Sabtu, 31 Maret 2012

0 Google April Fools' Day 2012

April Fools' Day is now associated with Google and the countless pranks which show that Google hasn't lost its cheerfulness.

The first hoax for this year comes from Google Japan: you can now try the 8-bit version of Google Maps. Just click the "quest" button in the regular Google Maps interface.

"Our engineering team in Japan understood the importance of maps on retro game systems. With the power of Google's immense data centers, and support from Nintendo and Square Enix, we were able to overcome the technical and design hurdles of developing 8-bit maps. Today, we're excited to announce the result: a version of Google Maps for NES, with beautiful low-res graphics, simple and intuitive controls, and a timeless soundtrack," explains Google.




The 8-bit Google Maps hides some monsters from the Dragon Quest series.


Google Japan also came up with a simplified IME for Japanese (Google Translate) that only uses a single key: space.


Google China changed the search results page for [Qingming], but you'll only see the beautiful animated wallpaper if you use Chrome. "The Qingming Festival (...) is a traditional Chinese festival on the 104th day after the winter solstice (or the 15th day from the Spring Equinox), usually occurring around April 5 of the Gregorian calendar" (from Wikipedia).

"Use the Chrome browser, Google's search box, enter "Qingming", the results page is the past is not the same? Greeted by swaying willow branches, a symbol of spring in the air. "Green little Liulv the Yula have Qingming, the page will float to the surface ripples from time to time, and click a fish tail out of the water continued to click, but also do not like surprises! The bottom of the page are two cowboy, riding a piper playing in the back of a bull, quiet and lightly." (machine translation - Google China Blog)


Don't miss the underwater image search experience developed by Google China. It's so much fun to type your query.


Google Australia found a way to capture more Street View images for Australia: Google Street Roo. "Over the next four weeks, more than a thousand Big Red kangaroos will be equipped with a 360-degree head camera that will automatically capture images when the marsupial is on the move during daylight hours. The cameras on our Street Roo collection team will be powered by solar panels stitched into the back pocket of custom-made roo jackets. Images will be wired to Google in real-time. A GPS tracker embedded into the jacket will match the location of the kangaroo to ensure the image is accurately uploaded onto the new Street View layer."


Inspired by the Japanese IME and the Morse Code, Gmail's team introduces a new way to type on a mobile device. "Gmail Tap takes the keyboard from 26 keys to just two. Every letter of the alphabet is represented by a simple pattern of dots and dashes, and once you know them you can type without even looking at your screen. This makes it ideal for situations where you need to discreetly send emails, such as when you're on a date or in a meeting with your boss."


AdWords brings a new ad extension: click-to-teleport. "While features like call extensions and location extensions have aimed at solving the online to store marketing objective for multichannel advertisers, Click-to-Teleport shortens the offline conversion funnel by allowing a user to teleport directly to your business location by clicking on your search ad."


If you've already optimized your sites for mobile phones, you can now optimize them for rotary phones.


YouTube offers a way to enjoy your favorite videos even when you don't have an internet connection. The YouTube Collection lets you watch any YouTube video on DVD and you can still share your feedback.


Just click the "home" button from the YouTube player to watch a demo.


Chrome's engineers found a new way to multitask. "We call it Multitask Mode. Multitask Mode lets you have access to multiple mice at the same time, so you can make a chess move while you watch a dance move, or draw a horse while you draw on a friend for relationship advice. Chrome can handle as many mice, touchpads, styli, joysticks, trackballs, and other pointing devices as you can plug into your computer, so you and your friends can browse dozens of sites at the same time."


Jargon-Bot for Google Apps translates business jargon into plain English. " Jargon-Bot has been integrated across the entire suite of Google Apps so that next time you are on an IM chat with your manager, it will help you recognize and say no to unrealistic expectations. When you receive an e-mail from your supplier, Jargon-Bot won’t let you get ripped off by demystifying the fine print," explains Google.


Make sure you try the interesting new options from Google's search sidebar that let you find pages from the past: "Jurassic Era", "Victorian Era", "Enlightenment", "Once Upon a Time" and even tomorrow's pages.


Image Search lets you find images from "the Gilded age".


Here are the queries used by Google:

* Hadean Era: just us rocks, move along
* Jurassic Era: It's a UNIX system, I know this!
* Cretaceous Era: "dinosaur repellent" OR "time machine repair"
* New Kingdom Era: tetrahedral real estate listings
* Once Upon A Time: Poisoned Apple Antidotes
* Enlightenment: ego quaerere ergo ego sum
* Victorian Era: this query served from Google's Difference Engine cluster
* Past 5.391e-44 seconds [Planck time]: a photon passes, no new celebrity news, must refresh faster
* Tomorrow: todo: create tachyon web crawler

For even more search options, try Google Really Advanced Search. You can find pages with words "almost, but not quite entirely unlike" a word you enter, "this exact word or phrase, whose sum of unicode code points is a mersenne prime". You can narrow the results by font, textured background, "embarrassing grammatical faux pas" or "looping midi music".


