Monday, December 30, 2013

The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro

Posted: 29 Dec 2013 08:00 AM PST

SHE is 63 years old, uses a smartphone, tablet and laptop, and is active on social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp.

Retiree Cheow Chin Wang (pic) has come a long way since 2007 when even logging on to the Internet using her home desktop required help from her husband or her son.

Cheow said: "I kept asking them for help until they told me to explore it on my own."

Spurred to be independent, she then decided to take up computer classes with non-profit organisation RSVP Singapore - The Organisation of Senior Volunteers.

Now, the feisty grandmother of four competently uses an Acer laptop, iPhone 4 and iPad 2 to check her e-mail and surf the Web. Even keeping in touch with her 34-year-old daughter, who works as an occupational therapist in London, has become a breeze.

She is among a growing group of older users of mobile devices who are becoming increasingly technology literate.

Data from a global mobile consumer survey report this month by professional services firm Deloitte revealed that smartphone penetration among those aged 55 and above in Singapore reached 65% of the 388 respondents in that age group.

The survey was conducted online between May and July and asked questions ranging from which mobile devices respondents have access to or own, to which devices they use to connect to the Internet.

Of the 11 developed countries in the survey - including the United States, France, and Japan - this figure is only second to South Korea.

To further reach out to more seniors, the Council for Third Age piloted an online portal and mobile app in October last year which features senior-related information such as health news and an events calendar.

Up till Nov 30 this year, it has been downloaded more than 3,600 times from the Apple App and Google Play stores. -- The Straits Times / Asia News Network

Posted: 29 Dec 2013 08:00 AM PST

WITH his back straight and arm poised over a sheet of rice paper, seven-year-old Joshua Poh diligently traced out Chinese characters like "sheng", which means life, with a writing brush known as the mao bi.

He did this repeatedly during a 90-minute session under the guidance of his Chinese calligraphy teacher, Chang Ong Ying, 65, who taught him the strokes and how to hold the brush.

"The classes are fun as I get to write words that I'm learning in school with a brush," the Zhangde Primary School pupil said.

Together with his five-year-old brother Ian, Joshua was attending a youth calligraphy class at the Waterloo Street premises of the Chinese Calligraphy Society of Singapore (CCSS). The new term had just commenced last weekend.

An art form with its roots in the Shang Dynasty more than 3,000 years ago, Chinese calligraphy is gaining popularity among the young in Singapore.

CCSS president Tan Siah Kwee told The Sunday Times that attendance at youth Chinese calligraphy classes offered by the society is rapidly growing.

When the programme first started in 1985, there was only one class of six students.

But this year, the CCSS offered about 20 youth Chinese calligraphy classes, which were attended by some 180 students every weekend. And Tan is anticipating at least "30 to 50 more students" next year.

CCSS will have nine teachers - all Singaporeans - to conduct the youth classes next year. All of them have previously exhibited their works here and overseas in countries like China, Japan and South Korea.

"Once society reaches a certain level of development, we need culture to show we are not just animals of the economy," said Tan, 65, who has been president of the non-profit society for 43 years.

Students pay a S$140 (RM362) fee each semester, which amounts to S$560 (RM1,450) for the four semesters each year.

Aside from a brush which students can buy on their own for about S$20 (RM52) each, other materials such as ink and rice paper are provided in class.

Although the youth Chinese calligraphy classes are open to those under the age of 18, about four in five students are below 15.

Older students, Tan said, are usually busy preparing for major examinations like the O levels or have co-curricular activities on weekends.

Parents such as Poh Yu Ching, 42, said the classes give her sons - Arun, nine, and seven- year-old Ajay Bhattarai - greater exposure to Chinese culture. Her husband is Nepalese. -- The Straits Times / Asia News Network

Posted: 29 Dec 2013 08:00 AM PST

While Oxford Dictionaries' Word of the Year 2013, selfie, captures a light-hearted global phenomenon, the Chinese Character of the Year takes on a more serious tone.

Fang, or house, reflected the heavy financial burden faced by the people as rising property prices make buying a house a far-fetched dream.

The character was unveiled as the top pick in an event co-hosted by the National Language Resources Monitoring and Research Centre, Commercial Press, China Network Television and Shandong Satellite Television and more.

Beijing Language and Culture University party chief Prof Li Yuming said in Beijing Evening News that owning a house is a practical wish, but also a pain in the hearts of the Chinese.

"Fang brings out people's expectation for a better housing policy," he said.

The other contenders for the Chinese Word of the Year included meng (dream), lian (uncorrupted), mai (smog), jian (frugal), xin (new), min (people), zao (heat), zheng (upstanding) and fu (assist).

The organisers also announced zheng neng liang (positive energy) as the Chinese Term of the Year, zheng (fight) as the International Character of the Year and Mandela as International Term of the Year.

The three-stage selection process began with the Netizens nominating their preferred words and phrases online.

A panel of 20 experts then narrowed down the entries to 10 per category before the Netizens picked their choices in a poll.

Another poll by China's wiki site Hudong, Chinese Culture Promotion Society, China Newsweek and others saw fa (law) being crowned Chinese Character of the Year.

As widely reported, one of the key highlights in the Third Plenum this year was to reform the country's legal system.

Hudong concluded that the abolishment of the "re-education through labour" system, pledges to improve judiciary independence, trial of disgraced politician Bo Xilai and other examples reflected the society's respect for law.

The poll also listed Chinese Dream, smog, Edward Snowden of the National Security Agency scandal, Bitcoin and Big Yellow Duck as the top ten popular terms of the year.

Meanwhile, financial magazine Money Weekly declared tu as the Finance Word of the Year in China.

While the character carries the meaning of abrupt or sudden, it is paired with other characters to form 10 verbs that best sum up the financial headlines in 2013.

For instance, tu po (breakthrough) described the establishment of Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone, tu die (sudden drop) referred to the gold price fall while tu zhang (sudden hike) summarised the Bitcoin's prices surge.

> The views expressed are entirely the writer's own.

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