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Ed editor’s note


new sem is upon us! And there are many things that I wish to say in this little corner of mine in this magazine especially as I begin my last semester here in NUS. But sometimes, the words of others better succintly explain what you yourself feel. Keval Singh is an ex-writer from the Entertainment Desk and is currently a broadcast journalist at Mediacorp. In his blog,, I found him musing about turning 29. Every writer has those moments of inspiration when he or she ponders about the world around them and pens something beautiful and so Keval wrote “Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow.” I hope that even other ex-ridgesters who were in this magazine have continued to write, design, snap, edit, teach, organise and just do what they love. For this month’s issue, we worked throughout the December holidays and prepared articles that will welcome you back to the semester. Grace Carter helps you out in “Decluttering Your Wardrobe”, a Year 1 student called Aarushi Puri asks “Should Year 1 Be Graded?”, our Photostory cherishes the role of food in reinvigorating our bodies so there’s immense variety out there for your reading pleasure! Do check out our “Zodiac Fashion Guide” where each star sign is given fashion tips in a cheekily written and wonderfully designed article. The Entertainment Desk give you book recommendations and previews an upcoming music concert called the “Laneway Festival”. Joseph Chin, a Sports writer, analyses the Singapore football team’s performance (“Has the Lion Lost its Roar?”) and we find out what the Dragon Boat Team is all like in “The Way of the Dragons.” The Wired desk provides yet more top-notch tech info and in the “Clash of the Tablets”, we point out that the iPad isn’t the only thing out there in the market and check out its contender. So flick through the pages and read all that we have in store for you for this month. And finally, I wish you all a great sem ahead!

Suhas Bhat Chief Editor

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow “I wanted to grow up sooner to get out of school. Yes, I dreaded wearing those uniforms – they ill-fitted me. I also secretly enjoyed the responsibility given to me when I was told to pay bills, buy stuff only adults were privileged to. Oh, and the thrill of having a 50 dollar note in my wallet was something different altogether. I constantly feared that people knew that blue note was folded nervously in my wallet, seeking refuge in my back pocket.

But the whole process felt surreal. It was as if it wasn’t my birthday; I was collecting greetings and gifts on behalf of a keval everyone else knew. That keval wasn’t there with me that day. I felt like I was in a bubble, insulated from the excitement of someone having a birthday. You can see it in people’s eyes, when they wish you, when they smile at you on your special day. I wonder if they found who they were looking for.

But time, it seems, is schizophrenic. I’m not afraid of getting older by No sooner was I kicked out of my teens numbers. We age everyday anyways. that it started speeding uncontrollably. I just wish time could slow down, nevertheless. There’s something I think back about the ten years about its breakneck speed that scares that have passed, and those before me. them. So much has been compressed between 2000 and 2010 – A Levels, And the seatbelt I have on is not National Service, University and the entirely reliable either.” workforce. Keval Singh Just weeks ago I celebrated my 29th birthday. Or maybe the people around me did. You see, I woke up that day for work, just like any other. The only difference was that there was a cake from the office, dinner and pressies from friends.

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04 editorial team

editorial board Chief Editor Suhas Bhat Assistant Chief Editor Meera Nair Creative Director Kaden Hoe News Desk Editor Chua Ai Ni Lifestyle Desk Editor Tamara Kisha Tan Entertainment Desk Editor Saheli Roy Choudhury Sports Desk Editor Chow Yongjun Wired Desk Editors Shanmugam MPL & Raymond Lau Secretary Anokhi Vakil Copy Editor Luke Vijay Head of Operations Chen Liang



News Desk

Opinion Desk

Lifestyle Desk

Entertainment Desk

Sports Desk

Wired Desk

creative team


Michelle Chong

Sharon Rozario

Yeo Shang Long

Aarushi Puri

Augustin Chiam

Daniel Tay

Vincent Lau

Darius Sit

Jason Lai

Vanessa Tan

Grace Carter

Vani Goyal

Tan Zy Bridget

Aditi Anand

Jocelyn Yeo Yun Ning

Nicole Kang

Divya Gundlapalli

Chow Yong Jun

Joseph Chin

Muhammad Sahfahri bin Supar

Arunkumar Sillathur Ramasamy

Lester Hio

Lam Woon Cherk

Chief Designer

Caryn Quek

Layout Designers

Eunice Ng

Liu Zenan

Nguyen Son Tra

Peng Yifan

Nitya Padmanabhan

Dai Jing

Aarushi Puri

Png Hui Ying Christina

Wai Yan Yip

Rishika Anchalia





NUSflash NUS don develops multilingual standard for the internet chua ai ni


r Tan Tin Wee, a biochemistry professor, has come up with a system that allows non-English speakers to access the internet in their own languages. The search for a multilingual standard began 15 years ago at the Internet Research and Development Unit, where Dr Tan and his team of researchers designed a software that could convert Chinese characters into readable images for the web. In May this year, Egypt,

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Russia became the first to use Arabic and Cyrillic Russian characters in website addresses. In June, Singapore, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan followed suit with Chinese characters. Dr Tan said, “The inability to support multilingual characters in the domain name system was the last barrier preventing nonEnglish speaking people from accessing the internet fully in their own languages.”

NUS lecturer publishes book in memory of mother chua ai ni


US Theatre studies lecturer, Dr K.K.Seet, recently released a new book, “A Single Tear”. The book was written as a tribute to his late mother, Madam Poh Sang Kee. The plot draws inspiration from the Chinese myths she used to tell him as a child and is about a pair of star-crossed lovers whose devotion transcends three lifetimes. Dr Seet said, “I think this tale is especially meaningful because it is about expressing love in a timely manner.”

photograph Alex skopje/Flickr &

The book is partially funded by a grant from the National Arts Council and illustrated by a former student’s mother, artist Susanna Goho-Quek. Profits from the sale of the book will go to the Tan Mingwei memorial fund.



Mahbubani selected as top global thinker Luke vijay


rofessor Kishore Mahbubani, the Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, was selected by Foreign Policy magazine as one of the top 100 global thinkers of 2010 in a special report in the December issue of the magazine. He is the only Singaporean on the list. Foreign Policy is an award-winning global magazine that covers politics, economics and ideas. The magazine called Mahbubani the voice of the new Asian century, as well as an “ardent evangelist for Asia’s growing role on the world stage.”

Mahbubani, a distinguished diplomat, served in the Singapore Foreign Service for 33 years. In addition, he was the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1993 to 1998. He has also written a number of books. These include 2008’s ‘The New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistible Shift of Global Power to the East’, which focuses on how Asia’s rise would change the global economic and political landscape. Other notable names on the list include Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Barack Obama.

NUS and Duke extend their partnership Sharon rozario


US signed an agreement with Duke University to extend the partnership between their respective medical schools. The first phase of their partnership began in April 2005, and this agreement extends their tie-up for another five years. Duke-NUS aims to work in tandem with SingHealth organisations like the Singapore General Hospital by pioneering new medical treatments

to help improve patient health. It currently carries out research on chronic and ubiquitous diseases like cancer. The school hopes that its research will influence public health policy in Singapore. Besides having a domestic impact, it hopes to have an international outreach by influencing health-care policies in other countries as well.

The partnership’s first phase has already borne fruit. An example is how the school collaborated with engineers from the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) to improve the concentration of children with attention disorders by using brainwave-reading instruments. The pioneer cohort graduates in May.

said that these students had benefited from the “American influence” that the partnership with Duke had created. Duke University’s Chancellor for Health Affairs, Dr Victor Dzau, had similar praise; he called DukeNUS the “crown jewel” of Duke’s international tie-ups.

Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan

photograph World Economic Forum/Flickr &


News * photostory

Food for the Body, Spirit and Soul


he new semester has started, and it is already in full swing. One only has to take a good look at the Deck, bursting at the seams with people, to realise that. But then again, what is university life without fun, friends and FOOD? We eat to live, and we live to eat. But is it only the nourishment of our physical bodies that The Deck caters to? For me, the answer is an absolute no. Body, spirit and soul. The Deck panders to the needs of all three realms. Indeed, there is nothing like bonding over food that solidifies relationships and lifts the spirit.

Intimate heart to heart talks over steaming bowls of noodles with a close friend; group conversations over fruit juice or coffee that end in eruptions of laughter – these precious interactions feed my being like no other.

buildings, while listening to the fierce lashing or gentle patter of raindrops against those glass panels.

Licking an ice cream cone on such a cold and gloomy day does wonders to an already perfect experience. Ironically, My soul also takes delight as I sit this sweet, sticky, cold and by myself at a table in a corner crunchy treat is chicken soup of the upper deck and just stare for my soul. out of the glass panels by the side. I love looking out towards Here’s to yet another semester the sea, beyond the limits of full of good eats, friends the campus, and let my mind and laughter, and countless wander and wonder. moments of staring out of those glass panels. Cheers to Rainy days make the experience comfort food for the body, spirit all the more beautiful as I and soul! contemplate the grey skies and trace out the foggy outlines of

author Michelle Chong + photographer luke vijay

“I look out of this window and I think this is a cosmos, this is a huge creation, this is one small corner of it. The trees and birds and everything else and I’m part of it. I didn’t ask to be put here, I’ve been lucky in finding myself here.” - Morris West



NUS launches S$24 million Centre for BioImaging T

other biological specimens is the first to be installed in Singapore and only the third in Asia. The flagship microscope will also allow researchers to study biological samples in their natural hydrated Presided by Guest-of-Honour, state, providing a more accurate Mr Lim Chuan Poh, Chairman observation. of Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research “Bioimaging has the potential to (A*STAR), the opening ceremony play a pivotal role in translational was held in conjunction with the research especially when used to 6th International Conference on visualise molecular interactions, Structural Biology and Functional cancer function, metabolism and genetic expression in tissues as Genomics. well as animal models of disease,” The S$24 million centre, helmed said Mr Lim, Chairman of by Professor Paul Matsudaira, A*STAR. Head of NUS Department of Biological Sciences, will house The establishment of CBIS is also the state-of-the-art FEI Titan in line with the government’s Krios cryo transmission electron intention to make Singapore microscope designed for life one of the most R&D intensive economies in the region. science research. he National University of Singapore (NUS) officially unveiled its state-of-the-art Centre for BioImaging Sciences (CBIS) on 6 December 2010.

scientists, and engineers to conduct research in critical areas such as infectious diseases, plant biology and neurodegenerative diseases. One of the faculties in the centre is studying the dengue virus, how it assembles in the cell and also how antibodies are used to block the infection by the virus. “The Centre for BioImaging Sciences has world-class optical and electron microscopes and facilities, outstanding highend computing resources, and an interdisciplinary group of researchers. I am excited by what we have assembled and the opportunities for important discoveries,” said Professor Matsudaira.

complex issues in biology,” he added. It was also announced that CBIS will offer a new biological imaging graduate programme, slated to be launched in August 2011. The programme will admit up to 10 students for its first intake later this year. “The easy biology, I think, was accomplished a long time ago. So now you need sophisticated instruments like the microscope we have here. To ask questions, about what’s going on in a cell, or in a tissue, in a life organism so its very important to train students to understand how those instruments work, what’s the best ways of using them,” said Professor Matsudaira.

CBIS is located in the Lee Wee “At CBIS, we have the ability Kheng Building on NUS Kent The multi-million dollar CBIS will bring together an to find new answers as well as Ridge Campus. instrument used to acquire high- interdisciplinary mix of biologists, ask new questions that enhance resolution images of viruses and chemists, physicists, computer our understanding of the most

“At CBIS, we have the ability to find new answers as well as ask new questions that enhance our understanding of the most complex issues in biology.”

author Yeo shang long + photograph massagetherapyfoundation/flickr




NU sur SSU W newvey Elfar ta kes e ap pro a ac h

he latest instalment of the NUSSU Welfare Survey has expanded its focus to encourage interaction and communication between surveyors and students. In December last year, students were asked to fill in hardcopies of the survey form when they collect their welfare packs instead of completing the survey online like in previous years. “[This is] an attempt to try and encourage participation and boost empathy towards the Union’s efforts especially with regards to engaging the student body,” said Ang Kai Li, the Welfare Secretary of NUSSU. “We hope that students understand that Union volunteers do work hard for them, and learn more about what the Union is about and what Union volunteers actually do by talking to them. [The survey] was also a good time for Union volunteers to connect with the students we represent and serve,” she added. Changes were also made to the survey to make it fairer. The Union collaborated with faculty clubs to engage students from different faculties, to address different concerns from different segments of the student body. Previously, faculties with a high proportion of students who did not attempt the survey had very little representation, leading to skewed results. The lack of respondents was also due to the individual faculties holding their own feedback sessions just before the NUSSU Welfare Survey, which led some to perceive that the NUSSU survey was a repeat of their faculty surveys. NUSSU hopes that through its

author Meera nair + photograph andreas braendhaugen/flickr



efforts, more students can understand what the Welfare Survey is about, and how it addresses different aspects of student life. Despite its goals, the survey drew flak from students as they were required to fill in the survey forms before collecting their welfare packs. This denied students the choice of opting out of the survey, something that was made easier when email blasts were utilised. Ang defended the Union’s methods, explaining that students did have a choice. She said, “Welfare pack giveaway is one of the few events which many students turn up for and it would be more convenient for us to administer the surveys then. It also saves the students the hassle of having to come down on a separate occasion just to do the surveys.” “Every student is entitled to a welfare pack from their faculty club and I’m sure that if a student declines to do the survey, he or she will still get the welfare pack.”

