Monthly Archives: March 2012

What Do These Bands Have In Common?

Aiqa Halim

Altimet (I did not take this picture; it was taken from Shugar Studios’s pictures.)

An Honest Mistake

Ariff Akhir

Ash Nair (I did not take this picture; it was taken from Baldwin’s blog.)

Az Samad

Broken Scar

Broken Scar (more)

Broken Scar (even more)

Broken Scar (that’s it)

Car Crash Hearts

Cosmic Funk Express

Dina & The Crazy People (aka Dina of Malaysian Idol 1)

DJ Biggie

DJ Cza

Dragon Red

Estranged (featuring Adam on vocals)

Freeloaders Inc
Frequency Cannon


Hannah Tan

Hunny Madu

Ila Damiaa

Isaac Entry

Izzy Mohd

James Baum

Jin Hackman

Joe Flizzow

Kimberly Chin



Mr. Noisee (thanks to Francis Cobb for this picture)


Once Upon A Time There Was A Sausage Named Bob
One Buck Short


Rendra Zawawi


Ryan Lucas

Shelley Leong

Soft Touch


Sufiah Noor (Malaysian Idol Season 1)

The Sofa Sessions



Wisdom Of Sorrows


Zack Tay

What do all these bands have in common? Well, Alda Tan has played for all of them! I asked him once if he could list all the bands he has played for, from A to Z, even if it is just as a sessionist. He said then, many years ago when he was still involved with JamAsia, that he could at least cover A to M.

I don’t remember the list, but I searched back in my blog for every mention of Alda, and this is what I got. Can you fill in the blanks? What are the bands he played for?

Also, thanks to Adam Lobo, Aliff Screwthebox, David Rafael Buri, Jin Hackman, Joanne Kay, Francis Cobb, and the official Kartel Twitter account social media person, for their contributions to the list.

The band names are linked back to the blog post where I blogged about the gig that the picture comes from – some are re-edited in higher resolution. Some don’t have links because I haven’t blogged about those gigs, yet!

The first gig that I had ever been to was Good Golly, It’s A Gig! and I think the second was The Most Wanted Gig. I wrote:

Estranged, whose reputation preceded them, had the crowd cheering beforehand. I would find out why afterwards! They had influences of my two favorite bands, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Incubus. Interesting showmanship here too. Here was a bassist with the funky energy of Flea, sliding his bass, jumping about with the bass flying! At one point he was scratching his strings like a turntable! :O

The first song was somewhat grungy with electric guitar effects, followed by a bass-slap-intro metal-Incubus-style tune. Puzzle followed, with well-mannered screams in the bridge. Well mannered in the sense that the vocalist faced away from the crowd for his outburst. 🙂 Velocity played harder with effects, followed by another Incubus-chorused vocals song. They ended with a acid jazzy tune. My search was complete. However, where are any other Malaysian bands that sound like this?!?

The bassist I was referring to was Alda. This was where I first met him! After the gig, I went up to him and complimented him on his awesomeness on bass.

Alda, who is well-known in the underground music scene of the Klang Valley, later went on to organize many gigs in many venues (though I don’t think I could do an A to Z on that one.)

Anyway – he just suffered a stroke. I quote Zona, Alda’s sister:

My brother, Alda Evan Tan – talented musician and music promoter by night, social media community manager by day – turned 29 last month. And just last night, he had a stroke.

I’m living with my husband and my 14 month old daughter in Sydney, Australia – and was sickeningly devastated to get the news around 4am AEST that my brother was having brain surgery. I honestly thought my dad had his iPhone autocorrect go wrong on him. Sadly, no.

This is what happened, an account provided by very close friends of my brother’s (in Malaysian time):

Alda had a capillary burst in his brain last night. Brought to hospital and a brain op was conducted at 1.40am, done by 4.30am. It was successful but he is in an induced coma now to allow to heal. In ICU as well. He collapsed mid-song while jamming.

(Taken from

Sadly, Alda and his family does not have health or medical insurance, so they have large bills to pay. So this is my call to whoever’s reading, to help him and his family out. You can help by sending his family contributions. Click here for details how to.

Back when I went bald to raise funds for charity, Alda did too! (Though he did so at home and recorded a video.)

