Saturday, March 31, 2007

Vanity Fair

I just had a plan snag this morning. Apparently the bank rejected my request for a temporary credit increase. In my perspective, I seriously need that as a second safety net. I felt if this was not approved, I will have a hassle in how to buy the item that is about $5000. Since this is not likely to happen, they suggested one more idea. Add the advance amount to your current credit account and charge the amount from there. I hope it would be a good thing.

The current events that shape the world, particularly the Middle East crisis in which accusations without proof from the west revealed the West's vanity - their ego, their reputation, and their sense of invincibility. The United States in particular felt themselves being invincible as their doctrine indicates their intention of being the only superpower unchallenged by the rest with Israel as their extension. Britain too is joining the fray, with Tony Blair indirectly denying that Britain did not make the mistake of trespassing the Iranian waters whereas the fact was they did. Is is not the citizens but their leaders; - their arrogance, status and reputation elevated them into vanity and complacency. Mahatma Gandhi quoted, even the high and invincible and those committed evil will eventually fall no matter where they are or what they will do.

Looking back at our country, the recent Flood of the South end of last year demonstrates Johor's arrogance, ignorance and their excessive pride of what they are. They lack the vision, the anticipation and safety nets to safeguard the state from potential disasters. It is this state that records the highest number of criminal cases than any other states. The social state there combined with the sins of the past which were kept silent culminates in the disaster that plunged the state into attention-begging and sympathetic dog.

I went to church with Edmund the other day and the '2012' thing still lingers in my mind. The world is about to enter a new state by 21st Decemeber 2012. The Mayan timekeepers predicted that there will be things changing our lives forever. What will happen, we don't know. I kept theorizing about the End of Times. Astronomers predicting about the change of the planet's polarization. Maybe this is actually Zarathura's prediction that man will eventually evolve into a new breed or race as you see in Kubrick's 2001. Natural disasters? May happen. Al Gore tried very hard to convince us to be awaken of the possible environmental damage that we're doing or else it will trigger devastating disasters like the hurricane, earthquakes and various things.

But I know of one thing that shows that we might be approaching the moment of truth. Malachy's prophecy never lies. Currently, Pope Benedict XVI (Cardinal Ratzinger) is the 111th pope , the penultimate of the list written by Malachy himself. His symbol of olive was accurately described. Who would be Peter the Roman after Ratzinger? The ending of the list did state, "He will feed the flock to various tribulations and soon the seven-hill city (Rome) will be destroyed."
Whatever it is , I had a hunch that it will happen sooner than expected.

Cases of villains fell because of vanity was clearly shown in World War II or the South African Apartheid. These supremacists think that only the pure will survive whereas those who are mixed and non-pure are cast out as coolies. People are starting to wake up from slumber, accepting the reality, realizing the tyranny that the leaders are doing but lack the unity to bring them down. Clearly Chomsky, Chavez and some of us do know about this. Chavez is the most outspoken of all, he sees the weaknesses in capitalism. Nikolai Zakharov, the Man of Stone did feel that Communism would have win out at this time. China also knew those things. No wonder they are being labeled as unfair by the U.S.

Whatever that thing happens will likely to herald the much more turbulent times coming. The bible did spoke of the Kings in the East coming to battle evil in Armageddon. I am not sure whether it's us in the East or not.

Edmund commented that I was like getting dull in listening that sermon on that day. The thing was it's just like learning in school. You can't just learn whatever that is theoretical. Those concepts are best accompanied with real-life examples that demonstrates that the fact is correct and it can be used in our daily lives. I was invited a few times over to David Swan's church and I know those readings by guess speakers or the pastors. It's like being in school as a kid. But on that day itself, I turned to the last part of the bible, and did some research online as kind of to know more.

Reading the post, I realized that he wept for me. Though I touched briefly, it was like getting a better understanding from the perspective of a friend who goes to church service more than I do. True to the word, I had a mild interest. The real fact is that I don't really go much of those teachings and ideas of those mentioned. It's like being torn into listening to either one's words, unsure of whose concept is the right one, therefore the statement "back to the scriptures". It's better to listen to your own conscience, instinct and doing the right thing.

In Edmund's post, he described the warning delivered by Apostle Paul himself:

"For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear." (II Timothy 4:3)

In the movie Driving Lessons, starring Rupert Grint and Julie Walters (Ron and Mum Weasley in Harry Potter movies), Ben's father said this:

"If you say to me, "Am I a Christian?" I say to you, "If you strive to do good, then you are a Christian." If you don't seek to hurt or betray others, you're a Christian. If you're true to yourself and treat others as you'd have them treat you, you're a Christian. The more a person parades their Christianity for the benefit of others, the less I'm inclined to trust the Christianity they claim to bring...How you express that - the way, the manner, the means at your disposal - these things are of no consequence, be you Christian or atheist, unless in your heart you are true."

The actual answer to the action that we should take is based on the quote above. As long you believe in the doing the right thing, actions that are deemed right in God's sight, we are doing fine, even though it may result us of being persecuted, hated or even cast out. Many leaders of the nations playing the Middle East game are in the state of vanity - it resulted in the sufferings of the rest of us who had no part in the game.


Or if this thing doesn't convince us, maybe the Seven Churches can tell us what we need to do.
If you connect all the points together and join the last one to the beginning, you will find the first and foremost church is always the Ephesus. The seven churches aren't there for the mere purpose of past evidence. It actually represents the models and the characteristics that everyone should be, to be a good person overall. Hence, T.E Lawrence used this as the title of his book: Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

I think that man will eventually go back to the basics now and later. A good man, disregarding whatever religion they belong to should carry these seven models / principles.

1. Ephesus - You should remember your first love of God.
2. Smyrna - Never be afraid of death for it is not the end of everything.
3. Perganum - Never be misled by false teachings and allow sins to enter within you.
4. Thyatira - Even though you are persecuted and hated for refusing to give into temptations or compromise by the bad, hold on, have patience and faith.
5. Sardis - You should be physically AND spiritually be afresh.
6. Philadelphia - Your faith sustains yourself. Remember that the big man cares for you.
7. Laodicea - It's your heart that counts. Be earnest to yourself.

Special Weekend Trip Part II

This is the second half of the special weekend blog.

We woke up as early as 7.30 the next morning in order for Edmund to catch the bus to church. I thought at the same time I might go back to house and do some things, but he had different ideas. We took a cab and left Chinatown back here for about another 30 minutes or so.

It was the second time I entered the church. I find that their preaching was somewhat dull and monotonous, not as exciting as what David Swan and his ministry would preach. I know them well, I mean David Swan and the gang there. From my relative really.

The service was over before 11 a.m and I was really hungry indeed. So Edmund's dad dropped us at a hotel and we took a cab to the Curve, a much improved shopping mall that Simon didn't cover in his previous meet last year. So I took him around to see some new places he had not come across. Edmund had to go back, tending to her youngest daughter who's having some fever. I wondered whether he had squandered the chance of seeing great things after two precious occasions where he missed watching the premieres of 300 and An Inconvenient Truth.

Before that day, I had an intention of coming here with either Edmund or him and get access to watch UEFA European Cup live. I won two passes online and another two from a question and answer game. The other two I gave it other people whom I think deserve a chance to watch the cup. Security around the trophy was tight as this would be the cup to presented to the winner in the Finals at Athens on May 23. We had turns, Simon took mine, I took him. We spoke about football really.

That's me with the cup. The real one, not the replicas that is displayed in a club's trophy cabinet.

The below image is the trophy up close:


I really made sure that Simon covered everywhere throughout the entire afternoon. But we knew that Edmund would be coming to town at around 7 p.m. By the time it was 5, we left and headed back to Star Hill. We didn't want to waste our time there and we wanted to savor the best remaining hours of the day with the "Sheesha" session. We started at around 8.30 p.m. I wanted to make this time more memorable with each of us coming out with the best puff ever.

But of all the puffs, my puff was the smallest of all. One time I did the dragon puff.

Edmund's puff is slightly bigger than mine. He called his puff as a wildfire Bunsen burner.


Simon's puff is the biggest of all.


