Journal

10 September 2014, Wednesday // Got into the office earlier than everyone and managed to follow the good practice of listing out daily to-dos, answering a batch of emails and then proceeding to complete said task. As a manager, certain flows get interrupted because you need to catch up with your teams, but other than that, it was a good focused time.

Completed everything on the to-do list except one item, but that was because the final hour before work ended, by brain just began to shut down, probably because I was up till five, the morning before, trying out new layouts and thinking how I should present this information.

Went to meet my friends from church, and they gave me a nice dinner treat to celebrate my birthday.

Back to home with nothing necessarily new, nor particularly engaging to write about, so I thought I’d just journal my day.

There is no spoon

Aside
Technology

5 Ideas for the Apple Watch

Apple announced their first wearable device, the Apple Watch. It’s supposed to integrate with iOS 8 and your iPhones and has NFC and mobile payment wallets included. Here’s where I think some of the magic might be, in defiance to some of the underwhelmed responses so far.

1. Fist bump and trade contacts

I’m pretty sure it’s simple enough to ensure that your personal information is shared between your personal devices, and with the flick of a wrist or button, enable NFC sharing to trade contacts with another Apple Watch user, synced immediately to your address book in the cloud.

Like this:

2. NFC and Beacon technology making sweet love

Someone walks into an area. Their Apple Watch blinks red with an arrow prompting them to walk in a certain direction. They end up in front of a store or establishment, the arrow turns green, it unlocks a promotion immediately into your iPhone’s Passbook. Then, they pay with they redeem with their mobile wallet. The beauty of having a Watch that’s ubiquitous to your mobile phone, is that it’s even LESS obtrusive than having to be on your phone all the time.

Or in a nutshell, a possible biometric replacement contender.

3. Find a friend

You arrange to meet a friend, it’s crowded and your friend is generally shit with directions. Friend sends a ping to you, your Apple Watch guides you to them. Perfect for music festivals and other places where people get lost.

This would be my superawesome locater signal:

Brian-Pixel-Animated

4. Emergencies and Stealth

From monitoring your vitals and sending out alerts to loved ones, paramedics or the authorities, a knowledge of morse code could also used for when communication needs to be done stealthily. That’s a stretch, but your watch talks to your phone now and vice versa, there’s huge convergence potential there.

Update: One thing I would like to see more of, is having the Apple Watch integrate more with other devices like say a Macbook Air, where I can control my browser through my watch instead of a mouse. Or with Apple TV, or even a monitor in the form of motion tracking. If they can integrate motion tracking into the watch, there’ll be even more “whoas” to give.

5. This.

AllRangers

Ranger_WhiteRanger_Red

Ranger_PinkRanger_Blue

Ranger_BlackRanger_Yellow

gif credit: fyeah80s-90s

Standard
Technology

Tech media is ablaze with news about Apple’s new iPhone 6 and Apple Watch. Screen sizes and other wanky tech specs aside, the Apple Wallet (to be released with iOS 8 in October), Near Field Communications (NFC) enabled devices and Touch ID fingerprint scanning for security are why the mobile payments industry is poised for big changes.

More on the iPhone 6 announcement via Quartz

List of Apple Watch features via ReadWriteWeb

Mobile payments was the main star at Apple’s Event

Aside
music-collaboration
Futurist, Starting Up

Amidst streaming, possible ways for musicians to monetize

Almost every modern musician knows the arguments for and against music streaming services such as Spotify, Deezer… etc. It’s pretty much common talk amongst independent musicians that without millions of people streaming our songs, we’d hardly make any sort of sustainable revenue. Here’s where things could get interesting.

Streaming levels the playing field

I’m definitely more in support of streaming services as a consumer, because it really is a better product. Rather than being subject to the recommendations of traditional DJs or terrestrial radio stations, I get to listen to the songs I want on-demand. This isn’t for the mainstream, but the artists who are at least on independent labels and their catalogs are included on streaming services.

Streaming services have allowed consumer behavior to move in this direction, and whether you’re a mainstream listener, or purveyor of the niche, chances are you can find what you’re looking for online.

