Geek Girl

No more iPod vs. Zen Micro debate please


It’s true, this silly, mindless debate is almost everywhere.
There really is no need to keep fanning the flames of something that is on its way out.

I am an iPod user. I love my iPod to bits, even though its 5GB capacity is like a mozzie’s bite as compared to the recent offerings, and it’s in desperate need of a crash diet when placed next to its slimmer and more gorgeous siblings. The iPod singlehandedly revolutionized the digital music industry when it was launched and without its inception, the MP3 scene would have been very different from it is today. Its design was, and still is, a gazillion miles ahead of its nearest rivals and its constant reincarnation is a testament to Apple‘s commitment to making it leaner, meaner and better than before.

The Zen Micro is but an imitator. Its design is awful (as EFB puts it, “hideous”) and the user interface a pale shadow of what it was supposed to imitate. But it sure packs a punch with its functions such as built-in voice recording and FM tuner. And I give Creative credit for being able to capitalise on the fact that the iPod lacks such offerings. I also respect Mr Sim Wong Hoo for his guts to take on what seems to be an insurmountable task, by challenging Apple and the iPod so openly and directly.

But damnit, stop running these comparison stories, I’m getting sick of them. The New Paper has run at least two, with the most recent one appearing on Friday. And lo and behold, what do I see when I opened my Sunday Times today? Another story, this time using everyday users to slug it out verbally (registration required, article expires in three days). What’s worse is that every time an article on Creative appears, it’s always about how they are trying to beat the crap out of Apple in the MP3 player market.

Geez, enough is enough. One wishes that Creative would stop stooping so low in its marketing and advertising tactics, by highlighting their David and Goliath fight to gain attention, as much as their efforts are admirable. All these nonsensical iBetter promotions are just not cutting it. And one also wishes that the local media would stop adding onto all these furor.

Don’t they have anything else to report about?

Everything Else, The organised chaos

On the tarmac

Today, I finally did what I have been procastinating for ages – getting up at 6.30am to jog! Considering that I get to work late 4 out of 5 days of the week due to over-sleeping, it was no mean feat. Sadly, my fitness level is somewhere down in the depths of hell, I couldn’t even muster enough energy to last for more than 20 minutes and slowly crawled home. Very sad.

On another miserable note, my attempts at flirting with the boyfriend online had failed spectacularly. Since experts are always harping on how couples need to maintain the relationship with interesting and innovative methods, I decided to pose as an interested buyer on the MUGS forum, and sent him a personal message last night. Not only did the (insert rude name) did not recognise my nickname, he even shot me a very terse message back. The irony is that when he was replying to me (not knowing that it was me), we were actually talking on the phone and he said, “Wah, got some idiot asked me a question on MUGS.” Erm, that idiot is your girlfriend.

I am a sad sod.

The organised chaos

Blackhead Alert

After a few days of moping around in self-pity over “uninspiring” work (as Nelson C puts it), I decided to take matters into my own hands and made an appointment with my miracle worker of a hair stylist, Gil.

See, a hair cut never fails to cheer me up, especially when I have been living with stringy hay masquerading as hair for the past few months. Gil is the equivalent of a best friend in the hair department. I’ve gone to him for the past few years and my previous two attempts at weaning myself off his expensive cuts have ended disastrously. I decided that my experimental days were over and went back to my first love. All I had to do was say to him, “Save my hair!” He looked at the messy bird’s nest that I carried on my head with narrowed eyes and you could actually visualise his brains churning furiously to think of ways to salvage the situation. Finally, he gave me three options – 1) trim and perm, 2) dye the remnants of bleach black again and do a whole new radical look, 3) trim and leave it to grow. I picked option 2, so bored was I of my current style.

After spending three hours in the salon, I emerged a different person. My steps felt lighter and I couldn’t help giggling to Gil that I felt like I was eight all over again. As you can see below, the resemblance between me at 23 and me in primary school is there (anti-clockwise from top left).

The first picture is of me at three – already a grumpy monkey then with eyebags to boot. The next is of me at nine, wearing what could be mistaken for a nuclear bomb mushroom cloud on my scalp. And then there’s me at 12, with a disastrous fringe cut by my older sister. At 19, I was still a tomboy at heart and didn’t bother growing out my hair until I met Gil, who persuaded me otherwise. Then there’s me at my convocation, a mere four months ago and voila! The brand new hair cut!

Went for Chorale practice on Saturday and met with comments ranging from “Cleopatra!” to “So doll-like” to “Are you wearing a wig?” to “You can carry such strange styles off”. Coincidentally, three other people also had their hair cut the week before.

There’s Popartgirl:
and the Evil Fat Brat (who frankly looks the same as before).

