Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The rise of the 'Customized Economy'

I'm currently reading "Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes" by Mark J. Penn. Now I am always in the habit of reading a few books at any one time, and perhaps one of the thing that stuck on me, well I've still yet to finish this book though, is the idea behind 'Customized Economy'.

Now when I was just finishing my post-graduate course way back in 2001, the buzzword then was the 'Knowledge Economy', whereby the commodity that would make or break a nation or society is no longer about how much oil or natural resources you have, but more importantly, is how you would use the abundance of information that was growing at already an exponential rate back then, to your advantage. This growth, as you would have known is partly due to the emergence of web-based technologies, and its preponderance in almost every part of our lives! And then a few years after that, futurists and innovation gurus was advancing the idea of the 'Creative Economy', whereby the constant need to change and evolve, or perhaps the hype that surrounds it, desires the need for one or an organization to be constantly be at the forefront of innovation. Doesn't matter that innovation in itself is sometimes abused to mask shortcomings that perhaps is of no fault to societies or institutions that simply do not want to evolve, but perhaps lets argue that one out on another post then!

Now Mark brought forth the idea that perhaps with the evolution of the Web to version 2, i.e. Web 2.0, there is a possibility that a niched economic approach to how things are sold or marketed might just be something that is viable indeed! No longer are we talking about just the mere selling of products en masse, and reaping the profits just through the sheer volume that is being sold! What we are talking here is customized marketing, selling, advertising..and a whole array of exposure to selling or marketing to you products or services that YOU WILL NEED or WANT! Think 'Minority Report', and you know what I mean. And in fact, when you look at the idea of the rather oxymoronic idea of 'Mass Customization', in effect what our dear leaders have done is to actually put this economic idea already in action! Medical tourism, cheap airlines, nanotechnology, high-value adding industries...i mean the list goes on and on! It does scares me at times, at how fast a pace things are moving, but worries me more is the feeling that somehow somewhere, in the future, I would be made redundant, in more ways than one!

What's next, the 'Network Economy'?! Hmmm...

Friday, November 30, 2007

iPodification of your handphones: The next step of communication mobility

I've use this term 'iPodification' and 'iPodifying' as a noun and verb to demonstrate the fact of using the whole iPod experience as a benchmark of sorts for any consumer-based products designer, notwithstanding the fact that there are indeed other more technically superior products out there, that are seemingly offer more value-for-money, and a better user experience! But I guess when it comes to the crunch, sometimes it is the 'coolness' factor that wins hands down! I am myself looking forward to finalising my decision on getting my next lappy..whether it would be a MacBook Pro, or the regular Windows Vista-based platform! Hmmm, decisions, decisions, decisions!

Anyway just something that I saw the other day, that relates to the title of my post today! Have a look at the clip, and tell me that you have not somehow or rather have an inkling of what is happening!

Hmmm...but for US$10 million...who's questioning?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Design Education...it's not just about the children!...part 2

So let me go back then to this whole idea of Design Education that seemingly can go even beyond the children! Unlike the other more 'traditional' subject areas like the sciences, mathematics, languages and humanities, somehow or rather, the subject of design and technology has indeed a great deal of transformation over the years. And it in with this respect that I feel that, parents, and sadly, teachers as well, have been pretty much in the dark of what are these developments all about.

But at times we can't really blame them for this misinformation, simply because there had not been enough 'rebranding' exercise or programme that had been put in place to correct this (mis)conception.

It is thus with this battle-cry in mind that I do hope that design educators like myself will take that extra effort in educating, not only our youths on what design is all about, but more importantly, to also bring in the parents of these youths...to buy them in to at least then change their ideas of what a design and technology subject area can offer. It would definitely not be an easy job, given the lack of information and the creative fluidity that at times seems to permeate the subject, but nevertheless, over time, I do strongly believe in the eventual greater appreciation of what design is all about, and the kind of value-addedness that its exposure can offer.

So where can we go from here! Well the only way is to do a better job at 'rebranding' this subject! Marketing of this subject matter at even the initial years of a students' life would definitely be helpful! I mean some primary schools in UK are even having some form of a technical education or a component of it, in their curriculum, and these seems to have worked wonders, as kids would then have a natural flair of associating what they have learnt, and perhaps apply it immediately! And in this aspect too, I do believe that when students are better able to relate theory with the application, learning becomes more rooted in their knowledge bank, and perhaps, just perhaps, it could actually be a way forward for our education system, which is currently still very much based on the didactic methods of the old! The other idea that perhaps might work over here, and in which I have propounded in my post some time back, was on the idea of having an integrated approach to education, removing the silo-like nature of subject areas, and perhaps having classes run like mini-companies, with the marketing, sales, management, manufacturing, design, quality assurance, and other real 'job designations' being handed out instead, rather than the atypical subject silo! In fact why not close the gap even further and let these companies have a sponsoring stake in these schools, or if its too expensive, maybe adopt some of their upper secondary classes for part of their work. The students get paid and educated, and the companies get mileage, a ready pool of perhaps creative potential that remains untapped, and perhaps would be able to give them better ideas from a different, more youthful perspective! Hmmm, perhaps these could be the Medici Effect happening right before their very eyes!


