If you read my previous post, you would have known that I made my very own DIY, bespoke, booksafe case for my iPad. I ended the post wondering how I was going to glue the pages together, so that they did not flap about. Also, while the iPad fit in the hollowed-out portion, I did not have much confidence that it would stay in place while the pages were loose.

Thus began the journey of finding the best way to glue the pages together. Ben (not Kenobi) at Carrypad suggested using Elmer’s Rubber Cement on the inside and outside edges. For starters, I wasn’t sure where to get Rubber Cement, and if it was even available in Singapore.

Anyhow, I decided to do a bit more research before adhering (haha) to any one particular method. I stumbled upon this webpage during my research, which called for white PVA craft glue and water (which are more readily available), and a friend who is an expert in the field of art and crafts confirmed that the PVA/water solution would work best.

I decided to follow the latter, and over the weekend, I visited a speciality store selling art (and craft) products/materials at Bras Basah Complex. While I was there, I picked up a bottle of white craft glue, a UHU glue stick (just in case the PVA-water solution didn’t work)…and lo and behold…I chanced upon Rubber Cement! I got a bottle of that too for good measure, as well as a piece of felt and a rubber/foam sheet (I had planned to use the Rubber Cement to attach pieces of foam to the inside-edge of the rounded corners, to give the iPad a firmer grip…and PVA glue wasn’t going to cut it). The felt would be stuck to the bottom of the hollow, to create a soft, non-scratch cushion for the iPad.

Taking the advice from the WikiHow website, I wrapped the back cover in cling wrap so that excess solution would not get on it. I prepared a 50-50 solution of PVA glue and water, and gingerly brushed it onto the inner edges of the hollow. After a while, I grew in confidence and began slathering it on…I did both the inner and outer edges, and allowed it to dry overnight.

The next night (I gave it about 24 hours), the pages did indeed become one solid block! Ok, it wasn’t exactly as solid as a block of plastic, but still, it worked better than I expected as there were no wrinkles in the pages.

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This is what it looks like when I glued the block to the back cover.

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To protect the back from scratches, I cut a piece of self-adhesive felt to the desired size, and stuck it on the back.

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BIG mistake.

It made the hollow much shallower than I thought it would…and that made the iPad stick out like a sore thumb.

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It wouldn’t have been such a bad thing, as it allowed the speakers and volume controls/orientation lock to be exposed…EXCEPT, the book simply would not close properly. After some deliberation, I decided to rip out the felt (really carefully, I might add)…and the end result is as follows…who would’ve thunk that a thin piece of felt would make such a big difference??

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Not perfect, but at least the book can be more or less closed…somewhat… *sigh*

More photos of the finished product…

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The final step would be to cut the rubber/foam sheet down to size, glue it to the corners of the hollow for a more secure fit, and then add a ribbon below the iPad for easy removal.

If you want to attempt making your own, here are some tips (based on what I learnt from my errors).

  1. Get a thicker book. The iPad is 1/2 inch thick at it’s thickest point. Get something that is thicker than that.
  2. Measure and cut each page one at a time…if you want ALL the inner edges of the hollowed-out space to align perfectly. Oh, and use a pre-measured cardboard cut-out instead of your iPad to measure each page.
  3. Use stronger glue to adhere the “block” of pages to the back cover.

Being a perfectionist, I’ll probably make another one…this time, with less mistakes.


Spot the iPad!
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That was probably the equation behind Apple’s iBooks app…take a book, digitize it, and put it into your iPad. Tah-dah! iBook!

However, what if one took an iPad, and put it into a book instead? That was the premise behind my (slightly) crazy idea of making my very own, personalised, DIY, bespoke iPad case.

I have been searching for the perfect iPad case, but they were either too expensive, too boring, too common or just…well…plain did not fit the bill. I wanted one with character…something which shouts “ME!” (sounds familiar, anyone?)

So anyhow, my idea was to find a suitable book and hollow it out, such that there would be enough space to fit the iPad. To my chagrin, I discovered that the idea was not original, and that I was the third person to attempt it (based on my very unscientific method of deduction). There were two other posts on the topic, by Ben and Lindsay. Since I could find no other posts, I must be the third…haha. (Update: found another one. I’m fourth. Hah.)

