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.

21 August 2006

Memoirs of A Boy With Memory Retention Problems Part 1

With each passing day all the fun memories of Redang are slipping through my fingers, so I better start blogging about it!

The idea for a trip after our exams was hatched by Jackson. He initially suggested an island getaway. Redang was one of the possible destinations, along with Pangkor, Tioman, and Perhentian. Being a Northerner myself, I forbade them from even thinking of Langkawi. Seriously, the waters are dirty!

I was quite apprehensive to the idea because it would involve spending quite a lot of money, and I preferred a simple day out to the mall where we could do all sorts of silly things like singing or bowling.

However, the majority of the class liked the idea of an island holiday, and Redang came highly recommended by Jay. Not wanting to be a wet blanket, I went along with the idea and started scouting for packages. I really didn't have to do that but I kinda slipped into the leadership role by habit.

After trawling the web for opinions and packages, I settled on a Redang Bay Resort package offered via Ping Anchorage. Ping Anchorage is one of the famous local travel agencies around, and they did not disappoint. They were professional and answered many of the nagging questions I had.

The 3D/2N package costs about RM320 inclusive of lodging, food, and 3 snorkelling sessions. The only extra thing we had to do was to find our way there. So I came up with a budget of the trip and estimated that each of us will spend upwards of RM400.

Then came the hardest part - collecting money. It's hard to be a polite money collector but I had no choice but to smile widely while extending my open palm. It was also around now that people started pulling out from the trip. A variety of reasons were given, and our initial group of 13 dwindled down to 5. Even then, collecting money from the other 4 people was a big chore that involved lots of SMSes and persistent nagging.

For the bus tickets to Kuala Terengganu, I asked Jackson to buy them from Puduraya since it's more convenient for him. I asked him to consider Konsortium but he got Transnasional tickets. Both are quite well-known so I had no problems with his choice. But after the trip I have to say that Konsortium buses are more comfortable due to its larger leg room.

During our planning for the trip I did a lot of reading on other people's experiences in the Redang.org forum. That is an excellent site with lots of information and the discussion forum where several active members answer all our noobs questions.

To be continued...

20 August 2006

First Taste of Chocolate

Today I had my first taste of real chocolate in many, many years. Dad recently went to Hatyai and took the opportunity to get a few duty-free chocolate bars to tempt me. Due to my recurring tonsilitis I have had to swear off chocolate forever (even Milo!) but in my sudden joy of returning home I gulped 2 squares of chocolate down. And the taste was....

...chocolatey. I didn't really enjoy it because I was chewing it as fast as possible - afraid that my tonsils will somehow recognize the presence of the offending substance and swell to the size of Pamela's boobs. If I don't get sore throat after 2 days I will have another piece of sinful, fattening chocolate.

When that happens, I will have truly come home.

19 August 2006

Where I Went To

I'm really sorry that I suddenly went off for several days without informing you guys beforehand. A few friends and I went to Redang for our graduation holiday, and I just returned today. I'm tired, exhausted, and have a room full of rubbish I need to pack by tonight. Then early tomorrow I'll start my journey back to Penang. For good.

Lengthier updates with photos once I settle down in the place like no other.

14 August 2006

These Are What Memories Are Made Of

The BBQ was fun! Food was great, and though I didn't eat too many chicken wings I had a lot of the other food. We also threw an impromptu birthday party for Alvin (the host), whose 21st birthday just passed by last week.

The next day we met at Red Box, The Curve for 4 hours of screaming and screeching. As usual I kept out of the limelight because the songs I like to sing are not the songs most people know (e.g. Sinatra's "Summer Wind"). But I actually enjoyed the karaoke session with my course mater more than usual clique. There was a nicer balance between English and Chinese songs so I didn't feel so bored when those wiggly, wormy characters appear on the screen.

