06 November 2011

Get out of our way.

I actually meant to write about this on the 5th of November, for poetic reasons, but this will have to do.

A lot has been said about the teaching of Math and Science in English, and our Education Ministry's constant flip-flopping of this policy. The crux of the matter is that a lot of us urban parents would like our children to be educated in English, as most of us are of the generation that endured primary and secondary education in Malay, with mixed results.

I guess most of us urban students turned out alright, but that's also because most of our teachers spoke good English and could explain stuff to us in the many instances where Malay was insufficient. Most of these teachers are now retired and/or dead.

Among my peers, who were mostly the better-performing students in school, I can think of maybe one or two who opted to do STPM - everyone else, including myself, opted for foreign tertiary programs such as A-Levels, ADP and SAM, followed by foreign university programs, done either overseas, or through local affiliate colleges. And this was 15 years ago.

Personally, my best academic years were when I learned in English, which also happens to be my first language. And for the record, my command of Malay sucks. I barely passed my Malay exams in school, and I can barely hold a conversation in Malay before descending into gibberish.

Long story short, the Malay language was more of an obstacle for me to overcome than a medium that opened doors in the quest for knowledge - and i do not wish my children to be burdened by such a pointless exercise borne of testicle-carrying politics and little else.

And seeing that the Education Ministry is clueless about how to solve this problem, and is incapable of solving this problem, I would like to propose an incredibly simple solution that requires minimal effort on their part (which is what they're accustomed to, i think).

The solution: Let private schools freely teach curriculum from other countries.

If you look at The Laws of Malaysia, under Act 550 (also known as the Education Act 1996), there are sections 73 to 78, which fall under Part VII of the Act: Private Educational Institutions.

Specifically, Section 74 states that "A private education institution providing primary education or secondary education or both shall comply with the requirements of the National Curriculum and shall prepare pupils for prescribed examinations."

This section should be scrapped. There are other sections pertaining to the teaching of Malay and Malaysian Studies in private schools where the medium of instruction isn't English, and I have no problem with that.

However, by scrapping Section 74, there would actually be a chance for a much larger group of Malaysian students to learn under better-structured primary and secondary education systems from countries like England, Australia, the USA and, God forbid... Singapore.

Think about it. This would give many urbanites a very good reason NOT to migrate to these other countries - apart from better job opportunities, most of us are thinking of migration (or have already done so) because we're worried about our kids' education.

With regards to the whole national unity thing, I'm pretty sure you'll see a pretty even spread of students of different races in these schools, and all of them will likely intact willingly with each other because they're more like to speak the same language and would be from middle- to high-income families.

This is of course based on the assumption that these students want to learn in English and want a better education. Or at the very least, their parents want them to and are willing to fork out thousands of Ringgit per semester to do so.

I can also guarantee that there will not be enough places for everybody in these schools, and parents will be booking places 6 years in advance to make sure their kids get in.

This high demand is a foregone conclusion. There are a large number of people who, given the choice, would rather have their kids learn in English rather than Malay.

It is ridiculous that special exemptions are given to Chinese and Indian schools to teach in their mother tongue, yet for the significant number of Malaysians who use English as our main form of communication, we have no such right!

We're a product of Malaysia's history - our forefathers came here, thrived under British rule and we are now the most educated and most likely to push the country forward economically, culturally and socially. It is our right to be educated in the language that we were raised in.

And if the Malaysian Education Ministry can't give us what we want, then at the very least, GET OUT OF OUR WAY.

11 November 2009

Safari auto-suggest FAIL...

I started to type in "Can you..." into the search bar on the Safari browser on PC, and got the following suggested searches:

Click to see bigger image...

09 November 2009

Halloween 2009

Over the years, it's been a tradition at Gamebrains to dress up for Halloween. This year, there was even a themed lunch to match the celebrations.

Unfortunately, only 4 people wore costumes this year... This would be the first year I'm dressing up as something, and I decided to dress up as:

...my boss.

Unfortunately, Brett (the boss) wasn't around that day, which robbed us of a chance to take a side-by-side photo. Maybe next year, i suppose.