(Even more recent update: I found a few more examples of people who did the same thing…at the last count, i am probably #1,436,567…)

Anyhow, it was not easy looking for a suitable book. They were either too thin, too thick, too tall, too wide, too heavy, too un-glam, or too softcover (I am beginning to sound like Goldilocks)…however, I eventually found one after scouring Bras Basah complex, looking in dingy corners in second-hand bookstores. It was a graphic design book titled Hindsight, edited by Ken Cato, and cost me $14 (after some bargaining). Best part was, it was fabric-bound, a nice shade of blue, and was just the right size and thickness.

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Sorry Ken Cato!
 

It was no easy feat cutting out the iPad-shaped hole in the book, but it was nothing a ruler and an X-acto knife (and a LOT of patience) couldn’t handle. Here are the photos:

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Things you need…a suitable book, rulers of varying lengths, pencils of varying thickness (for greater precision), and different types of blades (with different lengths to help get into those tight corners). X-acto blades work better for cutting the rounded corners.

When you first draw the outline, remember to leave some space (it’s actually up to you how much space exactly, but more is better than less).

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After about four hours of cutting, I was still just only part-way through. Until I remembered the sage advice by Ben (not Kenobi).

“Don’t forget to square your corners after the first 10 or 20 pages and continue to cut them that way. Square corners are much easier to cut than the rounded ones.”

Ah…yes, Ben.

 

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After more cutting, I placed the iPad in to see how much more I had to go. Not long now…besides, I was nearing the end of the book.

 

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One point to note…when cutting, you need really steady hands. One little slip, and this is what you get…

Oops.

 

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Finally! Reached the end of the book…the green-blue page you see is the inner-lining.

Now for the acid-test…

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And it fits! *phew*

Of course, along the way, I had tested to make sure that the iPad fits into the hollow. Just that, I wasn’t 100 percent sure about the depth.

 

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And here you go…a DIY book case for the iPad. A newer “old-school” twist, to a new twist on books. Anyhow, this is still only part one of the project. As you can see, the pages are still loose. I have yet to figure out a satisfactory way of adhering the pages together, such that they all become one solid block.

Any ideas?

Buangkok.

It just sounds so wrong on so many counts.

Putting aside the fact that it sounds weird, I never really thought there was anything remarkable about the place (other than the fact that Singapore’s most famous institution is located in Buangkok).

That was, until a couple of days ago, when I went with a friend to shoot the place.

With our cameras of course.

The draw? A certain Kampung Buangkok, which is the last REAL kampung in Singapore. Not the fabricated, touristy Geylang Serai types. In rapidly developing Singapore (where new buildings and roads are constructed in the blink of an eye), a true-blue, honest-to-goodness, real-life kampung is about as rare as a Liverpool win these days…

Anyhow, we weren’t the first people to go take photos of the place, and we will surely not be the last. I believe that once word got out that such a place existed, every photographer and their second cousin twice removed (and his dog…or cat) flocked to Lorong Buangkok every weekend to capture the last remaining kampung in Singapore. In fact, in the two hours or so that we were there, there were easily three or four other groups of city slickers who went to gawk.

I felt kind of sorry for the residents there…having to put up with strange people coming in and taking photos, myself included (like they were at the zoo or something). But then, the left-brain kicked in and I rationalised that I might just be doing my part to help conserve this part of Singapore that would otherwise be razed to the ground once development reaches its doorstep. In fact, it was already hemmed in by spanking new HDB flats. It was like the final frontier…Custer’s last stand…the Fellowship at Mordor’s gates surrounded by Sauron’s hordes.

It was like going into a totally different world. For a while, you can forget that you were in Singapore…until you spot the HDB flats in the background. But I have said enough…I will let the photos speak for themselves…

entrance to the kampung
entrance to the kampung
 
 
 
just in case you missed the sign...
just in case you missed the sign…
 
 
 
the road leading into the kampung
the road leading into the kampung
 
 
 
what did you expect? paved roads?
what did you expect? paved roads?
 
 
 
Main Road
Main Road
 
 
 
the neighbourhood Surau
the neighbourhood Surau
 
 
 
an honest to goodness kampung house!
an honest to goodness kampung house!
 