Design for safety...the case of the Dragon Boaters

I've read with sadness the death of 5 of my countrymen, dragon boaters who were dedicated and passionate to their sport, but whose lives were taken away so sudden, and so young! What saddens me perhaps is the fact that their death could have been prevented quite easily..perhaps! The news reported that, and this were later corroborated by the other team members, that the team decided not to wear the safety jackets because firstly, the weather was fine and the conditions in the river was calm enough. Being experienced boaters themselves, nobody would have doubted that decision. And perhaps to make their winning form and combination better, the other reason given was because the life jackets would actually slow down or impede their rowing. At this juncture I would just like to stop commenting on their decisions, because it was a judgement call that they make collectively as a team, and who are we to question that. What I am more concerned, as an educator in design, is that, isn't there any better designs of life jackets being done anywhere in the world!

I can still remember all the lifejackets that I've worn, or at least would have worn should things turn unfavourable, and I can say that at most, I think the ones that gives me the greatest comfort was the one that I wore during one of my reservist or is it NSF training...the one where the life jacket is relatively small and handy, and is actually activated using a small gas canister. Besides that, the usual life jackets that I've work and seen, are perhaps the older design that is relatively cumbersome to put on, and is in fact more geared towards just allowing the person wearing it to have his head be placed above the water level, and nothing else. In fact it can get quite cumbersome that I don't think it is that manouverable at all. The last that I wore was during my reservist training last year, you know the one where you have to manually blow it up, and my goodness, it was so stiff! Makes me wonder what would happen if we are caught in a firefight while wearing that awful and stiff life jacket around our shoulders!

I mean after all this while, isn't there like a jacket that can be worn by water sportsman like the canoeists and dragon boaters, that would not impede their rowing action. Maybe perhaps, with our more advanced knowledge on ergonomics, anthropometrics and materials engineerings, we might even be able to put forth one that would in fact be aiding the boaters in their competition, rather than impede them. Good and strategic placement of sensors would help to ensure that the floatation capability of the life jacket would be activated once it is submerged in water! Think of how the air bags in the car is activated within microseconds of a collision, and you would know what I mean. And how about an adjustable floation capability, one that would allow the jacket to fit within the weight and body size limits of the user, regardless whether the guy is a 150kg sumo wrestler, or a 5 year old child! Impossible you say! Think of Shape Memory Alloys (SMAs), and I think it would be a possibility sooner than you think.

And how about other life-saving or even life-prolonging capabilities of the jacket! Luminous coloured that is adjustable to the light and water-colour conditions of where the user is wearing it. An automatic beacon in each lifejacket...especially for those ocean going vessels! (Think the Titanic!) And how about temperature controllet, or shark repeller, or portable desalination device, or a full bodied life jacket, for those who are incapacitated or suffering from hydrophobia, and needs the assurance of having their entire bodies above the water level! The list goes on endlessly indeed.

My point here is that if only we could do a better job designing better life jackets, to keep pace mankind's pursuits, I do think that the 5 lives can be saved on that day!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Design Education...it's not just about the children!...part 1

I just had my work review this afternoon. Pretty much okay I guess, the usual dose of things to do and targets to achieve..that kind of thing. It was pretty much alright. But one thing that really gets me thinking is not so much about the work review, but more on the things that my bosses have to put with from parents during our discussions.

One feedback that I got was on the feedback by parents of next year's Sec 3 students, who specifically wanted their child to move out from classes that offers design and technology, into the sciences and mathematics-based offered classes. Now, I'm not really against the Sciences and Mathematics, since I am a Pure Science student myself...but what worries me is the fact that these parents are not informed, or rather have very little information on what design and technology can offer...the kind of value-addedness that taking the subject can give to their child! Now i don't think the parents are to be blamed here, simply because they would not have taken that initiative to really know what the subjects can offer. Now this is where my worry begins, because if these parents were to base their 'IDEA' of a design and technology subject area based on what they have gone through ages ago, then they can't be blamed if they want their child to choose otherwise.

