28 December 2007

Hello 2008 (a.k.a. Getting back on track)

It's been a funny month, December.

I quit my job as a journalist and got a job in a local games development company (though I'm only scheduled to start in the 2nd week of Jan). Being between jobs, this also meant that I've had much more time to myself than usual.

In the past month, I've been busy getting my life in order - running all sorts of errands and doing stuff I otherwise wouldn't have time to do while I'm working.

I've also had plenty of time to think, and to reflect on the many things that have happened to me the past six years or so (i.e. ever since I left university).

Forgive me if you've heard this rant before (click here for a refresher) but this post has a lot to do with my career.

Long story short: I went to university with a rather odd dream, an unconventional for the time. I wanted to make videogames, by becoming a games programmer. Then I came out of university, bummed around for 9 months while unsuccessfully trying to come up with some game demo to boost my employment prospects.

Then I got into a relationship (which necessitated a job - it's expensive stuff, mind you). After thinking for a bit, I ended up becoming a tech journalist. So yes, it was a detour.

A bittersweet one.

I loved the life of a tech journalist, getting to do all sorts of stuff I'd otherwise never had the opportunity to do (such as traveling all over the world, interviewing big names in the IT industry, meeting all sorts of characters and crashing an expensive German sedan into a field).

I loved the work environment too, especially all of my fantastic colleagues.

And all the while, I kept telling myself that this was what I wanted. I kept telling myself I should be happy - after all, plenty of people were envious of my job. Yes, I was happy, but I kept longing for my original dream.

I asked myself whether I was blessed or just being foolish.

But now, looking back, it was a hell of a journey but the path eventually led me right back to my original dreams.

In a chance encounter, I heard about a potential job opening at a local games company. I had long thought that this ship had already sailed, but then God decided to throw a curve ball and gave me a chance to get back on the right track.

What surprised me was how difficult a decision it would be. I was very comfortable in my job as a journalist and I would be giving up a lot to pursue a career in game development.

I cast my net and - surprise - it turns out that I'm qualified to be a game programmer all along! Of course, it probably helped that I knew the guys at this company from some previous interviews I had conducted.

The irony of it all was that all of my experimenting with Pocket PC and J2ME mobile game development was unnecessary. I had what it took all along. I was much better than I thought.

If there was one thing I learnt from my previous job, it was that I could punch above my weight and push boundaries. I learnt that my attitude towards work was different from about 90% of the workforce. I was more passionate and more eager to try out new things.

So here I am, about to continue a journey I had abandoned some 5 years ago because I thought I wasn't good enough. I'm finally getting back on track. I'm going to become a games developer :)

I'm both excited and terrified at the prospects of beginning this new job, though. I've got loads of catching up to do and so many new things to learn.

I feel empowered. I feel like I've finally gotten my life back.

I am blessed.

Here's to a cracking 2008.

17 December 2007

Just a comic

I've got a bit of spare time, so I decided to draw a four-panel comic. Do pardon the shoddy artwork :)

03 December 2007

Wedding photographers: overpaid?

I was following Elaine on one of her meetings with various tailors and designers, inquiring about the cost of making a wedding dress. And it seems that the average wedding gown costs about RM2000 in this day and age.

When you think about the amount of time to make a dress (about 2 months or more) and all of the effort it takes to measure, sew, fit, alter and whatnot a dress, it definitely seems worth it.

Yes, it's a dress you'll probably only wear once in your lifetime (unless, like me, you're a guy, whereby it would be preferable to never have to wear one, unless you're a drag queen. Or weird) but the craftsmanship that goes behind a dress isn't something to be taken lightly.

Don't believe me? You try making a dress...


Now, the point at which I'm getting to is this: A wedding photographer gets paid about RM2000 (sometimes more) for a day's work.

This involves snapping about 1,000 mostly identical photographs of the bride and groom during the wedding ceremony, the various customs (tea drinking in Chinese weddings, for example) and during the wedding luncheon and/or dinner.

