26 December 2006

Ten Thousand

Over the weekend the blog reached 10,000 hits. Gee, I've come so far since this humble post:

It's already the 25th, for goodness sake! My hit counter stands currently at 181. I managed to top 100 visitors last month, and I plan to do so again. So c'mon my dear readers, I'm sure you can do better than that! Come more often! It's not like I update once every 5 years!

Do me proud, or I'll be forced to 'F5' my way up to number '200' before the midnight of the 30th.

Yes, I'm that sad.

All this makes me very reluctant to take this leave of absence, but it's something I have to do if I want to be around to see the next 10,000 hits! In the meantime, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you! Spend this enchanting time with your family, away from blogs.

22 December 2006

21 Y.O.

At of this moment, 8 people have wished me Happy Birthday!

I've finally achieved what scores of teenagers under 21 really want - to be 21. And I can safely tell them, "Stick to being your age".

Dad got out and bought a birthday cake for me last night. Though it was probably the cheapest cake around, I appreciated the gesture as I don't remember the last time he did something like that. Last year was different because somebody else bought the cake.

I'll be having dinner with a loved one - also an unprecedented first. Let's hope I have a magnificent evening again!

(No blog updates for a long time - refer to previous post on how to use RSS feeds to keep track of my blog)

20 December 2006

Suspended Animation

I felt it, and I'm sure you all have too (as witnessed by the serious drop in posts and comments). I have lost some interest in blogging, no thanks to computer games! Last time, I would spend my free time blogging but nowadays I will boot up Windows on my iMac and play Prince of Persia (fantastic game). If I have a friend over, we'll play Marvel Ultimate Alliance (great co-op game). If I have a LOT of time to waste, I go kill some characters in Sims 2 (super time-waster).

As you can see, blogging is no longer a part of my day.

However, I won't go so far as to close my blog, as popular blogger Jay did. I am merely putting the blog on hold as I pursue my long lost hobby of computer games. I believe we move through life in phases, and this happens to be the phase of "non-blogging". I might put up a special post this Friday, but otherwise it'll be some time before I continue blogging regularly. That time I'll probably return with an all-new blog template.

As your audience is very appreciated, I suggest you keep track of my blog using RSS feeds. If you're using Firefox, it's very easy:
1. See your Address Bar. On the right corner there is a small orange icon with one white dot and two curves.
2. Click on it and add it to your Live Bookmarks. Those using Firefox 2.0 has a few more steps, but just get it into your Live Bookmarks.
3. Download the Fizzle Firefox extension and install it.
4. The next time just click on the Fizzle option under the Tools menu. It will open a page where you can see if my blog is updated or not.

This is just one of many ways to subscribe to RSS feeds. You can do it with any other blogs/news/websites that have that orange feed icon in the Address Bar. If you're already using RSS, congratulations! Add my site into your feeds and you'll know when I'm back without having to manually come here every so often.

Peace out - till we meet again.

13 December 2006

Spelling Fever

Well, sort of. A few posts back I blogged about how pop songs nowadays tend to spell certain words, and it's certainly a strange obsession. Well, that obsession has leaked into the press. Check out the headline of this Star story:
Seriously, what's wrong with using "...crash!"?

12 December 2006

Fantastic Bargains

I'm having a week long training event held in a shopping mall here, so after class I visited the CK Jeans boutique. They were advertising discounts of up to 70%! I found out that after the discount, the prices have dropped from ridiculously expensive to just expensive. RM350 for a pair of jeans? Nuh-uh. It's RM35 Haadyai counterfeits for me, please.

07 December 2006

Spelling Bee

Have you noticed how lately R&B and pop songs will spell words? It seems to be the rage now. One of the earlier songs I remember using this method was Gwen Stefani's Hollaback Girl (B. A. N. A. N. A. S.). All sorts of spelling songs followed. Some of them include songs by Fergie (G. L. A. M. O. R. O. U. S.) and Ciara (G to the H, E to the T, T to the O).
I'm beginning to think that the artists are dong it to improve the English proficiency among fans. After all, with the accusations that rap music is deroding moral behaviour, things can only get better when singers finally spell out some of the key words in their lyrics. I'm not sure how spelling 'bananas' fit into the whole education picture, but hey! It's rich in pottasium.
However, this positive step received a setback when will.i.am, rapping on Fergie's Fergalicious, misspelled tasty as "T to the A to the S T E Y". In case you have problems stringing alphabets together, it's 'tastey'. Maybe it was deliberate, but all it does is to allow critics to claim that rappers are destroying English (if they haven't already). Still, don't be surprised if niggers from da 'hood start winning spelling competitions.

06 December 2006

No Longer A Question of Content

Well, not really anyway.
I usually stop updating because I don't know what to write. But nowadays life is hectic and I can't find time for the blog! I have so many things to update - adventures with my new MP4 player, work ramblings, and more senseless posts caused by vampire traffic. In fact, I don't even have time to READ blogs, much less write on my own.
As a quick note, I'm listening to the following new albums:
Gwen Stefani - The Sweet Escape (not as good as L.A.M.B. but still nice)
Emma Bunton - Life in Mono (new release from Baby Spice, & surprisingly nice! Light and easy material)
Ciara - The Evolution (an average effort - no catchy tunes like 1, 2, Step or Hotline here)

05 December 2006


During the last MacWorld Expo, Apple put up a lot of banners promoting its upcoming version of Mac OS X (Codename: Leopard). One of them is really funny: "Redmond has a cat too. A copycat." The mention of cats is of course a reference to Mac OS' codenames like Tiger, Panther, etc while Redmond's 'copycat' is none other than Windows Vista, obviously.
I thought all this was just the usual Micro$oft bashing but when I saw some screenshots of Vista today, I gasped in horror. Some of them really DO look like Mac. Especially the Save and Open dialog boxes. It is really as if Microsoft lifted the whole thing up from Mac! If that's not proof of Mac OS' superior usability, I don't know what is. Perhaps the thing that is annoying me the most (as a Mac user) is that 90% of users will upgrade to Vista and praise Microsoft for finally improving the user interface, when in fact Mac users have been doing that for the past half decade.

01 December 2006


I feel so stupid for recently finding out that Calvin and Hobbes, the super popular comic strip featuring a boy and his tiger pal, has ended since Dec 31, 1995. For so many years I thought I was reading new cartoons, but little did I know the papers were just reusing old ones. That's a true testament to the comic's popularity, and the same treatment has been given to Peanuts, and probably Garfield too when Jim Davis retires.


Vampire Traffic

It used to be that I could avoid heavy traffic by leaving earlier or much later. But it seems that traffic jams have become a permanent fixture around my work area. I leave at 5pm, jam. 6pm, jam. 7pm, ALSO jam. It is literally sucking the life out of me, hence the title. Perhaps for a future Bond film they can introduce a mad scientist who deliberately causes worldwide traffic jams to make everyone depress. And depression directly affects the number of babies born, and that can only mean unhappy fertility clinics and angry governments.

Read my last 2 sentences. More proof that I'm turning into a zombie who writes pointless and humourless posts.

Anyway, last week's microchip theft in Penang prompted the police to put up half-assed roadblocks, thus causing long queues as 5 lanes of traffic are funneled into 2 lanes. Plus, the roadblock is directly outside Penang's latest shopping arcade, Queensbay Mall (which opens today). I have to pass by that road every morning, and I shudder to think how traffic will be affected by Queensbay Mall. But, I think I'll be an emotionless zombie by then, so it wouldn't really matter.

29 November 2006

The Camwhore Experience

For something very different today, I inversed the ratio of text to images. This is also the first time I posted so many clear photos of moi. Enjoy!

The proud graduands (from left): Alvin, Catherine, Jason, Jackson, YY, Gary, me

Catherine stood out in the crowd with her striking saree

Mobile porn does come in handy while waiting for our turn ;P

Calvin adjusting his "son's" mortarboard

So happy I had to struggle to keep my mortarboard on!

What else could we do while waiting for our turn to take the group photo?...

...Camwhore, that's what.

More friends: me, Calvin, YS, her BF, Alvin

Caught off-guard while sharing a light moment

If we knew each other earlier, we might have ended up BFFs

My good friend Joey - I've mentioned him in older posts

The supervisor who gave me Hell (with capital H!) so I could experience Heaven that day

With one of my all-time favourite lecturers EVER, Ms. Fairuz. And I'm not saying that just because I found out she's a regular reader :P

Another one of my favourite lecturer, Ms. Mazlyda. Had the pleasure of being her student for 2 semesters!

And saving the best for last...
With the man who paid my tuition fees, bought me my iMac, paid my car loan, and so much more (though he didn't give me the flowers). And of course, the person who took most of the photos in this post.

27 November 2006

I Feel Like Peter Jackson

By that I don't mean I feel excessively fat and have an urge to not shave because I was too busy directing blockbusters. I mean I feel like Peter Jackson when The Return of The King won 11 Academy Awards out of the 11 it was nominated for.

