Slava’s Snowshow, Singapore

Snow storm, Slava's Snow Show.
Snowstorm finale, Instagrammed from my iPhone

My girlfriend and I attended last night’s performance of the award-winning Slava’s Snowshow (now on till the 9th of September, at the Marina Bay Sands theaters), which isn’t easily described because it has clowns, but isn’t really for kids; its narrative has no binding logic, but it says a lot without words; there’s snow, as promised, but really it’s about dreams, playacting, physical comedy, scenes of profound Godot-esque surrealism (as you’d expect from Russian clowns) , departures, alienation, and (I got the sense of this) having fun by being lost.

The Times of London called it “a theatre classic of the 20th century”, and its creator, Slava Polunin, was formerly of the Cirque du Soleil where he served as a clown-in-chief of sorts.

I don’t want to spoil it too much, but as long as you’re sitting in the stalls, you can’t escape being immersed in its key scenes. The performers regularly break the fourth wall (does this apply to the stage?), multiple objects and effects break free from the front and rush to the back of the hall, creating for adults a sense of wonderment that evokes memories of childhood play.

Even at around 80 minutes, it’s all over a little too quickly. I wish I’d paid a little more attention to the details, and the use of music (which was excellent, and the hall handled acoustics well). It’s something I can definitely see myself going for again someday, somewhere else in the world.

There’s about a week and a half to go, and tickets are still available. Try the link below for the Marina Bay Sands’ website.

Event info

Photo credit: Marina Bay Sands

The Round Down: Issue 1

I was at Facebook’s local office earlier this week and saw a poster to the effect of “It’s better to launch than to be perfect”. Now, I can think of many examples where this approach is just dangerous, but naturally it’s different when a capable company like Facebook says it (when was the last time the site went down for a day?). For a while now, I’ve had the idea of putting out a catch-up newsletter on weekends. Somehow, I started drafting one up this week. Call it a beta. Do subscribe here, and we’ll see if this thing gets anywhere near perfect.

Thanks to YJ Soon for his kind assistance with this issue.


“A Condescending Publication for Those Who Slept Through the Week”

Issue #1 v2


Apple vs. Samsung
The patent trial of the year saw closing comments from both sides this week, and although a verdict in the somewhat esoteric case was not expected to be reached by a jury of nine regular people in just 3 days, that’s exactly what happened: in Apple’s favor. Samsung will now appeal the $1bn damages owed for their “slavish copying” of the iPhone’s software, hardware, and trade dress design.

Jury Awards $1 Billion to Apple in Samsung Patent Case


From the If-You-Can’t-Beat-‘Em Dept
Smartphones have all but replaced the traditional digital camera for most consumers, and Nikon’s latest compact camera got the memo. Powered by the Android Gingerbread OS, with a large touchscreen on the rear, it’s really a modern mobile device with better optics. Or, given Android’s openness, a camera that’s just as likely as you to pick up an infection on holiday.

Nikon Launches Its First “Smartphamera,” the Nikon Coolpix S800c With Android OS


We Save Photos on Our PCs, But Not Blog Posts
Have you gone all-in on the personal cloud? Surely the thought of all your stuff just vanishing has crossed your mind. Dave “Father of RSS” Winer reminds us that blogs, too, are impermanent. If you love what you post, don’t rely on a Google or WordPress to pay your publishing fees forever. It’s good advice, take it from someone who has Posterous sites circling the sink. The newly-refreshed looks like a good option.

The Web is Socialist, But It’s Not a Family



Do You Know Where Pop Music Comes From?
Those sticky summery earworms: you’ll still hear them everywhere, but now they’re being chosen and propelled into the charts by Facebooking young ‘uns as much as the suits from Big Radio. We’ll spare you the obligatory Call Me Maybe pun.