We really enjoyed our session there. All you can until you had enough. There was a live concert band, and we keep talking numerous topics including RPGs, Bush and the social mentality problem that Malaysia is facing now. But a problem ruined our pleasure to the fullest: kids going around soliciting money many times, repeatingly. Having small children doing this is actually a crime and fortunately some restaurant staff and a complex security guard managed to chase them off on many occasions.

By 10.30, we went back and I just jumped to bed while our big man continued reading his Josey Wales stuff. Quite tiring today. I really wanted to wear my favorite black T-shirt but for the sake of avoiding the heat, I opted for the white shirt that I wore throughout the whole day.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Busybodies Making The Unnecessary Ruckus

You may wonder that this post is associated to the other post that I've written about the other day. No. This post, I am not talking about them. Well, it just about the little incident that happened while I was driving back home from work.

For some reason, the default value which I've set did not show up in numerous tests that I've conducted in order to get the result that my colleagues who will be using the system would want. I managed to ask for an additional month's extension for JIRA, citing reasons of last minute upper management participation. They agreed but not without waiting for another two days. I think it was better than watching the red label appearing in the main screen each time you log into the program.

I am not sure whether if the reason the value did not appear was likely because I did not restart the computer to take those settings into effect. I was convinced that it should work the moment I have updated the field scheme. Maybe this could the bug in that particular version. Since then, it's version 3.8 and 3.9 is coming soon. What if you reach 4.0? I tried searching for some answers but none fit my description. So I might have to post this on the Issue page. Thankfully, the developers had their own issue page that any user can complain or so.

Now back to the main topic. While I was driving back, there was the usual Friday jam. But strangely past the overhead bridge expressway, the traffic became bad. When I was closer to the exit back to home, I noticed that motorists from both way deliberately slowed down just because to see a body lying on the road. A motorcyclist was knocked down unconscious. However, I just do not have the idea of whether the fellow is dead or not. Needless to say that these people are busybodies, slowing down and taking a look at a problem not caused by them. But then, they are the ones to create the ruckus, the jam. Right?

I just simply tried to think hard of how to solve the problem. Every morning when I get up from bed, I was so focused unlike before to try as hard as I can to finish this thing and go on with another work. After all, I need to earn extra cash from a one week assignment in ICT town. I really need to save some more for my notebook. The credit card center turned down my simplest of requests - something I do not need forever. Only a month, for Christ sakes? And what my alternative plan goes poof because of those people making decisions? If they say no, then they will need to talk to the dealers. After all Standard Chartered bank's motto is about you challenge, we deliver. Right?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Banging For Nothing.

I finished work quite late at around 8 p.m. just now. I was so desperate to finish it that I keep banging my head but still ended up without an idea at all! Can someone please help me? Please? I want to finish that work so that I can pay more attention on doing other things than stuck in that thing?!

You know what, that cost me something. I wanted to write my second part of the weekend special trip and I ended up with nothing. Nothing! Eunuchs or maybe those who have a different perspective than I do. Tomorrow, I am needed to do some installation downstairs, so that will cost me some time rather than doing what I needed to finish it up.

As Ron Simmons said....DAMN!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Special Weekend Trip Part I

This would be the first part of the special weekend trip where Simon came down. On Friday night my friend and I thought that he would be reaching K.L at around four in the morning. But then, he missed the bus due to work. He only left at around 11.30 p.m. to reach here at around 6 in the morning.

I had a short sleep at before one in the morning. But the problem was that the alarm which I set didn't go off as scheduled. I got up 10 minutes late, and was 30 minutes late because I had to catch a bus down town. The one problem I faced was that my TnG debit card overcharged me when I entered the station and left Central Station. I had to go back to file the complain but when I came to the TnG office at 10, they told me that the data could only be shown after 24 hours! That's why I came back on Monday afternoon.

Simon and my friend were in one of the shops when I reached Chinatown at around 7.30 a.m. Had breakfast and talk before going to the bank. I really needed to talk about something important. But the rest of the afternoon was literally talk and sleeping in the hotel room. I was too tired and slept until 5 in the afternoon. But we had a wonderful talk over a variety of subjects.


It was only at this time that I realized that Simon would be here until Monday. I didn't know, I was anticipating that he would be in town until the next day. At night we had a wonderful sumptuous steamboat, which we gloated to our own pleasure. Nothing much but talk. But my friend was enjoying so much on reading Josey Wales, that he finished a quarter of the book the next morning.

I think Garth Ennis got the idea of his unique vision of The Punisher or his Preachers series.
The Punisher is modeled after Josey Wales, like a walking death machine but still keeping his code of honor such as "leaving those unworthy or innocent behind". From what I've read in The Slavers, that was one story that strikes a chord of conscience in Frank's black heart.

Eunuchs!

Three days left before the license for the JIRA application expires. Unfortunately, nobody from Atlassian seemed to be answering my mail of desperate call. But those who came and going through the whole system seemed to be calling the shots particularly by those working on the ILMU component of the entire product.

They ask if they can put this field visible on certain stages, ask if they can put this there or not. I couldn't say no though as to avoid raising their hidden reaction of anger or my trying to show off, which is something I would like to avoid at all costs. Among things they asked were if they can convert the PRC thing to a click append thing, auto assign. I wonder wouldn't it be good for them to exercise their muscles for a while by setting the date manually. At least the good thing they said was "see if you can".

At times I couldn't think of a good answer to explain to them. They think that this program does wonders like they can incorporate many things into one. Well, almost all. Except for the last part. When they proposed the big amount of changes there at around 3 p.m., I had to rework on changing the screens, changing the workflow and etc.. and all my work crashed abruptly when the database server refused to connect with my terminal, which I am hosting the program.

Everytime I log into the system, the red label at the main screen kept showing in my face. I really wanted to give myself a breather after all this. I thought I could finish everything, but the database server crash at the last minute in the evening prevented me from going on.


I wonder how some of the colleagues I feel behaved like eunuchs in the feudal Chinese period. They wield more power than the royals, showing themselves how mighty they are. Well, that was pre-Three Kingdoms saga but I feel that they refuse to go for the new change or something. At least my manager encouraged me to try go outside the box. But to them, I find that they are still back inside the box. But their seniority is above my authority. What can I do but to do and maybe grief this to my U.M?

Oh, God. Please help me. Is this what Ephesus is about? Patience and penitence?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

There Is Nothing Special, Today.

I waited one whole day to see whether there would be a walkthrough for JIRA. But it got pushed to tomorrow morning. I thought if it can be done today, I might save one day and maybe speed things up.

The house was cleaned up by a cleaner for the first time in two months, and I am quite happy that it's not as dusty as before. For today, I tried to send pictures to my friend but the mail got bounced back. But I am not sure he received it. Strangely though, he did post a post or two in his blog.

The pictures are all in the thumb drive, so I might plan to write the two day story either today or tomorrow, depending on the mood. All I can say is that from having a brunch and heavy dinner on weekends, I gained back half a kilo from food. Looks like I need to go back to exercising and with the weight-loss potion. Haha!

The pay came in today and I wasted no time to take some to renew my monthly parking pass. But I felt something was wrong with the amount I saved. Either I made a miscalculation or there was something not cleared. I have no idea really.

Monday, March 26, 2007

What A Day, Finally.

What a day.

I didn't know until Sunday that Simon would be here until Monday afternoon. That was unanticipated so I told a colleague of mine that I would be applying an emergency leave, under the circumstance of having an urgent matter back at home. Guess this will take my May day off, ha!

We woke up pretty late at around 10 a.m. and went for some beef noodles as brunch. Then we went around looking at some videos before we split ways at around 2 p.m. The only thing to do was to file a complaint to the Touch N Go network about the my card being over credited on Saturday. The data could only be released 24 hours after the last transaction.

But I didn't feel the exhaustion, except for a shoulder strain and I just continued playing Serious Sam 2, which happened to be installed in the machine by my friend some time back. Best to clear up or shall I say cover some maps. As of now, I covered about 15 to 20 maps already and it's just merely 65% of the game got completed.

This next few days, I would be posting our three day outing out in K.L but I do not have the cable to transfer my pictures into. More to come on the next two days.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Punishment Part III: Procrastination

Finished work a little early. I anticipate that there will be a bad jam when I am about to leave office. True to the word, the lanes going to SS17 out to the SPRINT highway were jammed, but not as bad as on Wednesday. I had everything in place to test out the FIX workflow, so it is likely it will be showed on Monday.