Once he goes home, he uploads all of this into his PC or Mac, uses custom software to sort, compare and shortlist photos, and later sends a small selection to a photo printer, burning the rest into a DVD-R disc (nobody uses CDs anymore...).

And by the end of the week (once he's gotten off his arse), he'll hand it to you in a lovely, wrapped package. All for a princely sum of RM2000.

Incidentally, the price of a wedding dress and a day-long photography service are the same: about RM2000.

While no one will ever doubt that dressmaking is a skill, any monkey can pose as a professional photographer these days.

And looking at the sort of quality people are getting from wedding photographers, they may as well pay peanuts too!

What's annoying is that are many so-called professionals with almost no understanding of exposure, lighting, basic composition or even common sense.

These are the pros who insist on using a bounce flash in a ballroom with a 30-foot high ceiling (that's almost never white in colour to begin with - thus diminishing its reflective properties further). And without any white card or diffuser!!! And sometimes, these idiots forget to re-align the direction of the flash when they're switching from portrait to landscape, thus blinding the person standing directly to their left, who was wondering "What's this big thing pointing at m.... *ACK!*"

These are the pros who don't use a fill-in direct flash (with or without a diffuser) when shooting indoors, and in poor lighting conditions. They normally 'fix' their mistakes in Photoshop by playing around with levels and curves, until the bride's gown becomes a mass of white rather than textured cloth - and until the people's faces end up being a contrasty shade of orange, simply because of colour banding and incorrect white balance to begin with.

These are the pros who don't check focus, constantly having distant background objects in focus instead.

These are the pros who are spending too much time finding a use for their expensive new, telephoto 300mm prime lens (with constant f/2.8 aperture) rather than just sticking to a lens that's suitable for the occasion. Take note: this is fine if the pro is using the lens for just a couple of shots with shallow depth of field. But if he's using the same lens for more than 15 minutes, he's just using the lens for his own entertainment - cumming over the shallow depth of field.

These are the pros who get in the way of priests and/or other important people during church weddings - just to get 20 shots of two wedding rings being doused by Holy water (shots which you'll probably not notice as you flip through your wedding albums in future). The same idiots will also stick their camera in continuous shutter burst and take 10 identical shots every time the bride/groom poses for about 2 seconds. Take note: they're posing, not running through a finish line.

These are the pros who also insist on NOT using a flash AT ALL when shooting indoors because the available lighting from the yellow tungsten/halogen bulbs "looks more natural." True, but because of the limited dynamic range of photographs, everyone will end up looking like a panda, with harsh shadows cast over their eyes. If that's what you're looking for, then good for you.

These are the pros who shoot with the camera's small image settings (i.e. If it's a 10-megapixel camera, he'll shoot at 2.5-megapixels) so that they can store more photos on their CF cards. If you're only going to make 4R (4x6in) prints, then fine. But if they're taking a big group shot which is likely to be printed on A4-sized enlargements, you're screwed.

Now, I'm not saying you shouldn't pay a photographer RM2000 or more if he's really good. The problem, however, is that most people won't know if a wedding photographer is good or bad until after the fact. In fact, most people can't even tell that a picture is badly taken unless there's a side-by-side comparison with a good one.

The problem is that anybody can buy a digital SLR, some lenses and flashes and instantly look like a pro.

Which means that problem is that you won't really know if there's a problem until the problem has happened.

The problem is that it's now 2:30am and I'm feeling cranky. And Ranty. And why the hell are there ants on my desk???

Erm. So yes. The moral of the story is this: If you're getting a wedding photographer and are fussy about whether or not your pictures look great, make sure you've seen his/her prior work before agreeing.

The other lesson of the day is that wedding dresses are better value than some pro photographers. Goodnight.

13 November 2007

If God drove a 4-door sedan...

...He'd drive this:

A Honda Civic Type-R FD2


I had the pleasure of trying out the new Honda Civic Type-R in Sepang Circuit, courtesy of Honda Malaysia.

Now, I've not driven that many cars before, but I highly doubt you'll ever find another FF (Front-engine, Front-wheel-drive) car that'll outperform this on a race track. Though it looks a lot like a regular Civic with some lame spoilers, skirts and air dams, it's a completely different beast.