The 2010 NUSSU Welfare Survey was split into two parts. The first part of the survey covered a range of issues from the transportation on campus to the food available. There was also a section where students could indicate their preferred mode of feedback, and surveys that they respond to most often, for instance surveys like the OED Survey, Faculty Club survey and the NUSSU Welfare Survey.

However, a third-year geography major who wished to remain anonymous, disagreed, saying, “Asking the students to do the surveys before collecting the welfare pack puts students in a spot, although that may not have been the intention. In order to prevent any hassle, the survey could have been an online one.” The second part of the survey was faculty-specific. Students Acknowledging the answered questions about shortcomings of an online their respective faculty clubs survey, she added, “In order and academics, like whether to assist NUSSU in getting the grading system for exams responses, a certain number of should be made public. points could be credited to the student’s Program or General The 2010 NUSSU Welfare account in CORS.” Survey garnered a better

response than previous surveys, and the information gathered, will be analysed by the Union and used to launch new initiatives.

the scope of the Union, NUSSU will ensure that the student feedback will be forwarded to the relevant NUS offices for them to look into.

Acknowledging that not all concerns can be addressed by the Union, Ang said, “We usually pick out the timesensitive concerns which need to be solved urgently, or those for which we already have initiatives or discussions pending.”

Ang revealed that there are plans to make this survey a permanent feature, as it had previously been carried out sporadically. She said, “While that’s my long-term goal, it will ultimately depend on the future welfare secretaries and Exco.”

The problems addressed by the Union will also depend on the direction the Executive Committee had decided on. This was already taken into account in the initial planning of the survey questions.

She also added that another Welfare Survey will be held in Semester 2. The results of the survey were not out by press time. They will be made available on THE RIDGE website at a later date.

For concerns that fall outside photograph odegaard library/flickr



Should Year 1 be graded? The first year is a challenging transition for many students and rethinking the modular system might help ease the pain.


t was an ordinary Tuesday afternoon in mid-July when I found out that I had been accepted to NUS, one of the finest universities in Asia. While I was ecstatic, I didn’t know that I was about to plunge into an entirely new phase of my life, leaving known terrain behind. Singapore attracts numerous international students like me, who anticipate a high quality of university life. By this, I mean not just the academic rigor (and boy, do we get more than we expect!) but getting exposed to a new culture, socializing with peers from around the world and enjoying a superb campus. But doing well academically requires a lot of diligence in NUS’ taxing education system and there are also so many responsibilities in the offing. International students (who all come from such divergent educational backgrounds) are thrust into not only an entirely new education system but also a foreign land. Confronted by boundless hurdles - accommodation intricacies, accumulating CCA points, acclimatizing to an alien cuisine, making new friends, controlling expenses etc - sans any parental support, international students often find themselves besieged and with reason. Given the administrative snags,

author Aarushi Puri

the need for a social life and other responsibilities that accompany the eternal studying, not to mention the very novelty of a university curriculum for both international and local students (especially to those returning from NS), tertiary institutes in Singapore should consider disregarding the first year modules for academic credit. It’s not an unusual paradigm as several universities (United College London, York University) have followed such a system and fared well. International students and local

“Academia misfortune of this kind in the first year is not only distressing but, sadly, it also results in lost opportunities... all of which do have an implicit requirement for academic proficiency” students returning from national service might find themselves as being ‘out of the loop’ but often, these same students improve over the next few years. Thus, is the first year truly an indicator of their capabilities? Is their CAP in the first year reflective of their aptitude, when perhaps all they needed was an application adjustment in the testing arena?

Academia misfortune of this kind in the first year is not only distressing but, sadly, it also results in lost opportunities; they might not get a chance to go on SEP, take up double degree programs, go on NOC, attend summer schools, all of which do have an implicit requirement for academic proficiency which can only be deemed unfair if my conjecture holds some accuracy. The aforementioned universities, on the contrary, given their assessment approach, offer their freshmen an opportunity to engage in recreational activities in the first year, discover their true interests and bestow them with the gift of time to cross the bridge between high school and university. Admittedly, some may take advantage of such a system and slack-off (not an entirely false accusation). Nevertheless, considering the fact that acclimatization to university life is a challenge, even for local students, the longstanding system should be reexamined as there is the possibility of greater rewards in the long run as students become better prepared for handling the demands of university.



Compete Less, Learn More The Singaporean education system should encourage learning instead of fostering intense competition between students.


Distinction Award’ and so it should not be surprising that even now schools are incentivized to fulfil the criteria for achieving these awards rather than to focus on providing quality education. As I have mentioned earlier, parents are spending increasingly more on private tuition just so students can get into the “best schools” – “best” being defined as the school’s ability to produce students that can score in standardized examinations.

uch has been said about how the Singapore education system is a highly competitive pressure-cooker environment. Consider the huge furore that arose last year from the news that Nanyang Technological University (NTU) fell a mind-blowing 101 places in the Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) World University Rankings or the controversial debate about how the growing number of students seeking private tuition has distorted our notion of meritocracy. For a long time now, the way our education system has been structured has encouraged excessive competition. Almost every aspect of our education is numbered and ranked. Think about the booklet that every Primary 6 student receives at the end of the academic year detailing the strengths and achievements of each school, not to mention the dreaded cutoff points – a common point of comparison for overlyenthusiastic parents. Similarly, secondary schools used to be ranked according to the O-Level results of the particular cohort as well. It was even suggested that teachers were being ranked according to the academic performance of the classes they

“We should realize, though, that learning is a much more dynamic process than we have allowed it to be.” teach. We are terribly fond of our rankings and are often guided by them. Before I am accused of being overly dogmatic (as I have been with my previous columns), let

me just add that I am aware that widespread reforms have taken place in recent years. Secondary schools are no longer ranked numerically but are categorized into bands of similar academic performance. More attention is also being given to the “holistic development” of students rather than specific academic results. But then, we have not been able to escape from an obsession with results and awards. The rankings have been replaced by a ‘School Excellence Award’ and a ‘School

We should realize, though, that learning is a much more dynamic process than we have allowed it to be. Sir Ken Robinson, one of the world’s leading thinkers in education, gave a speech during a recent TED conference to rally policy-makers to rethink the way we want to educate our students. He advocated creative learning, especially in the arts and humanities, rather than old systems gearing towards doing well in standardized tests. Perhaps it is time to admit that we might have gotten it wrong and start thinking about how best to move away from this competitive resultoriented system towards one that encourages learning at one’s own pace and maximizing one’s individual strengths. Maybe then, we just might unearth several talented individuals that would otherwise falter in our presently pressure-cooker system.

author Augustin Chiam + photograph



In Shape, Out of Time All Singapore Armed Forces National Servicemen are called upon once again to meet the new expectations set by the Ministry of Defence.


ome next April, the Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) System will be brought to another level. The 12-month window within which the test could be taken has been shortened by three months so that “those who may need more training to pass their IPPT will receive help sooner” according to the Minister of State for Defence, Koo Tsai Kee. Those who do not pass their IPPT will undergo twenty sessions of remedial training in the remaining three months.

of the year but then, the common complaint of most NSmen who are in the working force has not been addressed by these changes. In having to meet the requirements of IPPT, time from the office or at home with family is increasingly being taken away. Bosses will have to contend with NSmen who cannot do overtime work or meet deadlines more often.

With the new system, having to potentially do twenty sessions of remedial training within three months, ten sessions of To prepare National Servicemen preparatory training over nine (NSmen) for the IPPT, they are allowed to sign up for ten sessions months and less time within of IPPT preparatory training over which to clear the IPPT, it doesn’t appear as if the Ministry a period of nine months if they of Defense (MINDEF) is so choose, instead of the current 5-week preparation period that is recognising the ‘demands of in practice now.

With that said, the improved IPT system does somewhat promote greater flexibility as service men can book training slots over nine months.

If NSmen meet their individual targets during the preparatory training sessions, they would not need to attend remedial training even if they fail their IPPT.

But MINDEF should recognise the situation on the ground and heed the increased number of complaints from bosses and NSmen about NS commitments.

The rationale behind all these changes is to emphasize the continued and sustained training necessary to uphold high fitness levels for all servicemen. Sure, servicemen might be in better shape physically by the end

“In having to meet the requirements of IPPT, time from the office or at home with family is increasingly being taken away.”

work responsibilities, family commitments and NS duties for our NSmen’ as it claims to do on its website.

author DANIEL TAY + photograph

With more foreign talent emerging, Singaporean men, in the future, might be perceived as less attractive on the job market - why settle for a local who might possibly disappear once in a while when you could have a full-time foreigner on the job 24/7?

Singaporean men have an obligation to the state and so they will probably do as they are told. And I think that, for many, it might be time to hit the gym and the running track more often if they hope to skip all the excess baggage that SAF is placing on their shoulders.



Shhh ‘I

feel like a zoo exhibit,’ a lecturer confessed. ‘Oh wait, even monkeys get entertained by peanuts.’ He proceeded to answer the question he waited 5 minutes for anyone in the 256-strong crowd to respond. This age-old conditioned reflex of peering down at our crotches whenever teachers ask for volunteers to participate in class can indeed get exasperating at times. To a large extent, varsity lecturers rank class participation as the most nightmarish chore, second only to marking illegible exam scripts. However, is classroom livelihood really a golden standard for learning? If so, why are students not taking enough initiative? I hereby go fence sitting. Thou shall be judged. Students here are embodiment of self-consciousness and bashfulness. Unless there is a reason for being active, such as ‘graded participation,’ they seldom cross that high-energy barrier to speak. They shoulder their good name and will not risk tarnishing it with possibly lame remarks. Besides, no one wants to be seen as a ‘show off.’ Students are also grade-oriented. Most do not see the value in

class participation, at least no immediate academic benefits.

didn’t sign up to study ‘ESP1101: Basics of Mind Reading!’

Everything needed to ace that module is probably nestled somewhere in those slides.

Of course, some hurdles are inherent of the lesson’s nature and Eventually, quality class the environmental constraints. interaction revolves around the Engaging problem-based solving gear of deliverables although students have to be impregnated questions are more effective with the empowering mindset to in low teaching ratios where learn. The winding key ultimately the facilitator can respond lies on the educators to value-add immediately to intellectual active participation. contributions.

From ask-around statistics, students prefer mugging pugilist manuals handed down by generations of seniors, than learning firsthand. After all, if it isn’t broken, why fix it? But at the same time, mode of content delivery can be the pith for vibrant participation. Lessons have to be specially deliberated for consistent intellectual exchange and directed polylogue.

“Eventually, quality class interaction revolves around the gear of deliverables although students have to be impregnated with the empowering mindset to learn. ”

Some teachers expect students to raise hands mindlessly and make coordinated sounds just to prove their existence. At other times, they dispense yes-no questions on equivalent levels to ‘Is an apple a fruit?’ This just shuts their audiences up big time. Why? In a lecture theatre, discussions Because it just seems like the trick can never develop too far when question before the ‘Ah hah!’ the lecturer has a rigid agenda to follow or doesn’t look like Justin The facilitation mechanics Bieber. of many lecturers can be bewildering. Certain lecturers set But then enforced participation off to harvest opinions, but gun it can only achieve limited results. down at point blank. Who would then bother to speak? A lecturer I know loves playing human minesweeper in the While some are perpetually on auditorium. He would point defensive mode, others seem to randomly at someone for an want certain fixed answers. But I answer. And if he couldn’t, the

person seated adjacently would receive the baton. Not very smart; the lecture attendance dwindled with each week.

Do they wish solely to impart knowledge, or to stimulate discussion? If they simply wish to moisten up a dry lecture, toggling to a 5–min break or a video clip works more magic. Teachers should learn to parallel class dynamics to the curriculum. On hindsight, not speaking doesn’t mean students aren’t learning. It really means they are reluctant to share what’s going on in their minds.




Standing Up Against Religious Intolerance We could do with one less reason to fight, one less reason to hate.


e have been taught to respect other religions yet belief in our religions (usually the major monotheistic ones) often demands an unhealthy degree of disdain for others. Tolerance, the acceptance of difference, is on the wane and religious intolerance is rising. Tolerance is the necessary first step towards the resolution of religious conflict but it should, by no means, be the last. Religious exclusivity is getting increasingly common but it should have no place in today’s world. As humans, we have come to recognize the dignity of the individual in our common humanity and the progress of science and reason has debunked many of the archaic myths and superstitions that feed religious claims and delusions. Religious arrogance should be banished but still many of the religious ilk often point their fingers and raise

their chins at ‘the other’ religion. How can a religious person logically assert superiority over another when both have equally legitimate claims to truth and when both are equally fallible? The stubborn refusal to consider possible flaws in one’s religious doctrine and belief has been the reason for much pain and suffering. From global conflicts, such as the intractable war between the Israelis and Palestinians, down to everyday conflict amongst friends and family, we have all, in some way or other, been the witnesses or victims of religious exclusivity. It is the practice of faith at the price of open-mindedness and empathy. The religious often dismiss accusations by blaming any wrongdoing on imperfect men who misinterpreted the scripture.

author Darius Sit+ photograph

And truly, how much nicer a place the world would be if this were true. But exclusivity (and violence) is indeed often an explicit part of scripture. Mutual tolerance is bound to fail when various religions are, at its core, antagonistic toward outsiders.

