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mypaper Executive Look 2011 Finalists' Profiles


Me and my Tech Toys

April 26th, 2011 Keith Tan

I have always had a passion and fascination for computers and gadgets, to the point where I can spend hours in Sim Lim Square and Sim Lim Tower and not feel bored. Even when I travel overseas, I usually make it a point to visit the districts where the locals go for their IT stuff and check out the prices for similar items available back in Singapore. I am literally a walking price list and can rattle off an estimate of the price of most Personal Computer (PC) components.

Yes, I’m actually a closet geek.

Most of my friends benefit from this passion of mine though, and I have helped “save the day” for some of my less tech savvy friends who more often than not, gladly offload their IT problems to me where I gleefully go about fixing it. I am sure some of you had computers die on you and panic over the lost of data. Well, that’s an example of the “day saving” that I have been thanked with. I have even been termed as the “computer man”. LOL.

One of the things I really love doing is putting together a PC, and to date, I have assembled quite a few for myself and my friends.

Let me share some of these “toys” I have lovingly put together =)

My very own desktop

My very own desktop

This is what sits on my table

This is what sits on my table

Added LEDs to my monitor shelf for the ominous red glow

Added LEDs to my monitor shelf for the ominous red glow

An old computer casing that I attempted to refurbish

An old computer casing that I attempted to refurbish

Side view of the old computer casing

Side view of the old computer casing

Good as new after powdercoating and a paint job =)

Good as new after powdercoating and a paint job =)

Friend's PC that I helped assemble

Friend's PC that I helped assemble

The goal is to try and make the cables look as neat as possible

The goal is to try and make the cables look as neat as possible

Here's another one that I assembled

Here's another one that I assembled

Another friend's PC

Other than computers, I love my gadgets and these are some of the peripherals that I got over the years…

A steering wheel set for racing games...

A steering wheel set for racing games...

... and arcade sticks for a round of Street Fighter duel with friends =)

... and arcade sticks for a round of Street Fighter duel with friends =)

A while back, I discovered mechanical keyboards and because there were different types, my innate curiosity spurred me to get a few to try, afterall, I do spend quite a bit of time typing on a keyboard and some keyboards are more comfortable to type on than others.

So these were the loot I acquired…

Keyboard galore!

Keyboard galore!

Who says you can't have a white keyboard too?

Who says you can't have a white keyboard too?

I guess you probably now know why my friends look for me whenever they have any IT related questions =)

Tales of Ho Chi Minh – Art in the City

April 26th, 2011 Keith Tan

Part of my work involves travel, where I get involved in project implementations on-site at my client’s premises. My company is a provider of financial services technology in the areas of Payments, Processing Services, Risk & Compliance, Customer & Channel Management and Insights & Optimization. And my trip to Ho Chi Minh was to aid in the implementation of a new system for a bank there.

I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel since I first started off in my career 4 years ago, I remember my first day at work was at Brussels (back then I was with a different company) and I was so excited being in a different country, learning new things and also realizing how fortunate I was to start off my working life quite differently from most of my peers. The experience of having to stay aboard for months at different countries was an important lesson in self-discovery and street smarts for me. Looking back, that was probably a major milestone of my life for that helped shaped me into who I am today.
When I am not travelling, my day to day work routine involves providing application and systems support to my clients as a vendor. What I enjoy most about my job is the interaction that I get with my clients, of understanding their needs and providing solutions that, over time, strengthens my relationship with them.

I have never been to Vietnam before and I find the people there friendly and sincere. One of the staff members I work with at the bank offered to give me a lift on his scooter so that I could buy a 3G data SIM card for my iPad. One of the things that I typically do when I travel overseas now is to buy a prepaid local 3G data SIM card which I then use in the iPad to get access to Google Maps and the Internet. I literally have information at my fingertips and coupled with the convenience of having a digital map, I can easily explore a city like a local (of course it’s harder when foreign languages are involved…).

The scooter ride was the second time I have rode pillion on a two-wheeled vehicle in my life.

Finally got to wear one of them fancy "caps"

One of the things that I have always wanted to do after getting my driving licence is to learn how to ride a motorbike, which I am hoping to get started on my lessons later this year. It is unlikely that I will ride a motorbike given the higher risk involved compared to driving a car, but I reckon learning how to ride one is better than not knowing how to.

I took art lessons when I was a child and I learned to appreciate paintings and drawings, thanks to my parents who did their best to give me an all-rounded education. I do doodle in my free time and also make my own greeting cards to friends. Anyway, there are plenty of art galleries in Ho Chi Minh and I was fortunate to stumble into one where the owner was really friendly and patient. I was looking to buy a painting and while browsing the shop (which is actually a shop house where he lived), I asked him about the local clubbing scene (night time is the only time I got to wander around after work). I also asked if he did his own paintings as well, to which he proudly proclaimed that if I provided him with a photo of someone dear, he could paint a portrait for me within a week.

His art gallery was the most unique one I came across, while the rest were all air-conditioned and nicely furnished, his came across as more “arty” and cosy. He was kind enough to allow me to take some photos of his gallery shop.

