Vintage Phones Going For A Song

It would definitely be a crazy idea to sell a vintage phone for a tidy sum of RM 1499.00, but that is exactly what Digi did. The phones were definitely NOT going for a song, but I had to choose word that rhymed with the rest of the title. With April Fool’s day lurking just around the corner, I just couldn’t help glancing at Digi’s latest ‘offerings’ with suspicions. I’m not sure if the company has done this before, but it seems that the folks at Digi are not without a sense of humor. The first device that caught my eye was the ever-venerable Nokia 3310, which was what Nokia made they married a tank with a microchip (it was tough and state-of-the-art at the time). The phones definitely have their selling points, chiefly being the toughness of the devices, and in their own words, with one model even sporting a ‘super thick’ antenna. Who needs to carry a weapon when you can just use your phone in self-defense? Another selling point? Check.

In no order of specific importance, some of the features found across the range are as follows:

  1. Awesome snake game.
  2. Vibration alert (yeah right).
  3. Real buttons you can press (wow! Long time no see!).
  4. Looks cool when you answer phones (and I thought only BlackBerry users were dinosaurs).

Also, Digi is being such a darling for throwing in a whopping 30GB of Internet for the devices. Internet done right? Maybe, except that it may take till the next Ice Age to spend all 30 gigabytes of the allotted quota, which is hardly surprising since, you know, the phones come equipped ultra-modern WAP browsers. Not.

 

iPhoneography – Part 2

I decided to take some nice picture of Kuching, and spent the evening scouting around for a nice vantage point that overlooks the Sarawak River, and older parts of Kuching city. In my previous posting, I mentioned that the iPhone has come to be regarded as a ‘serious photographic tool’. By ‘serious’, I didn’t imply that the iPhone was a good substitute for a serious DSLR, but that it was SIMPLE enough to use – camera app MINUS all the bells and whistles that you find in even in some of the basic entry-level compact digital cameras – such that you are left to FOCUS on the creative aspects of photography. Here are some pictures that I took just two days ago.

Tua Pek Kong Chinese temple. Kuching Central Business District at rear, overlooking the Sarawak River.

Old Kuching; with a touch of ‘modernism’ at the rear – the newly completed Plaza Merdeka shopping mall. The street you see to the right of the temple is the famous Carpenter Street.

Old Kuching. The ‘towering monstrosity’ you see at the opposite bank of the Sarawak River is the new State Legislative Assembly building.

Panorama of Kuching. For a larger version, click here.

Panorama of Sarawak River. For a larger version, click here.

 

 

“iPhoneography”

iPhoneography is an art of creating photos with an Apple iPhone. –Wikipedia

The iPhone needs no introduction as a very capable photographic tool. I, for one, find it a relief to carry around, compared to my D7000, which to me feels like I’m hauling around half a tonne of bricks. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the iPhone is a replacement for any DSLR, but many will agree that it is indeed a very capable photographic device. I personally use the iPhone 4S for casual snaps, and find it’s camera to be the perfect fit between a DSLR and a compact point-and-shoot camera. Not only does the camera perform relatively well (its low-light performance is better than many compact cameras out there, just to be clear), it’s just about the most pocketable camera (yeah yeah…I know, it’s still a phone) I have ever owned; the perfect tool for practical mobile photography. Below are some pictures that I took with my iPhone 4S. Tell me what you think about them. If you have some of your own that you would like to share, simply post the links in the comments area.

Menu Cover, at Life Cafe. Taken with my Apple iPhone 4S, using Camera+ app.

Bubble Lamps at MBO. Taken with my Apple iPhone 4S using Camera+ app.

I had some time on my hands so I was poking my nose around Flickr, and the search filter turned up some really incredible photos. The photos below were all taken with the iPhone. You can view more examples here.

“The Walk” by whats_ur_flava2000

Sunset Camel Ride by Kirsten Alana

Flatiron Building and New York City Skyline From Above by Vivienne Gucwa

 

Crepuscular Rays

I was out with my photo buddy Steven Chua just two days ago taking some lovely photos of the evening sky. The original plan was to photograph the new Sarawak Energy building, which was where he worked. The plan didn’t materialize as I couldn’t find a good angle to photograph the building, so off we went to a jetty just next to the toll bridge. The area was overgrown with vegetation so it didn’t immediately strike me as the perfect vantage point, but it did offer a spectacular view of the distant Kuching waterfront. The weather was fine but the constantly shifting clouds meant that we had some overcast with short sunny intermittent breaks, which was what we were really needed. It was there and then, that we saw this wonderful sight unfolding before our very eyes; a giant fluff of clouds with crepuscular rays seeping through, as though the divine had suddenly decided to appear for a short visit at our lovely hometown. A nice day that didn’t go completely to waste indeed. I could use more moments like these.

The Mobile Shall Inherit the Earth

The mobile shall inherit the earth they say. At least, judging by how often some people fondle and caress their mobile devices, that might be going to happen some time soon in the future. In fact, it’s already happening as I am writing this. Image credits: www.bonkersworld.net.

20130220-130518.jpg

I’m not getting all biblical about this, but have you ever tried leaving the house without your mobile device? It doesn’t feel good for me, because it makes me feel ‘naked’.

A Greasy Affair

Chinese New Year is just on the horizon, and with a little more than a week to go, families are scrambling to the markets to stock up on all the goodies. I was with my photo-buddy Steven Chua at the Kenyalang Park commercial center and the place was bustling with activity. I was just turning around a corner when I saw these huge piles of preserved meat, comprising of salted duck, Chinese sausages and some weird flat-shaped patties.

