Saturday, September 24, 2005

Excellent Games

Wow... it's the fourth quarter of the year and the game companies are starting to release the good stuff. Below are the three games that are sucking up my time... The first two belong to the Burnout series- Burnout Legends (for PSP) and Burnout Revenge (for xbox). If you like arcade driving games with plenty of destruction and amazing sense of speed, then these two games are for you. The third game is Virtua Tennis (for PSP). The original Virtua Tennis for the Dreamcast was a real addictive game. I remember spending many hours challenging my friends to Virtua Tennis. The PSP version has good graphics and the gameplay is typically simple to pick up but difficult to master.

It's good to finally see games of a decent calibre coming out on the PSP. So far, PSP games have not really met expectations. Death Jr & MediEvil were potentially good games which unfortunately bombed. I'm still hoping for a decent platformer to be released soon. Until then, there's Burnout Legends & Virtua Tennis to keep my PSP busy!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Concert @ Esplanade

Had a nice evening out with the class at the Esplanade. It was a nice end to an otherwise sucky day. We left school punctually at 5.30pm. I think I'm very glad that the class was so cooperative. We had to leave punctually coz we wanted to have enough time for dinner, and everyone played their part in being on time. Nice start!

We arrived at Esplanade at about 6pm and went over to the Marina Food Court for dinner. Had a lovely dish of charsiew/roast pork rice... the charsiew was succulent and the roast pork had very crispy skin. YUMMY. I predict I will return this weekend for a seond helping. Dinner was fun. Plenty of talk about taugays. Well, here's a pic especially for Nini. Hope you enjoy it.

After the charsiew, roast pork and pizza, most of us were quite filled. But there was still dessert! So Yiyi bought a bowl of ice kachang and over 10 people were digging into it!!

After dinner, we had a leisurely walk to the Esplanade. I was hoping for a good concert. It's been a long time since I've gone for a real concert. Took a class pic at the concourse in the Esplanade.

As we took our seats in the concert hall, I was again awed by the hall. Managed to sneak a photo. Sorry.. dun report me... but the hall is really very impressive and as far as I'm concerned, I think the acoustics are very good.

The Royal Copenhagen Chapel Choir was pretty good. They sounded very nice. However, the reportoire for the night was really pretty heavy, consisting of only classical pieces and none in english. So it was a little hard to follow everything. But I must say that the story teller was fantastic. As I listened to her, I understood how some people can be professional story tellers. She was animated, but not in an 'in-your-face' kind of way and she really captured my attention. Throughout the concert, it was fun trying to see who were the 'sleeping beauties'. One student slept and started to snore... quite audibly.. heh. Ok, I'll confess, I did almost nod-off at one point in the concert, but I managed to keep awake. :-P

After the concert, we walked past the concourse again. Snapped a pic of the lanterns that they had hung there. They were supposed to be lanterns made by primary school students. It was a very nice sight.

On the bus on the way back to school, the boys were hilarious. So much energy! Kept singing Haagen Dazs songs. Heh. Sorry guys, don't think you were powerful enough! Try harder next time.

Yeah, so that's how the night went. For the 1Q guys, you can find the pics I took here.

Weird Daez.

These past few days have really been disconcertingly calm. It's a freaky feeling that it's a calm just before a mega-storm. In some ways, the rain started falling last night, and there was some kind of storm today. I wonder if the worst is over for now.

I've had to deal with different things this week. Many of them involved dealing with different people. Perhaps because of that, I was kinda emotionally drained. It's not easy trying to engage people. And interestingly, I find that many people were also emotionally off-balance this week. Dunno leh, maybe it's some alignment of the planets... or some distortion in the earth's electromagnetic field... or subliminal programming over tv... or wateva. I find many people getting agitated by different people all around. Weird. Maybe it's just the 'coming-to-the-end-of-term' stress. For me, these last two days have also been frustrating as my back was giving me a really hard time. Dunno why it acted up but it was really hurting and I couldn't stand for long periods of time. Usually the pain eased up as the day went by, but it wasn't the case for these two days. That probably added some fuel to the bomb...

Anywaez, today was bad. The morning started really badly. Some teachers tried to give me a surprise, but the surprise really backfired. I flipped out and gave it to them. Throughout the day, I've been trying to decide why I reacted like that. I think it was a culmination of things. But I think they were shocked that I was so pissed. Maybe that also teaches me to be careful when trying to play a 'sabo' on someone. The best of intentions can easily be misconstrued by others.