I am still thinking of going to bed pretty early tonight and maybe leave house tomorrow morning at around 7 p.m. The question remains, what can I do in early morning? Maybe besides having breakfast or taking a train down to meet friends in Chinatown? Maybe it's a good idea to make use of the morning by doing as many things as you can before your weekend is up.

I still remembered someone, actually, The Beast or (Fohr Wan Cheh San) said something: "In the world of kung fu, speed defines the winner." I think that the principle of speed defining the winner actually seperates the difference of winning and losing in various things. Picture this, if there is an opportunity right in front of you and you have only 10 seconds to go for it, you would go for it, yes? If it is only a one time chance, you definitely would have to. If you rather act very slow, you lose the opportunity forever.

Procrastination or "delaying needlessly" is still remains a common problem in the Malaysian society, or the Indian society. However, this contrasts the Malay proverb "biar lambat asalkan selamat" - Slow and steady -. You can see cases related to this everyday. The common example would be driving around the Federal Highway. Almost everyday I drive along that road on the way to town or going to work. Near the overhead bridge stretch, the traffic will come to a bumper to bumper crawl. Later, when you go pass the exit to Templar road, the road eventually becomes smoother as if you are driving on weekends. Why is this thing happening?

It became clear to me that most people are road hoggers. They never take into consideration that others want to beat the jam and reach office before 9 p.m. Being in time or early is a good working ethic as most of us would know. However, this thing is totally unacceptable. If people find that the jam was caused by one driver who goes slowly on the fast lane, when it is a two lane road, that person is ought to get a good scolding. Most of these culprits were either women drivers or those who have nothing to be aware of.

The most common news that is clearly related to procrastination is the story of people queuing up last minute to renew their identity cards. The question here would be: why didn't they do it earlier? You are given plenty of time. You had the opportunity and you squandered it. By the time you realize that the deadline is there and they mean it, you would scramble desperately to get your things done. Can't you even a lot 1/2 a day to have this thing sort out. And so when there are things going in your way because of you procrastinate, what can you do but to blame yourselves?

I remembered that in Anniyan, the man Charlie who keeps procrastinate and has nothing in life was punished for such things by being swamped by snakes. Anniyan brought that guy into the museum and had snakes all over him. The punishment for that? Puyodham.

In the end, it's idiots that get this.

There won't be any posts for the next two days as I will be away for a meeting with my friend from Singapore. It will be from tomorrow morning until late Sunday night.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

You See, I Have A Problem...

Before writing this post, I was split on deciding what would be the interesting title to be used for this post. At first I thought of using "Bad People Deserve A Bad End", which was the tagline used in The Punisher: Barracuda. Then again, I thought of one of the lines by Clarence Boddicker -the infamous cop killer who executed Murphy at the opening act of Robocop. During that execution, he said, "You see, I have a problem. The cops don't like me and I don't like them." I just thought, hey that's a some sort of a connector to the next part of the post.

Today I saw a very interesting article in the front page of News Straits Times. There is somewhat of a make-up poster of this:

This happened to be the poster of the two special dogs that the Domestic and Consumer Affairs Ministry used, with courtesy from the MPAA - The Motion Picture Association of America in an experiment to see whether it is feasible to set up a canine unit specially trained to sniff out polycarbonate - a vital ingredient used to manufacture the blank CDs that we carry around. Two days ago, the dogs helped the Ministry's enforcers to raid an apartment in Johor Bahru (the last town before Singapore) and seized about 10 million ringgit worth of pirated stuff. Apparently, because of the incident, the syndicate kings in the south decided to put up an undisclosed bounty on whoever can take out the dogs or bitches to them.

Seems like both parties are trying to cross over the actual lines drawn, and maybe try to take each other out. However, neither one of them know their own lines. Was it because of pressure from outsiders? Is it going to be the end of them as like the loan sharks (as announced in today's The Star)? I have no idea though. There are many endings to this situation, but I am no Kaileena, who said in The Two Thrones, "Of all the possibilities that I've seen, this held the promising of all." After, isn't she the Empress of Time, who knows the possibilities of the future?

A friend told me that the criminal rate in Johor is far much higher than the rate in Kuala Lumpur or in Penang. But I think the three are the same. However, in terms of notoriety, as according to him, criminals there, particularly snatch thieves are much more aggressive than ever. But I agreed in one point though - the number of snatch cases is far more than those two places. He claimed though of something, saying that those criminals there claim to have special blood in their veins - I won't go more just to avoid provocation - and there are far more illegal Indonesians there compared to K.L. Because of this though, he said that J.B has the most number of lifeforms worse than animals in Malaysia. I have no opinion though as I don't have a statistic to back his claim.

This would be the third day in the role that there's heavy rainfall in Klang Valley. And I really had to finish testing the JIRA bug tracker tool by tomorrow evening. I had to do a series of tests, including validation tests. The worst was that a field that I've set to put in the Resolve screen never showed up despite my firm believe that it was definitely in place! How could that be? But after that, the program crashed. Out of memory problems. I think that my machine does not have enough RAM to support handling of massive issues that might come. So suppose if the company decides to buy the software, it needs to be installed in either two workstations that has high memory.

The plan of visiting Ipoh on the 6th is back on schedule as the Sports Club Run was moved to the 14th. And with my friend calling me in the afternoon to see what time I could come down to town to meet him, I think it's going to be a great weekend for the three of us. But then I might have to post Saturday and Sunday's entries for this week on succession, say Monday.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Give Me A Break, I Am No Machine!

Unless you think I am either Mr. Terminator or even Mr. Robo himself, I can't do too many things at a go without giving myself a breather. That's what humans are. They are unique, they have emotional responses, they sense things with five of their body parts and so on.

Okay, well that's I felt after a very exhausting afternoon.

Back in today, I was awaken by heavy rain at around 3 a.m. in the morning. Part of the bed was wet and I had to put a pail on the bed to prevent it from getting wetter than ever. The ceiling above had a slight leak. Maybe it only happened when it's raining time. So I went back to bed after about 15 minutes and overslept until 8 in the morning. Thankfully, the traffic was smooth today, and I managed to reach office at exactly 9 a.m.

I knew that I had to finish reworking on modifying the JIRA demo, as I have mentioned yesterday but a comprehensive testing has yet to be conducted. Much more as to see whether if I can get to find something that might work as what my P.A colleague wished. She thinks that it might be easier if I can get the thing here, but if not, I will have to find alternatives and even try to bring this for discussion with my U.M.

This is something about JIRA:
But I couldn't go on in the afternoon right after lunch. As mentioned in an e-mail yesterday, I had to upgrade the terminals for other departments. They asked me to upgrade Microsoft Office for them. The Support Department gets the Standard Edition (minus Publisher and Access) while some get Professional edition. Things got a little slowdown as concurrently there was a stock check as to make sure that every user's machine has the same Service Tag (DELL machines) assigned to them. I didn't have a problem except for one.

By the time I finished with everything, it was close to 8 p.m. There was heavy rain and bad jam outside my office, which makes the condition worse compared to a usual 6 p.m. jam. Sadly, I had to cancel some of my plans and put it to tomorrow. The real reason why I finished until such time was due to a machine going slow. One of the machines was a old 5 year old server that is used to test machines outside our domain network. It uses the old Windows 2000, it has many services switched on the moment you boot your computer. My P.A kept asking me, "What took you so long?" There's nothing I could do for this scenario. It took me about 2 hours to finished that machine. I had to get a SP4 patch for the machine, which delays work for another 20 minutes.

But that doesn't mean that I ended up dull, I mingled with some people in the other department, including someone from Audit, my Audit manager, one of the KM people, one of the Admin, the Finance Manager, and some from Support Department.

The admin lady, Salmah was surprised to find out about the 'lose weight' formula. It's pretty simple to make, except after one or two rounds, you would get the right combination to make a drink. Make no mistake though, honey and cinammon powder can help to do various miracles including reducing your heart disease!

