Photos galore

October 20, 2008

SingTel Singapore GP - Fernando Alonso, Renault by macbiff, on Flickr

SingTel Singapore GP - Fernando Alonso, Renault by macbiff, on Flickr

The photos are finally done. After sieving through couple of hundreds of shots taken at the SingTel Singapore Grand Prix, I finally managed to bring it down to a manageable 98 photos that covered three days of the race.

See it all here at Flickr

Here’s a few to whet your appetite.

SingTel Singapore GP - Kimi Räikkönen, Ferarri by macbiff, on Flickr

SingTel Singapore GP - Kimi Räikkönen, Ferarri by macbiff, on Flickr

SingTel Singapore GP - Samba Girl by macbiff, on Flickr

SingTel Singapore GP - Samba Girl by macbiff, on Flickr

SingTel Singapore GP - Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren by macbiff, on Flickr

SingTel Singapore GP - Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren by macbiff, on Flickr

SingTel Singapore GP - Track side by macbiff, on Flickr

SingTel Singapore GP - Track side by macbiff, on Flickr

SingTel Singapore GP - Happy Ushers by macbiff, on Flickr

SingTel Singapore GP - Happy Ushers by macbiff, on Flickr

SingTel Singapore GP - Up close & personal by macbiff, on Flickr

SingTel Singapore GP - Up close & personal by macbiff, on Flickr

One month and counting

October 20, 2008

Funny how life is. One month ago, we had our almost perfectly planned wedding washed out by passing rain which, decided to play havoc with us and stayed for exactly one and a half hour before moving on.

Till this day, as we strolled along East Coast Park under a very brightly lit full moon, we could almost taste the irony of it.

We joked about whether we should have held the wedding in October 14 instead. We wondered out loud how our perfect wedding would have been if the rain didn’t fall on that evening. We asked whether when we’ll stop joking about how exciting that night was.

Honestly, I think we won’t. One month has past and many many full moons in the future, we will still look back on September 14 2008 with great memories, of how much fun we had waiting for each of us in our own house in the morning, how we kissed un-glam-ly as I raised her veil, how we waved to another couple as they look at us in the cute topless Copen (thanks Steve!) while they sat in their cough*boring*cough wedding car sedan, how we went about getting ang paos as we serve tea, how we go about preparing for the lawn, how I try to keep the secret of the band from Yannie, how we worried as we heard the news about the rain, how worried we became as we waited for the missing tables to be done up, how we lovingly took our vows, how we happily walked down the aisle, how happy Yannie looks when she saw the surprise performance I kept from her, how happy we were when we watched the video made by our dear friends, how happy our parents were when we fumbled as we thanked them, and lastly, how happy we were as we looked at each other on our wedding day.

I think all the good and bad made our wedding something more special in our mind. A wedding we will never forget, as we count our blessings and look forward to more happy memories as husband and wife.

More photos will be uploaded as I find time…reservist training is tiring…especially the travelling.

OS-discrimination from LTA

October 20, 2008

Many of us use SingPass for most government-related web services, like filing taxes or logging into ns.sg to apply for Remedial Training. So far, on the Mac, I haven’t had much problems. This is more prevalent especially after OS X been around for almost 8 years. Even banks solved the issue of Mac-compatibility since 3 to 4 years back.

So to my surprised last week when I try to access LTA’s e-services via One Motoring on my Mac. I got a blank page. I tried it on Safari and Firefox and still got a blank page.

Needless to say, while starting up VMWare to try the site on Windows, I went to the One Motoring feedback and informed them of the problem.

This was the reply I received:

Dear Mr Jimmy Liew

LTA e-Services via SingPass
FEEDBACK NUMBER: 7xxxxx

We refer to your feedback on 05/10/2008.

e-Services@ONE.MOTORING is currently only compatible with Internet Explorer (IE) and Netscape on Windows Operating System (OS) Windows 2000 and above.

This is a deliberate design decision as compatibility between IE and Netscape on Windows OS, which is the most commonly used combination, would enable a majority of users to access e-Services@ONE.MOTORING.

Based on the current adoption rate of other non-IE and Netscape web browsers and non-Windows OS, we feel that it is still not cost-effective to make e-Services@ONE.MOTORING compatible with such browsers and OS.

Nevertheless, we are monitoring the adoption rate of alternative web browsers such as Safari, Mozilla, FireFox etc, and alternative OS such as Macintosh etc, and would consider making our e-Services@ONE.MOTORING accessible via these browsers and OS when there is sufficient demand.

We thank you for writing in.

Yours sincerely

(SIGNED IN LOTUS NOTES)

XXX XXX XXX

ASSISTANT MANAGER, VRL SERVICE DEVELOPMENT
VRL SERVICE DEVELOPMENT
VEHICLE SERVICES

(emphasis was mine)

I am quite disappointed to read such replies from companies who still hold the belief that Mac users are far and few between and shouldn’t be provided the services that Windows users received. That is just bullshit.

This is a deliberate design decision as compatibility between IE and Netscape on Windows OS, which is the most commonly used combination, would enable a majority of users to access e-Services@ONE.MOTORING.

Anyone and everyone who uses the internet will know that Netscape is DEAD! Yes IE is still dominant with Firefox second. Next is Safari at about 7% (according to wiki).

Based on the current adoption rate of other non-IE and Netscape web browsers and non-Windows OS, we feel that it is still not cost-effective to make e-Services@ONE.MOTORING compatible with such browsers and OS.