Google's weather OneBox is now more powerful and it lets you change the weather. "Don't like the weather? Now you can change it in your region by selecting from the dropdown to change precipitation and setting your own temperature. Please notice, after submitting it takes approximately 45 minutes until your weather changes take effect," informs Google.


There's also a new Cloud API for the App Engine which lets you "gain cloud coverage in locations around the globe within minutes".

Google Analytics promise to add support for interplanetary reports, just in case your site has visitors from another planet. "While currently you only get a partial picture of website visitor location, we want to expand beyond Earth to help you understand visitor activities from neighboring stars and planets. You’ll also be able to drill down on each planet to see greater detail. For example, which colony or outpost your visitors came from similar to the city drill down available for Earth today."


Self-driving cars are becoming a reality, but happens if you bring self-driving cars to NASCAR? "Our autonomous cars have now been test-driven (or rather, test-ridden) for more than 200,000 miles without a single machine-caused mishap. And today we're moving the project one great leap forward with Google Racing, a groundbreaking partnership with NASCAR to help self-driving vehicles compete in the world of stock car racing."


Google is bringing an ultra high-speed fiber network to Kansas City, but also releasing a Fiber Bar. "Google Fiber starts with 100 times more fiber than any source of fiber available today. Tested in labs across our Mountain View campus, we found that in just the right synthesis, psyllium and vitamins C and D morph into a byproduct we have coded as Fiberlicious. This smarter fiber delivers just what the body needs to sustain activity, energy and productivity up to 100 times more than you have experienced before."


{ Thanks, everyone. }

Kamis, 29 Maret 2012

0 Qrop it!

Advertorial

Look at this Vivi magazine I just bought!! I'm gonna be blogging today about one of the things on it, can you tell what?


 Pardon the ringlight overexposure...

Ok I'm sure most of you cannot read Japanese so can stop guessing now...

It's about the QR CODE!!


Here it is!!

I'm sure many of you have seen these complicated square pixelly bits and wondered what it is. Now you know it's called QR code, and it is especially popular in Japan!!

A QR code is simply like a bar code that you can scan with your phone and it will lead you to a website on your phone!! Don't try to scan this one, it's too blur wtf... Stupid camera.

Anyway, most of us are using smartphones nowadays. So QR codes are a superb idea to very quickly get more information on a brand, person, etc... when you are on the go!!

For example right... Let's just say I have a very complicated URL like 2737fhfc2847.blogspot.com.

You are reading this article halfway and you are late so you need to leave the house but you want to continue reading this on the phone and yet you don't want to write down my URL.

Lucky for you my website has a QR code!!

And here it is:


You whip out your phone... Scan this code, and totally fuss free and easy - you can continue right where you left off.

GOOD RIGHT??

Now we come to the HOW.


I keep saying "scan", but HOW to scan?

Introducing:


Qropit is a free app that's available on both iPhone and Android. Simply search for Qropit on the app store and you can download it... For free!!

Why should you get Qropit?

1) Why not? Free leh!!

2) Get with the times! Qr codes are everywhere now, so you need a QR code scanner anyway - Qropit is super cute and easy to use!! See how I do it!!



Ok I see this ad in the magazine and I really want to get that, erm... bra.

So I Qropit!!



Very simple... click on the app and immediately get scanning!!

I might add that scanning is super easy and fast and fun!! Like how people in supermarkets scan their produce lol. And Qropit even lets you customise a sound when successfully scanned! DING DING DING!!

(OK I know this is not the same page as the bra ad but it's just an example -_-)


This is how scanning looks like on the phone!

And tadah, once scanned, this loads:




A website of gibbery words I cannot understand but I guess it gave me info on where to get that bra? LOL


3) Not only does Qropit allow you to scan codes... You can also CREATE codes, called Qrops, which is just smashing!!

I already put my blog's QR code above, but weblinks are not the only things you can create!!

Just log on to Qropit's website and hit on CREATE A QROP.


And you will see this super cute image... Inviting you to create any of the above Qrops!!

It can be a photo, a video, anything you wish to share!!

The ones I found extra interesting are Coupon and Contact Card!!

For businesses you can now run a print ad, for example, on the MRT. Invite people to scan your code to be entitled to a discount, and when they are at the shop, they can show their coupon to redeem!!