“How can a religious person logically assert superiority over another when both have equally legitimate claims to truth and when both are equally fallible?” To be sure, religious fault lines are not the only ones that divide the human race. The point here is that we could do with one less reason to fight, one less reason to

hate, one less cause of suffering. The elimination of exclusivity will come with a particular brand of intolerance as well - intolerance for the literal interpretations of scripture and archaic texts, intolerance for the decrees of religious leaders that infringe on human dignity and freedom and intolerance for any hint of religious insularity that prevents the acceptance of other faiths. One should look to the essence of one’s religious faith and find contentment in its ideas of the transcendent and sublime. In doing so, one would discover that such ideas are at the core of all religious faiths. Ultimately, it is mankind’s search for the numinous that connects us and man-made religious constructs that divide us.



A fresh start Jason asks you to forgive others and let bygones be bygones in this new year.


appy new year, folks! Once again we celebrated a new calendar year with fireworks, shopping, resolutions and it was also the time of the year when we mulled over how our age ever advances and never returns. Yes, I’m definitely feeling age creep up on me! But have we missed out on something? The new year doesn’t seem to usher in anything ‘new’ except adding up to our age and maybe causing a slight dip in our CAP. Resolutions? Those listed ideals similar to the to-do-list in ‘My Name is Earl’? I think top in the list for most would be ‘fulfilling my 2010 resolutions’. Sarcasm aside, resolutions are nonetheless good to bring us back to our senses when we stray too far. How do we usher in a ‘new’ self, if we are weighed down by our past? Yes, that boogeyman called ‘guilt’ or the dark side in every one of us holds us back in many ways. I think Robert Louis Stevenson puts it aptly in his short story ‘the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’. In that story, Dr Jekyll successfully kept evil from interrupting his good acts, devising a way to dichotomize

himself such that a deal was struck between the two entities – the good (Dr Jekyll) in the day and his bad side (Mr Hyde) at night.

“I think a good way to begin ushering in a ‘new’ self is to forgive one another, whether for small or big errors. ” We certainly can identify with Dr Jekyll; our retrospective reflection as we prepared our 2011 resolutions might have sounded like this - “That good deed that I wanted to do, why did I not carry it out?” or “That horrible deed, why did it even cross my mind?” Indeed, was that ‘me’ doing it? I can’t believe it!’ Some mistakes might have bene small, but others came with huge consequences that left some of us incapacitated. I wouldn’t suggest we solve this problem Dr Jekyll’s style because we all know it would only make matters worse. Somehow, we have to confront that beast and deal with it.

small or big errors. In this respect, the Hari Raya celebration, commemorating the end of the observation of the holy month of Ramadan, strikes a right chord among communities who observe this festival annually. It is indeed a powerful way to mend broken relationships through forgiveness as people intone “maaf zahir dan batin” which means “forgive my physical and emotional (wrongdoings)”.

Forgiveness liberates and reunites us with others. Wouldn’t that give you a clean slate to begin a new self for 2011?

What is forgiveness? It isn’t merely ‘forget’ as we commonly say “forgive and forget”. Instead, we should remember such trespasses that kept us at odds with one another. Although it may require some form of ‘justice’ or ‘retribution’, we forgive instead and be even with the other person who you either wronged or were wronged by at the end of the day. This way, we would have dealt with that Mr Hyde in us, recognizing our faults and humbling ourselves to ask forgiveness and to forgive others.

I think a good way to begin ushering in a ‘new’ self is to forgive one another, whether for

author jason lai



New Year I Resolution Blurbs

t’s the new year again, the time of the year when we all try to turn our lives around for the better by reflecting on the changes we want or need to make. Whether it involves more studying, less eating or more exercise (you name it!), a resolution has the potential to have far-reaching effects on our lives if we stick to them. As we recover from our New Year celebrations, it is time to set new goals for the year of 2011. If you think yours are feeble, or if you need some inspiration, here’s a sample of what some celebrities and NUS students have resolved to do this year. Enjoy!

“I would like to stop worrying so much because I worry all the time. And to learn how to be happier, “Strive to make the Twilight “My resolution is to quit texting just in general. And to stop biting movie franchise as big as Harry and use my cell phone in my nails!” —Britney Spears emergencies only. It takes you out Potter” – Robert Pattinson of the present moment and is one of my biggest distractions in life!” –‘The Hills’ star Holly Montag

“I’m gonna drop 50 pounds. Push-ups, sit-ups, and a strict diet of... raisins! That’s my plan.” –Jack “To not make any resolutions. Whenever I make them, I wind Black up ultimately breaking them.” – Emily Blunt

“To stop eating pizza every day. I think my wife [Heidi Montag’s] resolution will make that happen. She says she’s going to cook.” – Spencer Pratt

“I’m looking for the right woman. I need a magnifying glass! I’m trying to find that rare jewel.” – “I have always had the same New Jamie Foxx Year’s resolutions: to stop smoking, to start wearing a bra and to stop shopping.” —Cameron Diaz

“It’s always the same: to work out more and eat healthier. I’m trying to go organic, eat more raw.” – Fergie

“I want to try to be single my whole year of being 30.” –Kim “To achieve a CAP 4.0, be less anti-social and for Manchester Kardashian United to win the EPL.” - Dylon, Year 1, Faculty of Science “I think my New Year’s resolution is just to stay positive and enjoy the moment.” – ‘American Idol’ “My resolution is to be as Season 8 runner-up Adam nice as possible to the press.” - Kanye West Lambert

“For my dogs to be less slack as well as being able to speak Korean and to achieve a CAP of above 3.5 so that I can go for SEP in Korea.” - JQ , Year 1, Faculty of Arts and “To give up meat.” –Eva Longoria Social Sciences

author VANESSA TAN + photograph,,, ,,,



decluttering your wardrobe!


n 153 BC, the Roman Empire made the 1st of January the beginning of the calendar year and on this day since then, mankind has found a multitude of ways to welcome it in the following 2,162 years. While our methods of celebrating have progressed in flamboyance, the beginning of another year has always been recognised as a time for introducing new changes, and reforming or removing things of the past.

As it happens every year, Christmas and New Year celebrations throw shops into an over-drive with marketing techniques that often bring in a windfall of purchases not at all easy on our credit cards. We then find ourselves sitting amongst a pile of bags, bargain purchases, and Christmas gifts, trying to strain as much as possible into our bulging wardrobes. But before stuffing that new Gucci bag in with your already

vast collection of designer bags, how about a wardrobe revamp? New Year is, after all, a time for change, and since your wardrobe probably bears a greater resemblance to a badly organised car-boot sale than ELLE Magazine’s fashion closet, it should be at the top of the priorities list! Whilst this may seem to be a daunting task, it doesn’t mean you should opt for binning everything (albeit that’s usually

the quickest solution). In fact, our advice that might sound unconventional but it will work like a charm: De-clutter and re-organise your wardrobe as you would your love life. The desired effect is that, as if by magic, sifting through all that clutter will become far quicker, easier, more creative and less scary than you ever first imagined!

author GRACE CARTER + photograph



The Quick Fling

You brought this item during a drought of shopping as a quick, short-term fix to your need to shop; you liked it as soon as you laid your eyes on it, but perhaps, at the back of your mind, you knew that it lacked enough lustre to keep your attention for long. After wearing it once or twice, your attention moved elsewhere and so did your taste! As a result, nothing else in your wardrobe goes with it.


olution: Give it to a friend or a charity organisation like the Salvation Army.

The Cheating Ex

This purchase seemed perfect, despite the high price tag. As you held it lovingly while lining up at the counter, everything about it justified its crazy price and promised to be the most valuable item you owned. Then you got home and found that its convincing exterior had lied! The inner label revealed it to be made of 70% polyester, instead of the 100% cashmere you had been convinced into buying. Since then, it has done little to gain your trust back, becoming unsightly and dull (to you).


olution: Sell it on E-Bay (but make sure you are a little more honest in order to get your sale) or trade it with a friend.

The Needy One

Charming and sweet, this piece of garment looks nice enough for your Sunday visit to the grandparents. It was there for you through those dull and boring times, remaining loyal throughout. However, due to its overwhelming love and affection, it always seems to need some sort of ‘tailoring care’; be it the new buttons yearning to be sewn on, or even time consuming careful washing to prevent fading or damage.


olution: If you can trust yourself to wear it less often, then keep it for rainy days when you need a bit of comfort from your clothes. Otherwise, give it to a charity and let someone else love it as much as you did (do).




The I-Love-Myself-One

This purchase cost you an absolute fortune and its beauty matched its cost. However, the large designer name and logo which is stamped across the front is about as subtle as wearing a fluorescent jacket while shopping round Orchard Road. On realising how dependent you appear to be on labels in order to look fashionable, you rarely wear this purchase – unless you’re trying too hard to impress or have to hang out with people that do deeply care about narcissism (no offense on part of THE RIDGE here. After all, narcissism has fueled many a successful business and industry, especially in the lifestyle arena.)


olution: Sell it on E-Bay at a reasonable, relative price and buy yourself something a little more tasteful and classically enduring with your earnings.

The Desperate Attempt at Love

It was a bad day to go shopping. You were depressed, hormonal and felt three sizes larger than you actually were. Or you just needed to spend money to “make things right again”. The material consequence of this is a hideous outfit, of bold, garish colours in an outrageous print. Or even without all the aforementioned, the outfit just shouts ‘trying too hard’ and clashes with literally everything and maybe even everyone.


olution: Give it to a younger sibling or cousin for their fancy dress box. If this isn’t feasible, try cutting it up and re-styling it into something new, such as a bag or purse (many, many ideas can be found online!). If the item is actually so bad as being beyond repair, then bin it immediately. Do not give it to a charity (for obvious reasons).

The Long Term Lover

Four terms is all we need to encapsulate what this outfit means: (1) Love at first sight (2) Classic (3) Durable and (4) Enduring. It remains faithful, and still puts a smile on your face when you don it on.


olution: Hold on to this one! Just make sure you don’t end up wearing it down unnecessarily. Keep it up-to-date and fresh with new accessories such as fit-for-our-weather light-weight cardigans or shrugs, brooches and rings, or even creative makeup styles.

author GRACE CARTER + photograph



The (permissibly) ubiquitous plain white tee O

More wear-time, because?

kay, no intention to bewilder or confound with the term ubiquitous, but it sounded much less foreboding than its twin, “omnipresent”. So what do I mean with this title? Well, what I’m trying to say (in less than 6 words) is that the plain white T-shirt really deserves all of the following from the clothes wearing population at large:

Some of us hate repeating outfits. But the white tee comes in many forms, the V-neck cut and Round neck cut being some examples. In fact, even if you choose the same cut every day, the white T-shirt is one of those things that can be repeated with no shame at all.

1. It should be given more attention than it generally garners. 2. It should be granted more ‘wearage-time’ (there is no such term, but I hope you get my drift). 3. It should be given more Before I dive in, let’s talk about credit. the beginnings of the T-shirt. The term is a pretty modern one, having made it to the English Dictionary only in the 1920s. As casual wear, it didn’t take a strong hold until the 1960s. Starting off as military wear for British soldiers during WWI and WWII, it was later adopted by the American military who were inspired by their European counterparts’ light weight cotton undershirts. The fact that it kept the wearer cool added to its appeal.

Why More Attention? Unlike all things black that are easy to wear and pair, white things always get a double-think-over before they are either worn out of the house, or put back in the cupboard to be worn “next time”. The reasons are obvious – they get easily dirtied and there seems to be no slimming effect (for those who desire it). But I contend that it is just as easy to soil a shirt or top of any other colour, and for the unconvinced, there are so many ways to prevent the T-shirt from getting soiled. Why not wear a thin, light weight vest over it of a darker colour, or a don a scarf or a cardigan?

Interestingly, T-shirts used to be considered underwear, until big names like Marlon Brando and James Dean decided to go deviant by wearing their underwear unashamedly on TV. It was James So yes, this year, do wear the white Dean who sealed the fate of the shirt more, be unafraid and be T-shirt as outer wear after his role uninhibited with white tee usage! in Rebel Without a Cause.

author Tamara Kisha, Vani Goyal + photograph,

You may wonder why I say that. Well, think jeans. Just like how it’s okay to see people wear jeans every day, it is okay for you to wear a plain white T-shirt every day (as long as it’s a new set each time, fingers crossed). Besides, you can do so many things with a white T-shirt that it is very easy to make it different from yesterday. So don’t think anymore, go stock up on those white tees in different cuts and varying thickness for the appropriate situations!

More credit for? Affordability and availability is something we all consider –


white tees can be easily found at good prices at major retail outlets. They’re also widely available online for order from overseas retailers; or, for more assurance when it comes to shipping, you can be a patron of very affordable local online stores like lleitmotif. com. Possibly my most important reason for backing my stance that the white tee should be a more plentiful and well-credited wardrobe essential would be OUR WEATHER. It is without a doubt something to contend with.

