Saturday, December 30, 2006

Amazing Video - Kiwi

There are many lousy and lame videos in youtube, the most popular video-sharing website in the world. But not all of them are that bad. In the past, when I was doing some random surfing, I stumbled upon this particularly high-rated video and I was thoroughly moved by the message in it. I can't help to watch it over and over again, and every time I can't stop myself having a chill going down my spine.

I know the connection in Malaysia is kind of bad now, but do watch this video when you have a reasonable connection.

If you don't understand the content (like me when I first watched it), you can find more information about this video here.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Day (almost) without Internet in Malaysia


For those who have an affected Internet connection, if you are eager to connect to US sites with a higher speed, please refer to this thread in Lowyat forum. There are a few proxies which you can utilize for the time being, restoring your connection speed to a reasonable level. But please, don't abuse it as the resource is scarce now. If you overuse it, the proxy will be slowed as well and in the end everyone loses. So be considerate towards others, use it sparingly. (Image credit:

Update 2: For those who have difficulty setting up proxies, myAsylum compiled a step-by-step instruction for Firefox, Opera and Internet Explorer.


It's been a weird day.

APNC_faultFor those not in the know, there had been a massive earthquake in the ocean off south Taiwan, and it has affected some submarine Internet cables, causing a major disruption to the Internet connections to many Asian countries, including Malaysia. You can read more on major news sources, but this article in Lowyat has a good writeup and an excellent diagram about the nature of the problem. And best of all, the website is in Malaysia so you can still view it at a blazing speed.

For the whole day, millions of people must have tried to reconnect to the Internet, trying to fix their slow internet connection. Millions of people are also trying to restart their computer, flip the modems on and off, hoping that the connection would be fine again. For once, Malaysians are so united in one thing: cursing Streamyx for its crappy service. But they soon found out that streamyx was not to be blamed this time.

I woke up to find that the Internet connection was slowed to a crawl. It felt quite similar to surfing on the good ol' dial-up connection - only slower. I thought it's a problem in the modem so I restarted it. It was still the same. Then I restarted my computer. Not cured. I even ventured to run a full scan of my computer for viruses and spywares. Nope, some small viruses were found, but they were not a big problem, and the Internet was still the same.

Then I did the same thing as everyone else - blame Streamyx. I gave up on the Internet, hoping for the Internet to recover a while later while doing some gardening in order to prepare for my upcoming birthday. A moment later, I came home only to find that the Internet was still the same. Later on, I found out in Jeffooi's blog that the problem was due to the abovementioned earthquake.

It came to my realisation how important the Internet is to the modern society and how vulnerable it is to damage. Airplanes are delayed, financial transactions can't be done, and people panic while they find their connections malfunction. I for one felt so restless throughout the day, only to seek some refuge in some e-books to spend my time. Websites in Malaysia can be accessed, but there aren't really a lot of interesting websites ending with .my. What a sad state of Malaysian dot com industry. People paid more attention to the affected Internet connection than the people who died in the earthquake. Perhaps all that illustrates how dependent we are towards this massive network of virtual environment.

From the news source, it seems that it will take at least weeks to repair the submarine cables. Besides making do with the proxies mentioned above, I think I will have to think of ways to spend my coming few weeks. I am back to the real life, I guess.


Is Your Brain the Same Gender as You?

Is your brain male or female? Find out in this very interesting test that I found through Digg: Link

If you're interested, you can read my result here.


Footnote: To save myself a little bit of face of having a "female" brain, I would like to clarify two things:

1. For the "rotation" section I made the mistake of choosing only one instead of two answers. Sigh, talk about reading instruction carefully.

2. As for the "female" score of "spot the difference", I think it's due to the well-trained last minute cramming skill, acquired through studying for the final exam. :P

With that I end my excuses for having a slightly female brain.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Josh Groban - Believe

Children sleeping
Snow is softly falling.
Dreams are calling
like bells in the distance.

We were dreamers not so long ago.
But one by one we all had to grow up.

When it seems the magic slipped away,
we find it all again on Christmas day...
Believe in what your heart is saying,
hear the melody that's playing.
There's no time to waste,
there's so much to celebrate.

Believe in what you feel inside,
And give your dreams the wings to fly.
You have everything you need,
If you just believe,

Trains move quickly to their journey's end.
Destinations are where we begin again.
Ships go sailing far across the sea.
Trusting starlight, to get where they need to be.

When it seems that we have lost our way,
we find ourselves again on Christmas day...

Believe in what your heart is saying,
hear the melody that's playing.
There's no time to waste,
there's so much to celebrate.

Believe in what you feel inside,
And give your dreams the wings to fly.
You have everything you need,
If you just believe.

If you just believe.
If you just believe.
If you just believe.
Just believe.
Just believe
Merry Christmas to you!


Jesus was born on 25 December AD 1. True or false?