For the rest of us, we sometimes need to give out namecards but namecards are so small! You simply can't put enough information on there, so why not put a Qrop on the namecard?

Or on the About me/Contact me page of your website?



Creating my contact card!!


And tadah! When scanned this is what pops up when viewed on a computer:



Awesome or what? With all my links etc and with a photo too! :D

And best of all? On the phone?






*BIG SHINY EYES*

It automatically asks if you want to store the Qrop as a CONTACT!!

Now you don't need to type everything in manually... It's just one click and everything is saved in the phone!! Super convenient wtf!! ♥♥♥ love it!!


4) Qropit has a Radar feature!!



You can view who scanned what nearby! So cool right? Don't worry, others cannot see what you scanned unless you linked it to your facebook and twitter specifically for sharing with others. The radar shows only scans but not tagged with their users' identity. :)

And you can see the "History" bit there? All your past scans are stored, so you can look at them again later if you want.


5) Qropit also provides analytics for Qrop owners.

You can track how much traffic you got from your Qrop.

You can see the gender of those who viewed your Qrops, their age, their countries, and even their types of phones. So cool!! And all this service is FREE!!



6) I don't think you need any more incentive to get Qropit but here is one more:

I did up a slideshow of a preview of the pictures I edited for my third Otaru blog entry with Cheesie!!!

You can also view a collection of my past Draw Something drawings!! Some are quite awesome if I saw so myself lol

You can only see it by scanning these codes...

SO QROPIT:



SCAN THE CODES TO VIEW ALL THE PICTURES!!



7) Ok the last incentive is the freaking best........

YOU CAN WIN AN IPAD 3!!!!!!!


Bitch please I didn't even know it came out already!!!

One 16gb iPad 3 will be given to a lucky reader who downloads, scans, and shares a QR code with Qropit by April 21st!!

Easiest peasiest contest EVER wtf. Remember to link your Qropit to your facebook or twitter! Only applicable for Singaporeans.


What are you waiting for??!!


Need a code to scan and share? How about this blog entry? :D










*************************************

Took part in the Scholl contest?

Winners for the Scholl compression stockings have been selected.

The winners are: Xue Ying, Feline Yo, Princess Shiyu, Grace Vencio and Char Siu Bao.

Do remember to check out your Facebook inbox and reply to the Scholl mail today!

Rabu, 28 Maret 2012

0 Google Account Stats

Google added an interesting feature that shows stats for services like Google Latitude, Gmail, Google Search and more. If you go to the Account Activity page, you can opt in for a monthly report that provides a "summary of your account activity across many Google products".

It's like a personal Google Analytics, but it's less detailed and it focuses on security features. For example, Google shows a list of locations and browsers detected when you've signed in. If you never use Opera, but the browser is included in Google's list, then it's likely that someone else found your password. The activity page also includes the number of emails you've sent and received, the number of Google searches and stats from Google Latitude, Picasa Web and YouTube.


I've enabled this feature and Google says that my "next report will be ready in a few days" and I'll receive an email notification when it's ready. It would be nice to aggregate the data in real time and integrate Account Activity with Google Dashboard, which already shows some stats.

{ via Google Blog }

Selasa, 27 Maret 2012

0 Google Experiments With a Collapsible Search Sidebar

Google tests a new search interface that hides the options from the sidebar by default. You need to click a small arrow icon to see the list of specialized search engines and some advanced search options that let you filter results.

Essentially, this experiment hides the sidebar's content, but the sidebar still takes up space. Back in 2009, the sidebar was hidden by default and Google made it more visible one year later.

Now that the navigation bar no longer includes many specialized search engines, it doesn't make sense to hide the sidebar. Another issue is that the sidebar highlights advanced options that are relevant to your query, but few people will find them if the sidebar is collapsed by default.


{ via Websonic. Thanks, Akos. }

0 Google Play, Added to the Navigation Bar

There's a new service in Google's navigation bar: Google Play. The link replaces Google Music and it's prominently placed next to popular services like Google Maps and YouTube. For now, the link takes you to the Google Play homepage and your query is ignored.

It's interesting to notice that Google's navigation bar changed its purpose from showcasing popular services to promoting new services. Ever since it was launched, Google+ became the first service from the navigation bar, even if Google Search was the most popular service. Then Google added links to services like Google Offers, Google Wallet and a page that lists Google's mobile apps.

Google Play is more than a new name for Android Market, it's Google's attempt to sell digital content across different platforms: from apps to music, from books to movies, from magazine subscriptions to TV shows and more. It makes sense to integrate Google Play with Google Search and maybe include the top results in an OneBox, assuming that they're relevant.