And then, there's Jeff:
...dressed as a butcher from Cheras.

And there's Javier, who dressed up as:
...a gay elf (Link)

Jeff asking for a raise.

And then, there was Eugene, who's photo I haven't got. He basically wore a fake dagger poking through his head.

We then walked to this restaurant called Departure Lounge for our themed lunch.
The only drawback with my costume, is that i had to remove the mask to eat.

Elaine and James joined in as well. Elaine's supposed to be a Jester and James is a tiger.

Eeeeeee... so cute!

We were offered severed fingers/penises for appetizers

Jeff eating the said severed finger/penis

Our swampy beverage...

So, yes... that's my Halloween.

23 October 2009

Where old Formula 1 teams go to die...

Poor Minardi. God bless its battered soul...

12 September 2009

Solution for the Broadcom WiFi adapter + Linksys WRT54G issue

This is a bit of a departure from my usual posts, but hopefully it will be of help to somebody out there, frantically Googling for a solution.

I recently bought a Dell Inspiron Mini 10v netbook PC, brought it home and found that, while it could see my router (It's a Linksys WRT54G v2.2 router with DDWRT firmware installed) via WiFi, it could not acquire an IP address.

The Windows XP taskbar tray icon then reports that my WiFi has limited or no connectivity.

All of the other computers (even a Wii and an iPod touch) in my house can connect to the router via WiFi with no problems, and all of my connection settings were correct.

So I went online and found that loads of people had the same problem but no solution. Nevertheless, I followed most of the prescribed 'solutions' to the problem, which didn't work:

1. I updated the driver for my Inspiron mini's WiFi card (a Dell Wireless 1397 WLAN card manufactured by Broadcom).

2. I used the default Windows XP Zero Config WiFi manager (instead of Dell's bundled WiFi manager) to connect to the network.

3. I tried using a static IP address.

4. I updated the firmware for my router - resetting and rebooting a few million times.

As it turns out, the problem is due to my choice of WiFi security / encryption - I was using WEP, which apparently the Dell's Broadcom WiFi card has a problem with. After switching to WPA Personal security settings on the router, everything worked fine!

Now, the frustrating thing is that this problem seems to be quite widespread (judging by the number of posts online), and the blame is almost always laid on the Linksys WRT54G router, though I'm now more inclined that the problem lies with Broadcom.

The Linksys WRT54G: Convenient scapegoat

The other annoying thing, of course, are a whole bunch of 'experts' in various forums who keep on prescribing the same 'solutions' over and over again without even reading the original posters' posts properly.


Expert: Did you update the drivers on your laptop? I find that usually fixes the problem
Victim: Yes I did, you moron!!! Can't you read???
Expert: Oh, so maybe you didn't enable Wireless Networking on your router...
Victim: I DID, you retard! I just said that other computers on my network are able to connect via WiFi!!!
Expert: Are you sure you're connected to the Internet? You should check your PPPoE settings
Victim: Oh my GOD!!! What the hell, can't you read? I can see the bloody network but I can't get a LOCAL IP address. It's got nothing to do with the Internet!!!!
Expert: Maybe you should get a new router / WiFI card

    And sadly, that last solution seems to be the course of action taken by most people; who may end up with a brand new router and the same ol problem again.

    And it's thanks to the large number of retarded experts that it took me a whole week to finally find the solution: (http://en.community.dell.com/wikis/networking_internet_wireless/recommended-wireless-router-settings.aspx)

    So there you have it - if you have a Dell notebook PC with a Broadcom WiFi card and a Linksys WRT54G router, and you can see your WiFi network but cannot get an IP address, try using the above recommended router settings before downloading and installing firmware and drivers - it may save you lots of time.

    01 September 2009


    Caryn puts on a weird-looking helmet

    24 August 2009

    I need RM60k a year to prevent James from becoming stupid...

    I've sort of known that government schools have been shite for quite some time already - but with our education ministry's constant flip-flopping of policies and the downward spiral of academic standards, it's becoming a very real problem for me.

    Or rather, for James...

