Little Litterbugs

“Keep Malaysia Clean”
“Think before you throw”

There is a never-ending barrage of the above channeled to us through our government sponsored television adverts and campaign posters about ‘keeping Malaysia spick and span’, yet it seems that the efficacy of the abovementioned remains somewhat of a mixed bag.

What I find more disturbing is the sight of school-going children dumping their garbage around their school yard and around the bus-stops.

I sometimes wonder what they ever learn in school, or more mind-boggling, what kind of values their parents have been instilling in their kids.

Unfortunately, it’s not just the little ones guilty of this, but even educated adults as well. I was once told of a lawyer who even declared that is his ‘right to dump his rubbish wherever he pleases’ as we pay taxes to have the council clean up our streets. I don’t see this as doing justice to our road sweepers.

While Kuching can certainly claim the spot for being one of the cleanest cities in the country, this habit is becoming entrenched. All too often, I see drivers who wind down their car window and dump their rubbish onto the streets, with a carload of kids. So much for homegrown values.

Welcoming the year of the Tiger

The time now is exactly 12:02 am, 1st January 2010. As I am sitting here writing this article, I am overwhelmed by the very thought that time has passed so quickly. Only less than five minutes ago, my computer’s clock read ‘11.57pm, 31st December 2009’. That was the last time I would ever see the ‘2009’ in the date column of the date-time display.

Last year was the most eventful year in my life, as it marked an important milestone in my life as I emerge from academia, and enter into the world as a working adult. 2009 was perhaps a year of many oddities; a year than began with a rough ride, from the moment I was ‘struggling’ with my thesis, till the joyful and unforgettable family moments during the Christmas season of 2009.

As I gaze with bleary eyes at my computer screen, working tirelessly to complete this brief article, amidst the thunderous claps of fireworks seen illuminating the sky, I am consumed by one stark reality; the year of the tiger has come. My year, so it spells a certain significance to a tiger like me, but not so much as an excuse to excel only once every twelve years!

The year of the tiger holds many mysteries, uncertainties and to those who are willing to work hard for a better future, the year does hold many promises. My resolutions, my life, my future. Perhaps, in another 12 years, when the next tiger comes by, I will have a word to say about the tiger of today.

 

===END===

Now Everyone Can Eat, and Ride?

“Now Everyone Can Fly!” (Yeehaa!)

How right they are. It used to cost so much more to fly around the country, and even more to fly out of Malaysia.

Then came Air Asia, and the rest became history.

The coming of Air Asia solved the problem of air-travel, which for many Malaysians like me, was rather expensive at times.

Then came another company, that for obvious reasons, gave me an impression that it wants to help prepare us Malaysians for some kind of impending famine or something.

FoodBusAsia2

With the wordings ‘Food Asia’ so prominently emblazoned on the red awnings shown above, it’s hard not to imagine that we might soon witness the rise of Malaysia’s (and the world’s?) first ‘low-cost’ food eatery, right? Hmmm, let’s find out…

image

A quick look at their website (www.FoodAsia.net, duh!) reveals an assortment of mouth-watering delights, from our local Sarawakian Apam Balik to the not-so-local Philippines Mee Hoon. I think they’re quite right about the pricing though; you can get just about any dish for RM 4.00 and below, and dessert for RM 3.00 or less. Finally, a place to get some decent food without burning a hole in your wallet. “Now Everyone Can Eat!”

And if that wasn’t enough, wait till you see this…

BusAsiaPic

“Now Everyone Can Ride!”

===END===

Sawing your way to fame

Joshua Bell plays the violin.

So does Itzhak Perlman.

Both men are world-class musicians, with world-class reputations. Joining this list is Takako Nishizaki of Japan. I just love the way she plays The Butterfly Lovers.

These musicians are known the world over for their amazing virtuosity, as the violin is not an easy instrument to play, let alone master.

Just two days ago, I was convinced that you can make good music out of just about anything. Be amazed. Be enlightened. See the video below!