I had my graduation ceremony last Saturday. It was quite a low-key affair which ended early (before 11am, in fact!). However, the highlight of the day was the special student awards. In a briefing before we entered the hall proper, the MC announced that those who will be receiving awards must go and sit in the front row after collecting their degree certificates.

So he began announcing the award recipients. I was hoping to hear my name at least once because I was certainly not the valedictorian. And that was a huge bummer because I had wanted to give an inspirational speech while standing on the stage, looking over all the other weaklings graduands.

The MC announced the first award, "The Sun Java Technology Award goes to Catherine...." I burst into applause as Catherine was just sitting beside me, and I think she definitely deserved it after the stress she went through for the project. But the MC wasn't finished, "... and also Zemien." I was shocked. My project? A worthy Java program? Why, I never!

Then he continued announcing the other winners, specifically the Best Student Award, Best Project Award, and the MNEBay Book Prize. I was very, very surprised to find out that I bungkus and sapu all of them as well. I shared the Best Project Award with another student I don't know, but basically I won all 4 awards I was nominated for.

Not bad, kan? If I was capable of any shame, I would have been blushing but I didn't, so I graciously accepted the gratuitous applause given by my friends. I think some of them might have felt a little envy, but I accept that as normal. It is lonely at the top, after all :P

I didn't get any standing ovation for winning so many awards, but Dad did say the parent sitting beside him commented, "HIM again?!?"

The final event of the day was the valedictorian's speech. Suffice to say, I was no longer feeling deprived of my valedictorian status. By winning 4 awards, I knew in my heart that I didn't need to give a speech to bask in any valedictory glory. Plus, I wouldn't have been able to match the valedictorian's speech. It was eloquently delivered, but like most of these speeches, it was the same thing but with the words changed. I don't think I would be able to cheat myself by delivering such a pre-packaged speech. But the student who did it delivered it with aplomb, so congrats to him as well!

Still, I'd like to think of it as sharing the limelight, as it wouldn't be fair if I had won 4 awards AND gave the valedictorian speech. It would be Zemien Overdose, literally.

I'm really sorry if I sounded a little sombong, because I really am. I set the record for most awards won by a student. Takkan tak kembang kan? As a side note, the national anthem was played at the end and I really enjoyed singing Negaraku after 4 years of neglecting it.

After the official ceremony, we adjourned to have tea break, and more importantly, to camwhore. Dad took lots of photos, some of which I will post up after I'm done doing virtual plastic surgery on them (those pimple scars have got to go). I also received a bouquet of sunflowers from Buddhist Society, which proved to be one of the best things that happened because it was even more unexpected than the awards themselves.

On the whole, it was perfect. More short notes when I post up the pics.

Exciting Teaching Techniques

In a Star article today, Deputy Education Minister Datuk Noh Omar was quoted:
Meanwhile, Noh urged teachers to apply “exciting techniques” when teaching Science and Mathematics in English.

What does it mean by 'exciting techniques'? If these ministers do not define their words clearly, we'll soon have such things happening in schools:

Pretty female teacher enters her Science class in an all-boys school. "Good morning class!" she addresses her students in her sexy, sultry voice.

"Good morning, teacher!" the boys enthusiastically replied.

The teacher started her lecture, "Our lecture today covers the female anatomy. Now, the Deputy Education Minister has instructed teachers to apply exciting techniques when teaching Science, so for today we're going to try something different. Let's examine the female mammary gland, or more specifically," (rips open her tight blouse) "my mammary glands".

The whole class gasped.

"Don't you boys worry, you'll get to examine it up close personally later if you all pay attention. For now, let's focus on labelling each part of the... Jeffrey, why are your hands covering the front of your pants? Alex, Velu, you too! Now, it's ok if you're a little excited- it's a normal reaction for boys. The scientific term for that is an erection, and we'll learn more about its importance when we go into the topic of reproduction soon."

"And for those of you not having an erection, that's normal too. You're just gay, and we'll be covering that in next month's genetics lecture."

Come to think of it, that's not half-bad at all. You have my vote, Datuk Noh!

Wrong Way to Die

My Streamyx is misbehaving. I will write about my last weekend's graduation ceremony soon!
In the meantime, this is such a salah way to leave the world: Man killed with a flower-pot

21 November 2006

Popularity Contest

How do you know if a movie is expected to do well in the box office? When you are shown 5 beer advertisements before the movie starts, as in Casino Royale.

20 November 2006

Casino Royale Ain't Bond Enough

Like 99.5% of Bond fans, I screamed incredulously when Daniel Craig was revealed to be the next 007. I thought, “How the heck is this possible?” After watching Casino Royale though, I have to concede that he was a good choice.


If so, why the negative title of this post? Despite its many raving reviews, it just doesn’t feel like a Bond film to me. It’s a very solid action and spy movie, but it’s just not Bond. I don’t care if this Bond movie is touted as being true to Fleming’s vision. A true Bond movie is a Bond movie with megalomaniac dictators, Q’s gadgets, and funny double entendres with vixens named Pussy Galore. You’ll find that none of those appear in this installment. Another thing – I don’t know about you, but I loved it when the James Bond theme plays whenever 007 pulls off an action sequence. Well, in Casino Royale the 007 theme appears only during the ending credits and wasn’t used at all in action scenes. In other words, it’s like any other action movie.


I’m of course being a little unfair. I enjoyed myself thoroughly throughout the 2.5 hour running time. The movie song is not bad at all, while the opening montage/collage is commendable. I still encourage everyone to watch it, even those who hated the earlier movies. But if you are a Bond traditionalist like me, you’ll find that it doesn’t rise to the occasion quite hard enough.


On another note, I’m upset that I can’t find my Die Another Day and Goldeneye DVD. I loved those two movies very much! Guess it’s time for another trip down to my friendly neighbourhood DVD seller.

09 November 2006

The Profanity Button

Last week I watched The Departed in the cinema, and I totally regretted it. It's a pretty good interpretation of Infernal Affairs, but the whole experience was marred by our morally-superior censors.

It's a violent movie, and because it depicts criminals, they are often very liberal with their curse words. And that could only mean one thing for censors - pure pleasure.

When I was buying the tickets, the girl told us that this film is for adults only. "No children, ya?" If only adults are going to watch it, why censor it in the first place?

But the biggest thorn is not that they censored, it's how they censored. In the good old days they would just silence the offending word. We would see the actor mouthing that well-meant "muthafucker", but our ears would be spared the pain.

But did our censors do that? Oh no... they couldn't risk having our sharp eyes deciphering the words "cock sucker" on the screen! So they used some fancy splicing technique to make it look as if the actors never said those words at all! Problem is, it never works. It makes it look as if the film is stuttering and the actors magically shift places in 1/10th of a second.

Not only did it feel weird, but they didn't even splice it properly. Quite often, the beginnings of the swear word can be heard, but it is immediately joined by the end of the next word.

For example, take this sweet sentence ripe for censoring:
"You motherfucker! I'm going to make you regret eating my girl's pussy, you cocksucker!"

After going through Malaysian censors, it would sound like:
"You mo-'m going to make you regret eating my girl's p-u coc-!"

Now, imagine listening something to that effect for 2.5 hours. For a more humorous take on the issue of censoring in press, check out Scott Adams' blog entry The Most Obscene Letter:

If you ask me, the most obscene letter in the alphabet is the asterisk. It appears in almost every naughty word you see in print, from f*ck to p*ss to m*th*rf*ck*ng c*cks*ck*r. You can’t even pronounce the word “asterisk” without saying *ss. That smutty little character is attracted to obscenity like flies to sh*t.

Down a Slippery Slope

Here I am at another boring (and technical) company training. I'm not sure if it's the lack of rest or the instructor's sheer monotony but I keep dozing off in the middle of his explanations, thus missing out large chunks of the logic behind the theory.

To help me stay awake, I have resorted to energy drinks that contain 25g of sugar, colourful Mentos candy, and lots of tea with milk and sugar. Another colleague is also using sugary treats to keep her alert. In fact, her drawer is so full of candy that any ant reading this would have orgasmed when it read "her drawer is so full of candy".

And then we wonder why we get diabetes at 50.

07 November 2006

Knowing the Weather

Working at my company is like being in the safety of a mother's womb. It is lighting-controlled, temperature-controlled, and I suspect humidity-controlled too. We have fresh air circulation systems so it never feels too stuffy. All our drinking water comes from a central, filtered source. Security is adequately tight. Furthermore, from my cubicle it is difficult to see a window to the outside world.

In other words, during my working hours I cannot tell if it's cloudy, raining, or scorching. This is more troublesome that you might expect, because usually when met with strangers the first thing we do is comment on the weather. Can't see weather = No conversation topic. And boy, there sure have been many uncomfortable silences so far.