    While I've always assumed that private schools are an alternative, it seems that even that isn't an option for some parents these days - because they're still tied to Malaysia's retarded education system (Today's SPM English paper is sooooo easy, I could probably score full marks on it when I was 12 years old!).

    After reading this article on the Malaysian Insider, it has suddenly dawned upon me that, unless I can set aside RM60k a year to send James to International School, he might end up stupid. Holy shit.

    James: needs RM60k a year to remain clever

    And yes, it starts out at "only" RM10k a year for pre-school, but with 2-year waiting lists and ever-increasing tuition fees, you might as well budget for about RM60k a year to fight inflation. There's no way I'll afford that as long as I'm busy play... i mean MAKING video games for a living.

    So what are my options, then?

    1) - Send him to a private school
    Hopefully, it won't cost as much, but it'll still eat into my wallet. And if Elaine and I have another kid, that's an even bigger financial burden. The worst part, though, is that there's no guarantee that the quality of teaching is any better.

    I studied A-Levels in Taylor's College, and most of my lecturers there were AWFUL. And my parents paid good money for that. Plus, I was also a lazy dumbshit so my parents had to spend even MORE money to send me to private tuition classes. In hindsight, the irony is amazing.

    The other problem is that James would end up socialising with stuck-up, spoilt brats who get dropped off by drivers in Toyota Alphards (which are only driven/owned by assholes). I don't want James mixing with sons of assholes who are probably assholes too.

    Toyota Alphard: driven exclusively by double-parking, queue-jumping, tail-gating assholes

    That, and he'll probably be crap at sports since its a known fact that rich kids are rubbish at sports, so he won't have any competition to play against. He needs to be beaten soundly in sports so he'll know the feeling of defeat and knows that he has to work harder so he can then have a rematch and totally pwn the other asshole's son.

    2) - Bite the bullet and send him to government school
    This actually makes more sense because it doesn't cost me any money, and James will probably end up more humble and/or well-rounded since he'll meet kids from all walks of life; that's one thing I remember from government schools.

    However, his teachers are guaranteed to be shit, and he'll probably end up giving the English teacher private tuition. That, and he'll probably end up playing football, since most basketball/tennis/volleyball courts in government schools have now become makeshift hockey courts/ car parks.

    Oh, and most government schools have totally shit facilities:
    A typical multi-purpose hall in a government school

    He'll also probably be the only Chinese kid in his class; which technically shouldn't be a problem - except that he'll probably have difficulty fitting in due to cultural differences.

    Any other Chinese kid would probably only speak Mandarin (which James won't understand, since nobody in his family does), the Malay kids will be speaking proper Malay (as opposed to the sterilized Dewan Bahasa that we're all taught in school) - which he won't understand either - and all the Indian kids will be speaking in Tamil, which for some funny reason I think James might actually pick up.

    This scenario is likely, simply because all the English-speaking kids are studying in private schools. I don't think James will forgive me...

    3) - Move to Australia and take advantage of free education there
    This is actually a very, very good idea - and James will no doubt love the fact that (for some reason) Asian girls who grow up in Australia end up becoming hot. Of course, he could end up with a white girl and fulfill Elaine's dream of having half-cast babies (in this case, grandkids) who will end up looking very beautiful and being casted in TV ads or as VJs on Channel V.

    Also, there's no way the Australian education system is worse than ours. Also, James will probably be very active in sports, which is good.

    The only downsides are that Elaine and I have to completely uproot our lives and attempt to make a living in Australia; which might be a bit hard for me since nobody will understand a word I say and then automatically assume that I've just got off the boat from China.

    However, this remains one of the most appealing choices; especially if things turn out well.

    4) - Move to Singapore
    I like Singapore Zoo. I think James will like Singapore Zoo too. It's also the safest city in the world, which is a big plus. It's also very close to Malaysia, so visiting friends/family would be easy.

    No idea how good their education system is, but i hear it's basically a more efficient version of ours.

    In other words, James will come out of school wanting to be a lawyer/engineer/doctor/accountant and will be totally rubbish at sports. The difference from doing it in Malaysia is that ALL of his classmates will be exactly the same: highly efficient-but-soulless individuals with fantastic credentials on paper.

