Tag Archives: Work

The One With The SCMP App On iPad

The One With The SCMP App on iPad

I seldom blog about work, but the latest digital initiative that is sweeping my company is just too exciting not to be mentioned about.

SCMP is now the first Asian English newspaper with a dedicated iPad app. This digital initiative was put into motion some two months ago, and I personally saw how it evolved from being a concept to the actual thing hitting the iTunes store today, the same day when iPad arrives in Hong Kong market.

Needless to say, it was a breathtaking exercise… in all manners of the word. The rush, the adrenaline, the pressure were the very air we breathe for a good many weeks. It was a miracle that we manage to hit the market running with an approved ad and a Hong Kong-wide marketing blitz.

Personally I wasn’t involved in this project, but as part of the digital team here I can see how this launch herald a new beginning for SCMP. While print is always here to stay, digital will shape the future of news everywhere.

This launch has put SCMP ahead of the pack. There are lots more work to be done to ensure we remain the leader in this field, but I am confident. We might be a legend from the era of newspaper, but we will also be a force of the digital future.

The One With The Very Hectic Week

The One With The Very Hectic Week

This might sound obvious to you after reading the post title, but I am having a very hectic week.

With a mountain of looming deadlines threatening to engulf my whole being together with my fellow partners in crime, we fought fire after fire, built list after list, badgered people after people, all in the hope that the end result (a website which will see the world come Friday) will not be a disaster.

I was telling a friend on what a tough week it was, when all of a sudden an unfamiliar sensation engulfed my heart. What was that? I wondered. It felt like… like… pride.

Pride that all of us have come this far in this project. That we have mounted too many obstacles I care to count. That despite everything, we remain steadfast in our purpose and true to our heart.

Hold on, comrades, for the end is near. And I can see a creature of beauty created by us.

Be still, my heart.

(Photo Credit)

The Joy of Being Organised At Work

Few people I know hum with efficiency at work without the help of tools of some sort. I don’t know about you, but I swear by Excel.

I heart Spreadsheet

You see, I have this customised Excel spreadsheet at work elegantly named as “Tracking List” which I open first thing every morning, and save last at the end of a work day. Sorted by dates, current tasks are highlighted in yellow, overdue ones are in a shade of non-alarming pink, and important ones are bold in red.

In theory, what I need to do is:
1) Clear out items bold in red and highlighted in pink
2) Clear out items bold in red and highlighted in yellow
3) Clear out items highlighted in pink
4) Clear out items highlighted in yellow

I am rather impartial to the sequence I do (3) and (4), and with any luck I might even get to tackle rows not in bold, not highlighted (i.e. future tasks, my logic-challenged readers).

That, my friends, happens only in the parallel universe called “in theory”. Reality is I have too many pink tasks I care to look at, and the multitude of red bold rows sent me into a state of disorganised panic every time I open the damn file.

So I did the next best thing and check emails from my boss. Afterall, whatever the boss wants gotta be the most urgent, isn’t it?

Efficiency is really not my cup of tea.

(Photo Credit: Rufus Leonard)

Virgin Trip to Macau

When someone says Macau, what does that bring to your mind? Perhaps it was the glittering streets peppered with countless casinos. Some swear by its incredible fusion of (and inexpensive) Chinese and Portuguese food. Or maybe, just maybe, one’s memory will be of those seedy little shops with bright facade advertising massages at incredible rate, but often with hidden price for a “happy ending”.

For me, Macau equals to all these, and more.

Inside Turbojet Ferry from Sheung Wan to Macau

It was my virgin to Macau, a 45 minutes ride from Hong Kong by ferry. Incredibly, the terminal where we were to board the ferry was a mere 5-minutes walk from my house. It was a work-trip, a workshop for the Classified team, and I was invited as “guest”.

Views of Macau from Sofitel Hotel

The workshop took place from Saturday morning right to Sunday afternoon. The group of some 30 of us stayed at Sofitel Macau, an incredible hotel which was so luxurious I swear that I will never be able to afford one of such on my own. The bedroom, the conference room, the bathroom… everything was so well adorned I felt like a king for all of 1.5 days.

The Street of Macau at Night

On Saturday night, of course we spent the evening out trawling the confusing streets of Macau. After a wonderful dinner, some of us went out in search of a “decent” massage parlour. Without really realising it, we walked for more than an hour from the restaurant to the massage parlour. The walk was tiring, but I relished it because of the sights of Macau. The youngsters walking in opposite direction as us towards the harbour to catch the firework display (apparently, Macau does this every weekend in the month of September), the peddlers selling authentic homemade ice cream only found in Macau… it was a great orientation to Macanese’ life.

The Street of Macau at Night

And so on to massage. Finally we found the place tucked in a building full of… err, bars fronted by ladies dressed with a tad too little to leave much for imagination. I was tempted to snap a pic, but that might spur them on to coax my colleagues and I for “some happy time”. LOL. Anyway, we paid good money for sauna and a 2-hour massage, which were a very relaxing experience. Food is provided. We were so relaxed that I almost felt asleep in the resting lounge. Maybe we were just too tired from the day’s activities and all the walking.

Typical SIghts of Macau

The next day, after another long workshop in the morning and hugely satisfying lunch at the hotel, we were free to do whatever we want. Most of my colleagues have been to Macau so many times the novelty must have worn off. So I went off on my own armed with my Lonely Planet (what else?) to explore the streets of Macau.

