Saturday, May 20, 2006

Began Saturday bright and early at NUS for the PUS on-site presentation rehearsal. After a general briefing for all participants, the LT space was ours to have a quick run-through of our script and tech, but it was difficult getting started because of several briefings going on at the same time for various aspects of AV and furniture arrangements. Of course, nothing could get started until 1 particular college finished a completely irrelevant briefing of its participants right in the middle of the presentation floor, which I thought was quite inconsiderate, especially when everyone is already pressed for time.

Our presenters looked nervous and didn't quite know where to stand as there was this huge console counter occupying centre-stage instead of an empty space, like as we rehearsed in college. In fact, this dumb object took up so much space, a lot of the movements we devised have to be re-looked, re-thought, and re-designed. Basically, I was counting on getting a stage with wings. What I got was a narrow strip of floor space for my presenters to stand in...

I realize I'm starting to talk nonsense here. It's almost 24 hours since I wrote that last paragraph. What happened was that I saved this entry, then went into the living room where I found June asleep on the carpet. I was too tired myself to wake her so we both spent the night on the living room floor.

What else I meant to add to this entry was that we had College Day in the afternoon with P giving his first ever College Day speech, and how serious he sounded. Not quite his usual off-the-cuff humour as he was so conscious of being formal in front of his Board and his predecessor.

As soon as was humanly possible, a small party of us made a bee-line for Thai Express, J8, for a quick meal before our screening of "The DaVinci Code." It's worth a review, but not today. Still not feeling all that coherent. :P

Friday, May 19, 2006

Squaresoft recently released a DVD movie following up on the characters that featured in Final Fantasy VII. "Advent Children" was an impulse buy for me, though my expectations weren't really high for it. After all, a 101 minute CGI movie wasn't going to recapture the blood and sweat and magic of the epic game FF7 was.

My instinct about "Advent Children" wasn't wrong. It was mildly interesting to give some limelight to Reno and Rude of the Turks -- the Turks were quite amusing adversaries in the game -- but the movie doesn't really develop the story of Cloud and company much further though 2 years have passed since their adventures in Crater.

In this movie sequel, there is an epidemic sweeping through the city of Midgar. Cloud himself has become infected, though he doesn't want his friends to know about it. What's worse is the rise of 3 Cloud-clones who seek the resurrection of uber-bad guy, Sephiroth, whom they think will lead them in their quest for world domination or whatever.

It was disappointing that the main characters -- all 7 of whom had rich backstories in the game -- are relegated to simply playing muscle in this movie. The gang shows up for the final punch-up, but it's mainly Tifa that reaches out to Cloud on a personal level while the others just keep monsters off his back.

Without the interactivity of the game interface, without the time taken to flesh out the characters, without the ability to make wacky combinations of "materia" just to see their effects on enemies, the FF7 player just sits and drools watching the events of "Advent Children" unfold, rather than being involved in the process of making it happen. The movie experience thus pales in comparison to the game. Bleh.

Still, the video footage from the movie has become rich material for spawning parodies of itself. Check out YouTube for a bunch of FF7 silliness. You might start with this one, entitled, "The Real Story."

Thursday, May 18, 2006

NY conneX is now updated every Thursday. Issue #14 is ready for public perusal: click here. We've got a diverse lot of articles this week, from our exploits at Makan Mania, to touch rugby, to a review on the goings-on at this year's E3 in Los Angeles.

Now that the publication can more or less take care of itself, I can now free myself up to focus more on increasing our readership. Where else but in the Education industry can a guy hold a Chief Publisher job for 6 months then immediately switch hats and become Publicity Head for the next 6? There's never a dull moment...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Looks like our creative Mr Sim is really going ahead with the plan to halt Apple's i-pod sales via litigation. How Singaporean is that? If we can't compete on a level playing field, we claim the other guy's cheating, take him to court, hope that we have more resources than he does to survive a long-drawn out and expensive process, eventually bankrupt the guy, and Game Over! We win!

This strategy has been decisively effective against our opponents before: certain individuals who are generally unloved by the public, and, in some cases, are even an embarassment to be associated with in public.

ST's editorial cartoonist depicted Creative's foray as an intrepid David facing off against a formidable Goliath. Right.

Goliath, as the Bible portrayed him, was a yutz who deserved what he got from the shrimp. What Creative is contending with is quite a different animal. Apple-heads have reason to love their Macs, and for better or worse,podders love their pods. Apple is more than just a company to be taken down; for many of us, it a culture and a way of life.

And, yes, though Creative is a Singaporean home-grown model of entrepreneurhood we bow down to and worship, lots of Singaporeans ourselves have spurned the Zen for the pod. Perhaps we are irrational to do so, but "cool" is something we'll pay for once we can afford it.

The court battle isn't about pod sales here, though. The suit seeks to halt pod sales in the US itself -- Apple home turf!

Inasmuch as Goliath was unwelcome on David's backyard, David himself would have been just as obnoxious if he walked through Goliath's front door, totting his home-made uzi and gunning for a head shot.

In short, I doubt Creative would please anyone in this rather un-creative adventure. But I take my hat off to Sim and his organization for their audacity.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Wonder if it's getting to the end of term or if the mid-year exams are fast approaching that's affecting our J2s.

Thought I'd put 'em in groups and toss 'em the daily 'paper and let each group select a few of their favourite stories. They would then work on a presentation of their selected stories in TV news format. By this, I mean they would have to script out the news cast, imagine and compose the accompanying video visuals and play out the human drama that lies behind every news story. Sounds exciting, at least on paper.

Of course, the enthusiasm the J2s have greeted this tutorial format has been breathtakingly underwhelming. Work-to-rule and doing-for-the-sake-of-doing have become the work ethic of the day and, frankly, it's tiresome. They aren't entertained, and neither am I by what they produce. Like radioactive green nasi lemak, I guess there is such a thing as being too innovative.

No more fooling around, then. It's back to good, old-fashioned drill-and-practice for them. For some strange reason, I seem to get more productive work output from them this way.

Oh, and on an unrelated note...

Today is a significant date for NY conneX. The faithful old guard have convened for their last major decision: which of the J1s will replace them when they step down next week. It took till about 1930 hrs to complete the interviews and to trash out the options available, but the decision has finally been made. As of this week's issue (available by Thursday), we can hang out a sign declaring, "Under New Management."