The rear end will be a familiar sight on highways. There's a rear diffuser below the bumper.


Welcome to heaven. Check out the manual gearbox - when's the last time you saw one of these???

The 2.0-litre Honda K20A iVTEC engine churns out 225BHP at over 8000RPM. PHWOAAARRRR!!!!


The engine is super smooth and supremely powerful, the suspension is perfectly set up for track work so it corners with God-like amounts of grip and its 6-speed manual gearbox is soooo darn precise, you have to wonder why Honda doesn't include it with regular Civics (for that matter, I don't see why any car nut would ever one to go back to an auto box).


And thanks to its advanced LSD (that's a limited-slip differential, not the hallucinogenic drug), it's almost impossible to induce understeer in hard cornering - even if you've got your foor buried on the throttle.

Speaking of which, the pedals in this car are perfectly positioned for nifty heel-and-toe downshifts, aided also by a well dampened clutch and superb throttle response.

In a nutshell, this car provides so much feedback and is a delight to the senses - you can feel every corner and push harder and harder towards the car's limits, unlike any other FF you've probably driven.

I tried Mercedes' entire 2005 AMG range (apart from the SL55, which I didn't get a stab at) at Sepang Circuit a few years ago and even though all of those cars sported much more torque and horsepower, none can come anywhere close to providing this much excitement and intimacy.

The only problem is, I only had four laps in the Type-R (after three in the regular 2.0 Civic) and was just starting to get comfortable with doing four-wheel drifts before running out of time.

Heading out of the pits


Whatever it is, I'm completely smitten. For less than RM200k, this is definitely the best car in the world. Buy one now! NOW! If I could sell a kidney to finance one of these, I would. After the session, I was giggling like a little girl for a good 10 minutes :)

(I hear the waiting list goes all the way to 2009, though - and I might not last that long sans a kidney. Also note that Malaysia is the only country outside of Japan to have this Japan-spec Civic Type-R officially available).

08 October 2007

What the hell...?

Got word that there's a photo of me on 1Utama's website for its Batting Cages!



Click here to see the full page.

Which is quite strange because that was my first time there, and I had also blogged about it before... :)

I'm famous!

24 September 2007

How the mighty have fallen...

Honda's ASIMO - former million-dollar stair-climbing robot...





...now reduced to secondary PDA cradle support:

Where's that little robot?




"Me want to climb stairs instead!"

Morgan Freeman = super

Spotted the following DVD in the a local video store:

Morgan Freeman: The Movie


At first I was wondering what the hell it was. But upon closer inspection, it turns out to be a compilation of Morgan Freeman's best movies on a few discs. Cool.

The clincher, though, was this little gem at the top-right corner of the cover:



Super black film star... :)

21 September 2007

Cheryl calls room service...

The wedding dinner just ended. It's past midnight, and we're hanging out in Thomas and Amelia's bridal suite, having drinks and basically having a laugh.

And then, we ran out of ice. And Colin took it upon himself to call room service for more ice. However, his alter ego took over...

video



Oh, and I'll post up photos from the wedding (on Flickr) once I've gotten some work out of the way. This was the first time I've been involved in both pre-wedding and actual day photography.


Me in action


It was bags of fun... :)

17 September 2007

I killed a fruit fly today...

I'm back at the office today. And it turns out that the little insects that have been terrorising me here were fruit flies (see post "We're being followed"). And I killed one of them!!!

I rock!



Extreme closeup


While not exactly fast, these little buggers are really small and my eye-sight is shit. So yes, I'm quite happy to have made it dead.

Now if only some of the other pests in the office could be dispatched of as effortlessly...

10 September 2007

Selling out to the man...

From Her World magazine or something like that.

Quote: "This fragrance gives me the confidence I need to help me get through the day"

Indeed... :)

Click on the image for the full-sized pic

We're being followed...

I had a nagging suspicion all day that I was being followed by insects. Everywhere I went, i could feel something crawling around my scalp, skipping across my neck. Inside my shirt and moving underneath my socks. Sometimes I even caught a glimpse of something small flying in front of my eyes.