Well, the rest of the day was spent brooding over my outburst.

In the evening, things got better. Went with my class to the Royal Copenhagen choir. I'll blog that separately. So that's it for this entry.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Spend, spend, spend

Today was a crazy day of spending. It was quite incredible. I hadn't planned it, it kinda just happened. Maybe it was really retail therapy after a really stressful week. Having payday just 2 days ago probably contributed to it. So let's see what the damage adds up to:

Ordered my new Home Theatre system. Finally decided to go with the Mardaunt-short genie. Had to pay a deposit, so upfront, paid up $640

Then I went to Funan to see if Burnout Legends for the PSP was out. It was my lucky day! The stock just arrived in the morning. So, I spent $84 on it (after a $5 discount). As I walked off, I asked if Winning Eleven for the PSP was released. They told me it was. Although not a huge soccer fan, I know the WE series is pretty good, and I Wouldn't mind trying it on the PSP, so.. what the heck.. I bought it. Cost me $70.

After some lunch, decided to drop by Gramaphone opposite City Hall MRT. Was kinda hoping that Advent Children would be available. Well, it wasn't (sadly but thankfully), but instead, I saw the original Battlestar Galactica series for sale at $89 (thankfully but sadly). Quite a steal considering that the usual collectors' edition costs about twice of that! So, buy lor.

I knew Kinokuniya was having a 20% sale, so I decided to take a look to see if any new trade paperbacks were out. On my way there, went past bras basah complex. Saw the watch shop where I usually get my Casio G-shock watches... was reminded that I had recently (as in yesterday) lost my daily-wear digital G-shock, so I decided to get a new one... Chose what I considered cheaper but decent one (solar-charged!). There flew $98.

Well, the day was not over. Went to Kinokuniya at Bugis, didn't see anything much but as usual, with a 20% sale, it's a little too good to let go. Happens once every few months only. So, got myself a Conan trade paperback (by Kirt Busiek, who is generally quite good) and an Empire magazine. Saved about $5 from the discount, but spent about $26. heh. After that, I went down to Bugis basement foodcourt for some tea-time snack and to rest & play by new Burnout on PSP. Found that they had a new Roti Prata shop at the food court! Not too bad lar, cost $3.00 for a Cheese and sausage prata and $1.30 for a teh tarik. Wasn't fantastic, but a decent afternoon tea.

After my snack, it was already about 4 pm so I decided to go home. On my way up the escalator, remembered I wanted to look for a wallet to keep all the discount cards, membership cards, etc. My current wallet was exploding with all the cards. So, went upstairs, browsed a little, a purhased a card wallet and some socks & stuff. Spent about $43. After that, decided I had really better go home before I spent any more money.

So total damage.... $1050!!!

Please don't think I do this all the time... ashamed.... but I must admit.. feels good! :-P

Thursday, September 15, 2005


Just thinking, aren't human beings complicated?

Had three experiences today, all highlighting how we can be so complicating. Yeah, it's 'we' coz I think I'm most certainly personally included in one of the experiences.

I really ought to rethink how I react to things. I should make things less complicated instead of adding to it.

Not that I can succeed in doing it lar. But better to have hoped and tried then to have never attempted at all, right?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Life is so unfair!

Wow, as expected, this week is really challenging. As usual, plenty of stuff due, plenty of new stuff to do and plenty of stuff to prevent you from doing anything else. heh.

So, why is life unfair?

Sigh, three exciting new things are happening but I can't indulge in any of them. This is really frustrating. Firstly, the release of the Gameboy Micro. It was released on Monday, but there's no way I could make my way down to see it. I guess I won't get it yet (heard that the transformer is not available yet). I'm quite keen to wait a couple of days more and hopefully get my hands on a US version. Actually, I'm quite regretting buying a japanese PSP instead of a US one. Now I want to buy the US movies, but can't coz the region coding is wrong.

Second exciting thing? Burnout Revenge was released yesterday. I bought it when I went for dinner at Thomson Plaza. I managed to play a little yesterday and it was really good. But sigh... there's no way I can spend anymore time on it. There are just too many things happening. And there's no way I can in any good conscience spend time playing it. So now, I can only look at the game casing and imagine myself playing the game. Yeah... i know.... i sound pathetic.

