Downtime

Just some time between noon and about 8pm today, you may have noticed that it was difficult, if not impossible, to enter my website. The problem was eventually traced back to a memory allocation error with the server. Apparently this was caused by a ‘server migration’, which the service provider informed me about some 2 days earlier. In other words, it was mainly a configuration issue.

After performing countless reinstalls of the WordPress package, I realized that installing the JetPack plugin caused the wp-admin login module to not load properly. I was not even able to access the dashboard; I got a blank white page instead. I noticed an anomaly with the stats bar above (in the WordPress toolbar at the top – you see this only when logged in as an admin) in that the stats were hardly showing and I suspected the problem was caused by the JetPack plugin was consuming too much memory. I proceeded to delete the module (the whole folder) in the wp-contents/plugins folder via the CPanel file manager and the problem was solved. Anyway, I’m back online and glad to be so.

 

 

Motivation for the New Year

For those who are in need of some encouragement, here is a round-up of motivational quotes for the new year. The perfect recipe for our new year resolutions.

Problems are only opportunities in work clothes.
– Henry J. Kaiser

A good general not only sees the way to victory; he also knows when victory is impossible.
– Polybius

Wisdom doesn’t necessarily come with age. Sometimes age just shows up all by itself.
– Tom Wilson

Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.
– Benjamin Franklin

Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.
– William Shakespeare

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore,
is not an act but a habit.
– Aristotle

When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.
– Helen Keller

Do not forget small kindnesses and do not remember small faults.
– Chinese Proverb

Look to be treated by others
as you have treated others.
– Publius Syrus

No great man ever complains of want of opportunities.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is of little traits that the greatest human character is composed.
– William Winter

It requires wisdom to understand wisdom: the music is nothing if the audience is deaf.
– Walter Lippmann

The secret of success is to know something nobody else knows.
– Aristotle Onassis

In learning to know other things, and other minds, we become more intimately acquainted with ourselves, and are to ourselves better worth knowing.
– Philip Gilbert Hamilton

Great effort from great motives is the best definition of a happy life.
– William Ellery Channing

We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.
– George Bernard Shaw

Every artist was first an amateur.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Every man has his own destiny; the only imperative is to follow it, to accept it, no matter where it leads him.
– Henry Miller

Destiny is not a matter of chance; but a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, It is a thing to be achieved.
– William Jennings Bryan

By associating with wise people you will become wise yourself.
– Menander

One who understands much displays a greater simplicity of character than one who understands little.
– Alexander Chase

Dost thou love life?
Then do not squander time,
for that is the stuff life is made of.
– Benjamin Franklin

Prosperity is a great teacher; adversity a greater.
– William Hazlitt

If you would know the road ahead, ask someone who has traveled it.
– Chinese Proverb

Men spend their lives in anticipations, in determining to be vastly happy at some period when they have time. But the present time has one advantage over every other, it is our own. Past opportunities are gone, future have not come. We may lay in a stock of pleasures, as we would lay in a stock of wine; but if we defer the tasting of them too long, we shall find that both are soured by age.
– Charles Caleb Colton

A good deed is never lost: he who sows courtesy reaps friendship; and he who plants kindness gathers love.
– Basil

New Resolutions

The year 2012 has come to a close, and in the blink of an eye too. As I sit down reminiscing the moments of the year while gazing at the blinking cursor before me, I take my time to reflect on the those moments that I cherished, the moments that I missed, goals that went down the drain, and those that did take off. This is usually the time of the year when many thoughts will go through my mind as I sometimes find myself in that awkward situation of being ’neither here nor there’.

For my new year resolutions, I will be focussing on two things; simplicity and focus. With regard to simplicity, I will do less things, knowing full well that it is only possible to do a few things well at a time. On focus, I will use my time and energy to do the things that matter most. This means less time (and money) wasted doing unproductive things. I guess that also means eating less and going to the movies less often.

Goals, I believe, should be specific. But I am not obliged to share the specifics here on the public domain. Anyways, happy new year to all!

New Blog, New Year

The switch to WordPress wasn’t an easy one, because to me it felt like I was moving my web presence into a new ‘home’. I originally advocated the use of Blogger as the best way to set up a web presence, but it isn’t necessarily the best option for those who clamor for more control and customizability. That is not to say that Blogger isn’t good at all, just that for some people, it might not be the best option out there.