On a side note, yes insurance does help somewhat – though not as smoothly, in my experience – I had gotten a Guarantee Letter that I could be admitted and the insurance company would pay, but when I was discharged, they said they would not. So I had to pop a vein and berate the insurance company! I had to pay for myself, to be discharged. It was only a few days later that the insurance company reversed their decision.

A government hospital is admittedly cheaper, even for a longer stay, but I still haven’t gotten my insurance claim form for that one! So it seems like you still gotta pay, but with insurance, you might get your money back!

Also, Alda was born in 1983, same year as me, and it scares the shit out of me that you can get a stroke at this age! This just reminds us all again that we’re not getting any younger and that we need to take care of our health. No more sleeping late, eating high-cholesterol food, copious amounts of alcohol and smoke – you might find a better quality of life with more portions of vegetables and fruit, water and exercise.

EDITED 11th June 2012: Alda passed away peacefully at 4:45am.

There will be a wake service at St. Ignatius Church, Jalan SS 25/23, Taman Plaza, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia, at 8pm, on Monday 11th June, Tuesday 12th June and Wednesday 13th June. The funeral service will be at 10am Thursday 14th June at St. Ignatius Church as well. He will be cremated at the MBPJ Crematorium, Kampung Tunku, Petaling Jaya at 11:30am Thursday, 14th June 2012.

Rock The World 11: The Crowd

Rock The World 11, 10th December 2011, back at the perennial venue – Merdeka Stadium!

Before we cut to the bands, however, here are some pictures of the crowd!

There was a stage outside the stadium, with a smaller crowd and some indie bands.

The performances took a break for some drifting action! Yes she is a champ.

There was also a graffiti area where cars would be sprayed, as well as a Volkswagen Beetle gathering. You know, the real Bumblebee.

I got to familiarize myself with the Samyang 35mm F1.4 that I just got, at that time.

Of course, I darkened the midtones a bit, to give the car its proper black sheen.

Later at night…

Spotted on a Beetle.

In between the outdoor car park and the stadium itself was a walkway, where I saw this. I guess the spirit of Merdeka Stadium believes this, too.

On stage, TuneTalk’s Mat Tune mascot, rocking out! Very catchy tune, indeed.

It was also a lunar eclipse that night, not that anybody cared.

The world’s biggest SIM-card-shaped balloon.

Man, why do people who go on stage during Rock The World to play the Guitar Hero challenge always suck? It seems odd at a rock concert. Especially so when hipsters at Urbanscapes are a lot better at Guitar Hero (better than me, even!) By better, I mean, a gripping head-to-head challenge where we alternate between 1st and 2nd a lot in one song, and the audience is not sure who to bet on! One where both players play Hard difficulty, but in fact play Expert casually at home!

Of course, that is emcee Fadhil on stage – very odd that this iteration didn’t have classic emcee Harooooon!


I finally got the grand master of bokeh – the Sony 135mm F2.8/T4.5 Smooth Transition Focus! This is the undisputed king of rendering a smooth, clean and undistracting out-of-focus area.

It brings my number of primes to 8! Left to right: Peleng 8mm F3.5 M42 circular fisheye, Vivitar 24mm F2.0 OM-mount, Sony Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 24mm F2.0 ZA SSM, Samyang 35mm F1.4 ED AS UMC, Minolta 50mm F1.4 Original, Opteka 85mm F1.4, Sony 135mm F2.8/T4.5 Smooth Transition Focus, Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 135mm F1.8 ZA.

And, from above, left to right, row by row: Peleng 8mm F3.5 M42 circular fisheye, Opteka 85mm F1.4, Minolta 50mm F1.4 Original, Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 135mm F1.8 ZA, Samyang 35mm F1.4 ED AS UMC, Vivitar 24mm F2.0 OM-mount, Sony 135mm F2.8/T4.5 Smooth Transition Focus, Sony Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 24mm F2.0 ZA SSM.

The STF is physically a 135mm F2.8 lens, but because of the apodization filter inside that darkens the periphery of the lens, it effectively lets in as much light as a F4.5 lens. Hence the T4.5 suffix (T for effective light Transmission).

Also, the lens is manual focus only – which makes it the only Minolta/Sony A-mount lens that is manual focus. The reason why is because the apodization filter causes a graduation coming from opposite ends, making it impossible for phase-detect AF to work. I’ve explained this in another blog post.