{ Thanks, Joshua, Kartik, Thomas, Marian, Shimmy, Matan and TechDows. }

Minggu, 25 Maret 2012

0 Caves of New York

[Image: "Caves for New York" (1942) by Hugh Ferriss].

After writing the previous post—about Hong Kong's impending infrastructural self-burial in the form of artificial caves beneath the island city—I remembered an image by Hugh Ferriss, preeminent architectural illustrator of the early 20th century, exploring huge air-raid shelters for New York City carved out of the rock cliffs of New Jersey.

"These shelters were to be 30 meters high and 60 meters wide and cut into the cliffs of the Hudson Palisades along the New Jersey side, and were to house planes, factories and hundreds of thousands of people," Jean-Louis Cohen recounts in the recent book Architecture in Uniform: Designing and Building for the Second World War.

[Image: The New Jersey Palisades, via Wikipedia].

While this, of course, never happened, it's a heady thing to contemplate: an alternative New York City burrowed deep into the geologic mass of New Jersey, a delirium of excavation heading west, away from these islands at risk from wartime annihilation, in a volumetric Manhattanization of empty bedrock.

Sabtu, 24 Maret 2012

0 Askers vs Guessers - And a preview of Andara!

I'm on a roll with the wordy posts!! To balance it out I posted a photo of a group of girls in bikinis below.

When you ask people what sort of people they don't like, usually the same crappy answers come out: Hypocrites and backstabbers. Sometimes people say cheaters or liars etc.

Sure, I don't like those too... But what frustrates me the most, are when people are buay paiseh. 

If you are not Chinese or Singaporean, you may not be familiar to that word. It is commonly used to insult someone here in Singapore, and another variation of that phrase is 不自動. Buay paiseh means "UNABASHED" in english.

Rarely ever is "unabashed" used as an insult or lament about someone's character in English speaking countries. We don't hear people in movies or storybooks saying "I don't like her because she is unabashed".

Why? That's because we are all split into Askers and Guessers. Asians are often complaining about angmohs visiting their countries being "rude". That's because they have an Ask culture vs our Guess culture.

What does that mean? I came across this article some time ago discussing Askers and Guessers.

Let's determine which one you are.

Someone you are not very close to sends you an email, asking if he can stay at your place (let's assume you do have room) for a week... nay, let's make it worse, month-long vacation. You don't even like him.

Do you think this person is being rude?

If you think so, you are likely a Guesser.

Being an Asker means that you are brought up to believe you can ask for just about anything, and you expect people to say no if they want to. Simple.

Being a Guesser is a bit more complicated. Guessers don't like to be put in a situation where they have to reject someone. They resent having explain why the hell not when he feels you should have anticipated the answer and just not asked. Guessers feel it's impolite to say no, and might even agree to a request they don't really want to agree to just out of shock.

It seems that life is a little harder for the Guessers because afterall people all view things differently... how can you possibly anticipate someone's answer to everything? We should all be Askers, things would be so much simpler!

But alas, things aren't as black and white as that.

Afterall, if you are a man and you want to have sex with a lady on the street, you don't just go up to get and ask to see her vagina. Or if she rejects you, ask "How much?". She can say no, but you just made her very pissed off.

You'd think someone with my straightforward character is definitely an Asker, but I am Chinese and despite using vulgarities all the time I was brought up by a traditionally Chinese mom who is always preaching to me about manners. Never take the drumstick off the roast chicken (Asians usually value dark meat on chicken) on the table, offer it to the elders first. Never borrow money. Always offer to pay for everything.

Don't be mistaken. I am not a Guesser through and through. You don't have to be one or the other. In fact, I'm probably more of an Asker than most Singaporeans. The delicate art is not about whether or not you ask, it is HOW you ask.

This culture of anticipating someone's reaction to whatever it is you are doing extends OUTSIDE of just requests.

Sometimes, it is your actions that cause discomfort to others and you don't even have to open your mouth. Us Guessers don't know why we get so frustrated with the more aggressive Askers and we label them as "rude". No, the more concise term is "unabashed". Or as we Singaporeans like to say... NOT SHY!!

I'm gonna expound on the topic by ranting about one of my greatest pet peeves:

I HATE PEOPLE WHO ALWAYS DON'T HAVE CASH ON HAND.

I am not talking about poor people, but those who always choose to withdraw very little money out of the ATM, like $20 at a time, despite having money.

This is a very broad stroke because it's very normal for us to run out of money sometimes. I do too. The key word is ALWAYS, and also this is very important - how you handle the situation when you run out of cash on hand.

