Tiger the ticked tabby, snoozing

Jane_S on Flickr first informed me that Tiger the cat is a ticked tabby. She manages a group pool on Flickr group for cats with this patterning with a photographic description in addition to this simple filter:

“Do you have an unusual tabby with NO stripes on his or her body but with stripey legs and a ringed neck and tail? If so, your cat is probably a ticked tabby.”

Tiger, b. Mar 2003 (estim.). Found at Sunset Way. Adopted 15 Jul 2003 via Metta Cats. Introduced in blog on 03 Oct 2003. The date is isgnificant – he escaped the hysterical SARS stray cat roundup.

That indispensable sync tool, Dropbox, doubles .edu referral storage

Dropbox became a critical tool for daily use this year, having simplified and enhanced the things I had been doing with ftp applications and usb thumbdrives, in an elegant and effortless manner.

Dropbox ex

Functions and uses
Dropbox is an application which will synchronise the contents of a specific folder on your desktop with a free server. Or as they say, your Dropbox folder files magically appear in your webpage account! This works like an immediate backup!

Hence I insist on Dropbox as a primary document backup for all my research students with GDocs as a secondary backup. They use a thumbdrive or external hardisk for a third backup and for the large-size photo albums. All this effort to avoid tragedy later.

Besides the basic desktop to web synchronisation, the Dropbox folder will ‘magically appear’ on any other laptop, desktop or mobile device you choose to install the app on. And identical Dropbox folders are possible on multiple machines, be they windows, linux, mac, iPhone, iPad, Android or Blackberry.

I use Dropbox for:

  • project files which I work on at both campus and at home,
  • files I need to maintain daily backup versions of,
  • research pdfs which I download from from several different physical locations and can access from my iPod Touch or laptop,
  • receipts for claims which I may have scanned in at the office, the lab, a friend’s scanner or at home and
  • data files such as settings of applications (e.g. Typinator shortuts, Bookit’s web bookmarks) and assorted notes in a “scratch bin” folder.

You can also share specific folders with other individual users (e.g. tide-table scans) or make a specific folder public (e.g. event photos). A 30-day history of files allows the recovery of older versions of a document! See a tour of all the features here.

Earning more from referrals – the back to school offer
Dropbox_eduWhen you sign up for a free account, you have 2GB of shared space. Sufficient for most research project documents, a user can earn more storage through referrals, 250MB at a time.

And this just got better – Dropbox announced a back to school offer to double the referral storage of .edu accounts from 250MB to 500MB!

I had ignored the offer as since I am signed up for Dropbox with my gmail account and did not intend to setup another account with my edu account which I would not use.

However, Kenneth Pinto suggested at the Mac Meetup earlier that I go ahead and apply, for Dropbox would figure it out. Elated at the news, I submitted my NUS email userid at the Dropbox edu offer page and they emailed me a link. I accessed that and voila! I had doubled my referral storage! Thanks Kenneth!

So if you have an “.edu” account and have referred others who have installed and used Dropbox, head to the edu page to double your bonus storage immediately. I’ll email my students, some might qualify for this by now.

New accounts – get a referral for mutual benefit
If you do not have a Dropbox account and intend to set one up, ask your friends for a referral – this will ensure they earn a storage bonus; it would be a waste not to let them earn the additional space.

Alternatively (I am not in urgent need for space anymore), use my referral link. I earn 500MB for every referral and the person I refer Dropbox to earns 250MB of bonus space (up to a 16 GB limit). Wonderful isn’t it?

How does Dropbox stay afloat?
I would not mind paying for small scale use. Gmail for example, provides us with 7.4GB of free email storage which I bumped up to 20GB for US$5/year. If my usage increases (e.g. by using Picasa for photo storage), 80GB would cost me a reasonable US$20/yr.

Dropbox, however, seems to be targetting the big boys with nothing in between – their paid plans cost US$99/year for 50GB and US$199 for 100GB. Want to persuade them to adopt a pre granular pricing strategy? Well, Dropbox users are encouraged to direct development priorities by voting on suggestions; you get a six votes per month!

Update – It’s not just me who’s raving, John Larkin’s enthusiastic too!

POW escapes from Singapore to India

The battle and occupation of Singapore during World War II has many facets, one of which is the internment of prisoner’s of war (POWs) both locally, in the region and in Japan. Over the years, I have read and watched more about POW internment than about POW escapes. Of the escape memoirs I encountered, the escapees headed for Australia.

