Selasa, 31 Januari 2012

0 A Prison Camp is for Escaping: Grand Illusion (1937)

[Image: Posters for Grand Illusion, currently out of print from the Criterion Collection].

For the first film in Breaking Out and Breaking In a distributed film fest—where you watch the films at home and return here to discuss them online—co-sponsored by BLDGBLOG, Filmmaker Magazine, and Studio-X NYC, we watched Jean Renoir's Grand Illusion (1937), recently described as one of the 100 best films of world cinema (Seven Samurai, if you're curious, was #1).

I will limit myself to discussing Grand Illusion solely from the perspective of this film fest of prison breaks and bank heists (which will be true for all the films discussed in this series). In other words, I'll focus specifically on the topology of escape—on holes, tunnels, walls, and borders. And I should note: there are spoilers ahead.

[Images: From Grand Illusion, courtesy of the Criterion Collection].

The first attempted escape of the film is through the earth: tunneling from beneath the barracks of a German prison camp with the intention of popping up beyond the outer buildings, in a garden.

Removing the floorboards and hacking through exceptionally soft soil, the prisoners rig an alarm system and fashion a tentacular speaking-tube to make sure they all know if the person on digging duty has passed out in the carbon dioxide-rich microclimate being created by their tunneling activity. In fact, the speaking-tube—like an old-fashioned game of telephone—initially appears to be a breathing apparatus of some sort, as if they are, in fact, snorkeling through the earth.

[Image: From Grand Illusion, courtesy of the Criterion Collection].

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the digger—an irritatingly effusive French cabaret singer—loses consciousness, his candle goes out, and he must be hauled backward out of the mud by rope.

[Image: From Grand Illusion, courtesy of the Criterion Collection].

There are at least two particularly interesting things about this tunnel.

1) The diggers engage in an illicit earth-moving operation by filling their clothes with the resulting dirt, and then dumping the dirt into the garden. They're thus generating their own little artificial topography out in the prison yard as they scoop out the earth beneath their barracks house. The negative space of the tunnel becomes this new terrain of dirt piles and rows, which are thus symptoms of this literally underground activity.

[Image: From Grand Illusion, courtesy of the Criterion Collection].

2) More interestingly, the tunnel is soon abandoned: all of the prisoners are moved to new camps, the barracks are emptied, the tunnel still covered by floorboards, and a last-ditch attempt to let the incoming prisoners know that there is a half-completed escape tunnel beneath their bedroom fails. A train pulls away, splitting up the prisoners and bringing them to new camps; all the while, a remnant escape route, unfinished and unknown, lies waiting to be rediscovered.

Immediately before their departure, however, there is a brief exchange between two of the film's protagonists. Looking out at the clockwork machinations of the German guards, who march in synchrony across the prison courtyard, the imprisoned Captain de Boeldieu quips: "For me it's simple. A golf course is for golf. A tennis court for tennis. A prison camp is for escaping."

[Images: From Grand Illusion, courtesy of the Criterion Collection].

While this is by no means a remarkable piece of dialogue in and of itself, it suggests that, internal to and implied by the diagram of the camp, there is a goal or proper use, but one that runs against the grain of the space's stated intentions. The camp is a landscape that necessitates its own peculiar misuse; escape is just the sport that actualizes this. Put another way, the design of the camp rigorously implies its own escape routes.

Further to this point, however, and as evidenced by the casual manner with which our sporting gentlemen pack up their rackets and coats and abandon their incomplete tunnel, their behavior is motivated more by following unspoken rules (of war, of the camp, of sporting etiquette) than, in a sense, by trying to win.

In any case, from this point in the film it's onward, out and further, through a series of other camps—shown solely in montage—before the displaced captives arrive at an imposing mountaintop fortress—filmed at the Châteaux du Haut-Koenigsbourg— run by the wounded Von Rauffenstein (who, to my mind, looks remarkably like Darth Vader without a helmet, as seen in Return of the Jedi).

Von Rauffenstein takes his new forced guests on a fortifications tour, walking around the castle's walls. "Nice castle," one of them remarks, as another methodically recites the centuries of original construction. "12th century," he mutters. "13th century."

[Image: From Grand Illusion, courtesy of the Criterion Collection].

But all along they are looking for blindspots, low points, and ways over the wall.

[Image: From Grand Illusion, courtesy of the Criterion Collection].

The eventual—and final—method of escape is by way of diversion, using small flutes and makeshift drums to distract the castle guards as two prisoners make an improbable break for it down a handmade rope out of a tower. And, after a brief stop by a house in the Alps where a spot of romance pops up, they find their ultimate freedom in a moment that is absurd for all it reveals about the notion of political jurisdiction.