However I have discovered a way to tell what the weather was like during the day. My shower has no heating installed, so I have to make do with whatever comes out of the shower head. And I've found out that if the day was hot, the water will be warm. If a thunderstorm happened, I would be understandingly shivering during the evening shower.


04 November 2006

... in Small Packages

(You must read yesterday's post for this one to make sense)

I gasped. A package from Durex! For me! And then, a light of realization dawned and I smiled cheekily.

Every year, Durex holds an International Sex Survey. I joined the latest one many months back. After completing the VERY LENGTHY survey, I browsed their site for a little while and stumbled upon the product page for their (then) new Easy-On condoms. The name should be quite self-explanatory - it allows the condom to be put on easier.

At that time they were looking for survey participants to try out the Easy-On condoms and give feedback. If I remember correctly, they were looking for sexually active males aged 24-35 (or something like that). Well, you can't expect me to turn down the chance to get free condoms, so I lied about my details in order to make me eligible!

They did not reply me about my status so I had forgotten about it in a month's time. And lo and behold! It's been about 6 months and they finally sent a small 3-pack, in addition to a simple survey I have to complete and mail back.

When I realized what it was, I SMSed Dad:
"Oh i remember. Saw they were giving out free samples on their website abt 6 months ago while I was still in college. Thought they juz tipu tipu. Thanks again!"

As if to compound the embarrassment that I was already feeling, Dad asked:
"Sample wat? Durex famous 4 condom."

At this point I think he's being really ignorant and I just SMSed back:
"Yes condoms of coz. Dunno wat else they put inside. Feel free to open and inspect"

Being in the traditionally conservative Chinese family, parents never talk sex or about sex to their kids. In fact, I think this is the closest we ever came to discussing safe sex!

Anyway, the one they sent me was Fetherlite:

You can apply for a free sample, but I tried that last time and they didn't send anything to me. Don't bother asking why I need so many condoms. Let's just say they're not for baloons.

03 November 2006

Good Things Come...

Yesterday Dad came into my room and handed me a small pink card. "Are you expecting a parcel?" he asked. I wasn't, but the pink card itself is a request for me to pick up an item from the post office. Apparently no one was around when the mailman came, so he left the card to ask me to collect my item within 7 days.

I was very puzzled - I did not buy anything online nor was I expecting a registered letter of any kind. I cracked my head, trying to figure out what was sitting quietly in the post office, waiting for me? Unfortunately I had to collect it from the head office, which is located smack in the city, so I asked Dad to do it for me instead.

This morning during the training I SMS-ed Dad about the item. I was very anxious to know what it was. Dad replied, "Durex with small package".

I gasped.

(To be continued...)

02 November 2006

A Flickering Daze

The company has an in-house Learning Centre which houses a Computer Lab for training purposes. Yesterday, several colleagues and I started a 3-day course on Digital Signal Processing (DSP). I'm not going to write about how difficult and confusing it is because my boss might just read it and realize that I'm either incompetent or lying (or both!).

Unsurprisingly, the computers in the Lab are really old and discarded models. Performance is one issue, but a major headache (literally) are the CRT monitors. Since changing to LCD displays years ago, I've been unable to withstand the flickering on CRT monitors. It drives me nuts and gives me headaches! Plus, the lights are dimmed in the lab so I have to face a glaring, under-refreshed, low-resolution screen!

Arrgh! My eyes! My eyes!

01 November 2006

Chronic Curlyhair-itis

I'm this close to giving up on my hair. Maybe what ShaZ wrote was right - I need an iron perm or else it will all be wasted. Just this morning I noticed that some of the hair near my sideburns have started to go back to its curled-up glory. So either Wellastrate didn't do its job or I just applied it incorrectly. I'm now deciding on whether or not to do a re-application next week, you know, just to straighten things back a bit.

People have already begun commenting on how much better I look with my new hair - I ain't backing down!

31 October 2006

Curing Curlyhair-itis

Since the dawn of my existence, I've been blessed with slightly curly hair but cursed with tough locks. Until today, I cannot afford to let my hair grow too long because I will wake up every morning with an afro and everytime I comb it to the left it will curl its way to the right.

It's not too curly, which actually compounds the problem because I'm neither here nor there. I can't use hair styles for straight hair because the curls will make it look cheap, but I also can't do curly hair styles because it's not wavy enough.

However, salvation appeared in the form of Wellastrate. Wellastrate is a hair straightening cream that allows DIY-ers like myself to straighten their hair without forking out more than RM100 to a hair salon. I never knew a product like Wellastrate existed until a family friend recommended it.

One package cost me RM33.30, and from my estimation it can be used for 2-3 applications. I used it last Saturday, but instead of applying it to my whole head I just did the sides and front, which is where my hair is most curly. I left the back untouched because the curls at the tip actually add some value to my style.

All in all, I would say it worked very well. There were some parts where it's still a little bit curly, but I think that's because I didn't apply it thoroughly enough. However, its chemical composition is quite similar to colour dyes, and therefore it's damaging to the hair and I'll refrain from using it too often.

These days I've been experimenting with plenty of new styles, especially spiky ones because it is no longer in danger of twisting its way out of my grip whenever I pull it up. The best part of the deal is that when I miss my curls, I just have to go for a haircut.

Anyone else have experience with hair straightening products?

25 October 2006

Duty Calls

On this fine holiday, I'm in the office. I can't exactly say why or what, but it doesn't take half a brain to come to the conclusion that there's a crisis going on. What's more of a crisis, though, is that they left the central air-conditioning off! I guess 4 people in the office do not warrant switching on the air-con capable of cooling a hundred.

I'm happy to report that my social life is finally picking up again. What's more impressive is that I'm finally playing video games again. I mentioned earlier that I bought Need for Speed: Most Wanted and Tomb Raider Legend. As an update, I'm now also playing:

  • Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones: Gorgeous graphics, but doesn't work well with my el cheapo gamepads.
  • Megaman X8: I missed out on X7 but I'm more than happy to continue playing as the Blue Bomber, now in glorified 3D.
  • Call of Duty 2: I'm not a fan of FPS, but I downloaded this game because it's the nicest-looking Mac game now. I wanted to see how well games run natively on Mac OS X instead of going through Windows. But I got hooked on this game anyway because it really makes you feel as if you're in a war.
  • Halo 1: Again, I'm not an FPS fan but I've heard so many great things about the storyline that I don't mind suffering through vertigo and dizziness to see what the fuss is all about.

Other games I'm looking out for are:

  • F.E.A.R.: I love survival horror games. And I've heard plenty of good reviews about this. So I'll give it a try once I exhaust my other FPS games.
  • Silent Hill 3: I didn't finish the first game coz I was scared shitless. But now, I want to prove to myself I have the balls to blast away virtual demented nurses.
  • The Sims 2: I know I won't stop killing them once I start playing, so I'm holding out on this for now till I get my psycho tendencies under medication.

Any other graphically-gorgeous games you'd like to recommend? I want to play all the 3D games I can while my video card is still "current".

22 October 2006

Refund, Please

At my gym we have a VCD library where members can borrow any movie for free. Just today I brought Dad in as a guest and he asked me to borrow Elektra. I haven't watched the movie before but I read really horrible reviews for it. But I figured I'd have nothing to lose.

Apparently I did. 2 hours of my life, in fact. I wonder if there is a way to claim back time for all the lame movies we ever sat through? Catwoman and Daredevil are two comic book adaptations that instantly come to mind, but I'm sure my loyal readers can provide more lame movies they regretted watching.

19 October 2006

My Life is (More) Complete

...now that I've finally gotten my graduation gift from Dad:

Earlier I contemplated taking photos of the iMac in my own room but didn't because:

1. People will see how messy my desk is
2. iMacs in real life don't look as good as iMacs in marketing material

To just squeeze a little more envy from all of you still stuck with Windows, here it is again:

Ironically, one of the first things I did was to install Boot Camp and then load Windows XP onto it. After which I experienced orgasmic joy via beautiful video games. At the moment I'm playing NFS: Most Wanted and Tomb Raider Legends. For someone whose last games were probably Need For Speed 3 and Tomb Raider 4 (remember those?), there's not much more I could ask for. Surprisingly good performance from the ATI X1600 chipset on a 17" widescreen monitor.

And just in case you promised yourself that you won't be jealous:

16 October 2006

Weird Happenings

Some of you might have noticed that a pop-up appears when you first enter the blog, something about cPanel username and password. I've done some checking and it appears that it's caused by the TagBoard - they have tutup kedai and now I have lost all the tags you guys, erm, tagged. Can anyone recommend a good alternative?

Another thing is that my site counter has gone bonkers and I had to reset. So I'm starting my counter from 8500 - pretty accurate if you ask me. I am tempted to just start from 9000 but I'll give myself the benefit of the doubt.

P.S. You should no longer see the weird pop-up. If you do, leave a comment.