This morning, I learnt about two titles which chronicle the escape of Indian officers to India instead: “3000 Miles to Freedom” and “Escape from Singapore”. David Hope, who is researching the events and personal stories concerning the Fall of Singapore, twittered about (@singapore1942) a blog post by one escapee’s son.

Krishna K Pillai’s writes about his father’s book, “3000 Miles to Freedom,” which he published, in a post entitled, “First Allied POW escape from Singapore in 1942“. Mark Pillai (RIP) was a Bombay sapper who escaped from Changi with two others and successfully made it to India! Awarded a Military Cross by Field Marshal Archibald Wavell for his gallantry, Mark Pillai passed away in 1988 and his son published the manuscript of his escape in ?2009.

3000 Miles to Freedom by Mark Pillai

“3000 Miles to Freedom” by Brig. M. M Pillai M.C. is also available at Borders Online for US$12.95 – link.

The links led me to a review by Abhimanyu Singh, “Two takes on an obscure, yet epic journey” (Express Buzz, 18 Dec 2010). He highlights another account of an escape, yet again by Indian soldiers to India. Once again it is a son who has seen to the publication of the account. In this case, however, Jasbir Singh, son of Balbir Singh, ‘put the account of his father’s rare descriptions of the escape and by reading his articles on the subject.’

Escape from Singapore” is available for US$11.66 on Amazon).

Jasbir Singh-Escape from Singapore

Needless to say, I’ve ordered both books.

Xylo the cat alarm clock

This is the face I see every morning, a piercing unblinking stare accompanied by a series of loud “miaow”s in an effort to rally me to conjure up his breakfast. He is a squirmy little worm who eludes my grasp impatiently as I tried to pin him down to give me just five more minutes in bed.

This has actually been boon rather than bane on the many occasions I have slumped to bed at 4am yet need to awaken at 6am. Success means the quickened patter of his paws to the breakfast bowl, accompanied by my stagger to the world of the living during the hectic schedule of the semester.

Trouble is, this alarm works during the semester break as well. So an early riser I will aways be, thanks to Xylo, the cat from the mangrove.

A pillow and bolster for Mr Bats the cat

While I’m at my mac on some overnighter, Mr Bats sometimes curls up in my arms to keep me company. Sometims, the external keyboard is displaced. When this happens, I turn off the bright fluorescent lights and turn on the milder table lamp instead, hence the yellow tinge in the photos. Once settled in, Mr Bats can stay between my arms for hours; it’s especially nice on cold nights.

Scrunched up against my chest, Mr Bats is usually purring deeply at this point.

He uses my arms as a pillow, and sometimes also as a bolster too.

There are other perks – Mr Bats usually throws in a free grooming session as well.

Google Lab’s Body Browser – ‘Google Earth for the human body’

I just used Google Lab’s Body Browser to identify the nerve causing persistent problems for Ladybug. You can vary the opacity of the circulatory, muscular, skeletal and organ systems as well as rotate and magnify the body with the option of labels. [More at ZDNet]

Clicking on a specific part of interest, e.g. the femoral nerve in this case, results in it being highlighted and labelled. This specific view is mapped by the URL, so the specific view can be forwarded to someone else.

As it requires WebGL support, you will need to replace Google’s Chrome browser with a beta version; similar options for other browsers are listed at khronos.org. Once you have a WebGL-enabled browser, go to bodybrowser.googlelabs.com and have fun exploring this lovely tool which will become indispensable in many classrooms!

Body Browser - Google Labs

HT – Science News Blog‘s twitter account.

“The Digital Story of the Nativity” by Excentric

“The Digital Story of the Nativity” is a video by Portugese company Excentric. Their description for the video reads, “How social media, web and mobile tell the story of the Nativity. Christmas story told through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, Wikipedia, Google Maps, GMail, Foursquare, Amazon… Times change, the feeling remains the same.”

Remember to dial up the resolution to HD (bottom bar) to see the text clearly and click full-screen view. The default seems to be set at 240p. Some of the scenes sped past too fast so I paused and scrolled back to see what else Joseph was twittering about before the birth. They didn’t miss out on those details.


It was originally in Portugese. Watch the clip below and even if you don’t know the language, be surprised at the many phrases and terms you will be able to recognise!


Hat Tip – Pamela Soo and Allen Shi on Facebook.