Today’s one of the rare days that I get to wake up a little later amidst the chirping of the birds in the backyard. For some strange reasons unbeknownst to me, I decided to log into my dusty Plurk account and poke around profiles of friends whom I have made eons ago. This brings back memories – mostly good, but some were sad.

I came across Andrew Peter‘s profile and decided to take a look at his blog. Andrew’s a pretty dear friend whom I got to know during my Social Media hay days (or at least what felt like hay days). Those were the days that we’d get to meet during some events or another (and at the then Geek Terminal in Raffles Place). However, news got to me one day that he wasn’t going to pull through from his illness and then… he just went away. On one hand, I was shocked; but on the other hand, I am at peace that he was no longer suffering and is called back to be with the Lord.

Geek Terminal was another favourite hang-out place for a while. I remember knowing about the place through‘s inaugural event (or was it the second one?) which effectively got me connected to the rest of the blogosphere at that time. Geek Terminal was a cafe/restaurant on the outside but had a nice,  conducive atmosphere and facility for business meetings, events and all things social media. That was the place to be for a while. In fact, Geek Terminal showcased quite a number of new products before they were launched – and it was the place to be for some of the latest updates in GadgetLand.

And there is Tech65. Tech65 was the team to be with (and it still probably is). They somehow manage to score themselves some of the latest cool gadgets that any geek could land his or her hands on. They had regular recordings at Geek Terminal and honestly, I very much wanted to be part of their team for a while; but my geekness level was probably not there yet – at least not good enough to make good reviews. That said, I would have spent weeks after weeks oogling at their nifty gadgets and dying to get my hands on one.

What I did manage to get myself involved in was with The Digital Movement. It was a group of like-minded young entrepreneurs and social medialists (if there’s such a word) coming together to promote a community of all things digital and happening. I used to live blog at their events and was some times introduced as the “tech girl”, even though there were far more people who deserved that title than I do. Being with TDM was fun, and we were always excited to come together and just talk about all things tech. Andrew Peters was part of the group as well and those were really good days. I’m not sure what’s happened to the group today (with the domain name being owned by someone else), but I really enjoyed those days together.

Inevitably, that would remind me of those days that I spent at Starbucks with Alice, DK, Ridzuan, Tian Hong and occasionally, Miccheng and Edmund. Ah… Edmund is such a dear friend who appeared out of thin air one day and offered to help with the music video that I was doing in memory of library@orchard (for some strange reasons, I can’t find that post anymore). But yeah, I had totally no idea how to do a music video and just conjured whatever that came to my mind and I was just so grateful that everyone who were present, Alice, Edmund, Ridzuan, Tian Hong, Xiuhui and Yip Leng were so patient with me.

Lastly, because we can’t have everything in the world, there’d always be people whom I have never got to meet: Valerie, Orangeous (a.k.a. Christopher) and a couple more Plurk friends. Then again, that’s probably because I’m usually just quietly reading their blogs and plurks and I can only imagine how awkward the silence would be even if we did meet up.

So, to end off this 1st part of (hopefully) a series of walk down memory lane, let’s just sit back and enjoy this tribute to library@orchard.

Well, actually it started some time last year… can’t really remember when though; although I vaguely remembered it was a whole morning wait to get into the Singapore Expo for some Volunteers’ Day 😛

However, such memories were jotted back into me when I had to go for a Service Excellence training at Singapore Polytechnic, School of Business, Level 2, MLT9. I was a little late because I couldn’t find the signs leading to the venue, and consequently, violated one of the attributes of service excellence – respect. Apparently, and quite rightfully so, being late is being disrepectful of the other person’s time – food for thought eh?

I got to know quite a number of people during the 4-hour lecture, which was so full of activities! There was barely a moment where I was doing nothing – it was either copying notes, or discussing with my partner on some role acting, or being involved in 1 group activity or another; kinda not what I was expecting for a training session.