Now let me put things in perspective for those of you who don't understand this. In the 80's, well those are the times that I was doing my high school education anyway :) and the years before that, the Technical Education stream was only offered to the less-academically inclined Upper Sec classes. And in those days, workshop sessions was conducted in a very regimented manner, meaning "I show you how to cut or saw this...and you jolly well do it this way and nothing else!" Those were the times where Technical Education was seen to be more of a craftsmanship thing, and very, very 'hardcore' technical skills involvement, rather than the fluidity of creative design that I am trying to move towards! Workshop sessions were silo'ed into woodwork and metalwork, and not much deviation from the 'standard model answer/model' was allowed! And lessons were definitely very uninspiring, taught by some unsinpiring teachers as well! (Well I do make an effort to be inspiring, well I hope I am! ;)

So this is where the title of my post comes in! Looking back, my passion for design education now seems to be something that goes beyond the classroom even! Wow, come to think of it, it is something like championing a cause to create this awareness of what design education can offer. I mean the very fact that it is now known as Design and Technology will, hopefully make parents aware that this is something that is beyond just working in the workshop. I think I must also be mindful of this element of 'Design'...somehow it is still a 'dirty' word of sorts, projecting in the minds of those not in the know, of flamboyant-looking individuals coming out with things or items that people wouldn't buy. And the 'Technology' component...where the hell is it! And now this is also something that at times, I do have a beef with. Because if teachers teaching this subject are are not using, or are at least using Technology, if not at the forefront of it, then how do you suppose to be teaching about it then?


Monday, November 26, 2007

a really long hiatus...

My oh my, it has been a really long hiatus...its been a while since I last posted an entry. Been through a lot of reflection lately, hmmm...perhaps symptoms of ANOTHER mid-life crisis! Hei I though I had that in 2001-2002? Hmmm, well I guess there's no harm having another one, as long as it'll make me a better person.

A lot of things go through my mind lately, first and foremost, about what are my personal targets and goals for the next 5 to 7 years! Yes, I do plan for that long people! Maybe I should just pen it down here then...maybe not! Nah not yet. Later perhaps.

Been reading a couple of books lately, ah yesh, that reminds me to update the Library thingy. Anyway, I've also a new indulgence right now, Facebook! Oh man, this is probably one of the best tool that have come out from Web 2.0. Been toying with it for a few days now, and its a little pretty nifty tool mind you. I'm definitely going to fully utilise it, for my next scheme of things. Anyway I think I better pen down my thoughts on what I want to do during these long hols.

1) Read about 1 to 2 books a week, that will give me a grand total of about 12-16 books
2) Pick up: Adobe Photoshop and Basic Digital DSLR photography
3) Monetize my blog...and my other potential plans
4) Get cracking on my personal target and strategic planning for Wealth Creation and road to Financial Freedom!
5) Reorganize my house
6) Network, network and more network!
7) Create my business cards and business plans

That's about all for now.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Innovation Protocol - Day 2: The Social Face of Innovation - 1st posted on 25th Sept 2007

The pictures for the second day of the workshop is at my Flickr website here.

With information and pictures gleaned from our visit on the first day, the team then get down to business to take a relook at the various types of user experiences that would definitely enhance our target user's quality of life. What we have learnt so far, or what we have decided to look into, are the various opportunities that would allow us the luxury to impact either Mdm K, or in an alternative sort of way, future Mdm K's. The team do believe that there would be many more Mdm K's in the immediate and longer term, so what we should do perhaps is not so much as to offer a product or service that perhaps is totally new, because maybe, just maybe, that would be better done and left to the private product-related companies. What we did decide though is to relook at how some experiences that are currently in place, could be made a little (or a whole lot) better with some minor/major tweaking! And guess what, one of the first major product that caught our attention was the ubiquitous wheelchair.

Creating the iChair

What the team feels is the need for one to improve the quality of the users' experience when one is sitting on wheelchair. With the target users of the current iPod generation in their 50s to 70s in mind, the team decided to
see how the use of the wheechair, and the array of users' experience that comes along with it, can be better improved, to make it an even more user-centric design, coupled with the idea to eliminate the notion of it being
a medical equipment! In fact the team believes that in as much as an iPod is considered to be the product design industry's standards of what makes a successful product (although more on a more technical aspect, it is not that
superlatively excellent!), we would also want the redesigned wheelchair to be an iPod of sorts, an iconic product for the less-abled (versus the disabled), something that can be used to be the talk of these target users, and at
the same time, be one single thing that they can be proud to have, own, or even be seen to be in one! Very much like how iPod is an accessory that one would want to see and be seen, the team wants to remove the social stigma that is attached to the current wheelchair design, so that perhaps, just perhaps, it could also be as socially desirable to the less-abled, just like the iPod.