Running in plain view of German soldiers, who have finally caught up to them, our remaining two heroes have nothing to worry about: they have crossed an invisible line in the snow, making a mockery of all their tunnels and secret ropes, as they walk up a hill in neutral Switzerland.

[Images: From Grand Illusion, courtesy of the Criterion Collection].

Clearly, outside the specific context of Breaking Out and Breaking In, there is much more to discuss, including the film's actual central theme, which is not escape but class divisions.

Hopefully, though, this will serve as a quick intro to the film's many specifically spatial propositions. If you had a chance to watch Grand Illusion last week, by all means let us all know what you think—and stay tuned in the next day or two for a post about Robert Bresson's A Man Escaped.

(Note: Friday, February 3, brings The Great Escape).

0 Gmail's Shortcut for Inserting Hyperlinks

Less than 2% of the Gmail users have enabled keyboard shortcuts and actually use them, but that doesn't mean Google shouldn't improve them. Many people complained that Gmail's rich text editor doesn't have a shortcut for inserting hyperlinks and now it's available: Ctrl+K (or Cmd-K if you use a Mac).


The same shortcut is also used in Outlook, Microsoft Word, Google Docs and other apps. "Just select any text, and then press the Ctrl and K keys at the same time. A dialogue box opens where you can type a link," informs the Microsoft Word blog.

I wonder why Google doesn't offer the option to use the top search result for the text you've selected or at least pick one of the top results from the "edit link" box.

{ Thanks, Cougar. }

0 Country-Specific Blogger URLs

Google found an interesting trick to defend Blogger blogs against local laws: redirect readers to country-specific domains and only remove those URLs if required.

"Over the coming weeks you might notice that the URL of a blog you're reading has been redirected to a country-code top level domain, or 'ccTLD.' For example, if you're in Australia and viewing [blogname].blogspot.com, you might be redirected [blogname].blogspot.com.au. A ccTLD, when it appears, corresponds with the country of the reader's current location," explains Google.

"Migrating to localized domains will allow us to continue promoting free expression and responsible publishing while providing greater flexibility in complying with valid removal requests pursuant to local law. By utilizing ccTLDs, content removals can be managed on a per country basis, which will limit their impact to the smallest number of readers. Content removed due to a specific country's law will only be removed from the relevant ccTLD." That means [blogname].blogspot.com will continue to exist, but it's not clear if the users from that specific country will still be able to access it.

Blogger will start to use country-specific domains, just like many other Google services. If you're in Australia and visit google.com, you'll be redirected to google.com.au, but you can opt-out by clicking "Go to Google.com" or visiting google.com/ncr. The same option is available for Blogger: "Blog readers may request a specific country version of the blogspot content by entering a specially formatted NCR URL. NCR stands for 'No Country Redirect' and will always display [blogname].blogger.com in English, whether you're in India, Brazil, Honduras, Germany, or anywhere. For example: http://[blogname].blogspot.com/ncr – always goes to the U.S. English blog."

Google doesn't mention the list of countries that are affected by this change, but Techdows.com reports that India is one of them. Obviously, blog owners can use custom domains if they don't like the new feature. Even if Google made sure that the duplicate URLs are properly handled by search engines, it could be annoying to see so many URLs that send people to the same page.

{ Thanks, Venkat and Herin. }

Senin, 30 Januari 2012

0 Finding the Courage to Stay the Course


Anytime you decide on the pursuit of an important goal, you’ll be faced with a series of challenges. Peaks, valleys and plateaus are par for the the course. But the thing that separates the people who make it from the ones that don’t is the courage to stay the course.

At the start of any new endeavor most of us look forward to every single day with a child like excitement. We see infinite possibilities and the future appears bright. It seems as though there is absolutely nothing that can get in our way. We feel almost invincible and the possibility of failure doesn’t even occur to us. We blow through every obstacle with a sense that we’re invincible.

The Wall
Then we hit the first real roadblock. Our excitement diminishes and turns into frustration. The pursuit of that goal makes us feel as though we’re hitting our heads against a brick wall. We keep on hitting our heads until we realize that it doesn’t lead to anything other than a really bad headache, and the possibility of failure emerges. We wonder if maybe we should just quit in order to avoid the misery that failing will bring with it. But you realize deep down inside that anything worth doing requires the courage to fail. So you keep going.

The Plateau
In next phase of reaching that goal we hit what appears to be a plateau. It seems as though no real progress is being made. We go through the motions and everyday we think about quitting, but there’s a little flicker inside that lingers from the fire that burns so deep inside us when we want something so bad. We search for the courage to stay the course, and struggle to find it.

