Year: 2012

➟ Brian Regan: The Epitome of Hyperbole [Netflix]

➟ Brian Regan: The Epitome of Hyperbole [Netflix] Really great, profanity-free stand-up comedy. He brings a lot more energy to the stage than Jim Gaffigan, whose shows we also watched a couple of nights ago. They’re both great acts and worth looking up, but Regan’s older material is rock solid, while you can jump straight to Gaffigan’s newer stuff and not miss much.

Windowsill (Pies) in the Woods

We’ve been fans of Windowsill for awhile, although I’ve only eaten their pies on two occasions before this. They had a tiny outlet in Pandan Valley before, which we didn’t have a chance to visit before they closed down. Since then, they’ve been operating a delivery business which we recently had a chance to use when an American friend was missing traditional dessert pies (like pumpkin) on Thanksgiving. This new place is called Windowsill in the Woods, probably because it’s outside of town in Lavender (78 Horne Road), and has a wood cabin theme going on. The pies are still fantastic, but we didn’t have a chance to try the coffee because they were having electrical issues, and the interiors could do with some acoustic dampening. It looked like they were still sorting some stuff out, but in all, a nice enough place for a quiet Sunday.

Write Moves

After 11 years of blogging on what is now Google Blogger, I’ve exported everything and moved to a WordPress-powered site. It didn’t go all that smoothly and may still screw up, but so far I’m enjoying the platform, its modernity, and the apps/services I can now use with my blog. During the process, I looked back on a couple of old posts and a few abandoned other blog projects, and discovered a younger, different sounding me. I suppose that was a time when everyone kept a blog instead of a Facebook page – but it all starts the same way, nobody thinks anyone important is ever going to read their nonsense or see their silly behavior. But every time I read old writing, the same thing happens, and I’m sure you’re all familiar with the phenomenon: amidst the disposable are pieces you can’t believe you wrote; thoughts you could hardly string together today in quite the same way. Which is why I’m inclined to value these posts more than easy and fleeting social network updates. …

Essential iPhone Camera and Photo Apps

I sometimes get asked to suggest camera apps to new iPhone users, and often fall into the trap of recommending ones I’m in love with at the time, but aren’t necessarily good for everyone or indispensable. I’ve bought and put every major release through their paces over the last four years, and although some start off impressively, they turn out not to be suitable for everyday use and soon find themselves forgotten in a folder, never to be used again. One common reason for this is the production of looks that are too distinctive or recognizable. Imagine a library of photos taken over a year, all with the same fake light leak in the top-left corner. Pretty unacceptable. Some all-in-one jobs let you “fix” photos with a few presets, but if your problem falls somewhere in between, the inability to fine-tune can be a deal-breaker. So here are my more considered picks for the best camera and editing applications on the iPhone. Over time, I cleared out my entire screen of folders filled with photo apps, and …

A Sudden Crop of New iPhone Photo Apps

iPhone photography apps hit a sort of peak with Hipstamatic, Instagram, Camera+, 645 Pro, and Snapseed. The past few months have seen a few quirky apps being released (Gridditor being one that comes to mind), but most have been crappy knockoffs of the very successful but sadly neglected Camera+*, or silly ones for decorating your shots with candy-colored doodles or cartoon stamps. Very little for the serious photographer determined to replace a compact camera with an iPhone… until these came along! ••• Blux Camera: The first app I’ve seen to offer the equivalent of what’s called “Auto Scene Mode” on most point-and-shoot cameras. The app applies a compensation scene mode based on what it thinks you need (taking local weather into account too). I’ve been waiting for someone to do this, but Blux seems to go even further with 14 filters, tilt-shift effects, and a futuristic, customizable UI that might prove too fiddly in actual use. Still, it looks very good and it’s free for a couple of days. Edit: Having tried it now, it’s …

