it is noteworthy that detention without trial, under the Internal Security Act, was used frequently in the 1960s and 1970s but has not been applied to non-violent political opponents in almost two decades.

As for criminal prosecutions, most of these have not involved jail terms. Dr Chee went to prison because he would not pay a fine. The state's weapon of choice - defamation civil suits - similarly does not involve incarceration, though it can be devastating financially.

Some may argue that these distinctions are academic, as the PAP's calibrated coercion is still coercive enough to neutralise the opposition. On the one hand, that is precisely the point being argued here: The PAP has developed into an art form the ability to suppress challenges with a fraction of the brutality employed by the most ruthless dictatorships, but with an effectiveness that more than matches them.

Still, the difference between physical torture and a lawsuit is hardly insignificant. To claim otherwise - to say that Singapore is like the Soviet Union of the past, or like Zimbabwe today - is to trivialise the suffering of dissidents in some of the most inhumane regimes of the modern era.

Furthermore, different tools have different secondary effects. That is why calibrated coercion is not only more ethical than unbridled repression, but also the smarter option for any regime interested in long-term consolidation rather than short-term plunder.

States that overplay their hand often find the excessive violence backfiring on them. It unleashes a moral outrage that opponents can harness to mobilise a hitherto-inert public behind their cause.

Tipping points

IN THE Philippines, the sight of opposition leader Benigno Aquino Jr, gunned down in cold blood on the tarmac of Manila International Airport in 1983, was the beginning of the end of the Ferdinand Marcos regime.

Indonesia, May 1998: The shooting of four student protesters was the tipping point that turned the Reformasi campaign against then-president Suharto into a full-blown revolution.

Malaysia's Reformasi got a fillip from sensational images of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim being snatched away under the Internal Security Act and then emerging from custody with a black eye, courtesy of the country's police chief.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew would later comment that the Mahathir government erred tactically in using the ISA instead of a straightforward criminal charge - a rare hint that the calibration of coercion is a conscious policy, even if never enunciated.

One of the few political theorists to have analysed the cost of a state's violence to the state itself was political philosopher Hannah Arendt.

In her pithy treatise On Violence, she rejected Mao Zedong's oft-quoted dictum by arguing that while violence can flow from the barrel of a gun, power cannot.

Power corresponds to the human ability to act in concert; it belongs to a group and exists only as long as the group coheres.

'Single men without others to support them never have enough power to use violence successfully,' she wrote.

'Even the totalitarian ruler, whose chief instrument of rule is torture, needs a power basis - the secret police and its net of informers...Where commands are no longer obeyed, the means of violence are of no use...Everything depends on the power behind the violence.'

Power is sustained by legitimacy, and legitimacy is what's lost when violence is misapplied. 'To substitute violence for power can bring victory, but the price is very high; for it is not only paid by the vanquished, it is also paid by the victor in terms of his own power,' she said.

Therefore, even though violence, power and authority often appear together, they are not the same. Indeed, she added: 'Power and violence are opposites; where one rules absolutely, the other is absent. Violence appears when power is in jeopardy, but left to its own course it ends in power's disappearance.'

Arendt thus zoomed in on the counter-intuitive truth that run-of-the-mill dictators have failed to understand. As in so many other areas, the PAP belongs in a different league. It may have wielded mallets to smash assorted flies in the 1960s and 1970s, but since the mid-1980s it has been relatively self-restrained in the use of force.

This is why the Catherine Lim Affair was able to create such a stir in the mid-1990s, and is still talked about 10 years later, despite the fact that she was not arrested, exiled or 'fixed'. Her books were still published and used as literature texts in government schools, so she was not even punished professionally.

Three decades ago, these less-calibrated means of coercion were more routine. A Singaporean from that period, transported through time to the present day, would be dumbfounded by the notion that the Catherine Lim Affair - which never got nastier than a verbal lashing - could be iconic of PAP intolerance towards dissent. He would have concluded, correctly, that the PAP had changed.

Our time-traveller would be wrong, however, if he assumed that the PAP had undergone a fundamental philosophical conversion towards liberal ideals. As Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong emphasised at his talk at the Foreign Correspondents Association last Thursday, it has not - and will not.

The change is instead at the level of methodology. By systematically shifting political controls behind the scenes - through legislation covering trade unions, universities, the press, religious groups and the legal profession - the PAP has pre-empted ugly confrontations with institutions that could challenge its authority.

Mixed blessing

THE contemporary scene of calibrated coercion is a mixed blessing for Singaporeans who want more freedom. There is certainly less cause for fear today than in the old days when coercion was more blunt. On the other hand, the PAP's self-restraint gives its opponents less moral ammunition.

Controls are so seamlessly integrated into the system and coercion is so well calibrated that the average Singaporean can go through much of life without bumping into the hard edges of PAP authoritarianism. This is bad news for pro-democracy activists, who consequently have a tough time reminding Singaporeans that they should care about political liberalisation.

That is where Dr Chee's strategy of civil disobedience comes in. It is a predictable response to the PAP's success at calibrated coercion. It involves seeking out laws that may not enjoy great public support, and deliberately flouting them to provoke a forceful response. The use of force will ensure victory to the PAP, but the price of victory, to borrow Arendt's words, will be 'paid by the victor in terms of his own power'. The strategy turns the state's monopoly of force against itself.

