Saturday, May 19, 2007

the ATA decorations

we had our site ATA presentation last week (representatives from the ATA came to view our entry to the ATA awards), and there was much activity from the teams putting up their decorations, which created an interesting tension between the need to service phone calls (after all, we are a call centre and we're there to answer phone calls) and the need(?) to complete the decorations in time...

my work was pretty hectic and i didn't manage to see the results until after the event. as i was on overtime duty this weekend i brought my camera to take some shots of the decorations that were still up - unfortunately most of the stuff in my section (with the star wars theme) had been removed by then.

well, i recently found out how to embed picasa web album slideshows in blogger, so am giving it a whirl :)

Picasa SlideshowPicasa Web AlbumsFullscreen

[edit 20070526] have just found out that there's an easier way to embed album slideshows, direct from picasa web album. slightly less functionality but less fuss... should have just read the help file from the get go :p
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related posts: darth vader's many siblings

Sunday, May 13, 2007

by request: quop vader

this post is dedicated to mr DT, who is signing up for the briefing, and who came up with the quop vader sugggestion. well there's no mask, but i have wielded a more fancy looking lightsaber in the past. this video is from my trip to KL in september 2005, where i met my high school friend kampung chick, dropped by her house and found that her husband is a huge star wars fan, and had this fancy fancy lightsaber. it lights up and turns off with the appropriate sounds, also when you swing and make contact with something. it was fun :)

NB. original video was taken in portrait mode - i finally figured out how to rotate it but transferring to youtube has squashed it somewhat... nevermind.

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related posts: darth vader's many siblings

Thursday, May 10, 2007

the "help us grow The Briefing readership and get your next annual subscription completely free" campaign

i'm a subscriber to the briefing, an excellent monthly christian magazine from the folks at matthias media. it's an irritating publication - and here's why (in their own words):
We know that sometimes we irritate our readers. In fact, we plan to.

Wisdom is a pearl born of irritation. We grow and develop not by having comfortable, familiar words wash over us like a warm bath. Growth comes through challenge -- through hearing something new, or grappling with something foreign, or discovering that an old comfortable truth has some uncomfortable sharp edges.

And so if The Briefing never makes your pulse quicken, your brow furrow, your brainwaves agitate or your blood boil, then we'll have failed.

If the only people who ever read The Briefing are people who agree with every sentence, then we might as well pack up and go home.

We want to provoke more thought and more passion. We not only want to encourage minds and hearts, we want to change them, so that together we all come to think more biblically about life and ministry.

So if The Briefing sometimes irritates you, do something for your friends: share the irritation around.
they're seeking to double their readership by year's end. as an existing subscriber, i have been given some subscription cards. if you want to sign up as a subscriber we can both gain by using these cards:
  • you get $10 off your subscription
  • i get 4 issues added to my subscription for free
i need 3 friends to sign up for new subscriptions (not renewals of current or recently lapsed subscriptions) to get my year's worth of free editions :) so drop me a line and i'll hook you up! even if you're not sold on handing over your money, you can still browse the site for some free articles (webextras) and the regularly updated CHN (couldn't help noticing) blog/column. highly recommended food for your mind from the guys who provide resources for growing christians.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

buddha birth day festival

went along to the buddha birth day festival at southbank on the weekend. not that i have any inclination to celebrate or remember some dead religious figure's birthday, mind you. i'm happy to admit that my reasons are a lot more shallow - i'm simply drawn by the accompanying food fair :p since first stumbling across this annual festival a few years ago, (it's now in its 10th year), i've made it a point to try to drop by for a meal if i have the chance, though i think i tend to forget that the food is all vegetarian until i get there!

this year i went with a few clay people, watching a somewhat lackluster lion dance performance before searching for options to satisfy our rumbling tummies. there were probably around 20 stalls selling food and drinks, with a lot of signage in chinese which is always helpful for the majority english-speaking population... (though granted the bulk of visitors to the festival itself would probably be chinese). anyways, i always have trouble choosing, never knowing how to separate the good from the bad, or the good from the ordinary, until i hand over my money and taste the food for myself. bumped into an old high school friend who recommended a few items, and i ended up getting some fried dumplings, a drumstick (which was itself a smallish and fairly expensive piece of faux meat), a herbal tea drink, rice (pyramid) dumpling, and a "fresh roll" (like a spring roll, but not fried, and more like a spring roll than a popiah) for a total of $12. i was quite satisfied, at least in terms of quantity. quality wise, the fresh roll and a salt and pepper chicken item (recommended by my friend, and which i tasted thanks to the sharing of my dining buddies) were the yummiest. everything else was fairly average, with the "drumstick" the least value for money.

we stayed around for more performances at the suncorp piazza, including some martial arts demonstrations (which i think involved a certain "chik" i know) and a hip hop / breakdancing routine by planet fresh, from which i was hoping to see more breaking. i wasn't initially intending to record this, but thought that the name of the group sounded familiar (i think i know people who know them) so got out my camera...

after this it was time for the fireworks. we got there early enough to have front row position, which i don't think i've ever done before. good vantage point for more video recording. the ~15 minute footage is split into two parts due to youtube's 10 minute limit.

more photos on my multiply album.