And then there is a dilemma, the Sports Club is planning a Saturday morning run on the 6th. I heard that it will be compulsory but I have yet to get a confirmation. If it is, this puts a den to my plan and I had to revise my plan. My original plan is to visit Ipoh on the 6th which conflicts with the run. And also this week, with my friend Simon coming to town for the weekend, I'm not very sure whether I can use my monthly pay on time or not. Hopefully, the money comes on Friday, if not, I would have to be very careful on spending that weekend. I really wanted to save some cash for the month itself. I think circumstances forced me to burn a deeper hole in my pocket.

Coming to think of the money, won't it be good if those forex players go for a lower exchange rate of Ringgit to Dollar. Shouldn't we reach the equilibrium of 3.15:1? Given that in the past we exchange it at 2.5:1 and then during the Asian Financial crisis we were at 3.8:1. After that in July 2005, it's depegged and finally we're at 3.48. IMF was right on one point: we're undervalued.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Pushing Hard Ain't Doing Good

Sam: Hell of a day.
Vincent: What do you want for Christmas?
Sam: My two front teeth.
Vincent: May you wish be granted.

-- Ronin -- 1998

It's kind of a tough day for me. Taking people through the work-in-progress configuration of JIRA - a bug and issue tracking tool, discussing, argue, refining points to be used and well, make things that might work well in place of our present manual maintenance system. But something bothers me though. I wondered whether what my P.A, or the department's personal assistant who handles the system would be willing to have a slight change to the existing system. Maybe she's too familiar with the existing one. She just kind of thinking of reusing the system in the new tool.

Will have to hurry though, as the evaluation license is expiring on the 1st of April. So I will have to rush as hard as I can. But then, tomorrow until Friday, I had to spend the afternoon upgrading the machines on them main office floor, I mean upgrading the software, renewing the license of Microsoft Products. Over 30 to 40 machines, maybe I can muster doing 14, the better if the other colleague of mine would help. However, I had to take note that one machine is definitely off the installation process for now. William, the finance manager had a hard time last Friday, the hard disk went kapoof in one evening. And it's a SATA2 hard disk, which few units used it.

There was a consolation though, I had an early lunch today and on 1.00 p.m. today, it's the worldwide release of At World's End trailer. Cool, really. Expect a three way fight with Cutler Beckett having the upper hand. You can see the trailer at the bottom of the blog. I deliberately include for the pleasure of people visiting my little blog.

There's a change of plan as my friend could not join me for meal tomorrow. More time for me. Maybe I think that I didn't turn on port 1433 in Windows XP, it's automatically turned off by it's firewall tool. Good thing though that I managed to have a little extra time to write all down before my late dinner....

Monday, March 19, 2007

Is This Eavesdropping?

I was at the gym last Tuesday. In the men's changing room, there was guard wandering around the room. But there's something I do not understand. Why would he be there? Is he trying to look at people changing clothes like if there is nothing to do? Is it to try finding something worthwhile to listen so that it might interest him?

I wonder, if his real purpose is to make sure that there might be no attempts for somebody to steal something and run away with it, how much is the probability of a stealing incident to happen? I don't really think such incident will happen. After all, people do bring their padlocks, don't they?

That's the guard that watches everybody like if he's ready to meddle into something. Seeing this brings me back to the schooldays. Prefects around, getting students to assembly, going for crowd control, or even become the greeters of big guests coming to schools. There were times that they would meddle in a conversation between two people. That's something I wasn't comfortable at that time. Busybodies.

Eavesdropping on someone isn't nice, as what the common social ethics dictate. However, in mission 5 of Thief 2, our good friend Garrett, in a way of finding the person responsible in ordering a hit on him had to rely on one source that might help him - to go to the Mechanist seminary in Eastport at midnight. During that time, Sheriff Gorman Truart, the man who really wanted to bump Garrett off was seem to be meeting someone, maybe the paymaster or something.
With the kind of surveillance technology available in the world, it would be devastating if it is misused by the powers-to-be. For instance, as part of the Patriot Act 2002, the CIA or even the FBI had the right to eavesdrop on conversations of every private citizen in the U.S alone, even if it is a friendly conversation between your neighbor or your relative. The moment if a conversation generates a frequent number of keywords such as bomb, and words including in the terrorist vocabulary, the might act to stop you. The U.S government is starting to become some sort of an Orwellian machine, a bureaucratic type. No one is safe from anything. People who watch the Will Smith movie, Enemy of The State will understand such concept of being pursued in such scenario, despite you being innocent.

People's privacy will be destroyed in the process if this such thing is misused. But they should not be afraid of the governments. Governments should be afraid of them. After all, normal people pick them, and they are expected to do the job that they promised to the people. If you don't do it, you're in trouble or breaking their promises.



Sunday, March 18, 2007

A Very Very Short Post.

Today will be a short post. Yes, a short one. It's simply that I just ran out of ideas of what to write. Or maybe I don't have the pictures to carry along with the writings.

I was trying to enjoy myself playing some PC games at home, with now playing the RTS Company of Heroes, a strategy-game set in World War II. But I am facing the problem of short of money for this entire week. Spent a large amount on unavoidable circumstances such as applying for the parking pass and my car maintenance.

Today, I went amateur by selling my Dark Nest Trilogy books as to pay up my remaining credit bills. Had I am not placed in a tight situation, I could survive until my pay day next Monday.

Uncle Screwtape posted a post about me? Wow, that's cool, but maybe he put something a little too much about this. More to come in a later post.

The Wild Side of An Old Man

Usually, I would try to post before the clock strikes 12. Maybe I feel that just to not to confuse myself over how many entries that I wrote per month but as to make make it a habit to post one per day. So, if this month has 31 days, it would be 31 entries. But since I started out on the 9th, I should have a maximum of 23 entries or so.

Usually, a man or a woman who go depressed or feeling lonely when their soul mate or their spouse goes of early than them. That's what I believed but for my old man, I was surprised to think that it is not what I believed. This week marked the 100th day of my granny's passing and it is a Chinese custom for all family members to pray as to mark the end of the mourning period. And after that, a family member will only have to pray at least twice a year, one on first Lunar day of Chinese New Year, the other would be on All Souls Day in April. (known as Ching Beng).

I spoke to my old man last Thursday while I was having my meal before watching the premiere of An Inconvenient Truth. But that's not the point. I was totally impressed of how he manage to pick up the pieces shattered and moved on. Today he exhibited the youth in him. It is like being out of the cage after a long time being restrained by a external force, most probably granny.

While she was alive, there are things that he had to do away as to accommodate her. She was fussy, making all the excuses that we all had enough of. Today, he was kind of being adventurous. Besides providing him the help he needs, he wanted to try new things, wanted to go around and so on. For instance, he wanted to try cakes, coffee and varieties of new food. He wanted to go out and enjoy the outdoors. He wanted to relax, stop by a coffee shop. He became more or less excited already. He's like being free again after a dormant period. He knows that he's approaching the twilight of his life and wants to enjoy it while it lasts.

See, he had been through many things. He was in World War II, in the Emergency period. He told me that he had a stray bullet grazed across his chest while he was serving as an officer in Cameron Highlands. He wanted to visit, seek lost acquaintances. That's why we are planning to make a Christmas trip in Cameron Highlands this year end. He even went to the rural areas like Lenggong and met the Ong brothers, Ong Ka Ting (Housing Minister) and Ong Ka Chuan (MCA Sec. Gen) when they were kids. He met numerous old celebrities in the past. I guess it's a beautiful life for him. Thank youuuuuu SIR! (I mean God.. :) )

But when I noticed such things in him, I began to make comparisons of him with Captain Bertram Willes Brooke - the Tuan Muda of Sarawak (pic) (1876-1965). I mean, he's a wily man, not like the fool brother of his (Vyner), willing to put duties first ahead of family and enjoyed his remaining years quite well. No, that's only the first parallel. Grandma was like Bertram's wife, Gladys Palmer (1884-1952) - prone to illnesses, but has personalities like her. Sadly, though, she didn't last long as just as grandma does.

After Gladys died, he managed to carry on and savored the remaining moments with his youngest daughter, Lady Anne Bryant (2nd wife of historian Sir Arthur Bryant). I tried to make some sense out of it. Is in that a man's fate is determined the prominent DNA of either the mother or the father of the person? I mean, should the mother die at the age of say 75, will the child, the daughter die around that age in the future? I mean, does the prominent DNA that we carry gives us the hint that we keep searching for? How do we know that my prominent DNA was from your mother or your father?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Traffic Police: Watchers, Busybodys and Scum

I just finished work quite late today, at around 8. Probably the main reason was to let the traffic on the main road outside my office to die down. Traffic on Fridays are much terrible compared to other days. My finance manager's computer went down - the hard disk crashed and gone - and we were too late to call in the support call center. Seems like we had to wait until Monday when they open at 9 in the morning.

