Sunday, July 27, 2008


The first poem that really had an impact on me is this one entitled 'IF' by Rudyard Kipling. I was still young then, about 5 or 6, perhaps still too young literally too to really appreciate what the poem means, but after having it as part of a then-bland collection of wall posters on the family wall, it did create a somewhat lasting impact on me. The fact that no matter what happens, you are the creator of your own destiny. Something perhaps that I really hold dear till today! Enjoy!

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!

--Rudyard Kipling

Theo Jansen: The art of creating creatures

A video clip from Theo Jansen's presentation at One of the interesting idea that he proposes is the evolution of the new wheel. Could we see then an evolution of the wheel, the latter of which have remained largely unchanged for 5000 years? Who knows, these could be the next evolution in mankind's constant pursuit for semi- or total perfection and seamlessness in design with nature.

Wisdom of the Crowds?

If I'd asked people what they want, they would have wanted a faster horse...Henry Ford

This interesting quote pretty much sums up the path that any individual or organisation would need to take in order to reach a real certain breakthrough in whatever or most of their endeavours, if they really want to go beyond mediocrity. I mean really, in all intent or purpose, asking the general public about what is best, or what should be the next course of action, is really sometimes an act of futility, or perhaps even one that would lead to redundancy. Seriously, the power of groupthink and perhaps the pervasiveness of marketing these days have somewhat diminished the capacity of the public to really be engaged in something that would really be mind-blowing or out of this world...but then again, these are really different times and different circumstances. All I can say is that if one were to really want to experience that real breakthrough, perhaps one should discount the need for a 'faster horse', and instead really think of creating that 'horse' instead.

So what would be your 'faster horse?'

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Police, the Owner and the Thief

My former principal used to say that in this world there are 3 types of people,

- Those who make things happen (The Thief)
- Those who wait for things to happen (The Owner)
- and lastly those who realises things later and said, "Hei, what happened!" (The Police)

The title of my post today tries to capture in a nutshell a short conversation that I had with one of my peers, who thinks that sometimes trying out new things beyond our core businesses, is really a waste of time! I mean to a certain extent I do agree with him, much like how I agree, in a cynical sarcastic sort of way, with people who would love to have pizza every single day, or any other food that he fancies, everyday, without variety, and with that degree of certainty that the things that he has enjoyed, is enjoying, and will be enjoying, will be the same all right through! But seriously, wouldn't life be a bore if you have the same thing over and over again, each single day!

This is perhaps one point that I think I have to disagree, in not so much that our core business is of a lesser degree of importance, but in actuality, it is the very fact that our core business is important, that is why we must be seen to be doing something differently to see to it that the things that we have learnt and picked up from these 'exploratory' excursions beyond the BOX can perhaps be an enriching experience for us, to act like sort of an 'Energizer battery' of sorts for us to get even better in our capacities and our core businesses. Seriously, if we are going to propound the belief that we should only be focusing only on our core business of doing things, then perhaps something ought to be done to see to it that there is indeed sufficient stimuli within these 'coreness' to enable us to perhaps be that much more innovative! Hmm, is that really possible? No, I don't really think so!

Which is why I guess, or rather I believe, that there are two types of people where making a difference is concerned. One is those who makes a difference in your lives. the second, those who is the difference in your live. Which one would you want to be?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Free (and Legal) eBooks

I am a supporter of all things that are open source, legal and especially so if they are Mac-related. Here's two of Leander Kahney's books that he has openly made available, both legal of course, to the masses. Happy Reading.

Cult of Ipod

Cult of Mac

When the Right Thing to do, is to do the Wrong Thing!

I came across this article from Wired a few weeks ago, and was taken in by some of the ideas that Apple, as the epitome of what innovation is all about, is practising as part of their business practices. It is really interesting that some of their ideas can be initially perceived as something that goes beyond the usual norms, but upon realisation and looking at its results and eventuality, it does speaks volumes on the efficacy of these practices as the ones that really break apart the norms, and more importantly, are the very enablers that makes Apple what it really is right now. The fact that some of these things are deemed to be the wrong things to do and adopt, but have otherwise been proven wrong, definitely gives one an idea of how or where the very next evolution of innovation should OR COULD come from.

