Thursday, April 22, 2010

Felt Like High School

I am back.
Sorry for the silence.
Been super busy trying to get a contract re-bid out and was given a chance to attend a leadership camp in Hong Kong.
I was driving to work today and i was thinking to myself on how similar it felt now compared to when i was back in high school.
Rewind back one week ago, i was on my way to Hong Kong for a leadership camp organised by the company.
I work in a 45,000 strength company across 11 business lines. I am just a speck of dust serving in a small business line.
The leadership camp were attended by another 30 colleagues which i have not met, heard or even emailed before. They were in a different business line; all of them. They are all designers, architects, landscapers, planners. They come from a very esteemed business line that move, and rock the industry. Their presentation are never short of impressive - graphic wise. Makes the usual technical presentation look like boring rocket science that will get you dozed off after 3 minutes.
I was the ONLY one from a business line different from theirs. Infact, this leadership camp was meant JUST for their business line. I was, as they said "our featured guest".
I've learnt a lot in those 4 days, 3 nights i was there. I got some stuff to share, which i will do so via this blog. Keep tuned and keep coming back. I promise it will be worth your time.
I was handpicked by my leader, which explained why i was the only one that was different. There was me, and there were all of them.
Daunting. I am put into a pool of this business line future leaders. The same mover and shaker that will take over when the time comes. Daunting.
Felt like highschool. Very.
Back to today, i was driving to work.
I can't help thinking how much it felt like back in school. I was an active fler. I joined every club there was. I want to be a leader in all of them if i could. I want to stand up. I want to stand OUT. I thrive on leading. Kiasu.
Today, in this office i am working in. After 2.5 years here. I moved up three two grades. I changed name card and designation 4 times. My working CV looked impressive (if it make sense). I am the HSSE (health, safety, security and environment) lead for the country. I am the country manager serving an US based O&G client. I was the country manager for a Dutch based O&G client. Above all that, i am the group manager looking after all the O&G client there are in this country and i have 26 people reporting to me. The group make up half the office; with the other half split between Admin/Finance and the other group of five people. 
In short, it is like high school.  
Yesterday, i was called into the room by my country manager i.e. my direct boss. I was presented with an opportunity as the office will see a re-org soon. I was offered to take over and be a regional program manager for two of the three multinational O&G company. I will have Thailand, Singapore, Philippines, Brunei, Laos, Indonesia, Hong Kong reporting to me for these two clients. 
This is ON TOP of what i am doing now in the office as per above.
High school. Very.
Same afternoon, i was called into the room by my boss' boss. He explained to me, or rather, tried to explain how i am and will always be there to take on more - and excel in it.
Lets face it. Economy isn't doing too well and we are effected one way or another. Cost cutting is in the agenda and they are looking at me to pick up more - at no cost.
At no cost.
That shattered my hope.
I was disappointed.
I gave and i continue to give relentlessly. 
I created such a niche for myself that i can't find any successor to take over my position. As arrogant as i sound, i am almost ( say almost as no one is really) indispensible (something i've learnt too during the leadership camp; create a niche for yourself and you are indispensible - i've done that without realising)
And here i am, again, like high school, losing out on my benefit compared to a pseudo-expat.
The fact that i am bitching about it here, well, that's high school too.
I believe you all that read this, got my drift.
Question is : Should i bite the apple that was presented in front of me now and be the Regional lead, commanding well over 120 project managers, engineers and technicians?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cleo Eligible Bachelor 2010

So, it's back. it sort of jiggle my memories a bit as i was one of the many bachelor back in 2003. Back then, the competition wasn't as high-tech as now where the contestants get some air-time on national radio (Red.FM).

Nothing bad about that really, but i did wish i was given a chance to be on air like them.
It was all because i found that as the year goes by, the contestant just gotten cornier and well, less eligible in many ways.
Now, tell me, how could a student be eligible when they are still feeding off under mummy's armpit and not even secured a job?
Does having puppy eyes make one eligible? or a dashing of good look make them a champion?
If yes, then Ryan more than qualify for this.