Definitely not boring! The “trainer” was great and to some extend, fun-loving, but some of the committee members do look quite “no-nonsense” – so that sort of keep things in check. Surprisingly, I am looking forward to the next training, but definitely not liking how the varsity is making us go back for another weekend just so that they can confirm who is committed.

Erm, how “un-committed” can we be if we had been doing our e-learnings, going for trainings and accepted a position? Hmm…

I thought I’d just purchase a single OPC just to try out the system and be familiar with it. It turned out to be a little tougher than I expected. Actually, locating the link to purchase the OPC e-coupon was a little bit of a hassle. Googling for “opc e-coupon” resulted in some forum links that spoke of how drivers can now be additionally “owned” if they think that no one is spying on them from a distance. There was even a pseudo-advertisement for recruitment of people to “catch” off-peak cars not paying for the e-coupon:


catch as many off-peak cars not paying for the e-coupon and get $50 for every car caught

requirements: good eyesight in fast changing environment, must be able to see the colour red and be able to “not appear like someone who is noting down number plate”

Oops! Sorry, I digressed. So, yes, I tried searching for links to purchase the OPC e-coupon and after a long, long while, I finally found the link. Embedded in a collapsed side-bar. Well, I was thinking that, for such an important (how important? probably worth S$10,000) link, it should at least be made readily clickable on the main page, even if they don’t want to make a huge banner for it. To be fair, they did make a banner for mobilep@y, but it’s of little consolation if I didn’t have my mobile phone with me. Or maybe I am just blind.

So, eventually I found the link, which was embedded under LTA e-Services; under the section of “Maintain A Vehicle”. Sure, it was classified correctly and most people would have lamented that I am just being lazy. Well, one thing I am sure, my dad will probably be calling me up when he realises that there’s “no link” for him to click on when all the only URL that was given to purchase the e-coupon is “”.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the end of the entire debacle. LTA apparently asks for quite a fair bit of information (which I figure was probably for “security purposes”), and comparing this to the past when I could conveniently ask someone who happens to be going to the post office to help me get a paper coupon from SingPost, I now can’t ask someone to help me with the purchase of an e-coupon without giving him or her the full glory of my details should I, for some reasons, forget to get an e-coupon (e.g. rushing to the airport and realised that I forgot to purchase an e-coupon – only thing is probably that I am on my way on a 26-hour journey to New York and there’s no guarantee of Internet access at a stopover airport).

What I do appreciate, however, was that the entire process of purchasing the e-coupon, up to the point of payment, allowed me to change my mind and cancel the transaction, without fumbling and worrying it it had somehow magically deducted from my account without me know. Yes, some people may think this is funny, but many of the older folks, who have their income tax “deducted magically” from their accounts, or have “government surpluses” depositing back into the same account, will probably think that somehow, LTA can get hold of their $20 even if they are just half-way into the transaction. Moreover, I also believe that when I grow too old to catch up with technology, I will live with the delusion that I am constantly monitored 24/7… but that’s another story for another day.

Now, if you have not realised by now, payment for the OPC e-coupon can only be done if you have Internet banking services with either DBS, UOB or Citibank (TGFC!). Following the instructions, you can click on “Confirm Payment” and hope to pay for it smoothly; which was what I did. However, lo and behold, I was greeted with a new blank window, and a Citibank page that took some time to load, but stated “Please Proceed With Your Transactions”. The words weren’t clickable, so it would not bring me to another page to “proceed with my transactions”, nor where there other links and windows opened.

So, this sort of ended my experience with purchasing OPC e-coupon for my OPC. In the end, I called a cab, which I thought would be safer, since I am not sure that even if the transaction did apparently went through, would there have been another “Confirm” or “Proceed” button that I would have missed.

At the end of the day, I am suspecting that the use of Mac Safari must have had something to do with it. Apparently, one of the pages gave some information about added “Allowed Sites” into Internet Explorer; and while the one.motoring website mentioned that the pages are “best viewed with Internet Explorer”, it should really be “Can only be used with Internet Explorer”.