Third? Well, kinda related to second thing. I think Burnout Legends for the PSP is also out. And according to reviews, it's just as good as Burnout Revenge for the xbox. I am so dying to go and get it from Funan. But no way lor. Thursday is impossible.... Friday is lagi more impossible.. .which leaves Saturday. So, my only glimmer of hope? Rush down after PTM and hope there's still stock!

Yeah, I know, I sound shallow. Maybe I ought to have more meaningful pursuits... heh... yah.. sure...

Sunday, September 11, 2005

To buy or not to buy...

Sent a mail to a video game shop and found out that the expected price for the Gameboy Micro in Singapore is S$215! Wow... that's quite expensive considering that it's supposed to cost US$99 which works out to about S$170. The Japanese price is 12000Yen which works out to be about S$183.

How? To buy or not to buy? Tough decision!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Home Theatre Shopping Part 3

I went for my weekly Sim Lim visit today and decided to see if I could see any speaker deals. Not too bad, managed to visit 3 shops. At the first shop, I saw the KEF KHT2005.2 again. So I thought I might as well see if the demo would be better. However, they were busy with another demo so I decided to come back a little later.

Went to another shop in level 2. They had quite a nice range so I asked the salesguy to recommend something. He looked kinda bewildered then brought me into a demo room. They had the Mordaunt-SHort Genie there but with a different amp. So I asked if I could listen to it. He then fumbled around with the amp but in the end, there was no demo! It was kinda weird. I wasn't sure if he was gonna let me listen to it or not. Anyway, although he had other speakers, like harmon kardon, onkyo, etc, etc, I didn't get to hear anything. I think he wasn't really sure what to do. But the good thing I got from this shop was that the M-S Genie was actually cheaper than wat the Adelphi shop was offering me... almost $250 cheaper! I mean, with this $250, I can buy a better amp lor. Now I dunno how.. to go with less-pro shop but cheaper, or go with more-pro shop but more expensive. sigh.

So I went back downstairs to listen to the KEF speakers. I must say that this time, the demo was much more impressive. Much better than the shop at Adelphi. Maybe it was the demo clip, maybe it was the amp they used. I dunno lar, but basically, the KEF sounded good. The salesguy then recommended I try the Mirage Omnisat Micro. They looked really cool, as you can see from the pic below. And they are omni-directional speakers. The speakers were quite good too, but I think they weren't better than the Jamo or the M-S Genie.

Mirage Omnisat Micro

The last shop I visited was selling a package with Energy speakers and a Marantz amp. The shop was ok, the salesguy took the time to work out an estimate cost for me and also showed me quite a long demo. The speakers were ok. At first, the volume was a bit low so I was a bit disappointed. Later I asked him to up the volume and the sound finally kicked in. On the whole, also pretty good speakers.

Energy Act6

Well, I think I've pretty much made up my mind. As in, I'll probably go back to Adelphi. I guess I'll go to the more-pro shop. I'm already spending over $3k on this, no point being stingy on a $250 and end up having a lousy job. I think the more-pro shop is also including the cables in the price. I'll probably drop in again, maybe tomorrow, to take a look. Well, I think this Part 3 probably ends my Home Theatre Shopping Chronicles. Now on to purchasing and installing!

New Temptations

Wow, Sony and Apple has released their new MP3 players. And both are them look really good. Sony has released their new Network Walkman, NW A-1000. I love the OLED screen which is flush under the surface of the player. The colours available are also pretty cool. Dimensions: 65.2 x 104.2 x 21.4 mm and weighs about 182 g.

At the same time, Apple launched their iPod Nano. While I am generally an iPod hater, I must admit the iPod Nano looks fantastic. How they managed to squeeze everything into such a thin, slim form is just inconceivable. Dimension: 89 x 40 x 7 mm and weighs about 42 g!!!

It's a good thing that I'm not really into listening to music everywhere I go. These two items are beautiful enough to make me want to buy both immediately! Like I mentioned in an earlier post, my next purchase will probably be the Gameboy Micro. That will be release on Sep 13 in Japan.

Sony NW A-1000

iPod Nano

Friday, September 09, 2005

Home Theatre Shopping Part 2

On Thursday, I finally found time to continue with Part 2 of my home theatre shopping. After some stuff which I had to do in school, I made my way to Adelphi again and spent about 2 to 3 hours there.