Well, I love my new hair! I was a little wary of the fringe initially but Gil has promised to trim it for me for free if I get irritated by it. Anyway, the boyfriend thinks I look good (although I had exhorted the answer from him) so there!

What’s Playing on iTunes
The Way You Look Tonight – Tony Benett from the album “My Best Friend’s Wedding: Music From The Motion Picture” by My Best Friend’s Wedding



Mood: Depressed. Even my hunky hair stylist who can work miracles on my icky hair has cancelled on me in my time of extreme need.
Listening to: Nothing. iPod ran out of juice. Forgot to charge. Double sobs.
Hate: The cow, who came into work at 12.30pm today and promptly went for lunch.

Geek Girl, The organised chaos

Xbox Widow

At this very moment that I am typing this, the boyfriend is busily flexing his competitive streak and zapping aliens to death.

He, being the irrepressible geek that he is, had literally flown down to Funan Centre the night before to catch the launch of one of this year’s most eagerly anticipated games. All that prior coyness (“Dunno leh, might not go” was his answer when queried) was just an act, I knew he was dying to be one of the first in the world to lay his hands on it. That’s how geeky he is.

So off he went to Funan with the Popartgirl‘s beau in tow at midnight, these two crazy gamers. Mr Popartgirl has a history of queueing up in the wee hours of the night for the sake of a game – he had done so when Warcraft 3 was released, hence snatching up for himself and myself (gift for the boyfriend, obviously) a limited edition copy of the game. Anyway, having gotten the game, he (the boyfriend, not Mr P) decided that chatting up sexy, cyber chicks online while playing it would be a good idea and promptly signed up for Xbox Live as well.

Which is where we can probably find him now, sprawled on the floor like a little boy, with his eyes glued to the TV and his fingers madly pushing buttons. He is merely heeding the irresistible call of his newfound tribe, which consists of him as well. I have a feeling they might not emerge from this cocoon till yonks later.

When I lamented to the Popartgirl about my “widowed” fate, she asked me which rank I am currently at now. My analysis is a depressing one – I think I come in third after his Mac and his Xbox. And that’s an optimistic estimate.

Oh well, maybe I should rebrand myself as the “Gadget Widow” instead.

Update: Actually Halo2 on Xbox Live seems fun. Maybe I should get it too. But I have the lousiest sense of direction and aiming. Bah.

Arts & Entertainment

A Waltz for a Night

In our Asian society, fate is not something to be trivialised. My mother, modern in some ways and yet traditionally Chinese in others, has always spoken about the passageways of life and how some things have been mapped out even before your creation. I do believe in fate, although I am not quite sure if it’s due to my upbringing or because it’s my choice to romanticise life.

I had meant to catch Before Sunset last weekend. Unfortunately, the theatre was fully booked and the boyfriend and I watched another show instead. Coincidentally, I managed to pick up a VCD of the preceding Before Sunrise at HMV that very day, after a fruitless search of almost six months. That gave me a chance to watch the sequel with a full understanding of the events before.

Against the ageless charm of the backdrop of Paris, Before Sunset unfolded beautifully in front of my eyes, so much so that my entire being was wholly captivated by what was happening on the screen.

After a separation of nine years, Ethan Hawke’s Jesse finds the one who got away, Julie Delpy’s Celine, again at a bookstore. It is a story of missed chances, ill-fated coincidences and jaded souls. The impetuous and enchanting evening that they had spent in Vienna nine years ago had taken a lot more out of them than they had ever expected, and left them slightly bitter. As they stroll down the streets of Paris, they realise that while time has taken its toll on them, the chemistry and connection that they had once shared were not subjected to the same ravages of time.

It felt as if I was back in the company of old friends again, and glad that they had finally found each other. On one level, everything seems to be similar to Before Sunrise. It’s not quite a movie, but more of an engaging and long conversation. You are made privy to the things that they say but you don’t feel as if you are intruding or eavesdropping. But on another level, you realise that things have changed. No longer are these two people filled with dreams and ideals, they are now at a different phase of their lives and have become more weary and realistic.

Celine, in particular, touched the very core of me. The way she hated herself for never being able to let go of the past, the way she tried to pretend in front of Jesse in order to protect herself, the way she laments about how she never quite healed with each failed relationship, the way she misses each lover and understanding that nobody can ever replace another person in her heart because each of them were different in their own ways – that’s realistic, that’s what life really is, there’s none of that fairy tale BS. And yet, you secretly root for them, hoping that they would find their way back to each other.

Kudos to director Richard Linklater, who co-wrote the script together with Delpy and Hawke. There’s nothing contrived about the lines and it is that, together with the amazing chemistry that Delpy and Hawke share that lifts the movie high up above the rest. The little nuances of their body language, the powerful emotions that they convey with just a glance, a smile – all these just make you feel for them.

