Sunday, 15 December 2013

christmas decoration at the workplace

I'd originally wrote up this ranting entry on how I wish people would put up Christmas decoration properly in the office, about how nothing is sadder than tinsel randomly draped over dying office plants or sticky-taped to cubicle walls and falling down constantly through the month.

But then I thought it wasn't very Christmas-y of me to do that. So instead I just wanted to mention one little tip that would hopefully make decorating the office quicker, neater, and overall, more aesthetically pleasing.
(Now I know a lot of veteran decorators out there already know this, so please bear with me)

Instead of using sticky tape, that just looks messy, use these instead:

These things would save you heaps of headache.

Just stick these on your cubicle, on your walls or ceiling, and hang your decorations from them with thread or fishing wire. These hooks would stay fairly hidden (especially behind bunched up tinsel), strong enough so they won't fall in the middle of December, and is easy to remove in January without damaging the wall.

I don't even plan on removing mine. Instead I'll probably hang my Valentines decorations on those hooks in February!

Saturday, 7 December 2013

scrapbooking in asia

Recently I listened to Paperclipping’s episode 185: Scrapbooking in Asia and kudos to Noell for attempting the topic. The episode was very much from the point of Westerners-in-Asia though, so I thought I’d write a post on what my experiences had been with scrapbooking in Asia (or more specifically Hong Kong) as a local.1 2

Space in Hong Kong apartments is very limited, so even if early scrapbooking companies like Creative Memories did try to enter the Hong Kong market (which they did not), they would have found the reception to their space-eating-12x12 albums to be pretty cold.

Hobonichi notebook

So taking that into account, one would begin to realise that scrapbooking in Asia - or more accurately, memory keeping in Asia - would mean something quite different from the large 12x12 or 12x24 layouts that we’re used to seeing in Western cultures. Instead, try to think of memory keeping as something more like Amy Tangerine’s Daybooks, or K&Company’s Smashbooks and you’ll be close.

One of the guests on Paperclipping’s episode mentioned that no one wants to scrapbook with local products because they are just stationery from 40 years ago. Yes, it’s true, there are quite a number of generic stationery stores that have really old stock stashed away in some back corner of the store.

However there are also plenty of small stationery stores tucked away in shopping complexes3 like the Sino Centre or the CTMA centre, that sells cute Japanese or Korean stationery that can be and have been used as mini-scrapbooks.

Sino Centre

picture of Sino Centre
Image source: Princess Rose in CTMA

Big shopping centre franchises like Log-On is also a perfect place to pick up things like washi-tape, moleskine notebooks, or the Midori Traveller’s notebook. Again, think in terms of Daybooks, smashbooks or even travel mini-album.

There is no such thing as a scrapbooking community or scrapbooking industry for Asian scrappers as say, Two Peas. So scrapbooking is not so much a communal thing, but more an individual expression or record keeping. Kind of like art journaling. And because there is no central store of information sharing of what is the latest paper products or art supply, a lot of what memory keeping means depends on the latest technology, design idea or “fad”.

One of the things that would really affect the type of memory keeping would be photography. A few years back, Holga cameras were all the rage, and then there were the instax cameras. Even now the number of instax film styles available in Hong Kong are astounding. Sure some people stick their photos on the walls, but there are instax photo albums around that people fill in like Project Life.

Then most recently there are street photographers in Mongkok, Hong Kong that offers to take photos for you and print them instantly on the street for you.

It is not hard to imagine that services like these encourage people to "scrapbook". Although one thing that's interesting to note is that everything I've talked about so far is targeted towards a younger audience than is usual of the Western scrapbooking community. This is not an exercise that grandmothers or mothers undertake to record their children's lives. This is something that high school or university students do in their spare time.

Scrapbooking in Asia is hardly few and far between, but it is a completely different creature from what scrapbooking is like in Western countries. It is more like a diary or art journal. And it is because of the more personal nature of this type of memory keeping that you would not see blog posts or online galleries showcasing pages upon pages of pretty layouts.

