Diablo III: Reaper of Souls

Diablo III has teased their next expansion, Reaper of Souls. It’s an important addition to the D3 universe, as frankly Diablo III was their weakest new game in a long time. The grinding is simply too much for most people and there’s only so much value you can squeeze out of that mechanism before it gets way too old for anyone who has a life outside the game. I think there’s much to look forward to here with the loot drop improvement, a whole new act, and the new character, The Crusader. All in all, I hope this will be a positive change for Diablo III and will most definitely be trying to get a copy of this game come launch day.

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Plants vs Zombies 2

Those of you out there who haven’t played Plants vs Zombies, well now’s the time to try! Plants vs Zombies 2 is out and it’s a pretty great addition to the PvZ series. PvZ2 is completely free to play but you can opt to purchase additions and power ups to your arsenal if you are so inclined. But so far, I have been playing entirely without paying a cent and the game is still highly compelling, and brings all the basic awesome elements of PVZ but adding additional plants and zombies, and interesting gameplay elements like power ups for your plants called Plant Food. 

All in all it’s a fascinating game made even better, and seeing as it is now free to play, you have absolutely no reason not to get on board now!

Check out The Verge’s review of the game here

Windows 8.1 Coming Soon

Well, it was bound to happen, but Microsoft has announced the upcoming availability of Windows 8.1. The date that this is all happening is 17th October 2013 at 7:00pm Singapore time. For those of you who already own a copy of Windows 8, the update will be free. 

The updated version of Windows 8.1 will also be available at retail on the 18th of October, as well as on computers that you buy at retail come 18th October.

As Windows 8 has been universally panned *well almost, I don’t really get what the big fuss is about*, many have been looking forward to this latest update, which will bring among other improvements, the return of the Start Button. This development would probably provide most systems builders a collective sigh of relief, and may just be the push to get people to upgrade their computers from good ol’ Windows XP/Vista/7 to the latest and greatest version of Windows.

Food

In a follow up post based on my friend’s travels around Singapore, I talk about food, specifically food in Singapore, and the different approaches people take to local food.

My brother had heavily criticised me for my approach to introducing Hayley to our Singapore food scene. He said that I was doing her a disservice by not taking her to eat at hawker centres, and other “authentic” food joints. For me it was largely a practical decision, most of the days when we were out and about eating, I wasn’t really dressed for a messy meal of crab.

But that does raise an interesting question. What is “authentic Singapore food”? Yes, we do have some local dishes we call authentic, but we cannot deny that we have also built up a diverse and interesting food scene in Singapore, one that not only encompasses food from all over the world, but also at various price points for almost all audiences. For me personally, I am not sure that having chicken rice at a hawker centre automatically makes it more authentic than having a bowl of chicken rice at the Chatterbox at the Mandarin Hotel. There are those out there who will chop my head off for even suggesting that the Chatterbox is in any way on par with the hawker experience, especially one that is from the more well known chicken rice places, but the restaurant does a roaring trade selling chicken rice and anyone who has tried Chatterbox chicken rice would know that it’s a very well made plate of food.

Furthermore, who is to say that the French, Mexican, Italian, Japanese etc. restaurants are not as integral a part of our local food scene today, as our chicken rice, or curry. It’s part of the diverse and beautiful melange that makes eating in Singapore so exciting. Coming back from London, where no one would ever tell you that to eat authentically in the UK is to only stick to fish and chips and shepard’s pie, why can’t we look at a well made authentic Mexican burrito, or a durian souffle at Bistro DB, or Black Pepper Prawn Pasta by Violet Oon and say that yes, these dishes all are in fact part of Singapore’s food culture? We are just as comfortable with a bowl of Penne al Ragu, as we are some chilli crab, so why don’t we celebrate it?

There is a sort of patrician attitude towards food that is ultimately doing a disservice to our food culture. I use that word deliberately, because I do not believe we should put our local food culture on a pedestal, that hawker food should be cheap and “mass market”, whilst our “imported” food should be silo’d away for only the hippest, trendiest and therefore wealthiest to afford. It’s wrong and possibly one of the reasons today why people simply are not attracted to the F&B business unless it’s hipster, or au courant.

For the record: I took Hayley to have Popiah at My Cozy Corner, Durian from my Aunty’s dealer, Chicken Rice at NUSS (maybe not the best decision I made), Ramen at Menya Musashi, Burritos at Muchachos, followed by drinks at The Library, a Banh Mi at Nam Nam, Chicken Curry at my fiancee’s house, and Kaya Toast at ToastBox.

Also – Happy National Day. I know things have been a bit rough lately, Singapore, but I still love you and all that you mean to me and mine.