Art Gallery Shop house top floor

Art Gallery Shop House Stairs

Art Gallery Shop House Stair landing

Art Gallery Shop House Ground floor

One of my favorite paintings

One of my favorite paintings

Me and Shop Owner, Nguyen Thanh Nhan

Me and Shop Owner, Nguyen Thanh Nhan

What do you think?

If you would like to pay a visit to his art gallery which he calls “Gallery Art VANGOGH”, the address is:
1 Nguyen Thiep Street – District 1 – HCMC

Tales of Ho Chi Minh – The Traffic

April 21st, 2011 Keith Tan
Ok, here’s my long overdue story about my experience of the traffic in Ho Chi Minh, I have had a great past few weeks and it’s good to finally do some blogging. I hope your week’s been great so far too! The long weekend’s almost upon us =)

When I first arrived in Ho Chi Minh with my colleagues, they were sharing with me about how the motorists are like and their fascination with the way people crossed the roads. Just for information, the cars there are all left-hand drive and majority of the road users are motorcyclists. Scooters, rather than motorbikes, are the preferred mode of transport largely because the average road speed is about 10-30km/h, and a scooter has an automatic transmission, so no manual gear change is required unlike a motorbike.

Most motorcyclists wear helmets, but they are largely for aesthetic reasons, take a look at the photos below and you will see why…

Typical street scene in Ho Chi Minh

Back view of the helmets most Vietnamese use

Every dog has its day

Every dog has its day

They all look like they are wearing caps don’t they? And some people really take the effort to decorate and customise their helmets, so you will see some “bling bling” ones whereas some are designed to match what they are wearing. I suspect some even have mulitple helmets just to match their clothes, just like how ladies buy different shoes to match their outfits ;-)

What we were really fascinated about was the way the locals crossed the roads, especially the major roads. There aren’t many traffic lights in Ho Chi Minh and even if there were, motorists don’t seem to stop on a red light at times. Traffic lights seem to serve more as a guideline.

So, the major roads typically have a constant flow of scooters and motorbikes passing through and during peak hours, the traffic thickens and you’ll see hordes of scooters whizzing past.

To the uninitiated, it would seem impossible to cross to the other side with no traffic lights (by the way, they do have zebra crossings but motorists never seem to stop when there’s a pedestrain waiting to cross). However, there’s a trick to it. All you need to do is just….. cross the road!

A colleauge of mine showed us a video clip that he took of a local crossing a busy roundabout during midday. That guy just stepped out into the traffic, sauntered across leisurely, and we could literally see the scooters and motorbikes moving to avoid him as they approached. He eventually got to the other side unharmed and the flow of traffic continued uninterrupted as if nothing even happened. There was no angry blare of horns at the pedestrain, no middle fingers pointed, no swearing. It was really quite a sight!

Having been inspired by that clip, I decided to test out that road crossing theory… take a look at the video below =)

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt

Amazing huh? I can’t help but be fascinated by this whole road crossing idea. If you noticed in the video, I was using the zebra crossing but they are more like decorations on the road.

The idea is to guage the speed of the oncoming scooters and motorbikes, obviously don’t cross the road when the vehicles are travelling too fast to stop or slow down in time, and then just walk across the road and be predictable in your crossing. Meaning no sudden dashing across or stopping, and the motorists will just slow down and avoid you accordingly. Also, I don’t think it’s a good idea to attempt to cross in front of a bus!

Well, I hope you enjoyed reading this entry as much as I had writing it. I’ll be writing another entry about my other experiences in Ho Chi Minh, so stay linked!

Keith

A smile today

April 11th, 2011 Keith Tan

Hi readers!

I’m back in Singapore after my trip to Ho Chi Minh and I thought I’ll share an interesting thing that happened to me this morning on my way to work.

Every morning, I usually take a shuttle bus from my place to ORQ (One Raffles Quay) to work, and that’s where I usually pick up a copy of my paper (which happens to be the only free bilingual newspaper in Singapore and where I get my daily dose of new chinese words in an attempt to brush up my mandarin =P).

So, I just happened to be reading the article (page A17 if you’re keen to have a read *wink*) written by Victoria Barker from my paper about the Business Efficiency class that I attended with the rest of the finalists, when a guy came up to me and asked “Is that you in that picture?”


Candid shots with HTC Windows Phone 7 Smartphone

Candid shots with HTC Windows Phone 7 Smartphone

You can also read the article here.


It was a really nice surprise for me as I wasn’t expecting anyone to recognise me, afterall, I think I do look a little different in person compared to my photos in the photoshoot.

We had a pleasant conversation and he introduced me to his friend when she boarded the bus at the next bus stop, very enthusiastically pointing me out in the papers to her. I felt really flattered and at the same time, a little self-conscious. Nonetheless, my encounter with them and our subsequent conversation really made my day.

(Nick and Denise, you both are awesome and I am really delighted to have met you both. What’s amazing is that we even have mutual friends!)

So, if you happen to see any of us 16 finalists on the streets, or on the bus or MRT, and if you would like to say hi, just give us a wave, who knows? The day may turn out quite interesting afterall =)


By the way, the voting segment for the my paper Executive Look 2011 Reader’s Choice Award is now open.

