Week 5: Habbo Hotel

I remember one of my favourite games online in primary school was… HABBO HOTEL!

It is this virtual hotel where you can mix and mingle with people from all over the world. It’s pretty similar to Second Life. There are many different versions of Habbo Hotel now, varying from Japan to even Singapore. (I tried the Habbo Hotel Japan but I couldn’t understand a single word they were saying)

Back then, I played Habbo Hotel United Kingdom. Being the naive 11 year old me, I was so fascinated and new to creating an online persona for myself; my very own Habbo. I started experimenting with different looks, ranging from the “Gothic”…

To the “Asian woman”…

And then to “I-dont-even-know-what-style-this” is.

I love dressing up in the virtual reality, as I wouldn’t be afraid of being judged by virtual strangers as compared to the real world. In fact, there are many people in there who dress weirdly and boldly. But today, I feel like being a mermaid. And I shall be a mermaid.

Now that I’m happy with the way my Habbo looks, I’m ready to explore Habbo Hotel! Since it is a virtual hotel, users can create their own rooms to express themselves. They can buy chairs, rugs, tables, little miscellaneous objects and even a unicorn to ride on!

One can also buy exclusivity by purchasing the Habbo Club or VIP membership. With these special statuses, one can unlock special clothes, hairdos and furniture to stand out from the sea of normal looking Habbos!

Some users create their rooms based on their own interpretation of a real life location. For instance, the airport where you can take a virtual trip to Hawaii…

A luxurious restaurant where you can take your virtual boyfriend/girlfriend for a date…

And even an indoor swimming pool where you can just laze around and meet new people.

To own such rooms, plenty of Habbo Credits are needed to buy all these things, and they do not come cheap.

A set of 20 virtual credits would mean S$6 in reality. I wouldn’t buy them for sure. Why spend $6 to buy a set of virtual furniture when you can spend $6 on a delicious meal in real life? But you would be amazed by how some people would be willing to spend lots of real life money to invest on their online self.

Online social games are definitely fun to play and explore! Just don’t be too immersed in your online self that you forget who you are in reality.

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Week 4: Online shopping

I love online shopping. I live and breathe online shopping. I feel that ever since I finally noticed the wonders of online shopping, I stopped hitting shopping malls (ok, rarely) and get stuck on my computer screen, scrolling up and down and looking at pretty clothes. I could do it all day, but I can’t.

I have a life.

When I open my wardrobe, I can safely say 80% of my clothes are from my online shopping haul. I love online shopping from overseas sites such as ASOS, forever21, gmarket and the occasional patronage to local blogshops.

What makes online shopping so attractive? Afterall, the long agonizing wait, the troublesome process on certain websites, and the online risks of getting scammed (I got scammed once L Never got my pair of jeans, and lost $50) can be pretty daunting… But I will tell you why.

1)      The crispy smell of envelope from the UK or the states, and that unexplainable exhilaration when you rip open the package.

It’s really based on your luck after that part. If the item matches your expectations, and whatever you saw online before you bought it, GOOD FOR YOU! I AM SO HAPPY FOR YOU! If not… well, just donate it for a good cause. So that’s great, online shopping encourages charity too!!

2)      You don’t need legs. You just need fingers.

YESSS. Perfect for lazy people like me. It’s so low on energy consumption, even though excessive online browsing can make your eyes tired. But really, save your leg energy to run for the buses, or to school if you’re late.

3)      Things just look better… on the screen.
Issit the awesome photoshop skills? Or the perfect lighting? I DONT REALLY CARE. I JUST WANT TO GET THAT BAG RIGHT NOW.  IT LOOKS SMASHING.

4)      You can buy a bunch of stuff at one go and not carry anything! Everything’s shipped to you directly!

 

Hopefully I have convinced you to online shop right. Yes, the agonizing wait…. IS WORTH THE WAIT. But definitely, always be on your guard against potential online scams and risks!

Week 3: How Social Networking saved my life

Two years ago, I interned at a production house as a casting director where I had to source for actors and actresses to act in Channel 8 sex education drama. The first place I hit to get people was, undoubtedly, the best social networking site on earth – FACEBOOK, OF COURSE!

I was initially sceptical about it so I tested the waters by writing my first status to seek help.



3 likes and 45 comments?!? Okay, that spontaneous responses from people was unexpected but pleasant. I had experienced the power of social networking so instantly and was so happy to have this useful tool. I was also excited that I could garner the help of people I have not spoke to for the past few years and just get the information spreading around. Soon, I had a steady stream of friends and acquaintances coming for casting auditions, just solely through Facebook. They were probably curious how it is like acting in front of the cameras and for a Channel 8 drama (furthermore, a SEX EDUCATION drama).