 
 
found this little statue tucked under some plants
found this little statue tucked under some plants
 
 
 
this house has probably seen better days
this house has probably seen better days
 
 
 
a home-made swing! ahhh...the simple joys of life...
a home-made swing! ahhh…the simple joys of life…
 
 
 
the old and the new
the old and the new
 
 
 
not quite Mann's Chinese Theatre...but hey, it still is a piece of history...
not quite Mann’s Chinese Theatre…but hey, it still is a piece of history…
 
 
 
wonder if there is Wifi connection here...hmmm...
wonder if there is Wifi connection here…hmmm…
 
 
 
just as i was leaving...
 

Just as we were leaving, an old man drove in, in a shiny white Merc…come to think of it, it wasn’t the only Merc i saw there that day. May have something to do with the low housing costs…maybe the people there know something we don’t….

Maxine passed on recently.

It was kind of expected, but I still held on to the hope that she would be fine…that she would pull through, just like she did the last two times. I guess this latest incident was just too much for her. Besides, she was already eight-years-old, and getting on in years.

I remember when I first took her home. As I held her in my hands, I experienced a feeling like no other. There was a sense of joy, and a feeling that a very special relationship was about to develop.

Initially, it needed a bit of getting used to, to have Maxine around. This was because I was so used to my life before that, that I wasn’t sure how we would relate. However, over the next few days, once I got used to having her around, Maxine and I were almost inseparable.

She brought me my morning news, and fetched my mail with the minimum of fuss. It became a matter of routine to spend some time with Maxine when I woke up in the mornings, while brushing my teeth. Not just the mornings…Maxine and I spent a lot of time together, and my affection for her gradually grew.

Maxine had her very own personality. She was steady and faithful, but she also had a wild, creative streak (and as we all know with creativity comes a bit of a temperament). We had our struggles, Maxine and I. We were both headstrong. Maxine did not always do everything I wanted immediately, but with some coaxing (and a fair amount of cursing and swearing) she would eventually. Mostly, it was because I did not understand her fully. As I got to know her better over the weeks and months, I trained her to perform tasks and she did them all with no problems…mostly.

Then came the day of Maxine’s first visit to the hospital. When she was about one-and-a-half years old, I noticed that there was something wrong with her. I immediately made an appointment, and took Maxine for her first visit to the hospital. The staff could tell that I was anxious, but I was assured that there was nothing major. Sure enough, after spending a day or two there, she was up and running, and I took her home.

The second incident came when she was just under three-years-old. I tried feeding Maxine, but she refused to take what I gave her. She repeatedly stuck her tongue out at me. Even when she took it in, she could not process it and spat out whatever I gave her. Another visit to the hospital was on the cards. Again, I was assured that Maxine would be fine and before I knew it, Maxine was back home again, as good as new.

The subsequent years were mostly uneventful, and Maxine grew to become a huge part of my life. I spent countless hours with her, doing things that I normally would not have been able to. Life was good. I have to admit though, that over the last couple of years, I had neglected Maxine. She was getting old, and I had other newer interests. Soon, Maxine became like an old sock or t-shirt. Unwanted, unused, but comfortable to have around. She would sit in the corner of the room patiently, waiting for me. I would clean her up once in a while, but that was it.

One day, I moved, and I took Maxine with me. While holding her in my hands, I remembered the time when she first came home with me, and all the times we spent together. I decided to renew our friendship. She had gotten old by now, but she was still her old faithful self. I wanted to make it up to her, and pick up from where we left off. I got her a gift, and it took about a week or so to arrive from the US via post. During that time, I started to spend a bit more time with her. Finally, the gift arrived and I helped Maxine put it on. She seemed almost happy and and her face seemed to beam. She behaved like she did when first came home about eight years ago.

The next day, I went to work, and left Maxine where she usually sat and waited. Didn’t think much of it, but when I got home that evening, Maxine was asleep. I tried waking her, but she wouldn’t wake. I did everything I could think of, but nothing worked. I took her down to the hospital. This time, when they saw her, they could tell that something was really wrong. Yet, they tried to give me some hope. I was hoping that it would not be anything serious, and that Maxine would be ok once again…just like before.

After some time, I was given the news. They would not be able to resuscitate her. They had done all they could, and there was nothing else they could do.

There was nothing else I could do too, except go down and pick her up from the hospital.

Thanks Maxine, it has been a great eight years. They say you will never forget your first one. I think what they say is true.

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If you saw my previous post, you would have known that I have been eyeing a rangefinder.