Now imagine getting that thing on the plane. Sheesh….

===END===

‘Define: Google’

It’s hard to believe that it just happened. In fact, it’s so hard to believe, that only after years of ‘Googling’, I had just ‘discovered’ one of Google’s most powerful search operators: ‘define:’.

image Go ahead and try it! It works like a charm… =)

Now, I am not writing this article to tell you what late bloomer I am. It’s just that instead of scouring the web, conducting dictionary searches and performing cross-searching across multiple sites, I found that a way to get the ‘best of both worlds’, was to simply use the search operator ‘define:’. In short, Google gets to do the dirty work (nearly all of it), with sleeves rolled up.

The result can be seen below.

image

Too good to be true right? It’s no wonder Google has such immense sticking power.

Let’s just try another keyword to define….

 

image Heck, no harm trying anyway…

And what do I get?

image

Hmm…sad, obviously nothing to shout about, except that my name being popular among the folks in Britain at one time.

 

And another…

image  
Hmm..nothing very interesting, looks like Google hasn’t exactly moved with the times…

So we need to be a little more specific with Mr. G (Google!)…

image

Ahhh…that’s better. Have fun defining!    

 

??END ??

Bill Gates Giving Away His $$$?

junk_mail_mailbox What a load of rubbish! This email is more ‘$#&%’ than ‘$$$’!

This is a bloody hoax. And it is, as it had been circulating around the internet for a good 10 years or more.

It is so very annoying. Bill Gates giving away his fortune? If that is true, he would now probably be sleeping in the streets or under some bridge. I am very sure many of you have received an email that looks like the one shown below.

*****

Dear Friends,

Please do not take this for a junk letter. Bill Gates is sharing his fortune. If you ignore this you will repent later. Microsoft and AOL are now the largest Internet comp ani es and in an effort to make sure that Internet Explorer remains the most widely used program, Microsoft and AOL are running an e-mail beta test.

When you forward this e-mail to friends, Microsoft can and will track it (if you are a Microsoft Windows user) for a two week time period.

For every person that you forward this e-mail to, Microsoft will pay you $245.00, for every person that you sent it to that forwards it on, Microsoft will pay you $243.00 and for every third person that receives it, you will be paid $241.00. Within two weeks!, Microsoft will contact you for your address and then send you a cheque.

*****

There may be some variations in the above version, but the stories are fundamentally similar. I admit to having fallen victim to this notorious hoax many years ago, but who can blame a 13-year-old who had just gotten his first computer? The problem is that many a times I usually receive this email from friends who usually belong (apparently) to the right portion of a intelligence distribution curve.

There are people who are supposedly mature (and intelligent) enough yet fail to understand that in there is no free lunch in this world.

Even if Bill Gates did intend to pay that amount of money for every email sent and received, there are some nagging issues as to why this fact cannot possibly hold water:

1. The world population currently stands at close to 7 billion people. The global average internet penetration rate, as of March 2009 is 23.8 percent (http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm), and that accounts for some 1.6 billion people. If 2 in every 10 persons of these1.6 billion people forward the email to an additional 5 persons (they usually forward to everyone in their address books anyway), that accounts for some 320,000,000 persons forward that email to 5 times that amount, assuming that every one of these 5 persons are unique. This is further compounded by the fact that this email has been (and still is) in circulation for more than a decade, almost guaranteeing that every single internet-user on earth has seen this email at least once. If say, a ‘modest’ number of people, 50 million, for instance, actually did receive a check of USD 200  from Bill Gates for forwarding this mail in the time-span of 1 year, that makes a total of 10 billion dollars to give away every year, and that is a huge chunk of Microsoft’s annual revenues. This is also one reason why Ponzi schemes eventually fail.

2. The second reason is a total no-brainer: Isn’t it easier to just give it away the good old-fashioned way? For that reason, there is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Simple and convenient, and it certainly beats forwarding spam and wasting server resources.