T-shirt is the smartest move you piece of advice: wear it more often. (And if you don’t have one, here’s a can make. nudge to go get it!) Lastly, we must acknowledge that some of us are afflicted with dandruff or ‘flaking’. It falls on your shoulders where you can’t see it, but other people can. I know, I know, why touch on such an iffy topic right? Well, I figure it’s not really that iffy, it’s just something that happens and while some readers couldn’t possibly care less about appearances, the reality is that there are many who do care, especially in situations where image is everything, like during an interview to land a job, for example. I’m here to tell you that if you know you suffer from this (or think you do), wearing a white tee will make it much less obvious, by about 100 times (no kidding).

For hygiene and olfactory purposes, we should don light colours as much as possible as they absorb less heat, thereby forestalling potential wardrobe disasters. Honestly, why risk perspiration stains and body So if you don’t already wear a odour? Choosing white for your white T-shirt regularly, here’s a



lifestyle * feature

THE 2011 ZODIAC When in doubt, look to the stars!



Arians are trendsetters in fashion and clothing. You have good taste and don’t mind standing out in the crowd. Arians just love red. You have a liking for sexy and bold styles. For men, narrow trousers with traditional white shirt with cufflinks would certainly look great and can boost your confidence. For women, the most modern look would be knee length skirt or black tight trousers with a well-fitted shirt. Also, because the part of the body that Aries rules is the “head” you may like to wear stylish hats, scarves or barrettes.

Bulls love clothing that is comfortable, and you seldom go for the latest fads. Linen suits and dresses are favourites. It’s likely that you’ll be tempted to go for a sexy, sultry style but you have to be very careful while dressing up. Wear rich, dark colours at the beginning of the year and dark blues to purples later on. Your shape is soft and feminine and your star sign colours are red lemon mix, blues and pinks. The area of the body that Taurus represents is the neck and throat so Bulls should wear gold chains, necklaces, nice neck ties or scarves.



Anything goes here! Gemini’s dual personality favours all kinds of looks and styles. Gemini’s closets are brimming with outfits for every occasion. You love colour and funky styles that are youth-oriented. Your star sign colours are cool-blue, turquoise, green and silver. Gemini enjoy wearing a worn pair of sexy blue jeans with a tank top just as much as they love to dress up in a velvet evening gown or black tie tux. The part of the body that Gemini rules are the hands so bangle bracelets and pretty rings are some of their cherished accessories. Gemini also have a weakness for purses.

Pretty, soft, feminine, vintage...these words describe some of the outfits you may find hanging in your closet. Cancer men hang onto the clothes they love and wear them out... or forever. That ratty old T-shirt from a Bon Jovi concert is a prized keepsake because it holds sentimental value for a Crab. A Cancer likes soft colours, especially white and shimmery pastels. With regards to jewellery, you usually prefer silver and pearls. Both men and women crabs love soft, cosy fabrics like flannel, velour and terry cloth.

(March 20- April 18)

(May 20- June 20)

author aditi anand + photograph

(April 19- May 19)

(June 21-July 21)

lifestyle * feature


FASHION GUIDE Every sign has particular fashion obsessions, so why not embrace them? It’s time we stopped condemning Pisces for their shoe fetish and shaming Virgos for their preoccupation with natural cotton. If you’re out of touch with your sign’s fashion sensibilities, check out the list below.



You are confidence personified. Your style has a regal air about it and it shines with brilliance, serenity and confidence. Leo the Lion loves luxurious things. Glittery, sequined shirts, skirts and dresses, bold colours, satins and silks are staples in the Leo’s wardrobe. You also like animal prints. Lions look for designer labels. Your favourite colours are red and gold. You’re attracted to clothing that helps you “stand out” and are dramatic in some way. Jewellery, especially gold, is always a must-have for a Leo.

Virgos are quick to spot with that prim and proper look. You pay a lot of attention to detail so you always look neat and polished, even when you’re wearing something very casual. You like the colour blue and will often wear tailored, conservative outfits. Virgos are picky about the clothes they wear. You don’t like anything too flashy, too tight or fashion fads that go out of style quickly. For men, buttoned-down collared shirts with black ties would make most women weak in the legs. For women, sleek matching pant suits with T-shirts would look fantastic. The purity and sacredness of the colour white add appeal to your virginal looks.



Harmony in appearance is your keynote. You believe in harmony and thus your fashion statement is to bring out beauty into your environment. Since Libra is a romantic sign, many women opt for lacy shirts and skirts, pretty floral, feminine dresses and lots of jewellery. The Libra man always looks good in casual or evening wear. Your suits are tailored to perfection. Your star sign colours are light to mid-blue, dark rose and black. Make the most of the lovely rich rose reds that are around in the early part of the year and the lilacs that are likely to appear throughout the summer because these colours will bring out the best in you.

Scorpios are the sexiest of all the zodiac signs. Women radiate seduction even in the simplest fashion pieces or outfits. If you are under the Zodiac sign Scorpio, try wearing a lacy camisole top or embellished blouse with lacy or ruffled details under a structured suit, which really brings out the sexy appeal of Scorpios. Men would like to wear tight T-shirts with jeans to show-off their masculinity. Sloppy and loose shirts are to be avoided. This sign loves anything black but you’ll also find a lot of burgundy too.

(July 22-August 22)

(September 22-October 22)

(August 23-September 21)

(October 23-November 21)


lifestyle * feature



No-fuss is your mantra, Sagittarius, yet you like to cut a dramatic figure. You love faded jeans and sweatshirts, oversized T-shirts and jackets. You’ll find Sagittarius own more than one pair of tennis shoes. Your look is fresh and casual. Purple is your colour so you’ll find many female archers love lilac, orchid and periwinkle hues. Sagittarius men often wear jackets or sweat shirts advertising their favourite sports teams. You also love flannel shorts, hunting vests, and leather jackets.

Goats are very serious about their wardrobe. You look for good quality clothing and often designer labels. You usually wear tailored clothing, suits and well-fitted pieces. Gray, brown, tans, some blue and khaki are traditional Capricorn colours. You enjoy attention getting outfits but not the flashy fashions. You prefer comfortable, luxurious style clothing and would never think of going out in a pair of sweatpants unless they were a designer brand.



The Zodiac sign Aquarius represents people who are freespirited and rebellious. Aquarians can shift from style to style and still look good. A crochet dress with a tunic worn underneath best represents free spirited individuals like Aquarius women. You’re the first to find it, wear it and probably create it too – your own sense of style is important. You don’t care if the fringe jacket will be out of style next season. You’ll buy it and probably continue to wear it until it comes back in style again! 60s and 70s clothing is a favourite too. You mix and match everything and break all fashion rules. You like to be different and don’t mind being called quirky or unusual. You think whatever you wear is cool and a statement about who you really are.

Pisces rules the feet and therefore many Fish absolutely adore shoes. Pisces of both sexes tend to have a closet full of shoes. Fish are the daydreamers of the zodiacs so the women look for romantic fashions - chiffons and shimmering materials. You usually prefer to wear skirts and dresses over pantsuits. Pisces guys like comfortable outfits rather than suits. Your colour is greenish blue so you will find sea foam green and sea blue hues in your wardrobe throughout. You adore jewellery and often wear too much at one time, adorning yourselves with gold, silver and precious gemstones.

(November 22-December 20)

(January 19-February 17)

(December 21-January 18)

(February 18-March 19)



Stuffed on Turkey? L

og cakes, chocolates, turkeys; those endless family dinners + those with friends: it’s no wonder people often come out of the festive season with tummies to rival Father Christmas himself! Want to find out how to down that glass of bubbly without looking like a bubble yourself at the end of it? Here are a few pointers how:

running shoes.

place!) or buy them from a store, another ten minutes for the actual You know, those for jogging? Those intense act of ‘running’, and the shoes with the canvas and rubber rest of the time for the breaks in combination which you actually between (phew, I know I would). run in? Yep, those! Bet it’s sitting at the back of the cupboard for But hey, the old adage can be some! When I talk about running sickening to read again, but it is here I mean approximately 10 to true. No pain, no gain! 18km/hr (using a treadmill will make it easy to gauge this), to have Of course, for the rest that are fit, substantial effect to counter what’s active and scoffing at what you’ve Whip out running shoes been consumed. Running does just read, please do proceed to the Cream. One of the top indulgences not refer to the act of putting one next paragraph. in the festive season - Cream foot ahead of the other. filled log cakes, creamy chocolate, Go on a mission trip crème brulee, cream pies. Too I’d say set aside about three hours much of a good thing makes it for this. One and a half hours to Kill two birds with one stone bad, so it’s high time you whipped actually find your running shoes by fulfilling that New Year’s out something else instead – your (if you even have one in the first resolution of being a better person

by going on a mission trip to one of the less fortunate countries, preferably in the South East Asian region so that it’s much more affordable for you. Looking at people who have never seen a Christmas tree before (much less sampled log cakes and Christmas cookies) would give you a whole different perspective of life, living and concepts of luxury. In addition, exotic cuisine such as bugs may actually change the size of your appetite (not to mention empty whatever you have in your stomach which may include some of those festive treats), because of how foreign it is to you!

author Tan Zy Bridget + photograph



Hang out with the more fortunate You know those boys and girls that eat everything and anything and always look the same? No matter what they eat, or how much of it they consume, nothing will deter their (possibly) endomorphic body types from altering its ways such that it becomes hard for them to wear their jeans or climb up the stairs? For those of us that need reverse psychology, hanging out with them is best. You’ll be mesmerised by how much they eat all day, and in turn might feel full yourself. Trust me, this works for some people I know; they get full by watching others cook or eat on their behalf!

Feed your leftover Christmas and New Year goodies to your friends Christmas is a time of giving, and with all that (good, gloriously good) leftover cake(s) and turkey from the festivities, what a better way to give than to share them with your friends that appreciate Christmas food! Throw a small get together just to have everyone eat together! Of course, being the driven individuals we are, nothing is given for no reason. Another wise saying goes, “If you can’t lose weight, make sure everyone else gains it.” To top it all off, they’ll think you were being such a generous friend. Awww… (THE RIDGE bears no responsibility in the event you get caught!) author Tan Zy Bridget



Get Ready, Get Set, VALENTINE’S DAY!



o look forward to: Yet another Valentine’s Day in

The day that provides a much needed respite from the shackles of the daily, mundane life by reinforcing the emotions that make you care so deeply for that special someone.

depends on WHO is dishing the lovey love loves. Nonetheless, here are a few pointers for you to arrange for an early (love) bird gift or orchestrate the perfect rendezvous with your companion this Valentine’s Day. Ideal Gift

We know that there are tons of other Valentine’s Day suggestions that will pop up over the course of the last few weeks of January, ushering in the pink February. But we want to be there for those that want to plan ahead; for those afraid to screw-up and have doubts over their own judgement of what tips the scales between UTTERLY ROMANTIC and DOWNRIGHT CHEESY.

If you’re one of those couples carrying out a long distance relationship, the perfect gift you could offer your mate would be yourself – so do exactly that! Catch a flight out to where they are and give them a surprise they won’t forget in a hurry. Just make sure they aren’t thinking of surprising you in a similar manner! And of course, make sure you don’t miss out on any assignment submissions at the same time.

What we’ve got here ain’t foolproof, mind you. It also really

With the latest gizmos floating around in the market, if your

partner happens to be the proud owner of an iPhone 4, Android or Blackberry, you can purchase a variety of cool SmartPhone applications or other beautification adornments for their handset. Another great idea would be to prepare a self-recorded version of The Plain White Ts’ song, ‘1, 2, 3, 4’. You don’t have to be a singer to chant ‘There’s only one thing to do, three words for you, I love you!’ and make your significant other jive to your tunes. Even if you’re a School of Computing whiz, consider drafting out a code or an algorithm that describes your devotion towards your object of affection, and if possible prepare a puzzle which on decoding leads them to their special treat. If you have Engineering in your skill-set (or know someone willing to lend you theirs) why don’t you make

author Vani Goyal + photograph various sources from the internet



a sincere attempt to fashion a poorly constructed robot that trips over and apologetically yet triumphantly announces, “I fell for you!”? Sounds potentially romantic to most of us at THE RIDGE!

tribute to love, and is located in Agra, India. Constructed by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in fond memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, it was also once considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

IOU Gift Cards are also quite popular, especially if you’ve procrastinated in buying a suitable gift for your loved one. One can gift their companions with coupons to redeem naughty favours, so go ahead and grab yourself one of those if you’re in a particularly mischievous mood, all the while making sure you know what you’re getting yourself into!

For cheaper options, make yourselves comfortable with an array of cushions and popcorn, and get engrossed in playing Dragon’s Lair, a romantic video game where a valiant young man tries to rescue his beloved princess from an evil dragon while avoiding dying too many times in the attempt. Alternatively, immerse yourselves in a cooking stint even if you are a non-cooking couple, and strictly resolve to consume the food yourselves!

If your partner is a pet fanatic, go get them a pair of lovebirds, and perhaps even work out a schedule where you both could rotate possession of your feathery friends on a regular basis. The ultimate gift in my opinion would be a brightly studded engagement ring, though many would consider that a scareoff more than a gift!