Don't get me wrong, i wasn't sore that i did not win back in 2003. I knew i won't because the eventual winner has way better hair than me. Long flowing locks that drives girls back in 2003 wild and aunties would botox their faces to be cougars again. Infact, those hairs will drive a few gay men wild too thinking of all the possibility that they could do with those manly-mane.
But seriously. What makes a man eligible?
Well, to start with, they have NOT to be in a relationship (with another girl, or man, singular or plural).
It's simple, you do not put yourself out in the "market" if you are well, attached.
Else, you won't be able to use one of the line i heard yesterday by one bachelor that told the whole listener of Red.FM that "I am a bachelor because it's more fun and i get to see more girls than when i am attached".
Whatever happened to wits?
Q: Why are you still a bachelor?
A: Because i want to ensure i have a stable job and a stable mind before i could ensure i will be able to provide to my eventual partner.
Now, tell me, won't this be a better answer? (though ultra lame?)
One even went to the extend of saying "If you want to know me, you got to being it to the next level, lah" (all the while suppressing his Malaysianess with a heavy engrand accent).
Dude, if any girls want to know you and your reason for being a bachelor, they really do not need to bring it ot the next level, or sleep with you to know man. Grow up. You think you are Craig David or Brad Pitt?
This morning, again, i overhead two person, one was a divorcee and one more, i couldn't be bothered to know what he does (but chances are, Student).
The question were about "do you believe in marriage".
While the divorced chap did believed in marriage, but i have to give it to him. For one, he is eligible.
1. has a job
2. was in a relationship
3. love and loved before
4. know what to expect
5. should be able to tolerate a real relationship
6. ex-wife most probably scratching her head why they even divorced, for now.
Now, putting things into context in today's real world. I have three very eligible bachelor buddy that was recently divorced (up to about 1 year back). Two were with kids (hey, girls that might be interested might not need to worry about giving birth!) and one is single. One is a pilot, one is a doctor and one more a manager in a telco.
All three could sustain a comfortable life and all three do not smoke (drink sparingly, two of them), witty, fun and best of all, lead a very healthy life. All three swim, bike and run, and climb.
Tickle you ladies fancies? Drop me a comment, i hook you all up. Forget about these bachelors in the magazine, go for the real thing.

Bachelors, take your number and wait till she is 25 years old.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

D90+Lowepro Promotion - See To Believe!

Deal of the Month!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Panasonic DMC-TS2 Review

Ever since Olympus Mju came out with their Tough series point and shoot (PnS) camera which claims to withstand shock and (wow!) waterproof, i've wanted to get one. Only biggest hindrance is that the mju 6000/8000 were pretty expensive and i have never associated Olympus with camera.
Yeah, i know, i am shallow.
After almost 3 years of waiting and even gotten myself a Nikon D90 last year, the urge to get a "tough" PnS were very strong.
The family has one unit of Canon Powershot A770. It has it's limitation though it was amongst the better PnS back about 4 years ago. Only complains were really the lag the Canon has. If wifey were to capture a photo of me running past, the shutter will trigger ONLY after i ran past.
From then onwards, the camera has been taking a back seat and has been used less than 10 times over the past 4 years.
When i saw my buddies at whipped out a nifty orangy looking PnS, i was curious. Then Jason mentioned to me it is Panasonic's "tough" model.
Panasonic produces a "tough" PnS? Really?!
A week later, i started to google for this and chance upon a comparison done by that pitted the Canon, Panasonic, Olympus(both 6000 and 8000) and Pentax. The verdict was a tie between the Canon and Panasonic. Enough said. I know which one i wanted.
Canon's camera doesn't look as serious with it's perculiar rounded-oval-is-this-a-defect-ostrich-egg look.
Canon D10
Doc Hisyam has one and i believe he sang song about it. But the shape is just not...right. I prefer something mju like.
Olympus Mju Tough 8000
IronKam has this and i just love the fact he race and swam with this in the sea. I know i want one.
So, when i saw Shazly and Jason has one, it was almost like some calling. I think and thought and weighed the option and let the mind fight over need and wants...i told Jason i wanted one.
Panasonic DMC-TS1
The review in were of the older model TS1 where the buddies at asked me and confirm with me again if this was what i wanted and not TS2.
There's a NEW model?
Panasonic TS2 were launched earlier this year, infact,on 26th January 2010!
This model is spanking new!

