最长的队 — the long and winding queue

一个月前的3月23日是女儿的三岁生日。为此我特地从台北赶回来,提着蛋糕和挺着大肚子的妻子一同将女儿送进幼儿园,好让她能和朋友们一起庆祝。
刚出幼儿园,就看到朋友发来李光耀先生去世的消息。时距新加坡建国五十周年不到五个月。老人没能亲历他领导建设的这个国家的五十岁生日。

依稀记得近二十年前,1997年的2月19日,当邓小平先生去世的消息传到教室时,全班正在上自习。国歌奏起,我第一个起身向邓先生致敬。那时距香港回归还差不到五个月。历史是惊人的相似,残酷。

接下来的一周,整个新加坡到处都弥漫着浓浓的悲哀。除了将女儿的家庭生日庆祝推迟一周,起先并不觉得周围发生的一切会对我有太大影响,我只是拿了绿卡尚未入籍的半个新移民。可接下来几天我却始终无法走出这甚至有些莫名的悲哀。

Queue

周四我凌晨起早请假和另一位已经入籍的朋友一同加入国会送别李先生的队伍。排了近五小时的队仅为给李先生鞠个躬。周日国葬,顶着大雨在路边送李先生最后一程。我只是发自内心的感恩。

q2

如果换作五年前,很难想象我所做,所感受到的一切。一定会觉得自己疯了才会去排这五小时的队。真正当我在新加坡住了十多年,求学,工作,娶妻,安家,走过四大洲几十个城市后,才深深体会这位老人对整个新加坡乃至整个华人世界的意思。可以说新加坡第一次为整个华人社会树立了成功的榜样。你可以说她小,说她严,但综合来讲,如果不怕四季的单调,没有比这里更适合华人生活的地方,尤其是社会相对公平及对女性的保护。在这里有我温馨美满的家庭,再加上儿时曾经梦想的工作。虽没有大富大贵,还是要感恩这一切。为此我放弃了公司内部调动去硅谷分公司的机会,也拒绝了去苹果公司加州总部工作面试的机会。西安是我的故乡,新加坡是我的家。我大抵也只会在这两地长居。

听到有国内的朋友说新加坡有反华亲美之嫌。我只想说,绝大多数国与国之间也只有利益博弈,同时热烈欢迎优秀人才来新加坡代理中国利益,共同建设繁荣全世界华人圈。

往后每年的3月23日,不再仅仅是女儿生日,我会让她知道曾经有一位李爷爷领导建立了这个国家,让她了解海外华人奋斗的历史。还会给她讲她爹这辈子排过最长的队。

4月24日夜于星岛

Vincent’s take on the concerts/shows in 2014

This is backblog keeping. Just to record my personal take of the 2014 concerts/shows before it’s too late..

The Exceptional:
I attended many concerts/shows through the year. Most are good (e.g. many concerts by Singapore Symphony Orchestra ). Some are exceptional or much better than what I had expected.

The second night of the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) in the Esplanade.
World class orchestra playing on form.

Orchestra of the Music Makers playing “Planets” in the Esplanade
This was my first time hearing “Planets” live. The orchestra simply out did themselves again. I really look forward to their Mahler symphony No.8 concert this year.

A Dream Like A Dream in Esplanade theater
This play changed the definition of a play to me, full stop.

Cameron Carpenter organ recital in Segerstrom Concert Hall, Orange County, CA, US.
Before the concert, the only thing I knew about him was his almost rebellious dress as an organist. However the way he talked about music in the concert was so sincere and way better than many other organists I heard.

The Disappointing:
Good or bad is subjective. But some are simply disappointing.

Facing Goya
Hype and hype before the start of the poor-line-upped, inaugural Singapore International Arts Festival (SIFA). The musicians from the Singapore Symphony Orchestra had actually done a good job. Unfortunately that’s not enough from saving a disappointing show.
This poorly staged opera tried so hard to present some idea that was much better presented a hundred times in novels, films, etc.. I really regret wasting my time in the otherwise lovely cozy newly renovated Victoria theater.

First night of the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) at the Esplanade
The orchestra just sounded jet lag. An average form SSO would play better than the LSO on that night.

The Mixed Bag

Jordi Savall: Jerusalem
Great music making for sure. Exceptional programme and presentation. However, the use of loudspeaker killed the pure beauty of acoustic experience. Did the organizer know that the Esplanade concert hall is capable of producing a better experience?

The Ugly

Israel Philharmonic performing in Marina Bay Sands MasterCard Theatres.
Normally I would not comment on concerts I didn’t attend. But this one is out right kidding.
The organizer put an excellent orchestra into a good example of failed acoustic venue in a glittering shopping mall. What a waste! I am so glad I didn’t purchase myself a ticket to regret.