This is not a movie that evokes strong polarising emotions, there’s no “you either like it or you don’t”. It’s more of “you either get it or you don’t”. Anybody who has been hurt by love, gone through painful times trying to move on, had regrets in love, had second chances given to them in life, who has simply loved whole-heartedly before will find this movie a heart-stirring experience.

What’s Playing on iTunes
Edge Of The Ocean from the album “Long Distance” by Ivy

PS This is the most excellent song heard on the trailer of the movie.

Geek Girl, Werk

PC vs. PC

The act of manipulation was most definitely unintentional.
But I am glad it happened anyway.

Finally, after four days of flashing blue screens telling me to change the STP in the system.ini file (does Mr. Gates speak English?), frozen screens and countless hours of tearing out my hair, my old CPU has been banished from my vicinity, hopefully till the end of time.

My colleague MO (who happens to be a fellow VC singer’s elder sister and Nelson C’s “childhood sweetheart”), whom I have just been assigned to work with for an account, was quizzing me about my steely defragmenting efforts. I started whinging about the crappy piece of hardware, detailing to MO that its malfunctions average about three per day. Anything less than three is considered a godsend and anything more, a temperamental and ridiculous evil. It just so happened that the company’s administrator was nearby and heard my every word. She immediately suggested that the offending CPU be changed to a faster system (which makes you wonder why they didn’t so in the first place).

I was overjoyed naturally, images of shiny new hardware floating in my mind. What came out of the unused office was the old CPU’s twin Gateway brother, sharing the same backdated OS. My bubble shattered around me.

But it’s alright, really. The twin does run faster than its inefficient counterpart, who would probably be rejected by even the garang guni man. Can you believe that it only crashed once in the three hours that I worked on it?

The best part of the day came when MO asked me how long a Mac user I have been.
“Two and a half years,” I said proudly.
“How many times has it crashed?” she asked.
I thought. And pondered. And racked my brains before answering, “Once?”
Her eyes widened in disbelief.

Now that I have gone back to using Mr. Gates’ inferior OS, I have never loved my iMac more.

What’s Playing on iTunes
It’s De-Lovely – Robbie Williams from the album “De-Lovely” by De-Lovely

The organised chaos, Werk

Green-eyed Monster

So the second day of work comes and goes.
I was seized by a thought early in the morning, when I saw a familiar-looking byline in Today: I don’t want to do this for long, I want to write for a living instead. I was overwhelmed with jealousy at the thought that she was doing what I so desire.

Went for tuition after work today and my student commented on my tiredness. She was very sweet, she made me a cup of hot, strawberry tea and then she asked me what my job was. I said “public relations” and her eyes lit up.
“I hear that it’s a fun job,” she enthused. I shook my head and told her that it was a tough one, where you have to deal with nasty clients, an endless flow of projects and the occasional snobbish journalist. She didn’t seem convinced but let the matter rest.

How I wish I could tell her that it isn’t as glamorous as it seems. That a life as a PR person is not just a whirlwind of parties and schmoozing. That I would rather write than be in public relations. But I have no choice, not since our country’s biggest publishing house turned me down, after interrogating me ruthlessly about my mediocre grades and second lower honours degree. They had demanded to know why I was not involved in any extra-curriculum activity in university when I had already explained that between school, tuition and Victoria Chorale, my hands were full. They didn’t care that I had good articles written from my journalism class, that I can really write, that I had a glowing testimonial from the CEO of my internship company.

Maybe I am not as good as I think I am. Sometimes, I envy the boyfriend. He’s really fabulous at web design and what’s more, he enjoys it. He can spend a whole day perfecting codes and all with the same intense concentration I employ while devouring books, magazines and newspapers. He’s recently won a web design contest and has been asked by his friends and acquaintances to design sites for them (which I think is a great compliment). I’m so proud of him.

But I will hang in there, because it’s my choice and because it’s a great opportunity for me to learn and gain experience. I refuse to feel resigned, I am still young and I don’t want to be pegged into a certain role.

On a happier note, I realise that my darling little nephew misses me! My mum was at his place visiting when she answered the phone. When she passed the phone to him, he thought it was me and shouted out my name in excitement. Once he realised that it was his mother (my cousin), he teased her in mock annoyance, “You again. Aiyah, I got nothing to say to you” and hung up. The nerve of a three-year-old. How I love him.

(PS Previous entry was deleted because upon second reading, I thought it was crap. Yes, I have a tendency to critique my own writing. Fur, I miss you and we’ll definitely meet up soon!)

What’s Playing on iTunes
Let Down from the album “OK Computer” by Radiohead