Bzzzzzzz...


It even followed me in my car when I went to the camera equipment store in SS2. Kit was telling me that it's just my imagination - my hair getting into my eyes or something like that.

But when I got back to the office, it turns out that everyone's been bugged by little insects all day too.

So yes, I'm not crazy, but a small colony of insects may be building a nest in my head. Which means I've got cooties. Cool.

29 August 2007

Updated to a Flickr Pro account!

Yay! I've now got a decent place to upload photos and stuff. I'm still in the process of sorting out and uploading more pix, so it's a little messy for now.

My Flickr!


Still haven't joined any groups yet. So yes, I've now officially joined the legions of wannabe photographers, camwhores and pretentious people.

23 August 2007

The joy of Fax...

As I was sending a fax to a hotel in Bali the other day, it suddenly dawned upon me how satisfying (on a physical, psychological and emotional level) it is to send a fax.

It all begins with typing out a document with ultra sexy formatting and using words like "Attention:", "Re:" and "To whomever it may concern". The document must fit on a single A4 page yet contain all of the necessary information, which means that some revisions are required to make it all much more concise and wonderfully elegant.

This is, of course, incredibly gratifying as I stare at the screen, alternating between "print preview" mode and editing mode whilst making little adjustments here and there to tart it up.

And once I'm done typing it, I print it on my inkjet printer, with the print-quality settings set at "Ultra High" and on high quality 80g A4 paper.

This Ultra High quality mode causes the print head caress the A4 paper ever so gently and with more passes per row of text as if laying more coats of much thinner paint to produce a fantastic finish. Or in this case, crisper text.

With printout in hand, I march towards the beckoning fax machine, sitting idly in the corner with a dim red glow emanating from its LED power indicator. I slot my A4 paper into its feeding tray (face down, of course), dial in the fax number and watch as the fax machine gently whispers cryptic modem strings over the telephone line to the fax machine on the other side.

And suddenly, the fax machine springs to life, sucking my A4 printout into its gigantic (yet wafer-thin) orifice while it hums. It's a low pitch hum. While it's almost inaudible from the outside of the house, it strongly resonates throughout the halls and corridors within, as it transmits bit and bytes across the copper wires - sending my lovingly crafted document to an eagerly awaiting receptionist on the other end.


HUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM...


And after the climax, the humble fax machine pipes down, ejecting my A4 printout from its nether regions. It lets out a faint beep and tells me that everything's ok through its LCD panel (to be precise, it says "Send OK").

I take my A4 printout, having served its purpose, crumple and toss it into the waste paper basket. While I've satiated my hunger for now, it'll be about 30 minutes before I long to send another fax.

hummmmmmmmmmm...

----------------------------

The problem with holidays is that you suddenly find yourself with a lot of free time and not much to do.

14 August 2007

Silence, it can be stunning.

I was driving home just a couple of hours ago (around midnight) when it occurred to me that my car was being uncharacteristically silent. You see, it's normally a hell of a noisy beast when on the move - the slightest of surface undulations would normally send the car flying off at a tangent, resulting in all manner of squeaks, creaks and very worrying, metallic sounding "Clunk!" sounds. Oh, and they seemed to have forgotten to attach the suspension when it was on the assembly line.

So yes, it's put together like a typical Italian car. Which meant that it should've been really noisy considering that most of the roads leading to my house are dotted with small craters attempting to pass off as potholes.

But no. There was absolute silence. It was like a magic carpet ride.

The reason, of course, was that the potholes were no longer there. And the reason for that, of course, is that the roads have been paved. ALL of them.

And the reason that ALL of the roads have been paved is because the general elections are just around the corner and the federal government needs to show that it's actually running the country properly.

And to show that it is indeed running the country properly, they've decided to pave all the roads with glistening, fresh, black tarmac. Mmmmmm...

Never mind that the crime rate is soaring, that inflation is slowly turning my 50 ringgit notes into small change, and that for some reason, it has become socially acceptable for you to thrust a sword into the air during a political party general assembly while screaming some sort of battle cry - as long as our roads are paved, we're happy.

