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21-30 September 2002

28 SepIraq and Star Trek
28 SepFare Gates for Left-Handers, part II
28 SepOfficial site for The Way Home
26 SepThe Return of the Fare Gates for Left-Handers
26 SepDeep Linking
25 SepFollow-up
24 SepJeri Ryan
24 SepGoogle News
24 SepIraq: The British dossier
24 SepThe "Insect"
23 Sep"Clean Flicks"
23 SepThe Way Home
21 SepBattleships

Iraq and Star Trek

28 September 2002 10:35 PM SGT

Recently discovered "Star Trek" scripts reveal Saddam-busting strategies...

- Salon, Been there, done Iraq

Haha this may not be too appropriate for such a serious business as war, but I thought this article at Salon was very funny. (I'm not a stuck-in-the-mud, Spock-is-God Trekkie, OK? I do appreciate good humour.) Hmm but maybe you need to have watched some episodes of the 4 series to fully appreciate the jokes.

Fare Gates for Left-Handers, part II

28 September 2002 10:29 PM SGT

I apologise for not sticking to my "deadline" I wrote here, that I would post my clarification on the 27th. But better late than never; so here is what I sent to the LTA:

Fare Gates for Left-Handers (Clarification)

I would like to clarify my previous suggestion (ID: <ID>) because SMRT's <name> (who sent a reply on 25 Sept) seemed to have misunderstood me.

I apologise if I was not clearer, but I did not mean to say that the bus validators are positioned so as to assist left-handers, just that their positions happen to be convenient for both left- and right-handers. That was just a remark to my suggestion that MRT fare gates provide this option too.

>The locations of the fare gates in MRT stations, however, are determined by the capacity of the each station as well as the flow of passengers in each station.

I think this is different from opening the use of the MRT to non-commuters e.g. the disabled - this will be where the capacity is important. But there are already left-handed people using the MRT; I daresay many people have seen instances where left-handers accidentally tap their ez-Link cards on the validator to their left. If one or two are *converted* at some stations, this can make travelling on the MRT more convenient for left-handers. We do not need new fare gates, only a little more space to separate the two kinds.

The flow of left-handers should dramatically improve! Also, this will not impede the flow of right-handed passengers significantly, because they can simply use their left hand if need be, as left-handers have always done with their right. The crucial thing is, the left-handers have *never* had the option to use their main hand. So unless the cost is prohibitive, for some reason, I think it is within our means to make everyone's commuting experience better.

I hope my suggestion can be re-evaluated now that I have explained it in more detail. Thank you.

Come to think of it, my first suggestion should have been this detailed; then the misunderstanding could have been avoided. Now I await a reply...

P.S. If anyone has any feedback for them you can send it to this page. Join the "family." ;-)

Official site for The Way Home

28 September 2002 10:26 PM SGT

The official site for The Way Home, but I'm not really that interested in it; the glitsy Flash games and popups are, in my mind, totally different from the movie itself. Trivia: I thought the design (by Mind4) is similar to YupgiGirl (PostVisual.com): a window containing the main Flash presentation pops up when you access the site. Coincidence, or a Korean way of website design?

The Return of the Fare Gates for Left-Handers

26 September 2002 12:12 AM SGT

Well what do you know - about 10 days after I sent my suggestion to the LTA they have replied. Actually I received two replies: one from the LTA & one from the SMRT. In the interest of full disclosure I would put both here, but irritatingly the LTA response has a legal clause at the end that prevent me from doing so. But they basically say that the MRT fare gate ez-Link card readers are under the purview of SMRT & forwarded the mail to them, while thanking me for making the suggestion.

(To anyone with legal knowledge: when they say that no part of this document may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system blah blah blah, that would include the clause itself right? IANAL but I do know some logic. Now I can't even tell people that I can't make the document public?)

Anyway here is my original suggestion:

I would like to suggest that the larger MRT stations have one or two fare gates catered for left-handers i.e. the ezLink card reader or farecard reader is on the left side. Happily, buses already have this option. Since the number of left-handers in the general population has been estimated to be anything from 5-20%, this will make it more convenient and pleasant for them to ride on the MRT.

& the SMRT response:

Dear Ms [sic] Lin

With regard to your feedback, we would like to clarify that there are two validators located at the entrances and two more located at the exits of buses. The purpose is to help speed up the flow of passengers on buses. The locations of the validators are not meant to distinguish the right-handed from the left-hand passengers.

The locations of the fare gates in MRT stations, however, are determined by the capacity of the each station as well as the flow of passengers in each station.

We trust that the above clarifies your query and thank you for your feedback.

Regards
<name>
Corporate Communications Executive

Well sorry, but you trust wrong, because my "query" wasn't about the bus validators at all - aiyoh. I wonder if one can consider this a boilerplate response to a suggestion that people in fora have been accusing bureaucrats of producing for ages.

First I was suggesting an improvement to the MRT by installing MRT fare gates for left-handers, & the comment on the bus validators was merely a passing remark. & even so, I didn't mean that yes, the validators were positioned like that so as to help the left-handers; maybe my usage of the word happily gave the wrong impression. Anyway that's no excuse for ignoring my suggestion itself: I'll be writing in a second time sometime tomorrow to clarify this whole thing.

Deep Linking

26 September 2002 12:08 AM SGT

Today, while talking about my recent posts with my colleagues, they pointed out that my linking directly to the TalkingCock.com Singlish dictionary could be inappropriate, or worse, could be liable for legal action, since they have a big loud disclaimer at their main site to warn those who are offended by profanities to enter at their own risk, that they are not a political site, etc., and by linking directory to their dictionary I'm helping people bypass it. Although I haven't found anything on their site to suggest that this is forbidden, & even though people have said that in remaking Singapore, what is not expressly forbidden should be allowed, I've decided to do the nice (& safe, haha) thing & change the link in this old post to point to their main site.