The Doubt

It seems like all we can really see is how far we still have to go. But if we take a look back, the view suddenly changes. Instead of seeing how far we have to go, we see how far we’ve come, and hope resurfaces. As a result we find the courage to stay the course and we keep going.

Soon, the voices of dream crushers, nay-sayers and self doubt emerge and we become tempted to listen. We start to wonder if maybe they’re right and that we are in fact losing this fight. But something inside tells us to drown at that noise and we find the courage to stay the course.

The finish line seems as though it’s nowhere in site and even the supposed light at the end of a dark tunnel seems to be a far fetched fantasy of wild eyed crazy dreamers. It doesn’t seem as though it’s too long before you really hit rock bottom. But there’s a beauty in rock bottom that gives you an opportunity to play the game as if you’ve got nothing to lose. So you look deep inside, and find the courage to stay the course.

It’s in those moments when you really want to give up that the biggest breakthroughs, flashes of insight and moments of brilliance occur. But there’s only one way to find out. That’s by finding the courage to stay the course.

Written on 1/30/2012 by Srinivas Rao. Srinivas is the author of the Skool of Life, where he writes about surfing, personal development, and things you never learned in school but should have. If you’re ready to to become a student, check out his FREE course on the 7 most valuable lessons they never taught in school. You can follow him on twitter @skooloflife.Photo Credit: hectorir

0 Architectural Nonessentials

306090, under the guest editorship of David Hays, is seeking "possible futures for architecture through speculations about new disciplinary knowledge." Hays asks, "What specific methods, materials, or understandings—tools, ratios, formulas, properties, principles, guidelines, definitions, rules, practices, techniques, reference points, histories, and more—not presently considered essential to architecture could, or should, define its future?"

These are architectural nonessentials: unexpected sources of spatial counter-expertise that are "currently undervalued, generally misunderstood, or not yet recognized" (like, for instance, the peculiar architectural insights found in bank heists, the tactics of urban escape and evasion, or the tools of forced entry banned by California Penal Code 466-469).

Submissions are due March 30, 2012, and more info is available on the 306090 site.

(Via Alex Trevi).

Sabtu, 28 Januari 2012

0 How to Deal with Difficult People and Have Constructive Conflict



Life and relationships aren't always perfect. Take a minute to think of some difficult people you have to deal with in your life? These may be people you work with, the in-laws that come to town throughout the year, or your neighbor who can’t seem to take a hint. For whatever reason, you're just not jiving with these people.

Do you flee? Or, do you get flexible and learn to interact?


When we encounter these extreme personalities it can feel like they are trying to make our life miserable, but more often than not, it’s simply learning about these peoples’ tendencies and how to interact in a more tactful way. Some conflicts are unavoidable and shouldn’t be smoothed over or suppressed, though it’s learning to deal with our differences, and how to understand, resolve, and learn from these interactions that’s important.

Tips to dealing with problem people
  • Learn to recognize different personalities
    First and foremost, we must develop self-awareness about our own personality tendencies. Are you more aggressive or passive? Are you more of an introvert or extrovert?

    Once we know our personality tendencies we can learn to recognize other peoples’ personalities and adapt and interact in a more effective way.

  • Learn how to communicate with different personality types
    When we are dealing with different people it requires we approach them in the way they want to be treated. Some people need more detail and clarity in communication. Some people are very direct and just want the facts, and others are more focused on relationships.

    Consider how you can communicate verbally and through body language in the most effective way with these different types of people to build rapport and make them feel understood.

  • Know who triggers you and why
    When we know who we tend to have conflict with and what it is that leads us to get frustrated, we can begin to be more proactive. We can learn to deal with this person more effectively by managing our own emotions and not be the target of their drama and unrest.

  • Learn to focus on strengths and positive qualities
    A great way to deal with people more effectively in any relationship context is to focus on their positive qualities and to help them accentuate these when you can. Give people compliments, offer them recognition, and help them to use their strengths. We can empower others instead of knocking them down, and by doing so have a more positive influence and interaction.

    Just because you apply these ideas doesn’t mean that people will always respond in a positive manner. The only person you have control is yourself, so to make sure that an unhealthy conflict doesn’t ensue work to build these traits.
Managing conflict is being there with:
  1. Availability: Accept full responsibility for your thoughts, feelings, actions, values, and perceptions that you contribute to the conflict.

  2. Flexibility: Offer a willingness to make some degree of change, so that both people can move toward a joint solution. Compromise may be required.

  3. Specificity: Seek to focus the conflict of real, significant issues that point toward a practical outcome that is within the range of responsibility. Don’t get personal.

