Making Light of Things

September 2005 Archives

Free Ones

The saying goes “there’s an sucker born every minute”. In the age of the internet, it’s much easier to find them.

Singaporean female bloggers pose in Maxim for free.

Born. Every. Minute.

Rants and Raves

So in the tiny island of Singapore, schools are starting to clamp down on student bloggers, namely those who “flame” their teachers online.

Youngsters rant. They have been doing it since the beginning of time. Sure, blogging now makes the information more publicly accessible and permanent, but the less heed you pay to it, the less permanent it is likely to be.

Back in the day I remember having an English teacher who wasn’t, how shall we say, very effective. The grades of the entire class was plummeting and resentment toward her and her teaching methods was growing. Feeling a need to say something, I wrote her a note in one of those journal entries we were supposed to pass up as homework. I had hoped that she’d take the feedback seriously.

She did. She took it so seriously the said journal entry made its way to the Principal’s office and the entire teaching staff. It was her hope that the rest of her peers would find it equally apalling that a student dared give her feedback on how she was affecting us. In the journal I had commended the disciplinary methods adopted by some teachers whom I named in the hope that she’d learn from what I described. These teachers came up to me, looking concerned but secretly pleased (you know the look), and said that I shouldn’t have said such things.

In the end all our grades suffered for it as the feedback was treated as a student’s disrespect of a teacher. I never had any problems with the language, but my assignments were constantly marked down, unfairly I felt, because of my bravado.

Granted, there are some very poisonous-tongued students out there. But teachers need to learn to be the bigger person. To give these young ones some space to rant, and perhaps take away whatever useful feedback they can glean from blogs.

Alternatively, you can always cane their sorry little behinds.

Cloud Formations

Incorrectly circulated as Katrina photos, but these are stunning and scary all at the same time.

Continue reading Cloud Formations »

CSS Techniques Roundup

20 CSS Tips & Tricks.

Continue reading CSS Techniques Roundup »


It’s Min’s birthday today.

Two years ago I’d have taken her to Applebee’s. Wenyang, Clifton, Carol and Zhenlin would have joined us. Now Wenyang is in Japan and Clifton is in Spain. Carol and Zhenlin are still in Tucson. They’re done studying.

Min wouldn’t have made a fuss over her birthday - she never does. But I’d have made sure we had some ice cream and DVDs anyway.

Happy birthday, sister.

10 Reasons Clients Don't Care About Accessibility

Why it’s a hard sell, and how to sell it.

Continue reading 10 Reasons Clients Don't Care About Accessibility »

Sit Up and Pay Attention

Anne is growing up really fast. In the last few days she learned how to sit up unassisted. It’s an amazing sight - her sitting on this huge expanse of a bed, looking so intently before deciding which toy to reach for and pick up. She also discovered that hitting her rattle hard on the ground makes a much louder sound than simply shaking it. Parts of her legs are often unintentional striking points, but she doesn’t seem to mind.

Yesterday, I came out of the shower to see her smiling at me. I cracked a few jokes and she laughed. I’m going to exercise a little more faith and say that she understood (rather than she seemed to understand) what I was saying, and her laughter reaffirms what I always knew: that I should work on my material and be a stand-up comedian down at the bar where they allow bartop dancing. To heck with this web / information design nonsense.

Thank you for your many offers of clothing and stationery (gonna spell it wright this time). For those of you who asked,

Most of all, I think we need your prayers. Things aren’t shaping up the way we hoped, with obstacles preventing many of us from going.

His will be done.

Who We Are

MercerMachine compiles a beautiful intimate summary of who people are in the Singaporean blogosphere.

Continue reading Who We Are »

Weakest Link

One of the things I cannot stand about is the manner in which they link to original articles. Instead of hyperlinking phrases like “Brian says” or “In Grace’s article”, the only hyperlink pointing to where you want to go is called “link”, conveniently placed at the end of where they quote the original article. Doesn’t anybody read Jakob Nielsen anymore?

Phrases like “click this” and “link” should never be used as hyperlinks, because they are so utterly lacking in meaning.

You’re at a restaurant and you need the bathroom real bad. Only in this restaurant, instead of a sign saying “Restroom” with an arrow pointing to where you need to go, there’s a sign saying “pathway” with an arrow pointing somewhere. You are expected to use your nose, smell the air, and draw contextually that the sign means to lead you to a stinking loo where you will find the relief you need.

Come on guys. Some of you are in the industry for crying out loud.


It’s been an eternity since I’ve written. Paying work still eludes me, but I seem to be stuck with a lot of the non-paying stuff - friends of friends needing favours, that sort of thing. Throw in a flu bug and an always-awake baby, and it’s no wonder Faith and I are pretty pooped.

