Last Saturday’s rainbow

After a thunderous storm which floored some branches off yellow flame trees along Holland Road, in the crystal clear air, the rainbow appeared. We saw it out of a window in a friend's new home in Bishan. Twittered it and learnt it (or one like it) was visible from East Coast too.

See and download the full gallery on posterous

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The Straits Times: old articles (1845-1982) now searchable

Earlier this week, Kenneth Pinto alerted a bunch of us about a Singapore Heritage mailing list post about (“NewspaperSG”) – NLB has scanned its Straits Times microfilms, so the text is now searchable.

In addition he cited the site’s FAQ which points out that recent articles of The Straits Times (i.e. published after 1982) can be accessed by the public via:

  • Factiva (01 July 1989 -; all libraries)
  • Newsbank (01 Jan 2000-; all libraries)
  • Nexis (90 days archive; all libraries and from home)

The announcement on the NLB Corporate site:

Digitised Straits Times from 1845 to 1982 — now available!

National Library Singapore has launched NewspaperSG, an online service for accessing the library’s electronic archives of Singapore and Malaya newspapers.

Through NewspaperSG, library users now have access to over 548,000 pages of searchable text of the Digitised Straits Times (1845-1982) and microfilms of some 200 Singapore and Malaya newspapers that are housed at the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library.

Users who access the collection through the multimedia stations at our islandwide network of libraries will be able to search, view and print from The Straits Times digitised collection. Offsite users will also be able to access the website and view the articles but limited to the first 50 words of each full-text article.

For more information, please visit the NewspaperSG website at

The Google Forms turtle

Somehow an ad hoc explanation about Google Forms to s department admin officer turned out a turtle, erm, playing handball. She was confused about the URL to forward users (dept teaching staff in this case) and which data they would not be able to view without publication, etc. I had showed her the ropes very briefly the week before in order to setup the field studies module registration for current 3rd year students. That worked out very well and now she’s gotten ambitious and was juggling a 26 field form. She got stumped at a critical step and a quick sketch when I passed by her table helped to fix the immediate problem. Can you figure out what I was telling her? No one dies in this illustration, even if it seems so!

For a proper grasp of the concepts and shortcuts, I had promised her a workshop soon but had been bogged down. Since she deals with data recruitment and sharing on a daily basis, its urgent. She’s a keen student so I’ve identified a slot on Friday and will invite the few others I’ve promised workshop to.

Google Forms has helped me maintain my sanity this past year, so I have to spread the love!

16gb thumbdrive and a head rest

16gb SanDisk Cruzer Micro USB2.0; firewire cable above in midst of a back up.

At my cross faculty animal behaviour lecture last Wednesday, I wandered into the topic of echolocation during a lecture on animal communication by sound. During the break, I wanted to adapt a couple of slides with great mages and a movie clip from my 3rd-year zoology lecture. But it was missing!

Last year, I had cleared away Semester I lecture material into backup sites so that my suffocating hardisk on my Mac Book Pro would have space to keep functioning effectively.

Five 5gb of free space is an absolute minimum – the MacBook Pro is almost three years old so its 80gb hardisk is small. Photos are getting larger and larger, even my handphone photos are 3MB – this is a good thing that has allowed mudskipper identification, for example,from a distance. But an old hardisk eventually chokes.

I know I have to change my MBP Pro e-SATA hardisk soon (e.g. there is a 7,200rpm 320gb Hitachi out there) but I’d prefer to wait when my lectures are over. For now, I bought a 16gb thumb drive and am copying over all my lectures and few of my recent presentations too. How nice!

Mr Bats kept me company while I sorted and copied over the files. Typically, he settles in tightly between the wireless keyboard and my body, resting his head on my left arm as I type, sometimes grasping my arm with his front legs while his rear legs straddle my right arm. I used PhotoBooth to grab this shot; miss his legs but you get the idea 🙂

At this angle, he almost looks like a rabbit!

NTU Bike Rally 2009: Preparations

We’re leaving at 5.00am tomorrow to ride down to the NTU Bike Rally 2009 start point and waterproofing might come in useful, as always. KX is coming from the far west, and will probably taste the rain before we do.

We’ll reach ECP before 6.00am, register and fight off the aircon in Mc’s long enough to grab coffee. And then sette down for flag off. This year Lekowala will be with (or way ahead of) us, along with a bunch of the usuals!

Time to check the packing list…

  • Helmet, helmet rear light
  • Clear glasses and sunglasses (King’s Safety Goggles)
  • Bike jersey and Arm warmers
  • Gloves
  • Bike pants – the padded Adidas
  • Knee guard (going to need it!)
  • Socks, Ankle reflectors, Shoes (regular ones; I use a pedal cage)
  • Handlebar: Speedometer, front light , wipe mirror, check bell, handphone (alarm set), handphone pouch
  • Saddle pack: Crank Brothers pump, spare inner tube, bike puncture kit, First Aid kit w/Brave Soldier
  • Rear lights (two)
  • Water bottles (2 x 0.8L)
  • Camelpak w/1.5L Nalgene bladder, Gatorade powder, house keys
  • Credit cards, ATM card, NRIC, Organ donor card, cash
  • Deep heat and sunblock lotion

Set my alarm for 4am and hope for good weather.

NTU Bike Rally 2009: 160km in a sizzle or a pour?

Time to revisit my recipe for a long ride. I have the NTU Bike Rally 2009 this Sunday – 128km and we haven’t been cycling enough so will definitely suffer. With the ride to and from the start point, I’ll end up clocking 160km. The critical thing is – will it sizzle or pour? Heat will amplify a ride’s distance while I do well in the rain. It’s a March instead of a June ride this year so less sizzle, I guess.

We have to be at East Coast Park at 0530 so I’ll leave home at about 0445. Response was good this year so one of our friends found out places were full up. Another had his bike stolen while shifting house and so that leaves this handful of kakis whom I think are riding:

ECP 128km start point:

  • Lekowala
  • Ladybug
  • Kian Wee
  • Aaron
  • TKX
  • Kok Fah (the singlet sunburned man)
  • Otterman

NTU 80km start point:

  • Cat
  • KMY
  • Jaswant

Wonder whether I’ll meet riders from previous years like Patience, Patrick, The Big Z and Audrey.

Probable route (this is the 2008 route plotted by leews on bikely)

Rest points

Mean looking storm approaches, field trip suspended

A mean-looking storm is approaching from the south-west. Enough for TSLT, the senior muddy student to tentatively call off our field trip. We meant to take canopy readings and light conditions so it would have ben pointless in an overcast sky. In an intense thunderstorm, its pretty hard to take readings anyway, even if we both don't wear glasses.

We refereed to the NEA webpages which are great for field workers and anyone who needs to be outdoors,. There are a few to look at:
  1. Now cast and forecast in three-hourly blocks – link
  2. Rain areas animation of the past four hours to figure out what's likely to happen – link
  3. Rain locations in Singapore – radar observations within the last 15 minutes, which I use often when  students or volunteers are out in the field without me – link
Using these, I once SMS-ed a student to warn about getting out of a field site due to approaching heavy rain and lightning (during intense work, sometimes people forget to look up). Even as they went for cover, the student SMS-ed back to say they felt the first drops reach them. 
Well for now, I'll catch up with admin and hope there are strong winds to blow the rain away.

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