Now you can vote for your favourites at this link: http://executivelook.mypaper.sg/2011/vote/

The closing date for the voting contest is 27 April 2011 3pm and you can vote up to 3 times per day.

So, flood my paper’s website with your votes and if I may humbly ask, do vote for me too! *grinz*

Have a great day!
Keith

Fun times

April 5th, 2011 Keith Tan

Had a really great time with my friends from the mypaper Executive Look last Friday (April Fool’s day) where we had a KTV session. It was really great seeing everyone letting loose and singing their hearts and lungs out.

Do you know that Amos and Stanley are really good singers? I think collectively, they melted all the girls’ hearts that night. Christine and Jeanne are our very own rocker chicks and boy, did they bring the house down. There was a moment when the karoke system in our room went totally unresponsive (for about 30 secs) after they both sang a rock number. Fiona could even hear them singing “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga all the way at the front entrance when she was on her way in, that was how much we were enjoying ourselves!

 
Smile
All good
Amos & Stanley
Us all
Oh, and we caught the Singapore Entertainment Awards 2011 together too on Saturday! (Big thanks to Angelia for the tixs)
Indoor Stadium - Singapore Entertainment Awards 2011
At Singapore Entertainment Awards 2011

Well, that was a quick update on what we have been up to… I am currently in Ho Chi Minh for a business trip, it’s my first time here and my first impression of this city is that it’s like a mix of Jakarta, Bangkok (traffic conditions) and Taipei (the hordes of motocycles that ply the streets). The cars here are left-hand drive and motorcycles are the dominant form of transport… they are EVERYWHERE! (on roads, on pavements and on riverboats..)

Drivers and motorcyclists toot their horns frequently to warn others of their approach, if you stand out in the streets you can literally hear the hustle and bustle of the city both day and night. Apparently the traffic here is quite an eye opener, stay tuned as I share more about it in my next blog entry =)

 
 

P.S. Thanks Stanley for sending me your personalised travel guide =)

Keith

Lion King the musical

March 31st, 2011 Keith Tan

View of Marina Bay Sands from The Promenade

View of Marina Bay Sands from The Promenade

Caught Lion King the musical with Jun on Wednesday at the Marina Bay Sands Theatre, which also happened to be my first time at Marina Bay Sands. Yes, I know, you’re probably wondering where have I been all this while right? I’ve been around… just not there ;-)

I thought Marina Bay Sands looks really nice and very upmarket, saw a couple rowing a Gondola in a man-made “river” as well as an ice skating rink right beside the food court. I guess the skaters are meant to provide entertainment to the diners there?

We caught Lion King at The Sands Theatre and I thought the mirrors added a certain touch of class to the place. Here are some of the photos I took:

At the Sands Theatre

At the Sands Theatre

Sands Theatre

In the Sands Theatre

In the Sands Theatre

Jun and I

Jun and I

It was also my first time watching Lion King in a musical and I must say that I was impressed with the way the actors and actresses transformed themselves into “animals”. This was done by strapping on animal shaped limbs onto their arms and legs, over a costume they wore and adopting the gait of the animal they were portraying as they pranced and prowled around the stage.

There were a few ingenious mechanical contraptions that simulated a herd of animals running as the device was pushed across the stage, but most impressive of all, in my opinion, was the one of a HUUUGE elephant which almost reached the ceiling at its full height. There were 4 people in that elephant prop which appeared to be made of cloth wrapped around a flexible wire frame. Very creative!

Lion King (the dad, not the cub) has a really deep and rich voice and the colors, music and visual display of choreographed movements held my attention for a good two and a half hours. I guess one unique aspect of the musical shown here was that the producers localised it. There was some usage of singlish and mandarin like “Don’t worry lah!”, “Obiang” and “对不起” but it was all very very minimal and provided comic relief to the ongoing dialogue between the characters.

Overall, I enjoyed the musical and I do think it is entertaining enough to hold the attention of children, there were a number of children in the audience too.

Well, I hope you enjoyed reading this entry, feel free to ask anything about the musical via the comments feature of this blog =)

Meanwhile…

Me

Have a great day ahead!

Simply… Keith

March 30th, 2011 Keith Tan
You know, it’s interesting how a simple turn of events can lead to a whole new journey in life.

Many times when people travel, they take a planned, thought out route. Every once in a while, an unexpected alternative path appears, and we sometimes wonder “what if?”. Well, this is one such occasion for me.

It was a Wednesday and Raffles Place was bustling with the usual lunch crowd. I was waiting for a friend around Chevron House when I got approached by a member from the mypaper executive look street hunt to join this contest. I initially had some reservations but thought “why not try something really different?”. Thinking back, I’m glad I took this unexpected path.

It’s been really fun getting to know the rest of the contestants and the mix of personalities really makes our interactions so spontaneous and hilarous.Do take a look at their blogs to get to know a little about them as well =)

So, here I am, a guy who takes delight in a good book, hanging out with friends and always ready for a new adventure.

Stay linked, as I share more about this journey in the coming days.

Yours,
Keith

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