29 June 2007

Snacks in the Office

Our cubicle farm is arranged in squares, with 3-4 employees per square. So all of us essentially get corner lots. In the middle is a small round table where we can have discussions (hence the term 'round table discussions'). However, my round table is currently overflowing with snacks and food from all of us in this cubicle square. At this moment we have...
  • Wheat bran cereal with raisins (for my little hunger pangs)
  • A box of candy lollipops (at least 10)
  • 5 caramel lollipops (my neighbour is a huge fan of lollipops...)
  • Chocolate cream cookies
  • Polo mints
  • 1 chocolate cube of dubious origins (which is why it's still there after 6 months)
  • 4 packets of salted crackers (the boring type they forcefeed you in GH)
  • 2 packets of coconut cookies (great source of energy before I head for my aerobics class)
  • 4 packets of various crackers that none of us like to eat, and is therefore waiting for its expiry date to come around before releasing them into the wild

And all that is not counting several more cookies and snacks I have hidden in my drawers. It is safe to say that our round table is the most snack-filled, but my other colleagues are not necessarily under-stocked. In fact, there was once our VP walked past our row of cubicles and I heard her say, "Wow, this place has a lot of food."


28 June 2007

Car Hijacking Tactics

Have you heard about the tactic where they throw eggs on your windshield? Unsuspecting people who turn on the wiper will spread albumen and yolk all over the windshield, creating an obstructing white film. Forced to stop your car, the attackers will then come over and do their thing.

It is these type of cases that make me thankful for having an old-fashioned car. Some newer cars have an auto-sensing feature, where the wipers automatically turn on at the sign of moisture. If you have such a car, I suggest turning it off. After all, how difficult is it to flick a switch when it pours?

2kg Healthy Baby

I now have a baby to carry with me everywhere - a HP Compaq nc8430. The company finally gave me one to replace the desktop machine. It's both a blessing and a curse, but I haven't decided is more. I'll be busy setting this baby up for his new owner, so regular posting resumes tomorrow.

27 June 2007

Faith in Human Relations

I've taken quite an interest in general economics lately. Like most people not in the field, I always thought that economics have everything to do with a country's financial health, and little else. But after reading the excellent books Freakonomics and The Undercover Economist, it has really opened my eyes to the way this world works. I'm by no means an excellent one yet, but I've been more observant about phenomena around me and I'll catalog them under the 'economics' label. Actual economist might read such posts and say "Bah! That's NOT economics!", so I appeal to them to speak out.

To start things off, have you guys heard the radio advertisement that goes something like, "Mum, it's time to buy a Hyundai Atos! Auntie Sim, you should get the gutsy Hyundai Getz! Uncle Lim, it's the Matrix for you and your family! Now, remember to write my name on the entry form so I can stand a chance to win a new Hyundai Azera!" (The contest details can still be found on their website)

Does that make sense to you? Imagine for a moment I'm Uncle Lim, saying the following to the guy on the radio:

Why would I get myself into half a decade of debt just so someone else can stand a chance to win a RM230,000 car? And it's not guaranteed you'll get the car, mind you. What's my incentive for putting your name in? Are you going to share half the car with me?

I think Hyundai's marketing department designed this contest wrong. They can't use a scheme like those grocery products where the more you buy the better your chances of winning, because vehicles are not something that people buy in bulk. Among my first degree friends, probably only 1 or 2 is looking for a new vehicle. And of course, there's the absence of any incentives to put your name in and not mine.

2 things I learned from reading those books are:
- People respond to incentives (positive OR negative)
- People are inherently selfish (most of the time but there are divergent theories)

Do you have any other opinion on why this scheme would work or wouldn't?

26 June 2007

System Restore Saved My Life

I can't believe I'm saying this, but System Restore saved my life, or at the very least, my sanity. When it first launched with Windows XP, I hated it's limited usefulness. One, you needed to actually start XP to access the feature. Not having any boot disk option is very limiting, because let's face it, we've all encountered the Boot Up Blue Screen of Death.