Happy birthday to me!!! :)

Personal November 13th, 2009

Even though it’s just the last few hours… well, actually it depends on which time zone you follow 😉

Heh heh. Every year, the day just passes by like any other day. Oh well. I was hoping for a hundred wishes. Seems like I won’t get it this year 🙁

Anyway, happy birthday to me 🙂

Yes, it was related to the IELTS that I had taken recently. You know? It’s sometimes better to be really serious about what you do, especially if *it’s got to do with your exams*? Well, this was what happened…

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In preparation for my English tests this weekend and next Tuesday, I spent almost every evening in the last one month preparing for the test. Yes, I know – it’s an English test and how wrong can you go with it? Well, the truth (self-proclaimed truth, at least) is that English is not a subject that we can fail but neither is it a test that we can score distinctions in. Very much thanks to the multi-cultural, multi-lingual society that we are in, Singlish has became extremely prevalent and it’s easy to get lost when you are already struggling with an evolving language.

Evolving? Yes, English is still evolving 🙂

10. You know the opening hours of the outlet that you frequent. For that matter, you probably know the opening hours of every outlet that you may frequent.

9. You are the first to get the latest time-limited edition of the bearista bear.

8. The barista knows your order of Tazo Chai Tea Latte, half water, half foam no milk. As a corollary, you probably end up ordering it as “For here, tall, 5 pumps Chai, half water, half foam, no milk Tazo Chai Tea Latte”.

7. You know the exact locations of the power points and zoom in to the tables next to them when you enter the store.

6. You know the sequence of songs that will be played.

5. The people next table waves to you when you arrive.

4. Instead of asking you to help them look after their bags while they are away, they smile at you while you nod.

3. The barista offers to let you sample some of the food in the fridge display.

2. Your drink comes as soon as you sit down, even before you order it.

And the number one sign…

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It’s been a while since I got hold of a MacBook Pro, but for the longest time, I procrastinated on getting (read: trying, buying, …) hold of a really good offline post editor. In fact, the last I read, there weren’t really any offline post/blog editor as good as Microsoft’s Live Writer. Yes, this is quite sad but true. I am not sure where there aren’t any equivalent editors, but I am hoping that whatever I am about to try will prevent me from firing Parallels Desktop so that I can use Microsoft’s Windows Live Writer.

Nonetheless, working on a Mac has revolutionized the way I work. Even though I didn’t get the latest Unibody model of the MacBook Pro, the ease of use of the prior model gives hint on why there are always die-hard fans of the MBP. In fact, I got so used to working on a MBP that I am having some problems adapting to the Windows platform all over again. Indeed, working on a Mac at home and a Windows PC in the lab is not a good idea.

As I continue my hunt for The Offline Editor, I hope that I will be able to amuse/amaze/bore you with my many anecdotes with my Mac in time to come. Meanwhile, I won’t be missing “insufficient memory” pop-ups 🙂

It’s a boy!

Personal September 5th, 2009

“It’s a boy!” That was the simple answer that the lady in the room was looking for.

The group of us were shown a picture of a boy who was wrapped up in a towel and presumably had a wet towel on his forehead. He was lying on a bed and was holding on to a small, white bucket. The group was asked to make some observations on the picture. It was a sample of the Problem-Based Learning question that is asked at the Sydney Medical School.

The group was rather quiet, so I started by making some remarks on the blanket and the towel, and how “he” was probably feeling cold and possibly having a fever. Another guy from the group said that he could have been “regurgitating” – a rather bombastic word for “vomiting”. However, the lady seemed to be looking for more answers; so I gave the obvious.

“It’s a child”

“Yes!” She exclaimed. “It’s a boy!”, and she continued to narrate what the scenario could have been. This simple answer that she was looking for reminds me of how people, in general – including myself, perhaps, tend to look at things beyond too deeply. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but I was just thinking that sometimes we (or just I) get to caught up in “critical thinking” that we might just overlook the most obvious.