Identifying Spam

Spam is relatively easy to identify. More often that not, spam is often characterized by three common traits:

  1. Email that you don’t want (d-uh).
  2. Usually ends with a note encouraging it’s circulation, either with a ‘bad luck’ note (like saying that you’ll die tomorrow if you don’t forward the mail) or with one promising reward (as in the example above).
  3. Email from an unknown sender, or from a person not known personally by you.

It always pays to have good email habits. What then do you do when you encounter spam? My uncle’s 3-step ‘Guaranteed-To-Eliminate-Spam’ technique would suit most people. The steps are:

  1. Open mail.
  2. Read (Optional: Have a good laugh).
  3. Delete.

Additionally, be careful with whom you share your email with. If you have to provide your email address, like signing up for email newsletters, make sure there is an option to unsubscribe in the future.

Thou Shall Not Forward Spam…

If there was room for another commandment, it ought to a top reason for making frequent trips to the confessional. Churches and places of worship around the world would be packed with ‘sinners’ and the religious would be droning on and on with their sermons as to why spam is ‘evil’.

But spam is evil.

I have had to deal with enough spam to make it my full-time job.

Forwarding emails indiscriminately  makes your inbox a highly susceptible target of spammers as the chain of email addresses usually accumulated as inline text can be harvested by unscrupulous individuals for marketing (or rather, spamming) purposes.

Don’t want to see spam? Then think before you hit that forward button.

Additional Reading:

http://www.sophos.com/pressoffice/news/articles/2003/07/va_billgates.html

http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/blmsaol.htm

http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/nothing/microsoft-aol.asp

______________________________________

===END===

Home Sweet Home

That’s it! I’m back home, and as I’m writing this, I’m enjoying my mug of hot milk. I had never eaten so much in so long, and just to think of it, I have all the time in the world to do whatever I wanted to do, and that includes putting on a kilo or two. I guess I’ll be looking a little more plump by the time I have my graduation portrait taken!

So am I feeling relaxed? A definite yes, after months of toiling and working like a donkey! Am I happy? Not quite. Why? I’M BORED!!!!

DSCN6956 
If you wondering what this photo is all about, then I have succeeded in drawing your attention, and wasting 5 seconds of your ‘precious’ life! I got bored, so I decided to put up a peculiar photo here…

Holiday Resort Syndrome

In case you’re wondering, I came up with the above-mentioned term, so it wasn’t coined by any doctor. Just come to think of it, insanity is a by-product of immobility! Two days have gone by and I have done nothing productive, save for the moments I glanced at my calendar. Instead of torturing myself mentally, I have decided to take a week off relaxing and chilling out with close friends. Speaking about chilling out with friends, the weather in Kuching has been unbearably hot, and I often find myself dragging my feet in the sweltering heat of the day. I can hardly disagree with Lee Kuan Yew that one of man’s greatest achievements is the invention of the air-conditioner. Air-cond is king! After all, imagine me turning on both my computers (computer’s produce heat….duhhh) in my bedroom on an especially humid day. That is tantamount to suicide…

 

DSCN6970This is how my bed office looks like. I work here from 9 to 5, daily…

 

My To-do List

Time is short. Life is short. Boredom is eternal. Here’s a list of some stuff to be done this long holiday season:

  1. Get married to a part-time job.
  2. Get my business rolling.
  3. Set up my home network and get 3 of my computers connected to the internet (this will turn my home into an oven…computers are hot!!)
  4. Tour around Kuching, and pretend to be a tourist from KL or Singapore.

 

1683273 
Ah…my beloved kampung….

Hmmm…or did I mention blogging? I guess I’ll be spending more time writing about my hometown. Do check back for more info. 😉

 

====END====

Multitasking

It’s 3.00 AM in the morning. I can’t sleep. I can’t eat. I can’t stop working. It’s ‘early’ in the morning and I have a paper in the coming few hours. Big risk? Yes.

I found myself, yet again, doing something that I had been doing (quite successfully) over the past few months. I had been working day-in and day-out not knowing when that I would finally come to that light at the end of that proverbial tunnel.