MacHeist 4 ends today

MacHeist 4 ends today. The annual bundle has gotten bigger and better — just US$29 for a ton of apps and services worth 20 times more — but they’ve struggled to reach the minimum target of 25,000. That was how many needed to be sold before the premium bonus apps became unlocked for everyone. After 8 days into the 10-day window, they gave up and opened them anyway. Now they’ve finally crossed the mark (26,053 at time of writing) with hours left to go. There’s probably a longer article in here about why this is the case. Bundles like these used to make a much bigger splash, and I remember a period where Groupon-like daily deal sites for Mac applications were like… daily deal sites for free iOS applications. I guess that’s where the attention has gone now, and much of the spending intent has followed the growth in mobile platforms. Prices there are generally lower too, and I wonder if this means independent Mac apps have to start charging less, or more, to keep …

Ashes out to sea

Today we got on a little boat and went out halfway to Pulau Ubin, to release the ashes of four grandparents and great-grandparents. I am assured we had the necessary permits for this. Two of the oldest (from way before my time) were recently exhumed from a cemetery that was being decommissioned and reclaimed, and we’ve had the urns about for a few years, in anticipation of this moment. In the end, it was a drama-free affair that was over before sentiment could occur to anyone. Before he began, the man handling everything asked us, in Mandarin, if there was anything we wanted to say to them. But what can you say? As a person still alive, the idea of being dispersed to nowhere in particular seems strange. I think I would like to be kept around the house when my time comes. I’m not fond of the sea, or swimming. On top of the holographic quantum fiber modem would be fine.

The Round Down, 8 Weeks In

I started The Round Down on a bit of a whim two months ago, armed only with the conviction of knowing that I’d long wanted to do an email newsletter of human-approved articles and links for like-minded people. The idea of writing/commissioning original content for such a vehicle was definitely on my mind, but seemed secondary and much harder to get started with, and getting started was priority one. Getting YJ Soon and David Liu onboard to share editorial and news gathering duties, with David focusing on games (check out his gaming podcast, Staring at Screens), has made it possible to keep up. Eight weeks and as many issues is enough time to get settled. We noticed an unconscious trend towards quantity, and the last few that went out had a touch too many things to look at. The initial goal was a small and unintimidating selection of links for weekend reading, nothing that feels like work, and we will be trying hard to steer that course from now on. Thanks for supporting this project (no …

iPhone 5 Camera Comparison vs. Ricoh GR Digital III

The new iPhone 5 features an improved camera, mainly in the area of image signal processing in the A6 chip, which reportedly allows it to do intelligent sharpening, noise removal, and pixel binning for low-light situations. The lens elements have also been rearranged, resulting in a slightly different field of vision from the iPhone 4S. There’s also the new sapphire crystal lens cover which resists scratches — unfortunately, I already have a tiny speck of dust on the inside of mine, which I’ll have to get them to clean at some point. I’m more interested in seeing how the iPhone 5 competes with other point and shoot cameras than with the iPhone 4S. Here are two scenes taken with the Ricoh GR Digital III (my review here), a high-end compact comparable to Panasonic’s LUMIX LX3/5/7 series, and Canon’s S90/95/100 cameras. The photos below are direct from camera and have not been fixed or enhanced. The GRD III is something of a prosumer camera, and if handled correctly, i.e. with manual controls and lots of fiddling, …

Why Can’t Twitter Be Like Foursquare?

Turf Geography Club I never thought little ol’ Foursquare could lead the way for Twitter, but their approach to the third-party access and monetization problem shows more class and understanding. For the past few weeks now, instead of investing in a user experience that users would choose, Twitter’s stated solution has been to make their apps the only ones in town. Thanks to a tweet from @tarngerine today, I discovered Turf Geography Club, a location-based iPhone game built atop Foursquare’s place database, with additional Monopoly-like mechanics for upgrading and defending your property. It stands out from all the other “check-in and own this location” type apps by taking a flat-out fun (as opposed to a utility) approach: retro 16-bit style graphics, a Wes Anderson-inspired aesthetic (evident in the name, video trailer, and writing), bears, compasses, illustrated logbooks, and nonsensical references to an eternal struggle between man and nature. What I liked was how I could suddenly start using Turf as my Foursquare client of choice, checking in as I usually do, but also playing this …