The New Rise of a Summer Hit: Tweet It Maybe


YouTube Pick

Dayum! A Tasty Burger Review in Song
Speaking of summer hits, the Gregory Brothers’ “Dayum” is another instant left-of-mainstream classic in the tradition of their “Double Rainbow Song”. This video takes an enthusiastic burger review (shot in the parking lot of a Five Guys) and turns it into an anthem for double-cheese supersizing.



Top Tweets

@danielpunkass: Apple celebrates $1 Billion award from Samsung by misplacing it in $100 Billion pile.

@FrescoJesus: MY FACE!!! WHAT HAPPENED TO MY FACE!!!!!! (Context)

@thewaveparticle: When I was little, I asked what my dad did at the office. He tried to explain, but I couldn’t understand him. Now, the tables are turned.

@om: Random observation: if you have to use the phrase “quadrant” to describe your policies, you are no longer a consumer company. (Context)

@willowbl00: I like to shout “have you tried polyamory” at the screen during love-dramas.


Wood for the Read Later Fire

You’ll Never Be Chinese — Prospect Magazine

Death and taxes. You know how the saying goes. I’d like to add a third certainty: you’ll never become Chinese, no matter how hard you try, or want to, or think you ought to. I wanted to be Chinese, once. I don’t mean I wanted to wear a silk jacket and cotton slippers, or a Mao suit and cap and dye my hair black and proclaim that blowing your nose in a handkerchief is disgusting. I wanted China to be the place where I made a career and lived my life. For the past 16 years it has been precisely that. But now I will be leaving.



Sign up to conveniently receive THE ROUND DOWN by email whenever fate sees fit. It’s free!

Headphone portraits

A few weeks back, I started taking photos of my coworkers in the creative department as they sat at their desks wearing headphones. Almost everyone in the office has their own unique brand/model, and I noticed that in some cases those choices strongly reflected their personal biases towards style, quality, or indifference to electronics. The thing I envy most about designers is their ability to listen to music whilst doing their work. Music is also the best part about the moments of my job where I’m not writing, but looking at spreadsheets and wireframes.


All of these were taken and processed with VSCO CAM, an idiosyncratic and crashy camera app for iOS that excels at reproducing the look of film photography. VSCO makes a bunch of Lightroom presets that are fantastic looking and expensive enough that only pros would buy them, but this app is just 99c and I quite recommend it as long as you understand that its effects are applied as stacked layers (the order in which you apply them ultimately matters).

Audio-Technica QuietPoint noise-cancelling

Apple earbuds with remote (old design)

(He’s since moved on to the) AIAIAI Tracks


Nixon Trooper (these broke this week)

Incase Sonic

Klipsch S4i

Not sure, but these might be old Audio-Technicas
Sony MDR-XD100

Bose A2E

Florence: IRL vs. Assassin’s Creed 2

One of the things that struck me about walking around Milan and Florence was, and I know this is going to sound lame, how much the old architecture reminded me of Assassin’s Creed 2’s environments. One of the things I was surprised to see were fist-sized holes in old castle walls that I figured were only placed in the game as justification for Ezio’s ability to climb any surface — I didn’t think they existed in real life!

This afternoon, I fired up the game again to have a virtual walk-around in Florence (or Firenze, to Italians), and captured some shots that lined up with photos I’d taken.

Visiting Italy

I’ve just gotten back from two weeks in Italy, about 50% of that time on business for a client-side conference. I logged as much as I could on the road at, which turned out to be a pretty nifty service now that they’ve enabled offline posting in their iOS app. You take photos or write short posts, and those are geotagged and uploaded to your stream when you have a connection. At the end of it all, you can create a “trip post”, which summarizes your movements on a map. Here’s my Italian trip summed up in too much detail.

A trio of us Sapient guys landed in Milan’s Malpensa Airport, stayed a night, then rented a car and drove down to the sleepy beachside town of Ravenna, then went back up to Milan where we spent the rest of the trip, save for a day in Florence. Here are some photo highlights (I decided to travel light with just my iPhone), the rest are on my Flickr.