Living by Standards

November 21st, 2010 by Puissance

I have high standards, setting the bar very high. To clarify, I have high standards for others. I expect others to be honest, respectful, genuine, well dressed, and the list continues… Personally, I read personal development blogs and improve on everything that I possibly could to be the best that I can be. However, I have never applied the standards that I have for others to myself until recently, a good friend of mine, Stanley, wrote in a Facebook message, “…you have to hold yourself to that standard too.” I was shocked and impressed at the same time. I was shocked because I have never thought about applying the same standards that I have for others to myself! I’ve never tried to jump over that oh-so-very-high bar that I implicitly have others jump over (or sometimes run into or even go under). I was impressed because my friend mentioned it so casually without knowing that it has now changed my mindset.

So now, it’s my turn to approach the bar. If I lower the bar first, then I must lower the bar for everyone. Since this bar has been set for such a long time and many have already been challenged by it, it would be unfair to lower it just for myself. I have decided to keep the bar where it’s at… Now as I run toward the bar, I think to myself, “Will I make it?”

I sure hope so. If I don’t, I will try and try again. This is a lesson well learned. Thanks, Stan.


Blocking the Ear when Singing

October 9th, 2010 by Puissance

Have you seen people use their fingers to block one ear when singing? Have you ever wondered why they do that?

I may have an answer. Singers performing on stage need to hear their own voice and they are pressing their in-ear monitor into their ears for a snugger fit. Most professional singers who perform on stage use in-ear monitors, devices that are usually transparent or skin-coloured. These devices allow them to hear their performance along with the mix (of other instruments/voices). Thus, just when a singer is about to sing a difficult run, you may notice the finger in the ear.

What about singers who are not on stage or wearing in-ear monitors and are blocking their ears? I would have to ask, “Is that singer a professional?” Most likely, such a singer is blocking the ear to appear professional. It would be mostly for style and not very practical. Blocking the ear does not allow you to hear how your voice sounds to others, but it does lower the volume of unwanted noise. To hear how you sound without monitoring, the best way is to use your hands and cup behind your ears with your palms facing forward, angled toward your face.

So there you have it. Blocking the ear does not make you sound better or allow you to hear how your voice sounds to others. It simply blocks out noise.


Sleep Sleep Sleep

September 28th, 2010 by Puissance

Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have to sleep? We would have 8 hours of work and 16 hours of time to yourself. To be realistic, we would probably work 10-12 hours a day if we didn’t have to sleep since we like to be productive. Technology would advance at a quicker pace and we’d be producing/consuming more every day. Anyway, without proper rest, our bodies don’t perform as well. To ensure that I can do all the things that I want to do, I need a plan because I’ve been sleeping 4-6 hours every night. For some reason, I get even less sleep on the weekends!

To get myself into bed earlier, I’m going to eliminate the thing that keeps me up. So what keeps me up? It’s the computer (with internet access)!

What am I going to do? I’ve set an alarm on my BlackBerry for 9pm (1 hour before bed time) to inform me that all connectivity devices are to be turned off. There are no exceptions! If I’m in the middle of typing up a blog post, I would have to save it, turn off the laptop, and complete it another day. If I’m sexting some random that I met at a party, the phone is going to be turned off. Too bad! If I’m watching a really good YouTube video, I’m not even going to let it finish playing! Okay, I most likely would watch the remainder of it, but if there are 10 minutes left, then I’ll watch it another day. I’m going to give this a try and hopefully my will power remains strong, resulting in at least 7 hours of sleep every night.

You can do the same. What’s your biggest distraction from bed?


The Head Voice

September 27th, 2010 by Puissance

I was looking into harmony processors and ran into the video below. In the video, Bjarne Langhoff not only demonstrates the use of the processor, but also demonstrates the chest voice and two modes of the head voice. Check it out:

1) Chest voice: “All that I am, I give it to…” and “Straight to the core”
He sings those lines in a neutral mode, so that it sounds a little breathy and the resonance remains in the chest.

2) Head voice (falsetto with compression): “you”
He sings “you” in a neutral mode, but with added compression so that it doesn’t sound breathy. Falsetto is breathy, so we can call it falsetto with compression. It’s a light head voice.

3) Head voice (full voice): “I got no cover”
When he sings this line, it is actually his head voice! This is called the full voice because it doesn’t sound breathy like falsetto. To achieve this sound, he’s using twang and directing air toward the soft palate. Notice how he drops his jaw, too.

And there you have it! This is a really good demonstration of the head voice.