    Disclaimer: Of course, I'm basing all this on the stereotypes we Malaysians have of Singaporeans. I've met Singaporeans who are totally unlike this (Hi, Colin!)

    I have no idea how much it will cost to have James study in Singapore, so I'll still have to think about this. Singapore Zoo.... Mmmm...

    5) - Keep complaining until someone does something about it.
    Given the way the country's been run for the past 50 years, it's easy to forget that free, high-quality education for our children should be a basic right.

    The root of the problem is our country's diversity; we all speak different languages, come from different backgrounds and have different priorities in life. And in spite of this, the education ministry continues to attempt to find a one-size-fits-all solution, which is impossible.

    Browse around the web and you'll find a lot of people (me included) who believe that re-introducing English-medium schools will solve the problem; simply because the decline in our education system's standards seem to coincide with the introduction of Malay as the primary medium of instruction. But that's basically because we are English-speaking, so of course we'd want to see the return of English.

    But as long as we have history lessons that only briefly touch world history, physical education classes where the teachers don't know anything about sports, art classes that only teach you how to paint and science classes that completely ignore the revolution of the Internet, our education system will remain completely irrelevant.

    And as long as we treat teaching as a profession for people who aren't qualified to do anything else, any syllabus that the government comes up with will never be effective.

    The day the government realises and fixes these problems, I'd certainly send James to a government school.

    And on that day, me and thousands of others wouldn't have to write blogs or post comments about this matter anymore. On that day, I would consider Malaysia a developed nation.
    "Umm... Do you think they heard us, arr...?"

    24 July 2009

    19 June 2009

    James in motion

    ...or passing motion, in some of these videos.

    James laughing and trying to shit

    James with mom / grandma / outside grandma

    James staring at a baby mobile

    James lying prone: part 1

    James lying prone: part 2

    James in the "Super shitting position": part 1

    Tracking daddy with his eyes

    James in the "Super shitting position": part 2

    16 June 2009

    Fiat 500 lands in Malaysia!

    Spotted this Fiat 500 at the Fiat Service Centre in Keramat. Apparently, this is a unit for the mechanics to toy around with.

    "Say my name... SAY MY NAME!!!"

    I'm not sure if it's actually on sale yet, but the guys at the workshop say it'll be priced between RM120k to 140k, which is ridiculous when you consider that you can buy one for just 8000 Pounds in the UK. Even after the over-inflated taxes, it should still cost only about RM90k at most. Me thinks the local distributor is trying to milk as much out of the 500 as they can...

    Needless to say, i love this car. Will test drive one once i get the chance :)

    10 June 2009

    Microsoft being funny...

    I'm currently downloading the release candidate for Windows 7 (that would be the next version of Windows, in case you've been living under a rock. Like me).

    It would've been a routine thing if it weren't for one tiny thing (click on the following photo to see the full-sized version):

    Microsoft is using JAVA to distribute Windows 7!!! (Note the little Java icon on the smaller window).

    This is quite ironic, if you consider how Microsoft routinely bashes Java in favour of their own C# language and .NET runtime environments. I've been to a couple of Microsoft TechEd seminars in Malaysia, and they'll always have one session that shows just how superior C# and .Net are to Java.

    Funny how the world works... :)

    06 June 2009

    1 month later...

    I guess it's a testament to how busy I've been – that little James was born more than a month ago and only now do I find time to actually write about the experience. Although the irony of it is that I'm probably busier now than I was a month ago. But more on that later.

    Me, Elaine and James

    So... Yay!!! James was born on 3rd May 12:45pm, after about 12 hours of labor. 12 very long hours. Ask Elaine about it. She has a much better perspective of the experience.

    Elaine in between contractions. Zzzzzz...

    With the help of a vacuum suction device thingy, James ended his nine-month tenancy in Elaine's womb with a brief cry.

    He then stopped, and scanned the sterile delivery room with his little eyes. He had a look on his face which basically said, “What the hell is THIS?”

    Fresh out of the oven

    He was blue, had a cone-shaped head and when the nurses put him on Elaine's chest, the two of us smiled at each other but thought, “Erm... he looks weird.”