Friday, May 04, 2007

darth vader's many siblings

because we (meaning my workplace) were a state winner last year, we're in the running again for the 2007 ATA (australian teleservices association) awards. the various teams in the call centre have been assigned themes for decorating their work area - this time round movie titles were picked out of a hat, and my current area drew "star wars". one of my colleagues brought in a toy lightsaber (with sound effects) and a darth vader helmet and accompanying gizmo that emits authentic darth vader noises and quotes, as well as modifying your speech to make you sound like the masked heavy breather. another colleague was playing with it, and i happened to bring my camera to work that day, so shot a little clip:
could he be darth vader's long lost brother??!!

for a dose of video fun starring darth vader's "real" brother, check out "chad vader: day shift manager" by blame society productions. it's a fan film series featuring the less well-known brother of darth vader, a guy who works as a day shift manager in a supermarket. the episodes follow his run-ins with colleagues and his boss, and his lacklustre love life. episode 8, which is supposed to bring season 1 to a close, is rumoured to be released this coming week...

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related posts: sorry dr. spin, i'd like a second opinion please

Thursday, May 03, 2007

effortless improvement!

six months ago, i submitted an application for a role. i was told that my written application was quite badly done, and that i barely scraped through for the practical assessment. in the end, i made it to the order of merit, but was ranked fairly low in the pecking order.

a few weeks ago another round of application for the same role was conducted by the same person, using the same job description, selection criteria, and application format. i was on leave overseas at the time, so my superior (the one conducting the EOI - expression of interest) sent me my previous application for review. in the end i was unable to write a new application by the deadline, so i SMSed him to say if he can accept my previous submission then please do so, otherwise i would sit out from consideration.

this is the response i received today [with specific details removed]:
Thank you for your Expression of Interest in the [...] position within [...]. The position attracted a high quality pool of applicants and having considered all the applications [sic] advise you that, in this instance, you have been rated as "Fully Effective". Higher Duties will continue on a short term basis pending a permanent selection process.

We wish to thank you for the time and effort you put into preparing your application.

If feedback on your application is required please let me know.

so, by spending no time and effort on preparing my application (since i was reusing my previous one), i had managed to go from "barely scraped in" to "fully effective"! anybody want me to write their next job application?? ;)

(of course, there's a bit more beneath the surface which goes some way to explaining this farcical situation. hence i didn't bother asking for feedback. i'm actually not very good at writing job applications :p)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

making sense of advertising

does advertising work?
It's easy for us to think that we aren't affected by the things we watch, but if that's the case why do manufacturers pay thousands of pounds every month for TV advertising? And why, now that technology exists to record TV shows while skipping over the adverts, are more and more manufacturers paying for product placement in top shows rather than sticking to traditional advertising? We are fooling ourselves if we try to claim that TV has no impact and influence on our lives.
-- Get more like Jesus while watching TV, by Nick Pollard & Steve Couch, Ch 1 (p. 4)
my agreeance with the advertising argument[1] is ironic for (at least) two reasons:
  1. i watch a lot of tv, but disproportionately few ads. i tend to record shows, and fast forward through the ads when watching them later. i'm typically not interested in being sucked in by advertising. spurred on by my recent spate of travel (VCRs were just not meant to handle looking after half a dozen weekly shows for more than a week... yup, no HD/DVD recorder for this tv junkie), and now thanks to the combined powers of xvid, bittorrent, a broadband internet connection at home, and those nice(?) people in america who encode episodes from there which haven't even screened here, i catch most of my shows on a CRT of a different kind (yup, no LCD screens for this computer junkie). which of course means i miss all the ads, cos the encoders always edit them out to make the file smaller. even if the ads were left in, they're meant for a north american market, and won't typically be relevant to me.

  2. i have started advertising on this site. which i guess means at least part of me wants advertising to work! i've signed up with google adsense, and spent the last few days upgrading my blog from the old classic templates to the new layouts structure (trying to reapply the few tweaks i'd added over the years took a bit of time -- i just know i'd never get a job in web design!) and incorporating a number of adsense products on the page. i have to be careful about what i say about the ads, eg i can't ask visitors to click on them, nor click on them myself (though i'm curious how that would be policed/verified). what if i go the reverse psychology route and say don't click on them?? haha. anyways, just trying it out to see if i can generate additional income. you can too, but i can't tell you how i can refer you so that we both benefit... (but maybe if you wanted to, you could work that one out for yourself)

[1] of course, "advertising" is used to demonstrate/argue that what you watch in general (ie not just the advertisements) does have some impact and influence on our lives. and i agree with the general statement. (hopefully) more on this later...