Next, it never really makes clear what it restores and what it leaves. Does it only affect programs and drivers? Or are files part of it's purview? Speaking of files, there doesn't seem to be a way to just restore an old version of one file, instead of rewinding the whole system.

So I have to be forgiven for not liking System Restore. A few years back there's a wonderful software by the name of Roxio GoBack. It's like System Restore on Steroids! You can create virtual drives of previous HDD backups, restore particular files, and invoke it at boot up. Unfortunately, Symantec acquired it, renamed it Norton GoBack, and it lost its appeal overnight. In a sense, GoBack became System Restore on Sleepy Flu Medicine. It messed with my Master Boot Record a few times, and recovery error rates got too high for my liking. So I bid it adieu and went back to more defensive computing.

Fast forward to the present. I was running out of disk space on my Windows partition on the iMac (hur hur hur, running Windoze on iMac. Laugh it out.) so I decided to uninstall Silent Hill 2. I only played like 5 minutes of it because the PC port is too laggy. But somehow, uninstalling that game affected Silent Hill 3, which I was playing through halfway. As I didn't have the game DVD *cough*cough*torrents*cough* I started panicking. Silent Hill 3 was such an engrossing game I couldn't let a bad uninstall stand between me and the ending!

As a last resort, I tried System Restore, and surprisingly, it restored both Silent Hill 2 and it's much better sequel. I guess I owe the System Restore team an apology on this. But, it can definitely be improved.

Sidenote: Silent Hill 3, IMHO, is the best Silent Hill in the series with a decent PC port too. If you haven't got the chance to play it, scare yourself silly with an original copy! Or scare yourself just as silly with a pirated one. Up to you. I'm too morally deficient to advise on life's matters.

25 June 2007

Chemical Equation for Success

When I took my blogging leave of absence six months ago, I didn't know when I'd come back to haunt the blogosphere. I knew I wanted to keep blogging, but I never put a deadline on it. And you know- lah, the fear about these things is that we'll keep on postponing and postponing until it stops happening at all. Thankfully, a recent string of unhappiness gave me the push I needed to start writing again.

One of the major reasons I took a break was because I had simply run out of things to say. There was rarely anything in my life that was still unwritten, and as such my blog posts were becoming more like daily bulletins. So by taking this break I have allowed myself to accumulate life experiences that I can finally group together and tell you about. And let's just start with the blog name.

Zemien is still what I'm called, but hopefully, I can also be known as a sexy geek. I'm definitely far from that definition, but positive projection never hurt anyone. But sorry, no full frontal nudity to prove my point! Basically, my life now revolves around the gym and work (technology-related), so I've decided to steer my blog towards these topics, and therefore, the equation Gym + Technology = SexyGeek. BTW, I know the current banner sucks. It's just a placeholder until the graphic designer I hired gives me a new one. Yes, graphic designer. I'm SERIOUS.

For those of you who've been reading for awhile, welcome back. I fully commit to try out some Web 2.0 enhancements like... gasp!... embedded videos! Yeah, you'll certainly want to keep a lookout for those videos, especially those of you who have never met me in the flesh. But no more chatboxes or tweeters because those "free" plugins have a tendency to package pop-ups with them. But if you know an ad-free one...

Like any good theatrical trailer*, I must draw you into sticking with the blog and checking back regularly, so here's a quick update on some of the things that happened since Dec 26 (and what I'll be writing about):
  • I'm seeing someone (actually we started dating in November, but that's another post)
  • I'm a part-time group fitness aerobics instructor (ahh yes... that's the sweet sound of guaranteed blog hits)
  • I got a PS2 for free (no, you didn't read that wrongly. It's a PS2, not a PS3)
  • Did I mention I'm a gym aerobics instructor already?
And just to be fair, I'm starting my hit counter at 10000, which was the last reliable count. Why not start at 0? I'm kind, not stoopid.

*- I also hope that the actual content turns out better than the trailer. I'm looking at you, Spiderman 3!

19 June 2007

The Phoenix Rises from the Ash

5.75 months
23 weeks
161 days

That's how long I've been gone. Almost 6 months.

And in one more week, I'll be back.