Answer: False! The Nativity, or the birth of Jesus, is calculated to have happened at some time around 18 - 2 BC, that means the AD, Anno Domini, or "in the year of Lord", is not really the year of Lord at all. As for the date 25 December, it's also speculated to be an arbitrary date set by the Roman Catholic Church, in order to replace another Roman festival called Saturnalia, a pagan celebration.


683611_grahams_christmas_tree_2Jesus Christ was (or is) one of the greatest man who has ever lived on the face of Earth. For millennia, he has left indelible marks on our society, and he will continue to be the icon of humanity for the millennia to come. As a non-Christian, I am happy to see the joy Christians found in the love of Jesus, and the belief in the God. In the season of Christmas, their exuberant spirit is well felt by everyone.

Christmas Day as a festival is no longer a purely religious celebration, today it is a festival throughout the world, celebrated by every cultural group in every nook and corner. When it comes to Christmas every yera, every shop out there is all out on many fronts to net as much profit as possible, from selling Christmas decorations to changing a shopping mall to a Christmas house. Christmas Day has almost become the celebration for businessmen. Despite the commercial implication and the globalization of the festivity, for the believers Christmas Day remains a holy festival where people gather in order to honour Jesus and God while commemorating his birth.

Talking about religions, I have always taken a profound interest in religious matters throughout the world, despite being rather irreligious myself. As a rather agnostic or atheist person, my biggest concern about religion is not its existence or meaning, but rather, the uprising of the fundamentalist community throughout the globe e.g. Southeast US, Palestine, Israel, and Middle East in general. Looking back at the world history, some armies have marched in the name of God, but most are inflicting harms while thinking that it's the ultimate good deed as decreed in their religions. Some died in religious wars knowing that they will be rewarded in Heaven, while some killed others and justified it with the Bible. Yes of course we know that those extremists are in the minority while the rest of the world are rather tolerant and moderate; however, the global trend clearly indicate that fundamentalism is inexorably dominating the Earth in the near future, and as moderate people we are bound to stop this from happening. We are already living with fundamentalism, and we will continue to live with it for a long long time. The twenty-second century is going to be a century of terror and conflicts, should the current trend continue.

Perhaps I have watched too many pessimistic documentaries to see the world so negatively. People say that those who paint a bad picture of religions are anti-religion, or people who have evil agendas. Dogmatic believers would accuse religion-questioning as Satan's act. But they aren't. I agree that most religions are good in nature, it's the humans who deviates from religious teaching; but the deviation is too perilous to be ignored by any of us. From a little search on "fundamentalist" in youtube, everyone can get a picture of the world's biggest problem today - unimaginable epidemic hatred inculcated by an organized brainwashing in children, reinforced by the draconian wars and policies which results in wars and conflicts in many countries.

On the peaceful day of Christmas, let's live up to Jesus' call to all human kind - love. Love your neighbour as yourself, even if your neighbour doesn't share your religion. Say no to fundamentalism. I wish everyone a blissful Christmas!

[In US,] despite a full century of scientific insights attesting to the antiquity of the earth, more than half of our neighbors [US population] believe that the entire cosmos was created six thousand years ago. This is, incidentally, about a thousand years after the Sumerians invented glue. - Sam Harris in Letter to a Christian Nation


Someone: I thought Christmas is the birthday of Santa Claus!


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Speed Dial

Speed dial is a handy feature that comes with most cellular phones. Let's say you call Ah Bee and Ah Tu very often with your mobile phone, and you want to cut the hassles of finding their names every time. It's easy, after some simple steps, you can set Ah Bee as no. 2, Ah Tu as no.3, so next time, just press and hold number 2 for Ah Bee, or number 3 for Ah Tu. Light and easy.

KeypadDespite the ease-of-use, this feature does suffer from a major drawback. Just imagine remembering 2 for Ah Bee, 3 for Ah Tu, 4 for Ah Meng, 5 for Ah Chen, 6 for Ah Xing, 7 for Ah Chua, 8 for Ah Kau and 9 for Ah Pek. Seriously, there isn't any good connection between the number and its corresponding person, unless you plan to stick something on top of every key. Just look at the picture on your right, and let's just recall, what number is Ah Xing again? See, you can't remember right? That is not my idea of convenience.

But my mum manages to find some good use to the numbers. Well, instead of saying "find some good use", I should say it was the most natural thing that came to her: there are 7 siblings in my family! So as the youngest child, I am honoured with the lucky number 7, my youngest sister get the runner-up 6, the one elder get 5, 4, and so on. And up to my brother, who gets the special number 9. Why? Because 1 can't be set to speed dial number, it's by default the voice mail number.

Another reason of having 7 children.