But that makes the musical product disposable

This is my key concern. Culturally, we are becoming bankrupt because within a day, there will be something new to listen to, and creating playlist after playlist gets old really fast. In any case, streaming services have probably played a big role in making the musical product disposable. The MP3 is dead to almost anyone who is subscribed to a streaming service and can even listen to that music offline.

But how dead is the MP3?

To the consumer, the MP3 is dead. I’ll go out there and say it. Streaming services makes it redundant to manage MP3s via your desktop synced to your mobile and what not. You don’t even need to be concerned about how much space you have in your cloud service to store your MP3s. As long as you maintain your subscription, you won’t lose your music. It is nestled comfortably in the service of your choice.

But there is a whole segment of the consumer that the MP3 isn’t dead. And I’m not talking about people who have not jumped onto streaming services. I’m talking about those who still need MP3s to create.

Harnessing the market of creators

Here’s where I think it starts to make sense. DJs, Samplists, Filmmakers, Vodcasters, Game Studios and the whole lot out there need access to MP3s, or high quality audio files if they’re going to continue their craft. Now more than ever, music creators should make it easier for the pro-sumer and professional market to easily purchase MP3s or HQ audio files so that they can continue creating as well.

Indie musicians will have to re-look their pricing and product models to cater to this growing segment of people. And I believe they will be growing, because technology is definitely making it easier for other creators to create. As the consumer tech market matures, the creative market will grow along as well.

So streaming services are a great way to appear in the peripheral of content creators, who are always on the lookout for music that fits their pursuits. But I don’t think there is any self-serve model out there now that caters to this new marketplace.

For further reading, Disaster Peace shared a postmortem that inspire this post.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Standard
litford_watchlist_3
Mixtape

WATCHLIST #01: 01 Sep 2014 – 07 Sep 2014

One of the challenges with the MIXTAPES series is that when I get really busy, it is an effort to be on the lookout for new or exciting music. There’s an effort that goes into curating the list, and even doing the layouts and content formatting.

I feel like I’ve let my readership down, so I’ve developed a new product known as the WATCHLIST, where I just highlight a few interesting videos I’ve come across in the week.

The presentation of these lists will also feature less editorial content about my rambling, so that I can divert my energies to proper writings in other forms.

The first WATCHLIST features my current musical inspirations, Jungle, Darkside as well as Chet Faker’s sultry promo video for “Gold”. I must say, there is some kind of future-retro cool in all these videos and music.

Enjoy!

WATCHLIST
Jungle – Platoon
Jungle – Busy Earning
DARKSIDE – Paper Trails (RA Sessions LIVE)
Jungle – The Heat
Chet Faker – Gold

Standard
Mixtape

Mixtape #19.. Like Molasses, Dripping With Fear

This mixtape started all because I found out how amazing Elder is, and I’ve been wanting to do a mixtape that involved my current favourite band of the moment. This week’s mixtape was inspired by the smokey, the sludgy, the sinister and the sexy. If anything, I felt an intense pressure to deliver this mixtape that was different from previous electronic incarnations, and would be something that you’d hit up in a haze of road-trippin’ psychedelics.

From the second track off their Live At Roadburn 2013 album, “Dead Roots Stirring” is the perfect representation of their indulgent, psyche and stoner rock. Granted, I’m biased because the bass intro is so fxxking intense, there’s plenty more in terms of instrumentation, arrangement and just all-round bad-assery from this three-piece that will put all your other rock ideas to shame. Listen to it. I cannot stress that enough.

If you made it past the glorious opener of this mixtape, I’m rewarding you with a jumpcut into Low Leaf’s “Rise Up”. On the one hand, it’s angular piano riffing adds that touch of neo-soul that is so infectious, the way this track launches itself in is like being hit in the face with a shovel. And a tasty shovel at that.

GOAT comes in immediately with some desert inspired riffs, and you can almost taste the danger of rattlesnakes rustling in blades of parched grass. “Hide From The Sun” does not disappoint with many magical moments that sound like they could be in a Tarentino movie, but the real star is that fuzzed-out guitar solo that takes all the cake and eats it. I almost want to put that tone into a syringe and inject it into my veins.