Panasonic TS2
Noticed the differences? The TS2 upped the megapixel game and comes in 14MP neatly packed under those metal body with carbonfiber inside.
I went for the BLUE no less!
The box came to me unopened. I recieved a synthetic leather original Lumix camera casing and a Panasonic (made in Japan) 8GB SDHC card eventhough these are actually optional. I bet my bottom dollar that if you purchase it somewhere else, you will get those generic cheap SD card which will not let your camera perform as it should.
I opened the box and everything was so neatly packed but i did not have the patience to unravel each one by one. I literally tore the content out.
Once the dust settled and the spanking new camera was in my hand, i saw that the box comes with 2 power cable - one 2-pin and one 3-pin. Cool. That would meant you can choose which one you want to use. The battery comes with a battery casing/protector, a handstrap with a stopper, the charger of course, a silicon casing (Double WOW!), manual, CD and a quickguide.
I got the battery to charge overnight the first day (though the charger cut off after 2 hours indicating a fully charged battery). So, there wasn't anything else to do but to take photo of the camera - with a samsung PnS i borrow from the office.
 The orange part is what keeps water and dust out and away from the battery and adapter compartment (not shown). It has a double lock mechanism to prevent incidental opening of these compartment when under extreme (read : WATER and DUST/SAND/ICE condition) condition. Precaution were everywhere to ensure that no hair, sand, water on this part prior to closing.
It fits nicely into my palm and felt solid. Jason commented that this is tough enough to drop from 2m (Accidentally, not on purpose) and dive down to 10m into the water. It is unlikely i will dive down to 2 meters, let alone 10m, but it felt good to know that this fler can withstand that type of pressure.
As if the camera is not tough enough, Panasonic lumped in a silicon casing with the camera.
The silicon skin fits like a glove into the camera body and really did gives an extra layer of protection (not that it needed it anyway) from perhaps, scratches and keys inside your pocket.
Silicon Skin at work
The camera claims of good ISO performance and i know how important this is in a camera. My D90 has ISO up to 6400 and with 3200 to be standard. The TS2 has ISO capability up to 2500 (in Scn - High Res Mode) and with the ability to cap the ISO to 800, 1200 or 1600. This is particularly important so that the photo taken does not come out grainy/noisy.
Which brings me to the camera's first test.
ISO Performance
I am not pro enough to actually judge this but i base my review on this on how the photo look. My basis for this will be "if the photo looked noisy, they are".
Here is a shot taken under the sun, outside Curve (between Tesco and Curve) of the red fire engine.
Crisp and sharp as it were predicted to be. If it doesn't perform well under bright sun light, i think this camera would had been returned to Snap-Attack for a full refund.
I then move towards the parking area in Tesco, which are typically not very brightly lit and with numbers of florocent lights 
I cap the ISO to 1600 as i want it to go that high if needed. Flash were supressed as i just want to see how noisy it was at 1600.
Looked perfectly fine eh? Here is 100% crop (meaning i crop it and no resize)
There are noticeable noise as you can see from the image above. Well, unless you are trying to snap a photo of a couple making out at the rear of this Kembara, the noise would not be of any issue as far as the "photo subject" is concerned (afterall, i really just literally whip out the camera and snap).
I have tried the ISO reaction at various speed and also sensitivity and the best results shows that you cap the ISO to 800. There were no noticeable noise at all! Sorry, no sample photos as i did not/could not find any place dark enough without looking silly trying to capture a photo in pitch darkness.
Other features worth mentioning
Each camera manufacturer will have their own line/collection of features specific to their make. Panasonic is no different. It comes with a "Power OIS" replacing the older "Mega OIS". OIS is Panasonic's answer to Nikon VR (or Vibration Reduction). OIS stands for Optical Image Stabilisation. There were 3 mode selectable - Auto, Mode 1 and Mode 2. I've not tried what the Mode 1 and 2 were for, but my guess is that Mode 2 would be more "aggressive" OIS.
The camera comes with iA or Intelligent Auto. What this meant is that in this mode, the camera will decide, (based on how/what i would not know), a selection of "i" mode. I've so far had auto i-Potrait chosen with face recognition and tracking purposes!
This camera too comes with HD recording and while it could not replace a dedicated video-cam, it did it's work pretty decently. It also has a set of three mini LED light that lights up automatically when ambience light falls too low for the camera to successfully take a video.
There is an option to set your own white balance (WB) and as all of you had read, i've shown the importance of getting the right WB before snapping the photo so that what need to stay blue, remains blue and not green.
I have the camera for 3 days so far and i am still learning it's capabilities. One thing for sure, It will go into the water and will find it's match with grit and sand when time comes. I am pretty happy so far as the camera is easy to use and all control were easy to understand. 
The camera retail for RM1499 but you will be silly to pay full retail price. If you are looking for your first camera and wants it to be waterproof, drop proof, idiot proof, future-proof, contact and enquire about the best price they could give you for this Panasonic TS2. I was happy with the purchase and this review is unbiased and as subjective as i could get.
Do come back from time to time to read more of the camera and it's review as and when i start unravel more features that will make photography a happy hobby, even for kids.
Photo taken using TS2 and with simple viginetting done using GIMP. No other PP applied and the photo before PP were good enough for viewing. At full resolution, the photo above could be develop to a A2 sized photo (Aspect ration 4:3, 14MP full resolution)