Stereotype (1)

TIME 2006I started out typing this post with a bit of glee, as I have just been awarded the coveted "Time Person of the Year 2006" award. Actually I mean, you and I are both awarded the Time Person of the Year for changing the face of the world through the fascinating interaction in the "Web 2.0" - youtube, flickr, myspace, facebook, friendster, blogs, forums, to name a few. Even my mum is now a regular Internet user, riding the waves of once-unimaginable technologies such as Skype, free VoIP (Internet to landline) calls and online sudoku. Today, almost everyone is on-line.

So, perhaps there's a good reason for us to feel good about ourselves, as Times Magazine has granted everyone such a great line in their future CV: "Awards: Time Person of the Year 2006". We feel so proud of what we have achieved, being tech-savvy, cool, trendy, up-to-date and all that. We are great people, living in a great time.

However, as a pessimist, sometimes I see such peril behind the apparent closer human relationships. Behind all the quantum leaps in our technologies, we have yet to improve upon the age-old human mentality. And that's what I would like to talk about: stereotype.

Fingerprint FaceThe word stereotype per se doesn't come with a bad connotation. Stereotype, is an over-simplified world view towards things in our surrounding. Admit it or not, everyone has a fixed set of stereotype. All of us instinctively keep alert of foreign workers in Malaysia, and comes Hari Raya, people feel unsafe about staying in KL because "those foreign workers are dangerous". Yes, the stereotype is in most, if not all people. Well, I am not saying that we should always greet them one by one or say hi. No, in this case, stereotype does serve a protective function, as it's indeed statistically valid that foreign workers are more likely to be involved in crimes due to their lower socio-economical status. Your mum's advice is sound to some extent, as avoiding interaction with high-risk people do keep you a little bit safer.

However, most stereotypes are unhealthy, if not hazardous. Let's just look at a few examples:

A nerd: Aiyorr, those lazy people arr, everyday don't want to study only know to go play football on the pitch and arcade.. What can they achieve in life?
An avid gamer: Haha, those nerds arr, they all only know to study nia, all other things they don't know one lar.. Got what use worr? Don't they most of the richest people are those who drop out from schools?
A Malaysian: Westerners are technologically advanced, but their values are corrupt larr.. so we actually live better than them, because got so much technology got what use worr, no value very teruk one... Nilai-nilai Barat sedang merosakkan akhlak rakyat Malaysia ni!
An Ang Moh: Malaysia bodoh!! This country is in deep shit, they are so indulged in self-glorification showered by their petroleum money. They build the highest building in the world, build lots of mega projects just to feed their own sense of sophistication. So you can imagine what their people are like: their people can't think for themselves, they are inefficient workers, the education level is a disgrace. They should learn from us in all regards!
A Chinese-ed: The English-ed, or bananas, are the disgrace of Chinese. Seriously, have they forgotten their roots? Aren't they embarrassed that they don't know any Chinese? Disgraceful banana!!
An English-ed: The Chinese-ed only know about the greatness of China, living in the glory of other people yet look at China as if it is really their country. They are small-picture people, for them China is the middle kingdom, and they don't care about Malaysia at all. They care so much about preserving their cultures, they are so adamant to "preserve the culture" while neglecting their roles in national unity. Ish those people, must have been brainwashed since young, just look at their language - they call every race besides their own as "kwei" (ghost), and they belittle Chinese people who have never learnt their langugae, regardless of reasons.
Yes, this brings me to the comments I mentioned in my earlier post. Why do we have stereotype? Why are stereotypic thoughts so prevalent in our society, we don't feel it anymore? Why do we accuse a certain group of people as being racist, when we are being racist by making that very accusation? I am leaving that to the next post.


The Revenge on Mosquitoes

MosquitoThe other day I discussed with my mum about killing mosquitoes. I guess if you have lived in high-rise building all your life, you would never come near to understanding how much nuisance mosquitoes are. Yes, there are mosquito nets, mosquito coils, mosquito bats, Shieldtox, and our lovely palms; but all the troubles we have gone throughout years is not the best form of entertainment, if you would imagine it to be that way. Ask any people who have lived in places like Shah Alam, or anyone who has contracted dengue fever - the lesson we have all learnt is "kill a mosquito when you see a mosquito".

So ya, about killing mosquitoes... Actually it's just a simple question that crossed my mind the other day: why do we really kill mosquitoes? Do we kill them because they will suck our blood, or because they have sucked our blood?

Just give it a thought. When faced with thousands of flying mosquitoes in the air, which mosquitoes do we target first and foremost? Which ones do we want to nail down most vehemently? Do you first kill...

a) Mosquitoes which haven't sucked your blood.


b) Mosquitoes which have had a gutful, about 0.01 ml out of 6000 ml of your blood? Mosquitoes which are already done with their feeding, and which can't do any more harm to you?