After I left office to go back to Ipoh, I stopped by a place called Tapah. I got clues from other good Samaritan drivers that there is likely to be a police roadblock - busybodies who are out to make extra cash by issuing summonses over people who might be speeding on the highway. Scum. Troublemakers. They sometimes can become this. This traffic police. If it's those guys dressing in blue uniforms, then it is likely they are hunting criminals. But this is hunting down drivers!?

Tapah has always been a common point for those fellows to look trouble and excuses out of people. But I believed that I was way lucky and unknowingly got the right timing. Moments after I pass the one lane choke point, the police officially opens their roadblock to business. Seems, like I was the last car to pass without being under scrutiny by those scum. Come on, if you happen to do this in the morning where people are going to work, you are likely to be sued by lawyers and companies for holding employees back. They've got an obligation and you're the one who's going to pay the compensation!

Later I went to dinner with my mother down town, I managed to take a picture of a police writing a summon of a car who was parking at one side but with no one inside. The officer was barking an order via a loudspeaker demanding the driver to move out before he starts writing. Okay, that's a clear reason, but the reason having the picture is to show that at times, those fellows can misuse their right as police officers and start looking for trouble.

If you are sure that you're observing your driving code correctly but got a ticket for that, something's wrong. Throw that ticket off and start bringing in your lawyers or go to the station, ask for the identity of the officer responsible for that and don't pay at all! Keep arguing until you win the fight and demand they compensate you 10 fold for wasting your time? Will you be satisfied over this? Hell, I would! Haha!

The City Watch in Thief III will attack Garrett on sight no matter what he does, even if he does not do anything at all. He has been a marked man and there are posters of him out there with a bounty offered on whoever tries to capture him. Still nobody could claim the bounty. But there are times, it can be funny to frame a fellow mercenary for an attack of an officer's colleague or something. You just go and whack a City Watch fella and make the other guy see the mercenary and they'll start attacking each other. It's the A.I's logic: framing!

If I had enough of playing the story of Deadly Shadows over and over again, I just might want to play something for fun. In one of the City's sections, the Old Quarter, on the exit to Auldale, you can have plenty of fun whacking the City Watch over and over again. If you want to rebel against authority but could not do so, you can do it here! You just need to spend 30 minutes plus minus to do all you want.

First thing, you need to extinguish the torches on the main courtyard so that you have enough cover to move around without being spotted on sight. Of course you don't go to that electrical light platform! Then you might want to stock up on some gas arrows and bombs. This is where you can try to get all the guard quotes of each guard. My favorite guard would be the Smithy guard, he has that confidence and the aggression compared to Benny or the Smart guy. You might want to isolate those fellas one by one before you start spooking him, and he has the humor in his lines!

Whack this guy, use noisemaker to spook them up, do all you want. When you have enough, then quit to Windows. Fun!? No I don't think it's fun, but it's some way to take out the aggression.

Troublemakers.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Punishment Part II: Swindling and Greed

Just came back from a marketing preview. And I had to rush to pack things up and do a little house tidying. I will be going to Ipoh throughout this weekend, which is a monthly habit for me. And this week marks the 100th day and the end of mourning for my granny's death end of last year.

My old man just recovered from an eye surgery two weeks ago following a detection of an early stage of cataract, which is common among the elderly. He was fine and resting back at home. My friend from Singapore, Simon is coming up either next weekend or the week after, so I felt that it would be the best time to go.

In the recent few days, I have encountered things where charges imposed on people are much higher, I mean at a very unfair level, where the actual cost is very low? And people don't enjoy the services rendered with a high cost? Yes, I've seen some cases. Yesterday's lunch was a bomb. A bowl of claypot noodles at a shop within my office block cost $8.00 whereas you can get it at $3.50? That's way out of your mind and mine! What do you benefit from the additional $4.50?

Some fat pigs and punks who run this kind of business don't even pause for a moment, give themselves a thought and look at the soulful eyes of their customers. Were you in the customers shoes, would you feel the same? I would. But charging a little high AND giving customers something unexpected and more that attracts their attention is worth the buck that they paid. But if it's high and you give them a lousy service? You lose your customers, and I mean it.

The last two nights I was in the gym, making myself to exercise at least three times a week. The shopping mall where the gym was located will start charging $1 for the first three hours and another $1 for the subsequent hour for weekdays. But on weekends, it's three times the amount. Can you imagine this? Why would they charge this kind of amount? For them it's only two reasons: one, some people park there the whole day paying $3, making other people coming in unfair, two....make more money I think to compensate for the parking lot extension project.

Okay...that's an acceptable excuse but I think 1 Utama's $1 for 6 hours is a bang for the buck. But here's one thing that I felt it's double practice: The gym that I went to did offer members a free personal training session where you will be trained by a personal trainer. After that, they will bring you in front and start TALKING price. I was told by other people that other franchise gyms say Fitness First offer free personal training sessions and a lower rate. They talk about that and said it 's $1080 for 12 sessions.

How I felt was that it was double standards. I appreciated a trainer's intention to help me improve my body shape - he approached me and asked me about my previous self-approach of exercise. I did on my own and lost 9 kilos in 6 months. But the amount that they charge was way out of my reach as I still have about 5 months of membership fees to be paid off. They want to help me but showed their two-sided face by charging this amount?

The hell with it! I told them that I would consider that ONLY if they give $700 for the 14 lessons. I warned them, that if you don't agree to the offer, they lose a potential customer. Look, Fitness First offers a better training approach to help people. But you charge your people memberships consisting of facilities and services that they enjoy a lot and you STILL charge them for personal training?!

I had a slight pay adjustment in January and I felt that it is time to have a credit limit increase for my credit card that I've applied last year. Unfortunately, I was turned down twice, despite showing enough proof that I am entitled to do so? Is it not enough? Are they looking for more than sufficient? They have incurred my displeasure and I have made sure that those credit card guys get a grilling from me, after a credit card situation where they did not bring the card despite being called to come and collect.

Swindlers.

Tales of greedy people attempting to swindle (a bad) other people's money for their own satisfaction beyond what it should be stopped when it is enough is documented in various fiction stories. Michael Moore would be very proud. In Welcome Back Frank, the first maxi-novel of The Punisher by Garth Ennis, a subplot featuring Mr. Payback a copycat vigilante who champions the middle-class people claims that the corporate and rich people swindle other people's fortunes and their blood by organizing mass strikes, purchasing and manufacturing defective equipment and cheating them by refusing to pay the salaries of the workers. He claims that whereas the others suffered, people on the senior management of those companies allegedly to be involved were the swines, the ones who reaped their loot.


If that is not enough, you should read The Punisher: Barracuda. The premise has Frank Castle going to Miami to stop the Wall Street menace known as Dynaco (modeled after Enron) who has a get-rich quick scheme by withholding parts of electricity generation. By doing this, they hope that the company's premium would go up and they reaped the rewards should the next hurricane hits Florida and in the process, leaving many people homeless, poor and dead.


You might want to the fact when the oil prices hit $78 last July, oil barons / companies of the U.S are the ones who would prosper the most while the other nations had to pay more to buy their supplies of crude oil to power their vehicles! See the point?

Now don't tell me I am starting to become a leftist like Oliver Queen! No, this is what I noticed. Being a man in the Third World nation shows that I have the balanced view between two sides. In the end, we are the ones to suffer.

Matt Murdock thinks that those swindlers to be brought to the court for the appropriate justice to be dished out at them, Frank Castle may think otherwise, but Anniyan's measure is more cruel than ever. A punishment known as Kumbhi Bhagam - sinners fried in a pit of boiling fire alive - exists in the Garuda Purana. It is a punishment where people swindle others. In the film, he kills the railway caterer for serving food worth $5 at the price of $25.