I'm sure all of you, like me, have friends who are always low on cash. So whenever there is a group dinner at a restaurant that doesn't take credit cards and they don't have enough cash to pay, you help them pay first. Or in shared cab rides, you have to fork out more. Or you invite them over for a game of poker/mahjong. They lose, no cash. Owe you first.

I find these people super irritating.

As a general rule, people who feel embarrassed about borrowing money will always try to get rid of that ashamed feeling by returning it fast. AND these people usually have cash, to prevent such a situation from happening in the first place, so it stands that that people who always don't have cash, usually will not bother to return money efficiently, or at all.

I am a very forgetful person. I don't remember it when people owe me money, and often I don't remember to remind them. But when I do actually remember, I RESENT having to open my mouth and ask for the money. It's embarrassing. And when I remind and the person STILL doesn't pay me back, I hate having to ask again. And worse of all, sometimes the amount is small, like $10 or $20. It would seem like I'm such an asshole to go ask for it back.

But it isn't about the money. It's about the person's incorrect thinking. It is not polite to borrow money from people, furthermore with such a cavalier attitude to it. I don't care that much about the $10, I care that you put me in this situation of discomfort and thus, I don't feel like giving that $10 to you.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a stingy, miserly person. If this occurs not infrequently, it's totally ok for me to fork out a bit more for my friend. But if out of 10 situations 8 times the person has no cash to pay for it, I'd start to be frustrated. 

If they don't have money to participate in whatever activity be it dinners or gambling, they shouldn't! How can they expect people to pay for them first, always?

If they have the money and they know they are going to be needing cash, isn't it just polite of them to go withdraw some before the activity starts? 

And after borrowing, sometimes I see them walk pass an ATM machine with me and I'm thinking "WTF? Why isn't he withdrawing to pay me back?? THE DINNER FREE AH?". I get it that sometimes people forget. But it's about not making it happen so often that slowly, people KNOW they always have to pay for you and would rather not meet you anymore.

There, that's the problem with Askers.

They think, "If you don't want to lend me money why don't you just say no? When I walk past that ATM and didn't notice it why didn't you just ask me to withdraw money for you? You needed the money back urgently meh?"

How do you say "no" to someone borrowing $10? It is extremely confrontational and making things awkward, and I get irritated that I am put in that situation where I have to reject you. I am doing you a favour by helping you pay, why do you have to make things difficult for me? Doesn't seem fair there.

And we come to the part where I am the most fucking pissed about. When asked about why they always don't have cash, these people always reply "Because when I have no cash I spend less."

Or some other variety of bullshit such as "I am trying to save money" or "I think using card I can have accounts of where my money went".

It makes me sooooooooooo fucking angry. You think the rest of us don't want to also spend less? Or that we don't wanna save money and have accounts of our spendings clearcut to us?

Yeah you successfully save money... Because people are fucking paying your shit for you! What bullshit about spending less when you don't have cash... You spent it didn't you? Just without your own money!! If you truly think that with less cash you'd spend less, then you shouldn't have participated in that activity that cost you money! Go dinner with the group but don't order anything or order within the money you DO have!

Irritating!!

In general I think working adults should always withdraw at least $200. When it goes low to about $50, it's time to withdraw again.

(I'd like to give a special mention to Kaykay who always have a lot of cash with her. I've known KK for like 6 years or something now... She never ONCE borrowed cash from me. I find that super commendable!)

Someone on formspring asked me for a specific example of buay paiseh behaviour. Some are more obvious, some are not so obvious. Here's a subtle one, but buay paiseh nonetheless.

3 guests were in my house playing mahjong. Including me, that would be 4 people. I bought 10 chicken wings that day and offered some to them.

I asked everyone how many they wanted out of my 10 wings, and a girl, the first person who answered, said "3".

If you do a bit of math, divided equally among 4 people, each person can only take 2.5 chicken wings. And then I think that it is normal politeness to leave more food for the host or her family (in this case I mean Mike), especially since I haven't told her how many I want for myself. I found it rude of her to ask for 3 wings from me. If the other 2 people were as unabashed as her, I'd be left with 1 wing for myself and I'd be fucking pissed off. Luckily, they weren't.

Let me make it clear. Eating 3 out of 10 wings isn't that bad. But first she could have said 1, or 2. After everyone is done with their eating and there were still leftovers, she could ask if she could have one more. I'd have been fine with that. But asking for 3 before she even knew how many I wanted to eat was rude.

Maybe Askers are thinking that I'm way too calculative and sensitive. If I didn't wanna give her 3 I could have just said so. But I wasn't close to her and saying so would have made the rest of the night awkward. Or perhaps I was baiting her by asking her how many she wanted out of 10 when the only answers I accepted was 1 or 2. I should have just said "Would you like 1 or 2 wings?". I would next time, but I just honestly didn't anticipate she would be so thickskinned!