(My secret Beng alter-ego says: Wun rugi/loogee much lah, just you ownself click 'n find lor.)

Follow-up

25 September 2002 11:08 PM SGT

More information & links on yesterday's issues:

Jeri Ryan

24 September 2002 10:15 PM SGT

(Sorry I just seem to have a lot to talk about today.) The new season of Boston Public premieres tonight on Channel 5, & while I think it'll still be a crappy show selling sex & violence & big guys & pretty blondes (all fetishes of David Kelley the producer & writer, in my conspiratorial thinking: witness The Practice for the former, Ally McBeal for the latter), this season Jeri Ryan joins the cast. I know her, as probably many others do, from Star Trek: Voyager where she played the voluptuous but thankfully maturely-regarded character Seven of Nine (Tertiary Adjunct to Unimatrix 01...). I wonder whether I'll get used to her contemporary look. Or whether the show's as crappy as ever. One of her fansites, filmography at IMDB.

Google News

24 September 2002 10:09 PM SGT

The brilliant Google people have done it again (although strictly speaking it's still in beta): Google News, culled from thousands of news sources online without human intervention. That's right: the software peruses the Net for related news, groups them by topic, organises them, & users like me click to go to the site whose report you've chosen to read - no editors, writers or human news-scanners at the helm. Although you might think this would result in chaotic headlines, the result doesn't seem to be so bad. Of course it isn't a substitute for good-ol' news reporting or that trusted publication you've relied on, but it certainly is one of the most efficient ways a news portal or weblog could be done. Also read Google's About Google News for more information.

Iraq: The British dossier

24 September 2002 10:00 PM SGT

Prime Minister Tony Blair of the UK has made public a dossier containing information on Iraq's attempted development & acquisition of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Even if there's no "smoking gun" for immediate military action, I think this could go a long way towards persuading people to push harder for renewed UN inspections, together with a more diplomatic approach towards sceptics of the plan to attack Iraq if that has to happen. Links galore: the dossier itself in Adobe Acrobat PDF hosted at CNN & BBC or the full text at BBC; main points @ CNN, news coverage at Reuters.

Muse: Incidentally, it's documents like this that are made publicly available online that continue to amaze me at democratisation brought about by the Internet. Heh I actually remember the times when the thought that a common citizen in this little city-state could obtain such a document to read & think about would be laughable; I can envision me admonishing the youngsters in the future who would have no conception of a world without the Internet...

The "Insect"

24 September 2002 9:46 PM SGT

I was practising the piano half an hour ago when I heard this intermittent wheezing sound. Of course I tried to ignore it but after a while I became determined to find its origin - my computer power fan failing again? some insect buzzing around? I looked out the window & discovered that it was... the resident one floor down spraying water on his plants.

It was kind of a wake-up call for me: here I was irritated at the sound of somebody watering his plants, barely audible except to easily-piqued people like me, whereas I never thought that my bad piano playing would be noticed, or bother anyone. In my early days I could practise up to 11 but that was changed to 10 after my family members complained (quite discreetly, kudos to them). Now I'm wondering if 10 is too late & I should just practise the moment I get home from work (which can be anything from 6+ to 8+). The moral of the story? Get a soundproofed room.

Harharhar, kidding. It's to be more considerate & mindful of other people.

"Clean Flicks"

23 September 2002 11:27 PM SGT

The Directors Guild of America, with many big-name directors, is suing some companies that sell or rent out Hollywood films which they've edited to remove sex, violence and profanity, claiming that they are violating their copyrights, whereas these companies, of which the Clean Flicks chain is one, argue that they, on behalf of consumers, have the right to edit the films since they are technically owners of the films. Copyright law vs. First Amendment?:

"Is it right to take finished films that have been created by someone else, change them to suit your whims, then profit by the commerce of these grossly altered products -- and at the same time portray these versions as still being the works of their original directors?" [Guild president Martha] Coolidge asks.

- Salon

But then again, I wonder whether such companies can argue that they are not profit-making businesses but merely cooperatives, people banding their skills together to edit & watch cleaned-up versions of films... & with the concept of "fair use", this could be interesting. Also see Slashdot, for some geek commentary, and FindLAW, for a lawyer's very illuminating perspective.

The Way Home

23 September 2002 11:18 PM SGT

I watched a sneak preview of it at Jurong Point yesterday - to me it's amazing how a simple unpretentious story about a boy and his grandmother can become the top-grossing movie in South Korea this year. The transformation of the boy from obnoxious spoilt brat to someone who understands how unconditionally his grandmother loves him and takes care of him is very touching, but folks who aren't used to the unhurried pace could be bored. I guess sometimes we all need a break from the Hollywood movie jam-packed with in-your-face special effects & action to appreciate a sincerely-told story. Just as the dedication at the end of the show says, it's for "all the grandmothers" :-) (KoreanFilms review, IMDB entry under Jibeuro).

Battleships

21 September 2002 9:18 PM SGT

It's amazing what kinds of sites are slashdotted: today I saw a link to the The Australian Battle Group Inc, which is a club for people who make 1/144-scale radio-controlled model warships from WWI and WWII, and use CO2-propelled cannons firing steel ball bearings to attack & if possible sink other ships (but according to the "Learn More" section the ships can be salvaged for another glorious day of battle). The post at Slashdot notes that "these people have a LOT of free time on their collective hands", but it looks extremely cool. See also the RCWarships site.

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