Other states have fallen into the trap when those at the top miscalculate, or when their functionaries - especially the police or army - get trigger-happy when putting down peaceful protests. There is little risk of the latter in Singapore, where uniformed services are highly disciplined and under firm civilian direction. The former scenario - political miscalculation - also seems unlikely.

However, it should be noted that a new and less experienced generation of ministers and permanent secretaries is taking charge. For them, there may be an urge to deal with challengers of any sort in the most expeditious manner, and the temptation to get their way through actual or threatened force may be irresistible. The alternative - the use of reason and debate - may seem too slow, too weak, especially when more decisive tools are at one's fingertips.

The situation, in short, is dynamic. The Government can narrow the opportunities for effective civil disobedience by pro-actively amending regulations that are over-broad and difficult to defend intellectually to the ordinary Singaporean. Until then, the Chees of Singapore will continue to pressure those points in the law. The authorities will not give in; they will say no. But they will have to calibrate carefully how they say no.

The writer is an assistant professor at the School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University, where he researches media and politics. This article is based on an academic paper on calibrated coercion, published in the Asia Research Institute's working paper series, at .

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Juno Racing

Juno Racing
another cottage industry type car brand/ racing team in the UK. Managed to beat the Radical SR8 in an endurance race.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

World Rally | News | WRC | Michael Park: 1966-2005

RIP - Michael Park

And then there were 3

Ultimate ears 3 Studio

Besides the usual brands of Shure and Etymotic for in-ear headphones, Ultimate ears have been lying low. Now with their 3rd consumer grade product, they seem ready to shake up the market. Not sure how good it sounds though...

Thursday, September 15, 2005

BBC NEWS | Europe | States 'not run by people's will'

BBC NEWS | Europe | States 'not run by people's will'
Sixty-five percent of citizens across the world do not think their country is governed by the will of the people, a poll commissioned by the BBC suggests.
The Gallup International Voice of the People 2005 poll questioned more than 50,000 people in 68 states for the BBC World Service survey about power.

Only in Scandinavia and South Africa do the majority believe that they are ruled according to their wishes.

But 47% thought elections in their countries were free and fair.

The figure is 55% for the US and Canada and up to 82% in EU countries - but just 24% in West Africa.

The survey also found that only 13% of people trusted politicians and only 16% thought they should be given more power.

About a third of those asked thought more power should go to writers and academics.
A quarter felt more should go to religious leaders - who are also seen as the most trusted group.

A fifth of those asked thought military, business leaders and journalists should be given more power.

Other key findings include:

Family exerts the greatest single influence on people
Sixty-one percent said a partner or family member has most influenced decisions about their life in the past year.

In Mexico, the figure is 88%. The lowest rating for family influence comes from North America (35%), where people report a wider range of influences, especially religious leaders (12%).

There is a wide gap between the developed and developing world on the degree to which people feel they can control their lives
Least control is felt in Africa, the Asia-Pacific region and the former Soviet bloc.

The highest scores are in Latin America (65%), followed by Canada and the US (62%) and Europe (53%).

National identity is still strong
Nationality was used by a third of those surveyed to 'define' themselves. About a fifth chose religion.

The sense of nationality is strongest in Latin America (54%).

Religion gained the highest scores in Africa (56%), followed by the US and Canada (32%).

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

my CRT monitor has been acting up recently, showing a yellow tint now and then. time to think of a replacement then. a philips 150B6 with 3 year perfect panel warranty looks good value at S$349

Monday, August 29, 2005

video blogging

since my video bug began, i have been looking at camcorder specs, video editing software etc. my attention now switches to broadcasting, or more specifically, free video hosting options. already found some at ourmedia, putfile, and zippvideos. hopefully google will jump in too with blogger offering video hosting, like how they allow photo blogging now.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Low-fat Caterham strikes back - News - Autocar Online

Autocar Online
a new version of the superlight. however, it still isn't clear how this model fits in with the rest of the range, e.g. R300, R400, R500, R600, and the recent CSR200 and CSR260.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Google Talk

Google Talk
the goliath that is google moves on. just days after the new version of its desktop search, a new "toy" is google talk, an IM/internet phone application. sounds great, except there isn't anyone to speak to i don't have a headset.

Monday, August 15, 2005

since the official new nissan skyline GT-R is still a year plus in the making, Top Secret went ahead and made its own rendition, with amazing results, i must say. More details here.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

the new honda civic has just being introduced at the frankfurt motorshow. looks pretty futuristic & sleek. a good evolution of the dc5 integra design

Monday, July 18, 2005

baybeats day 3
nice bands: b-quartet, kate of kale, klphq, concave scream. note: i missed day 2, so bands performing then could not be evaluated.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Baybeats 2005 day 1

konica minolta 5d

the little brother to the 7d, the 5d promises the same innovative anti-shake CCD, with just a few functions missing, for a lower price. a preview is already up at the lets go digital website

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Friday, July 08, 2005

really like the caterham 7. this is the csr, the latest version with a cosworth engine instead of the usual k-series.
a rider's view of aprilia's rs 125, the perfect bike which i would love to ride [f i get my bike license], except maybe for its big brother, the rs 250...

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

BBC - Action Network - Homepage

BBC - Action Network - Homepage
the iCan website has been renamed to this. hope to make more use of it. maybe try to do a similar database of guides in the local context.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

How does the US government system works?