A New Beginning

September 26th, 2010 by Puissance

One early Saturday morning, my cousin, UEC calls me and wakes me up to give me a motivational speech. He has been making music and selling albums throughout his teenaged years and he knew that I was into the music stuff. He tells me that Vlad, a producer and him are putting together a studio and that he would like me to sing some hooks for him. Now, I have my own budget audio equipment and I sing as a hobby, but he offered me a chance to sing in their studio, the Big Bang Booth. I honestly didn’t feel like my skill level was appropriate to make a decent track, but I love audio equipment and singing, so I agreed. Yesterday, I was invited to see the studio for the first time and when I walked in, they already got clients in the studio. When I saw Vlad work the DAW, I was excited and let me just say that the kid playing the guitar sounded really good. I also got a quick tour and chilled for a bit.

Today, I went back. This time, they got me singing a few lines and I needed autotune (haha!). I really liked the beat at first, but after so many takes, I was feeling tired. I think that the satisfaction comes when you hear the finished product though. It takes 10,000 hours of effort and experience to become an expert and now that I’m 23, it’s about time that I start putting in my hours. I wish that I started singing earlier, so that I could be better now, but since I can’t travel back in time, it’s time to catch up. I have got to thank UEC and Vlad for this opportunity, too.

Anyway, I’m so tired that I can’t really think of what to write anymore. I’m fighting a cold and have to get downtown to be at work by 8am tomorrow… Good night!


Protect Yourself with a Wallet Inventory

May 5th, 2010 by Puissance

I’ve been meaning to write this blog entry for a while now, but I never got to it. Since I will be going on an overseas trip, I decided that this is a good time. Most of us carry a wallet or a purse to our outings. We store important things such as credit cards, cash, and membership cards in our wallets or purses. I have never lost my wallet before, but if I did, I would be quite worried. To protect myself, I thought that I would create a wallet inventory with a list of my wallet’s contents and their respective phone numbers to call in the unfortunate event that they are lost or stolen. I would encourage everyone else to do the same. Include other cards as well, so you know what you have lost even if it doesn’t have a phone number. Print it out and put it somewhere secure or upload it to Google Docs. If traveling, ask someone else carry it for you. Don’t put it in your wallet!

Here’s an example (private details hidden):
TD Green Visa – 1-800-983-8472 or 416-307-7722 (Collect)
BMO Mosaik MasterCard – 1-800-263-2263 or 514-877-0330 (Collect)
Driver’s Licence – Visit Office
Shoppers Optimum Card
TD Canada Trust Access Card – 1-866-222-3456
Citi Enrich MasterCard – 1-800-387-1616 or 416-947-2900 (Collect)
Student Card
Public Library Card
Business Cards
Scene Card
Insurance Card
Motor Vehicle Liability Insurance Card
Heart Saver (A) Card
Health Card – Visit Office
Smart Serve Certificate Card

Hopefully, this will help you avoid panic and will give you a peace of mind when you go out, partying hard!


Last Exam as an Undergraduate Student

April 22nd, 2010 by Puissance

Today, I will be writing my last exam as an undergraduate student at the University of Waterloo. I will be dressed in a suit, so I can impress some of those attractive classmates. Yes, I know it’s UW, but my last exam is for HRM 301 (Strategic Human Resources Management), an Arts course. Hence, attractive female counterparts do exist in that class and the usage of the word ’some’ can be justified. All jokes aside, when I leave from that last exam, I want to enter adulthood feeling and looking good. It will be symbolic of my transition from education to vocation. It has been 5 years of training. What have I learned? I have learned to learn.

So what’s next?

Vacation, unemployment, and continuous development.

Vacation: My parents have been waiting many years for the chance to bring their children to see Europe. Okay, my brother and I are no longer young children, but it has been our parents’ dream to experience Europe. In particular, it has been my mom’s dream since my dad would prefer to have more money in the bank account. We will be off for two weeks. It’ll be good to spend time with the family as I have not been home much this term.

Unemployment: I will be paying rent, beginning in May and as the months go by, I will be hurting financially. I have been working since I was 15 and have never had a full summer off since then. It’s about time that I finally get to feel what it’s like to be jobless. I’m not worried though; the economy is in recovery and I never get bored because of the next step.

Continuous Development: I will be discovering new knowledge, developing my skills, and improving my abilities. It’s never going to stop. I plan to take two remaining HR courses in the Fall and Winter to fulfill the CHRP requirements. Afterward, I plan to take music courses on production and private piano lessons. I have several business ideas, but those are for much, much later. First, I will be looking for a career in HR, specifically in recruitment. The job hunt will begin upon my return from vacation. As I search for an organization that fits well, I will be working out, going out, singing my lungs out, eating healthy (i.e. not out), and helping around the house, such as getting the dust out. It’s going to be interesting (like the previous sentence).