Anyway, just now I was saying, it's not about what you ask, it's about HOW you ask.

Sometimes I want something and I just ask for it. You can be an unabashed Asker and still not make people angry... The key is to acknowledge you are being rude, and give the person the option to say no within the request.

For example the month-long stayover I mentioned at the start. Here's how I would have phrased it:

"Hi XXX... How are you doing? I'm going to your country this Wednesday and I have a request. If you have room for me and it's convenient for you, could I stay at your place for a duration of a month? I understand this is a demanding request but hotels are really expensive. I will of course try my best to not get in your hair and I am willing to pay you back for any expenses I incurred and a fee for your trouble. If this isn't convenient for you in any way, please feel free to tell me no. I have an aunt's place I can go to alternatively but she's rather naggy. :X Either way, I'd love to meet up with you for drinks when I come! :)"

Although asking to stay at someone's house for a whole month is still pretty unabashed, but offering to pay and telling them to feel guilt-free about a rejection at least makes it known to the person that you KNOW you are being rude, which makes them not so angry about your stupid request. 

The last sentence was added so it doesn't seem like you don't care about the person outside of him doing you favours.

Another method for Asking is to just go the complete opposite direction. I like to do this with my very close friends by just saying "I want xxx!" like a petulant child. Most of the time they just give in to me (because my friends are easy-going people wtf) but when they don't want to, it's very easy for them to say "GO AND DIE LAH" or "You can fight me for it bitch", which removes the awkwardness of a rejection.

Ok this concludes my blog entry about Askers and Guessers. Just as a matter of interest, how much do you guys withdraw out of the ATM each time? I judge people who say $20. (Unless you are a broke student and $20 is all you have, duh.)


**************************


Here's a preview of my awesome holiday at Andara Resort in Phuket!!

I already went there once before, so lucky to go again. :D

Had such a super fun time there with Mike and 10 of my friends: Shuyin and her sister Binbin, Qiu, Sophie, Alaric, Huiwen, Cheesie, Eekean, Gillian and Bryan!


AWESOME MUCH? Private beach section belonging to Andara... Loads of double beds on the sand, with lounge chairs, cold drinks served to guests... and best of all... THE BEACH HAD WIFI!!

And see there? The couple in the middle of the picture. The angmoh lady was topless! LOL


Put full makeup to the beach because I knew the other girls were gonna camwhore and I wanted to as well!! Cheesie and I look looking real Vivi or what? :D


Pool villa... Can you believe this 2 storeyed place is actually a villa?? It's so freaking humongous with 4 bedrooms!! 


Some of us girls lounging in the shallow bits of the infinity pool with a glorious sunset behind us. People were barbecuing food for us while we chat and chill!! Life CANNOT get better than this.


JELLY RIGHT? Don't be!!

Andara is now running a STAY MORE, SAVE MORE promotion from March - October 2012. This means you can get 20%-30% discount!!

Andara is really the most luxurious, romantic and beautiful resort I've stayed in before!! I feel so pampered!! It's really perfect for a honeymoon or even for a wedding. The pool villa is huge enough for an actual wedding reception wtf!! Or if you want to go with a big group of friends or family, it's also great coz there are a few bedrooms in one villa.

If you are referred from our blogs you even get a $50usd spa credit. :D

Find out more about their promotion HERE.

I am gonna be posting like a zillion other pictures from the holiday once I finish editing them. :)

0 Burying Bits of the City: Hong Kong Underground

Several months ago we looked at a network of artificial caves being built beneath Singapore that will, upon completion, extend the city's energy infrastructure under the Pacific seabed; and, back in 2010, we took a very brief look at huge excavations underneath Chicago, courtesy of a feature article in Tunnel Business Magazine.

Now, according to the South China Morning Post, civil engineers in Hong Kong are exploring the possibility of developing large-scale underground spaces—artificial caves—for incorporation into the city's existing infrastructure. In the full text of the article, available online courtesy of Karst Worlds, we read that the Hong Kong government "is moving towards burying bits of the city—the unsightly ones—in underground caverns, freeing up more land for housing and economic development."

[Image: From the Enhanced Use of Underground Space in Hong Kong].

This is part of a larger undertaking called the Enhanced Use of Underground Space in Hong Kong initiative, a study, backed by Arup, that "would give the government a basis for policy guidelines to encourage cavern developments for both public and private sectors." Private-sector caverns beneath the city!

[Image: From the Enhanced Use of Underground Space in Hong Kong; view bigger].