The announcement of Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement from the US Supreme Court has sparked off a whole series of issues about how her replacement may swing the future decisions of the Supreme Court, as a justice serves for life. Above is a diagram from BBC that shows the framework of the US government. The clickable image is from here.

google earth

another new month, another new tool from google. google earth lets the public access satellite imagery for free. there'll be many uses. pix shows the grounds of The All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, venue of wimbledon.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Friday, June 24, 2005

BBC NEWS | UK | Magazine | Free enterprise

BBC NEWS | UK | Magazine | Free enterprise
quite a cool idea to reduce waste, give what u don't want to someone else.
By Duncan Walker
BBC News

The temptation to buy buy buy is hard to resist, be it a new outfit, gadget or item of furniture. Now guilty shoppers keen to offload a no-longer-needed purchase have a radical new option... simply giving it away.
As second-hand technology goes, who'd have thought that my sluggish, ageing, Korean-made computer would generate much interest when I put it up for offer online. I was wrong.

A bidding war quickly begins for the five-year-old Daewoo machine which is "past its best" and a printer which probably works.

Surprising that there are any takers at all? It would be on a conventional auction site, such as eBay. But I'm advertising on its philanthropic cousin,

Elsewhere on the site, someone is trying to shift a manual for a 1980s Ford Escort, and another has two bin bags full of "loud" men's clothes, suitable for "dressing up, pimpin', hip hop, etc".

As the name suggests, everything advertised on Freecycle must be free - whether it's an old sofa, unwanted CDs, or even a few hours' help in the garden. Anyone interested simply replies by e-mail: deal done.

It is just one of a number of websites which could play a valuable part in reducing the amount of rubbish sent to landfill sites by encouraging one of the most efficient forms of recycling - simply giving things to people who want them.

The site is the creation of Deron Beal, an environmentalist from Arizona, in the US, who started it in mid-2003 as an automated e-mail list. Today, it resembles a cross between an internet auction house and a global chain of charity shops.
Mr Beal says his chief aim is to cut waste and help the environment.

"I live in the Sonora desert, which is one of the most beautiful deserts in the world. And smack-dab in the middle of this desert, you've got this hideous landfill, half of which is full of perfectly good reusable stuff," Mr Beal recently told reporters.

Today, the Freecycle network is run through Yahoo! Groups and has 1.2 million members in 2,700 clusters worldwide. These clusters are based on location - there are 60 in the UK - which means goods can be picked up rather than posted, handy for bulky items such as sofas.

Give and take

On the London site, interest in my decrepit computer is led by Tung, who wants to get his 67-year-old mum on the net. Then there's Kate and Margaret, who both want the PC for their sons' school work; someone asking on behalf of a friend forced to move by an abusive partner; and John, who wants it for his daughter, a nurse on a low wage.

Money isn't involved, but an auction of sorts is taking place to see whose situation most warrants a free PC. My inclination is to give it to someone in need, but I am forced to make a difficult choice between several "bidders".
While doubters suggest unscrupulous individuals could spin heart-tugging yarns in order to secure freebies, or even to sell them on, my requests seem genuine. I eventually opt for Clive Brown, a project worker who wants it for a client with learning disabilities.

Spend spend spend

Freecycle embodies some of that charitable internet spirit of old, asking that before members accept a freebie, they put something up for offer. And it's by no means all junk. There are nearly-new toys, furniture, electrical goods, even bikes and cars.

That such high-quality goods are on offer does not surprise Friends of the Earth campaigner Georgina Bloomfield. She says it reflects the fact people are buying more than ever, but don't want to simply throw things away when they can afford to replace them.
"People want to feel a bit better about consuming, and so they're happy to give things away," she says. "They also imagine the problem of selling it is not really worth their while."

Clive Brown, who won my auction, agrees: "I was given a bed and did not need the brand new mattress, so I put it on the site and it was gone in minutes. I was delighted someone wanted it."

Waste mountain

While Freecycle has grown rapidly around the world in countries as diverse as Mexico, Nepal, France and Romania, it seems to be on the cusp of breaking through into the mainstream.

Controversially, in some minds at least, it recently signed up a corporate sponsor. Mr Beal says he needs the funds to help spread the Freecycle ethos even further.
At the same time there are few rival sites. Give or Take, a project based in East London, has recently added an internet presence, and has a lively "freebies" section.

Campaigners would prefer that the site was not required at all. "Our ultimate aim is to reduce what's going into landfill sites. But for those people who can't afford to buy new things, there's a real benefit," says Lisa Donovan of Give or Take.

Until people change their ways, green groups, guilty consumers and those with an eye for the ultimate bargain seem more than happy to make the most of the idea.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

BBC - Radio - Download and Podcast Trial

BBC - Radio - Download and Podcast Trial
almost forgot to blog about this. have been making full use of bbc's new podcasting trial. quite a fair bit of programmes are available as normal mp3 downloads or as podcasts. very cool... have been enjoying the documentaries while on the trains, where previously there was normally no bbc coverage when the trains went underground.

BBC NEWS | Africa | UN Liberia envoy bemoans mandate

BBC NEWS | Africa | UN Liberia envoy bemoans mandate
while it isn't surprising that the largest UN peacekeeping operation in the world is taking place in an african country, the coutry of liberia wouldn't come to mind, at least mine. its also Africa's oldest republic, it seems.