Another lately favourite of mine has been Chet Faker’s “Gold”. If you want to know what classy means, it’s this. Come in strong with a svelte keyboard bass intro that enters the bar, eyes turn like handclaps, a falsetto that reeks of whiskey, and lay down the law with one of the best basslines ever committed to tape. The pulsing one into a triplet just makes for a natural head-boppin’ groove, and that’s all a bassline needs to do to be dripping with sweet, sweet molasses.

So how do you top that? You don’t. Displace the first four songs of this mixtape, and tear it a new one. Happy Doghouse gives us a pleasant interlude with the dreamily distorted “Milk-bone”. By the time you’re done with this, you’d have forgotten most of the previous high, and we’re ready to land.

And let’s land into some Sex On Toast, shall we? “Escape 2012″ takes it down a notch by reminding us all what was awesome about the 80′s. That B-3 peeks and boos, while we get treated to some very Tears For Fears inspired funk guitar.

Which provides us with the perfect segue into Awon & Dephlow’s “Step Up”. This is the moment right before the lights come on, so leave things dark just a little while more and don’t be afraid to open your eyes.

Tracklist

00:00 – 12:07 // Elder – Dead Roots Stirring (Live at Roadburn 2013)
12:07 – 17:41 // Low Leaf – Rise Up
17:41 – 21:18 // GOAT – Hide From The Sun
21:18 – 26:03 // Chet Faker – Gold
26:03 – 28:31 // Happy Doghouse – Milk-bone
28:31 – 36:22 // Sex On Toast – Escape 2012
36:22 – 39:41 // Awon & Dephlow – Step Up (Prod. Phoniks)

litford-tar

Standard
Journal

What’s Wrong With National Service In Singapore

National Service Singapore

Yesterday, on 1 July 2014, it was SAF Day – The annual celebration of the Singapore Armed Forces that also acknowledges National Servicemen (those on active duty, on reservist duty, and those who have completed their entire tour of duty) as well as the Regular Personnel in Singapore.

Funny, I didn’t feel acknowledged or appreciated, because I feel like I’ve only been punished by this system.

Let’s put it this way, I’m pretty pudgy around the edges and I’ve had problems passing my annual physical fitness test since I left active duty in 2003, and for the past 7 years as a reserve in the army since I started my annual obligations in 2007 after completing university.

This means that since 2007, I’ve been fulfilling my National Service commitment on all fronts. I attend the annual in-camp training that is usually 3 weeks long, I fulfill all my duties with no disciplinary problems and work with my teammates and unit. I also take my physical fitness test every year, I just don’t pass it. And because of that I’m punished.

For the physically fit (if you pass the annual test), they lose 3 weeks of their civilian life. For me, I lose up to an additional 12 weeks doing remedial training. Add that up, and I spend close to 4 out of 12 calendar months being involved with the army in some way.

I find that unacceptable because the military system is severely disrupting my personal and professional obligations in the civilian sectors of society. But for the last 7 years of my life, a quarter of it belongs to the army and all their rules that come with it.

It’s unacceptable because I don’t cause any problems to my teammates nor my superiors. In the grand scheme of National Service, I’m just another statistic. Someone who did not pass the physical fitness test. A percentage of failure that gets taken into consideration by some Colonel or General whose metric of career success is % of National Servicemen who pass their annual physical fitness test, so that they receive their bonus (with my tax paying dollars) and move on to the next stage in their career, and be happy with their professional superiors and comfortably provide for their families.

The point I’m trying to make is that the National Service system severely disrupts the lives of civilians who fail an annual physical fitness test, by increasing their obligation to National Service by almost 4 times! That’s harsh and I would argue unjust. It does not take into account the record of service or the original expectation of our supposed duty to the country. I’ve probably spent more time trying to pass this damn test than actually being a military reserve for the SAF.

So I ask, is that fair? Is this how you acknowledge your supposed “Sons of Singapore”? Those of us who fail the annual physical fitness test might be a minority, but we’ve also fulfilled the SAME obligations as every body else, and anything more is a punishment.

Scrap the remedial training program altogether. As a deterrent it is unacceptable to my rights as a citizen.

Standard
Journal

NOPANTZ Debut Gig!!!