It was hard saying goodbye. I wanted to give some kind of thank you speech but I had to be somewhere else soon so I skipped that part. I hugged everyone, including the girls. This was no time for a polite handshake! No one cried and we maintained our 'coolness', but the feeling of emptiness is there and is definitely growing.

12 August 2006


I always assumed most adults know what a potluck is.

Once again, I'm taught that assumptions are just that.

As our course nears its end, we have begun planning for a couple of gatherings. One is a gathering over at Alvin's house. Alvin has graciously forced asked his mum about organizing a BBQ. And so later tonight, we are all heading down to his place for a great night to commemorate our graduation!

I've been thinking about it and I think it's not very nice for all of us just to head over there and expect food to be placed on our table. So I suggested having a potluck instead and we can all bring something to share. Alvin turned to me and said, "Huh?"

I explained the concept of potlucks to him, trying to hide my shock that he has never heard of it before. Then I told the new plan to Jay and Andy, who have also not heard of potlucks. Jay even misheard it as "pornluck" (Well, that's a whole other post!).

Then when I asked YY about what he can bring to the potluck, I had to explain the concept AGAIN. Seriously, have none of them gone to a collaborative gathering? I can't help but wonder...

But everything's gonna work out beautifully though. It's time to party!

The Feeling's Sinking In

I consider myself to be quite a sensitive person, but as a human with XY chromosomes, I have some in-built guards against being too emotional. One of them is the inability to register feelings immediately after an emotional event.

As we all had our lunch together one last time in the school cafeteria, I felt nothing. These are the people I had gone to school with for the last 2.5 years and this is our last time together as a group. And I felt nothing. Emotionless. Of course, I knew what this was - shock. It's my body's natural defense against acting like a crying fool in public.

This morning when I woke up and played Keith Urban's "You'll Think of Me", his haunting lyrics begin to creep in. David's empty bed accentuated the fact that I'm all alone again and it's time to make new friends in a new place.

My heart begins to sadden.

Going Out With A Bang

It's official - I'm an unemployed graduate! But I had to end my college life with a memorable moment:

My final exam paper was from 8am. When I woke up this morning, I felt confident. I had stayed up late last night to go through some points I couldn't memorize, so it's definitely a welcomed feeling. As I lied on my bed and tried to soak in my final days as a college student, my eyes suddenly shifted and I asked myself:

"Why is the sky already blue?"

It took me a few seconds to realize that it was already past dawn. I gasped in horror as I scrambled up and check the time. "Oh please don't say it's past 8am!" I thought to myself. Next to me, David was sound asleep. I looked closely at my handphone, and it read 7:49am.


I had set my phone alarm to 6:20am (or so I thought) but I didn't wake me up at all! I think I accidentally set it as 6:20pm instead. At any rate, I had no time to start blaming the phone. I had 11 minutes to rush to the exam hall, which was thankfully quite close.

I didn't take a shower, shave, brush my teeth, nor do my 'daily business'. Worse, I didn't have my most important meal of the day. Unlike most teenagers, breakfast is an essential component to my daily functioning and it's a shame I couldn't even grab a bit of anything. I just peed, stuck some gel on my hair, and got all my stationery out and running.

To ensure timely arrival, I drove to the venue. Actually, "sped horrifyingly fast" would be a better description. I heaved a huge sigh of relief when I saw many students on their way to their exams. That means I'm not late yet. In the end, I managed to reach in time and do the exam proper.

I find it a huge irony that of all the times that this could happen, it happened right on the last day of college. Imagine the horror that would ensue if I woke up at 9am instead. As far as the rules are concerned, no one is allowed inside after 8.30am so I was real lucky. There would be blood and tears involved if that ever happened.

There were several times in my life that I wondered why I am unable to sleep late into the morning. I sometimes envied David's ability to sleep soundly right up to 11.30am. But for once in my life, I am thankful that I always wake up early.