Ruins of The Church of St Paul, Macau

My first stop, of course, was the Ruins of The Church of St Paul, one of Macau’s most famous landmarks. The Ruins of St. Paul’s refer to the façade of what was originally the Cathedral of St. Paul, a 17th century Portuguese cathedral in Macau dedicated to Saint Paul the Apostle. In 2005, the Ruins of St. Paul were officially enlisted as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Historic Centre of Macau. Built from 1582 to 1602 by the Jesuits, the cathedral was the largest Catholic church in Asia at the time, and the royalty of Europe vied with each other to bestow upon the cathedral the best gifts. With the decline in importance of Macau, which was overtaken as the main port for the Pearl River Delta by Hong Kong, the cathedral’s fortunes similarly ebbed, and it was destroyed by a fire during a typhoon in 1835. The Fortaleza do Monte overlooks the ruin.

Ruins of The Church of St Paul, Macau

The ruins now consist of the southern stone façade — intricately carved between 1620 and 1627 by Japanese Christians in exile from their homeland and local craftsmen under the direction of Italian Jesuit Carlo Spinola — and the crypts of the Jesuits who established and maintained the Cathedral. The façade sits on a small hill, with 66 stone steps leading up to it. The carvings include Jesuit images with Oriental themes, such as a woman stepping on a seven-headed hydra, described by Chinese characters as ‘ Holy Mother tramples the heads of the dragon’. A few of the other carvings are the founders of the Jesuit Order, the conquest of Death by Jesus, and at the very top, a dove with wings outstretched.

Musuem of Sacred Art at Ruins of The Church of St Paul

Resisting calls for the dangerously leaning structure to be demolished, from 1990 to 1995 the ruins were excavated under the auspices of the Instituto Cultural de Macau to study its historic past. The crypt and the foundations were uncovered, revealing the architectural plan of the building. Numerous religious artifacts were also found together with the relics of the Japanese Christian martyrs and the monastic clergy, including the founder of the Jesuit college in Macau, Father Alessandro Valignano. The ruins were restored by the Macanese government into a museum, and the facade is now buttressed with concrete and steel in a way which preserves the aesthetic integrity of the facade. A steel stairway allows tourists to climb up to the top of the facade from the rear. It is customary to throw coins into the top window of the ruins from the stairs, for luck.

The Crypt @ Ruins of The Church of St Paul

The Chapel-Crypt was built on the same location where once stood the main-altar of the Church of St. Paul’s College. In the centre, on top of the granite rock, there is a bronze cross that marks a tomb, probably belonging to the founder of the College, Father Alexandre Valignano. In the caskets embedded in the North Wall lie the mortal remains of both devotees and laymen, who were laid to rest in this church. Finally, in the glass fronted reliquaries along the side walls, there are mortal remains of the Martyrs of Japan and Vietnam.

View of the Ruins of The Church of St Paul

From the ruins, I tried to find my ways to my next destination, but being the total map klutz that I was, of course I lost my way. In the process I got distracted by some very interesting sights of Macau, like this beautiful, pastel-coloured street right beside the ruin. It looked like something right out from an European postcard.

Cute Pink Scooter in Macau

And this oh-so-cute pink scooter. I would want one myself if not for the dangerous streets of Hong Kong!

Macau Beer from the Macau Soul

The afternoon was scorching hot and I was perspiring profusely, so you can imagine how relieved I was to have found a dainty looking cafe called Macau Soul along the many streets near the ruins. Did you know Macau has its own brew of beer? It tasted absolutely delicious, and it’s not only because of the weather. The beer was really good, and I wondered why it wasn’t marketed widely, like in Hong Kong at least. Macau Soul itself was run by a foreigner couple, who was so nice to me despite that I only bought a pint of beer. Definitely worth a visit if you are in town – check out their website.

Cannons @ Monte Forte

After some more walking, I finally managed to find the way to my next destination. Monte Forte was once a principal military facility and was one of the city’s strongest defence points. In the centre of the top platform, there was a 3-storey tower fitted with cannons on each floor. There were four rows of houses that served as military barracks close by. The Fortress was also equipped with wells and an arsenal that held sufficient ammunition and supplies to survive a siege lasting up to two years. The site also served as the residence of the first Portuguese governor, D. Francisco de Mascarenhas.

Monte Forte

Tucked in a corner with a winding staircase winding down was a tiny museum detailing the construction and preservation of Monte Fort. Unless you are really into this sort of history, the museum would otherwise serve as a pretty good refuge from the scorching sun. The aircond was at full blast and I was the only visitor.

Church of St Dominic

Leaving Monte Fort, I made my way to the main square of Macau (I can’t remember the name) to visit one of its more famous churches, the Church of St. Dominic.

Church of St Dominic

A fine example of eccelesiastical baroque architecture, this imposing church now contains the Treasury of Art (Treasouro de Arte Sacra, admission free), an Aladdin’s cave of ecclesiastical art and lirtugircal object in three floors.

Church of St Dominic

I hate it when tourists don’t respect the sanctuary of churches and keep using flash in their photography. There were plenty of such ignorant tourists flashing away in total disregard to the worshipers in the church.

Inside Turbojet Ferry from Sheung Wan to Macau

After the church, it was 5 plus in the afternoon, and I was totally beat. Although I have a 9.15 p.m. ferry ticket to go back to HK, I went off to the ferry terminal anyway in hope of catching an earlier ferry. Ended up I needed to queue for almost an hour, but the relief of reaching Hong Kon three hours earlier than planned was a relief after such a long weekend.

The Cobbled Street of Macau

So will I ever return to Macau again? I am not really a casino person. Sight seeing is more of my thing, but I don’t think Macau has that much to offer. Macau is to Hong Kong what Batam is like to Singapore; a quick, inexpensive getaway from the city, perhaps for the weekend. I could do that, but for now I should concentrate on planning for my three trips by year end :)

Click here for the full set of photos I took over my virgin weekend in Macau.