Now this is actually a good thing. I recently spent over 600 ringgit repairing my suspension (turns out there was one after all) after several years of driving into inverted speed bumps.

Want better roads? Vote for this guy!

But here's the thing.

The roads are only paved about once every five years, which coincides with the general elections (held every five years or so). Which is a problem because the roads normally deteriorate into the rut-infested variety after two years, which leaves us with about three years of shitty roads.

This means, of course, that unless we have general elections every two years we aren't going to get freshly paved roads every two years.

Which means, of course, that we must somehow get the government to hold general elections every two years.

And to do that, we must... must... erm... well you know. Yeah.










Sorry, but that's about as far as I thought. I do like the freshly paved roads, though.

10 August 2007

World's greatest comb-over

Going bald? No problem - all you need is a hairdryer, a hairbrush, some hair wax and shitloads of patience (i.e. about 40 minutes of your time) to transform yourself from spud to stud...



Brilliant stuff, this.

I touched it!!!

Look what I got my grubby hands on today:

Hmm... shiny phone you've got there... hang on!



It's an iPhone!!! A real one! Not some origami thingy!



Yes, my sex appeal has gone up by 3.142%.


I am now God's gift to a woman again... (yes, that's singular, not plural)

31 July 2007

Intel angers anti-racism racist with potentially racist ad

Wandered around Gizmodo when I came across a post about this ad from Intel...



I find this ad funny because:
1. If the sprinters took off, they'd bash each other in the head.
2. It looks like the black sprinters are bowing down to a white boss - which is funny when you think about ho on earth the ad agency could possibly let this through. This is one laughably bad faux pas.
3. The ad is terrible. The colours, the composition and the overall message is so bad that it's good.

I also highly recommend reading the comments on Gizmodo's post - there's a fantastic debate going on which shows a perfect example of the reverse bigotry (i.e: the "Help! Help! I'm oppressed! Let's kill the evil white man!" syndrome) that seems to afflict individuals from the poorer rung of society; blaming their inability to excel on the events of the past rather than actively doing something about it.

From the comments, it seems to me that at least one person in the African American community has a gigantic chip on his shoulder and - from the way they're talking - seem to have been enslaved and oppressed for the past 300 years and counting. So much so that it's given him a green card to be a racist himself. Funny, this.

Look. At least, a black kid can dream about becoming the President of the USA. Hell, there's a chance one of them may end realising that dream.

A young Chinese kid would probably be detained without trial for pursuing such a dream in Malaysia. Either that, or his parents will laugh at him. Repeatedly.

This Intel ad basically plays on stereotypes, which are bound to offend the sensitive.

Speaking of which, it's quite funny how I'm the complete opposite of the Chinese stereotype.

1. I can't speak Chinese
2. I can't do mathematics to save my life.
3. I actually have rather good manners.
4. I don't squat on toilet seats.
5. I'm actually soft spoken - unless I'm being an arrogant arse.
6. I prefer western food to a bowl of rice. Sometimes.
7. I think that China is the most disgusting thing on earth - it's people, it's government, it's arrogance towards Taiwan, it's appalling human rights record and what they've done to Tibet. And the Yang Tze river dolphin. And the silly epic movies they do with a complete disregard for pacing and storytelling, hoping instead to impress the audience with lavish costumes, swordfights and shit.
8. I think the Chinese infatuation with the number eight is stupid.
9. I'm taller than the average white european male.
10. I have a rather huge penis. Really. Now why would I lie to you? Ha? Ha? Ha? You want to fight, arr...?

30 July 2007

Nando's: well-hung

The Nando's giant ebony rooster mascot was doing its rounds in 1-Utama. Childish/Clever captions ensue.. hur! hur! ^_^

"Look, it's a big black COCKeral"



OR


"Look, it's a young Asian girl with a big black COCKerel coming from behind!"


I wonder if anyone at Nando's thinks the same about this?

Wheee...!!! I feel so childish! :)

13 July 2007

You've got the Touch

This is some video we made at work (yes, we have to do videos now). The device you see here is the HTC Touch - an iPhone-like PDA that runs on Windows Mobile.