10 August 2006

Sincerest Form of Flattery

Hollywood/Japan is famous for producing overpriced merchandise to tie in to movies and cartoons. One of them are action figurines. Power Rangers, Gundam, and the latest movie blockbuster come to mind.

China, on the other hand, is famous for producing cheap imitations of those said merchandise. Especially action figurines. The other day I was walking along the night market when I saw a stall selling imitation action figures. The moment I saw the Power Rangers look-alike figure, I laughed out loud.

I'm not talking about the doll here, I'm referring to the title they used to avoid copyright infringement lawsuits. Take a moment to guess how they twisted the word "Power Rangers" for their products.

C'mon, try harder.


You ready for it?

They used....

"Gao Langer"

Within a milisecond my brain went into shock, "Huh?" I'm sure they were trying to copy Power Rangers because the logo behind the words is the same. But OH! Why can't they choose a more appropriate bastardization? Powder Ranger. Power Langer. Pover Ranger, even!

But no... the company executives convened together outside the sweatshop and decided to go with "Gao Langer".

09 August 2006

Unblissful Bliss

One of my occassional indulgences is yogurt. I stumbled upon it by chance when Mum bought one for me in my pre-teen years. I've loved it ever since and still buy one small cup every now and then.

Today after my gym workout I was looking for milk but the college mini mart has run out of it so I decided to have yogurt instead. I noticed that Nestle has revamped their yogurt products by calling them "Bliss". Their range of products are non-fat, which I have not tried before. I'm used to the usual low-fat yogurt so I decided to get one.

Within the first mouthful I hated it. Texture-wise it is still creamy, but oh, where's the taste??!? Everyone knows that fat enhances the taste of food. Well, maybe not everyone but I'm sure Nestle employs food scientists, don't they? The Bliss yogurt is practically just sour and flat-tasting. It's not sweet at all, and does not have that dairy taste. I also have to mention that they only put KIWI SEEDS as I could not taste any fruit flesh at all. How lame.

Bliss. The overstated product of the year.

08 August 2006

There's a Reason They Call It Beta

(Warning: This post is full of IT, geeky stuff. Consider yourself warned.)

The IT world was recently set abuzz with the public availability of Office 2007 Beta 2. It seemed that almost anyone who uses Windows downloaded and installed it, much to my horror. I of course steered clear, not because I'm not curious how a no-menu program will look like, but because I can't risk Beta software crashing my laptop before Viva.

But many of my friends bravely set forth into unchartered waters, and after seeing it, I'm in no rush to change. Yes, it's quite stable but it's such a performance sucker. A quick check with the Task Manager reveals that Word 2007 takes up 68MB of RAM while good ole' Word 2003 stayed cool with just 16.

But that's not the main reason why I'm not using 2007 yet. I realized the #1 reason a couple of weeks ago - compatibility. Or rather, the lack of it. Word 2007 documents cannot be opened at all in older versions, probably due to its use of XML. This means it is not ready for real-life, day to day work.

Unfortunately the general public are oblivious to its dangers. Jay passed me several documents for our group project about a month back, but I didn't check it (in good faith). Then, as I was about to compile the report to be submitted the next day, I was shocked to see that his documents have the .docx extension. Uh-oh.

Another friend, Alvin, installed Office 2007 Beta 2 without Office 2003 as backup. The other day, he brought his laptop to class as he rushed his thesis report. As I observed him work in Office 2007, I noticed he struggled with finding certain functions in "the Ribbon". I thought to myself, "Wow, poor Alvin! He should have installed Office 2003 as well. He definitely doesn't have the time to be learning new software now."

Of course, this post is not meant to flame Jay and Alvin (both close friends of mine), but generally directed at any computer users who rely on Beta software for their important work. Probably the only exception to this rule is Google, since their products are always in perpetual Beta testing. But then again, Google software gains critical mass in very short time so that could be a reason why they are frequently used as the primary source.

07 August 2006

M for Malaysia?