  4. Clarity: When the message intended and the impact received are nearly the same, communication is achieved. For this to happen, words, tone of voice, facial expression, posture must all be congruent with each other and context with they are said.
Here are some signs of constructive and healthy conflict.
You’ll know you’re on the right track when the following ideas are present.
Conflict is constructive when:
  • It opens up issues of importance, resulting in their clarification.
  • Results in the solution of problems
  • Increases the involvement of individuals in issues of importance to them
  • Causes authentic communication to occur
  • Serves as a release to pent-up negative emotions
  • Helps build cohesiveness among people, and allows them to learn about each other
  • Helps individuals grow and learn to become better in the future
  • We can learn a lot about ourselves and grow as a person when we work through conflict. It can also open up new possibilities and allow us to think differently about our beliefs and expectations.
Developing patience and tact to deal with others more effectively is a skill that can be applied in many areas of life. Continuing developing your ability to connect and influence others in a positive way.

Written on 1/28/2012 by Joe Wilner. Joe Wilner is a coaching and writer who manages www.shakeoffthegrind.com, where he inspires and empowers people to live a full, meaningful, and thriving life. You can also follow him on Twitter at @shakethegrind.Photo Credit: spaceamoeba

Jumat, 27 Januari 2012

0 Google+ and the Post-Web Google

I've noticed an increasing number of ads that no longer send people to the company's sites. Instead, the ads only include a link to the official Facebook page. Sites suddenly look outdated, no longer include the latest information and people stop visiting them.


There are still people that visit those outdated sites and many are coming from search engines like Google. Despite Google's efforts to have a comprehensive index, there's a growing subset of the Web it can't properly index and that's Facebook. Sure, Google indexes a lot of Facebook pages, but that's like trying to find your keys in a dark room. Google needs Facebook's map to index all the pages and find the connections between pages and between users, but Facebook is not willing to license this valuable data to the most important competitor. Google tried to make the web social and failed, so now the only option to stay relevant is to build an alternative to Facebook's walled garden and that's Google+.

+1s are the new links, authors have profiles, companies have social pages and this new universe will try to coexist with the old Web in Google's search results. Google tried to focus on the users and find ways to make the social Web more open, but now it has to focus on itself and do everything it can to stay alive and maybe even save the Web. "Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful," but that's impossible if it can't access, understand and rank that information.

Back in 1996, Larry Page and Sergey Brin used links to determine the importance of a Web page. Now links and pages are no longer that important and the old rule of trying to send people to other sites as quickly as possible is difficult to apply. Showing personalized results requires understanding users better, encouraging them to share more content and create connections. In many ways, Google+ is the anti-Google and that's why it's difficult to understand some of the new features.

0 7 Habits of Highly Excellent People


Are you driven in life? Do you love to excel? I believe all of us do. We are born to be the best we can be and to make the best out of our lives.

When I was in high school, I wasn't exactly the kind of student teachers would like. I was truant, didn't do my homework and did badly on my examinations. I was lazy and unmotivated in school. However, after a while I realized that this wasn't who I wanted to be. This wasn't the life I saw myself leading. People around me were judging and negative, and I had enough of all of that crap. I had enough of being discriminated against and I decided to turn everything around from then on.

So when I entered University, I began to get my act together. For the 3 years I was in Business School, I was on the Dean's List (an honor roll for the top students in the faculty). I eventually graduated as the top student in my specialization of marketing and was awarded with accolades for being the most outstanding student. When I started working, I entered one of the top companies for marketers, a Fortune 100 company, and led my business portfolios to record breaking results in the few years I worked there.

Then 2 years ago, I left my regular job to pursue my true passion in personal development. I started The Personal Excellence Blog where I share my best advice and help others achieve personal excellence and live their best lives. It has quickly established itself as a trusted and coming-to-age personal development blog, having 3-4k readers a day and being featured by prominent media, including CNN.com.

After years of striving for personal excellence, working with top people in their fields and observing top people in their fields, I realized that there are universal habits that enable people to achieve excellence. As Aristotle would put it, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”.

These habits aren't "ingrained", or "genetic"; they are habits that anyone like you and me can cultivate. Just like Stephen Covey's 7 habits will help anyone become highly effective, these 7 habits of highly excellent people will help anyone become excellent. I find that as long as anyone practices these habits, excellence is always a given. And I'm more happy to share with you these habits in this article today. Here they are:
  1. Have the end in mind.
    This is the same habit as Stephen Covey's 1st habit, and with good reason. Everything starts with the end - the goal or the vision you want to fulfill. If you don't know what the end is, then there's no way of getting there, is there? Imagine getting into a cab. What do you first do when you get into the cab? Maybe you say hi to the taxi driver, then what? You tell the driver where you want to go, so that he can take you there. Similarly, you need to know what is the end you want to reach in order to get there.