Hopefully this shed some light on the topic. And to sign off on this entry, I want to leave you with this majorly cute video which showcases what Asian scrapbooking looks like. This is actually an ad for a popular brand of yearly planner in Japan.

(Watch the whole video, it's really cute!)

  1. I have attempted to leave a comment on the Paperclipping website, but I think the numerous links to shops and videos in my comment (as you’ll see in my own post) may have killed disqus and my post was completely gone. It wasn’t even in my disqus account when I logged in to see where it went… So that’s another reason why I’m doing the post in my own blog, to avoid that from happening again.
  2. I am not talking about scrapbookers living in Asia who follows the Western style of scrapbooking. I am sure there are some, whether they are expats living in Asia or locals who have found online sources of information like Two Peas. The original podcast topic was about Asian style scrapbooking - or at least it was, and that is what I'm trying to address here. 
  3. I say shopping complex because these buildings are more like a commercial building jam packed with small little stores that you need to navigate your way around. Most of these stores are small and stuffed full from floor to ceiling with merchandise of all shapes and sizes. There are a few Korean stationery stores in Sino Centre that I go visit each time I go back to Hong Kong.

testing out markdown

So the idea is to write a blog post entirely in Markdown and using the webapp stackedit.io1.

I have never written in Markdown before2 but have read a couple of articles online.

I have constantly heard mention of Markdown in productivity blogs, podcasts and even tumblr, but I have to admit that I have never really gotten into it.

I blame this on the official Markdown website. The layout was a bit dry for me and there was way too much text. Something like this primer worked much better for me3.

iOS apps like DayOne Journal supports Markdown (unfortunately it does not have a PC version) and it’ll be interesting to see how many of my current apps would recognise the syntax.

  1. Okay, I lied, I’m using the Notebooks iPhone app as well

  2. Another lie, whilst writing this blogpost I have since written another one about a Kickstarter project I recently backed.

  3. Can I just say, at this point of the article, I am finding Markdown’s simple way of adding URL links to text to be a major time-saver.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

orbitkey - the kickstarter project

If you never heard about kickstarter then I really do suggest checking them out.

Kickstarter is the world’s largest crowdfunding platform. The amount of cool gadgetry and innovative ideas there are astounding. Of course there are some projects there that can be a bit “less polished”, but if you use your common sense you’ll easily see which project is worth backing and which aren’t.

The project that I want to tell you guys about today is Orbitkey.

You wouldn’t know it, looking at the state of my room, but I like my daily carry bag to be quite neat and tidy (if only to make finding things easy). But one thing I could never really tidy up were my keys. Sure, I’ll have them on a keyring, but no matter which pocket in my bag I put them in, the keys always end up poking a hole in it. For men I’m assuming the same is true for your pants or jacket pocket.

Along comes Orbitkey.

make an impression

According to their website, the Orbitkey would keep your keys organised and away from your precious smartphone screens. So no more scratched screens or wallets.

no more scratched screens

And the way they store the keys means that the keys won’t rattle either. Sure, shaking my bag is the way I can quickly determine whether my keys are in the bag in the first place. But if the keys stay in the pocket I put them in (instead of breaking a hole in the lining and swimming in the inner lining of my bag), I wouldn’t need to go deep sea diving to find them.

no more deep sea diving

This project has already reached its monetary goal, so this is a definite go-ahead. There’s only 7 days to go, and for only $24 for the plastic (Active Elastomer) version or $29 for the leather, this would be a great Christmas present.

Leather or Active Elastomer?

The product isn’t due to ship till March but the Orbitkey team has provided a way to print out a Christmas card letting people know that you’ve purchased an Orbitkey for them and that it would be on the way soon.
I’ve personally got one for me and one for the Boy. Can’t wait to get my hands on one.

Images courtesy of kickstarter orbitkey page.
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