Thursday, June 16, 2005


finally, a video camera that records to hard disk directly. 7 hours of near DVD quality MPEG2 format footage sounds good.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

urban equip UE0303

finally bought a messenger bag. found this on sale at sports connection for S$19. cheaper than the agva messenger bag spotted earlier, and definitely cheaper than the crumpler messenger bags that it's trying to ape.

Monday, May 23, 2005

PocketDAB 2000
the 2nd generation of handheld DAB radios are out
Pure Digital's PocketDAB 2000 features DAB, FM, MP3, recording and time-shifting. when will it arrive on our shores, and is there a review somewhere?

Friday, May 20, 2005

have been eyeing this camcorder for quite a while, Sony's VX2100

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

BBC NEWS | Technology | Technology 'baffles old and poor'

BBC NEWS | Technology | Technology 'baffles old and poor'
Older and lower income people are still excluded from digital life and industry must look more closely at their needs, says UK communications watchdog Ofcom.
Third generation mobile technology, 3G, came off the worst in a report into people's understanding and take-up of technologies.

Seventy-six percent either do not know, are misinformed or cannot explain 3G.

Many have become confused and are bombarded with information which turns them off experimenting with technology.

People also feel they cannot take up the opportunities new technologies have to offer, even if they wanted to, because the prices are still too high, Ofcom's Independent Consumer Panel report found.

Although people broadly knew what terms such as "broadband" and "digital TV" were, less that a third knew what "digital switchover" meant.
That is the term which describes the change from analogue to digital broadcasting that is taking place across Britain.

Grappling with the new

Most had "heard of" digital radio, but less than half asked actually understood to what it really referred.

"Our research provides a firm stake in the ground for the communications market," said Colette Bowe, the Consumer Panel chair.

Broadband: 62% aware of/understand it
Digital TV: 70% aware of/understand it
Digital radio: 47% aware/understand
3G: 15% aware/understand
Source: Ofcom Independent Consumer Panel

"It is of serious concern to us that so many customers feel it is so hard to grapple with new advances related to phones, TV, radio and the internet."
The report also found that even though knowledge of 3G was generally low, those with lower incomes tended to live in households with mobile phones, rather than landline connections.

They are paying proportionately more than higher income households for their phone bills through pre-pay deals though.

Third generation mobile services have had a hard time capturing the public's enthusiasm.

A survey earlier this year found that only 4% of those questioned said they were considering swapping their existing mobile for a new 3G handset.

Many cited the bewildering number of features on 3G handsets as the reason they were put off. But others think people just do not know what they can offer them.

"One of the main reasons that 3G has failed to catch the public's imagination is because its potential for e-commerce hasn't been promoted enough," said Michael Brady, mobile search firm Fast.

"One of the key factors in the development of online commerce was the evolution of search on the internet.

"3G needs to similarly be promoted as a new way to buy online. And once again, we believe that search needs to be specifically tailored for the mobile environment to encourage the uptake of wireless commerce."

Fiddly and confusing

Only one in five were interested in keeping up-to-date with technological developments, according to the research.

Partly, this is down to the kind of language that is used to explain technologies, what they can do for people, and how much they cost people. The older age groups feel particularly frustrated when it comes to understanding information they are given about technologies.

Older people are also especially irritated with devices and technologies that are fiddly to use, a problem shared with disabled people.

93% households have access to a landline
79% have a mobile
58% have access to the net
57% have digital TV
Source: Ofcom Independent Consumer Panel

Twice as many people with disabilities, who are also under 65, said they found it difficult to use mobiles, than those with no disabilities.
"This is a wake up call for the industry really to listen to all its customers, not just the young," said Ms Bowe.

"It makes business sense to do so and the industry risks turning off a significant amount of potential customers if it doesn't act now."

Ofcom said the Consumer Panel would be holding workshops with industry and other groups to find out what can be done to alleviate the problems identified in the report.

Among the discussion will be how to get clear, easy to understand information about products to all socio-economic groups.

It will also look at how to make it easier for people to compare prices of technologies and where they can get help when they need it.


a really good film, in my view, with a story that draws you along. not sure if it follows the rules of the dogma95 movement, but a better film than dancer in the dark, i feel.

Sunday, May 15, 2005 5EB and 5Pro

ultimate ears - how music is meant to be heard
cool looking consumer grade in-ear phones from ultimate ears. looks like everyone is getting into the act of making earphones for apple ipods.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

latest item of desire, a messenger bag by agva, which is supposedly a singaporean company. its basically a clone of a crumpler bag

Monday, May 09, 2005

Honda Zoomer
a rather cool-looking scooter, it reminds me of the rokon 2wd motorcycle. it exudes a certain utilitarian look that's urban-cool.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Ratifications of the ILO Fundamental Conventions (APPLIS)

Ratifications of the ILO Fundamental Conventions (APPLIS)
quite a cool way to present the status of ratifications of the ilo fundamental conventions. the various countries are ranked according to the number of conventions they ratify, from the least to the most.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

BBC NEWS | Technology | Future tech must protect planet

BBC NEWS | Technology | Future tech must protect planet
In his final Reith Lecture, Lord Broers calls for the green agenda to be given centre stage.

While technology has often been responsible for environmental problems, it could also be the only solution, he believes.

Lord Broers also makes some predictions of the future of technology.

He foresees that technological advances could provide a cure for AIDS and cancer, alleviate poverty and create hospitals where mistakes are rare.