    Hence, it's critical that you form clear goals of what exactly you want. What do you want? What is the end you envision? What are your personal goals and dreams for yourself? Personally, I have a vision board beside my bed where I have my dreams plastered over it. These dreams include developing The Personal Excellence Blog into one of the top personal development blogs, running my international personal excellence school, speaking to tens and thousands of people in seminars, achieving world peace, finding my soul mate, hitting the best seller's list with my books, and so on. These dreams remind me of what exactly I want and drive me forward every day.

  2. Do what you love.
    When you do something you love, it's like you have unlimited fuel that keeps you going- day after day. The hunger to excel in it is just greater than if you do anything else. Every day, I'm endlessly driven to build and write at my blog, because it's for a cause I believe in. Helping people grow and live their best life is the one thing I know I want to be doing for the rest of my life.

    I have a coaching client who has tried to start 4-5 different ventures before (one at a time), and he was never able to succeed in any of them. Why was this the case? It wasn't that he was stupid, or that he was lazy. Ultimately, the reason was because he wasn't passionate about the things he was pursuing - he was just chasing money. The nature of the business didn't appeal to him emotionally. This is not to say starting businesses because you want to earn money is bad - all I'm saying is it's important that you love what you want to do first and foremost.

    What is it you love to do? If you are not sure what your passion is yet, then what is something you are most eager to try at the moment? If you can choose to do anything, what will it be? Your love and interest are fuels that will drive you towards excellence.

  3. Work harder than anyone else.
    I don't know of anyone who has achieved excellent results who hasn't worked hard for them. A big component of excellence is hard work. Sheer, unadulterated hard work. We can streamline processes, choose effective strategies and steps, but ultimately the hard work will still have to come in. Fortunately, if you are doing what you love (step #2), work wouldn't even be work at all.

    In the past year since I set up The Personal Excellence Blog, I have spent countless hours, including weekends, building up the blog and writing high quality articles for readers out there. All these have paid off in their own way. I'm not saying you should abandon all social life because that defeats the purpose, but you will have to dedicate yourself to making your business a success. This year in 2010, I intend to increase my efforts even more compared to 2009, and I know it's going to pay off.

  4. Make use of every moment.
    Every moment counts. Excellent people know that time is highly valuable. There's this quote by Donald Trump which I read in one of his books, and I absolutely love it. He said that time is more precious than money, because you can earn back money, but you can't get back time. That is absolutely true.

    Hence, I'm always making sure that I'm maximizing every moment. If I'm commuting over a distance, I'll pick up a book or listen to a podcast. If I'm out waiting for a friend, I'll take the chance to do something meaningful for the time being. If there are some pockets of time, I'll take out my laptop and do some work.

    Note that this habit doesn't mean working like a hog, 24x7. That wouldn't be a true application of this habit. Making use of every moment also refers to knowing when to rest and rejuvenate when it's needed, because this will help us walk the longer mile on the path of excellence.

  5. Take action to achieve your results.
    Living a life of excellence means being a proponent of action. Many people often say "The sky is the limit". My personal philosophy is the sky isn't the limit; we are the limit. Whatever we do or don't do will determine how much we can grow or achieve. If we want to grow and achieve great results, we need to take the equivalent actions to reach the results we want.

    For example, many people agree that having press and media feature their business can greatly benefit them, but they believe it only happens when you are prominent enough. While that's usually true, I refuse to let that stop me. I took proactive steps to reach out to the press, writing my own press release and creating a strong story angle so the press would want to feature me. To date, I've been featured in the press for almost 20 times. To read more about how to be featured by the press, you can check out my guest post at Problogger: How To Get Featured By the Press (Repeatedly) Even If Your Blog is New.

  6. Continuously upgrade yourself.
    Learning never stops. There is always something we can do to become better. We may have great skills and knowledge today, but no matter how great they may be, our skills need to be continuously developed. Excellent people are always learning, reading, exposing themselves to new knowledge, new people, new contexts and developing their skills. If you have played role-playing games or RPGs before, you would know that the characters need to be leveled up to get stronger and progress to the next level. Likewise, we need to always be leveling ourselves up to achieve excellence.

  7. Ask for feedback.
    No matter how much we try to improve, we will have blind spots. Blind spots are things about ourselves that we don't know about, and we can't improve on things that we are blind to. Asking for feedback is one of the fastest and most effective ways to improve.