Specifically, city engineers "will begin by identifying suitable rock caverns to house 400 government facilities that can be relocated, notably the not-in-my-backyard utilities disliked by nearby residents." These include "sewage treatment plants, fuel storage depots, refuse transfer stations and columbariums." The University of Hong Kong, for instance, recently "hid a saltwater reservoir in an artificial cavern next to its Centenary Campus, in a project that cost HK$500 million"; these are referred to as "water caverns."

Inspired by the fact that "caverns have been used as wine cellars, data centres and car parks in Finland and other countries," Hong Kong's Secretary of Development, Carrie Lam, has "called Hong Kong’s rock formations a 'unique geological asset' and urged the city to take caverns into consideration."

[Image: From the Guide to Cavern Engineering].

The awesome scale of some of the proposed excavations can be seen in this animation, where, at roughly the one-minute mark, we dive underground and begin to fly through linked 3D models of future freshwater reservoirs. A related PDF outlines a new landscape category—the Strategic Cavern Area—wherein "a strategic area is defined as being greater than 20 hectares in area and having the ability to accommodate multiple cavern sites." (The idea that your neighborhood might be declared a Strategic Cavern Area, and thus cleared of its building stock, brings to mind a student project featured on BLDGBLOG last month, the "Lower East Side Quarry" by Rebecca Fode).

[Images: From the Guide to Cavern Engineering].

Sadly, we missed an opportunity to participate in a Hong Kong-based cave-design contest—its deadline was September 2011—called the "Rock Caverns—Unlimited Creativity" competition: "Competition entrants are required, with their unlimited creativity, to propose ideas related to the potential usage of underground space in Hong Kong." A detailed design guide, called the Geoguide or Guide to Cavern Engineering, was published, and it remains available in full online.

This booklet is nothing less than a builder's guide to artificial caves. As Chapter 4 helpfully explains, for instance, "In common with other complex constructions, the design of a large underground space is an iterative process where a series of factors influence the final result," with prospective cave-designers required to use "numerous iterative loops" to create "a cost-effective cavern installation." The rest of that chapter goes on to explore cavern cross-sections, layout, shape, rock bolts and pattern bolting, and even intra-cave pillars, all of which should find their way into an architecture school design studio somewhere soon.

[Image: From the Guide to Cavern Engineering].

In any case, while I feel compelled to point out the obvious—that a high-tech labyrinth of artificial caves dug beneath the rocky hills of an over-urbanized tropical archipelago is an incredible setting for future films, novels, and computer games—I should also mention, more prosaically, that Hong Kong's impending subterranean expansion will doubtless offer many lessons relevant to cities elsewhere, as public-private underground partnerships increase in both number and frequency, with space-starved global mega-cities turning to partial self-burial as a volumetric infrastructural solution to the lack of available surface area.

0 15 Simple Changes That Will Quickly Improve Your Health


Did you start January full of health resolutions, determined that this would be the year that you ate better, lost weight and exercised regularly?

If you’re back to your usual habits – skipping breakfast, grabbing chocolate to get you through that afternoon slump, neglecting your fruit and veggie intake and chugging down mug after mug of coffee – don’t feel guilty about it. Your problem isn’t that you lack willpower – it’s that you tried to change too much at once.

Instead, try making some of these very easy changes to your eating, drinking and exercising habits. Once you’ve got used to a few of them, add in more. You’ll be making huge strides towards your health goals, with hardly any conscious effort. Sound good? Read on...

Easy Changes to Your Eating Habits
  1. Eat a piece of fruit before lunch
    Get into the habit of eating an apple, banana, pear or other piece of fruit before lunch each day. It’ll take the edge off your appetite – making you less likely to dig into greasy fast food or bag or crackers. You’ll also be one step closer to hitting your five-a-day.

  2. Don’t use vending machines
    Let’s face it, have you ever bought anything healthy from a vending machine? They’re overpriced and full of sugar-and-salt packed stuff that your body doesn’t need. Plus, they’re open all hours (unlike your corner shop) and they won’t look at you funny if you buy ten candy bars at a time. Make a pact with yourself not to buy anything except bottled water from vending machines.

  3. Go vegetarian one night a week
    Most nutritionists agree that we eat more meat than we need to. Have a meat-free dinner once a week – it’s a great opportunity to try out some new recipes that are packed with vegetables and flavours. You’ll also save yourself some money.

  4. Switch to wholegrain bread
    If your lunchtime sandwich or sub is always on white, switch to wholegrain. The extra goodness in the grains (including lots of fiber, B vitamins, vitamin E, and various minerals) helps keep your heart healthy and cut your risk of cancer. Plus, fiber-rich foods make you feel you full for a longer period of time – very helpful if you’re trying to lose weight.