Here’s another angle, closer-up.

They sure look tasty, but I also couldn’t help wondering how much sodium nitrate they have in them. The stuff must be loaded with other preservatives as well. In all fairness, I think most of what we eat today are loaded with junk anyway.

 

A Fuegokoori Evening

It had been quite a while back since I attended a musical event in Kuching. The last one I attended was organized by the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra during one of their concert tours in Kuching last year. So when I heard about a classical trio making a tour in East Malaysia which would see them perform in Kuching, I immediately pounced at the opportunity without hesitation. I suppose Kuching isn’t exactly at the top of the ‘must-go-to-perform’ lists of most musicians, which is a pity really, but at least I can see that is changing in recent times.

It was a classical and mesmerizing evening as we were treated to a performance by the Fuegokoori trio, who performed a selection of masterpieces composed by the famed virtuoso Nicolo Paganini to the versatile Joe Hisashi whose work I got to know about through the Japanese animation ‘Spirited Away’. The Fuegokoori trio is comprised of Malaysian violinist Yap Ling, American cellist Robert Sang-Ung Choi and Singaporean guitarist Dominic Wan. To say that they performed admirably well would probably be an understatement, considering – myself as a member of the Sarawak Symphony Orchestra who finds some pieces so frustratingly-difficult to play – that they made playing the said pieces look like trying to cut a block of butter with a hot knife.

As I recounted the moment the trio played Hisashi’s ‘Memory’, I recalled how Robert’s fingers ‘danced’ up and down the cello’s fingerboard. Equally enchanting was how Dominic Wan expressed himself with, as with the other pieces, playing Sevilla by Isaac Albeniz. I was particularly hypnotized by Astor Piazzolla’s ‘Oblivion’ too. The trio just made it look so effortless, like a duck jumping into water.

Left to right: Robert Sang-Ung Choi (cello), Dominic Wan (guitar), Yap Ling (violin)

My hope for the future is that there will be more musical tours to Kuching, as indeed while the number of individuals who appreciate classical music is still small, the numbers are certainly growing.

More Information About The Fuegokoori Trio

Fuego means “fire” in Spanish, whereas koori means “ice” in Japanese. Fire and ice represent extremes as well as the fiery energy that comes out when they are put together. Since the first concert of cello and guitar in 2003, Fuegokoori has produced two “live” CDs and plans to record its latest with the newly established Fuegokoori Trio, featuring violin, cello and guitar.

Now an internationally-acclaimed ensemble, Fuegokoori explores crossovers of extreme emotions and soul-searching themes, featuring obscure works of more celebrated composers like Paganini, Sarasate, Piazzolla and de Falla, directly contrasted with works by leading Japanese and Chinese composers like Mayuzumi Toshiro, Zhou Long and Joe Hisashi. Experience the refreshing juxtaposition of Asian calm and tranquility with flamenco’s exuberance and fire.

More information can be found at www.fuegokoori.com.

Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/FuegokooriTrio

Additional Note: Many thanks to Mr. Yap Ling for allowing me to take the photos.

More photos can be downloaded here.

A Musical January

This month will be a musical one indeed. See below for the following masterclasses and concerts. Tickets can be obtained from Classic Music Conservatory (CMC) in Kuching. Please contact Mr. Brian Lee for details (0 12-886 3588). Details on the concert and venue as shown below.

Fuegokoori Trio Comes to Kuching!

Venue: MBKS Kuching South City Hall Auditorium
Date: 16th January 2013
Ticket Price: RM 30.00
More Information: https://www.facebook.com/FuegokooriTrio

 

Stars of Today & Tomorrow in Concert 2013

Venue: Classic Music Conservatory
Date of Concert: 27th January 2013
Date of Masterclass: 28th January 2013 (morning)
Concert Ticket Price: RM 30.00 (students), RM 50.00 and RM 100.00 for adults.
Masterclass fee (Dr. Nicholas Ong – Piano, James Dong – Violin): RM 250.00 per hour.

 

Christmas By The Mall

It has been quite a while back when I took these pictures, just before Christmas to be exact, so this article is long overdue.

It is not uncommon to see Christmas decorations make their way into the malls during the season, but it appears that there is a new trend in the making. We’re seeing a number of giant ‘Christmas trees’ sprouting around town in front of malls and hotels, and the latest mall in Kuching is no exception.

The photos were shot entirely in Jpeg and were post-processed with Snapseed for iOS.

Equipment used:

  1. Camera – Nikon D7000
  2. Lenses – Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 and Nikkor 18 – 105mm
  3. Tripod

The mall entrance

The photographer and the child

 

Downtime

Just some time between noon and about 8pm today, you may have noticed that it was difficult, if not impossible, to enter my website. The problem was eventually traced back to a memory allocation error with the server. Apparently this was caused by a ‘server migration’, which the service provider informed me about some 2 days earlier. In other words, it was mainly a configuration issue.

After performing countless reinstalls of the WordPress package, I realized that installing the JetPack plugin caused the wp-admin login module to not load properly. I was not even able to access the dashboard; I got a blank white page instead. I noticed an anomaly with the stats bar above (in the WordPress toolbar at the top – you see this only when logged in as an admin) in that the stats were hardly showing and I suspected the problem was caused by the JetPack plugin was consuming too much memory. I proceeded to delete the module (the whole folder) in the wp-contents/plugins folder via the CPanel file manager and the problem was solved. Anyway, I’m back online and glad to be so.