My Dream of Reality

April 15th, 2010 by Puissance

I woke up today from a dream. I rarely remember my dreams and it was quite a realistic dream. Please note that this was indeed a dream and dreams are not accurately representative of anything. Here it goes… I was running, but was not being chased. It was dark and it was raining. Every step on the concrete sidewalk caused a little splash of water. I was in a trench coat, running through a clubbing district. The clubbing district that I’ve seen in my dreams before. It is a single street running east to west with a very industrial feel. There are no tall buildings, but power lines and old brick buildings. It was too dark to see the graffiti as the street lights were malfunctioning and dim. There, I was running with no purpose.

As I was running east, many people were waiting in queue to get inside the clubs. I saw JL, someone who I always thought to be too young and innocent to go to the clubs. Surprisingly, he brought his little brother. They were first in line and as I ran past, noticing them, I turned my head, pointed and said, “Hey, be safe!” I caught a glimpse of the club interior and it was empty at the moment with flashy lights, laser beams, fog, and a few bouncers. As I continued running, I got looks of hostility as if I was an intruder. A look that said, “This is not your hood.” I kept running. Being so dark, I turned on my cell phone’s flashlight. You must be careful with a flashlight. If you shine it in someone’s eyes, they get pissed. So I ran with my flashlight pointed toward the ground, passing a few abandoned buildings until I reached a crowded entrance. I had to strategically manoeuvre myself to continue down the street. By this time, I think I was looking for someone. As I past by another crowd, I shone my flashlight into the mass of people, trying to find this person. Angry faces was all I got. The journey continues. I ran through a mini power station where a slowly paced woman was blocking the sidewalk. There were power boxes adjacent to both sides of the sidewalk and I could not squeeze through. I patiently waited as she moved through and then continued through.

Finally, I reached the end of the street. It was blocked off by the police. There were 3 officers each grappling some men. A few arrested men were sitting against a chain linked fence. Behind the blockade were many people surrounding the club and police lights flashing, blue, red, blue, red, blue. The people sitting down looked like nice guys. The police officer wanted to show me something. He had some clippers in his hand. He told one of the men sitting by the fence to give him his hand. The officer proceeded to clip the man’s pinky finger. The man’s facial expression showed no fear, but pain. A pain that he was now fighting. His nail was lifted and blood began to fill the void space. “He was a nice guy,” I thought. He did not deserve that.

There, my journey ended and I woke up with 7 minutes to spare before my alarm clocked would ring. What did I learn from this dream?

First, the world is unpredictable. To survive, you must adapt to your surroundings. The environment is never constant. It could be raining, it could be dark, and it could be filled with hostile people. Be aware of your surroundings and adjust accordingly.

Second, people change. JL has grown up and is exploring new things. His little brother is being influenced in the process. Sibling and peer influence is very powerful. If you have peers that do risky things, you may feel inclined to do the same. Choose your friends wisely.

Lastly, the world is not always just! As the just-world phenomenon states, people want to believe that the world is just. However, the world is unpredictable as mentioned earlier. Anything can happen. Even nice guys get into trouble. Stay out of trouble!


The New Home Theatre PC

November 28th, 2009 by Puissance

Out with the old and in with the new! The old media centre that I built in 2006 is long gone with a bad motherboard and an old Celeron processor. Although overclocked, I can’t believe that I used a Celeron processor. It’s now at the electronics dump. The new home theatre PC was built over a year ago, but I made sure that it had HDMI capabilities with a low wattage 64-bit dual core processor. Fortunately, it can still decode 1080p without lag. It’s running Windows 7 x64 with RAID 0 on the OS partition and RAID 1 on the Data partition. Now with a new LCD television, it was about time for a new setup. I didn’t have a sound system, but my dad had a Yamaha AX-570 receiver and a pair of old school Tannoy Oxford speakers. It looks like a decent setup with a mixture of old and new components. Here are the pictures. I’m not going to include any captions because I think you’ll know which is which. Cool, eh?

Old Media Centre

New Media Centre


Washed Out Video Playback in Windows 7

November 22nd, 2009 by Puissance

I have been using Windows 7 for the past few weeks and when playing videos, I noticed that they were washed out or faded. These were the same videos that I watched in XP and they looked very different. Windows 7 includes most video codecs to play anything that you download or encode, such as xvid. I installed Shark007’s Windows 7 Codecs pack to see if it would make a difference and it did not. I changed the default codecs to not use the Windows codecs and video playback was still washed out. It turns out that the gamma setting on my laptop screen was too high by default. If you are experiencing washed out video playback in Windows 7, try adjusting the gamma settings by following these steps:

  1. Click on Start > Control Panel
  2. Click on Appearance and Personalization
  3. Click on Display
  4. Click on Calibrate color
  5. Run through the Display Color Calibration tool

Now everything looks a lot better. Try it for yourself!

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