No room for technophobes

"It is still possible in England at least, for young people from the age of fifteen to study only mathematics and physics, or on the other hand to do no science or mathematics at all. This depresses me greatly"
Lord Broers

In order to make sure that technology plays a role in protecting the environment, technologists and scientists will need to listen more to public concerns, such as those over GM foods.

"It is time now as a matter of urgency and for the sake of saving our planet, and thus safeguarding the future of the human race, to move away from the old concept of 'the public understanding of science' to a new more dynamic 'public engagement," he says.

It needs to be a two-way debate, and part of this will require schools to give equal weight to both the Arts and Sciences.

"It is still possible in England at least, for young people from the age of fifteen to study only mathematics and physics, or on the other hand to do no science or mathematics at all. This depresses me greatly," says Lord Broers.

Instead engineers should learn Shakespeare and arts graduates should no longer be proud to be technophobes, he says.

Alongside the cultural balance that needs to be struck, there needs to be more done to address the gender imbalance.

"In our schools, girls now outperform boys in all subjects, and yet most girls are frequently brought up to assume that engineering and many of the sciences are male subjects," says Lord Broers.

In his final lecture of a series looking at how technology can hold the key to the future of the human race, Lord Broers criticises the expansion of air travel and lack of planning to deal with traffic congestion.

He also urges people to take more responsibility when it comes to conserving energy in their homes.

"Average householders have little idea how much energy they are using, nor how to reduce their consumption," he says.

"Technology could supply simple solutions, for example, by providing meters that could be located in kitchens or over back doors that gave the householder a real time indication of the amount of power they were using."

Bright future

Lord Broers concludes his lecture with some predictions for what technology can achieve in coming years.

The ability to solve larger and larger problems will lead to 95% accuracy in weather forecasting, hospitals in which mistakes are almost never made, reduction in accident rates on the roads and railways, and the automation of traffic flow.

Ultimately better control of economies and the improvement in managing complex organisation could alleviate poverty, he predicts.

The ability of technology to identify objects and people could bring an end to manual supermarket checkouts with keys and money becoming "curiosities of the past" as radio frequency tags take on their roles.

Perhaps the most significant advances will be made in the field of medicine, he predicts.

"I am confident that vast strides will be made - in the control of, and perhaps even in the curing of AIDS and some forms of cancer," he says.

If the previous century was about people enjoying the benefits of technology, the next should be dedicated to ensuring that the environment is protected, he concludes.

"Technology will truly triumph if we succeed."

Monday, May 02, 2005

Derbi GPR 125

its been quiet on the 2 stroke road bike scene for quite a while. this new derbi gpr 125 looks refreshing, too bad its not likely to land on our shores. not too sure if its handling can match the aprilia rs 125 though. note: pic shows a gpr 50; couldn't find a nice pic of a gpr 125, but essentially they look similar.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Zalman CNPS7000B-Cu CPU Cooler on a MSI RS480M2-IL Motherboard in a Antec Aria Casing

slight interference with a chip on the MSI RS480M2 motherboard, inserting a few more washers will mitigate this issue to a certain extent

no problems of clearance with the RAM slots or Antec Aria's power supply

an overall picture taken with flash

Cheming MATX-118

Mini Tower Series
looks not as pretty as the Antec Aria, but i like the inclusion of a motherboard tray, plus what seems to be a standard ATX PSU design.

Friday, April 29, 2005

BBC NEWS | Technology | Small box 'to end digital divide'

BBC NEWS | Technology | Small box 'to end digital divide'
sounds like a great idea for small offices, as it will be low cost, all files will be stored on the server online, and it will be low profiled.
By Jo Twist
BBC News science and technology reporter

A pared down "computer" to replace bulky, grey desktop PCs could help close global digital inequalities.
Not-for-profit developers, Ndiyo - the Swahili word for "yes" - said it could open up the potential of computing to two billion more people.

The sub-£100 box, called Nivo, runs on open-source software and is known as a "thin client". Several can be linked up to a central "brain", or server.

Thin clients are not new, but advances have made them more user-friendly.

They have been employed in large organisations in the past, but the Ndiyo project is about "ultra-thin client" networking.

It said the small, cheap boxes are targeted at smaller companies, cybercafes, or schools, which need an affordable, reliable system for providing clusters of two to 20 workstations.

"Your PC is a bulky, noisy, expensive mess that clutters up your life," Ndiyo's Dr Seb Wills told a Microsoft Research conference in Cambridge, UK.

"Our emphasis and core motivation is the developing world for whom the current 'one user, one PC' approach will never be affordable," he told the BBC News website.

"But we think our approach is also of benefit to organisations in the developed world who don't want to throw away money on buying and maintaining a full PC for each user."

Open source

Desktop machines with which we are familiar, are inflexible, and power-hungry, according to Ndiyo.

The energy and raw materials used for a PC is 11 to 12 times the weight of the machine, he explained.

Typical office workstation set-ups also use more power than thin clienting. A PC typically uses 100W of power, whereas Nivo uses five.

In some developing countries, buying a desktop computer is the equivalent to the price of a house, explained Dr Wills, making it difficult for people to take advantage of what computing technology can offer.

"Nowadays, PCs are about communication than anything else," he said. "We have the potential to rethink the way we could do this stuff," he added.

The boxes would not be able to handle graphics-intensive multimedia content currently, but that will change as ethernet bitrates improve to handle more data.

About 50% of UK's workforce work in organisations with fewer than 50 employees, according to Ndiyo.