When all else fails and your feel that everything you can think of just screams CHEEEEESE!, an infallible plan would be to make a trip to a drive-in theatre, sit back and watch a romantic movie like ‘The Notebook’, ‘Notting Hill’, ‘Wuthering Heights’ or any of your own signature favourites as Ideal Date a couple. Or you could always rent a movie to watch in your own Enjoy a half hour of a romantic ride atop the Singapore Flyer, and homes. There are so many out there for rent at reasonable prices, after that head for a reverse bunso take an afternoon off to find gee jumping encounter – but not before making sure that you both the perfect one! are up for the feat. If you’re more Here’s wishing you luck in pleasthan up for it (and have the time and resources at your disposal), go ing your loved one on an equally lovely day! a step further and bungee jump from the Eiffel Tower! If you can afford it, plan a romantic visit to the Taj Mahal – the majestic monument was erected as a grand photograph DBHKer/ flickr



From left to right: (top) Beach house, foals, temper trap (Middle) yeasayer, deerhunter, (Bottom) !!!, holy F***, Ladyhawke

Australia's famous boutique festival comes to Singapore S

t. Jerome’s Laneway Festival has become a signature crowd pleaser Down Under since 2004. This year, the festival is coming to Singapore later this month on January 29th, as we play host to Asia’s inaugural Laneway Festival. Each year, the organisers arrange a lineup of nonmainstream, talented performers to play in front of a sellout crowd. This is a win-win situation for everyone as audiences are treated to cutting edge music while musical talents are exposed to a greater potential fanbase. This year the prospects are even more exciting as the performers will gain exposure to an entirely different group of audience, which can, in the future, pave their way into the Asian fanbase.

On the other hand, for those of us who are tired of hearing Taylor Swift and Katy Perry belting out their chart topping hits, we have something else to look forward to! Laneway Festival adds to a spectacular line up of performers who will be grazing our shores throughout the year. The inaugural festival will be held at Fort Canning Park which has become a symbolic landmark on Singapore’s music front, having hosted many famous artists and musical events like SINGfest. Laneway co-founder and promoter Danny Rogers further added that the venue was chosen because it is an “immensely popular site [that] is well known, easily accessible and adequately

resourced with public transport close by.” Last year, Singapore got a preview of what to expect from this year’s festival, as bands like Florence and the Machine, The XX and Echo & the Bunnymen played sold out concerts. This year, the festival features an exciting lineup of musical acts like !!! (Chk Chk Chk), Beachhouse, Deerhunter, Foals, Holy f***, Warpaint, Yeasayer, multiple award-winning Ladyhawke, and Australia’s most famous musical export in the last five years, The Temper Trap. A colourful mixture of music genres, performed by artistes from all over the world, Laneway Festival is promising to be a truly

exhilarating event. Of course, chances are you’ve probably never heard of these performers before, but don’t let that hinder you. The beauty of this festival is that you can go into the concert with almost no expectations and come out absolutely thrilled. Don’t take our word for it, go see it for yourself! Tickets can be bought via SISTIC and are priced at $109.50. To find out more about Laneway Festival, visit You can also find them on Twitter (@LanewayFestSG) and Facebook (Laneway – SG Friends).

author Saheli Roy Choudhury + photograph laneway festival



Jazz up your friday night with NUS Jazz Band C

ome and spend a delightful evening with the NUS Jazz Band, as they celebrate the season of love with ‘Love - let’s do it!’ on February 18. They have a stellar lineup of ballads, combined with a mixture of jazz, pop and funk. This fifty piece ensemble will be jazzing it up at the University Cultural Centre (UCC) Hall with hits like ‘I Want You Back’ by the Jackson 5s and Candyman by former pop princess Christina Aguilera, that you are guaranteed to enjoy listening to with your loved ones! When you first hear the word jazz, chances are you immediately relate it to music that only old people might enjoy. This is a serious misconception, fuelled by a variety of genres that, today, we consider mainstream. If you give it a chance, you will realise that Jazz transcends all ages, and is one of the most flexible genres out there; easily compatible and fused with just about any kind of music!

Originating in African American communities in the Southern United States, at the start of the 20th century, Jazz is a mixture of African and European music traditions. During the prohibition era in the United States (1920s–30s), Jazz was gaining popularity and this time period is commonly referred to as the ‘Jazz Age’. Over the years, Jazz has spread out into many different subgenres like Acid Jazz and Punk Jazz and continues to be one of the best, underappreciated genres of music.

About the NUS Jazz Band Formed in 1994 by a group of dynamic musicians and jazz enthusiasts, NUS Jazz Band has come a long way. They have given sold out concerts, year after year, at the NUS Arts Festival, performed Grammy Award winning musical pieces like Children of Sanchez, and count

author Saheli Roy Choudhury + photograph NUs jazz band

some of Singapore’s best, up and coming, musical talents among its alumni. Started as a 5-piece band, the ensemble now boasts over 40 instrumentalists in each of its six sections – trumpets, trombones, saxophones, percussions, guitar and keyboard. The NUS Jazz Band has performed extensively at various places, including Jazz at the Beach at Sentosa and at a CASE Conference at the Asian Civilisation Museum. As a member of Centre for The Arts (CFA), students in the band are also offered an opportunity to not only improve and showcase their musical talents, but to delve into the theoretic aspects of jazz; including its history, composition, arranging and craft under the tutelage of some of the most prominent members of the Singapore jazz scene. The group counts up and coming piano maestro Norman Seck, jazz vocalist Rani Singam and professional drummer Tan Boon

Iskandar Ismail


Gee among its notable alumni.

or not, to develop their interest in the genre, with other likeminded musicians who really love NUS Jazz Band practices under to swing (in a jazz context). Jazz the guidance of renowned music offers a deeper understanding director and accomplished and appreciation for many of the musician Iskandar Ismail. Mr. musical variations in the songs Ismail graduated from Berklee College of Music in Boston where of our pop culture; my interest in jazz started as such, purely to he received the John Lewis Jazz Masters Award in 1979. In 2003, understand better why certain artistes like John Mayer can he was the recipient of the SPH sound so different from others Lifetime Achiever Award for his like Westlife even though they contributions towards the arts in Singapore. As Singapore’s leading are both on the same E Chord.” music arranger, he has composed and arranged for Singapore’s When we asked him how he National Day Parade since 1988. manages to juggle between his CCA and his studies – a dilemma that three quarters of the NUS What the student body faces regularly – students say he said it helps him to take a breather from constant mugging. “As a student of hard technology, During the holidays, THE having a balancing side in the RIDGE caught up with two softer nature of Jazz allows me to members from the band to find feel more intellectually nimble, out what it’s like, being part of and perhaps have a psychological such a huge ensemble of talent. effect on my creativity, placebo in nature or not.” Second year engineering student Chan Wei Nan said, “NUS Jazz However, life in NUS Jazz Band is a gathering place for Band isn’t always about putting aspiring musicans, professional


up breath taking, extravagant concerts for the masses. It is a common knowledge on campus that CCAs are one of the foolproof ways to cultivate lifelong friendships that last well beyond the four years spent at the university. Third year economics student Michelle Leong shared her most memorable moment with the ensemble. “One night, with only a week left for one of our concerts, we had been practicising since 8 in the morning. It was almost midnight when one of our seniors visited us, and brought us food. All of us sat down and talked and cheered for one another. I was touched to know that I have friends who not only share the same passion as me, but they’re there to support me.” So mark your calendars, free up your schedules and come join the NUS Jazz Band on a memorable journey of love, jazz, pop and soul, guaranteed to make your evening.

For ticketing enquiries, please contact the NUS Jazz Band at



Zoukingout at Singapore’s biggest beach party of the year!


f te r a l o ng a nd tire s o m e j o ur n ey t hro ugh o u t t h e s e m e ste r, we we re gi ve n a te m p o ra r y reprieve in D e c e m b e r, w i t h t h e e nd of t h e m u ch dre ad e d exa minati o ns. W hat b et te r way to c el ebrate t his t ha n to hi t up a n inte r nati o na ll y re n ow n e d, 12 h o ur da nc e pa r t y ha pp e ning o n a b e ach? C ha nc e s a re yo u’ ve a lre ad y b e e n to S inga p o re’s m o st ic o nic b e ach pa r t y, Zo u k O u t, at l e a st o nc e in

i t s de c ade - l o ng histo r y. T his ye a r, Zo u k O u t wa s h eld at t h e S il o s o B e ach in S e nto s a . B elieve m e w h e n I s ay t hat Zo u k O u t wa s n’ t ju st a n ot h e r crowd e d b e ach pa r t y w i t h ove rpric e d alc o h o l a nd s c a ntil y dre s s e d pa r t y g o e r s. It wa s a n ex hila rating, o u t- oft his - wo rld af fair c o m prising a va riet y of st re et fo o d b eing s o ld o n t h e side, to h e a r t pu m ping m u sic f ro m s o m e of t h e b e st in t h e bu sin e s s, to a n ot h e r crowd favo uri te – t h e f irewo r ks! S pli t into t hre e di f fe re nt e ncl o sure s a nd o n e “ l o c al is e d ” te nt, Zo u k O u t b o a ste d a w h o l e ra nge of m u si c al act s – i t wa s physic all y i m p o s sibl e to c atch all of t h e m during t h eir p e r fo r m a nc e. B u t t his wa s o n e of t h o s e g o o d pro bl e m s to have. M et a ph o ric all y, i t wa s like hav ing to S / U a n A - grade in o rde r to pull up a n ex isting CA P of 4. 6 by 0 . 3 5 p o int s. H av ing to mis s t h e f ir st hal f of A f rojack ’s p e r fo r m a nc e s et to s e e L indst rø m fel t s o m et hing like t hat – i t wa s t r ul y a w in - w in si t uati o n fo r all pa r t yg o e r s! T h e highlight s of t h e night - judging f ro m crowd dis t ribu ti o n - we re D J T ie sto a nd D av id G u et t a . It re m ains a myste r y a s to h ow t h e Zo u k M a nage m e nt wa s a bl e to c o nv inc e n ot o n e bu t t wo fa m o u s pro du c e r s to m a ke a n a pp e a ra nc e at t h e Iskandar f ie st a –Ismail bu t n o o n e’s ha s b e e n c o m plaining! S aid st ude nt

+ photograph author Saheli + photographer Roy Choudhury luke vijay Somasundram NUs jazz band


K halid H a s s a n, “ T ie sto wa s t h e o nl y re a s o n I brave d t h e crowd e d b e ach. H e a bs o lu tel y sto l e t h e s h ow!” D av id G u et t a , p e r fo r ming fo r t h e f ir st ti m e at w hat h e c all e d “ t h e bigg e st pa r t y o n t h e pla n et ”, wowe d t h e crowd w i t h his pro li f ic hi t s. H e a ls o p e r fo r m e d a n ew singl e w hich, G u et t a s a id, h e had o nl y c o m p o s e d e a rlie r t hat we e k , m a k ing Zo u k O u t pa r t y g o e r s t h e f ir st in t h e wo rld to h e a r i t. F o r t h o s e t a k ing a bre a k f ro m t h e da n c e fl o o r, Zo u k O u t prov id e d m a ny a l te r nati ve s in cluding st alls s elling a va riet y of st re et fo o d, a s well a s m a ke s hi f t t at to o pa rl o r s a nd pa l m re ad e r s. T h e re we re a ls o V I P te nt s s et a sid e fo r va ri o u s cre di t c a rd h o lde r s. D rin ks we re re adil y ava ila bl e eve r y w h e re, a lb ei t a li t tl e ove rpric e d fo r t h o s e still li v ing o n a st ude nt budget. B eing a pa r t y, t h e re we re a ls o stil t walke r s t ro o ping a ro u nd, dre s s e d in a bs o lu tel y cra z y c o s t u m e s! O f c o ur s e, t h e h e adlin e r wa s still t h e f ire wo r ks display t hat to o k plac e in t h e middl e of t h e eve nt. H oweve r, c o m m o n w i t h m o st la rg e s c a l e, o p e n air pa r tie s, t h e re we re s o m e is su e s w i t h t h e crowd. B y t h e ti m e t h e h e adlining act s c a m e o n st age, t h e crowd b e c a m e m a s si ve. It wa s a l m o st i m p o s sibl e to get w i t hin 5 0 m et re s of T ie sto w i t h o u t stepping o n a l ot of to e s – a nd I m e a n t hat li te ra ll y. F o r t u natel y, t h o ugh, t h e sp e a ke r s we re bla sting m u sic a ll ove r t h e e ncl o sure a nd p e o pl e, n o n et h el e s s, da n c e d away t h e night!