I started my first blog (lionel552.blogger.com, now defunct, I think) some years ago because it just seemed like a cool thing to do back then. But more so, it felt liberating and somewhat exhilarating to be able to post stuff online for everyone to see. I was still a student back then and I did not yet see the profound impact this had on the way information flowed through the Internet, despite this phenomenon being relatively commonplace in the developed countries. The term ’blogosphere’ was something new to be back then, but it was cool to be part of a blogosphere and that was all that mattered to me. When I felt like ranting, I turned to my blog and poured out my opinions and thoughts like it was nobody’s business. I thought it was a crowd puller and I was right for a while, but I felt I attracted the wrong kind of crowd and it just didn’t last. It didn’t feel fulfilling to write junk so I stopped for about a year, occasionally returning to see if there were any spammy comments along the way.

My new blog is no longer called ‘The Artist’s Easel’ as I have decided to take a turn at building my web presence after my own personal identity. I intend to use my blog to write and share topics that are of interest to me. In other words, this blog will serve as an extension of my mind, and a digital personification of myself on the web. In addition to that, I will also use by blog as a platform to showcase some of my photographic endeavors as well as my personal projects.

If you are wondering why I switched to WordPress, it is because of the provision for deeper customization of the templates as well as having a vast array of high quality plugins to choose from. Blogger’s selection seems quite stale in comparison, but like what I said, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing at all. Would I switch back to Blogger? I don’t think so, especially since I have already settled down comfortably with this blogging platform. Besides, I believe WordPress will continue to serve its purpose as a tool for getting the job done, for a long long time to come.

As the year 2012 comes to a close, I will be making some new resolutions for the year to come. It’s time to start writing better stuff.

The Day the World Ended

Today is the 21st of December of the year 2012. Just about every mention of ‘twenty-twelve’ brings back haunting memories and vivid imagery of the scenes in the movie ‘2012’, that of the earth crust crumbling and sliding into the bottomless depths of the ocean as survivors try to cling on to the last vestiges of support they could find as they slid into their watery graves. On that fateful day, the world ended.

But that’s what Hollywood tells us.

Today, in sunny Malaysia, that day has come. No screaming, no crashing cars, no crumbling elevated highways, no mega tsunamis, no collapsing towers of concrete in this urban jungle we call home. It was business as usual. But amidst the normalcy and order of things, the chatter of the world ending or any possibility of it happening was very much alive and in the air. There were those who laughed and scoffed at the naysayers and doomsayers. However, it was evident that the doomsayers were right about one thing; the possibility. The possibility of the world ending. Would the world go on as it did yesterday? Or would some catastrophe of global proportions tear through civilization like a hot knife through butter, leaving in its wake a trail of glowing space rocks and dead organic matter, of which used to be good old Mother Earth?

But then I digress.

The point is, as we live in this world, it is a good thing to be once again reminded (a big thank you to the Mayans) that indeed nothing ever lasts forever. The stretch of time that dinosaurs roamed the earth is many many times longer than the entire span of human civilization, yet they eventually disappeared. Food for thought indeed.

Flickr for iOS

Marissa Mayer has made good her word on turning Yahoo! into a more mobile-centric company. After much speculation, the company has finally released the much-awaited (and long expected) mobile app for Flickr. Better late than never, right?

What seems to be a case of ‘too little too late’ is compounded by the fact that Flickr for mobile appears to be yet another ‘me too’ when it comes to filters, which isn’t really a bad thing. It is hard to blame Flickr for being yet another Instagram ‘clone’, but Flickr has got to be given credit for being a pioneer in social-media and photo-sharing.

One thing that I really like about Flickr for mobile is that the photos it has on display in its feed are not limited to those in my contacts.

As I am not going to, and I never intended to write a review of the app, I will just list down a couple of pros and cons, from the perspective of an end-user.

Pros:

  1. Easy-to-use yet familiar user interface. Instagram users will feel right at home.
  2. Ability to save directly from the camera roll, or from the camera is a big plus point.

Cons:

  1. The app is a bit prone to crashes.
  2. Lack of pre-caching; photos load only on view.
  3. Lack of sharing options. An option to share directly to WordPress and blogger would have been nice.