12 October 2006

One Can Only Hope

How I wished that our mathematics problems were as interesting as this:

The distance from Point A to B is 100km. If a cyclist starts cycling from Point A at a constant speed of 20km/h and a car moves from Point B at the constant speed of 80km/h, how long will it take for the car to run over the cyclist?
Give your answer in minutes.

Just in case you were wondering, the answer is 60 minutes.

07 October 2006

Fantastic Shot

This is the kind of stuff I look for when I work on Saturdays:

P.S. If you don't see any picture, well, it sure ain't MY side of the problem!

Oh OK! Let me re-upload the whole thing so you can see for yourself. Though on a Moody Monday, the picture doesn't look as impressive anymore:

P.S. If you're wondering what's so weird about a plane flying across Gurney Drive, it's that I've never seen planes fly across Gurney Drive.

Workaholics Part 2

Today is Saturday. So why am I in the office?

Plus, I've been coming home tired everyday, hence the lack of posts. I do have things I want to write about, but since I sleep earlier than Cinderella I don't think I'll have much time for writing.

04 October 2006

Pandemic Panda Eyes

I'm at the office early to post because Streamyx at home has not been working for 2 days already. But the moment I started writing, I forgot what I wanted to write about. Oh wait, I do now.

At the factory premises we have a small mini-market and yesterday just before leaving office I stopped by to get a bottle of Eye-Mo. My eyes have been stinging for the whole afternoon, and I couldn't take it anymore. Surprisingly the shop keeper told me it was his last unit of Eye-Mo. I guess many other workers here have been staying back more than they should.

My eyes still sting now. Sigh. Might I have to wear glasses soon?

01 October 2006

Hurricane Post

Lack of time and lack of sleep has forced me to do what many bloggers have done before - multiple short notes!

Biological Alarm Clock
It is said that we only need to do something regularly for 6 weeks before it becomes a habit. Well, it took me half the time to adjust to the 6.30am routine. I adjusted so well, in fact, that on weekends I wake up before 7am as well! It's totally screwing my weekend nightlife. Which I don't have but I'm trying to create.

Selling My Soul
I finally joined a gym - Fitness First. And you know what? I had to sell my soul to get their free gift pack. OK, so I didn't have to sell my soul, but I needed to write down names of 10 friends and their phone number so Fitness First could go harass them. I scrolled through my address book and wrote down 10 names, who may or may not be even interested. And I explicitly told the lady not to mention my name when harassing them. All this for a bag, t-shirt, tumbler, headphones, and some silly vouchers.

Double Cascading Action
If you thought that was some new sex position - shame on you! It's the technology behind my new washing machine. OK, so Dad paid for it, but he's already made it clear I'll be doing most of the laundry. All this while we sent our clothes to the dobi, but I figured it's time to go for long-term savings and convenience by doing our own washing. So in the end we settled for a low-end Panasonic 7kg washer with Fuzzy Logic. Where they use Fuzzy Logic is quite fuzzy to me.

Sorry, just had to write that last sentence.

No Day Like Pay Day
So, I finally got my first pay slip. Never mind that it's all online and I don't get to feel it with my fingers. Now I know why people are automatically happy at the end of the month. And I just discovered that it's good to go for dates around such time because people are more willing to pay for your meal.

28 September 2006

Congratulations, I'm A Workaholic!

I guess the transition is almost complete. Since yesterday, I've been arriving at the office at 8am, and going back at 6.45pm. I'm sure it could be worse but at the moment I can barely think cohesively. And since I have to be at the office around 7am tomorrow for a web conference, I don't even have time for movies tonight.

As I was preparing to go home today, I was wondering if I should bring home a stack of documents to read. It was some studying I had to do for a meeting tomorrow. I glanced at the documents, then at my watch, and finally at the documents again. I threw the papers on my table. It'll just have to wait. After all, wasn't there something about allowing work-life balance as a company policy?

26 September 2006

Making Fun of Dad, But in a Good Way!

My next piece about a seemingly innocent Picasa function is up at Last Sociable Hacker:

Last night my father called me over and asked where some of his photos have all gone. It was certainly strange - all photos within a folder had vanished. I instantly ruled out a virus attack as they wouldn't target a specific photos folder to destroy. My first instinct was human error. Dad's not exactly IT-savvy.

25 September 2006

6 is the New 5

It used to be that those who went home at 5pm had to endure a horrendous jam. As a result, more people started going back later, and later, and later. Until 6pm became the new 5pm.

I found this out the hard way when I decided to go back a little later today. I would usually leave the office by 5.30pm, and though it was already clogged up, it was nothing compared to 6pm.

Driving in a traffic jam with manual transmission for 30 minutes is more draining that 2 hours of work.


As of this precise moment, I am having:
  • A small zit inside my nostril (you know how painful these little buggers are)
  • 1 week old sorethroat from my coffee experience
  • Blocked nose
  • Muscle aches
  • Diarrhea
  • Minor cough
  • Fever (under control with paracetamol)
Life sure ain't fun when the combined powers of the flu and food poisoning come to haunt me all at once.

22 September 2006

Weird Trends

Does anyone else notice that the moment I write that I'll be taking a break from blogging or that I'm running out of ideas, is the precise time that I'll have a deluge of new posts?


21 September 2006

The Final Frontier

Loyal readers will know of my Three C's, and why it came about.

It's been almost 1.5 years since I took any antibiotics for sorethroat/tonsilitis, so I felt that it's the right time to slowly re-introduce those C's back into the menu. The first item was of course curry/chilli. It's true what a hawker said to me - how can a Penangite not like spicy food? While I still steer away from laksa (never a favourite), I've been able to enjoy more spicy foods nowadays without fear of waking up sore.

I've been taking curry again for some time now, and it was only recently that I attempted to have chocolate again. As I joyfully discovered, I can indulge in it once more! In moderation, of course.

The final frontier, then, is coffee. Some people wonder how I can study/work till late without a shot of caffeine every day. The answer is simple - I don't. I'm a firm believer of adequate rest, but by starting a career well-known for its late nights, I realize I better get used to coffee, fast.

As with most offices, we have an unlimited flow of coffee and tea. I never quit drinking tea so I usually have a cup around 3pm when the after-lunch effect is in full swing. But yesterday, I decided to take things a little further by adding some coffee into my tea. I added only about 20% of the cup, so it's still mostly tea. I enjoyed it!

I woke up this morning with a slight sorethroat. How very nice.

20 September 2006

New Blog

Calvinsanity is starting a new blog - Last Sociable Hack3r, and he's inviting me to be a member! Being the attention whore that I am, I accepted. Even though it would mean putting more effort to write posts for it, I think I'll enjoy it.

I'll notify you guys when I update that blog by putting a snippet up here as well, but do check it once in a while to see what the other contributors write.

My latest post, "Free USB Drives!" is now up. Excerpt:

When we think of hackers, we imagine a group of nerdy teens who sleep in the morning and spend the whole night in front of the monitor. We think they live on Coke, and the only communication they know is through IRC. That is a dangerous assumption, for the real truth is further than that.

19 September 2006

Lingua Franca

Back in college, most of my friends spoke Mandarin. Being the boring banana that I was, I didn't take Mandarin too seriously. After all, English is the lingua franca, and I am sufficiently good in it. Nevertheless, my command of spoken Mandarin has grown by leaps and bounds over the years in college. It was the only logical thing to happen, really, when all your friends speak Mandarin among themselves even though you are sitting right there.

Try as they might, they failed to coax me into speaking Mandarin for their amusement. I will not be used as an object of abject pleasure! I tolerated them, knowing that once I join the corporate world, English will be the most important language.

Long time readers would know what to expect next.

To my dismay, most of my colleagues also use Mandarin for their casual chit chat during lunch. They can speak English perfectly fine, but in informal settings, they revert to their strong Chinese roots. And you can imagine how depressing it is to me.

I know it's just my second week, but I have yet to make any good friends. The blame is mostly on me, I guess. Most people who just got to know me think I'm pretentious and a snob, and for good reason! I mean, if you were a native Chinese speaker, what would you think of someone who can understand Mandarin but insists on replying in English?

I'm hoping for a good opportunity to let them experience the joy and warmth that is Zemien.

18 September 2006

Vegetarian Update

In some of my earlier posts, I have lauded the fact that I'm on the verge of becoming a full-time vegetarian. Well, now that I came back, I can safely say that I'm no longer on the verge of becoming one.

It's really problematic when you have family members shove animal flesh onto my plate. As a policy, I do not reject any food given to me. In other words, I've been eating A LOT of meat since I returned. It's hard to explain my new position on consuming animals, especially since they know I do not like greens since young.

So the only time I have full control over what I eat is when I am at work. And I've really been enjoying the ability to savour vegetables without curious eyes looking at me.