God willing, I’ll be flying down to Myanmar to visit an orphanage the end of the year. The people in charge there tell me that there is a need for:

  1. clothes, worn or new, as long as they are wearable.
  2. stationary and materials for craft (pens, pencils, crayons)
  3. books - ones that teach basic English (like children’s alphabet) or simple English storybooks.

If you have any of the above to donate, leave a comment or drop me an email. lucian at tribolum dot com, or use the online contact form.

Sun of Sedition

Channel NewsAsia reports Two bloggers charged under Sedition Act over racist remarks in Singapore.

The article above does not tell you what they did, except that whatever they did was racist. It also wrongly identifies the two as bloggers, when one of them didn’t post on a blog but wrote in an online forum. It does everything but tell you what sedition is.

A person is deemed to have committed an offence under the Sedition Act if he performs any act which has a seditious tendency, or conspires with any person to do so.

Gee. Thank you very much. It’s like back in Primary school, when asked to construct a sentence using “sedition” and going “Today, our teacher asked us to write a sentence with “sedition” in it”. In Primary school you got a big fat red zero, but it passes for clarity in our local media.

You are much better reading this account of what happened.

More information, fewer words.

And by the way, courtesy of,

  1. Conduct or language inciting rebellion against the authority of a state.
  2. Insurrection; rebellion.

Learned a new word today.

Mens rea

A decapitated head was found in a bag at Orchard train station in Singapore. The other parts of the murder victim’s anatomy were found in another bag at MacRitchie Reservoir, more than 5 kilometers away.

News has it that it is a murder of a filipino maid by a filipino maid, but I find it hard to believe. There aren’t enough details to be certain - it’s just a gut feel.

If it were a maid kill maid scenario, why would the murderer leave the victim’s head at one of Singapore’s busiest train stations? Wouldn’t she have wanted the evidence not to be found? The placement of the head in a highly conspicuous place is clearly the act of someone sending a message. What the message is, and to whom, we do not know. It reeks of terrorism, or at best gang activity.

Though 5 kilometers doesn’t seem too far a distance, you don’t walk 5 kilometers carrying a bag full of human body parts. Filipino maids in Singapore do not drive, nor do they own cars. How did she manage it?

There’ll probably be answers to my questions as the case unfolds, but I’m also expecting it to “disappear” from the media in a cloud of ninja smoke. As of now, things don’t quite tally. It feels like the seconds before wool is pulled over our eyes.

Cinq Mois

Anne at 5 Months

Anne’s now 5 months old. Faith and I are struck by the realisation that people can indeed want a second child.

More Reason to Game

Laparoscopic Surgeons who play video games are faster and less error-prone than those who don’t.

Continue reading More Reason to Game »

National Service Online

Singapore Boy defers National Service to play computer games.

Continue reading National Service Online »

Why First Ladies Should Be Seen, Not Heard

Following Mrs. Goh Chok Tong’s “peanut” statement is Barbara Bush, who says that Hurricane Katrina worked out very well for the people of New Orleans as they were underprivileged anyway.

Continue reading Why First Ladies Should Be Seen, Not Heard »

The Spin Doctor is In

Hilarious video clip (.mov) about the genius behind the ingenious.

Continue reading The Spin Doctor is In »


It seems so stupid, but sometimes we don’t do the right thing, even when we know it’s the right thing, because it’s a little late to do the right thing.

These are things not many people know about me.

When I was one month old, my parents left me in the care of a nanny whom they paid. I went home to my parents every Saturday night and came back every Sunday night. For the longest time I thought that my nanny’s family was my real family and my parents were the weekly abberation in the fabric of reality. I still call my nanny Mama, her children “Jie Jie” and “Kor Kor” (meaning brother and sister in the Chinese dialect we spoke). Till this day I believe that a large part of my character is derived from having lived there and having called them family.

But somewhere the aberration became the norm. I was moved back to my parents when I began formal education. I’d visit Mama every week. Slowly every week became every month. And every month became whenever. If ever.

Why don’t I visit more often? I honestly don’t know. Maybe it’s because I wouldn’t know what to say. Or maybe I’m afraid that the person I see before me isn’t the same person I remember from my childhood. Perhaps some part of me wants things to be the way they are, not wanting to rock the proverbial boat.

I was in Mama’s neighbourhood today. I decided to take the elevator up. The entire place had recently been repainted, now looking more like a set of building blocks than apartment blocks. Red, green, yellow and blue replaced the old cream coloured buildings that had turned a stale light brown with age. That aside, everything felt so very familiar. Like walking to the bathroom in the dark. You know where the light switch is.

I walked up to the corridor and looked at her door. It was half-open. And I froze.

I didn’t dare look in for fear of being seen. What if she asked “what took you so long?” What would I say? Where would I hide my unfillial face?

I stood there for the longest time. Then I headed home and left home behind me, still unvisited. Unresolved.