The team decided on a simple name for this new redesigned wheelchair, the iChair. AS you can see from the pictures of our model-cum-prototype, it is indeed something that perhaps captures or elicits user-centricness in its design. With sexy curves (although it is not that sexy when one is working with corrugated boards), its intechangeable iPapa (inspired from uPapa..sorry Osim for borrowing from you guys! :) ), iButt butt massaging unit for those long tireless chats on the beauty of the iChair with your friends, in the comfort of your own Herman Miller-inspired Aeron Chair's wire meshing backing and butt support, to improve blood circulation, and at the same time improve ventilation to these 'rear' areas to eliminate smell and bed/seat sores. Or how about the motorised transport and navigtion system, which includes GPS and a small monitor for plugging your 10th Gen iPod to entertain you while you are navigating down the IR! And how about the Segway-inspired (sorry again, this time to Segway! :) ) navigation stick, that allows ease of use by offering soft-touch and frontal positioning, all this inspired by Mdm K, our original user in mind! When we first observed Mdm K while she is having her meal, we realise that the dexterity of her hands is pretty much limited, and although she is fiercely independent and would like to be feeding herself, but more often than not, due to her limited upper body motion capability, she is only able to get only 75% of the food from the spoon to her mouth...and she is also limited in terms of her frontal reach, which was thus THE major inspiration for this frontal navigation system.

The iChair...at home

The team also looks at how the iChair can just be more than just a mobility machine of sorts, but more importantly, it is THE machine that can very much improve the quality of her users. To this we look at how Mdm K gets around to doing some of the basic things that we take for granted, such as moving in and out from her bed, getting around in and out of the bathroom/toilet, navigating her way, having her meals, and most importantly, how being seen in a wheelchair affect her, as well as her caregiver's self-esteem and social life, which is sadly almost non-existent. The team believes that the design of the current wheelchair, with the use of technology that is currently available, and perhaps being extrapolated to 30 years into the future, would indeed be something that is quite normal, and in fact almost a standardised item and one that would not really cost a fortune! The ability of the iChair to be able to lift the user by perhaps a max of 6 inches would be something that would enable the user to level herself/himself up to the level of the bed, which would hence increase her mobility of sorts. These coupled with the use of alternative materials that is lighter, tougher, waterproof, and is in fact more aesthetically pleasing, would in fact be something that can surely eliminate the problems that one faces when one sees a wheelchair!

The iChair...a possibility

The idea of reinventing something is not totally new, and is in fact something that is very much a part of Mankind's natural capacity! But the team sure do hope that somehow, somewhere, somebody in the future, would have the necessary wherewithal to realise the team's iChair, and perhaps, just perhaps, would contribute to making the lives of the less-abled that much more fuller.

Environmental Manifesto for Businesses - 1st posted on 24th Sept 2007

I just happen to be blessed with a wave of good ideas that hopefully would be able to make a difference to how Mankind will conduct their businesses in the future, for the benefit of the environment. Hopefully this can be an impetus to something more!

1) Lifelong customer relationship: The concept of selling by perhaps major retail and departmental stores when it comes to home electrical appliances for individuals could perhaps be better tweaked. Instead of trying to focus on only individuals for their purchases and focusing only on the short term gains of closing that sale, retailers should go beyond and look at the totality of the purchase. Sell the entire experience of using an array of appliances to the entire family itself, instead of only the key decision-maker of the family. Instead of selling the microwave oven to the mom, sell the array of accompanying appliances like the oven, the refrigerator, the juicer, the coffee maker, in fact, sell the experience of using it all! And here's the kicker, offer a lifetime replacement warranty, so that when a newer product, or model, or version of whatever that they currently have is offered, allow them to be exchanged, perhaps maybe at a discounted price of the new product. This perhaps is Customer Relationship Management (CRM) taken to a whole new, lifetime levels of sorts. What these means to the user is some degree of familiarity in terms of branding, you know about how we ourselves, when we were growing up, are used to certain brands of cornflakes, soap, hair cream, etc. I mean what this basically means is the idea of more than just offering an experience that goes along with the product, but more importantly, an experience that attaches emotional significance to what the product/s means to the end user!