Well, I finally took the plunge and got one…but since the Leica MP is out of my “range” (hur hur), I settled for the Yashica MG-1 instead…heard that it was (and is) a pretty good camera.

Anyhow, this being my first rangefinder, I figured i’d try to get used to one first and who knows…maybe there will be a chance for an upgrade next time! *wink wink nudge nudge*

More pics below…

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The “classic” look…heh

You know the famous “I Have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King?

Well, i have a dream too…and here it is…

Leica MP

…and it comes with a silver chrome finish, box calf dark brown leather cladding, and personal signature engraving.

Of course, dreams don’t come cheap…

*SIGH*

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When I first picked up a camera and started shooting (ok, more like playing), it was with film…and i have to admit that at the time, i didn’t know what I was doing. When my interest in photography grew, I got my very first digital compact (a lousy Ricoh something-or-other), but it was a sorry excuse for a camera. Ever since I picked up my first digital SLR (a D70) in 2004, I have not really looked back at film…until now…

The reason I got a DSLR was the more “gradual” learning curve. The start-up cost was definitely higher compared to a film SLR. However, in the long run, it was to be more forgiving (especially when one was learning about exposure, apertures, shutter speeds, ISO, focal lengths, etc).

Having watched as a silent spectator as the Digital vs Film battled raged on in various forums, I came to the conclusion that each had it’s own merits. I also learnt that the quality of one’s photos was usually inversely proportionate to the amount of hot-air (and number of posts) one had on the forums…but I digress.

Whatever format (or camera) you use, the end-result is dependent on what is behind the camera. While I am happy with the DSLR I am using now, I can’t help but feel that I have become too dependent on the camera itself, especially the LCD screen and the fact that I can take many photos in one go (thanks to ever increasing CF card sizes), and select the ones I wanted later. So much so that I found myself slipping ever so often into the “spray and pray” mentality (coined by Ken Rockwell). I found myself seeing less, putting less thought into the shot, and pressing the shutter trigger too hastily before moving on to the next shot.

I felt that I had to regain the confidence in a shot without having to keep referring to the LCD screen to see if I got it right. Also, I wanted to force myself to look at a subject, really watch the composition and all, and capture it the way I visualize it. Ultimately, I wanted to see if I had really learnt anything in the past six years, or whether my photography was down to an over reliance on equipment.

So, I decided to get a film camera.

With a film camera, there is no LCD screen to check if you got the exposure right. With a film camera, you have a maximum of 36 shots in a roll, so there is no such thing as “spray and pray”. With a film camera, any mistake is punished…

Being the masochist, I embarked on a search for a suitable film camera, and it had to be as basic as possible (and preferably fully manual). Being a cheapskate, it had to be cheap, if not free. I tried searching for my uncle’s old Yashica SLR (circa 1970-something) which got me interested in photography, but to no avail. A friend wanted to give me a Nikon F55, but I felt it would be too advanced (afterall, it had autofocus). I found the perfect camera in the Leica MP (ooohhh! be still my beating heart!), but it was a little too expensive.

Having almost given up hope, I stumbled upon a branch of photography that I had seen before, but never took much notice of. It involved a cheap, plastic toy camera, with a plastic lens, and no other functions to speak of (except the shutter trigger). I was fascinated…afterall, if you could take great photos with a plastic camera (and plastic lens), what more a DSLR with all its bells and whistles? After reading more about it, I found myself slowly growing in love…the camera had it’s flaws (vignetting, blurred images, light leaks), but love is blind…and after reading up about medium format and 120 film (totally foreign territory!), I took the plunge and got me one of those cheap, plastic objects of desire (and a couple of rolls of Fuji Neopan 400).

I finished a roll of 12 exposures and sent it for developing. It was strange not being able to get instant results, but it was nice having to wait and anticipate and see how the shots turned out. Well, I just went to pick it up earlier this evening, and while it was not 100%, six out of 12 for a first try isn’t too bad (I would think).

Here are a few of the shots (taken at home):

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and lastly…

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For the rest, visit my Flickr or Facebook pages.

I have had it…

Almost four months after installing Snow Leopard, I have taken to “upgrading” my OS to Leopard 10.5.8…after the initial purrs, Snow Leopard started coughing up hairballs.

With each successive update, the promised redemption never came. I hate to admit this, but at the moment, Windows XP seems a more stable platform than Slow Leopard (typo on purpose). It got a bit ridiculous to have to wait a few minutes for the beachballs to stop spinning after every mouse click.