And if you have watched enough “House”, “E.R.” or “Gray’s Anatomy”, you’d probably know that that the paramedics begin by describing the patient to the tune of “6-year-old boy/male, found [somewhere] in [what state]” – and it’s important for the doctors to know how to treat the patient and what course of actions to make.

Back to the situation above, I probably think that no one wants to say something that they think may sound stupid. However, like I always tell my students, there’s no such things as a “stupid question”. So really, if you think that your question/statement/answer may sound stupid but if it helps you, you should just say it.

Another person may just benefit from it 🙂

Plans derailed

Personal August 18th, 2009

You know how people used to say that man proposes while God disposes? The saying happened to me. Again. For the umpteen time.

I don’t hide the fact that I am a quitter (well, at least in SM Goh’s words – of which, a search on google will reveal what that term means) and intend to pursue medicine in Australia. I may come back one day to form part of the “growing pool of overseas trained doctors” but I do hope to be involved in the treatment and curing of patients instead of just being an administrator or another doctor’s runner. Essentially, I’d rather be where I can be most effective.

Nonetheless, the plan was for me to apply for a PR in Australia, take the IELTS and the MCAT/GAMSAT, relocate to Melbourne (because I am state-sponsored) and apply for entry into the MD Program and University of Melbourne while working in the first year. Of course, here’s where the disposal starts.

By some cheer (bad) luck, University of Melbourne changed their entry requirements and now require international students to complete their Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry modules. There was no mentioned with regards to similar modules in overseas universities, but this is probably because the MD Program is still in the planning phase and will not be admitting students until 2011.

Nonetheless, I asked them about it and I was told to dig out NUS/NTU’s modules which I think is equivalent and to email them the curriculum. Clearly, it’s going to be a long walk on a fire bed. Either that, or I have to take their pre-requisite subjects – while on a visitor’s visa.

The alternative, was an MBBS programme at University of Sydney, which is a complete derailment of my initial plans, at least location-wise.

There were some other considerations, like how I am going to finance my entire medical course. At first, I thought of applying as a PR, but I am quite sure that being a new PR, I may probably end up with some restrictions in one form or another. The “safer” choice would be to apply as an international student, which will result in more than twice the amount of school fees required. For the uninitiated, that’s almost S$250,000.

I can’t help but suddenly think of Yu-Mei Balasingamchow’s S$264,000 bond. That is really… A. LOT. OF. MONEY. And if I study really hard, I can get scholarships that will cover about one-sixth of the school fees. There’s still 5 more sixths to go, and living expenses too.

Seems like I will have to go back to my drawing board. Meanwhile, I will be taking the GAMSAT exams next year and perhaps the MCAT after that for Duke-NUS’ MD Program; and work my bum off for the next 1 year. Sometimes, I wish I have 72 hours a day.

Having said that, many people ask me why I’d want to be a doctor. As simple as the question sounds, the answer is always tough because I will receive a whole lot of alternatives that I can do if I just want to “help people”. Trust me. A lot of thought had gone into why I do not want to be a nurse, a paramedic, a social worker or a fund-raiser. All these occupations do help people in one way or another but one big difference is that while people in these noble occupations can treat people, they definitely can’t diagnose and can’t cure. Having said that, I do wish to be a volunteer paramedic in the mean time 🙂

More usual than not, discussions of what I intend to do will only go one way – the other way. It’s not because people can’t see (imagine) me being a doctor, it’s the high (pardon me, absurd) cost of the process that often led people into thinking of alternatives where I can “help people”. I had, for a moment, thought of giving up everything and do social work. Then, I might need a degree for that or risk just being an administrator. Sometimes, I just wish that I studied harder in the past.

Thankfully, my direction in life is (hopefully) still clear. I want to be able to treat and cure people one day and take on overseas medical missions at least on a yearly basis. Prior to that, it’s going to be a long and arduous road, but I still hope to reach there eventually.