    For everything I do, I make it a point to gather feedback. For example, when I was in my previous job, I would often ask my manager and peers for feedback on how I could improve. With my friends, sometimes I would have a random feedback session with them on how I can do things better. As I run The Personal Excellence Blog, I would invite my readers to send in their feedback, either through comments, emails or private messages. Sometimes the feedback is predictable, sometimes it's not and many times it leads to an epiphany on some level.

  8. Strive for #1 in what you do.
    ... Wait, you didn't think that there would just be 7 habits in achieving excellence, did you?

    There's 1 final habit to become a highly excellent person - that is, to strive for #1 in what you do. No one's going to achieve excellence if they aim for average, or mediocrity. Excellence comes from aiming for the top - being #1. This #1 should be better than whoever is #1 at the moment, because it will spur you on to work even harder. You will only achieve great results when you set high standards for yourself.

    For example, I aim for The Personal Excellence Blog to be the top personal development blog, both in terms of the quality of content and traffic. Whenever I write my articles, I make sure I'm giving the best value that can ever be offered in that topic. Because of this, readers recognize the value of my articles and have spread the word to their friends and family. This has helped the blog to grow quickly and establish itself as a trusted and coming-of-age blog in personal excellence.
Closing
These habits have helped me to achieve excellence in my life, and as long as all of us practice them, we will achieve excellent results. Feel free to share your comments - I'll love to hear what you have to say. If you have any questions, I'll love to answer them where possible too. I don't claim to have the answers, but I'll most certainly offer my perspective and help where I can.

Written on 4/24/2010 by Celestine Chua. Celes writes at The Personal Excellence Blog, where she shares her best advice on achieving personal excellence. Her blog is read by thousands a day and has been featured by CNN, Today, and other prominent media. Get her RSS feed here and add her on Twitter @celestinechua.Photo Credit: Grégoire Lannoy

Kamis, 26 Januari 2012

0 Google+ Now Open for Teens

Google+ changed the age requirements so that any Google Account user can join Google+. In most countries you need to be at least 13 years old to create a Google Account and join Google+, but there are 3 exceptions: Spain, South Korea and Netherlands. Until now, Google+ required to be at least 18 years old to "upgrade" your account.

Google's VP Bradley Horowitz mentioned that there are a few tweaks and new default settings for teens. By default, only the people from teens' circles can trigger notifications and comment on their public posts. If someone outside a teen's circles joins a hangout, Google+ temporarily removes the teen from the hangout and gives him a chance to rejoin.


Teens and young adults are the most active Internet users on the planet. And surprise, surprise: they're also human beings who enjoy spending time with friends and family. Put these two things together and it's clear that teens will increasingly connect online. Unfortunately, online sharing is still second-rate for this age group.

In life, for instance, teens can share the right things with just the right people (like classmates, parents or close ties). Over time, the nuance and richness of selective sharing even promotes authenticity and accountability. Sadly, today's most popular online tools are rigid and brittle by comparison, so teens end up over-sharing with all of their so-called "friends."

With Google+, we want to help teens build meaningful connections online. We also want to provide features that foster safety alongside self-expression. Today we're doing both, for everyone who's old enough for a Google Account.

It's interesting that the updated form for creating a Google Account doesn't automatically create a profile and doesn't add the user to Google+ if he's not at least 18 years old.

{ Thanks, Oskar. }

0 Napbas 2011

Finally I'm blogging about the Napbas like a century after everybody else!

Unfortunately I was a little overwhelmed during the event and didn't take many pictures.

I lied.

I took many pictures with people who wanted pictures with me, just not with my camera. :p

WHAT? It's the ONE time in 2 years where I am like a star at an event ok?! Want to be a bit happy about it cannot ah?!

So back to me saying I didn't take many pictures... Fortunately I have friends who did take a lot of pics so I can steal from their blogs!! Namely Qiuqiu wtf, who is actually a master at photoshop. She edited me so well that I didn't bother to liquify anything about myself from the pictures she edited, plus on top of good aesthetic sense she edits like 200 pictures within a few hours. Every single person in her pics are edited because she is that nice. -_- Well I can just retire now and let the young people take over. I cannot do this photoshop crap anymore, my neck and arm muscles are killing me. QIU YOU JUST WAIT THIS WILL HAPPEN TO YOU WHEN YOU OLD.

The Singaporean bloggers all took 2 coaches up to KL's Marriott hotel where the event was held and we were all invited to stay. It was quite a fun ride but the coach got lost so by the time we arrived it was time for hair and makeup already!


This pic Qiuqiu took (as you can see from the watermark I put *ahem*) as I was in her hotel room (she was bunking with Sophie) putting on false lashes.