I had been multitasking, not the kind of multitasking that managers learn how to do, but rather, in a fashion similar to that of my laptop’s CPU. Fascinating? Confusing? That’s me spewing out all that computer-related jargon. Don’t fret, you’ll get used to it.

I do multitasking ‘round robin style’. My task description is as follows:

for (int i=0; i < (amount of work to be done); i++)

{

10 minutes: Facebooking

15 minutes:  Thesis correction

5 minutes: Checking the news

3 minutes: Googling

} //process iterates (amount of work to be done) number of times.

Total time per cycle: 35 minutes.

Work efficiency: 15/35 minutes = 42.86%

 

Works well at times no?

When the workload grows, I even work in sync with my computer. Here’s how I do it:

1. Starts Microsoft Word (4 seconds to load)

2. While waiting for Word to load (during the 4 seconds), I start the Google Chrome browser. (Takes 1.5 seconds to load)

3. Once the browser has loaded, Word still has 2.5 seconds more to load into memory.

4. Remainder 2.5 seconds is used to load Facebook, takes 5 seconds to load.

Total time taken to do tasks 1 to 4: 6.5 seconds.

Not bad at all…that’s three CPU cores at work (including my head).

==END==

Happy Birthday to Me!

I never thought so many people would remember my birthday!

After all, the last time I had a cake was nearly 8 years ago. I can’t even remember what it looked liked. How sad…

No cake? No problem. At least that was what some of my best pals thought.

Here’s how the cake looked like.

DSCN0143

Yummy, certainly knows my taste huh? (Thanks to Hsyiang Lung and Rachel for the lovely gift).

And here’s a bit of something more local….

DSCN0145 

The ‘curry puff guy’ came calling and the rest became history.

Dang, now the whole world would know that I have a weakness for curry puffs.

Lovely birthday. Thanks to all for the lovely wishes. All the best to you all too!

 

=== END ===

Being helpful hurts…sometimes…

It’s that time of the year when students over here at UTM are struggling to finish their assignments and final year projects. It’s also one of those times when I wish I had more in common with instant messaging software like Live Messenger; I really wish I can walk around carrying a ‘busy’ or ‘no entry’ sign around my neck to urge people to stop bugging me! Arghhh!!!

I believe in the power of ‘word-of-mouth’ marketing. I also believe that helping people would result in getting showered with blessings from high above. But I also believe that when people ‘promote your services’ (oh boy, and you do get the phone ringing that way…) and that your own final year project is starting to feel lonely, it’s time to put on that ‘busy’ sign, again. That is one of the main reasons why I appear offline pretty often on Live Messenger. Instead of blessings, I’m just starting to feel that the time spent helping people would have been better spent trying to untangle the mess and iron out all the kinks in my own final year project.

Gosh!

I have to admit, I’m starting to feel like a celebrity being hounded by hordes of paparazzi. So what can I do to ward off all these distractions?

I could:-

  1. Fake my death. (Ouch! I’d be missed by loved ones in the process…)
  2. Assume a new identity.
  3. Buy an island, then assume the tales and adventures of Robinson Crusoe.
  4. Becoming a secret agent, withholding my identity and current location.
  5. Wear a disguise. Change disguise as often as required.
  6. Speak in a foreign language and pretend that I’ve lost my ability to speak English and Malay.
  7. Wear a ‘busy’ sign, and look like a lunatic for the rest of the semester.
  8. Rendering myself incommunicado to the outside world.

Getting ‘lost’ in your own island paradise…hmm…

I’m seriously considering the 7th option, but I would risk getting stoned to death or burned at the stake. The 8th option is the preferred. So if you’re trying to call me and find a sweet female voice on the other end saying “I’m sorry, the….[I-can’t-remember-this-part]”,then you’ve caught me at the wrong time. It’s a moment of glory and courage. The sanctity of war, fighting for one’s survival in academia, is justified. It’s time to prepare for battle!

 

==END==