My verdict? I think it all boils down to service. I experienced such varying standards of service in my 3 hours there. I started off with this shop selling Klipsch speakers. As I walked into the shop, the two salesmen in the shop didn;t really acknowledge my presence. It was kinda irritating. It was almost as if I was interrupting their conversation. Well, I walked one round then I approached one of the salesman to ask for recommendations for a HTS (home theatre system). He said I could consider the Klipsch and Onkyo speakers so I asked for a demo. He sat me down, put in a demo disc and let me listen to the Klipsch. Ok, it was quite nice, though not mind-blowingly wonderful. So after listening to the Klipsch, I asked if I could listen to another different set of speakers. The salesman then had the audacity to say, 'If you like the sound from this one, no need to listen to others.' I was really shocked lor. I mean, what kind of business is this? I then asked some meaningless questions and left the shop, thoroughly disgusted by the service.

Klipsch Cinema 6 Speakers

My next visit was to this shop selling Jamo speakers. Wow, the service was totally different. When I walked into the shop, the lone salesguy immediately asked me how he could be of assistance. When I told him that I was looking for a HTS and gave him my budget, he politely ushered me into the demo room and proceeded to let me listen to the E700PDD speakers. The speakers were really quite good! I loved the rumbling and it was really quite a moving experience. The effects were crisp and clear, though I thought the speech could have been a little better. Anyway, after the first few minutes of listening to the demo, the salesguy started explaining the speakers to me, telling me about their construction, the features, etc, etc. When I left the shop, I was seriously considering the Jamo speakers. Such is the power of excellent service.

Jamo E700PDD Speakers

My friend had recommended that I try out the KEF speakers. At first, as I looked into the shop window, I kinda wondered if I could afford them. The shop looked a little too upmarket. Anyway, I finally went in and again, the salesguy was quite friendly. He sat me down and let me listen to the demo. For the KEF, I found the demo quite limp. He showed me a dogfight scene from X-men 2. Frankly, I found it noisy and the sound was thin with not much of a kick or oomph. After the demo, the saleguy explained some things like which amp I could consider. On the whole, a nice friendly guy, but I think it was a wrong choice of demo and the speakers maybe weren't really optimized. The KEF were supposed to be very good... but I couldn't get that from the demo.

KEF Speakers

The final stop I made was at this shop displaying the YAMAHA brand name. I thought I might as well give it a try coz at this point, I was getting kinda tired and was thinking of going home already. Well, the salesman was also friendly, but I think he didn't know what he was really doing, other than switching on the amp and letting me listen to the speakers. To add to that, the HECO speakers (sound a bit cheapo, but I found out later that they are actually some German brand) were in a sad state. THey looked old. THe subwoofer had a ugly scratched surface and looked lousy. Although I must say the sound was decent, the lack of professionalism, the poor setup, really turned me off.

Heco Speakers

So, after two trips to Adelphi, what have I decided? I'm actually considering either the Jamo E700PDD speakers or the Mordaunt-Short Genie speakers. I realized that one main reason was that both shops had taken the time to explain things to me and their demo setups were really good. THe other shops either had poor service or poor technical demos. Quite a waste. I'll probably think on it for a couple more days before making a final decision.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Ahh... here's the new toy I am looking forward to. It's the new Gameboy Micro. It basically takes the Gameboy Advance cartridges but it's ultra small. The dimensions are 10cm by 5cm by 1.7cm... that's like the size of a standard handphone lor! And the screen, though small, is supposed to be so sharp and clear that it's the best screen on a gameboy ever! The Gameboy Micro is due for release on Sep 13 and will cost about US$99. Heh.. Can't wait.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Today I went to Adelphi to start doing some serious shopping for my new Home Theatre System. I only managed to visit one shop but I can already see that I'm gonna have a pretty hard time deciding over the next couple of weeks. The first pic below is that of the B&W MT20, the first system I heard today. It was really quite nice. The sound was crisp and the the surround was fantastic. The speakers themselves looked really cool. But the speakers alone cost almost $2600. I asked to hear something less expensive and was shown the Mordaunt-Short Genie speakers (the second pic). When I heard them, I thought I really liked the sound. It was less crisp and had a nice full sound to it. Maybe the earlier speakers had a higher treble setting. Anyway, I'm not exactly a expert at hearing stuff, so I can pretty much only go for what I feel lor. The Genie speakers cost $1700, a whopping $900 cheaper than the B&W.