Perhaps the gene of revengefulness is so deeply embedded in us, it is even manifest in our preferences of daily mosquito-killing spree.

p/s: Apparently some scientists punished the mosquitoes for scientific justice. They found out that when the sensory nerve of a mosquito is cut, the little thing will keep sucking your blood until... it bursts! Hah that lab the scientist works in must be infested with the little annoying things. :P


Saturday, December 16, 2006

New Logo for Firefox

Someone out there has recently found a new logo for Firefox, and it looks really good.

I don't really want to make it appear in my blog for the fear of spoiling my innocuous image, so, well, you may view it at your own discretion. [Original Source: Digg Article]


p/s: No horror, ghost or gore. Just pure fun.


Friday, December 08, 2006

Going Home

I am leaving for the airport in 30 minutes.

Bye Melbourne, hello Alor Star!


Saturday, December 02, 2006

Moving House

House /n., adj. haʊs; v. haʊz/,

1. a building in which people live; residence for human beings.

2. a household.

3. (often initial capital letter) a family, including ancestors and descendants: the great houses of France; the House of Hapsburg.

blah blah blah...

42. The name of the main character in the TV show I am watching.
I am going to move to a new house next year. And of course, I am not referring to the definition 42.

Here goes the story: Last September, JPA (my sponsor) decided to change our allowance plan. In the past, JPA paid directly to College Square for the monthly rent (which is about 750 Australian Dollar per month), and in addition I got 380 dollars per month for allowance. By allowance, it means electricity, water, Internet, groceries, transportation et cetera et cetera - basically everything minus the tuition fee and the accommodation. The allowance had been barely enough for me, as for the Internet alone I needed to pay 30 dollars per 500Mb, and it tallies with about 3 week's usage for me. No, not good at all.

It happened that for some reasons, JPA was feeling generous and decided to raise our allowance in the future. In the new system, they now pay us 1200 dollars every month, and we are to spend it wisely on everything. It seemed like a really lucrative offer, as I can now look for accommodation elsewhere which could offer the same amount of comfort without the high price tag of College Square. As you can see, although they fixed the super-sonic lift after three months, I still haven't quite gotten over the traumatic experience with their industrious window-washers. The fact that my apartment's price is raised to 802 per month doesn't help either.

Hence the new house.

As of today, I have yet to find a good house, as the house availability is still on the scarce side. I have been to a few house inspections, and they are either too run-down, too expensive, too far or too small. Yes, it's rather hard to beat College Square even with its plywoods. My search will continue though when I am back in Malaysia, and if I have no luck at all, Yong Chin and I are set back in College Square. College Square is kind of a safety net for us there, as the apartment's availability is pretty much guaranteed when everything else fails.

Actually, today is not so much about finding houses, it is more about packing. As I am writing this, I am halfway packing my stuff to be moved to Xuan Ni's house in the morning. I can't leave it in my current house as the contract is going to expire before my new semester begins on 12 February. Haha, here comes the bad habit again, writing blog in the most unearthly hour in the most unsuitable circumstances. But be kind to me, as you can see, if I don't write my blog in such circumstances, there wouldn't be a single entry at all.

One unearthly hour ago, before I went very off-track, I actually wanted to share my insights about moving house: packaging.
  • Safeway (Woolworth in other states) is your best friend when you are looking for boxes. Yes, despite all the price tags on everything your eyes can reach in the supermarket, the boxes are free!

  • Wait until 11.30pm when their staffs start unpacking their stocks to be loaded on the shelves. The large boxes are going to be put on the each aisle, and you just have to wait for them.

  • BUT! Don't just stand there, kindly ask one of the friendly staffs to show you the aisle where the facial tissues are located.

  • Yes, Kleenex boxes are your best friend! They are large, and it suits just right for the width of two large textbooks, three small story books or ten underwears put side-to-side.

  • Napkin boxes are perfect too.

  • You can ask one of the staffs to open the boxes for you, in case they haven't unloaded the stocks. It's so easy you can even lend them a hand - just tear it, invert it, and leave the tissue paper boxes on the floor. I got ten large boxes in two minutes this way.

  • Don't put everything in Kleenex boxes - they are too large for things like lecture notes. For those A4 notes and books, there is the biggest invention since the white bread - IndoMee 30-pack boxes! Trust me, the Indomee factories must have used A4 books as the template for their box design, as they fit just so well. And amazingly, each box fits my one-semester materials perfectly too. So I can just put the whole semester's stuff inside and label the boxes accordingly. Sweet.

  • Remember, don't throw away your IndoMee boxes. They are very reusable.

  • For the last tip... Don't just keep all the rubbish. There are things that you think might be "memorable in the future", but once you decide to keep them they will not see daylight again. Identify them and dump them in the bin.
That's it for moving house. I am back to packing my clothes.

p/s: I think that my writing on the comment in the previous post has to be postponed again... It's too hard to write about because my brain is rusty already. :(