Just posting it here to test this YouTube-like service called Blip.TV. It's quite cool and - unlike YouTube - it automatically generates video podcasts with RSS, so people can subscribe to your videos.

Haven't had much experience with it but so far, it's good.

12 July 2007

Saving money...

I live approximately 200m from my office (literally on the same street), which is walking distance except that my house is up a hill (about 50ft elevation or so), which means that - while walking to my office is easy - coming home will be tiring as hell since I have to climb back up the hill (Which I've tried before, so I know).


However, I have devised an ingenious plan to get to the office and back without having to drive, walk or cycle:


1. All I have to do is walk out of my house and hail a taxi at the traffic lights (while it's still red).
2. Once the taxi is moving, I tell him I want to go to Penang (which is like a five-hour drive north).
3. The driver will tell me I'm crazy.
4. I'll then tell the driver to take me back to my house.
5. The driver will then tell me to eat shit and die.
6. He'll drop me off at the end of the street - where my office is.

^_^

I figure I can probably get away with this a couple of times before they start to catch on.

The problem, though, is in coming back home (which is uphill). From my office, there's way too many exits and stops on the way back to my house. Sigh...

25 June 2007

The ultimate diet Coke shootout.

I’m addicted to Coke (the soft drink, not the white powder that you ingest through your nostrils).

I’ve been drinking Coke ever since I learnt how to operate a bottle opener (about the age of 4), and have been regularly drinking the shit at least twice a day for the past 24 years.

When I was in university, I drank Coke as a substitute for coffee – to wake me up in the mornings as I drag myself to the lecture theatres.

During the season of Lent, I abstain from Coke as a form of fasting. So yes, I do like Coke very very much.

The problem, however, is that I’m getting rather rotund and have grown a second chin.

Coke contains loads of calories, which means that the more I drink it, the more of a fat ass I’ll become. This is especially since I’m approaching 30 and my metabolic rate isn’t what it used to be. And so, I’ve embarked on a task to find the ideal alternative low-calorie Coke.

Coke and its sugar-free friends...


Coke contains about 42 Calories (or 42kcal) per 100ml, which is a lot. Let’s see how the alternatives measure up…

Coke Light
Calories: 0.3 kcal per 100ml
Price: between RM1.40 to RM1.70 per 325ml can
Availability: Almost anywhere you can also find regular coke.

Coke Light: It's not shit.


Well, this is the most obvious choice for Coke lovers – it’s by the same guys who make Coke and is easily available. Some places price it at RM0.10 more per can than regular Coke, which is evil.

Unfortunately, it does taste rather different – kinda like a cross between original Coke and Dr Pepper (yuck) but with a very strong artificially sweetened taste. You’ll get used to it eventually though it’ll never replace the real thing.


Diet Coke Caffeine Free
Calories: 0.5 kcal per 100ml
Price: RM4.90 per 330ml can
Availability: Cold Storage supermarkets

Diet Coke Caffeine Free: It's shit


It comes in a golden can and costs an arm and a leg (since it’s imported from the UK). But is it any better than Coke Light? Sadly, no.

Not only does it still have the artificial taste, the absence of caffeine means that it doesn’t give you that extra buzz in the morning – to get you and your bowels going. Don’t waste your money on this rubbish.


Coke Zero
Calories: 0.5 kcal per 100ml
Price: RM4.90 per 330ml can
Availability: Cold Storage supermarkets

Coke Zero: the almost Coke


Now here’s something different! Kinda like Coke Light but with the promise of the original Coke taste, Coke Zero is the real deal and almost tastes as good as original Coke.

There’s only a hint of that artificial sweetener taste, though it’s mostly masked by the other flavours that create that distinctive Coke taste.

Unfortunately, it’s also RM4.90 a can because it’s imported all the way from the UK. But if you’re filthy rich and need a Coke without the calories, this is the drink for you.


Conclusion
Even though Coke Zero tastes fantastic, its high price is bound to turn away even the most dedicated of Coke drinkers. Which means that most of us will still have to settle for the second best product – Coke Light. Sigh.