Ubuntu - Linux operating system
Gnome/KDE desktop
Open Office
Firefox browser
Gaim - instant messenger client
Thunderbird - cross-platform e-mail and Usenet client

Currently, each employee might have their own desktop machine, connected to the company network through ethernet connections, with software licences for each workstation.
Licences for software is often a significant part of expenditure for smaller companies which rely on computers.

But a recent UK government study, yet to be formally published, has shown that open source software can significantly reduce school budgets dedicated to computing set-ups.

Many organisations replace PCs every three years and also require technical support when something goes wrong.

Thin clients using open source software can mean these expenses are bypassed.

Since August 2004, Ndiyo has had a group of Java developers running large applications on the system to test out the robustness of the system.

The small Nivo box, developed along with commercial partner, Newnham Research in Cambridge, is essentially a computer - known as the "client" - which largely depends on the central server for processing activities.

Applications, for instance, are kept on the main server and accessed through the Nivo box.

Next generation

The Nivo unit itself measures around 12 by eight by two centimetres. It has no moving parts, but it has ports for ethernet, power, keyboard, mouse and a monitor.

It comes with two megabytes of RAM. The next version currently under development, will have a USB port, soundcard, local storage capacity, and will be even smaller.

"Essentially, it is about sending pixels over the net," explained Dr Wills.

"With modern ethernet connections, you can get enough performance by sending through compressed pixels."
A typical cybercafe set-up, Dr Wills explained, would involve 20 Nivo boxes, a gigabit switch, and a single 2Ghz, 2Gb RAM, server.

The not-for-profit origination is also working on the idea of using the Nivo box for "plug and play" clustering.

Ultimately, Ndiyo hopes that the box can shrink down to a single chip and introduce wireless ethernet connections.

"The vision is that the monitor will have an ethernet port which requires less electronics than the standard VGA monitor," said Dr Wills.

Open source software is used in many developing country computer initiatives. There are other attempts at providing cheap alternatives to desktop PCs for developing countries, such as the Simputer.

It is a cheap handheld computer designed by Indian scientists.

Monday, April 25, 2005

BBC NEWS | Magazine | The new face of slave labour

BBC NEWS | Magazine | The new face of slave labour
By Paula Dear
BBC News website

Every day millions of professionals work for free - notching up hundreds of hours of unpaid overtime. It's not written into contracts, often it's not even spoken of. It's just part of the 21st Century workplace.
Are you putting in a day's work for free today? It may sound like a ridiculous notion. After all, it's only slaves or the most altruistic of people who work for nothing, isn't it?

But according to the Trades Union Congress (TUC) millions of Britons work so much unpaid overtime they are, on average, providing their employers with free work for the equivalent of nearly eight weeks of the year.

You could say those affected - predominantly the increasing number of white-collar workers in the UK - are providing their services voluntarily every day from 1 January to 25 February. That overtime is worth £23bn to employers, says the TUC's analysis of the Labour Force Survey.

Why do people tolerate the long hours culture, and why have new laws done little to eradicate it?

It's "no surprise", says TUC working time policy officer Paul Sellers, that around seven out of 10 of those doing the most unpaid overtime - up to 7.9 hours per week - are from the managerial and "professional" sectors, which have long been gripped by a long hours culture.

But there are surprises in the figures, full details of which will be published on 25 February when the TUC holds a national Work Your Proper Hours Day, he adds.

Around 55,000 plant and machine operatives are doing more than five hours of free overtime per week, and it's "not uncommon" for supermarket checkout staff - particularly in smaller stores - to work four or five hours extra.

Love job

The reasons and motivations for going that extra mile are hugely varied, ranging from overt pressure from bosses, to sheer dedication from employees.

In a TUC survey a couple of years ago, around 15% of people said they worked overtime because they loved their job.

"There's no problem with that if they are not under pressure. Some people like their work so much they want to do more of it, even if it's not paid," adds Mr Sellers.

The "culture of presenteeism" - the unspoken message that people should be seen to be staying late in order to "get on" - is more damaging, he says, but the most common reason for doing unpaid overtime is sheer workload.

Mark, who didn't want to reveal his surname, has worked in banking in the City of London for the last five years, and says the nature and volume of work means many will stay until it is done.

"Some will stay late to get ahead in their work, and give themselves an advantage in the morning. They might also feel that it looks better.

"Junior staff especially will not want to leave the office before anyone else, in case they are seen as being slack. People don't tend to feel resentful because the whole bonus and compensation system is geared up to rewarding people for their performance.

'Team spirit'

"The whole thing's just money driven. If people don't feel their bonus is reward enough they'll just leave and go somewhere else."

Occupational psychologist Sherridan Hughes, who owns career counselling service Careermax, says many people who come to them for advice from big banks and law firms are fed up of impossible workloads and long hours.

"People should not be doing unpaid overtime, of course, but there is often an unspoken pressure to be last in the office.

"In some of the best paid professions people can have no life at all, but then they are very well rewarded financially.

"But there has to be give and take - if working overtime becomes expected and people feel exploited then that's a bad thing."

But we're not all putting in the extra hours because of nasty bosses or competitive colleagues.

"In some smaller organisations there is more of a team spirit driving people - a feeling of letting the team down if you don't do that little bit extra," says Ms Hughes.

"Smaller companies are also more likely to have cash flow problems, and find it difficult to bring in extra staff."

But in the big firms, there's no excuse for people working persistently long hours, she says.