I watched Anniyan sometime ago, with subtitles and caught some part of the scene of the second execution. Here's a snippet:

A: Chicken for the 65 for the minister. What is your name?
C: Chockalingam.
A: Chocka 65 for me. Why didn't you serve good food to customers? You served filthy food after taking 25 rupees. You like mint money don't you?
C: Business is for taking profits! Other people do that!
A: Don't you escape under a pretension of a simple mistake.

Were if Anniyan is out there, everyone is virtually finished. He shapes a place similar to hell, and boils sinners alive. Imagine, if there were 5 million sinners, how would he reach his quota? Ha!

Then again, maybe people who do feel this kind of thing might best to work to get rich and get out of the suffering cycle. After all, with plenty of money comes the freedom. Isn't that rich but wise people would feel? Stephen Pierce, Robert Kiyosaki and even Donald Trump would agree. Maybe we should adapt to their approach.

Things Can Go Bad At Times

I intended to write a longer post just now, but the Blog server had some problem and only was restored to its original state a few minutes ago. I just have to write this post now as to make up what should be written 2 hours ago.

Things are getting out of hand, and beyond my control. The work yesterday was handed over to a colleague for conversion and portletization - a form of converting into portlets instead of servlets as JSP would employ. And I just started working on a new script file which has uses the same documenting engine as one of the tasks earlier. I tried working this at home by running on a local machine equipped with a SQL database server. Unfortunately, the server refused to be connected, as shown in a Java exception. Damn, wasted 2 hours of time to try and solve this problem.

I guess the only thing is to try harder at the office terminal tomorrow.

Garrett did finish his job raiding the police station. But the moment he reached back at The Burrick's Inn, he was surrounded by the City Watch. Apparently, the man who hired him tried to double-cross him. And that led to a wild goose-chase across the city across town. He had to hide, go back to his hideout, grab his gear and run to Shalebridge. So much for working and gone in a flash.

I really wanted to continue on with yesterday's post but I was in no shape to write as bed time calls. I felt some tiredness today - Not much of sleep, I think short of an hour.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Punishment Part I : Bad and Lousy Quality

Usually, I would come back quite late on Tuesdays. Mainly, I really wanted to enjoy every 90 minutes or so to have my dinner after my gym exercise and watch WWE RAW. Unfortunately, the house that I am staying does not have a Pay-TV service, so I had to go to a restaurant to watch one.

I was trying quite hard to get things ready but there are things that could not work at all. Particularly when the server of a source site is either down or slow in traffic. But it's just one-third of things to finish by tomorrow. It's like what Peter Parker said at the end of the first Spider-man movie, "No matter how hard I tried, the ones that I love will be the ones to pay." It's like being pushed into a situation where you find little help or support despite your best efforts. It's like, the bad side winning. That's where a person has to open the mouth and say, "Please help."

There are times that I really enjoyed watching some movies over and over again. Now that DVDs are the common video format seen by everyone through their video player or through a computer equipped with a DVD-ROM drive, it's kind of watching to your own pleasure, going back to your favorite scenes of movies and maybe do a variety of things such as catching easter eggs or even cameos.

I'm not really that kind of person that simply buys just because it's just out or something. I would just wait and see extra stuff included together and ensuring that I get the best video quality that I could watch. That's why I would buy those 2-disc pack of a title. Even if it's at 30 dollars, it's worth the buck and the quality - the most important of all aspects to look for.

If there is a raid going on, our friends on the opposite side, the vendors would be trying their best to delay those "City Watch" people and hide in the shadows before a City Watch guard says, "Let someone else worry for a change. I've got better things to do." Sometimes a frequent customer who likes getting titles at a bargain price of 6-10 bucks would curse under their breaths, blaming those fools seeking trouble.

You feel very angry and would really want to beat the hell out of that City Watch or council enforcers. Very simple, hide, take out your blackjack and when the the opponent is not aware, hit him at the torso. He goes down and says...."Can't uh....."


Forgive the picture's quality but you can see a high-res picture at it's source site by clicking the picture. You take the body and pile at some place where another guard sees it and starts to go in a state of shock. He would exclaimed, "Oh, no! He's dead." The problem with the A.I in the game is that even a guard is K.O'ed, a comrade-in arms would think he's dead.

Back to the subject, from being the peddler's perspective, the main reason that bootlegging is still on is that the price of original goods remains at a high end. A Region 1 2-disc title costs at $70, which is half of the previous price. For the reason of showing that 10 cents cheaper makes the difference, most prices are tagged as $69.90. In actual fact there's not much of a difference. Lack of money not money is the root of all evils - as what Adam Khoo - Singapore wealth / motivational guru said.

Secondly, an original home video version of a feature film may take 3-6 months before it is out a legitimate shop selling videos / music, so the waiting time may annoy some people who are anxious to watch movies they could not have time to see. Remember, each film can be shown in cinemas for a maximum of a month. This is because, given that there are an average of 6 showings per day, the more it is played often, the more likely that the release print of a film might get scratched or damaged. Remember, Malaysian cinemas are still playing film projectors, not digital ones as seen in IMAX theaters or in some U.S theaters.

A price for a ticket may cost $10 or more for cities such as in K.L. A quarter of the ticket cost is actually the Entertainment Tax imposed by the Customs Department whereas the remaining is for cinema operators. Taxes: People mostly pay either the 5 percent tax, this tax and Income tax, with the most being the 5 percent. Why pay when you can get one title at the cost of $6 - 10?

How about titles that are well-received outside Malaysia but not shown inside here? Censorship rules, eh? That's the mentality of the current Censorship board - CRAP. People here are willing to watch any movie as part of pleasure and to entertain themselves. Critically acclaimed titles such as Munich - which was nominated for Best Picture ended never been shown here despite high expectations from movie-goers. People no longer say, "I don't like this. Take this off." The opinion of that is already gone for a long time already.

I've already understood the reason of clamping from trying to look at the perspective of lawmen.So, I would not need to elaborate more.

In truth, I have mix opinions of on this issue. If I can't find a title that's in Speedy, then I have to go and find a shop that sells a 2-disc box included titles, Special Editions, Director's Cut and etc. But I do always keep in mind of making sure that I'm watching high-quality video. Those box titles can never show its inferiority in quality. I would know the intended title's cover, and actual street release date before deciding to buy one.

Last year, I was so excited of watching Dragon Tiger Gate, which I missed watching in cinemas because of lack of time. So I tried getting one copy of a video from a stall opposite the main road of my house. I was so eager to watch it, but my dad's longtime friend told me that their video quality of titles available are inferior. He was right. It would take a few months before they start releasing actual video-quality batches of those titles. In the end, I returned the title and changed it for another one or maybe another batch...but still got the same inferior video quality.

Strangely, my dad's colleague, who was sharing the house with me (stays every fortnight) said that the newly titles that he used to buy in Penang have high video quality despite being released one week later after the film was released in cinemas. How is this possible?

From that on, I only despised those bunch of Chinamen selling videos opposite my neighborhood. My friend, Uncle Screwtape, told me that he despised those fellows there too. I think those videos are taken from China Torrent - inferior quality sites - and then duplicated and distributed. With that kind of unusual cover title, I could get it at $6 at somewhere else. But it's the quality that insulted me. And still they go around carrying baskets and asking customers about their selection.

I asked them before whether if the video quality was good or not. A peddler said, "It's good! Good!" to my friend. Most of them said, "I don't know, we are not allowed to see the quality ourselves before selling. If you find the quality bad, you can take it back to us and exchange it. I'll give you a refund..there's a stamp behind our covers..." That's where I felt that actual information was withheld. They should have the first hand knowledge of saying, "Very good." before selling.

I felt this is just like going amateur for money in a way using a wrong approach. But they need money to survive and use it pocket money.

And then of course are those escape tactics. Sure, there is a watch group who helps them by informing of a raid in advance -allowing them time to pack and hide -via those Motorola short range walkie-talkies. I've read archive papers documenting that they event tail law enforcement people all the whole day. TONTOs is a Malay short-form for Tolong Orang Nak Tipu Orang (Help People Who Want To Cheat People).