Actually, a couple of days ago, I went to the shop where I had bought my projector. They had offered me a neat package but the speakers and amplifier were like not very branded lor. I'm sorry, but after some consideration, I think I'm quite a brand-junkie. I don't think I'm gonna be happy if I save a few hundred bucks and got a 'brand-less' system... sigh... I know, I sound a little shallow.

Well, I hope to go visit a few other shops in Adelphi. My friends have recommended I listen to some Klipsch or KEF speakers. Quite fun to go shopping for a Home Theatre system, but it's sure gonna hurt my wallet...

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Superstar Discussions

Thanks to everyone who took the time to post your tag concerning Kelvin Tan Wei Lian's victory over Kelly Poon.

Frankly, I know there'll be no end to the discussions. It's all a matter of opinions and everyone is entitled to his won. It's like the eternal argument of which is the best: the PS2, Xbox or Nintendo Gamecube?

So, my take on it is simply this.

Did Wei Lian win coz of sympathy votes? Maybe. We'll never know why people voted for him. Did he being blind play a part? Yes I think so too. Does he have a good voice? While it is arguable if he has the BEST voice, I think most would agree that he does have a good voice. So did he deserve to win Superstar? To me, yes (heh, coz I'm a Kelvin supporter lar!). Ultimately, he managed to garner over 340 000 votes. As reported by Mediacorp, Wei Lian consistently has got more voters who voted fewer times whereas Kelly had fewer voters who tend to vote many more times each. Hence, Wei Lian does have more fan support than Kelly. And I think that while his voice is able to move many of us, the more important fact is that he also does serve as an inspiration to many. Maybe that's unfair. But hey, if kelly can make use of her 'mobility' and beauty (both physical characteristics) to sway voters to her side, why is it unfair that people can be swayed coz of Kelvin's physical characteristic of being blind?

OK lar, like I said, I think there will be no end to this discussion. This is my two cents worth lor. For those who disagree, sorry lor. Feel free to take it up in the Superstar Forum in Channel U website.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Term 3 Week 10

Wow. 3/4 of the school year is over.

This term, has been a real ride.

The phrase that comes to mind is 'Fast & Furious'.

That's how the events & activities came. One after the other, unrelentingly. From Youth Week, to the Ultramarathon to National Day to Elections to Teachers Day... wow, that works out to one major event every two weeks. And we've not included the little minor events that occur throughout the term.

For those who are thinking of becoming prefects, not to scare you, but the prefects were involved in every single one of those in a major way. I can't imagine how that would have affected their school work. I know it's never said enough, but in hindsight, I must again say that I really appreciate the efforts put in by the prefects to serve the school.

Well, at the end of this Fast & Furious term, things are just taking a slight slowdown. I'm glad for the week break. It's not gonna be a holiday. More like a chance to catch our breath. Already, I've got stuff to do everyday in school. But I guess at least there's no need to go school at 7.20am everyday. Shiok.

Oh yah, I'm very glad for Wei Lian. He WON!!! I know Kelly did better than him in the finals lar... but I still stick by the fact that Wei Lian has more vocal talent than her. So, I'm really glad substance won over style. Can't wait for his CD to be released!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Anatomically Correct Statues

I love going to Kinokuniya. It's probably the best bookshop in Singapore right now. Together with the fantastic 20% sales or even normal 10% discount for members, I think they offer one of the best deals in books and magazines.

But that's not the topic of this post.

Today, after browsing at Kino, I decided to walk over to HMV at The Heeren. So, I took the lift down to the 1st floor and then decided to cut across the main atrium in front of Ngee Ann City. It's not my first time walking across it, but I guess I never really paid attention until today.

Well, I saw the two lion statues and thought, hmm.. nice... then as I walked past the first one, I kinda noticed something sticking out between it's legs. I thought, hmm... probably some lights to light up the lion in the evening. But then, when I walked over to the second statue on the left of the door, I realized the 'thing' was missing. That's when I realized, the two statues were actually anatomically correct! Hmm... it's kinda disturbing.

I must apologise to those of you who might be offended by this post. It's not my intention to post statue porn. But I was really quite surprised and thought it was interesting enough to share here. (Click on pics to see larger pics)

Lion on the right of the door (male lion)
Lion on the left of the door (female lion)