I t wa s a l most i m possi bl e to g et w i t h i n 5 0 m et r e s of T i e sto w i t hou t st e ppi ng on a l ot of toe s

W i t h a re c o rd - bre a k ing nu m b e r of pa r t y- g o e r s bu ying up ticket s by 8:3 0 p m t hat night, m a ny h o p ef uls we re t ur n e d away at t h e gate. S o m e of t h e s e u nlu ck y late c o m e r s we re to urist s, w h o had fl ow n in sp e ci f i c all y to at te nd Zo u k O u t. Wo r s e of f, p e r ha ps, we re t h o s e w h o had to bu y ove rpric e d o r eve n c o u nte r fei t ticket s f ro m e nte rprising gri f te r s. B u t i t ’s g o o d to al ways s e e t h e gla s s a s hal f f ull, a nd ju st e nj oy t h e ex p e rie nc e a s a w h o l e. It ’s p o s sibl e t hat Zo u k O u t might n ot b e h e re, in S inga p o re, fo r l o ng. W hil e t h e m a nage m e nt ha s d o n e a n exc ell e nt j o b to m a ke t his eve nt e a sil y ac c e s sible to S inga p o re a ns, i t ’s likel y t hat Zo u k O u t might have to m ove to a bigge r b e ach to ac c o m m o date t h e grow ing crowd e ach ye a r, pro ba bl y o u t side S inga p o re. In a few ye a r s, we c o uld b e t h e o n e s ha stil y s av ing up to fl y to a n eighb o uring c o u nt r y to at te nd w hat ha s b e e n o n e of o ur signat ure s o cial eve nt s. Zo u kO u t is n o l o nge r ju st a l o c al af fair. O ve r t h e ye a r s, i t ha s at t racte d clubb e r s f ro m a ro u nd t h e wo rld, w i t h a n e sti m ate d 4 5 p e rc e nt of t h e crowd c o ming f ro m ove r s e a s. Let ’s fac e i t, Zo u k O u t m ay b e g o n e f ro m o ur s h o re s in a c o upl e of ye a r s. A ll we c a n h o p e fo r is t hat we we re t h e re to e nj oy i t w hil e i t la ste d. U ntil n ex t D e c e m b e r, t his is L u ke, zo u k ing o u t!

Of c ou r se , t h e h e a dl i n e r wa s st i l l t h e f i r e wor k s di spl ay t h at took pl ac e i n t h e m i ddl e of t h e e v e n t.



THE RID GE’S Guide to



o, yo u’ ve n eve r b e e n to t h e m o st epic b e ach pa r t y b efo re a nd yo u’re t hin k ing of j o ining in t h e f u n late r t his ye a r ? A re yo u wo r rie d b e c au s e yo u d o n’ t k n ow w hat to ex p e ct ? Fret n ot, de a r re ade r! T H E R I D G E ’s f ield re s e a rch e r s have pu t to get h e r a ha nd y list of t h e t y p e of pa r t y g o e r s yo u w ill e nc o u nte r in yo ur Zo u k O u t exp e rie nc e

Description Hates It may have been the result of The other guy in the outlandish too much tequila at the pre-party costume, because he thinks or just a generally poor grasp that he’s being upstaged. of the Singapore climate, but Costume Guy has decided that Favourite Hangout it would be a good idea to come The first aid tent. Well, at least to ZoukOut in a ridiculously after he passes out from heat complicated costume. To find stroke. the Costume guy, just follow the Quotes trail of light sticks, glitter and possible body paint stains.

people you will see at zoukout


The ‘True Blue’ Electronic Music Fan


Description: The True Blue Electronic Music Fan bought tickets the second he/she heard that a number of non-mainstream artists would be grazing the party. However, he/she will spend most of his /her time complaining about the acoustics and how ‘they played better in Ibiza’. Hates: Everyone in the Mambo area, even those just passing through to get to the exit.

“Guetta? Man, that guy’s so mainstream, Favorite Hangout: you know what I mean. The localised tent, because “we’re like family there man, He doesn’t get it man! He FAMILY!” just doesn’t GET IT, you know what I mean. I mean post-house progressive psytrance/ techno hybridisation is the real deal man! You know what I mean?”

author Saheli + photographer luke vijay Somasundram + photograph Roy Choudhury NUs jazz band



the Costume guy

Description: Quotes The Mambo Fan started his/ “Never gonna her clubbing life years ago on give you up or a Wednesday night at a very desert you!” special place along Jiak Kim St. And he’s not going to forget his roots just because he’s at one of the biggest party on the planet. Hates: The True Blue Electronic Music Fan, clubbers who hog the podiums. Favourite Hangout: Do I really have to tell you? Just follow the sound of the 80s.


The Iskandar Ismail mambo fan



The ‘Photo genic’ guy Quotes

“No, I’m not tagging you on facebook, tag yourself on facebook!”

Description: Don’t pretend you don’t know what we’re talking about. You know you’ve seen the pictures before. Whether it’s the girl wearing a swimsuit, that has less fabric than her hat, or the guy with a fedora who decided it would ‘more practical’ to go shirtless for the whole year, this particular party-going specimen is the most infamous of the lot. There’s nothing wrong with flaunting your assets, but please don’t try to convince us that you only dressed down because you were afraid that some beachwear-only dress code was to be enforced.


Description: Hey, who’s that guy with the camera? Why is he taking so many photos? WAIT OMG OMG HE’S FROM THE MEDIA!! HEY CAMERA GUY TAKE MY PHOTO I WANNA BE IN ON FUNKYGRAD! Hates: Photobombers. Favourite Hangout: The media representative reception area; often seen chatting up the photographers.


Part y- goer we aring WAY too lit tle

Hates: Catching a chill; unable to find a place to keep their phone. Quotes Favourite Hangout The dance floor, because thankfully they realise how silly they will looking, queuing up for Mexican food wearing nothing more than a really large handkerchief.

Description: No one knows how the kid managed to sneak past the bouncers but he/she always does. Every year, without fail, a small but zealous group of underage teens manage to sneak into ZoukOut. It’s almost becoming a rite of passage.



“Haha! ID Card? ID Card? Why I haven’t been asked for my ID since I was underage! The Hates: Back in 2002! Accidentally arriving way too early and Like 8 years kid having to play Tap Tap Revenge in the ago! Man I sand to pass time. have got to tell the boys at the office this! They’ve Favourite Hangout never believe it! Hoho! Hmm! As far away from the bouncers as possible, without falling into the It seems I dropped my wallet! waters. Oh darn! I guess I’m starting to get forgetful with my old age! Well! Tell you what, kid, you wait here I’ll just retrace my steps, shall I? Jolly good!”




book reviews Title: The Graveyard Book Author: Neil Gaiman Writer: Jocelyn Yeo The Graveyard Book is a haunting tale that begins with the chilling murder of a family by a figure known only as “the man Jack”. Only their two-yearold son manages to escape the tragedy. He totters up the hill and finds himself in a graveyard, where he is taken in by Mr. and Mrs. Owens, a delightfully domestic and ghostly old couple, hailing from the Victorian era. The child, rechristened Nobody Owens (and more affectionately known as Bod) grows up in the protected environment of the graveyard, with its reassuringly locked gates. In there, he is safe under the watchful, loving eyes of an entire village of the dead, and the protective gaze of his guardian Silas, a creature neither dead nor alive. Outside, Bod remains hunted by the man Jack, who belongs to an organisation older than time itself.

events of his past, struggle with present insecurities, and come to terms with the challenges of the future. The book moves smoothly through the times, with the prose shifting from one of cosy innocence, to one of angst and danger. As Bod attempts to straddle the world of the living and the dead, he finds himself stuck in solitude, in a place where he is always loved, but never understood, and where nothing is ever what it seems. The Graveyard Book is a timeless piece that can appeal to both adults and children, as Gaiman’s sophisticated wit is weaved exquisitely into the misguided adventures of a child in this touching tale of love, trust and growing up.

Gaiman’s effortless prose unveils the poignant tale of Bod’s coming of age and his inevitable loss of innocence. Faced with questions few are willing or able to answer, Bod has to make sense of the

photograph various sources on the internet

Title: Fall of Giants Author: Ken Follett Writer: Saheli Roy Choudhury Historical fiction, by nature, has a fascinating appeal as imaginative story tellers of the literary world take their creative spin on facts and weave it with fiction into an enjoyable entity. Welsh-born writer Ken Follett, author of ‘The Pillars of the Earth’ and ‘World Without End’, is used to dealing with history as a subject matter for his stories. While the above mentioned books dealt with the Middle Ages, ‘Fall of Giants’ take a more modern spin, with the story beginning in 1911 and ending in 1924. The twelve years in between provide a mixture of war, politics, love, relationships, and a whole list of fictional delicacies that make the book an entertaining read. There are also cameo appearances by Winston Churchill, Woodrow Wilson and Vladimir Lenin! This book is the first installment of the Century Trilogy and centers around five interrelated families of different socioeconomic background in Wales, England, Germany, Russia and America.

With a promising start to the series, we could very well expect to see the politics of our time, especially post 9/11, reflected in the third and final installment of the trilogy once Follett finishes it. Even if history is not your forte, you might enjoy the web of complexity intertwined with a series of engaging and entertaining plots that drive the story forward.



Title: The Mischief of the Mistletoe Author: Lauren Willig Writer: Nicole Kang

Title: Freedom Author: Jonathan Franzen Writer: Divya Gundlapalli The author of the hugely popular book, ‘The Corrections’, returns with his latest novel, ‘Freedom’. This book was the 64th book honoured into Oprah’s Book Club Collection in September last year.

Walter Berglund. They’re baby boomers and the hands-on parents of two teenage children and ideal neighbours. They are socially conscious and admirable but also judgemental and selfcongratulatory.

While the plot of the book might seem as being too intertwined with ‘The Corrections’ (some critics even accused it of being a replica), it’s an unfair accusation levelled against the book. Readers should read past the first 150 pages and therein lies the intriguing theme of this book: living contemporary American life through the eyes of various members of society.

But the Berglunds soon become a mystery to us. Why does Patty go from being a helper of her community to a completely different kind of neighbour? What happened to their son, Joey?

Franzen begins the book by introducing the pioneers of St Paul, Minnesota - Patty and

The latest in the Pink Carnation series, this book boldly challenged pre-defined perceptions of the dashing male protagonist, a stereotype heavily perpetuated by historical fiction and romance writers. Set in the Regency era, Arabella Dempsey is an unsuccessful debutante in the marriage mart. Due to an unfortunate turn of events, she loses her inheritance to a young man who usurps her from her rich, elderly aunt’s affections. Thus she is forced to find work as a teacher in an academy for young ladies. While teaching there, she and Reggie “Turnip” Fitzhugh stumble on a Christmas pudding that conceals a hidden message; the rest is Victorian history.

he is pretty to look at but lacking in content. His well-intentioned motives endear the readers to his character, something that probably stems from believing in the intrinsic good in everyone. He is complemented by Arabella’s quick wits and intelligence. Unlike Pride and Prejudice’s Elizabeth Bennet, she is not as verbose but her intelligent strength makes her endearing. One does not have to read older novels to enjoy this tale of espionage, but you would need to read it in good humour.

Interestingly, the “dashing male protagonist”, Turnip, is bumbling and clumsy in his heroic attempts. Like a flowerpot,

Throughout the novel, Franzen talks of a third character, a Richard Katz, the eccentric rocker who is also Walter’s best friend and rival. Where does he fit into the picture? This book is a definitely engaging read that’s worth a try!

What’s My iPo in d?

DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love – Usher feat. Pitbull The Time (Dirty Bit) – The Black Eyed Peas Yeah 3X – Chris Brown

Firework – Katy Perry

Raise Your Glass – P!nk

Grenade – Bruno Mars

Can’t Be Friends – Trey Songz

What’s My Name? – Rihanna feat. Drake

World So Close – Three Days Grace

Right Above It – Lil Wayne feat. Drake Only Girl (In The World) – Rihanna Just A Dream – Nelly




Sporting Resolutions for 2011 It is that time of the year again. It is time to reflect on your resolutions and make new ones for 2011. Since you have already conquered your first 42km (I believe you have; if not you really should keep the tips from the November issue), I have a few new ideas for you. If the list looks alien to you, you could do them once a month and that should keep you busy for the year!

Try artificial surfing at Wavehouse

Watch a S-League Match

Meet a sporting personality

The S-League was launched in 1996, and next year marks its 15th birthday. The league currently hosts 12 teams and the Football Association of Singapore has plans to get more fans involved. While we might not have our own C. Ronaldo or L. Messi, the league does have some quality players like Alam Shah and A. Duric. With some foreign teams like F.C Etoile and Albirex Nigata, the standard of football has improved over the years. Supporting our very own football is the very first step towards Goal 2010 (oops, a step long overdue but I am sure we can set another deadline)

This is actually a two-part resolution. Firstly, in order to meet a sporting personality, you need to go to a live sporting event. Second, you have to make an effort to meet the person and perhaps ask for an autograph!

The large waves crashing on the beach, the surfer boy walks along the white sandy beach carrying his freshly waxed surf board, parading his beach body with rippling abs. When will this scene ever reach the shores of our little dot? Watersports fanatics, time to take out your boardshorts and head down to Sentosa Siloso Beach and challenge the artificial waves at Wavehouse. It houses two different wave machines with different difficulties. It took me an hour to learn to stand on my board in the FlowBarrel but the sense of achievement you get is definitely worth it. All the falling, crashing and choking on the water reminds you of the muscles you had but you have never used. In my opinion, worth every cent.

author chow yong jun + photograph

Go snorkelling and scubadiving

Remember the cartoon “The Little Mermaid�? If you want to swim amongst the fishes and find your own underwater princess, you must learn to scuba dive! This is one sport, which I have been dying to try but have been putting off due to its cost. While it is not exactly an expensive sport, it still costs around $300 $400 to get a basic scuba diving license and you need to attend theory lessons and pool lessons before you jump onto a boat and into the deep sea. With all the floods in Singapore, we better all learn to scuba dive, we might have to live underwater in time to come!