2) Hyperconnectivity: With things going wireless seeming to be the norm here, it is only a matter of time when appliances are going to be connected in one way or another to create that rich experience of hyperconnectivity. What one can even tweak further for a more environmentally enriching experience is perhaps to enable some form of a green indicator of sorts between these appliances at home, so that when Jack enters his room during a hot summer day, the air conditioner will be on automatically at just the right temperature for him, and maybe perhaps if his homework is due, the computer would switch on, and his TV would be off. Detecting moments later no particular movement in his room, the sensors might want to turn the air con to a more economical mode, and switch off the computer too! Mom or Dad would perhaps be alerted to Jack's state, and perhaps go and have a look if there is something out of the ordinary...perhaps he is on the verge of having the flu, of perhaps he is just plain tired!

3) Active packaging: Packaging should be more than just a means of offering information or protection. In fact, why not offer the packaging as a part of the user's experience of the product itself! The charging unit of that cordless handphone set also double up as its packaging when Dad bought it last week. Or did I mention the Plasma TV...the box actually doubles up as a mini-foldable lazy chair, for all of Dad's lazy football evenings! Or perhaps, the bottle of the chilli saucee is actually a free vase thrown in! Get a couple of them and wah lah, you would have a very stylish arrangement of vases for your flower beds! Or how about edible 'paper' plates, which I think is currently available, but of which its use is not that pervasive yet. Wouldm't it be nice to be able to save up on cleaning time, plus the water bills, when one plans to hold a party to celebrate an occasion?

4) Designing for the 20%: Sadly product engineers are very much the propagator of this constant need to have as many functions as possible fit into as little or the tiniest of space available. I mean wouldn't you be comparing the various technical specifications when one considers his purchasing decision for a mobile phone? The marketing people here tells us that the sexier the shape of the phone is, plus the more packed the functions that are availabe in the phone on offer, the better it seems to be! I mean ask yourself, how many of us would use the entire array of functions made available to us. Have you ever seen the number of buttons on the remote control of your TV? I'll bet that most of us would only be using around 20% of the functions! Or how about some of the things or services that are available to us! Do we really need to be offered with an array of choices, a whole lot more! The book 'Made to Stick' says otherwise. I guess its better for one to just stick to basics, and perhaps, just perhaps, for the sake of 'mass customisation' offer only 20% of their products to those who really wants that much more!

Innovation Protocol - Day 1: User-centred design - 1st posted on 23rd Sept 2007

The past week has been a most enlightening, yet humbling experience for me, especially in my professional capacity as a design educator. I was involved in yet another one of those training sessions, but this time with a difference! It was just a short 2 days training-cum-workshop organised by the Idea Factory, but yet it does leave some remarkably lasting impression on the power and potentials of design, where its impact and place in social re-engineering is concerned.

Besides the usual first day briefing on the training objectives and such, what the workshop requires us to do as participants was to be engaged, and I meant it in a more 'immersive' sort of way. We were supposed to be broken up into teams, and to take stock of the greying population issues that are fast becoming the social problematic norms in most developed countries, including Singapore. What follows was a visit to one of our potential clients, an elderly/disabled who is wheelchair-bound, and who is suffering from various ailments. On a footnote, this experience sure reminds me of the one done by Jane Fulton Suri, the Chief Creative Officer at IDEO, during one of her social/user-centred experiments on re-engineering a patient's experience in a hospital.

We managed to take a lot of pictures during the visit, and the link to these pictures are in Flickr.

The team's first impression when we reached the house of our client was the relatively steep staircase that greeted us. I think it must be one of the steepest accent that I personally have made, and I am not THAT old yet! And to think that this is located in one of the oldest housing estates in Singapore, sure shows the failing of some of our urban planners in the past, when the primary considerations of housing was more to provide the basic necessitities of housing, rather than aesthetics and/or the future-proofing of housing design. I hope that any urban planners from any developing countries that are reading this, should strive for a balance that incorporates design functionability, and future-proofability, for lack of a better term, since they would eventualy reach a state that a country like ours would be, i.e. a growing greying population, and all its ramifications

The interior of the housing design of our client, Mdm K, was relatively large, I guess due to the relatively generous offerings by our urban planners when they were considering housing design, way back. This is a stark contrast to the newer housing that are being offered, where I guess, and I am really feeling strongly for this, that the architects that designed and planned for our public housing should actually take up one of these courses, to really give them an idea on some of their ridiculously-designed HDB flats! Anyway, back to our client, no doubt the furnishings and basic layout of the room does potray the relative simplicity of the dwellers, but this definitely does not hide the fact that our client and her primary care-giver are seriously in need of a better living condition.