  5. Switch to skim milk (1% or less fat)
    Do you drink whole milk or put it on cereal? If so, switch to skim (less than 0.5% fat) or 1% milk. It might seem odd for the first few days, but stick with it for a week or so: your taste buds will quickly adjust. You’ll be getting just as much calcium and protein as before, but cutting fat.
Easy Changes To Your Drinking Habits
  1. Keep a bottle of water on your desk
    Many people mistake slight thirst for hunger, leading to unnecessary snacking. Keep a bottle on your desk and drink it whenever you get a little mouth crazing. Getting sufficient water also helps prevent you from becoming constipated. Note: Save money by using a refillable thermos or water bottle instead of purchasing bottled water.

  2. Switch half your cups of coffee to herbal tea
    How many coffees (or regular mugs of tea) do you drink in an average day? Try having just half of your usual amount – and make the rest a herbal, caffeine free tea. Many government health authorities recommend that we limit caffeine intake to 400mg per day, which is the equivalent of four cups of brewed coffee, or seven cups of instant.

  3. Avoid milky drinks from coffee outlets
    Do you have a giant latte every morning? You could be clocking up over 300 calories in just one drink, and chances are, it doesn’t fill you up at all. And don’t assume that being caffeine-free means you can get away with this: a hot chocolate with whipped cream has over 400 calories...

  4. Have four alcohol-free days per week
    If you go out drinking every day after work, or split a nightly bottle of wine with your partner over dinner, your habits are putting your liver under pressure. They could also be stopping you from losing weight: alcohol makes you peckish, and contains calories (around 200 calories in a bottle of beer or a medium-sized glass of wine).

  5. Swap soda for water
    Are you addicted to soda? Even diet sodas aren’t great for you – they generally contain a lot of additives. Try swapping some of your sodas for plain water (add a slice of lemon, or a dash of cordial, if you don’t like your water unflavoured). If it’s the fizz you miss, try carbonated water.
Easy Changes to Your Exercise Habits
  1. Go for a twenty minute walk every lunchtime
    If you’re struggling to fit exercise into your day, get away from your desk for a twenty-minute walk each lunchtime. It’s a good way to force yourself to take a break from work, and refreshes your mind and your body.

  2. Walk (some of) your commute
    Can you walk all or part of your commute? That might mean jumping off the subway a stop earlier, or even just leaving your car in the furthest part of the car park.

  3. Take a gym class once a week
    Wherever you live or work, chances are that you can find a convenient exercise class somewhere nearby. (Many gyms have quick pre-work slots and lunch-time classes, as well as several evening options.) Find one class you can do, once a week – and stick with it.

  4. Make Sunday afternoons active
    As Monday looms ever closer, you might find that your mood and energy levels take a dive. A great way to counter this is to do something active on Sunday afternoons. Mix this up from week to week: how about a long walk, a swim, ice-skating, having a kick around in the park...?

  5. Exercise during commercial breaks
    Whenever you’re watching TV and adverts come on, get up off the sofa and do some exercise. Fit in a few stretches, some jogging on the spot, or some weight lifting. You might only fit in a few minutes at a time, but over the course of an evening’s TV viewing, that could easily add up to half an hour. And if it stops you grabbing yet another snack, it’s definitely helping...
Do you have any easy, manageable, tips that help you meet your health goals?

Written by Ali Luke. Ali is a writer of fiction and non-fiction and a writing coach. She blogs about writing on her site, Aliventures.com, and has a free ebook "How to Find Time For Your Writing" available when you join her writing newsletter here.Photo Credit: Joe M500

Jumat, 23 Maret 2012

0 Room and Billboard

[Image: The Billboard House by Apostrophy].

A project featured on designboom a few weeks ago explored the architectural possibilities of billboards: the Billboard House by Apostrophy is a "residential prototype that combines the concept of outdoor media with housing." As such, it recalls earlier projects, such as Single Hauz, squeezing domestic space into an unlikely structural situation.

[Image: The Billboard House by Apostrophy].

Apostrophy's house was installed and debuted at a fair in Bangkok, serving as a demonstration project, or proof of concept; it is transportable by truck, so, in theory, it can move between urban sites, being reattached to different masts in whole other neighborhoods and cities, while one of its facades remains operational as a revenue-generator for residents, displaying ads or other media content (it could also be a kind of live-in outdoor cinema for traffic jams).

[Images: The Billboard House by Apostrophy].

In any case, here are some shots of the interior, which features your standard modern amenities, including things like hydroponic gardens, a partially outdoor dining room, and space for storing bikes.

[Images: The Billboard House by Apostrophy].

More images and diagrams can be seen over at designboom.
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