The Corridor to Mama's House

The Corridor to Mama’s House

Interview Tips

Directly from the school of hard knocks.

Over the past two years, I’ve spent considerable time speaking to clients, giving them advice on web related matters etc. I forget that a job interview is somewhat similar, but also very different.

When at a panel interview for a job position at a certain government branch two days ago, the guy in charge of website matters asked me if I had seen their corporate website and whether it could be improved.

Rhetorical question, right? Think again.

I replied, albeit too eagerly, that it could be improved. Code bloat could be reduced and information better laid out. My spider-sense tells me it didn’t go down too well with the web guy.

If I had replied, “the site’s great as it is and pretty much needs no improvement”, the interview would have stopped dead in its tracks. What would they need me there for then?

Vanessa, who managed to secure a similar job, offered me great post-humous advice.

She said,

must say, it’s GREAT! i love it …. however, of course as times change, ppl might expect more xxx techy features blah blah blah

The perfect answer I didn’t think of. It compliments web guy’s work but acknowledges the inevitability of change, hence the need to hire you.

Canon FAQ

Everything you wanted to know about Canon cameras, lenses and flashes but were afraid to ask.

Continue reading Canon FAQ »

I See Black People

So by now you’ve probably heard about how Hip-Hop superstar Kayne West went off the script and said “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” on national television, with regards to the slow action taken to help the mostly African-American victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The contestants for The Amazing Race 8 are out, and there’s one black family among the ten families competing. They are also aptly named “The Black Family”, just in case you’re using one of those CGA screens that don’t display brown.

No Spin Zone

Videos from FoxNews from New Orleans.

You have to see this.

Sheep and the Goats

Led the singing in church this morning. It has never felt this difficult.

I’ve been following up on Katrina over the past week, reading up on the news from the ground as well as catching the new non-stop footage on CNN.

That’s a lot of people dying. Dying as I type this. Dying as I go to bed. Dying as I have my breakfast. How on earth am I supposed go to church, stand behind the pulpit and ask the congregation to praise God?

I know the questions. I hear them loud and clear. I even find myself asking them. Isn’t God all mighty? Isn’t He a loving God? Doesn’t He care?

Do I lead the singing pretending none of this happened? Do we go on about our own business as per every Sunday, thanking God that we’re not there? How do we sing even simple songs saying “Thank You Lord for this day”, when so many people out there are suffering?

Dearest Beloved in the Lord,

we are His hands and feet. We are His testimony here on earth. Thousands upon thousands have lost their homes, their loved ones, their jobs, everything. They’re not asking for a new Mercedes Benz, or the lastest Playstation or Xbox. They need a place to live, clean water to drink and food to eat.

If we believe that God is loving, show it. If we believe that He is Almighty, as His people we cannot stand by and do nothing.

We ought not to feel nothing.


Red Cross.

America’s Second Harvest - The Nation’s Food Bank Network.

Here’s a comprehensive list of charities you can donate to, via Instapundit.

Interview with John Gruber

The man who knows Macintosh from Fuji.

Continue reading Interview with John Gruber »

So Close Yet So Far

It is shocking to think that a place like New Orleans could turn into Atlantis in a matter of days. I’m slowly coming to grips with the magnitude of the disaster.

Here in Singapore, there isn’t the kind of coverage you’d be getting in the United States. While there have been many comparisons to the Tsunami that swept Indonesia only months before, human sympathy should never be dispensed in degrees. Ideally one’s heart should weep, whether for a single starving child or for the thousands who die by genocide.

I hate it that I instinctively sweep Katrina’s devastation under the rug because it’s happening many miles away in a place I’ve never been, to people I do not know. I want to know, to cry and to mourn.

I want to care.

Hair Today Gone Tomorrow

My parents finally took a swipe at Anne’s hair.

I don’t know if it’s an asian or chinese thing, but everyone (down to the casual bystander) has told us that we ought to shave Anne’s head bald to have her hair grow better. I couldn’t bear to see my daughter bald, even though her hair was uneven in places and growing in clumps. Plus, I like the smell of her head too much to rub brandy or stout, which some swear will give babies a full head of lustrous hair.

So with half a day off for Teachers’ Day, Mum decided to trim Anne’s hair. She was looking around for her pair of scissors and Dad got terribly confused because he thought she was trying to cut Anne’s fingernails. He couldn’t understand why Mum was busting out the gigantic scissors and laying newspaper on the bathroom floor. It was only when Mum took out the comb that he realised they were talking about different things all along.

The trim went fine. Now for her fingernails…again.

Setting Up a Podcasting Studio

Simple, easy and cheap. Not that I’m going to do it anytime soon though.

Continue reading Setting Up a Podcasting Studio »

« August 2005
Main Index
October 2005 »