You know, having something that is inferior in quality is something everyone hates. Sometimes, whoever's out there is ought to be punished. Not by conventional and procedural means but by this drastic way:

Kirumi Bhojanam is a Indian lore punishment according to its Garuda Purana tome whereby sinners who cheat people such as providing inferior goods are fed to the leeches where his / her blood are sucked out of the body. This concept is applied by Mr. Anniyan in punishing the fat man who tried to take him out when he was sued to court.

Anniyan is the story of Rules Ramanujam, who has an MPD disorder. Much of the premise is based on Sidney Sheldon's novel Tell Me Your Dreams. However, the main idea of using a MPD premise and incorporated into an Indian feature was part of a wake-up call for Indians who are lacking behind the developing nations as of 2004. Various punishments are executed according to the Garuda tome which documents sins and punishments. The concepts here are similar to those seven deadly sins that people would do, except it has over 28 kinds of sins.
Strange isn't it? I was recommended by my university friend who said that part of the film was shot in KLCC, Zouks and the KLIA airport. When it came out in April 2005, he called me in and showed me the movie. So I tried finding one and got it!

Special thanks goes to Nantha and Vijay for this!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Pay Homage And Glory To Thy Gods...

Garrett "What the hell is a Taffer, anyway?"

Hammer1: "Have thou learnt nothing! That name soils thy mouth!"

Hammer2: "Nay, Simpleton! Knowest thou not to say 'Taffer' is to speak the name of the defeated adversary, the Tricker? 'Tis a corruption, a cloaking that acknowledges him without intent, and gives him an entry into thy thoughts."

Hammer 3: "A foe is best contested in the light, not in the shadows. Allow none to so disguise themselves before thee, lest thou slip into the shadows thyself...and so be lost."

I don't really know what I want to talk. At first I wanted to talk about continuing from yesterday's post but I felt that would be best for another day. So I felt that maybe I might write something that is related to that statement above...Glory To The Master Builder...err...The Gods!

I am really tired at this time of writing. I finished work quite late, at 8.45 p.m. I was desperate to complete two tasks before Thursday, and I was paying too much obsession into completing it. But alas, there has been no progress and it hampers me much. Most left before 7 p.m, but only 4 of us left by the time it's 8 p.m. Then after dinner, I'm determined to write this post up before going to bed.

This morning, the Malaysian doubles team of Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boo Heong won the men's doubles title in the All-England Championships. There were plenty of articles documenting about their success and even the words of appreciation even from the ministers and everyone else.

What amuses me the most is this post from Peter Khiew (a person that my little brother hates for two years) about Koo ( a former student of St. Michael's ). It's title makes kind of funny but underlines the glory brought to the school (see, now that's what I am talking about...glory to the Gods!). The title simply reads: Congratulations, you made us extremely proud.

Note: Peter Khiew is an afternoon discipline teacher and part time reporter for The Sun.

I remembered enjoying the time breaking into St Edgar's church to steal The Builder's Chalice. But the consequences were devastating for those Hammerites. They take the loss of the Chalice as the sign of lost of faith of the Builder. They already had suffered a schism, when Karras and his hundred followers left the Order, and all sorts of incidents that happened in the last ten years. The amusement of being immerse in a Hammerite environment is the kind of doctrine approach that they adopted and the most amusing of all is that they speak Shakespearean stuf - of course it's Old English, nay, thy, thou, hadst...can't they go somewhat simpler?

All of those doctrine mumbo jumbo speak about doing for the glory of the Gods...

I actually know Kien Keat for about a few years. I was in the same school as him except that he was one year's junior than I do. I happened to see him at a classroom below mine during my Form 5. A college friend of mine, Kelvin, happened to be in the same class as him. Each time we have recess, I would go down to the canteen. But sometimes on the way, I might bump into him or Kelvin. I also kept my school annual magazines back home, and in some pages where all school accomplishments were achieved, his was there, and so do I!?

Why me? Because I know that I don't last long in school...maybe six years most, I felt that I want to make my mark in St. Michael's before I left. So I was in the school drama, I won the state-level competition, participated in whatever events, just as to have my name itched in the halls. It doesn't have to be just the academic stuff, but anything! Then again, from what I was doing, I have done a service to the school, but I just asked myself , blurred between the line of reality or joke - Is this glory to the gods? The Builder? Am I seeing Hammerites instead of Michaelians!?

I think it's got to do spending 45 minutes breaking into St. Edgar's Church...

I just happened to receive this answer from local filmmaker Yasmin Ahmad in the evening:

I've always suspected that hope in the Malaysian film industry lies in the young generation. You guys proved me right. Young Malaysians rawk!!!

The first step into a larger world.






Sunday, March 11, 2007

Royalty Coincidences?


Today I went for a second round of notebook browsing and I just the only notebook that fits the bill of what I want:

Sony Vaio SZ44GN/B. It has the exact configuration that I wanted but the commanding price tag is $1997 USD which is way worth over my budget and will surely burn a hole in my wallet! The reason, as I've explained in yesterday's post is due to the licensing cost of Windows Vista Business. There is a possibility of having a rebate deduction during the next PC fair in K.L mid next-month. Also, there was another model that caught my eye today: ASUS-8JE. It has everything but instead it only has 512MB RAM. Today's well-oiled notebooks do use 1GB of RAM to perform well as to complement the processing power of the Menroe processor.

When I went to the Sony shop, it was like going to Wieldstrom Museum, the climatic mission of Thief III: Deadly Shadows. Except, it is located in a shopping mall; you don't have to wander around the mall after 11 p.m - (when it's closed); but you still have to deal with security if you wish to loot all the precious stuff including a Playstation 3 prototype there!

So, thieves, are you up to the challenge of raiding that shop at midnight?

Well, back to the point: I happened to visit my favorite bookshop today and just found one of the new Star Wars novels called Exile by Aaron Allston. Allston wrote Rebel Stand, a NJO series book that I bought a few years ago. The cover art can be found at Google images.

Here we are talking of Princess Leia being at late-50s - we are following Mark Hamill's present age of 56 (September), so we are seeing out favorite Star Wars characters having more white hairs; aging; more wrinkles; no longer have that smooth and silky voice as it was 30 years ago. But Troy Denning - who wrote The Dark Nest trilogy revamped her character significantly, giving her chance to become something that she could not do 20 years ago. Hint: The cover art will tell you.

What I really wish to present in today's entry is the coincidences and comparisons that I've studied between two women. Firstly is Leia of course and a real-life counterpart. The northwestern part of the Borneo archipelago, now known as Sarawak, the largest state of Malaysia was once ruled by the family of the White Kings of Brooke (White Rajah) for one century (1841-1946). They are the only English family to rule an Oriental nation until today.

This is one of the pictures of Sylvia Brooke (The Queen of the Headhunters) nee Brett (1885-1971), the second and last Ranee of Sarawak. She was tutored by George Bernard Shaw and event her godfather Sir James Barrie (Peter Pan). You would not find one of those in Google or even Yahoo. I managed to trace this image from one of the few books around town and this was one of them. By right the picture above is the official royal portrait of Sylvia. This was taken circular 1932, which makes her approximately at 47. How she became the Ranee was by an accidental choice by her husband Vyner. She was a drummer in her youth playing in a female band accompanied by two others together with her mother-in-law, the Ranee Dowager Margaret(1849-1936).

See how she looks? There's some physical resemblance of her to Princess Leia or even Carrie Fisher herself except Carrie's shorter - if I am not mistaken it's 5'5. For instance, she is a decent socialite like Leia; even she did dressed like a Muslim royal in the King George V's court - but it triggered some murmuring among other noblemen. What about Leia? Now she's a Jedi Knight, she's not wearing a politician's wardrobe but an order's robe.

I saw a picture of her dressing in that situation particularly when she introduced her youngest daughter Nancy (Princess Baba to the media) (1915-1993). Second: Both women went to the top of the ruling hierachy. Sylvia was the consort until Sarawak's abdication in July 1946. Leia was the Chief of State of the Galactic Republic for 8 years. They are mothers, but Sylvia has three daughters whereby none could take over the stewardship of Sarawak (according to Muslim law) except for her nephew Anthony whom Vyner had a falling out.

Shortly after her marriage in 1911, her mentor George Bernard Shaw wrote this quote about her:

Ride a cock to Sarawak Cross to see a young Ranee consumed with remorse. She'll have bells on her fingers, And rings through her nose, And won't be permitted to wear any clothes.