Challenging norms...YES, but just doing it because it IS the WRONG thing to do, may actually be counter-productive. I mean we don't just do the opposite because it is wrong, but more importantly, because we have the means and the necessary wherewithal to think through the process, and should then be able to decide that it is fundamentally right if systems and processes are put in place to ensure its 'CORRECTNESS'. But I guess the real challenge would come when the very ones who criticised the very things that these WRONGS have resulted in, were to realise that these are actually possibilities! But then again, most detractors have always been known to stand guard with an 'I told you so!' mentality, rather than one that says, go ahead and FAIL!

I guess it has got something to do with how much they have done with their lives, and how cocooned they have been in their lives!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Free Google SketchUp Self-Training Manuals

I just decided to give away for free my own versions of the training manuals that I have come out with for Google SketchUp training sessions that I have conducted for my officers a couple of months ago. Just a basic 3-parter; I do hope that I can do more, if I have the time. Feedback is important to me too, so email me if you have any! :)

Here are the links:

Tutorial 1

Tutorial 2

Tutorial 3

DQ: the multiplicity of the Design Quotient

As I was looking at how this concept of DQ can be developed further, I remember a post that I read in a blog somewhere about the need to have the T-shaped designer, one who would be imbued with the artistic flair of an artist, the technical wizardry of an engineer, yet has that aesthetics intellect to mash this two together into something that is marketable, sellable and most importantly, profitable!

So perhaps I can take a leaf from this need to have a T-shaped designer, and start off at with this post by looking at the pluralistic domain requirement when one wants to decipher the latent Design Quotient (DQ) of any individual. Does that mean that one has to be be good in all the 3 areas mentioned above in order to score a higher grading in DQ. On the contrary, rather than measuring one's ability as a grading of sorts, what I would love to see is perhaps a 'softer' approach to this! Perhaps when one talks about DQ, or lack thereof, I would love to interpret it as something that is beyond just the sole domains of either designers, engineers, artists, marketeers, or all of the above. There must be some distinction in at least the interpretation of these indicators to at least give one's non-endowed ability in any of the areas above, but at least having that basic rudiments of appreciation in all of the above, to be at least be scoring a minimal value, at the very least.

Another idea that I have pertaining to DQ is perhaps looking at exploring this as a means for a more holistic approach to evaluate students who are in the fields of engineering or/and architecture, or its related fields! Coming from one who is a mechanical engineer by training, I do strongly feel that this is actually a very good evaluative tool of sorts for those who wants to embark on a technically-based career, or one that requires the convergence of the abovementioned skill sets. I mean seriously the last thing that we want is to see a terribly designed building or machinery, that is not even aesthetically pleasing, let alone a value-adding utilitiy tool for its target consumers!

Perhaps the T-shaped dimensionality that I touched on earlier can be explored a little deeper, with DQ be the contextual basis, for one to perhaps use or at least to start exploring this as a means for an evaluative model.

Which brings me to mind, why not then also use this as a yardstick for selecting students for a high-school design subject matter. I mean with the propogation of the idea that design education in high schools, in general, is usually reserved for the tail-end students in most high schools here, shouldn't there at least be some effort, by someone somewhere, to at least relook at this model or assumption again, and perhaps, do something about it, lest we have the Rosenthal effect on teachers being a root cause of the demoralisation of high-school design educators here! Hmmmm...

Friday, July 11, 2008

More (Talk) is cheap!

I just happen to watch the local news yesterday, about the possibility of the public transportation fares being increased due to inflationary pressures. Nothing new really, in fact it IS to be expected! One thing that struck me though was the the answer given by the spokesperson (I think, or was it one of the Minister?) when he said that overall the average price of one's bus journey should be low if one were to take into account more bus journeys that one makes. But I mean really...for a small country like us, I think it would not take more than 2 connecting bus journeys for a typical Singaporean to reach his destination. So does that mean that on average, our bus journey fares would never ever get cheaper, as claimed by the spokesperson! Unless the individual in particular really take the effort to take in more bus connecting bus journeys to reach his destination! I mean seriously, who will be moronic enough to do that? Hmmmm.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Design Quotient

What is your Design Quotient?

I had a review session with one of my officers the other time and during the session, I did ask her on the outcome of her research topic for her post-graduate degree. After moments of discussion, I did propose to her on perhaps looking at this idea of a Design Quotient (DQ) of sorts, an index for the purpose of perhaps indicating the level of Design Intelligence that one has, much like how an IQ works. I did blog about this a couple of posts back, and interestingly, this idea of a DQ was brought up again when I came across articles on the use of Multiple Intelligence (MI) in the various articles on general education. After years since Howard Gardner propounded the idea of the multiplicity of intelligences, more have come out to reaffirm the belief that there is indeed a deep-rooted belief that perhaps there is some truth in all these hoopla about looking at Man's 'usefulness' as more than just the mere quality of how well his neurons are connected!

