Saturday, July 30, 2011

What's for Dinner?

Yeap, one of my favourite, my wife's specialty, Ayam Masak Merah (Chicken in Red Sauce), with turmeric rice and saute vegetables. Yummm.... great combination and always appetizing.

Olympus Pen EP-2, best buddy on the road

I am not going to do a typical camera review here, so don't turn away yet. But if you want to know more about f-stops, aperture ratio, shutter speed or graininess of higher ISO setting, then feel free to go on a search engine and look for numerous review on this camera. There's never short of review nowadays of almost about anything electronics, but you won't find it here. What you will read here is a satisfied customer of a stylish and useful product that has made me re-looked into what photography is all about. I have been using this camera for a little more than about a year and a half, so that carries some credibility there.

First question: Why do you like it?

Simple, it looks good, aesthetically more attractive than the typical SLR. In terms of function, it works extremely well and easy to operate. Point and shoot easy and have the extra little function for me to control the quality of my pictures. Many people stopped me in my tracks to ask what "what is that you're using?" followed by, "it looks so retro!". Great way to start a conversation. There you go, my social life has improved by a margin.

Next: Is this a serious camera? Can it take good pictures?

Well, as mentioned before, it has all the function I need for a good picture taking experience. You know what, I'll just let the pictures speak for itself.

Non-of the above has been photoshop-ed or in anyway digitally manipulated, using a standard setting. Happy? I rest my case... and these are not my best stocks...

Next: But the size, its so.... small (to be serious)?

When here is where I say, I'm all for lightweight alternative to brick-weight SLR systems. I have been lugging my Nikon FM-2 for years and I KNOW what is weight, and I don't miss it. For my travels, I need to be practical and have the mobility to enjoy myself. With the EP-2, I can rest assure I have not compromised the quality of pictures that I will be taking.

NEXT: Is it durable?

Well, unless I'm walking into a warzone, I think I have nothing to worry about. It has survived few bumps and have dropped it a couple of times. Beside some scratches and cosmetic wear, seems to work perfectly fine! Magnesium alloy body, if you must know, a higher grade than the other Olympus PEN cousins out there, but still lightweight. It's in my backpack to work everyday.

NEXT: But you can't change your lens like and SLR, or can you?

HAA! You can! and Olympus has released several new lenses, and as how attractive as they are getting, I have not purchased any of them yet. Mind you, I have 4 lenses for my Nikon previously. I find that the packaged standard lens is already good enough for everyday use.

Alright, now that I have made my point, nothing is perfect, so I'll just lay out some negative points for the sceptics:
1. Battery life is pathetic - One day of intense use, and it's dry. There are alternative brands out there though. It's a good idea to bring a spare or just don't leave your charger at home when you travel.
2. Low light focusing is slow - relatively compared to full SLR specs...
3. Processing Speed is slow - again this is relative compared to SLR specs, but I don't find it hindering 99% of the time. Not worth loosing sleep about.
4. No built in flash- I need to carry an external flash around for those occasions

Well, there you go. It has been announced that EP-3 has just been released that deals with the issues above PLUS a touch screen panel. Tempting. But I think I will skip one generation as the EP-2 is already a wonder for me to work with.

Montblanc offers bespoke nibs service

Now this is an interesting article indeed, a bespoke service for MB pens! According to the article, it is going for Euro 600.00 for this service for the nib, which they can install into your existing pen or a new one. I wonder if it is possible to do one that can help me with sketching in the same time. Now I think that will be worth considering. Here's the copy of the text from the original article, just in case they ended the link; dated 8th June 2011 on

There is nothing more unique than a person's handwriting, as individual as a human fingerprint. Every stroke, every line of ink left on a paper reveals something special about its author. A signature is the lasting mark of someone's personality. So it was only a matter of time before Montblanc, manufacturer of the finest writing instruments, would develop the technology necessary to capture the individuality of human writing to offer the ultimate bespoke service – the creation of a personalized nib.

Montblanc can now decipher the distinctive style and form of anyone's writing so that it can be emphasized in a bespoke nib.

Montblanc, recognized for over 100 years for its pioneering spirit and its innovation, is the first manufacturer to successfully identify the personal characteristics of an individual's handwriting so that this valuable data can be used to create a customized nib. Writing characteristics can now be analyzed and recorded, measured by special software exclusively made for Montblanc. Even though technology enables measurements to be taken, the nib is still handmade and the final decision and recommendation for a perfect nib can only be made by Montblanc's skilful master craftsmen of the nib manufacture.

These expert artisans continue to inject Montblanc's writing instruments with a soul. Among the countless measurements, which are needed to ensure a perfectly personalized nib, five of them are key: writing speed, writing pressure, pen rotation, swing range and inclination angle. Once these measurements have been taken by Montblanc's writing culture experts, the bespoke nib is manufactured in an iterative process of hand grinding by the craftsmen of the nib manufacture to ensure a unique piece to be treasured by its owner. Precision is crucial to the process and every tiniest detail counts. Only a perfectly crafted nib will ever make it into the hands of its owner.