Being a Tourist in your own Country

Many people complain that Singapore is a terribly boring place. But my recent travels around Singapore with my friend, Hayley, who was here for a week was enlightening. We had lots of work to do, so we were only able to join Hayley for a few days out of the seven. But there were some  highlights from our time together.

Keong Saik Street

On Hayley’s last day in Singapore, we took her to Keong Saik street, and had dinner at Muchachos, it was not only absolutely delicious, but the staff there are knowledgable about their product and just all round fun people to be around. After a hearty dinner, we slipped into the Library, the uber exclusive barber cum speakeasy, that serves up mean drinks, handsome barkeeps and a sexy ambience. All very fun and not something you’d expect of Singapore at all.

Night Safari/River Safari

It’s very easy to forget that Singapore has one of the best Zoos in the world. The sights and sounds found at the River Safari and Night Safari rival that of some very fancy theme parks, and the entire experience is very slick and fun.

The Singapore Botanic Gardens

Although the Botanic Gardens are beautiful in and of itself, but the exhibits within it are really quite interesting. If you have never visited the Singapore Orchid Garden, it is most definitely worth a visit. Orchids as such an integral part of the Singapore story, and is such a fun trip to make in the day.

Be sure to look out for my next post on food in Singapore coming soon!

A different National Day

I’m not sure I entirely agree with this author’s perspectives. Not because I believe or feel that Singapore’s government has done a great job, but because it seems to ignore the fact that life is not easy for a government anywhere anymore. No longer is it enough to be good, you must be unique, different, innovative, talented, and a whole list of attributes that are just plain hard to come by. To cap it all off, you have to protect freedoms, but maintain security, to be uncorrupt, but also deliver cheap, and efficient services to all. The thing is, these are problems facing all governments, and all governments have faced and will continue to face these problems. I do not deny that the government may have taken some misteps, or that the old paternalistic instincts have completely died away, but to expect perfection is the height of cynicism.

Maybe it’s because of my optimism, or at least my plain refusal to see everything as bleak, but to be cynical about our prospects is hardly a great starting point for any future government either, be they the same as our current administration, or one run by any other party. Wouldn’t the bar be set impossibly high for them as well? Wouldn’t they be expected to solve all that ails us immediately? Who is to say that some other party can or will be less authoritarian, or more able to face the challenges of an aging population. Maybe the time has come for a bit more optimism, and hope for the future.

ndp

It is 4 days to Singapore’s 48th National Day. Unlike other years, however, this year’s occasion seems to be different. There is a palpable sense of … disinterest among Singaporeans. A walk around the neighbourhood and observations made elsewhere around Singapore show that fewer households have put up the national flag this year. Of course, this does not mean that Singaporeans do not feel anything for the country – but it does raise the question of whether they indeed do.

I recall earlier years when my block of flats, for example, was decked out in flags, and this was not because of any “coercion” by grassroots members. I know friends who personally went out to buy the flag to hang at their balcony. Besides, it was not only about hanging the flag which gave you the buzz that Singaporeans were excited by the nation’s birthday. It was also the chatter…

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Cook a Pot of Curry

So I watched Cook a Pot of Curry on the 14th of July, Alfian Sa’at’s new play presented at LaSalle’s theatre. It was a fascinating piece of theater. It is not a play in any sense of the word, there is no plot, merely a unifying theme, that of the immigrant in Singapore. Mr. Sa’at tackles various perspectives in this piece, with various actors and actresses playing various roles, espousing their unique takes and views on the immigration issue. Several stand-out performances are to be had, and it is a high energy and highly political piece, with uncomfortable truths exposed at several turns.

Ultimately, one might say however, as useful and interesting as this piece may be, Sa’at’s piece falls just that bit short. He is ultimately “conventional” in the sense that a lot of the views he tosses out in this piece aren’t exactly new or unheard of. They are presented luridly, and stylishly, but fail to challenge the viewer. A part of me wonders if this is because the piece only works if we were to trust the neutrality of the “selector” of these extracts, or if Mr. Sa’at is trying to reflect reality as best as he can. I cannot say I did not enjoy my time at the theatre nor had he failed to challenge me, but I do wish, he had taken some of these POV moments further, and challenged us further. Many of his more cutting commentaries were met with applause and laughter, when I felt they should have been met with silence, for the audience should feel shame, and guilt for letting themselves take these very serious problems so lightly.

But my opinion is clearly in the minority. Cook a Pot of Curry is a fascinating work of art, deserving of the attention of any Singaporean at all concerned about the issues and problems faced by our country’s growing population, and the closely linked issue of immigrants in our midst.