17 September 2006


Just like my good friend Jackson, who also just joined the rat race, I'm in a transitionary period. I'm a bit numb from the new routine - waking up at 6.30am and reaching home at 7pm (usually) definitely eats up most of the time I use for leisure. I usually blog about my daily life, but at the moment I am refraining from writing about my workplace in fear of being dooced.

With some simple mathematics, one could easily calculate that I can only blog about the things that happen between 7pm and 11pm (before I pass out from the exhaustion). Unfortunately, that also happens to be the most boring time of my day. If I were to blog about what happens between 7 and 11 everyday, my blog would look like:
7pm: Watch downloaded movies
9pm: Take a shower
10pm: Read blogs
11pm: Sleep

7pm: Watch downloaded movies
9pm: Take a shower
10pm: Read blogs
11pm: Sleep


7pm: Watch downloaded movies
9pm: Take a shower
10pm: Read blogs
11pm: Sleep
I'm sure you get the idea.

Weekends are definitely another source of blog posts. While I hope to make my Saturdays and Sundays more exciting and productive, at the moment I'm just too lazy to put keyboard to Blogger. I would rather unwind from the week by watching even more downloaded movies. In the long run I plan to join a gym, get active in Buddhism again, and work on my love life.

But until those things come along, there will probably be a serious dearth of posts. After all, I'm sure you wouldn't want to come in everyday and read:
7pm: Watch downloaded movies
9pm: Take a shower
10pm: Read blogs
11pm: Sleep

16 September 2006

Pop Quiz!

Quick! Name the three necessities of life!

A biologist might say "shelter, food, and clothing" but I've realized that for programmers it's "shelter, computer, and caffeinated beverages".

14 September 2006

Unforeseen Side Effects

A few days back, movie star Orlando Bloom finally bought himself a computer! It's quite a landmark for the 29 year old technophobe, I believe.

Guess that is what happens when you act in films like Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Carribean. You become a Luddite.

13 September 2006

Sudden, Complete Understanding

Today I finally understood why nylon is such a popular material for making men's slacks. Although it is relatively uncomfortable, its most important feature is that it can't absorb or retain water very well - a useful thing to wear when accidents happen in the toilet.

The last thing I want is for my boss to see a wet mark at the back of my pants.

12 September 2006

All I Want to Say is...

... we nerds love our acronyms. Especially if they're Three Letter Acronyms.

11 September 2006

Starting Out

So, today's the first day of work! I arrived at 8am sharp, but HR is only supposed to come at 8.30am so I sat around reading a Buddhist book I brought along. Which was a wise move on my part because the other new hires just sat around looking dreamily ahead.

Ms. W, from HR, then attended to us individually to go through all the documents we were supposed to fill up. This took a painstaking 80 minutes. Having exhausted my book, I had no choice but to sit around and look dreamily ahead too.

She then went through some of the finer points of being an employee. We then proceeded to take a photo for our ID badge. My picture, as always, made me look like a refugee. Or so Dad says.

I guess the funniest part of the day was when we were herded back to the conference room. We were then supposed to wait for our managers to pick us up. Yes, just like kindergarten! We all waited patiently in the room. Whenever a head pops in through the door, we all looked up to see if it was our parents manager coming to collect us. Just like children!

I was the second last person to leave, out of 18. My manager was busy, so his secretary came instead. The entire software team was in a Status Report meeting, and I was suddenly shoved into the room unceremoniously. Suddenly, all my new colleagues had fixed their eyes on me. I had SO not anticipated that.

I smiled nervously, did a brief introduction, and took the only seat available - the one right in front of the room. Surely nothing to get shaken up about?

The rest of the day was quite a blur. And I can't reveal some parts because they are very much confidential. No, it doesn't involve any company scandals.

I'll have my own desktop computer tomorrow, so my learning and real work starts soon.

10 September 2006

An Interesting Story

As I promised a few days back, I have an interesting story to tell. Well, it was an interesting event, but whether or not I can convey that same feeling is another matter. But I try my best.

So the other night I was waiting at Puduraya for my bus to Penang when I saw this group of elderly women (I'm sorry, should I be calling them 'age-challenged females'?) lugging their sizeable bags. I could see the luggage check-in tags that airlines attach to the bag's handles, so I assumed they were returning from an overseas trip. What was interesting was that there were no young ones among them. Well, there was one in her 40s, but the other five were at least in their 50s or 60s. And my heart actually ached when I saw these ladies struggle to carry their bags down the steep staircase to the bus platform.

Did I help them? Of course not! It was already so tiring to have my heart ache for them, and now you're telling me I should go and carry their bags? I prefer to be rude, thank you. Anyway, we soon found ourselves on the same bus, and I kinda rolled my eyes when I realised that. As a general rule, crowd of old women = loud talking about petty stuff. I hope all you girls don't turn into petty aunties in the future, but it's really quite unavoidable. I expect scientists to find the gene causing this trait in women soon enough.

Example of Aunty Pettiness: After they were seated, one of them wondered (quite loudly) that she had to go pee. And she continued wondering (still loudly) if it was wise. You know, just in case the bus suddenly left. The other aunties then urged her to go now. Now! But the aunty in question said that it was actually quite fine and she could hold on. Then the other aunties countered with... yada yada yada. Finally she caved in and got up to go. Two other aunties went with her as well. As she was quite old, she couldn't really walk that fast but the others still asked her to hurry up, knowing well enough that she could only shuffle, not take Olympic strides. And all this commotion on the bus! My only glimmer of hope was that old people get tired easily, and would doze off soon.

Anyway, that wasn't the interesting story.

So not long after several of the aunties went to pee, a guy came up. He's probably in his 30s, and he was holding a sling bag and wearing a cap. I didn't really notice him until he suddenly sat next to me. Then he begin speaking to me in Hokkien. I immediately perked up and felt uneasiness. I took off my earphones and strained to hear his soft-spoken words. Our conversation (more or less):

Man: This bus is to Komtar right?
Zemien: No, they stop at the Sungai Ara bus terminal now.
Man: Actually, I just came out of the prison. I have no money to go home.

I felt sympathy for about one second before his next sentence triggered my Bullshit Detector.

Man: I was wondering if you could give me the money to buy the ticket fare...
Zemien: (shaking my head) I'm sorry I don't have any money.
Man: Please, I really have no job and money. If you could just spare me a few ringgit, I'll be...
Zemien: (shaking my head and looking away)
Man: What if you asked the aunties over there for help? ...
Zemien: (shaking my head and looking away)

He left the seat and I was relieved. He then targeted the aunties. I felt a little concerned, because old aunties are sometimes more gullible. But I needn't have worried. Quite smartly, one of the aunties countered that she herself does not have enough money! The man stuck around a bit longer, probably because he thinks old ladies are more gullible as well. Finally though, he relented and left the bus, muttering some complain that society doesn't give ex-cons a chance.

As I was sitting next to the window, I saw the man walked off hastily. If he was really feeling sad, he wouldn't be walking that fast. He's probably off to find his next victim. I heaved a sigh of relief that it was safe again, but I think I still have to work on my BS Detector. I should have put up my defenses the moment he suddenly sat down and talked to me, but I guess I'm still the doe-eyed innocent boy. I just hope I don't get pwned by my new colleagues.

Anyway, that is STILL not the interesting story I wanted to tell!

So after some time, the aunties who earlier went off to the toilet came back. They took their seats, and the others related the story of the con man to them. Suddenly one of the aunties yelled, "Eh, where's my handbag?" I immediately looked up because that aunty was sitting at the exact spot where the con man was when he pleaded to the others.

Even with their aging grey matter, it didn't take long for them to piece the puzzle together. And it also didn't take long for me to understand why the con man was walking away so hastily. There was a little commotion but they knew it was too late to go after that asshole. Her Identity Card was lost, but thankfully she had her passport on her. There were also some minor accusations going around on why the others didn't look out for her, but these con men are too smooth to notice unless you were paying attention.

Then out of nowhere, one of the aunties exclaimed, "Oh no! What about our bags?" They all ran down to inspect the luggage compartment. It appears that nothing was missing, but they were worried all the same. I have to mention that the driver wasn't around this whole time. In fact, not a single staff was around the platform. What if a suicidal maniac stole the bus and drove us off a cliff? Anyway, I digress.

So the aunties wanted to close the luggage compartment, but the driver wasn't around. So they tried closing it themselves. But I've seen the driver use a remote to control the luggage door, so all their attempts were futile. Still, that didn't stop me from enjoying myself as I watched 7 middle-aged ladies pull and heave with all their might on the door. Again, I didn't go help them because all that excitement just made me tired. But after awhile I felt sorry, and I gestured to them through the window that they needed to find the driver with the remote. The driver was still nowhere in sight, so two aunties stood outstide and kept watch until the driver returned.

Moral of the story: Always be alert around crowded areas, especially when strangers approach you. Make sure personal belongings are always watched by someone (preferably not the thief). And oh, that Zemien is cruel towards all old aunties? Not sure that counts as a "moral", but you certainly wouldn't want to be old and needing my help. I'll just point at you and laugh.