My director, being the pickiest and most anal, needed more choices of people. We needed alot of people as there were many characters to cast for. A rich looking guy, a pimply girl, a sexy looking girl… I crossed my fingers and posted more statuses in Facebook.

 


 

And even went abit (just slighty) overboard with my statuses. But I couldn’t care less – I was a desperate production assistant.

 

In the end, everything went really well due to the power of social networking! I could even connect with people who were friends of my friends to help me with the show production, and then became my friends. I was so thankfu; then to have built a strong foundation of connections in Facebook so that getting help was so much easier. But side tracking a little, here are some photos of the celebrities I took during my internship!

 

 

 

Week 2: I have been victimized

Social media is a topic that has been widely talked about and explored. It is hard not to talk about it. It is not JUST another communication tool; it has infused into many people’s lives and become a part of them. Just like many social media victims, social media is like a permanent mosquito bite planted on my skin. I see this burning red insatiable itch, and as much as I try to ignore it, I feel the urge to scratch it over and over again. I HAVE BEEN VICTIMIZED 😦

 

“You don’t need to see your Twitter. YOU DON’T NEED TO SEE YOUR FACEBOOK! You don’t need them, really.” Is something that I tell myself every day to psych myself out of the chains of social media. Despite such compelling words I use on myself, I fail 99% of the time. My itchy little fingers and subconscious have their way to inch towards my phone or computer to access my social media accounts. I find cheap thrills looking at my friends’ funny personal encounters or photos of their cats, dogs, bunnies and turtles. But what my friends have been up to in their lives, IS IT ANY OF MY BUSINESS?

 

 

The answer is NO. Not at all. But there is indeed something that appeals me to go read their updates…. and that is curiosity. Since I can’t be 24/7 physically there for all of my friends, the only way to keep in contact with them is through such platforms. I love how social media can boost my ego and confidence sometimes. I get the adrenaline rush when I see 5 new updates on my Facebook. My ego ups another notch when I see 10 new ‘likes’ on the photo I just uploaded while I embrace this short lived popularity. It is also exciting for me when my tweets on Twitter get favourited and re-tweeted as I praise myself secretly for my good sense of wit and humour.

 

While my ego can sky rocket with social media, it can go downhill easily too (sadly). Especially when I see my friends’ lives are much more exciting and happening and I compare theirs with my life. Sometimes seeing pictures of friends going for extravagant events and exploring different countries makes me think, “What am I doing with my life?!?!?”

 

I suppose at the end of the day, social media makes me an insecure sloth and I don’t like it at all. Even though we claim to be ‘keeping in contact’ with our friends through social media, but are we really? Or is it an excuse to boast to friends how exciting your life is through photos and statuses so as to reassure your ego?

Week 1: Introduction to Internet

For the past two lessons of Com125, I have learnt about the history and evolution of the internet. It has never occurred to me before (after using the internet for soooooooo many years) how the internet has started. But honestly, the scientific and computer-ish terms that Mr Abel had taught us, still don’t quite register in my brain as my mind doesn’t function in computer codes. However, one thing I do understand, is the IMPACT of internet, and how it has changed millions of lives drastically, including mine.

I remember the first time being exposed to the internet was when I was primary 5, and I only went on the net to play my favourite game then, Neopets (this online virtual pet game).

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The only time I had access to the internet was after my English tuition, for a pathetic 1 hour time frame. Internet then, had to be connected by a special old school dial up wire, which could be quite cumbersome but I never complained. I treasured every single minute of my 1 hour time frame and used it really wisely. 

Fast forward 10 years and here I am, typing my Com125 blog post. The internet now has infinite possibilities. Blogs’ popularity have grown tremendously over the years and people use them to set up online journals and even personal online shopping sites. People can also journal their lives through social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, where they can share their every day life photos and statuses. 

Like everything else, the internet has both its good and bad sides. I feel that we are becoming more and more reliant on technological tools to function in our every day lives, which makes us very lazy (and easily irritable) people. Everything has become so instantaneous now and our lives ride on the fast pace of the internet motorcycle. If anything loads slower than 6 seconds, our patience snaps and we deem it slow. We hardly make trips to the library to do research anymore as information is just a click away on Google. Who needs the old school road directory when we can type our destination in our GPS and it brings us to places. We don’t even need to use much of our brain capacity to keep intimate memories now – the internet helps us store them and we can retrieve them easily on our social networking sites.