A couple of days ago I watched "V for Vendetta", an excellent commentary on what our future holds. Of course I knew we were heading towards a Big Brother type of government but I didn't know how soon. After watching the movie and reading today's news, I think it's not too far off:

From TheStar:
The hidden “eyes” that watch over the city’s traffic and help the police to nab criminals will be a full-fledged crime monitoring system nationwide if the approach proves effective.
Comparing the electronic eyes to the mata-mata (a metaphor for police in Malay), (Prime Minister) Abdullah said:

“Good. Good. We also want to try out these electronic eyes. Our mata-mata are insufficient. Now, we have electronic eyes.

“If closed-circuit TVs prove effective and practical, what’s wrong in using them throughout the country?”
MANY things are wrong, Sir.

By putting the entire country under surveillance, you have eradicated privacy. Sure, you said they should only use it for good. But do you realise you're putting your entire faith in a police force riddled with graft and corruption?

Sure, it's only used to "solve vehicle theft, robberies as well as kidnaps and murder cases". But how long will it take for the Syariah Court to dictate that these CCTV should be used to monitor Muslims to ensure unmarried couples don't hold hands in public? Or Allah forbid, hug!

And since we're on the topic of morality why not just include the non-Muslims as well? This being an Islamic country, they should after all abide by the morality rules stated in the Quran.

Oh, I could just go on! I'm not flaming Islam in particular, but abuse and misuse of power can and has happened. You know what they say about absolute power....

05 August 2006

Telling the Difference

It's always a wonder to me how dreams occur. It's more of a wonder now since I've been consistently dreaming the past several nights. I'm usually a calm sleeper and will go through the night without any major dream but lately that is not the case.

Now, I won't really mind if the dreams were happy dreams. But no, all I see are strange things happening. Not the kind that inspires the heart, you know?

As always, when we are dreaming we are so immersed in it that we accept it as reality. Even if we had an inkling that everything is mere illusion, we would be so transfixed in the proceedings of our virtual world that we would not be able to escape.

However, the turning point for me is usually when things get a little too absurd. Meeting TV characters and having time fast forward are just a few. That is when I will wake up a little. Of course, the lure of the dream is just too strong and I would resume the dream exactly where I stopped. Things usually get even more crazy and that's when I get the energy to snap out of it.

The cool thing about my dreams is that it helps me to wake up at an appropriate time. No matter how late I sleep, my dreams get absurd enough around 9am that I will just decide to wake up and return to the real world. I consider it as my personal alarm service. Instead of switching on the radio to coax me to consciousness, it plays ridiculous images in my head.

Not even technology can do THAT.

04 August 2006

The Ugly Gorilla is Back

By "ugly gorrila" I meant Aguilera, as in Christina Aguilera. But they are so phoenetically similar that I'm sure you didn't notice.

When I saw her comeback single Ain't No Other Man, I was hopeful. I hoped, for one, that she has matured and gained control of her diva-worthy voice. Secondly, I prayed that her songs would be better. Unfortunately, no one seems to be answering my prayers. Ain't No Other Man, in my opinion, is one of the thrashiest pop songs I have ever listened to. Loud, jarring, and unmemorable. Even Ashlee Simpson and Paris Hilton have better tracks (and that's saying QUITE A LOT). I deleted it immediately.

Just a few days back her full album was released. I was initially hesitant but I figured I had nothing to lose by supporting piracy. Right now, I'm into track 4 and I'm still not impressed. She feels the need to express her songs in the highest decibels she can manage. As a result, my ears hurt when she sings and I could not appreciate the lyrics. She should go find Mariah Carey for lessons; at least she knows when to sing and when to scream.

Music-wise, it doesn't differ too much from Ain't No Other Man. If you like that song, the rest of the album will suit you just fine. She relies on repeating sentences over and over again in order to "create a catchy tune". E.g. "Back in the day, back in the day, back in the day, back in the day" or "Ain't no other man, (bla bla bla), Ain't no other man, (bla bla bla), Ain't no other man! Ain't no other man!"