Which explains her appearance mentioned above.

However, the main differences were that after Leia left public office, she still helps out but now she fights with her brother's organization the Jedi particularly with the current Second Corellian Insurrection. She went through tragedy and all sorts of drama including currently dealing with her son Jacen on the fact that he becomes the new Sith Lord after his grandfather Anakin! But Sylvia went to literary career, ignored Vyner but still keep in contact until his death in 1963 and stayed in St. James, Barbados with her daughter Elizabeth Vidmer (Princess Gold, 1913-2002) at times with her until her death in 1971.

Phillip Eade, in his upcoming book, Sylvia, Queen of The Headhunters documented some facts through some witnesses including her brother Oliver. Oliver described her youngest sister as a female Iago - a despot, a dangerous woman (The Colonial Office) and a witness testified her dancing with two prostitutes in one cocktail party, vulgar in behavior. Sylvia kept repeating the ship voyages of traveling back and forth of London and Kuching in her autobiography. And according to Elizabeth herself, Daddy (Vyner) keeps mistresses that even Sylvia accepted and mingle with them. If she doesn't like one, she would force Daddy to throw her off. She only forced Vyner to throw three out. The fact to add more insult, something which I find it is true is that her two daughters, except her oldest one Leonora, married commoners. Valerie married a wrestler Bob Gregory, Elizabeth married Harry Roy - the Hotcha king. It turned Sarawak into a sick joke just as the fall of the French monarchy.

In World War Two, she was in New York, doing press interviews, book signings, and even keeps on writing books. She was not with Vyner. He was in Australia. Elizabeth was in Canada. She did not return to Sarawak after 1935 when she wrapped up a film which starred her husband's band.

When the war was over, she went back with Vyner until the state was handed over to the Colonial office in 1st of July 1946. I saw some pictures, unfortunately, I do not have it right now, of an older Sylvia - being at the present age of Leia. Make no mistake though...at that time, she's just resembles Leia.

As a side note, what is discussed above coincides with Alice Ebbing, the whore who was backstabbing her husband Harry (think Kenneth Lay of Enron) and scheming with upcoming star executive Dermot Leary to make billions of profits for Dynaco by sabotaging the Florida electrical system. Writer Garth Ennis - an Irishman whom I loved some of his works characterizes Alice as the flip-side of Mary Jane Watson in The Punisher's novel Barracuda.

But they appear the same, thanks to Goran Parlov, whose drawing of Alice a nod to John Romita Jr sketch and Sal Buscema's inking!

A few years ago, I was watching some movies a while including the flap biographical film Sylvia and Sky Captain. When I saw Gwyneth Paltrow on those two movies, I just suddenly exclaimed to myself and said, from far, she looks like the two Sylvias. But then again, if it is worthwhile to ponder of the comparison, go to google, grab an image of a present-day Carrie Fisher (I bought one of her books - The Best Awful as a gift) and compared it.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

A Loot That I Cannot Resist

I had to go out today. I'm getting a little out of shape since I didn't have time to exercise this week because of numerous premier free-ticket screenings.

Today there was a IT exhibition / cum sale at Mid Valley, where various electronic gadgets including notebooks were on sale today. I really had been looking forward into getting a notebook for myself so that I can carry it anywhere to do work and even pass my time without wandering around. I know I must have one but there are many choices to pick from. So that's where I browsed through each brand's specs, prices and payment methods.

So far, after searching through, I finally came down to two brands, three models and licensing models. They virtually have the similar hardware configuration OS.

The final three models under my scrutiny were:

1. Acer Aspire 5684 WXMI
2. HP Pavillion DV2201TX
3. Compaq Presario V3205TU

Each of these models have strengths and weaknesses. The Presario model has a HD monitor which allows viewing of high-definition trailer at 1080i. But then, it lacks the video graphics processor that others have. The first two models are priced at $ 5000 Whereas Presario was priced at $4000. But then they have one missing thing in common:

OS - Most of those systems offer either Vista Basic (= XP Home Edition) or Home Premium ( = MCE edition). Since I work mostly on client-server programs, I would definitely need Vista Business or XP Professional. The earlier Vista editions are buggy and it does not have the remote desktop connecting feature included in Vista Business. However, I am aware that the licensing cost of Vista Business is 50% more than the Home Premium edition. Sadly, vendors could not do special request such as upgrading the OS to a different level - which is a bad thing since a trick of business success, according to Ron Kaufman is do to something unbelievable.

But still it is a loot that many amateur thieves would be out to get their hands on it. The poor people could not afford to have one of this since the price derives from the production costs of hardware and OS licensing.

You must remember for sure that such piece of equipment don't cost $50, but from $2500 to $15000 with the most expensive being Sony Vaio's Blu-Ray notebook.

Thieving for this isn't as easy as Garrett did before. He until today remains the only person in the world to have Keeper glyph powers to help keep him in the shadows. Not only that, you had to deal with security cameras that more sophisticated than the so called 'Karras' Eyes - big, bulky security cameras that might help trigger turrets if you are spotted.

Thief 2 - The Metal Age is by far the most difficult of the trilogy. The defunct Looking Glass Studios had raised the ante / challenge of stealth, making things go more difficult than Thief: The Dark Project. I believe that following feedback and comments by expert players of the first game lacks the challenge. In some levels of the game, such as raiding Shoalsgate Police Station to frame an officer - think as the medieval Bukit Aman Police HQ in Kuala Lumpur, you are not allowed into confronting people - which is an addition to the expert mode - which forbids killing people - a mark of an amateur as Garrett would comment. And there are levels that make you conserve your inventory as your loot and the stuff you might carry in a mission would be carried over to the next half of a mission.

It took me a month to play through all the 15 levels of the game with the climax being the most difficult of all - shutting down a mad patriarch's factory full of non-living beings.
Now back to the main point:

The picture above is the notebook that I really wanted: HP NX6330. It has the features that fits me most. But then I was angered that retailers do not have this model in the inventory. It seems that I may have to order one directly from the manufacturer. Which brings us to another problem here - the dilemma that I'm facing right now.

I remembered that my technical director of my company said that there are four categories of knowledge usage - that forms a 4-cell square.

1. The first one (upper left) is: Don't know and you couldn't.
2. The second one (upper right) is: Don't know but can do.
3. The third one (lower left) is: Know but couldn't do.
4. The fourth one is: Know and can do.

Using this square clearly benefits much as this can apply to any problems that we're facing.
For this scenario, I'm facing the problem: I can pay but I don't know whether I can pay in the way I want to pay - which is the upper right square that I've mentioned. If translated, it means, I can pay 1/3 of the cost in advance but in cash, but the remaining in card. House of Notebooks is a dealer that does that...thank god! But I'm planning this for April. Another good news is that the price has dropped by $500, which means I can afford it already!

I had to go amateur in the last three months to save as much of advance money that I can pay as to minimize the credit spending. But I treat this as paying monthly rentals.

When I came back for dinner, sometime came across my mind about bootlegging. It made me trying to put into the perspective of the opposition. But that would be another topic to be discussed some other day. I'm trying to keep a habit of 1 post per day.

Nay, simpleton. Knowst thou not that to speak that name is to mock our defeated adversary?
- A warning not to speak the word 'taffer'

The First Midnight Post

And so does the beginning of an endless journey known as 'blogging'. Yes, I concur that blogging is a digital format of writing a diary. So, I think it's less messy than writing on an annual diary. But somehow, I think I'll miss writing using my favorite Parker pen that I won through a Bonuslink point accumulation card. The pen still serves me well though.

I think starting off my first post at midnight is a good way for me to emulate the experience of my good friend Garrett. He goes out in the streets, enjoying a fine night, gatecrashes people's house but still keeps to his rules of not leaving any dead bodies behind. But now, Mr. G hardly goes out. I think that he has retired already with him being involved in three major crisis in the span of 11 years!

The starting point for this beginning was when I just got a HSDPA wireless service together with a HSDPA modem. The good thing?

1) I don't need a phone line that I've to get.
2) My housing area supports wireless network.

I feel myself struggling to find my voice outside. I don't know whether whatever I want to say will attract people who are interested and would like to drop by for a chat. I 'm just too quiet.

*Sigh* I'm just a little man trying to find his place in the world.

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