09 September 2006


John Mayer's new album Continuum is going to be released soon! I really like his lyrics and raspy voice. I recently downloaded a sample copy of the album complete with commentary by Mayer. Seriously - if you're someone who actually pays attention to the lyrics, you must get this album.

Check out this excerpt from Dreaming with a Broken Heart. John Mayer comments, "This song is about when things go wrong with somebody, but you meet them in your dreams when you're still alright. And that moment when you wake up and go 'Oh yea, they hate me.'".
When you're dreaming with a broken heart,
The waking up is the hardest part,
You roll out of bed,
and down on your knees,
and for a moment you can hardly breathe.
Wondering was she really here?
Is she standing in my room?
No, she's not.
Coz she's gone, gone, gone, gone, gone.
Seriously. So beautiful beautiful beautiful. Accompanied by melancholic piano too!

Another great song is Slow Dancing in a Burning Room. John Mayer says, "It's kinda about a partner relationship and you know it's over, and you have your final bow together... It's about the end of a relationship, and it's kinda like watching it all burn down in front of you and making it in a beautiful thing."
It’s not a silly little moment
It’s not the storm before the calm
This is the deep and dyin breath of
this love we’ve been workin on
Can’t seem to hold you like I want to
so I can feel you in my arms
Nobody’s gonna come and save you
we pulled too many false alarms

We’re goin down
and you can see it too
We’re goin down
and you know that we’re doomed
my dear
we’re slow dancing in a burnin room
The title really describes that feeling huh? So go get it or download it as soon as it's released!

By the way, don't ask why I'm in the mood for such sad songs.

P.S. That really good post I'm promising will be up next.

07 September 2006

Scheduled Break from Blogging

Yesterday morning I woke up at 6.15am, took a bus, LRT, and KTM to Nilai, gave a talk from 4-5.30pm, had dinner with Albert, and then took KTM, LRT, and bus back to Penang. I reached home at 2.30am the following day.

I'm tired. Give me a break. But I have an interesting post coming up next.

04 September 2006

Those Stupid, Stupid People

Of which I am one of. Unfortunately.

Those who keep abreast of local news, or more specifically, local Chinese daily newspapers might have caught a whiff of the rumour that the price of renewing passports will jump to RM500 come September 1. According to the rumour mongers, the Prime Minister will announce the price increase in his Budget 06/07 address on that day. As RM500 is almost twice the current price of RM300, it was certainly cause for concern. If it were true.

For better or for worse, the rumour spread faster than an STD in a jail cell. Soon the Immigration Office in Penang was swamped by frantic people who wanted to renew their passport under the old price. The rumour floated mainly among the Chinese community, and so Penang was the only state experiencing this as we have a Chinese majority.

I am ashamed to say that I am one of those stupid people.

But wait! Before you throw me to the crocs and forsake my blog, I have a valid reason. My passport is going to expire this November, and since I need at least 6 months of validity to travel internationally, it was high time to renew anyway. Not that I planned to go out of the country. But at least I had a better reason than the other 300-odd people who turned up last Tuesday.

The usual process for making a passport before all this great stampede was: queue an hour to get a number, wait for your turn, submit all the relevant documents and thumb prints, and collect your travel document by late afternoon.

However, when I went on Tuesday the rumour has spread far and wide. I arrived at 7.30am to find a queue that stretched several buildings. I took my place and waited for the doors to open at 8am. To cut a long story short, the queue moved at a snail's pace. I waited FIVE HOURS just to get a number, and not just any number. My turn was not in 3 hours, but next week. Yes, they had to start giving out numbers in advance to appease those of us who have waited half a day.

So, I'll be going back tomorrow at 11am to finish what I started. I'm glad that I'm doing this before I actually start work. Taking time off from work even before you have really started is so uncool, ok? Just a note to everyone else - queueing in line for 5 hours ain't no fun. Don't try it if you can help it.

02 September 2006

There's A Reason for Everything

Almost 20 years ago...
Mum told me that when I was very young, a cup fell onto my head with a dull thud. The cup didn't break nor did I bleed, which might explain why I don't remember it. According to her, I was lying on my bed near the dressing table when it happened.

About 7 years ago...
I was trying out to be a patroller (a Junior Prefect, if you will). Yes, even at such a young age I could not resist waving disapproving fingers at juveniles. We had to undergo a probation period, and during one of my duty periods I was stationed near the football field. I was looking away when suddenly a large object smacked into the back of my head. I didn't fall, but I was stunned for a moment as I waited the loud ringing in my ears to stop. Apparently a soccer ball had found its way to my skull. The players rushed over to me and quickly apologized. They disappeared before I had a chance to wave my disapproving finger. Needless to say, I quit trying and went back to being a Librarian.

I'm not sure if those two events (and other unfortunate accidents) ever made me smarter, or made me dumber. But if you ever think I'm acting wacky, at least you know what I'm going to blame it on.

Memoirs of A Boy With Memory Retention Problems Part 4

Two other things I looked forward to on the Redang trip was the night sky and the sun rise.

The beach we stayed on faces east, so it was supposed to be the perfect spot for catching the sunrise. Unfortunately, it was always cloudy. So on the second day when Jackson and I woke up at 6am, we were rewarded with a mediocre sunrise. In fact, I couldn't see the sun at all! We were too bummed out by the trip that we didn't even bother to try again the following morning.

The star gazing was markedly better. As you should probably know, there are infinite twinkling stars above us but we can't see them at night because the city lights drown them out. But, in deserted places like Redang, all the stars come out of their hiding and brighten up the night sky with their own shimmer.

At least, that was the theory.

Throughout our trip it was cloudy but never rained. This is great when we were out in the sun, but was a nuisance when it came time to star gaze. The first night was really cloudy and we could hardly spot anything. Luckily, we were treated to a clearer sky on our last night. And man - what a feeling!

Imagine if you will - you are sitting on a deck chair looking up at the vast sky. Then, you gasp with awe as you realize just how many stars there are up there. Back in the city, you can sometimes spot the "Archer" star arrangement but over here you can't see him because there are so many stars crowding the sky! Eventually, you smile to yourself as you spot that familiar sequence of three stars.

As you continue gazing up, the soft breeze from the sea washes over you. All the tensions you were feeling just vanished as the sea breeze carasses your body. At the same time, the relaxing sound of the waves breaking upon the sand fills your ear. You wonder how a sound so loud can be so calming all at once.

Suddenly, you spot a tiny streak of light in the sky. A shooting star! You quickly ask your friends, "Did you guys see that?" Everyone else did not, which made you even happier that you did. Quietly, you made a wish upon the shooting star. You close your eyes as the happiness of the moment overwhelms you.

01 September 2006

Kicking the Habit

For as long as I can remember, my official occupation has been "Student". Whether it was an official form or an online registration site, "Student" was my automatic choice. But now that I've finally gotten a job, I will have to make several mental transitions.

Case in point: As I was filling up a warranty card earlier, I almost penned down "Student" under the Occupation field, but quickly corrected myself and wrote "Engineer" instead. Times are a-changing!

30 August 2006

Truth in Advertising

From a Tourism Penang booklet promoting a vegetarian food outlet:
You might have a tough time picking what you want, not because the dishes are not tempting but due to the fact that our stomach can only contain limited amount of food.

29 August 2006


Where was I? Oh yes, the job offer.

I was so happy beyond words! The HR representative soon came and asked me several questions related to general working environment and preferences. I got caught on a little snag there, but no problem nonetheless. She then went through the benefits package - and I have to say it is very attractive! As it is an MNC they can afford better benefits than local companies due to the exchange rate. This is one time when the huge disparity between RM and USD is good.

Later, I'll be going for a medical checkup as a prerequisite for my offer letter, so I'm not 100% certain what would be stated there yet. Regardless, I'm super duper happy! I've announced the good news to both Mum and Dad, and a few close friends. And of course, you now know about it as well.

I'll be reporting for work on September 11, which is an easy date to remember no thanks to Osama. I'm anxious to start, but I have so many things to do and experience before finally transitioning into my professional life. To close the chapter on my study life, I have also wrote a few thank you e-mails to several favourite lecturers. And I plan to visit my alma mater to boast announce the joyful news.

I don't know what to expect for the future, but as Natasha Bedingfield sang:
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

28 August 2006


I have never been so nervous... ok, maybe I have been more nervous than this, but the interview was nerve-wrecking nonetheless. The Agilent site is a very big place, and it took me longer than I expected to clear security and find my way around. Thankfully, Lionel, the recruiter assigned to me was very helpful.

As I was waiting for my turn, I got my documents in order and looked through the sample questions that I anticipate. Soon, a middle aged man came out from a small meeting room with another candidate and asked me to wait a while. My heart began to race faster, and when the interviewers were out of sight I peeped through the door to see what the meeting room looked like.