A disk read error occurred

My five and half years quad core desktop started giving me a lot of disk errors in the last year.

It was like once a month in the beginning till unbearable once a week.

Some times the harddisk just disappear from the system.

I got A disk read error occurred error when I restarted it. Harddisk SMART Status may show  BAD.

I changed the SATA cable. Didn’t help. Suspect it was my harddisk.

Took the oppotunity to upgrade to a new SSD. Didn’t help either.

Did almost all solutions mentioned in this post, no success.

https://www.raymond.cc/blog/help-a-disk-read-error-occurred-press-ctrlaltdelete-to-restart/

Until recently I realize it might be the SATA socket on the motherboard.

After a few swaps, I found two SATA sockets on my motherboard had gone bad.

Currently my SSD stays stable on SATA 3 on the board for more than a month. Hope it can keep strong until Intel produce something worth upgrading.

Classical recording shopping in Singapore

With the closing down of HMV@313 Someset, I no longer visit any local store for classical music recordings. Instead I now fully rely on online store for physical release, spotify for streaming and of course live concerts for the real thing. I’m not a fan for download.

Just to share my experience on shopping/collecting classical music. I purchase most of my recordings from following sites:

http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk

http://www.mdt.co.uk

http://www.jpc.de

The above three sites have the best shipping rate to Singapore.

Occasionally I would also buy from

http://www.amazon.com

http://www.ebay.com

For physical stores, you can also try shops in Adelphi, there are a few that carry oops release at reasonable price. These shops are serving towards the “audiophile” crowd. I seldom visit for classical new release.

Besides HMV@Marina Square. The other surviving chain store is That CD shop.

http://highsociety.com.sg/wp/?page_id=51

In fact it was transformed to focus on cafe more than on CD. I haven’t tried their food. Maybe next time, as I guess their cafes have a much higher chance surviving than the CD outlets.

Physical recordings have become collection item rather than the main stream music carrier. Nothing wrong with it. You just need to know the trade off.

你的微信耗电也这么令人发指么?

wechat

自打微信升级至5.x后,手机带机时间巨降。原先中度使用,勉强4G待机一天。现在完全没戏,改3G待机都撑不住。换一般app,早卸载了。

在经历一次又一次电池被微信无情耗干的情况下,我终于决定自己动手了。

一个app耗电无非分两种

1. CPU长期被占用,唤醒

2. 3G/4G数据连接一直被占用。

微信是两个都不放过。

一般来说,如果微信在前台运行,耗电也就忍了。不能忍受的是微信后台还巨耗电。

解决方案,

1. 把微信所有提醒功能,没用的插件关闭,自己手动刷。毕竟需要即时联系我的人,不会用微信。

2. 安装 2 Battery 或者 JuiceDefender, 这两个app能阻止其他app后台一直连接数据。

这两项操作完毕,前面提到的第二项耗电基本可以解决,待机应该有不小提高。

如果想进一步降低微信后台CPU占用,唤醒,就比较费事。

Android 系统支持完全的多任务,后台app可以用wakelock来推迟CPU进入深度睡眠,来完成一些任务。如果app设计得当,完全没问题。但是一些垃圾app, 有事没事发wakelock。你想象一下,半夜每几分钟被人推醒一次的感受。

微信因为某些原因,采取了令人发指的后台自启动,唤醒CPU设计。即使把所有更新都关掉也一样。不管你有没有root,安装 BetterBatteryStatus 或者 Wakelock Detector,你就可以看到微信WeChat的唤醒次数。

既然问题根源在这里,那只有杀进程了。实在是被逼无奈。一般情况,Android系统并不需要杀进程,流氓软件除外。一般遇到流氓软件,最好的办法也不是杀进程而是卸载。微信,好好一个app,非得学流氓软件,就不能学学Whatsapp。

于是我用Advanced Task Manager 每10分钟杀一次WeChat进程。实际上每次杀WeChat,它会自启动,所以必须反复杀。但间隔太短也不行,毕竟杀进程本身就要占用CPU。

各位还有别的招么?

行文至此,我也已经无奈了,同时更新微信至5.3看看有没有变化。

Update: 貌似5.3改变了不小,有待继续观察 

Spotify user report in Singapore

Have been using Spotify as my main streaming service for both classical and pop/rock/indie music for a while. Just like to share with you my experience here. And you can judge whether you wanna give it a try or even pay for it. I’m not going into discussion how spotfiy is paying the musicians here.

This report is based on both PC and Android versions.