Our client, Mdm K, is down with Parkinson's and has been wheelchair-bound for the past 12 years. Her primary care-giver is her loving husband, who, as the team have brought up before, is the epitome of a loving husband! I mean for someone to be totally be the sole care-giver, to be the one that takes care of her needs, including preparing her meals, bedtime, shower time, and all the usual basic routines of daily living, and doing it for 12 years, and to top it all off, to do it when one is himself not that physicaly capable all the time...I mean isn't this what TRUE LOVE really is!

The team manages to catch glimpses into the daily routines of this exemplary couple, their daily cleaning routines, what they do to while away their time, the somehow fixation on daily routines through the placement of wall clocks in each of the major areas of interaction, the sadly deteriorated state of some of the furnishings in the house, and in fact, the ever-decreasing population of the fishes in the fish tank also struck as as a reflection of the kind of time, or lack of, that the husband has in the pursuit of his other daily personal space and time!

The team, and myself, was struck at the way things are centred around the routines of our client. Notwithstanding that the design of the house was nowhere near an ideal one for the wheelchair bound, but somehow one would observe the user-centricness of some of these details. Like the placement of the house and other keys near the doorway, to I guess, minimise the search routines of the house keys in any given day; the arrangement of the furniture in the house which are all stacked up close near the walls, which somehow potrays the necessity of wheelchair movement, rather than one of aesthetics, which would seem to be the pervasive domain in a typical Malay/Muslim household in an average Singaporean Malay household; the placement of mirrors at the main 'expressway' of the house, which brings out to mind the need for basic human dignity, to look and feel good, in the mirror, even when one is incapacitated; the lack of newspapers and magazines and the somewhat more explicit arrangement of the radio and TV, which somehow gives one a small peek into the usual source of entertainment and/or information (this does disturbs me a little as I interviewed further as it seems that this seemingly lack of informational resources might just be one of those things that can actually hinder them from having a better quality of life, from giving them the usual distractions like 'hentaming' the goverment :), or just as a means to be able to take stock of whats happening around them, rather then the usual self-centricity that is actually having more of an adverse effect, rather than otherwise!); the ingenuity of MAN, even when they are old, through the use of the doorbell system as a means to seek and sound off for help; the seemingly clean look of the window grille, but yet equipped with a complete curtaining rack system, which demonstrates that this house, in her former more glorious days, seems to be well-decorated with nice-looking curtains (from our interview further, we were told that Mdm K was a seamstress before!)...and a lot more little details that I think would be better left to our own humanistic interpretations as one look at all those pictures!

So what was the takeway that I had, as I left their place! I think beyond the usual design issues and all its social ramifications, more than anything else, I do feel a certain sense of nostalgia! Why would you ask...I guess I can't help but be reminded of the household that I grew up in, when I take a look at the physical state of the house. And more importantly, in that short 2 hour session, I had my most valuable life lesson that I would ever have...ever, and that is on the meaning of TRUE LOVE!

rebirth...at this site

I've decided to consolidate my rants and ramblings using the blogger platform, instead of having sole webbie for this. Perhaps it is the trouble of maintaining a website that is not generating any income or perhaps I simply do not have the resources...yet, to keep up. But whatever it is, I still do believe that my 2 cents worth of ranting, will help to at least make a difference to somebody or someone out there!

I'll be reposting some posts that I've done earlier in my previous site, or at least the better ones. Hope you'll like it

Monday, April 9, 2007

We live in a cynical....cynical world!

I've received news of the death of one of my design trainers, Jackson, a couple of days ago. Saw in the papers that he was involved in an accident that led to his demise. Felt shocked I must say, and to think that just a couple of weeks ago, he was there sitting in front of me, and we were discussing on a modified programme of sorts on design, for my sec 3 students. And talking about students, late last year, I happen to come across an obituary for one of my classmate, way back in primary school. Can still remember her as cute, and one who is willing to lend a helping hand when one needs help. A fellow prefect, I guess that much thought I have of her, and no less, good thoughts indeed, is enough to make us aware of how short life is. So short, that at times, I do wonder why do people really want to make enemies, and why people really want to get over the heads of others, just so that you can be ahead yourselves. Such narcissistic behaviour, though never a domain of any religion, do somehow get into the general fold of even those religious sort! Hmmm, but then again, this is just the sarcastic me talking.

Like what Jerry Macguire said towards the end of the show..."We live in a cynical....cynical world!"