I got my things into order and stepped into the room when Mr. L (the first interviewer) returned. I took a seat, and he asked the first question most interviewers ask - "tell me something about yourself". As if on cue, I launched into my planned answer, detailing all sorts of things that highlight my achievements.

Then the second interviewer (Mr. T) came as I was explaining my Double Module Project (DirectUML/GreenP). The rest, as they say, is a blur. Seriously it's so hard to remember what questions were asked when one is so busy trying to build cohesive sentences to reply. I do remember talking a lot about my Double Module Project and my Double Module Project and my Double Module Project. It is the one strong point that I can really exploit till the last drop - and I did.

One major weakness that Mr. L kept attacking me on is my lack of experience in dealing with hardware. After all, Agilent's business is entirely concerned with hardware products, while software plays a supporting role. He repeatedly bashed me over the head (figuratively) on why he should hire me when I can only do software? My main counter (which I also used repeatedly) is that technical skills are relatively easy to learn compared to soft skills (leadership, communication). And since I already have many of the soft skills, I'll actually stay ahead further.

At the end of the interview I asked what the next step of the interview process is. Mr. L remarked that he has the direct authority to hire people and so he will give a reply via HR within 2 weeks. By that time I felt a little discouraged because he didn't seem all too impressed and he wasn't really smiling. But I hoped for the best anyway.

The interview finished at 4 on the dot, and I got myself prepared for the next interview. I rated myself slightly above average. I didn't get stuck for words very long, and there were only several uncomfortable silences. I was asked to wait in the room for the next interview and for several minutes I spied through the glass panels to see if my next interviewer was coming.

After 5 minutes of waiting Mr. L came back again. We sat down and he said that if he decides to take me in, he will probably put me under Software QA to get acquainted with the hardware and software. I like the sound of the idea as it means less pressure to perform immediately, so I told Mr. L that it sounds very good to me. By then I was feeling a little bit more upbeat - at least I know I'm in the running to be accepted. And that's better than nothing at all.

So he went out for a little while and I continued waiting for the next interviewer. Still no sighting. A few minutes later I saw Mr. L approaching again. In an act of butt-kissing I opened the door for him. But he didn't even come in. He just stood outside and said (more or less), "There's no need for the second interview. I've decided to extend the job offer to you right now. Just wait a while longer while I go call someone from HR to talk to you."

I was almost speechless. I could only mumble two words "Sure" and "Thank you", while nodding my head enthusiastically.

I. Can't. Believe. This.

(to be continued...)

Did You Know....

If you are using an optical mouse, do you know that the optical laser was invented by Agilent? And if your mouse is of relatively high quality, the optical component itself would be made by Agilent?

Just one of the many things I learned about (hopefully) my future employer. We'll see, we'll see....

26 August 2006

Memoirs of A Boy With Memory Retention Problems Part 3

I'm going to finally touch on the main highlight of the Redang trip - snorkelling! It is what we went there for after all.

Our tour package includes 3 snorkelling sessions which isn't a lot. I've read about external snorkelling packages that take you to 5 snokerlling spots for RM50/pax in a single day. At any rate, 3 snorkelling sessions over 2 days is more than enough, as I found out.

All of us were first-timers, so once we got our snorkelling gear we practiced breathing through our mouth piece at the resort swimming pool. It's strange why a resort so close to the sea would need its own swimming pool, but we appreciated it nonetheless.

Using the mask and snorkel was both easier and harder than I thought. It was easier in the sense that it was quite easy to put on and take out. I initially feared that I would have to deal with deviously complicated tubes and seals.

However, the actual act of breathing through the snorkel took some getting used to. When I swim normally, I will exhale from the nose and inhale from my mouth. But now I need to use my mouth exclusively, as exhaling from the nose will break the seal and let water in. Which turned out to be real nasty during the actual snorkelling.

Our first session that afternoon was at the Kampung Lama site. Though we travelled for almost 20 minutes, we are still facing the main Redang island. We were almost a kilometer away from the beach, so the waters were not that deep but it was my first time swimming in such deep waters so I was a little scared.

As I went into the sea, I peeked at the seabed. Then I got real scared. In the clear waters, I could see right to the bottom, and though it was only 15 feet at most, I freaked out and clutched tightly at the ladder. I let out a few nervous laughs and calmed myself as people tried to avoid stepping on my fingers as they descended into the sea.

Once everyone was in the water I told myself everything is gonna be fine as long as I have my life jacket on. I slowly let go of the handle and let myself be drifted off to the open sea. Then I repeated the steps I rehearsed earlier - inhale from the nose to create a seal, submerge my head, and exhale through my mouth. My breaths were short and shallow, clearly indicating that I was still nervous. Then somehow the vacuum around my nose was no longer a vacuum, and sea water went into my nose.

I panicked and quickly came up for air again. But by doing that the water went through my nose into my throat, and I immediately felt a stinging sensation. I was shocked at how salty the sea was! I've tasted sea water before, and I don't remember it being this salty. When I have sorethroats, I would regularly gargle with salt water, but even Redang sea is saltier!

I tried snorkelling again while staying near to the boat while my friends were happily enjoying the fishes and corals far away. After a few unsuccessful attempts I climbed up the boat again to calm down. About 5 minutes later I readjusted my equipment (not that 'equipment') and went down again.

Finally I began to get the hang of it, but my mask seal would regularly leak, forcing me to come up for water clearance. Everytime I did that more salt water would burn my throat but it was a small price to pay to enjoy the sights below the surface.

So how were the corals? Seen those National Geographic documentaries showing beautiful fishes and corals? It's like that - without the colourful corals. Yes, there are corals. And yes, there are many fishes which I do not know the name of. But they never seem as colourful as the ones seen on TV. But it is close enough, and it is definitely a special feeling seeing these things up close and personal.

The next morning, we went to the marine park. Now, I've been told that visitors to Redang must go to the marine park, and we were certainly not disappointed. More beautiful fishes and corals can be seen at a depth of less than 7 feet, compared to Kampung Lama yesterday. And there are also several popular sightings - a giant eel, a giant fish, and this:

That's a baby black-tipped shark! I didn't see the eel or the fish, but seeing this was fantastic enough. When I caught sight of it I tried to follow it and it swam quite close to the beach. But the shark was always swimming just a little faster than me, so the closest shot I could get of it was the one above.

I also stole some bread from the breakfast spread so we could do this:

I'm not sure who that is but I have reasons to believe it's Jackson. The fishes at the marine park are so accustomed to human feeding that they literally swamp your hand when you put out a piece of bread. The feeling of having your fingers nibbled by fishes (instead of you nibbling fish fingers) is a sensation to savour oneself!

A note on the photos: I bought a RM40 FujiFilm underwater disposable camera to take with me. It only had 27 exposures and no flash, so it was a little pricey. But I had no choice as my digital camera will sink (in more ways than one). Regardless, I was disappointed at the results. The pictures you see above have been Photoshopped to death because the originals were overly dark and overly blue. I know I'm taking photographs of the sea here, but the water actually seemed blue-er in my photos! And it's harder to aim and frame your pictures when the mask is blocking your view. There is a reason why I only put two pictures up out of the 27 I took.

However, true to the nature of holiday resorts, they had a diver take photos of us snorkelling using an underwater-capable digital camera. Later, they offered to sell us the digital copies for RM5 per image. Mind you, that's just bits and bytes. But in a way I prefer digital copies as I can modify and print them at will. So on the evening of our 2nd night, we selected 9 pictures and we each paid our part. Here's one of me holding the lame camera:

P.S. For what it's worth, my camera produced grain-free photos. Amazon.com has user reviews on Kodak's own version, with dismal results.

25 August 2006

Option Explicit

So I went for a job placement interview at AllStaff today. Since I'm looking for IT jobs they actually gave me a short written test. It covered 3 areas - SQL, web programming, and Visual Basic. I obviously flunked the web programming part but I crapped the best I can for the theory questions. Database questions were thankfully do-able, while the VB questions forced me to remember some ancient code.

However, one of the questions that made me smile was:
What is the purpose of Option Explicit in VB?
I chuckled to myself because that was a very popular question in my foundation VB course.

A question I had a harder time with was the error handling mechanism for VB. I have been dealing with try/catch for so long that I don't really remember how VB error codes and GoTos work.

Anyway, during the proper interview I explained a little on my final year project. She then offered to apply for several suitable positions - one of them being Analyst Programmer. I actually like the job function as it is the kind of work I want to do, but the MNC's factory is located on the mainland. Crossing the bridge everyday is a no-no for me, thank you.

One particular thing I don't like about recruitment agencies is how they will hide the identity of the company until the very last minute. The other two positions I applied for through AllStaff, web programmer and business analyst, come from MNCs somewhere in Penang.