Amazingly enough someone put this picture on tumblr... It has over 10,000 notes! o_O I told Mike he is famous now as a dude in the background.

Btw my hair was done by Number 76style, a hair salon in KL opened by Japanese. My hair styling was done by a Japanese girl named Hikkey. She's awesome!

That's all my real hair btw, no extensions.

My sequinned dress is from Topshop at like $280 or something. The back was really loose for me but my Momo did some magic sewing and made it fit like a glove. Mad love for her!! How the hell she can sew sequins, I'd never find out.


Cheesie came into the room to get ready with us and camwhore!


Love this picture ALL of us girls were camwhoring at the same time with our own cameras! This is from Qiu's. Mine turned out blur. -_-


Here's another blur picture I took. FFFFUUU Y U NO BLUR WHEN I UGLY MUST BLUR WHEN I CHIO?!


A picture with His Royal Handsomeness Feat. Bradley Cooper's hair


Hate the lashes I chose for the day!

In 2009's Napbas my makeup was really fug and my hairstyle didn't suit me, because I experimented with new things, namely that pouffy hair and solotica contacts which I wore for the first time.

This year I swore to stick to makeup and hair that I already know works, so I chose a pair of lashes that I tried on at home and liked.

They were droopy as hell on the awards day. ANGRY! Oh well.


Qiu tonging and tonging nonstop while Mike stares out of a window. He stared for a long time. It's a little creepy but I suppose it's better than if he joins in our makeup session or keeps staring at the room full of gorgeous girls (I AM TALKING ABOUT THE REST OF THEM! Not really, me included. LOL).


Cheesie: "Look! Look mommy I took a picture!" 

In the background is Sophie...



And here is Sophie's caption: "I don't know why these girls are fussing so much over their hair and makeup I don't need crap like that I'm Eurasian and naturally gorgeous even when I'm farting and kicking a kitten."

LOL When we were all dressed and ready Sophie was like still in casual clothes! She said getting ready doesn't require much time. ANGMOH HAO LIAN LAH!!


Cheesie photobombing me!


And me photobombing her!! 

This photo of me is so fugly and yet I appreciate that Cheesie even tried to liquify me to look better (see black space around border). LOLOL

And then we adjourned to the ballroom...


Where I take this one shitty blurry picture of a happy Qiu and Soph and Jess in the background before I'm mobbed by hundreds of photo requests. I LOVE YOU ALL!!!!


Think Jess took this for me! With Ming, co-founder of Nuffnang and definitely a 贵人 in my life!



Cheesie and I went to take pictures with our nomination boards! 

Not everyday you get printed on a poster, ok?


I also helped her snap shots of her with the Best Fashion Blog background but this pic of her turned out the chioest so I shall post it even though it's with my Best Lifestyle Blog nomination.





At the table!



With Aud too!



Before we could even settle in, the first award for Best Photography Blog was being given out.

I had a shock because it was sooooooooooooo GRAND.

There was intense music and spotlights and best of all, there were five panels forming the backdrop of the stage which could display different pictures!

As the nominations were read out, the panels showed the pictures of the bloggers and a deep manly voice recited their accolades.

Like this!

It was all just... MAJESTIC. With an epic soundtrack like the Oscars. And there was a red carpet and all!!

And when the first winner was announced, his giant headshot and screenshots of his blog flashed on the panels, larger than life, announcing "WINNER" in big letters.

All I could think of when I saw it was "WOW. THAT WAS AWESOME. I WANT THAT."

Too soon they were announcing for the Best Fashion Blog... I was trembling too coz I was so nervous for Cheesie!!



AND SHE WON!!!

So happy for her!!

Even though Cheesie is not the high-end avant garde fashiony sort like most fashion bloggers are, she is definitely the most hardworking vain person ever and she takes pictures of her clothes like EVERYDAY so she totally deserves this! God know she influenced a lot of the styles I like now, like Liz Lisa etc and taught everyone all sorts of Cheat One tricks like how to tie a hair bow in 1 min. :D


Too soon it was the announcement of the Best Lifestyle Blog, which I was nominated for. I was nerve wrecked even though everyone around me was so confident I would win. In my heart I thought - this is the easy one. If I don't win this there is no way in hell I'd win Influential.

The announcer was talking. I was rehearsing a speech inside for when I go up the stage. Then TA DAH!!

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The winner is Jenni Epperson, from Philippines.

I sat in stunned silence.

My face was on one of the 5 panels as a finalist and it got ERASED to form the words "WINNER" next to Jenni's face and screenshots of her blog.

But that was not what I saw when I looked at the stage. What I saw was this:




And then all around the table my friends were giving me pitying "Aw, are you ok?" looks. It was so embarrassing.