Pros:
1. One of the biggest streaming provider, legal, free (at least for basic service).
2. PC version is totally user friendly.
3. The premium account charge of $10 per month is also reasonable. I’m assuming you would agree that one month of music streaming service should be more valuable than two cups of mediocre Starbucks coffee.

Cons:
Mobile version still lacks some key feature.
1. For free account, you can only shuffle play a playlist. If the playlist contains only a few tracks (e.g. a symphony), spotfiy will insert other tracks they think you would like (so far i find their recommendation pretty poor..)

Some smart guy would suggest use the skip button for this. The spotify guys are not dumb either. They set a 6 skips per hour rule on the free mobile account.

I know you’ll be really be pissed off when you were listening to some great rock, suddenly one of the “boring” Bach’s cantatas was inserted (this is purely fictional, I have not experienced classical inserted into pop/rock listening session. Btw, isn’t that a good way to raise the awareness of classical music?)
Vice vesa, when you were listening to the St. Matthew’s Passion, you will certainly be annoyed when some crap pop popped up.

2. Another key feature lacking in mobile app is that there is no way to find out which musicians you are following. Everytime you need to search the entire spotify database.

Update: this has been rectified in the latest version.

3. Apart from that, when data connection lost, you can’t playback the cached tracks you just listened. I find this more useful feature than having to preload the offline tracks.

Miscs:

Spotify uses Ogg Vorbis as encoding format, which is a fine choice. Even though it is not as great as what I would like to have DTS Headphone:X. (Disclaimer: I work for DTS.)

Another thing I really hope Spotify could do is to launch their premium service together with Singtel. Such that the data charge can be free or at least much more than the plan package quota. I feel my 3GB monthly quota not able to keep up if I were to use Spotify as my sole mobile music service. I know that would mean Singtel have to kill their own AMPed which I have yet heard a good report.

Before all these being fixed, I’ll be still paying my naxos.com subscription, they’re even cheaper than spotify and also cover a pretty wide repertoire for classical music.

Darkness in Light

Last Friday, I attended a concert by Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) in esplanade concert hall. The title of this post actually comes from the concert.

It is also the name of the violin concerto composed by Finnish composer Sebastian Fagerlund.

One interesting fact of the concert is that, this was the first time I heard both the conductor and soloist performed in the orchestra (besides conducting and playing as a soloist). Conductor Vanska played clarinet in the opening piece, while violinist Pekka Kuusisto joined in the violin section in the second half.

The concert openned with Dvorak’s Serenade in D minor, which is certainly not a standard piece in concert programme. In fact, this was the first time I heard it. It’s always good to hear some thing new. But to be honest, I find the color tone a bit strange. Most of the time, oboe was the only instrument on high register, and sounded floating out of the otherwise bass dominated ensemble (bassoon, horn, cello, double bass).

The Asian premiere of Fagerlund’s Violin Concerto turned out to be a rather interesting piece. I particular like the slow movement. There happens to be a great recording on youtube by Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the same soloist Friday, Pekka Kuusisto. You can find out yourself here.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMAkBHqnJ6A  part 2

The main attraction of the concert for me was Sibelius’ Symphony No.5 in the second half. Having heard both Vanska’s recordings with Lahti Symphony and Minnesota Orchestra on BIS label. I was eager to find out how it worked out with SSO. The performance sounded generally fine, apart from some minor late entry of section in the beginning. I would also like the woodwind sounded a bit “colder” or more distinct from the string section. This is Scandinavian music, right?
The audience broke into applause after the first movement. You can tell this applause was sincere rather than inappropriate.

On my way back home, I chatted with my friend in SSO who played in the concert just now. When I told him Vanska just resigned from Minnesota Orchestra, which has locked out its musicians and cancelled the entire 2012-2013 season and ongoing. His reply was rather simple and true: whenever economy worsen, arts suffer the first.

When most people had to make a choice between bread and music, the answer would be apparent. Even though I skipped my dinner for the concert, I have to make sure my family were well fed. I play my part in supporting the music community by purchasing music live or recorded, from rock/pop to classical. Over the past 10+ years, the money I spend on music can easily pay me a car, say Volkswagen Golf (not in Singapore with the current COE..). However most people today expect music to be free. Many artists were forced to become “entertainer” and many many f**king boring “artists” jumped on to the stage to “entertain” the mindless audience.

I guess I should stop here. This is Darkness in light, happening now in this world we’re living in. If you were not yet bored with what I wrote here, read on what happened to Minnesota Orchestra and listen to the swan song of the Minnesota Orchestra. I hope this never happen to the city where I choose to live.