For an even more personalized touch, the gold nib can be inscribed with the customer's name: “Handcrafted for …”. This inscription, engraved into the precious metal, is a clear reminder that this is a one-of-a-kind piece that will never be copied. The owner of a personalized Montblanc writing instrument should be confident that every detail of his writing will come to life, with heightened emotion and style.

The Montblanc Bespoke Nib Service is available at Montblanc Boutiques in Hong Kong and Singapore and at Montblanc Headquarters in Hamburg, and will be available in more boutiques, soon.

Read more: | Montblanc Bespoke Nib Service

Friday, July 29, 2011

Journals- Moleskine and Quo Vadis

I just love these journals, especially the limited edition ones, such as the CzipLee I_KL, Pac Man and Peanut as shown here. Also Quo Vadis releases some really nice alternative to Moleskine, and I feel the product is somewhat better in quality, and at a slightly higher price too.

Quo Vadis gives a good alternative to the legendary moleskin...

the limited edition I_KL small notebook

and the limited edition Pac Man edition....

the peanut medium notebook versions....

... the inlay for the I_KL notebook, with a character sheet describing all the moods and images that makes KL special

stickers for the pac man journal, reminds me of the legendary video game.

Here are some of the examples of journal entries which I started not too long ago, but seems to be losing discipline in keeping it updated. I think I will be posting some of these soon. They consist of my thoughts and my sketches of ideas and visuals which I'm trying to immortalize. They are mostly about my observation of the built environment, social and user's behaviour and most important of all, my comments and critiques on these issues.

Most of the Journals above could be purchased at this stationary shop in Bangsar, opposite Bangsar Village Shopping Mall in Kuala Lumpur. Also, Borders and Kinokuniya Bookshops everywhere and here in Abu Dhabi are also good sources for Moleskine.

Czip Lee Stationary Shop, comprehensive, good source for Lamy and Faber Castell pens and Moleskine and Quo Vadis...

Madinat Al-Jumeirah, Dubai

The design of the shopping arcade superficially tries to recapture the spirit of a traditional marketplace, also known as Souk. What it fails in terms of trying to recapture the human spirit of the place, it does rather successfully recreate the physical environment with somewhat convincing aesthetic of its interior. We would normally swing by this place once in a while on our way back from Dubai to Abu Dhabi for some drinks...

good view of the Burj Al-Arab from Costa Cafe's patio....

Traditional wind tower structure being integrated into the fully air-conditioned complex

open space/courtyard, one of my favourite space within the Madinat Al-Jumeirah

Narrow alleyways, AKA sikkas that provides opportunity of shopfront and alternative fresh air linkages....

being close to the coastal line, some water elements being introduced to this development adds interest for the overall site planning

Sand art, my darling and I got one with our names on it...

I enjoy the space within, with its unique proportion and allowing natural light into the otherwise dark corridors.

My attempt at a postcard shot....

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Details and Interiors: Bukit Bintang - Part 2

As I am in the topics of interior, here are some pictures of last year's Christmas season photo of Pavilion. The impressive amount of budget put into the space really reflects on the confidence to boost the consumer's appetite during the holiday season.

having some of these decorations on the exteriors somewhat attracts more footfall into the building.

the change of color and texture and a variety of grain of elements changes the atmosphere of the interior entirely for this space

cafe which capitalizes on open space and high-volume always seems to work to add more life into the otherwise lack-of-human-scale space.

I'm just wondering how is this year going to compete or be different from the last. They are gonna have to top this one.

Another interior/exterior space which I really enjoy is the naturally ventilated gap between the Cinema and the rest of the mall in Pavilion. There are many restaurants and eateries within the space that creates a buzz of life, different from an entirely indoor experience.

Exceptionally wide corridor arcade space allows spill over spaces along it, making it less formal and more inviting

of course, media element is always an appreciated added layer of information to the space. Is anyone really looking into that screen, I wonder....

this in-between space of just a covered roof, capitalizes on shadow casting over a narrow corridor and perhaps indirect cooling from the adjacent air-cond diffuser. I hope to see more climatic responsive space designed like these to have a more sustainable energy use in the future developments in the country.

Details and Interiors: Bukit Bintang - Part 1

This place is packed with shopping malls and each is trying to outdo each other to attract more footfall within their premise. Here are some shots of the interiors of the establishments along the street.

kiosk are always a 'gem' within a simple open space to attract customers

fine details evokes the right mood for dining here

opulent details suits the mood for this upmarket mall to caters for its hotel guests in a shared established.

... and there's always room for some fun ...

every surface and detail is important to create effects as this.

creative signage to promote 4G in the country, makes quite a statement here...