Thus, I don’t really know whether I should thank the people who built the internet. I am not sure if I like the fast pace of life (and it will only get faster in the future) and how technology absorbed our society has become. We don’t observe strangers on public transports anymore as we dabble in our gadgets. We are slowly becoming oblivious to our surroundings. And these are my two cents worth on this week’s Com125 introduction to internet, till then. 🙂

Mass Media on the move

I was on my way to school, happily listening to the morning news on the radio one day. And then, I got to know about Steve Job’s death. My heart sank. I quickly went to double check the news on Twitter, and it was indeed true as tweets from credible sources like BBC, Time Magazine and Straits Times start flooding my twitter homepage. 😦

Oh well. (awkward silence)

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But ANYWAY, today’s post has got nothing to do with him. It just suddenly hit me that we are not as reliant on the newspapers for current affairs and news as before.

The evolutionary of Mass Media reminds me of take-out food. We can have the food and eat it wherever we want to. Mass media is no longer restricted to just television and print publication, it is getting more readily available on gadgets like the Iphone and the Ipad.

Reading the news on an Ipad is so much more refined than flipping the newspapers on the train. And why do I say that? Because I’ve newspaper flipped in my face before, by inconsiderate people who can still forcefully read the newspapers on a crowded train.

Aside from news, you can read magazines on the Ipad too! Time, Vanity Fair, Elle, Maxim, Popular Science, GQ, Zinio… You want it, you can have it.

Books are also available in digital format and one gadget that supports that is, the amazing Amazon Kindle. You can download several books and fit into a sleek and thin body. That would really lighten the weight in your bag. 😉 But sadly, e-books are not my cup of tea as I really enjoy flipping through the crisp pages of a magazine and reading a thick book (it makes me feel intelligent). But I guess Iwould not mind getting an Ipad to read the news on the train like a demure lady.

Besides gadgets, social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook provide us great insight on what’s happening around the world. For instance, I gained better understanding of the Japan’s earthquake through my Japanese friend’s facebook updates and the Mexico’s swine flu attack back in 2009 through my Mexican friend’s twitter statuses.

In a local context, we also get our latest scoops and news through our friends’ random ramblings. I remember the time when Singapore’s Orchard road was hit by a flood and everyone was tweeting about it. Sharing of information through social networking sites not only bonds people, but also educates them.

The evolutionary of mass media definitely makes me excited for the future and I wonder what great and new inventions await us!

Exciting work cultures in the world!

Scooters scooting around the office and a game of ping pong after lunch at work are definitely not common sights of the working environment here in Singapore. However, they are, at certain workplaces in the Western countries.

Culture plays a big role in a workplace, as it determines whether people would fit in a company. When I think of the word “work”, the first few things that came into my mind were: “tiring, difficult and can sometimes be boring and rigid.” Some companies practise individualism, where everyone only cares about themselves. The competitiveness and individualism culture in certain companies are probably one of few the reasons why many people hate their job.

I don’t want to be like one of those who dread going to work. I want to find a job that I look forward to going to every day. That is why I was so psyched to watch “Extreme Workplace” on television one day!

“Extreme Workplace” showcases extreme workplaces around the world and I thought it was refreshing to work at such fun and quirky places. One of the top 100 workplaces to work at is undoubtedly, Google.



Their culture is so welfare-oriented in a sense that employees’ needs and wants can be fulfilled at any instant at their workplace. There are 11 gourmet food joints providing employees an array of food choices that can satisfy any of their cravings. Back massages are provided if they are feeling tired. There are even Google doctors, to nurse employee back to health.




(Discussion rooms in Google)
Google’s collectivism culture has few rooms for solo offices as it encourages interactivity and discussion among their employees with their sharing cubes, yurts and huddle rooms. Adding on to the many facilities Google has, they also have Foosball, pool tables, volleyball courts, assorted video games, pianos, ping pong tables, and gyms that offer yoga and dance classes. Did I mention that everything is free?

Another extreme workplace would be Wonderfactory, an advertising company in New York City.  Their quirky work culture promotes creativity juices in employees. The quirkiness extends to their office layout, with hidden secret rooms and beautiful office decor. One thing really caught my attention was that one would have to pull the tassel (the golden string thing) to get into the office.


By pulling the tassel, the shelves would move and show the way to their office. How cool is that?!



There are also other hidden secret rooms around the office that has different themes to it. Their culture definitely inspires employees to go beyond their imagination and come up with great and fresh ideas. Wonderfactory also has games like Rockband, for employees to rest and have a little fun from work.


(Different themes at Wonderfactory)

After watching Extreme Workplaces, I can’t help but feel extremely envious of the workers working at these places. Although the cultures of these workplaces motivate employees to go to work, one boggling question in my mind would be: upon reaching work, what happens if these employees take all these privileges for granted and start to slack off from work?