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Of David and Goliath…

I happen to watch the making of the movie “300″, and read the reviews and the interviews of the making of the movie in today’s papers; basically a story about how 300 Spartans managed to put up a fight against an army of 1 million Persians. Seems apt that my entry tonight is entitled that then. Anyway, the main thing that somehow caught my eye was whether it IS based on an actual event, or just a figment of the writer’s imagination. Hmmm, can’t remember his name, but it is like ’something’ Miller..why can I remember his last but not first name, because they have the same last name as the famous designer, Herman Miller. Anyway, the papers mentioned that it IS based on an actual event, but it is only mentioned…like in one short paragraph out of the entire article. And given Hollywood’s record of depicting stories on actual events, somehow everything seems so suspect! No mention of its factual occurence was mentioned when I watched the “Making of the movie version” on TV though. Hmmm…strange! Sorry for my somehow piqued appraisal, it is just that I do have enough of the biasness potrayed by the media when it comes to religious concerns.

But enough about movies, let us go on to my other love too, besides my significant other that is, Rugby! The boys played very well last Tuesday, beating ACS Barker in a fairly tough match. Second round of the competition seems to be just as tough if not tougher, with the team being in the same group as other teams, who are just as hungry, if not hungrier, to win the title. Somehow or rather, I just got this feeling that we might just be able to inch our way to the top 4 of the Cups this year, but that is just a hunch! The last time I felt this, which was 2 years ago, the boys lost their matches when they can’t afford to, and managed to get back up again to clinch the Plates! But hey, like what I told some of my colleagues, the ball is oval…indeed it is even more UNPREDICTABLE, both literally and metaphorically speaking. Don’t believe me, try catching a rugby ball in mid-air and letting it bounce ONCE, or even TWICE, and you know what I mean. In fact to up the ante just a teeny weeny little bit, why not have a go at it but this time with 15 testerone-induced and even maybe hormonally-charged boys rushing at you. And then you’ll just know what I REALLY MEAN! :)

Professionally the above title also aptly describes the very situation that I am facing in my professional capacity as a leader. Somewhat, no doubt that I do have passionate, dedicated and professional teachers, who are willing to experiment and try out new ideas and concepts on teaching more effectively, but then the results perhaps have betrayed me for the past year or so. Sometimes I do wrecked my heads, looking at ways, or thinking of things that the team can do to perhaps get us out of the results trough. A lot of perhaps, a lot of trial and error, a lot of…basically trying out ways and methods that best suited for us to get that results that just doesn’t meet us at the right corner. And how is the title best describe this…well perhaps it suit most suitably in terms of our teaching experiences. Having youth, in this case, metaphorically speaking, I do have teachers who are rather “young” in terms of their teaching capacity and experience, can be both a blessing and hmmm…I don’t think I can call it a curse, because I don’t think it is that. Let us just say that perhaps sometimes, this youthfulness do let us down in certain ways. And in this context is how I see sometimes my role is fitting in into the bigger scheme of things. I guess, just like the different stages of group formation (if I am not wrong, there’s like 4 or 5 stages, can’t seem to remember what are they though :) ), my role here not only to ensure that the results would be even better, but I must also be looking at how I can develop their capacity and enrich their teaching capacity too. Like how they put it in the work review form…”Building Capacity and Capability”! Hmmm seems a little difficult when you have rather little or no guidance previously, but I guess things are moving a little better…a little late perhaps, but better late than never.

So how can the small inexperienced “David”ian department like mine is able to stave off ‘attacks’ by the mighty “Goliath”? How can David survive the onslaught of Goliath, armed with only the slings of “youth, inexperience and a greater desire to experiment” I don’t think I do have the answer right away, but I guess being nimble does help! That, and by refocusing my energies and thoughts on what the department has, that others doesn’t. Looking at what the department can offer, that others can’t. Looking at the value-add that the department’s programme can offer, that others can’t. And to see how this value-add, can, within the whole grand scheme of things, be used positively, and synergistically, to eventually get us out of the results trough, and hopefully…no….not hopefully but to eventually, give us the results that we truly deserve.

And with that, let us swing the sling guys. Let us face the might of Goliath and…ye who shall face the might of the giant and prevail, let victory be the sweet taste of thy’s hard labour!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

A teacher...and a multi-tasker

What a wonderful two weeks the fortnight have been. The release of the O level results, the start of the Under 17 competition, the training, the work, somehow or rather, the dichotomous feeling that I'm having, of both an high, and a low, is somewhat like a mental 'aphrosidiac' of sorts. Feeling dissapointed...again, that my class have obtained results that somehow or rather is not reflective of their ability, but on the other, feeling that 'sick' feeling that somehow, some of them truly deserve them! Ah, maybe, hopefully, they realise the importance of all the values that I am trying to inbibe in them, albeit a little late! Just maybe, maybe, they begin to realise just how fortunate they are, to be handed opportunities on a silver platter, and to be able to make decisions, though at times, suspect, but nevertheless the very fact that they ARE given a lot more options, somehow 'sickens' me; sickening because the worse thing about not knowing what to do, is just to whine away and ponder their choices, and NOT knowing how to go about resolving their 'not knowing what to do'-state!