I just faked a smile and soldiered on. Ok I'm kidding. I don't think I bothered to fake a smile, I just was emo and grumpy after that, spending my night thinking unsavoury thoughts about Jenni and hating her.

What? I'm sorry I've never been that sort of person who can be happy for other people when it's at my expense ok?!


And of course Jenni had to be the nicest person ever (pic taken after the awards, she's in the suit) and I felt so guilty. Actually all of the Filipino bloggers are super friendly and nice!!

So anyway as I was saying, I was being emo after that. Everyone kept telling me that I was bound to win for Influential, which wasn't announced yet.

It just made me sadder. They just didn't get it. One of the finalists, the one from Thailand, had 600,000 facebook fans!! I only had 60,000! If I can't win for Lifestyle where the finalists had a few thousand visitors a day to their site daily, how can I POSSIBLY win for Influential!?

Then Cheesie's mom called her and she said "Ma... I won..." with a voice choked with emotion and it made me wanna cry, partly out of being touched for Cheesie and partly because I thought of my own mom, anxiously waiting at home for the results. She already asked me TWICE if I won, and now I have to tell her I lost both awards.

And then I tweeted that I lost Lifestyle...

I expected gloaters but no, all I got were really sweet blog readers who told me they think I'm the best no matter what, they'd always vote for me, and whether I win or not doesn't matter because to them, I already won.

HOW TO NOT EMO YOU TELL ME?!?!

Before I knew it they were announcing the dreaded Most Influential Blog and I didn't even fucking prepare a speech but the most unimaginable thing happened:

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I WON.


I was just... WTF man... Couldn't believe it!!

(Also thanks to Aud whom I can see is sincerely happy for me lol)

And when I came down back to my seat... I thought of how awesome my blog readers are...

People always say I have hordes of sheep supporting me, but they are not, each of them are warm-blooded individuals with minds of their own... who believed in me and thought I deserved to win. They all made an effort for me; took time out of their day for me. And I'm so horrible (see unsavoury thoughts towards Jenni), I totally don't deserve this trophy at all...

And there my friends were, congratulating me, hugging me, being happy for me. My husband was beaming at me with pride. My life is so fucking smashing awesome and yet I was whining over losing a trophy and didn't see it.

Next thing I knew I was full out sobbing.




Which made Cheesie and Qiuqiu cry as well lol


Mike kept taking my crying pictures...


Now Cheesie can be happy about her award without considering my feelings! LOL



And before I even had the chance to compose myself, I heard the other co-founder of Nuffnang, Tim, on stage talking about Region's Best Blog and how carefully Nuffnang selected the winner based on points and votes.

I honestly wasn't even paying attention to him because for some reason I thought someone at Nuffnang told me that this award cannot be given to the same person twice and so I thought I was ineligible to win!

Just like everyone else in the ballroom I was excited to see who the winner would be this year.



AND WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS..............?


IT IS ME.






Here I am, giving my speech on stage while actually crying. I think I gave quite a nice speech but alas nobody recorded it -_-


As you can tell Tim was very bemused by the tears and kept asking me why I was crying. I can't even explain!! I was just so overwhelmed with overlapping emotions!!

Happiness, gratitude, surprise, anxiety, guilt from feeling unworthy etc. It's too much!!

I'm the Region's Best Blog among Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, China, Hongkong and Australia! HOW?!


Double winner!! 

Surprisingly enough after I won the awards (and an Olympus camera PLUS and iPhone 4S from Celcom!!) I remembered that out of the jumble of thoughts I had, the one that kept hitting me was being worried everyone's gonna fucking hate me like mad because I won 3 awards in 2009 and swept away another 2 in 2011.

This came true shortly with the Aussie parenting bloggers. But as people all told me... Fuck them! I'm the one with the awards. ;)

A HUGE HUGE THANK YOU to Nuffnang for making my life so smashing.

I know I've said this so many times but where would we bloggers without you guys? I'd possibly be doing some admin job or would be in a miserable studio somewhere photoshopping people's wedding pictures for them.

And yet here I am, earning a living doing exactly what I love to do.

Thank you for bringing respect to bloggers, thank you for building the community where I made so many awesome friends, thank you for the last 4 years of love and care, and lastly, thank you for giving us bloggers NAPBAS, one special night just for us to feel important and special.

And of course, loads and loads of hugs and kisses for every one of you who voted for me.

THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU!!!

Just look at the damn crying picture ok? That's me appreciating it loads!!!!!

You guys are the best and I'm planning a way to repay you all. I'd let you know when it comes to fruition!
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