I wonder how archaic their planning and programming for them not to even consider cross-platform compatibility as one of their priorities. Yes the numbers of Mac users definitely are not comparable to Windows users but that doesn’t mean we should be deprived from accessing a government service.

If we were in the early 2000s when OS X was still in its infant stage, I can acknowledge their reasonings since Mac developers and cross-platform web programming were not as advanced as now. But after 8 years, almost all banks in Singapore have made it a point to provide cross-platform compatibility on their e-banking services. And so did many of the government services.

So I absolutely don’t agree on their lame-ass excuse to say that it is not cost-effective. Yes One Motoring is no longer managed by LTA and handled by Green Dot Internet Services (which is a subsidiary of Singapore Computer Systems), being a portal for government services, they should make it a priority to provide access to ALL users, regardless of the users’ operating system.

Nevertheless, we are monitoring the adoption rate of alternative web browsers such as Safari, Mozilla, FireFox etc, and alternative OS such as Macintosh etc, and would consider making our e-Services@ONE.MOTORING accessible via these browsers and OS when there is sufficient demand.

Look. Mac ownership in Singapore will never reach the volume that will be deemed sufficient by most commercial entities decision makers. But this is a government service. What happened to IDA’s iGov2010 policy “that delights customers and connects citizens through the use of infocomm technology”? Do I really need to wait till 2010 before I can access LTA’s e-services on my Mac?

Someone should knock some senses on these old-foggies that still think Windows is the only platform everyone wants to be using.

A story the world needs to know

October 2, 2008

And this story will be told by James Nachtwey with his photographs when they are revealed tomorrow, worldwide and on the InterWeb.

Who’s James Nachtwey?

James Nachtwey (born 1948) is an influential American photojournalist and war photographer who has been awarded the Overseas Press Club’s coveted Robert Capa Gold Medal an unprecedented 5 times. In 2003, he was injured by a grenade in an attack on his convoy while serving as a TIME contributing correspondent in Baghdad.

He was awarded one of three 2007 TEDPrize, where he received “one wish to change the world”.

“I’m working on a story that the world needs to know about. I wish for you to help me break it, in a way that provides spectacular proof of the power of news photography in the digital age.”

First, watch his TEDPrize Wish video:

Come 3 October, check his TEDPrize page to see the “Story the world needs to know.

SingTel Singapore GP

September 29, 2008

Singtel Singapore GP

3 days, 20 cars, 10 teams and 1028 photos. I am tired. So is my Canon 30D. Here’s just a teaser of what I managed to shoot over the last few days. Check back soon.

What can I say. The SingTel Singapore GP is one hell of a show. The first two days of practice runs were just a teaser of what was to become an amazing race of attrition and smart pit tactics. Coming through all the various crashes and safety car delays, Fernando Alonso emerged triumphant despite coming in from a lowly 15th position.

Me and GQ were sitting at the Marina Bay Grandstand and though it was at a relative slow area of the track, that short straight between Turn 17 and Turn 18 turned up to be the crucial section that changed the fortunes of Felipe Messa and the eventual winner Alonso. You can read the race report at Planet F1 or an abridged version by the wifey.

Besides the successful holding of the race, I am also impressed by the infrastructure work done for the race. The lights for the race were really bright but more impressive was how evenly lit through out the whole track. We were able to walk down the whole track after the race and experienced how it was for the drivers.

One other crucial aspect which I felt was quite well done was the control of the human traffic. Thankfully, the 100,000+ crowd was spread across various grandstands and free standing areas across the whole track, making it more manageable for the police and ushers to control those who enter and leave the track area. There were some obvious bottlenecks which were much better managed on the final night. But they do need to put up more directional signs to direct traffic, especially when people are leaving the track. Many, especially the tourists were not sure how to reach the CityHall MRT station.

At trackside, the ushers had quite a torrid time trying to get people to their right seats as apparently there were some tickets that were printed with the same seat numbers. They also had to managed enthusiastic crowd (like me) who tried to get to vantage positions to snap the race cars. But kudos to the ushers, from the students to working adults who helped made the race enjoyable to watch.

Prior to the race, we also had quite some fun walking around the F1 villages. We managed to catch some performances by Brazilian samba dancers (sexy, real sexy), Zouk DJs (party time), some Austin-Power look-alikes plus lots and lots of eye-candy. We also managed to catch some close views of Mika Heikkinen at the Johnny Walker Lounge while we waited for the qualifying on the second night.

One thing which was not surprising was the heavily marked up prices of the food and drinks. Our dinner (mixed vegetable rice) today cost us between S$12-$15, while a cup of drink cost S$3. But thankfully, it was quite edible and wasn’t a waste of money.

All in all, we really had a blast at the SingTel Singapore GP and we are definitely returning for the 2009 race. And this time, the wifey is definitely coming along!

Do come back here again when the photos are uploaded. I have 1028 photos to go through, but at least half or more will be ignored or deleted. This was my first time shooting racing, and made more challenging when its done at night. Thankfully, the lights are bright and allow faster shuttle speed. The 70-200mm 2.8 L lens I rented definitely came in handy. After 3 days of shooting, I think my 2-eyes-open-and-pan technique definitely improved as I shoot from the top of the Bay Grandstand. Next step is to filter, then tag, then touch-up before uploading. Watch out for them in the next few days.

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