A Mood for Instagram

It’s been a while since I had posted something here. Sorry about that, but work was literally keeping me at the office for longer hours for the past

weeks. I did manage to take some Instagram shots during the quick visit to the mall on Friday. Here they are.

Parkingson’s Disease (Also known as ‘Kuching Drivers’ Disease’. Not to be confused for Parkinson’s Disease, which is a degenerative neuro-motor disease) [Satire]

A plague is sweeping across the town causing drivers in Kuching to display what appears to be signs of Parkingson’s disease. There have been no official annoucements from the local authorities, but a Kuching-born expert in this field, Dr. (‘Driver’, not ‘Doctor’) Lionel Lam, has compiled a list below to help with identifying the progression of this disease, as well as how to help those infected to cope better with their lives (and driving skills). There has been no word on the cause of this disease, but rumor has it that it is caused by certain Hollywood blockbusters and bad parenting skills. Patrons of car club meets and car-modding workshops are at high risk of getting infected.

Stage 1: Early Detection
Symptoms include weakness of limbs, particularly the legs, resulting in over-dependence of using motor vehicles even for short distances (300 meters or less) and the inability to walk from parking lots and spaces. Early signs of the disease are often hard to detect, but affected individuals are advised to get a medical check-up if they show signs of irritability on the roads. Symptoms usually only manifest when the affected individuals are behind the wheel.

Stage 2 Progression: Brain Infection
As the disease progresses to a slightly more advanced stage, the victim’s brain becomes infected, causing additional symptoms, including but not limited to, occupying more than one parking lot and/or leaving their cars parked at the roadside, much to the inconvenience of law-abiding drivers. Emotional instability may manifest, especially when said individuals are confronted by members of the law-enforcement group.

Stage 3 Progression: Worsening Signs
As the disease progresses to the third stage, the symptoms will worsen significantly. What used to be 300 meters walking distance from the parking lot will reduce to anywhere between 5 meters to 20 meters. Compulsive groaning and grunting (more like cursing and swearing actually) and other Neanderthalish behaviour will manifest.

Treatment
Treatment is fast and painless. Either lock up the offending individuals, or lock up their car keys. This disease is often difficult to treat because the affected individuals usually behave like other normal-functioning individuals when not in the driver’s seat, and is thus difficult to detect.

Government Initiatives
The Ministry of Health appears to be unable to help as many affairs with regard to this new outbreak are not within their jurisdiction. The government is however mulling the possibility of creating a crony company to handle this health menace.

All Hail, the King of Fruits

For some reason, I suspect this will be a controversial post. Here’s why:

For the uninitiated, this is a durian, the king of fruits. At least as far as I am concerned. This fruit is revered in this part of the world where I live. Singaporeans love it. Malaysians love it. Bruneians love it. Indonesians love it. Thais love it. The Chinese love it (just ask Stanley Ho). Everyone else seems to hate it. Poor fruit.

So why is something so much loved, revered, to a point of being worshiped, drawing so much flak from westerners?

Well, for one thing, it is certainly because of two things. The first of which, the durian’s smell is extremely pungent. But to us Asians, perhaps pungent is not a good way to describe it. We would probably call it fragrant. Bring a durian or two into a small room and soon that oh-so-tantalizing whiff will start to fill the air, and of course, you will be at the center of everyone’s attention.

And for the second point, depending on where you come from, some have noted that the smell of the durian is similar to that of rotten cheese. So ‘bad’ is the smell that passengers aboard Singapore’s MRT trains are forbidden from bringing these ‘vile thorny things’ along with them, owing to the fact that Singapore has a large expatriate population, which is perfectly understandable.

20121107-182054.jpg

If you notice from the above, in this fine city of Singapore (pun definitely intended), no fine is mentioned for bringing durians aboard the train. Maybe they will just confiscate your durians.

Food for Thought

It is hard for the average Sarawakian to get by a week without indulging in our favorite local noodle dish. Here it is.

Locally, this dish is known as ‘kolo mee’, which is means ‘dried noodles’ in Chinese. The dish is very much hybridized to suit the local taste but its origin can be traced to Guangdong province in southern China, which is where my grandfather came from.