On a similar note, perhaps there could be this untapped potential in knowing how well or intelligent one is in the area of design. Whether it is explicitly shown in his or her choice of fashion, living spaces, gadgetry or even in his ability or inability to sketch and draw, there is I think this nagging belief that there is somewhere, inside all of us, that switch or indicator, that would reveal how well one's innate design ability is!

Just take a look at the preponderance of products that are currently available to consumers! I mean, with a dizzying array of design and products, each with their own niche capability, a regular human would have taken at least some steps of comparison to at least be able to discern what he or she wants, given that he has limited resources in the first place. By virtue of this comparisons and perhaps, by the sheer ability to visually be able to differentiate a 'good', 'bad', 'sexy', 'minimalist' and all the other adjectives, wouldn't it at least be a good indicator of perhaps one's capacity to appreciate good design!

But in a similar vein to what I have blogged about earlier, perhaps this DQ is also something that might not be, in actuality, something that would run concurrently with the physical or mental age of a person! What do I mean? Seriously, have you ever seen one dressing up so badly, as in like completely out of fashion, or completely out of place in whatever situations that he or she is in! Much like how one would be able to discern one's ability to understand or grasp a concept through tests and exams, wouldn't it then be possible for one to then be sucked in into a low DQ state? So perhaps, one can talk all that one wants about his qualifications, but then again, given a situation that perhaps he or she is required to show his design flair, he or she might simply falter!

And what use would knowing one's DQ be? Well I don't think I want to bore you with some ideas that I have so far, perhaps on my next few posts, I would really love to unravel this!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I want to work in this company!!!

I happen to get hold of the ABC Nightline's 'The Deep Dive' episode aired in July 1998, where they did a feature on IDEO's design process over a span of 5 days, to come out with a modified shopping cart. Mind you, this was a design process and deadline that was really really tight and compressed, even for an innovative firm like IDEO.

But what strikes me during the course of the program is not the creative or innovative practices adopted by the staff themselves, but more importantly, the mantra that in order for them to succeed, they need to fail more often! Somewhat oxymoronic, but looking at it contextually, I do think that this is true.

The other mantra that they subscribe to was to just do IT first, and seek forgiveness later, rather than seeking permission to do things beforehand! I guess when it comes to that level of understanding and professionalism, it is indeed okay to go ahead first if we are able to ensure at least a certain degree of learning points! And even if one fails and seek forgiveness later, at least some learning points can be gained from it. Who can forget the story of Thomas Edison and his 6000++ experiments?

So WHAT IS your experiment? And what are you seeking forgiveness for? ;)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Useful Design Idea 2

Being a regular commuter to shopping centres here in Singapore, I can't help but wonder about the relevance and efficacy of the information that is displayed by the management of these buildings where the parking charges are concerned. Usually the display of the information is pretty much packed, so much so that its relevance in the context of the time (and place) of the point of entry and exit of the vehicle becomes blur. I guess sometimes it doesn't really help if we are bombarded with TOO MUCH information, within a short period of time. I mean wouldn't it just suffice if the driver of the vehicle, especially in the context of where I am staying, are given only the necessary information at the point of entry (or exit, if relevant), i.e. the parking charges, whether by hourly or by entry, rather than a whole gamut of information, which is well good, if you so decide to plan for your visit the next time round, but not necessary most of the time! It doesn't help too that where I am residing, the electronic system allows for only a very short period of time for the driver to discern the relevant information, should he or she chooses too, from the information display boards. Hmmm.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Useful Design Idea 1

I was doing my monthly digital data backup on my main hard disk when I suddenly realise that there was insufficient space in it. Hmmm, and then I realise, my main hard disk, the one that I use and assign to be the mother of all my hard disks, is actually of a smaller capacity compared to my portable versions! Hmmm, now that is quite a situation I have there. An idea came to my mind, as you can see in the picture above. Can a design be incorporated that is so simple so that the user or owner of the hard disk would be able to tell, at a glance, and without needing to connect the disk to a computer, the remaining space in it. I remember we have something simple and similar in the Energizer batteries, you know the 'power remaining' indicator. Why not then we have a similar indicator, somewhat similar to the water-level indicator versions as seen above, that can be placed alongside the hard disk? A simple idea, don't you think!