As for school fees… I can only try to plan while preparing for my entrance exams.

Or lack thereof.

I had been trying to lose some weight as far back as 3 months ago. Results had only been satisfactory – to my standards, of course; but perhaps normal to anyone who is serious about losing real weight, and not just water.

For the longest time, I had been procrastinating about watching my diet. The thing about being a life scientist (or a wannabe like myself), I am usually stuck in the lab for long hours with very little or no moving around. We all know that, simplistically, glucose from food gets converted to pyruvate (some intermediate chemical product), which will then take part in the TCA (tricarboxylic acid) cycle (or otherwise known as Krebs Cycle) to produce CO2 (carbon dioxide) and ATP (adenosine triphosphate) at the end. Where there’s too much ATP, which is essentially currency (or simply, money) for energy, then the money gets stored in a fixed deposit.

You know how we complain that banks are not giving enough or any interests at all, and how we try to invest our money in other places that can give us better interests. More usual than not, the money gets locked in, but the interest never seem to come.

Well, that’s what happens when there are too much ATP. Glucose is stored in a fixed deposit (which is glycogen; through a process known as glycogenesis) and once it goes there, it’s very hard to withdraw from it. Just as we spent money that we earn and hardly touch our investments/fixed deposits, the same happens to glucose. Of course, there’s more than just fixed deposits. Sometimes, it goes into investment linked products (ILP), also known as triglycerides. Not only is it hard to withdraw from ILP, money put there is virtually stuck for a long, long time.

Sad to say, it’s the same for triglycerides.

It is only in times of recession that we may sometimes have no choice but to withdraw from our fixed deposits and/or investments and the same happens for the body. Ideally, the body starts to make use of triglycerides and glycogen when we do not have enough glucose in our body. However, just like how we become more thrifty in times of need, the same happens to our body – metabolism decrease and we get more lethargic.

Essentially, people try to go on diet but most do not know about the body becoming more “thrifty”. Oh, did I mention that some of us may resort to selling things on ebay just to get more money? Well, a somewhat similar situation happens in our body; unfortunately.

So, it’s not really easy to lose weight, and what we usually lose are usually water, which is really a bad thing. I don’t usually advocate crash diets because the body may go into “thrifty mode” faster than you can think of it.

When I got hold of PGX Daily, it seemed like a pretty good deal – cutting appetite gradually and increasing metabolism. True enough, I began to lose my appetite – at least a little, but it’s more because I stopped having cravings for food. Of course, the change in bowel movement came 3 weeks after I started on it, but I don’t think I want to dwell too much on that part.

Metabolism seems not to be affected and I did end up staying more awake than usual. I am not sure how PGX reacted with my body, but I’d think it’s rather safe. I can’t remember, but I think it’s vegetarian too? (anyone else can confirm this?)

Consequently, through a somewhat “natural control” of my diet, I lost about 2kg of weight, which does not seem like water loss because it’s 4kg +/- 2kg. I got more greedy. I joined Fitness First (plug: contact Joe at 6732 4111).

I guess it was all good and I eventually got a Personal Trainer. However, disaster struck. On one of my self-training sessions, I ran… and apparently caused too much stress to my ankle. Well, that sort of put my exercise regime to a halt; at least for a while.

Today, I am still quite glad that I have some PGX left, hoping that it can help reduce cravings while I go out of action for a while. Overall, I lost about 5 kg from 3 months ago, while I think is pretty good, considering that I stopped going to gym for almost 3 weeks. A combination of watching my diet, PGX Daily(s) and exercise probably helped keep the weight down but now that I have to stop exercising for another month, I am hoping that PGX Daily will help to maintain it there. The last time I checked, it was retailing for about S$166.00 for 3 bottles of 120 capsules. If I take 4 capsules a day, that works out to be enough for 3 months. That’s about S$1.84 per day. Hmmm…

For now, I can only hope for the best… 🙂 and hope the weight remains status quo.