NOPANTZ

NOPANTZ

Riot girls, NO PANTZ, performed their debut gig at the 100 Bands Festival held at Kovan Hub on 22 June 2014. A humble crowd of family, friends and unwitting bystanders witnessed the cutesy-sushi-frenzy of four riotous girls who had gathered on the Internet and aspired to achieve their dream of forming an all-girl rock band.

Punk was the ideal genre to start with, but with an eclectic taste in music, nonsensical yet alarmingly poignant lyrics, who knows what else these girls will achieve in the short and long term.

Made up of two DJs (A/K/A and Pixiedub), and two drummers (Obedient Wives Club and The Powderfuls between them), this band should not even exist, but by the forces of reckless determination, they’ve found their place in making a ruckus with whatever they have on hand.

And I’m proud to call them friends (and one, my girlfriend!). On to the videos!

Riot on at: fb.com/NOPANTZ

#NOPANTZ

***

“Karate Okay”

“Rebel Girl (Bikini Kill Cover)”

“Mr Scruff”

“NO PANTZ”

Standard
Mixtape

Mixtape #18.. Far Above The Hurt, Well Below The Bliss

This mixtape has been sitting on the back burner for at least two months, and so has posting of any form on this blog. I guess being busy is one thing, but sheer laziness and having an undisciplined approach when it comes to writing is another. Writing isn’t my day job, and increasingly, that’s the battle that I’ll face as I grapple with myself. Will I allocate enough of my creative energy for creative pursuits. I don’t really want to get into all the details now, but I’m of the belief that by correctly portioning and protecting my time, I think I could maintain a sort of balance.

A little bit more about this mixtape perhaps. Only one other song made it through from when I first compiled this mixtape back at the tail end of April or the start of May and that’s Touch Sensitive’s “Slowments”, a tasteful and ethereal after hours track. After revisiting the original mixtape yesterday, it just didn’t seem to cut it and I went scouring for more new music, and boy am I glad with this week’s haul.

I’m not too sure how I arrived at Pixelord (Check his Tumblr out, it’s hypnotic), but I was drawn to his fancy use of beats and bass. It’s classy, cheeky and not in your face. So from his feed, I pulled out his recommendation of BSN Posse’s “Anchovies With Lemon” as well as his own collaboration with Seablaze for the track, “Hedron Luv”. Judging by the creative direction of both art and music, the producer seems inspired by the kitschy mishmash of Internet culture known as Seapunk. I like it, you’ve got bits of house, garage, DnB and beats all rolled into one giant burrito of culture. Whether it’s a healthy diet, probably not.

Another sound that I’ve been turned onto lately by my girlfriend, is Trap. I used to knock it off as just another trend, in the vein of dubstep and EDM, cliched highs and lows as well as the generic bandwagon-ing hooks, yet. However when done right, there’s massive groove to be found in the drops. It’s the combination of droning bass with off-beat snare work after a well-built surge that puts you in a euphoric headspace. Exciting stuff. My recommendations are Djemba Djemba’s remix of BANKS’ “Fall Over” and his own “Chronic Heart Failure”, which is sinister stuff.

Electric Mantis sneaks in with “Flips And Flops, Drips And Drops”, which is just what I needed to break up the overdose of seapunk and trap. A swiningin’ 4/4, that uses staccato to great effect, it’s the perfect breather and setup as the fifth track in this mixtape.

Our closer is a strong finisher. Right after the sinister “Chronic Heart Failure”, the juxtaposition of Low Leaf’s piano-driven “Set Me Free” rounds off this entire mixtape with some astounding future soul. Don’t ask me how it works, but that vibe of live instruments approached in an angular manner just made sense to me.

Hope you enjoyed this week’s mixtape!

Tracklist
00:00 – 07:03 Touch Sensitive – Slowments
07:03 – 10:53 BSN Posse – Anchovies With Lemon (Pixelord Bootleg)
10:53 – 16:18 BANKS – Fall Over (Djemba Djemba Remix)
16:18 – 20:30 Pixelord & Seablaze – Hedron Luv
20:30 – 24:07 Electric Mantis – Flips And Flops, Drips And Drops
24:07 – 27:07 Djemba Djemba – Chronic Heart Failure
27:07 – 24:19 Low Leaf – Set Me Free

seiichi-harachi-illustration

Standard