'Cushy number'

"People often tire of being told on a Friday night that they suddenly haven't got a weekend.

"But it takes a brave person to stand up and say that. Their job could be at risk, and if there was ever a question of redundancies it would be more likely that they were the person to be shown the door."

However attitudes are slowly changing, according to Ms Hughes, who herself admits to taking work home in the evenings and at weekends.

Shunning this kind of work ethic used to be frowned upon as "shirking" but these days people are more often lauded for leaving their chosen rat race in search of a more fulfilled life, she says.

A large proportion of their clients are teachers who are sick of increasing pressures and lack of reward.

In last year's TUC survey, teachers ranked second in a list of professions doing the most unpaid overtime.

Ironically though, said a spokesperson for the National Union of Teachers, there is no contractual limit to their working hours, outside of Scotland.

Technically they do no unpaid overtime, because their working day has no official end.

But as those responding to the Labour Force Survey are defining for themselves whether they work unpaid overtime, there are obviously a lot of teachers who believe they are effectively working for nothing for much of the week.

While moves to decrease teachers' workloads have been proposed by the government, the NUT has refused to sign the agreement because it would mean unqualified people covering teachers' classes at certain times.

"Teachers certainly believe they are working excessive hours," said the NUT.

"But at the same time if they think something is good for their children then they will do it."

Despite working 54-hour weeks, on average, and taking work home in the holidays, there is still a public perception that teachers have a "cushy number", she says.

The European Working Time Directive doesn't provide protection for teachers, she says, because the way the hours are averaged out across holiday periods means they come out with less than the maximum 48 hours per week allowed.

Even without those circumstances, the Working Time Directive has offered little protection for UK workers because it has been applied so loosely, says the TUC.

The facility to opt out of it took the "bite" out of the law, and still more than 3.5 million people are working beyond the maximum hours set.

The irony is the UK ranks poorly when it comes to productivity compared to other European nations with shorter working hours, says Paul Sellers.

He added: "We know, and it is obvious why, that people who work more hours do less per hour."

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Thursday, April 21, 2005

blinkx version 3 beta


version 3 is out, now with full preview, cool, but still miss a few functions of version 2, like the highlighting of search terms

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Chrome citizen for S$160

Finally found time to go down to fallfactor, the only store that I know that sells chrome messenger bags in Singapore. No Kremlin [xl] or metropolis [l], but citizen [m] and mini-metropolis [s] were available. Not a lot of colours to choose from, grey, red, blue. Now thinking of something a little cheaper.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Google Toolbar 3 beta

Google Toolbar
quite a cool new feature, that allows a spellcheck whenever you type in web forms, very useful for my work, where i use webforms all the time.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

BBC NEWS | Technology | Global voices speak through blogs

BBC NEWS | Technology | Global voices speak through blogs
Global voices speak through blogs
By Clark Boyd
Technology correspondent

Online diaries, or weblogs, have grown to become powerful tools for communication in the past few years.
Their reach is growing outside of North America and Western Europe.

From Tashkent, to Timbuktu, to Tegucigalpa, global blogging is on the rise and now, a group of dedicated bloggers is working to ensure that those global voices are heard.

Called Global Voices the group and website grew out of a Harvard conference held last December.

It brought together bloggers from places like Iraq, Latvia, Malaysia and China.

Ethan Zuckerman is not just the co-editor of Global Voices, he is also a passionate and prolific blogger himself.

"What blogs are doing for the first time is letting people talk about what's going in their own universe, in their own local news, and get it out to a global audience," he says.

Inspired by these bloggers and their stories, Dr Zuckerman, set up the Global Voices website.

"It's our sincere hope that by attaching people and stories to issues and countries, we're going to have a real impact as far as getting people interested in stories that otherwise they may not pay attention to," he explains.

I think young Kenyans all over Kenya, are lacking a vehicle for expressing themselves and participating in the country
Ory Okolloh, Harvard student

His co-editor, Rebecca MacKinnon, is a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School and a "recovering television reporter." She worked for CNN in Asia for more than a decade.

She quit because she was fed up with the way mainstream media - especially in the US - covered international news.

It ignores many international stories, she says, and when it does tackle them it tends to reinforce stereotypes about foreign countries rather than shed new light on them.

"If bloggers are out there creating media and talking about things that the mainstream media isn't covering, that may also help push the mainstream media to recognise that there are a lot of things out there that people care about that they've simply failed to cover," she says.

Breakfast to strife

But the blogosphere is a noisy place. There are more than eight and half million bloggers, writing about everything from what happened in Kyrgyzstan to what they had for breakfast.

So the Global Voices website is picking and choosing.

It is highlighting what blogger Hossein Derakhshan calls "bridge bloggers." They are bloggers who, according to Mr Derakhshan: "can make a bridge between two languages, or two cultures."

Mr Derakhshan is originally from Iran, but he now lives in Canada and blogs under the name "Hoder" in both English and Persian. He has a large following in both languages.

He says bridge bloggers can serve as cultural interpreters.

"These are the people we need to start with to have a more and deeper understanding of what's going on in that other culture," he says.

Still, many bloggers do not necessarily feel an obligation to educate.

It would be terribly sad ... if that English-language blogosphere were to mirror all the biases and all the inadequacies and lacks of information that we see in mainstream media. That would be pathetic
Rebecca MacKinnon

"I write about what I want to write about, without any particular audience in mind," says Ory Okolloh, a student at Harvard Law School.
Ms Okolloh is originally from Kenya, and she publishes a blog called Kenyan Pundit which is featured on the Global Voices website.