Someone needs to give this gorilla a smack and tell her that choruses don't work that way.

03 August 2006

Disposable Undies

I was browsing around Mydin (the Emporium of Cheap Imitation Goods) when I chanced upon a pack of disposable briefs. A pack of 6 is only RM1.90, so I bought it. Why would I need disposable briefs, you ask?

Well, after I finish my exams I have a packed schedule of outings with friends in KL. And that might mean having to stay over for the night. Plus there's also the trip to Redang Island (more about Redang in a future post). I thought that having some disposable undies is a great way to minimize luggage, so that's why I bought them.

I understand the risks involved with paper underwear. They tear easily and they probably become transparent when soaked with water. So I was very hesitant to bring them to Redang, but I decided to try one to see how well it will hold up (pun intended) before making my decision.

When I unrolled the underwear I was surprised at how big it was. Now, I'm not saying my waist is small or anything, but I expected the underwear to be a little smaller since it is supposed to be a universal size. Even the elastic band is not very elastic! When I put it on it is as if I was going "commando". Now that can be a good or bad thing depending on the situation but it's mostly bad, because briefs are meant to be tight while boxers are the ones providing the "freedom".

However, breathability was the least of my concerns. There's a price we have to pay when each underwear costs only RM0.30. And in this case, the hidden cost is way too high. You see, the underwear is already transparent with or without water! Sure, it might make for some kinky play but it's obviously unsuitable for wear in public areas such as, oh, I dunno? Redang?

So it appears my disposable undies are REALLY disposable, after all.

02 August 2006

High Achievers

Back in secondary school there was a time when school authorities would post up the demerit points of students. For those of you unfamiliar with our school demerit system, students start at 0. But if they are caught violating school rules, like painting the Mona Lisa on the teacher's car or destroying flowers as a form of 'landscaping', then school prefects might issue us some demerit points (typically 5 to 10).

Once our points reach 30 or so, our parents will be called in. This happens again at a few more checkpoints before we earn a suspension, and subsequently an expulsion if we happen to score 100 demerit marks. The system was terribly unfair because there was no parallel concept of merit points, but we students didn't care as they weren't really enforced anyway.

But there was this period when demerit points were highly publicized. Names of transgressors would be put up on a notice board, including their total demerit points and what their offence was. During recess, one of our favourite things to do was to go read through the board and see who the "high achievers" were. Even funnier were the things they supposedly did to earn those points. We have the standard "mencabar guru" (challenging the teacher) offenses but there were a few gems that I sadly forgot. If my memory serves, I think there was a "melagak karate" (showing off karate) or something.

Ahh.... those were the days.

Disclaimer: Being the GTS (Goody Two-Shoes) that I was, my name never appeared on that board.

01 August 2006

Paranoid but Unapologetic

I've reached the point in every blogger's life where he/she becomes a little paranoid. Every blogger would have thought, "What if someone I knew read the blog? What if I wrote some not-so-flattering things about that someone?"

Some of my friends here have been reading my blog for some time, but it was only a few days back that I realised one of my lecturers is also reading my blog. That's when the full realisation hit me - this blog is public. I am now presented with two choices: to stay out of certain areas in my blog or to continue blogging bravely.

I guess it comes down to the reason I started this blog. I began writing as a way to share my opinions on the things happening around me. I didn't mean for the blog to be popular (not that it is now). In other words, this blog is like my private thoughts publicized.

With that in mind, I am going to bravely post on as normal. A little more careful perhaps, but there's no reason to hide my thoughts. If for some reason all my previous lecturers read through my entire archives and found out all the funny things I wrote about them, I should be more thankful than terrified. After all, reading a blog is like having mind reading powers. If you don't like what other people are thinking, then for goodness sake leave their brains alone!

P.S. With that said, thanks Mr. Guok for stopping by! :)