Well, we'll see how it goes but I'm really hoping to score with Agilent first. About an hour after I finished the AllStaff interview, they called again. This time, another manager would like to interview me for the post of R&D Engineer. Not wanting to let any chance slip away, of course I said "yes". He then said I will be given a written test during the interview and asked me to bring my scientific calculator (uh-oh). He then asked me to revise my 1st and 2nd year subjects, such as (insert Electronic & Electrical Engineering subjects here).

My mind immediately blanked out because I had no clue what those words were at all. I quickly interjected him and said that those topics were not my field of study. He then said, "Oh, what about VB, VC++, and C#?"

I heaved a sigh of relief.

Relief or not, I have even more work to prepare. Not only do I have to read up about Agilent (still blur about them), I also have to brush up my dusty and non-existant skills! Can someone please explain how to use memory pointers? We Java programmers have no idea how to use those ampersands(&) properly.

24 August 2006

Boiling with Excitement

I have to put my Redang memoirs on hold again because... I've got an interview! With Agilent, no less. It's a reputable MNC, but to be honest I have no clue what they actually do. So I'm gonna take some time off to research the company and the position I've been shortlisted for (Software Engineer) before my interview on Monday. The last thing I want to do when I go for an interview is to be caught off-guard!

On a related note, I'm hitting myself because I have lost a valuable MP3. It's an audiobook about interviewing skills. I downloaded it off a torrent some time back but I can't find it anymore.

On another related note, I can't find the official certificate for my foundation course! I hope they'll be blindsided by my transcript long enough to forget about it.

23 August 2006

Job Hunting

Thus... the journey begins.

I have setup online CVs at Jobstreet and AllStaff (and TheStar soon as well). NHK recruitment agency also has my resume. I have also deposited my CV through Intel's website. The only thing I haven't done is to leaf through the newspaper with a red marker in hand. I think they only do that in movies.

So all I have to do is wait. Right? RIGHT?

P.S. Do comment if you have any tips for this unemployed graduate

I (Heart) Calvinsanity!

Well, no, not in that way. It's just that I was feeling very lazy to type my Redang post today. So I procrastinated by reading blogs, and -voila!- Calvinsanity tagged me! So instead of Redang memoirs, I get to do a meme instead hehe.

But Calvinsanity, why did you tag such a lame meme in the first place? >.<

1. Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 18, and find line 4.
"the following may be useful:"
Ironically, that line isn't very useful at all!

2. Stretch your left arm out as far as you can.
Able to touch the screen of my laptop, and my speakers, and all the rubbish on my work desk that I'm lazy to describe here.

3. What is the last thing you watched on TV?
I haven't watched TV for a long time. But the last TV thing I watched on my laptop was Celebrity Survivor Australia. Word to the wise - don't bother with that show.

4. Without looking, guess what time it is:

5. Now look at the clock. What is the actual time?
11.59am. Damn.

6. With the exception of the computer, what can you hear?
If I stop Winamp, I'll hear the whirring buzz of the table fan behind me.

7. When did you last step outside? What were you doing?
15 minutes ago. Took out the trash.

8. Before you started this survey, what did you look at?
Calvinsanity's reply to this meme.

9. What are you wearing?
Chanel No. 5 Ice blue East India Company Kids shirt, with British India khakis. And underwear. Of course.

10. Did you dream last night?
Nope, I rarely dream. But I did dream two nights ago about being late for exams. Guess it's no-college withdrawal symptoms :P

11. When did you last laugh?
Seriously, I don't remember. Could be during the Redang trip! I usually smile, but I rarely laugh.

12. What is on the walls of the room you are in?
"My goals for 1 November to 31 December" - posted last year

13. Seen anything weird lately?
This meme. No direction, no theme, no funny questions!

14. What is the last film you saw?
In the theatre: Pirates of the Caribbean 2. On my laptop: Mr & Mrs Smith

15. If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy?
Insurance policy and stable cash funds.

16. Tell me something about you that I don't know:
I have a pretty nasty dark side. Which is why I will never be a politician in the future because my past will just threaten me.

17. If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt or politics, what would you do?
Freedom! Forever!

18. Do you like to dance?
I like to dance, but can't do it very well yet.

19. George Bush: Total douche (Seriously I just copied the previous answer. I don't even know what this is all about)

20. Imagine your first child is a girl, what do you call her?
Not sure, but I won't be one of those parents who try to give names with no vowels, like Zyy Tyng. There's a reason for all those A, E, I, O, U's!

21. Imagine your first child is a boy, what do you call him?

22. Would you ever consider living abroad?
I would, but it all depends on certain factors and other people.

23. Name 5 ppl that you tag to do this tag.
Kelly (coz you say you have nothing to write)
I'm not going to tag anyone else because, frankly, this is a boring meme.

22 August 2006

Memoirs of A Boy With Memory Retention Problems Part 2

The 7-hour journey ride was quite bearable as I brought along my eye shades. Kuala Terengganu isn't actually that far from KL, but the thing is that there are no big highways along the east side of the peninsula so most of the time we travelled along trunk roads. I was asleep for most of the journey so I didn't actually get to observe the stuff along the roads but I presume they were all small villages anyway.

We reached the bus station precisely at 5.30am and our pickup driver came around 5.45am to take us to the transit area. The transit area is actually a rented shoplot with a sofa and several tables with chairs. It is a simple setup but an ingenious one as we could take a shower and rest while we wait for 8am to come around.

8am is the standard time when our respective resort buses will come pick us up to take us to Merang Jetty where we will then board the ferry to Redang. The boat ride there was very rough as the sea was quite choppy. I shouldn't have typed an SMS as I immediately felt a headache coming on. People said the ride is about an hour, but it actually lasted less than 45 minutes.

As we stepped out of the boat onto the mini jetty, I marvelled at the turquoise blue sea. It was clear enough to see right to the bottom, and I could see schools of small fishes swimming around. Paradise, I have arrived.

The first thing that greeted us at the resort was the signboard. When I use the term "resort" here, you should not think of 5-star luxury. In fact, Redang Bay feels very homely. Mdm. Tan, the general supervisor, was already waiting for us to check-in. She gave us our room key and asked us to stay for a briefing. She passionately asked us to wear life jackets at all times when we are out in the sea. Many drowning cases have happened when daring/stupid people went swimming without one...

Back to the resort! It's quite big, actually. Our Family Room is located on the ground floor near to the Reception so it's very convenient. Family Rooms are supposed to fit 5-7 people but we only saw 2 queen-sized beds and 2 single beds. Two people can fit onto a queen-sized bed but that still totals up to only 6 places. So I wonder what would happen if 7 of us came?

There's a big dining hall (above) that reminded me of a canteen. Many rows of wooden tables and chairs are laid out. During lunch and dinner, we are served pre-portioned food at our own tables (notice the food covers on the tables). They misspelled my surname so there was some initial confusion but we got over it soon enough.

We were all quite concerned about the quality of the food before we got there. In my mind, I imagined lots of Malay food and -gasp- curries! After all, Terengganu has mostly Malays. While I don't mind Malay food I do mind having spicy curry for every single meal.

But after eating our first meal, all of our concerns went away. It was quite clear that we had a Chinese cook as our dishes stuck to common chinese cooking. On our first day we had fish cutlets fried in ginger and soya sauce, japanese tofu with white cabbage, seafood meat rolls (lobak), stir-fried green vege, and horseradish (white carrot) soup with chicken pieces. For dessert we each had a piece of papaya. It was surprisingly good and exceeded my expectations!

The other lunches and dinners were as good, though it began to repeat itself by the second day. So while the food can get boring, you cannot say it wasn't good. We were also given breakfast and tea. The breakfast was a standard affair of fried noodles and toast, but the tea breaks were the best!

For our first tea break, we were served fried spring rolls and horseradish cake (loh pak ko in Cantonese?). The cake was very good because I haven't eaten one in a long time. Plus, they served barley tong sui with winter melon strips. I particularly loved the barley drink as I rarely take those that have winter melon strips. They do add quite a lot of oomph to the drink. It was so good that I poured a bottle full of it for later consumption!

Our second tea break was also a tasty affair. We had fresh curry puff! Only this time, it wasn't too spicy so I could eat lots of it. The best part? They only use sweet potatoes instead of the usual bland potatoes so it was sweet, crispy, and hot! And there was the red bean soup with pandan leaves to add an extra kick to our afternoon.

If you're wondering why I dedicated so many words to describing the food, it's mainly to assure people that Redang Bay food is GOOD and edible. And oh, to make my homesick friends Calvinsanity and Kelly extra hungry and jealous. MUAHAHAHAHAH!

Overall, Redang Bay was a good experience. They have many facilities we could use for free, such as volleyball, football, and various board games. They also have a mini cinema and karaoke room, both of which we didn't manage to try. And they have an open air disco every night at their bar (below). I danced like a madman there on the second night but I'm sure as hell not gonna blog about that.