Pick up a new sport

Support a teamNUS Every year, the athletes of NUS take part in the InstituteVarsity-Polytechnic Games (IVP) and Singapore University Games (SUniG). Our students train hard to represent the university as they pit their skills against the other colleges and institutes. Knowing that your schoolmates are behind you and hearing their cheers and chants is a great source of strength and motivation. Be part of this strong sporting culture in NUS.

Run at different National Parks The National Parks Board have done much to spruce up the parks all over the island. There are lockers and showers at various parks and reservoirs, so vary your runs by heading down to different parks and keep your training enjoyable. Recently, I made a trip down to Bedok Reservoir and spent an enjoyable Sunday afternoon conquering the heights in Forest Adventure. The high confidence course is a great place for team bonding, relationship building and getting a good work-out.

Any sport. It could be a martial art in the likes of jujitsu, aikido or krav maga. It could also be some racket sport such as badminton or tennis. It could be as simple as running or swimming. But this is the most generic resolution possible and also the simplest. Just be spontaneous and try out something you always want to but have not.

Keep a photo-diary of your Sporting Life This is one of the best motivations you can have for training. It allows you to keep track of your progress. There are many Kodak moments in sports and being able to capture the moment will help you relive these moments over and over again in the years to come.

Get IPPT Gold Most of the readers probably already hate me for this but I shall not give up encouraging my fellow male students to train hard for this bag of gold waiting for you. There are many exercises that can focus your training for IPPT and the individual stations. Ask those athletes who treat IPPT like a walk in the park.

Download an iPhone app to keep updated on Sports news These days, the iPhone is integral in most people’s lives. While I am unaware if there are any such apps, it would be absurd if these apps do not exist. I am sure there must be some app that allows you to follow the latest team news or sports news.

Run a marathon overseas This is a somewhat personal resolution. Having completed a few marathons, half-marathons and some fun races, I really do want to breakthrough the geographical boundaries of the country. Running in a different country presents a whole new set of challenges like climate and weather but it also gives you a fresh change of scene and would definitely make the race much more enjoyable.



Has the Lion lost its


If it ain’t fixed, why break the status quo? What’s next for Singapore football? After yet another disappointing outing at a major tournament, the calls for a major revamp in Singapore football has begun to intensify amid endless debates that do not go anywhere. No doubt 2010 has been an annus horribilis for the Singapore football scene, starting from the ill-fated trip to Jordan for the Asian Cup qualifiers, to the major problems that plagued the local S-League and culminating in humiliation in ASEAN where the Lions of Singapore failed to qualify for even the semi-finals from an apparently easy group. Change might have been overdue, but it would be interesting to factor in different reasons why it is so easy for the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) to fall back on the status quo in the hope that things will even out in the longer term. Much of the ire has been placed on the impotency of the Singapore Lions in major tournaments. It did not help that these were virtually the same players that Singapore depend on for every tournament on regional and international level, down to the previous two editions of the Tiger (now Suzuki) Cup. With each of these players having 30 official caps and above, there should be no excuse of inexperience and indecisiveness when it comes to the matches that matter. Yet there has been no cohesiveness in their overall play in the recent ASEAN Championships, and this was evident in their unfortunate draw with the Philippines and ultimately the tragic match against Vietnam. While it can be argued that the insipid performances Singapore dished out were caused by fatigue from a long football season for their players, particularly the Indonesian based stars like Noh Alam Shah and Shahril Ishak, international football is a results-oriented business, and national teams are more often than not obliged to field their finest players even if they were not feeling fine where their

author Joseph Chin

psychology and physiology was concerned. Raddy thus had to make do with a small pool of his finest players, even when crucial players like Hariss Harun went out injured and other more worthy players were made to wait for their debut for the Lions. Structural problems that constitute the greater malaise of Singaporean football also helped to affect the quality of football in the long run. As the bedrock of the national team, the domestic league is a crucial cog in the national setup, providing most, if not all, of its players ready to wear the colours of the nation and fly the flag in the footballing world. Yet the S-League has been steadily losing ground to the ready charms of the EPL and other popular European leagues, as well as the influx of foreign outfits like the recent double champions Etoile FC and the outflow of its finest players to Indonesia, which does not figure high on the radar of even hardcore Singapore fans. While it is never easy to match the slick advertising and sleek football dished up from Europe, overly cautious football dished out week in week out has meant that the league has struggled with attracting fans despite having matches for virtually every day of the week. The infamous brawl between the Young Lions and Beijing Guo’an Talent gave the S-League a sickening blow to its already tattered reputation and its dwindling attendance. The final straw would be the discontinuation of participation in the Asian Champions League in 2011 which have deprived local clubs like SAFFC of improving their standards with respect to Japanese and Korean club sides which have consistently shown that they are the finest in Asia. The increased foreign influence on local football, and the indiscriminate naturalization of players that eventually wilted in the big stage have done


Singapore football few favours. Yet it would be impractical, or even insane, to go the way of the Malaysian league by banning all foreign imports from the domestic league, especially in the face of globalization and a small domestic player base. A more practical solution, thus, is to gradually blood in players in the national U21 squad and Prime League teams of each S-League team by fielding a minimum of 2 youth players in each S-League match to give them match experience and also foster youth development. Thus, it is also interesting to note the shift in power and equality in ASEAN football. Gone are the days where Thailand and Singapore vie for the ASEAN title on a regular basis. Instead, it is now the young Turks of Malaysia which showed just as much improvement as the surprise package of Philippines which counted its goalkeeper as the only active ASEAN player in the English Premier League. Furthermore, the improved performances of Vietnam and Indonesia in recent ASEAN Championships have rendered living on past glories a suicidal move for both Thailand and especially Singapore. Yet it must be noted that Thailand and Singapore are still leading the pack with regards to their domestic scene, which has benefited from a semblance of professionalism in contrast to the haphazard organization of the region’s other leagues, if there were any. Even then, all hope is not lost where new talents are concerned. The excellent performance of the Under-15 team in the recent Youth Olympics provided a silver lining to Singapore football. So good, it was enough for European clubs from England and Germany to take notice and invite the U-15 team to train with their youth setups. While the current generation may not

have the luxury of an organized National Football Syllabus to improve their techniques in a short span of time, their experiences on the big stage can prove crucial to bridging the gap in footballing education to these potential talents if they were given a mentor role in the team. This is provided that they also clean up their act themselves and be rid of problems such as tardiness, smoking and indiscipline, traits which are more often than not picked up by these future stars if not properly nipped in the bud. It is not just the national age group teams that need improving. Clubs should also be active in improving their scouting and youth training systems, and a good way to do so would be to tie up with schools to identify and collaborate with the coaches in the schools scene to craft a training plan that will help improve football performance without these potential talents sacrificing their academic pursuits. In conclusion, 2010 serves as a chastening reminder for FAS and Singapore football to look to the future through their youth squads and not to live on the past glories of the Lions which has served them well. For the foreseeable future, the Lions are here to stay, but in the long term the status quo should change and I hope that a new era of Singapore football will rise from the ashes.




The Way of the DRAGONS U

ntil he stepped into a dragon boat, Samuel Yee was most emphatically not a team player. Largely involved in Student Council in his JC days, he was never really keen on team sports. The psychology major became intrigued with the sport and signed up to try out for an orientation row organised by the TeamNUS Dragon boat team and has never looked back. Samuel came on board with 30 other freshmen on the day of the orientation row for what he expected to be a challenge. He says, “I joined the team in NUS as I have always wanted to try a sport as a CCA and as I have always relished challenges, I decided to pick one of the toughest sports, Dragon Boat.” He seemed to have found his calling in NUS. Fast forward a year and half later; he is serving as the team manager for the TeamNUS Dragon Boat team. Time is of the essence as he juggles six training sessions a week, the team’s administrative

author Muhammad Sahfahri bin Supar + photograph NUS Dragonboat TEAM

dragon head and tail for the race; displaying the oriental dragon’s symbol of strength, power and vigour. The coxswain takes on the role of the steerer to guide the dragon boat to the finishing line while the drummer beats the drums to lead the paddlers. This Originating from China, dragon boat races are held during Dragon rhythmic drum beat controls the frequency and synchronicity of all boat festivals that fall on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month the paddlers’ strokes. of the Chinese lunar calendar. Dragon boat races typically come Chinese celebrate this festival in distances of 1000m, 500m and to a sumptuous feast of bamboo shorter sprints of 250m. Both wrapped rice dumplings. In the men and women’s TeamNUS these races, paddlers race to a Dragon Boat teams participate drummer’s beat in a long narrow in the highly coveted Prime water boat with a coxswain Minister Cup Challenge Trophy, guiding them to the finish line. the only 1000m race between the The celebration of the festival 4 universities held in Singapore. has lasted over 2000 years, Initiated by then Prime Minister commemorating the great poet Goh Chok Tong in year 2000; Chu Yuan (343 – 290 B.C). he wanted to pit the rival Universities against each other Dragon boat racing today still in a race, replicating the Oxfordencompasses many of the same Cambridge boat race. Although a traditions that it started with in 1000m race lasts for a mere four its early years. Each dragon boat is usually made up of 20 paddlers, and a half minutes, the paddlers expend a tremendous amount a drummer and a coxswain of energy, strength, power and and would be decorated with a duties and the heavy workload of a psychology major. Samuel often jokes with his teammates about how dragon boat is a module itself with the amount of time he spends training in a week.


endurance to paddle throughout the distance of the race. The sport requires the paddlers to train intensively for these races. The TeamNUS dragon boat team commit themselves to a daily regiment of gym workouts and dragon boat sessions to continually push their fitness beyond their breaking point. As part of their dragon boat training, each paddler is required to develop a great awareness of the way their body moves and how they move in unison with their fellow paddlers. Paddlers’ timing, focus, discipline, communication and mutual respect is crucial to become a successful dragon boat team. In the process of training together, the sport provides a platform for strong camaraderie and friendships to form as teammates encourage one another to better themselves. The team trains for at least 3 races a year, namely the Singapore River Regatta, the MR500 and the

Singapore Dragon Boat festival, held in July every year. They have also participated in overseas races in Macau, Kuala Lumpur as well as the recent Pesta Penang Dragon boat festival. An average person would assume that people who join the sport are generally very muscular. In retrospect, Samuel, who weighs in at a mere 58 kg, says, “Dragon Boat is thought to be a sport that is inclined to muscular athletes who use predominantly biceps to paddle. Actually, you use your whole body to paddle.� Through sheer perseverance and determination, the student athlete is now able to do 30 pull ups as part of his gym routine. He owes his great improvement in his personal fitness to his teammates who supports him in his training sessions. Dragon boat has taken on many followers, especially in recent years due to its relatively short learning curve; novice paddlers of all ages and fitness levels

can learn the sport through a simple orientation programme in 2 hours. The affordability to participate in the sport has gained many new enthusiasts in search of an economical and fun way to get fit. Of course, many athletes like Samuel have taken on paddling more seriously and participated in varsity teams or club teams that can be found training all over the island. The sport can be seen as an excellent opportunity to develop physical and mental skills, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and improve overall fitness. Many have used the opportunity to meet many new friends through the sport to increase their social circle as well. A word of advice for the adventurous - just try it out, join the sport with an open mind and find the passion and source of motivation for the sport that will keep you going for a long time to come.




Clash of th

Recently, the market has been flooded with Android-based devices and the Android vs. Apple battle has officially made its way into the world of tablets too. I’ve picked up 3 head-to-head competitors, all of which are equally worthy – The Samsung Galaxy Tab, The Notion Ink Adam and the iPad. the notion ink adam

samsung galaxy tab

screen technology and display features

performance and usability

Although all the aforementioned tablets have a capacitive touch screen, the iPad and the Adam have a 10” whilst the Galaxy Tab has a smaller 7” display.

In terms of hardware, the Adam stands superior with its powerful NVidia Dual Core Tegra 250. However, the key factor to consider lies in the software. Apple’s latest updates to the already impressive iOS4 will include a new Game Center, TV rentals, iTunes Ping functionality and AirPlay wireless streaming. Apple’s App Store is also collosal, boasting an unrivalled 250,000 apps.

The Galaxy tab and Adam compete well with the iPad’s screen resolution. However, the Adam features PixelQi technology which allows for lower power consumption, direct sunlight readability and higher contrast when switched to B/W mode for reading, whilst the iPad and Galaxy Tab don’t seem to have any switch, not even for adjusting the brightness of the screen.

apple ipad

boasts one thing that the iPad doesn’t have - Flash 10.1 support. So if you get an iPad, you can’t watch videos on YouTube whilst the Adam will support 1080p HDMI video output.