    All his fingers and toes were in place, he was breathing fine and he generally looked like a healthy baby. Except for the fact that he was blue.

    “He's kinda blue, isn't he...?Hello? Erm, sorry... Excuse me, why is he blue?” I asked the doctor and the nurses, who I believe were trained to ignore any questions asked by the father (i.e. me). And rightly so, because I was probably getting in their way.

    “It's normal,” said Elaine.


    Elaine holding James for the first time

    My first photo with James

    Now, the best part was, I had been anticipating this moment for as long as I can remember – the moment when I'd lay my eyes on my child for the first time. The mere visualisation of it in my head was enough to tug on my heart strings. I like kids. I've always wanted a kid of my own.

    But as I stood there, staring at this little blue guy gnawing away at Elaine's mammaries, I didn't have the rush of emotion I thought I'd have. In hindsight, it's probably because of the many months of anticipation – I guess I was expecting fireworks and a big brass band playing in the background.

    After a day, we brought James home, where he and Elaine were put under the care of our hired confinement lady, Kew (not sure what her full name is). For the whole month she would bathe James, change him, put him to bed at night and watch over him AND continuously prepare food for Elaine and made sure she got enough rest.

    Elaine after successfully pumping out 4 ounces of milk in a single sitting for the first time!

    This was a bit of a weird time for me, the dad. Because every time I tried to help out, I often found myself getting in the way. There wasn't much I could do other than run some errands (buying supplies), helping to carry stuff around and generally providing emotional support.

    I'm waaaaatching you

    I couldn't carry James because he was sleeping or needs to be fed. I couldn't talk to Elaine much because she needed sleep. And to make matters worse, I was at the tail end of a project at work so I had to divide what little time I had.

    I guess I felt kind of left out. I did insist on learning how to change diapers (which I am now a pro at doing – even if he starts shitting midway), how to feed him from a bottle, how to bathe him (though I've only done that once). But for the most part, whenever I tried to do something, somebody else will almost certainly come along and 'relieve' me of my duties.

    So when friends asked me “How's fatherhood...”, I didn't really have an answer.

    A James hotdog

    But now that the confinement period is over (it normally goes on for 28 days or a month), I've been finally thrown into the deep end. The sleepless nights have finally begun, and I've changed about 20 diapers in five days and have woken up several times to warm up bottles of milk.

    James going in for a routine pitstop...

    And in spite of the sleep deprivation, I'm feeling happier than before, simply because I'm now a part of little James' life rather than a bystander.

    And for the first time in month, I finally had a chance to have a quiet moment alone with him. I was trying get little James to sleep one day – he had been quite testy and had been crying – and I had been carrying him for about 30 minutes already, gently patting his bottom and talking to him (babies like it when you talk to them).

    As he was drifting in and out of sleep, I finally had the emotional moment I was waiting for. This little guy in my arms is my son - and I love him to bits :)

    * Queue 'Awwwws' *

    Me and James in synchronous sleep

    On another note, fatherhood does strange things to a man (or me, specifically):

    1. I'm suddenly more aware of my mortality – I think more about consequences before I do something potentially rash. I'd drive below the speed limit all the time, and I now tend to let idiot drivers on the road have their way rather than confronting them. I want to be there for James as he grows up, and that means not putting myself in harms way.
    2. I suddenly have and urge to learn how to fish, so I can bring James fishing when I grow up.
    3. When I meet other new parents, I find myself more interested in how they raise their kids.
    4. I'm suddenly able to function with less than 8 hours of sleep a day.
    5. I have a newfound respect for women who exclusively breastfeed their babies (i.e. no infant formula). It's a very though thing to do. Elaine's a tough girl :)
    6. I find myself peeking into baby shops, eyeing rather sporty looking strollers, cool toys and other cool child-raising apparatus. I even saw a baby monitor the other day with a bloody camera on the transmitter and an LCD screen on the receiver! If you're a gear head, having a child is an excellent reason to buy tons of cool stuff.

    Now for some videos:

    James at 6 days old

    James being a 3-week-old baby

    Me bathing James for the first time!