Most of her fellow Kenyan bloggers are young people who prefer using blogs as their way of speaking out, she says.

"More people should be listening to the voices, and more people should have a chance to contribute," says Ms Okolloh.

"I think young Kenyans all over Kenya, are lacking a vehicle for expressing themselves and participating in the country."

There are significant hurdles though to getting more people to contribute to blogs.

In developing countries, it is hard for most people to even get online.

Atanu Dey, an Indian economist and blogger, says it is a lot easier for people in rural India to read a newspaper, than a blog.

"Blogs require a deeper infrastructure," he says. "You need to have electricity, internet access, computers, and you need to be able to sit there and browse the blog.

"So, it's going to be a while before blogs and the blogosphere includes within it rural India."

Lost in translation?

There are also language barriers. There are more than 75,000 blogs worldwide in Persian, for example.

But blogger Hossein Derakhshan says there is no reliable online translation program for Persian.

That means if you do not understand Persian, you are missing out on a lot of valuable information, he says.
"You're missing probably millions of people," says Mr Derakhshan. "The real genuine voices of the Iranian people are those in Persian weblogs, in the Persian language."

Perhaps the toughest task, though, will be getting the English-language blogosphere to care about such voices.

Ms MacKinnon says that many English-language bloggers are oblivious to what is going on in other countries.

The goal of Global Voices, she says, is to open up the online conversation.

The website, says Ms MacKinnon, wants to point out that: "here are important things that people, that bloggers around the world are talking about and that are meaningful to them, that bloggers in the English-language space should care about."

"It would be terribly sad," she says, "if that English-language blogosphere were to mirror all the biases and all the inadequacies and lacks of information that we see in mainstream media. That would be pathetic."

The Global Voices project considers itself a work in progress.

"Not only is nothing written in stone," jokes co-editor Dr Zuckerman, "Nothing's even scratched in mud."

The group invites anyone to contribute, especially by pointing out great blogs from across the globe.

Clark Boyd is technology correspondent for The World, a BBC World Service and WGBH-Boston co-production.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Thursday, March 10, 2005

new pc

first post from my new pc

runs quite fast, but still needs some work

e.g. heatsink fan is too noisy

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

BBC - iCan - Homepage

BBC - iCan - Homepage
This is a cool idea by the BBC. The iCan site aims to help people take first steps in addressing issues which concern them. You can

* Find information and advice on hundreds of issues

* See what's going on in your area on iCan by typing in your postcode on the homepage

* Get details of local people who can help you (like your MP or councillor), also by typing in your postcode on the homepage

* Read our guides to help you take action, or stories sent in by users

* Post a notice about something that concerns you on your local noticeboard*

* Write an article to share your experiences with other users*

* Start a campaign online*

Wouldn't it be great to have something like this here?

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Monday, February 07, 2005

West Africa: Senegal abolishes the death penalty, who's next?

Amnesty International
It's not often that we see good news being broadcasted by Amnesty International, but here's one that is quite close to being one. It seems there are already 80 countries who have abolished the death penalty.


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.
AnandTech: DFI nForce4: SLI and Ultra for Mad Overclockers
The final component for my new PC has arrived on our shores. "LANPARTY UT nF4 Ultra-D" is the full name, its one of the first nForce4 Ultra motherboards to reach here, after the initial flurry of SLI-enabled boards.
DFI product page

Sunday, January 30, 2005

UNODC-United Nations Convention against Corruption

UNODC-United Nations Convention against Corruption
Singapore has always been proud of its low level of corruption. Thus, this UN convention is one that Singapore should be more than happy to sign and ratify.

Download details: Office 2003/XP Add-in: Remove Hidden Data

Download details: Office 2003/XP Add-in: Remove Hidden Data
use this tool before you send out your microsoft files. It will remove data previously deleted, but still hidden in the document. For example, the "track changes" capability makes it possible to find previously deleted data that may contain sensitive data.

World Social Forum

World Social Forum
A forum that rivals the World Economic Forum at Davos, it is a platform to debate alternative means to building a globalized world in solidarity which respects universal human rights.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

U.S. Congress Tries to Undermine International Criminal Court

Human Rights Watch
More signs of US unilateralism. Interestingly, Singapore has not ratified the Rome Statute establishing the court.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Wired News: Cell-Phone Shushing Gets Creative
This is quite cool. Small cards to remind loud handphone users to "lower their volume". But you will need to be a brave soul to try giving one out. You might never know what you will get in return.

Monday, January 10, 2005


A new gadget on the horizon, video/audio recorder and player, PDA, Wi-Fi capable, Linux-based OS. With these features, most gadget geeks would be excited. Archos has registered, and has uploaded user manuals. Off to see what's other new stuff is inside, but it seems the CF slot has disappeared, maybe due to lack of space, a pity if that is so.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Garmin: Forerunner 301

Garmin: Forerunner 301
Gadget alert: Garmin has a new model that adds USB connection [and optional charging] and a heart rate monitor to its 201 model. This GPS runner's tool allows pacing, interval training, and other data to be presented to the runner. This would be great for IPPT training.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

BBC America - Design Rules

BBC America - Design Rules
The official website of the show now showing on Arts Central, this is an interesting take on the interior decoration programmes.