The Galaxy Tab and Adam, meanwhile run Android 2.2 and can match the iPad for multi-touch control, pinch-to-zoom and general speediness. The Android Market might have fewer apps (around 70,000+ at last count), but Android still

author Arunkumar Sillathur Ramasamy + photograph,,



he Tablets camera


One of the major drawbacks of the iPad is the lack of a camera. On the other hand, the Galaxy Tab has two cameras, a rearfacing 3.2MP lens with an LED flash and an extra 1.3MP camera on the front for basic QVGA video calling. The Notion Ink Adam features a 3MP camera with a patented swivel (up to 185°) action, which allows for both video calling and regular photography.

Apple’s iPad models are available with 16GB, 32GB and 64GB of nonexpandable memory. In contrast, both the 16GB and 32GB models of the Galaxy Tab as well as the Adam can be expanded.

size and weight The Apple iPad measures 242.8 x 189.7 x 13.4mm and weighs 680g. The Adam measures 238 x 158 x 13mm and weighs 600-650g. The Galaxy Tab is the smallest with dimensions 190.09 x 120.45 x 11.98mm and weighs a mere 380g.

battery life Apple claims a 10-hour battery life for its iPad, and the Adam is specified to have 16 hours of wi-fi browsing. It also boasts a 160-hour battery life with the backlit LED light turned off. The battery life for Galaxy Tab is, however, just 7 hours.

price The basic model of the Adam will retail at S$375, while the iPad costs $829 and the Galaxy Tab S$990.

connectivity All 3 tablets offer 3G networking, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, each with some internal variation. Additionally, the Galaxy tab can be used to make phone calls via a Bluetooth headset and to send/receive SMS/MMS data. In contrast, there are 6 variations of the Adam available, with 4 having wireless and screen differences and 2 using different 3G options.

Not to mention the other goodies these small packages offer: The iPad also includes A-GPS functionality (3G + Wi-Fi models only) and a built-in digital compass. It has a 30-pin dock connector, headphone jack, built-in speaker, microphone and SIM card tray in some models. It can playback H.264 video up to 720p and doubles up as an e-reader thanks to Apple’s own iBooks app and downloadable Kindle software. As for the new Galaxy Tab, it comes with built-in gyroscopic and geo-magnetic sensors, plus A-GPS, in addition to HDMI output, built-in speaker and

3.5mm headphone jack. It also has its own iBooks rival in the shape of ‘Readers Hub’. Notion Ink equips the Adam with apps from its own app store and the Android Market. Adam also has a HDMI output, 3 USB ports, built-in speakers and microphone, microphone jack and headphone jack, apart from including a trackpad.

While the iPad has been the choice for many in the last few months, the Galaxy Tab and the Adam will provide stiff competition, especially if they are sold at a sub S$500 price point. Their inclusion of a built-in camera and expandable memory provides a healthy edge over the iPad. With Android rapidly improving, the prospects for the Galaxy Tab and Adam look bright. The iPad hardware seems to be seriously lacking when compared to the Adam’s Tegra 2 foundations, PixelQi screen, trackpad and other features. For me, the choice is clear and i think that the Notion Ink Adam Tablet is definitely worth checking out!



iTwin: the ultimate flash drive? Imagine a thumb drive with storage capacity that is only limited by the size of the hard disk in your home computer. Even better, imagine being able to drag-and-drop files from one computer to another over the Internet. We ’re talking about the iTwin, a device that allows two computers connected to the Internet to share files with each other. The device is basically a double-sided thumb drive with no internal storage. You plug one side into Computer A, plug the other into Computer B, and the iTwin will help you share files over the internet. It’s hard to describe what it looks like, so here’s a picture:

the good


f you’re thinking this is like two ends of a cable, you’re right on the money. Instead of an actual physical cable, however, the iTwin uses the Internet as a pipe to transfer your files. Once you set up the device on one computer, you just have to drag-and-drop the files you want to be able to access on the go into the iTwin folder, and you’re good to go!

The iTwin folder can be accessed in your PC’s Computer folder.

Drop files into the iTwin folder to access them on another computer!

author raymond lau + photograph iTwin /raymond Lau



Transfer speed is no doubt influenced by speed and bandwidth, but one can imagine how useful this device can be to the average student. If you own a perfectly functioning and powerful desktop at home and do not wish to purchase a laptop computer, you can use the iTwin to access the files on your home computers using any of the PCs on campus. Such an enabling device could be disastrous if fallen into the wrong hands. A robust AES-256 encryption is used to protect all data in transit, and if you misplace one end of the iTwin, you can immediately disable the device using a unique code generated at installation. This should give users greater peace of mind as compared to losing a flash drive with local storage, for once that is lost, your data too would be gone.

The iTwin requires the installation of a local client before it can be used. The iTwin is also a little on the pricey side, costing USD99, not including shipping and handling. For that price, you can buy an external hard disk with a respectable amount of storage space. Furthermore, the iTwin can currently only be used on Windows systems; Macintosh and Linux friends will have to wait indefinitely. A unique disable code will be sent to you the first time you set up your iTwin.

the bad

the bottom line



The device is also severely limited by the fact that a local client had to be installed before you can use it. Most institutions and workplaces, including NUS, adopt a strict policy of not letting the general user install any programme willy-nilly. Unless NUS decides to take on the iTwin University-wide, there’s absolutely no chance of using it on our campus PCs. However, the company said that they will monitor demand and it is possible that future versions of the product will not have such a restriction.

There’s also the nagging fact that we don’t really need this thing. Online storage services such as DropBox and Sugar Sync are becoming more popular, and although they require paid subscription to solve their paltry storage size problem, they don’t require you to carry a metal stick around in your pocket.

here is, of course, one important and obvious caveat: both computers have to be online at the same time to the iTwin to work. Although it’s hard to imagine going offline in today’s alwayson world, computer downtime is a fact of life, and if your dog decides to slobber over your computer back home (or something like that), then you’re stuck with a useless stick of metal in your hand.

he iTwin is an elegant and idiot-proof device for file-sharing, storage, and backup. It should prove useful in a variety of situations, such as taking large storage on the go, or as a simple alternative to a home network. That said, the device has some concerns that prevent it from becoming a world-class product, problems which I daresay will be addressed in future iterations.

But for now, we have our good ol’ flash drives.




5 Steps of Owning a Kinect step one : Possibilities!

Microsoft’s foray into motionsensing gaming, as first exemplified by the Nintendo Wii, became a reality in November last year with the launch of the Kine c t. The add-on for the Microsoft Xbox 360 is touted as being the “future of gaming” – a move also espoused by Sony through Playstation 3’s Move controller. The Wired Desk takes you through five steps of a Kinect owner.


hen the Kinect was first announced, I never thought I would get one. I owned a Wii before and the whole swinging-acontroller-around-pretending-to-be-a-tennis-player thing got old (and tiring) pretty quickly. I learnt a lesson after almost collapsing from a virtual session of Wii boxing: games and prancing around in one’s living room should not mix. But the Kinect soon caught on viral popularity, and the more videos I saw of people flailing around to Dance Central on Youtube, the more intrigued I became. I didn’t see so much into the sheer absurdity and inevitable embarrassment that comes along to bopping along to avatars on a television screen; what I saw was a chance to get my friends to act like dancing fools in my living room in order to record them and upload the videos onto YouTube! But before I laid hands on the Kinect, the geek-side of me that had watched a little too much Minority Report spoke to me. Imagine what you can do with a motion sensor! The sheer epic games that could be released! Lightsaber battles! Fully-immersive role-playing games! The more I thought about it, the more I became convinced that I needed a Kinect. step two : purchase!


he K inect can be bought as part of a Xbox 360 Kinect set, or if you already own a Xbox 360, be bought as a set on its own. When making your purchase of the Kinect, do not be drawn into purchasing way too many games that seem to be a good idea at that time, but end up with you standing in front

author Lester Hio + photograph,


of your console scratching your head wondering why you ever thought a game where you pet giant kitties would ever be fun. Although, Kinectimals do seem like a giant Tamagotchi and we all know how fun they were. Also, ignore that nagging feeling that no matter how fun Dance Central looks in YouTube videos, your purchase of the Kinect is justif ied even though you can play the same game for free by just following the instructions along on YouTube. step three: setup!


ith a shiny new Kinect in hand, it’s time to set it up in order to experience the so-called future of gaming.


step four: play!


ith all the necessary setups and updates out of the way, it’s finally time to get my Kinect to do what I bought it for: gaming. The Kinect comes along with the above-mentioned Kinect Adventures, which is just a series of minigames that showcase the capabilities of the Kinect. Along with the Kinect, I had a handful of launch titles, such as Dance Central (the most popular game by far) as well as a copy of Kinect Sports. Gaming on the Kinect is as good as getting a workout. I’ve gotten so used to lounging around on the couch, exercising only my fingers, that actually getting up and dancing along to virtual avatars was a very refreshing experience. “How hard can it be?” I figured, since it was only following along to on-screen instructions?

The Kinect itself comes in a sleek, compact, glossy casing that doesn’t take up too much space. The hardware fits nicely on the minimal space in front of my television, and is unobtrusive enough. Setup is quick and painless – just plug the Kinect in and launch the installation that comes along with the Kinect Adventures game that is in every Kinect purchase.

Was I ever wrong! Especially on the harder levels of Dance Central, the dance moves become pretty complex, and the pacing is harder, faster, better, stronger. I am pleased to say that I am now well-versed in the dance moves of over 10 songs; in the off-chance that they play a song I know in a club, I can actually dance along to it without looking like a total fool.

At its initial launch, the Kinect will calibrate itself to the parameters of your gaming space, and of course, to you – the gamer, aka the controller. The paces it puts you through seem to be a cruel joke on the designers’ part, though, to see if they can get you to do the silliest movements ever – all in the name of gaming.

Kinect Adventures and Kinect Sports will put you through the usual paces of jogging on the spot, jumping, throwing pretend punches and kicking pretend (foot)balls. As a single-player game, they get pretty monotonous; however, call your friends along, and it’s actually a pretty great multiplayer experience. The Kinect so far supports up to only four distinct character recognitions, so don’t think that you can actually create a team of eleven soccer players.

The Kinect’s gesture recognition is pretty intuitive enough, but does take a while to perfect. Controls are governed by waving your right hand around, while bringing up your left hand 45 degrees up brings up the pause menu. The Kinect advised me to pretend like I was a traffic warden while holding up my hands to navigate through menus, which led me to think that a game where you actually play as a traffic warden would be pretty bad. The Kinect also recognises voice commands. Yelling out “Xbox!” brings up a list of voice navigation commands, from which you can then yell out various other commands. Incidentally, yelling out “Xbox!” one too many times in order to test the system because the Kinect refuses to acknowledge your voice command is also something that makes your neighbours think you’re a huge geek. But I suspect that my Kinect might be racist. Lapsing into a Singlish accent makes my Kinect refuse to listen to me. I had to make sure I properly enunciated my words before my Kinect would accept any voice commands.

step five: potential


he Kinect, as a gaming device, still has tons of potential. The launch titles just do not do it enough justice – they seem to be tentative forays into the motion-gaming industry that don’t fully unleash the potential of the Kinect. Casual gamers (or little kids) might be enamoured with the idea of raising and petting virtual animals a la Kinectamals, but the Kinect can do so much more for videogame nerds. Imagine a lightsaber duel with your mates. Imagine a wide-open role-playing game where you can interact with virtual objects like you would in real life. Imagine an air guitar game where you can pretend to be a virtual rock star simply by your sweet air guitar skills. The possibilities are endless, and definitely something to look out for in the Kinect’s future.



/ new facebook profile Facebook has recently come out with new design for the Profile page. The new profile is revamped to give your friends an easier way to know what you’ve been up to recently. The new profile is topped with recent photos and lists relationship, hometown and work status, among other details, right up front. Eventually, the new profile is aimed to give your friend a better understanding of your personal life.

/ microsoft security essentials 2.0 You might have known anti-virus softwares such as AVG, avast! and Avira, but do you know that Microsoft is also a new player in anti-virus industry? This free, light-weight but powerful anti-virus software - Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) - has recently come out with new version. Despite it being new, MSE has received much applause since day one of its launch, and is (reportedly) comparable to many other old players.

byte-sized for january / windows live essentials 2011 Microsoft has recently just released the next generation of Windows Live Messenger, bundled in Windows Live Essentials 2011 suite. The new version of Live Messenger, together with other very useful applications you might have already been using, can be found in Windows Live Essentials 2011. These include Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, Live Mesh, Writer and many more! All of these applications have been given new interfaces that not only make them look nicer, but also more userfriendly. Windows Live Messenger is also fully integrated with many social networks, including Facebook and Myspace.

author Lam LAM Woon WOON Cherk CHERK

/ google chrome os Google, other than being a well-known search engine giant, has recently ventured into PC operating systems (OS) with Chrome OS. Unlike currently available OSes such as Windows, Mac OS and Linux, Chrome OS is a cloud-base OS. The basic idea is, all of the applications are found and used on the cloud (or on the Internet). This means that most of the data will be stored in the cloud, and can be accessed anywhere with an Internet connection! You should also expect no installation of application, since the application is hosted on the cloud and not locally. Machines featuring Chrome OS will not be available until mid-2011, although a prototype (CR-48) has been produced and tested by major reviewers.

THE RIDGE - January 2011 Issue  

The January 2011 issue of THE RIDGE Magazine. We are the largest NUS student publication and the official publication of the National Univer...

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