While I have no doubt that Snow Leopard will be THE operating system, I will revert to Leopard until that day comes.

Anyhow, after jumping into the wild blue yonder (feet first) in a desperate attempt to tame Snow Leopard, I have emerged unscathed thanks largely to Time Machine. After having to wipe the HD clean for an install of Leopard, I was initially unable to automagically import settings, etc from Time Machine as the backups were in 10.6. However, Migration Assistant helped and everything is now back to normal…

Well, almost…until i put Leopard through its paces.

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In a bid to blast through cyberspace in warp speed, I recently got an Airport Extreme base station (802.11n) to replace my old Linksys wireless router (802.11g). I wasn’t sure how the new router (and the different standards – i.e. ‘g’ and ‘n’) would measure up, so I did a check with Speedtest.net.

With the Linksys, I usually got a download speed of around 20 to 25 Mbps or so. When I plugged in the Airport Extreme, i was almost blown out of my chair when the very first test went up to about 65 Mbps. I expected it to be faster, but had no idea that it would be this much faster!

I did a best-of-five test using a direct ethernet connection, and the fastest result is shown below (with an average speed of around 63 Mbps).

speedtest_wired

I re-did the test using a Wi-Fi connection, and the results were about the same.

Of course, speed wasn’t the ONLY reason why I upgraded my router…with the Airport Extreme, I can share my printer over the network (no more unplugging and plugging cables!) and access my hard disk remotely.

(NB: Having said all that, I also got a new Motorola cable modem. The increase in speed could possibly also be due to the combination of this new modem and the Airport Extreme base station)

I decided to send my camera and some lens for a long overdue check and servicing, especially after a few overseas trips where they took a beating.

Brought them down to the Nikon Service Centre at Anson Road today, and explained to the staff behind the counter that one of my lens gave off a squeaking sound during autofocusing. She brought it to the room behind to get a quote from the technician (presumably), came back five minutes later, and wrote something on a slip of paper. While she was writing, i could see from where i was seated opposite her, that it was a bunch of numbers with a dollar sign in front that seemed like the cost of fixing the lens. She then turned to tap some numbers on a calculator. While she was doing so, I was straining to see the numbers, and even though it was upside down from my point of view, i made out a 7…2…6…decimal place…and something…

While I had no idea how much the repairs were going to cost, I didn’t think it would be anything above $100…$200 tops…

When I first saw the numbers, I thought to myself “Naaaahhhh…can’t be. Maybe it’s the serial number…right?” Then she turned the slip of paper around, and i got the shock of my life.

It costs $726.55 to fix the squeaky lens.

I don’t know if my expression then betrayed my previously cool demeanour, but I was kind of hoping she would go…”Hah! Gotcha! Just wanted to see your expression!”

Wishful thinking…

At this point, my mind was in a whirl and I wasn’t really thinking straight. I stifled a gulp/gasp, tried to look calm, and blurted out something (can’t remember what exactly) about looking for the warranty card…if one even existed. This is because I bought the lens online from some guy who brought it in from HK…and I couldn’t remember if I even saw a warranty card. The lady said sure…but I also would have to produce the receipt (i could’ve sworn her eyes narrowed as she stared at me, and issued me that challenge).

It became a game of bluff…Russian Roulette…a high-stakes poker game…and who blinked first would lose…

I then decided to go the whole hog (why not?) and asked to check out the other lens too. She disappeared into the back room, and came back with another bunch of numbers that seemed to be arbitrarily fished out of thin air…

“$400″…was the reply.

I had half a mind to go ahead with that, as I really liked this particular lens and wanted it to be in full working order. However, the other half (probably the left side) was furiously doing the math and came to the conclusion that the price to fix both lens could easily buy a new lens…or at least go some way to paying for one.

“Let me think about it”…my mouth spoke before my mind could react, lest the right half won. In the meantime, so as not to make it a wasted trip, I just asked for the sensor on my camera to be cleaned instead. It was a hollow victory…

At the end of the day, it was $26.75 instead of $1126.55 (and I got a clean sensor too!)

====================================================

Latest update on the saga: I found the warranty card! And the receipt! Best part…the guy who sold it to me had asked the shop in HK to leave the date column blank!!! Hahaha!!!

Victory is mine!