You can tell immediately that the lens is the STF from the back, from the cross-shaped AF screw drive screw (it stops the AF screw drive from turning) and only 5 pins.

The only Sony lenses with 5 pins are:
1) Sony 16mm F2.8 Diagonal Fisheye
2) Sony 20mm F2.8
3) Sony 28mm F2.8
4) Sony 135mm F2.8/T4.5 Smooth Transition Focus
5) Sony 500mm F8 Reflex

There shouldn’t be any reason why any of these lenses don’t get a Distance Integration chip, other than Sony not having the resources or time to migrate them from their Minolta versions.

Interestingly, SSM lenses have a flat screw with a small circle inside, although its purpose is the same – to stop the AF screw drive from turning.

This lens is on the end of every A-mount user’s wishlist – meaning you’d get every other lens you wanted, before this one. It is such a luxury (not that it is expensive) but it is such an optional want-to-have instead of a must-have. It doesn’t help that it’s manual-focus only and doesn’t transmit much. I wonder if they could’ve made a 85mm F1.4 with the same apodization filter, which would bring it down to 85mm F1.4/T2.2!

Normal lenses will draw out-of-focus areas with a hard, solid brush (quite like the Photoshop screenshot on the left.) The STF, however, paints out-of-focus areas with a soft, shaded brush (on the right.)

So here’s one from the Carl Zeiss 135mm F1.8, set to F2.8, on the A900…

…and one from the Sony 135mm F2.8/T4.5 Smooth Transition Focus, set to F2.8/T4.5, on the A900. The difference in rendition should be obvious!

You might also notice that the STF gives a tighter angle-of-view – this is because it extends when focusing, while the Carl Zeiss 135mm F1.8 has an internal focus mechanism. Internal focus mechanisms tend to make the angle-of-view wider as it focuses closer – thus the only time the Carl Zeiss 135mm F1.8 is truly 135mm is when it is focused at infinity.

It focuses to 87cm close with a maximum magnification of 1:4x – interestingly, the Carl Zeiss 135mm F1.8 also does a maximum magnification of 1:4x, but when focused to 72cm close (obviously, due to the wider angle-of-view.)

The STF also uniquely has 2 sets of aperture blades – it uses the set of 10 blades in manual aperture control mode, from T4.5 to T6.7 (stepless, but with clicks), or the set of 9 blades when set to A (auto). However, I have not tested this extensively as I have had no reason to stop down the lens!

Meanwhile, this is from the Carl Zeiss 135mm F1.8 at F1.8. I think you should be able to tell the difference between the STF and any other lens by now.

The background just melts into creamy goodness here.

You can try to put a distracting background, and it smoothens out nevertheless!

How about some harsh sunlight?

Magic hour. Here, the shading of the out-of-focus highlights is obvious. Also, the lens is remarkably free of cats-eye bokeh – where out-of-focus areas on the side become cats-eye shaped instead of perfectly round circles. This might be because the lens is much bigger in diameter compared to a regular 135mm F2.8.

Another street shot. Many would say that T4.5 is unliveable but I would not fear high ISO and a competent RAW processor!

I have to admit, I haven’t been shooting much street photography with a telephoto.

In the right kind of light, it can still get by!

Another indoor shot.

I have always had a shot like this in my mind – I just need to find more appropriate locations.

And then, I took it out in bright daylight…

Congratulations Syazwan and Nadiah!

Unfortunately, as the bush on the right was at the same distance to me as they were, it was in sharp focus. Photoshop CS5.5’s Content-Aware Fill is magical, yes, but it didn’t work so well for this!

This would be the day debut of this lens.

The classic Minolta color is all there.

Note how the sky peeking through the trees is not distracting.

By distracting, I mean like this – this was shot with a Minolta 50mm F1.7. So you see what I mean by bad bokeh? That sharp outline, around out-of-focus highlights, is called brightline bokeh.

Stringing Along

How much slower is a Java String object comparison, compared to a primitive int comparison? I was curious, so I made a little Android app to compare an array of integers and Strings 10 million times each.

package test.benchstring;

import java.util.Random;

import android.os.Bundle;
import android.util.Log;

public class BenchStringActivity extends Activity {
int MAX = 10000000;
int[] arrayInt = {0