Valentine's was a mere 4 days ago, and I got a card from one of them. Cheesy I might say: The card says, 'Thanks from the bottom of my heart, but my heart has no bottom!' SUPER-DUPER CHEESY don't you think! If only this realisation were to come up a little earlier, wouldn't it be much much better. On reflection, I do hope that my kids would just realise their folly, albeit the hard way, and start to move on from here, as the song goes in my previous entry.

I accompanied my boys on 3rd match yesterday. And just before the match, I do have a discussion with one of my colleagues, on the things that I did for the CCA. Without missing a beat, I told him that my co-manager and myself are all things rolled into one: a manager, cousellor, massager, sprayer, first-aider, photographer, score-keeper, administrator, bus-booker, ball-keeper, store-checker, store-keeper, water-boy, time-keeper...hmm and the list goes on, must I say them all. But hey, like what I told myself at times, better this than dealing with all those insinuations and others that somehow or rather, is more pervasive these past 2 weeks. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps, if I could just silence my critics. But then again, in the words of Bruce Lee:

"I'm not here to live up to YOUR expectations;

and neither are you here to live up to MINE"

Monday, January 15, 2007

Reaching my Breaking Point

In materials engineering, the breaking or fracture point of a material is the point where the material just literally snap, where no longer is the material exhibiting elastic or even non-elastic behaviour, and where, depending on the functional condition of the assigned material, it could either be something dangerous, or just a dire warning to the materials engineer that such shitty things do happen. And what do y0u know, maybe, just maybe, I might be reaching mine too, and this is no metaphorical thingy that I would usually ascribe to my writings, but more as a measured reaction to the things that is happening around me. My only hope is that this is not a knee-jerk reaction, but more of a precursor to something even bigger or/and better.

What are my wishes for this year 2007? Hmm, to pen down those thoughts is like literally making me hold myself hostage to the demands of my alter-ego's expectations. But safe to say that among others, I do hope, like my previous post, to be a better person by nature, to be more of a mentor to my students and subordinates, to be able to synthesise my readings better, to create and give opportunities to my friends and officers to develop their rightful potential. But it seems so hard sometimes when things are just not falling into the right places at times, but I guess, like what I always advise others, 'Semua yang terjadi ada hikmahnya', which basically means, that 'Things usually happens for a reason, of which sometimes we might never ever know until we reached that 'AHA!' moment!'

So as I sit here being contemplative and reflective, I do wonder maybe, just maybe, sometimes I try too hard to be this better person. Shouldn't I be letting things flow, just let them be, just let nature takes its course. In the words of Bruce Lee, "I am not here to live up to YOUR expectations, and neither are you here to live up to MINE!" Harsh words, but I do feel that sometimes I am too harsh on myself. Look at what it has gotten me into, or NOT. I do wonder. But then again, this is just a test, something that I will just take it in my stride, and do whatever that I can to overcome, and persevere.

Like the saying that goes, 'The value of a MAN is not when all things are well and fine, but when he faces difficulty and challenges, that one will be able to see what IS his (or her) true value and self-worth'

Sunday, January 7, 2007

The best is yet to be

This motto from ACS just got stuck on my head..keeps ringing and ringing in my head for the past few days, more so because it does beg the question of...'if it is still yet to be...then when will it ever be (your BEST!)' Doesn't it sound like a disclaimer of sorts..somewhat like a justified motto to hide away your shortcomings and incompetencies, to tell your opponents and competitors that yeah, we lost, 'but you have still yet to see our best!' But hei, this is just me being the devils' advocate! :)

On the other hand, I do see the good thing about it. Very much so since I also believe somewhat in this motto, that no matter at what level you perform, somehow, there is this little inch of you that you somehow can't, or won't be able to summon, or squeeze out no matter what the condition or situation is. And then there begs the question...so when will it ever be your best then? The simple crux of the matter is, you just never know when. And where does all this leads to? Well, just a little something that I've doing for a long while now, THINKING and REFLECTING. Thinking on how I can best be a better person: a better teacher, a better leader, a better provider of opportunities to both my charges and officers, a better husband, a better subordinate, basically a better person in 2007, than in 2006. Thought of a few things already, will see what I can do to get this wheel moving, the ball rolling and everything in place for a great 2007!

They say the journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step. And so...let the journey begins...