Making Light of Things

June 2010 Archives

At Arm's Length

Having to stay away from family due to my irradiated state has been a surreal experience. It feels like I’m away in a foreign land, but the surroundings look so famliar. I’ve spent the last three nights wandering Singapore by myself, the first two nights with camera in hand; tonight with bicycle in tow.

I still get to go home, but only after the children are fast asleep, so as to prevent any contact should they decide to rush at me like a couple of zerglings. I leave before they wake, and our only contact has been by telephone. They’ve had a whale of a time - Faith has done a grand job filling their holidays with activities. I get to hear all about it when they speak to me on the phone: Anne would excitedly regale me with the day’s events while in the background, Caleb repeats what his sister says with varying degrees of success. It’s hilarious.

The most serendipitous thing thus far has been last night’s conversation with Faith. We sat on the floor across from each other and chatted for a good hour. Much as I wanted to I had to refrain from holding her in my arms. We didn’t want to risk anything, especially as she would be in such close proximity with the kids.

All we had was eye contact, and yet that felt oddly sufficient to communicate the deepest of emotions. What Faith probably didn’t know was that that hour reminded me of the afternoons we shared more than 20 years ago in Desaru picking up seashells and sorting them; it was exactly then I knew I had to marry the girl. It felt so comfortable being with her, laughing with her and sharing stolen moments when our eyes would meet.

Now married and two children later, it feels exactly the same. We are the same two kids decades ago, madly in love with each other.

The Dissolution of Tribal Communication

Although the advent of the internet has created a vastly more complex communication channel that humankind has ever seen, it is interesting that we might be approaching a more simple binary equation: Anything on the net is public. If something is meant to be private, keep it off the web.

The recent fiasco of a pastor mocking Taoist rituals, as well as numerous cases of private church services going massively public on youtube, we are beginning to see a deficiency in online controls for tribal communications, especially so for massive tribes.

Common-sense would dictate information disseminated to a substantial number of people is to be equated as being made publicly available, but we are seeing the destruction of valuable private space to the whims and fancies of cut-and-paste artists.

There will always be statements of values and beliefs that befit the tribe but not the population. There will always be divisions among men. Individualism and collectivism are ends of a spectrum, and in between there are shades of groupthink. Granted, I am not advocating religious groups practicing bigotry, but I am against the populist pressure that any value statement made within a group differentiating themselves from the others be taken out in the open and publicly crucified.

I love how the NBA puts microphones on coaches so carefully curated audio clips can be made public. In this case curation is key - without it, the private space between coach and team would be broken apart and speeches would be taken out of context.

The only value statement agreeable to everyone contains no value.


“You love us even when we do something wrong?”

“I’ll try my best.”

“I don’t get sent to the naughty corner nowadays. I try to know better.”

From the other corner:


Happy Father’s Day, y’all.

Get Your iPad 3G Working in Singapore

A bunch of iPads, on Flickr by Kominyetska

So you got your iPad and you heard that your favourite telco has those handy microsim cards on hand. If you already have a broadband plan on your mobile phone and intend to use it with your new iPad 3G, you’re out of luck. The Singtel guy at the counter told me that I had to sign a separate 2 year data plan with Stinktel just so I can use 3G internet on the iPad. That’s the only way they’d give me a microsim card.

But this is how you get around it. Sorta.

Tell your telco you want a multisim. This just means you’ll be given 2 sim cards on the same plan you currently have. Singtel charged me a one-time $30 fee, and a $5 monthly. You’ll be handed 2 similar simcards. 1 card will go into your existing phone, the other on to your desk, where you will have to perform some minor surgery to convert it to a microsim.

My iPad came from the States, so there was an AT&T microsim card already inside the machine. I used a marker to draw an outline of the microsim on top of the simcard, used a pair of scissors to cut the outside of the outline, and a nail-file to bring it down to size. Be careful not to cut any portion of the metal contacts at the end (they’re extremely small). Good tutorials can be found on ihackintosh and Macrumors.

Once you managed to squeeze your homemade microsim into your iPad, be patient. Singtel takes about 2 days to activate your multisim account, so you’ll have to wait till then to see the results of your surgery.

When the account is activated, you’ll notice the words “Singtel 3G” on the top left of your iPad, much like the iPhone. You’ll probably try to fire up your browser or Twitter and find that you can’t connect to the internet. “Cellular Data not subscribed” or some such message appeared for me. You’ll need to go to “Settings > Cellular Data > APN Settings”, and put in your APN, Username and Password. If you already have a data plan working on your iPhone, you can get these fields at “Settings > General > Network > Cellular Data Network”.

Once you set these fields on your iPad, give it a while to get all set up. Not sure if you have to, but I restarted my iPad.

When your multisim account is activated, be sure to put the other simcard into your phone. Your original simcard doesn’t work anymore.

Important: One thing Singtel didn’t tell me was that the 2 simcards are not identical. One of them is a Primary simcard which allows it to function like a normal simcard. The Secondary simcard does not take incoming calls. So if your phone hasn’t rung since the multisim account was activated, it’s highly likely that you put the primary card into your iPad.

Panic. Panic. Hyperventilate. I…cut…up…my…primary…card.

No worries. If your secondary simcard is in your phone, dial *141# to set the simcard in the phone as the primary simcard.

There! You’re done.

On a sidenote, one question I was asked is whether it was worth getting a 3G iPad rather than just the Wifi one. If you’re serious about using the internet, yes. I was foolhardy at first to think I could tether the iPad to my iPhone etc, but the hassle would pretty much kill the amazing internet device the iPad is.

It is so liberating to hit the switch on the iPad and have internet connectivity almost anywhere. Well worth the extra cost, in my opinion.

A good gauge is how you use your iPhone, if you have one. If you use it like an iPod, maybe the Wifi-only iPad is for you. And if that’s so, I don’t think you fully grasped the whole concept of the iPhone.

Even my mother has a twitter account.

Photo credit: Kominyetska on Flickr, licensed under a Creative Commons License.


Raymond's DadRaymond’s Dad passed away last week. I had only met the man once, at Raymond’s wedding. Raymond very proudly told all his guests how his dad built the ice-cream cart they used to serve ice-cream by hand, and also the small trolley a little dog would sit on, carrying the wedding bands up the aisle. I remember all this so clearly because Raymond’s dad reminded me of my dad.

In this new-fangled world filled with technology to connect people, we are inundated with text messages, emails, tweets, RSS feeds we need to read, Instapaper and links on Delicious, every one vying for our attention. In return, we are producing an equal amount of curated garbage via our phones, laptops and iPads.

And somewhere in this mad, mad world, you have these people who seem totally unaffected. The most beautiful part about them is that they speak loudest with their hands, and their actions cut through all the din, all the smoke, ringing like a bell that speaks directly to our heart.

In my parents house, Dad sits at the dinner table, continually peeling all manner of shellfish. It is no secret that my mother has the luxury of not knowing what the shell of a crab looks like - Dad tirelessly makes sure that all family members seated within arm’s reach of him receive food and fruit that is meticulously prepared for hassle-free consumption.

Dad is the sort of person whom, after lamenting about how much pocket money you demand, quietly slips his last $50 bill into your wallet or purse while you’re asleep. And you only discover it the next day at school.

So when Raymond’s father passed on, it hurt to know that one day Dad would as well, and I wanted to write to tell the world that we have amazing fathers.

Because they are the least likely people in the world to write about it themselves.

Dad's Birthday

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