Of course, there is another evil option: Pepsi Max or Pepsi Light!

Sugar-free Pepsi: As evil as sin, but tastes rather good...


Yes, Pepsi is evil but for some reason, its sugar-free cola offerings are closer in taste to the company’s original full-flavoured Pepsi. I’ve only drunk Pepsi Light or Pepsi Max when I didn’t have any other choice, though I have to admit that I’m quite impressed by the taste.

So I guess it’s down to two choices if you’re on a budget: settle for sub-par Coke Light or drink Pepsi Light/Max and shoot yourself later.

08 June 2007

Brought to you by the letter "F"

The plant species of the day is:

The FARKleberry
(pronounced "Far kel berry", not "Fark le berry")



    Definition from Wikipedia:
    Vaccinium arboreum (Sparkleberry or FARKleberry) is a species of Vaccinium native to the southeastern United States, from southern Virginia west to southeastern Missouri, and south to Florida and eastern Texas.

    It is a shrub (rarely a small tree) growing to 3-5 m (rarely 9 m) tall. The leaves are evergreen in the south of the range, but deciduous further north where winters are colder; they are oval-elliptic with an acute apex, 3-7 cm long and 2-4 cm broad, with a smooth or very finely toothed margin. The flowers are white, bell-shaped, 3-4 mm diameter, with a five-lobed corolla, produced in racemes up to 5 cm long. The fruit is a round dry berry about 6 mm diameter, green at first, black when ripe, edible but bitter and tough.


----

So, now you know.

FARKleberry... :)

01 June 2007

This is SPAAAAAARTAAAAA!!!!

Little sis no. 2 left a note on my door a couple of days ago. It's the school holidays and she's bored out of her skull (as usual).




Then, she left another drawing on my door today:




How cute :)

I suppose both Leonidas and V ended up in hell, then...

29 May 2007

What's on top of your monitor?

One of the biggest problems with LCD monitors is that you can't put your toys and action figures on top of them - simply because they're too narrow.

Which is why I'm glad my company is too cheapskate to buy new LCD monitors for the office. This is what the top of my monitor currently looks like:

Old monitors: good display cabinets


Starting from the left, I've got a solar-powered "Maneki Neko", a Tomy Flip Flap solar-powered plant, two Kiwi tiki dolls behind it, a dancing hamster that sings Kung Fu Fighting, a Tomy Bit Char-G remote controlled Ferrari F40 in front of it, an AV-98 Ingram Unit 2 from Patlabor, the remote control for the Bit Char-G behind it and Asamiya Athena and Mai Shiranui from the King of Fighters series.


The latest addition to my collection is the AV-98 Ingram. It's part of the Revoltech series of action figures made by Kaiyodo. It's a fully posable figure with ball joints all over the place, which is good.


bang!


If you've not seen the Patlabor TV series before, I highly recommend it. It was one of the pioneering Anime in the late 80s and early 90s, and had a huge pool of talent working on it - including Mamoru Oshii of Ghost in the Shell fame.

Unlike most other robot Anime of the time, the show was written largely for an adult audience and had rather sophisticated humour and themes. Plus, its cute to see big ass robots doing mundane stuff like directing traffic and helping old ladies cross the street.

Anyway, what's on YOUR desk? :)

26 May 2007

Japan GT arrives!

For the benefit of the uninformed, the Japan GT is an annual event in Malaysia where Japanese girls dressed in tacky (and revealing) plastic / polystyrene clothes saunter around a race track - holding umbrellas and posing for sweaty palmed photographers.

Apparently, an automobile race of some description takes place as well, though that's not important. After all, you'd have to be either too geeky or gay to prefer training your zoom lens on a polycarbonate sports car instead of a silicon-filled race queen.

Which isn't likely because:
a) All geeks are closet perverts and would rather stare at women than cars (the cars are just an excuse).
b) Gay people seem to like cars less than women (Note: this is a random assumption).

Anyway, the good news for the guys at the office was that the Japan GT came to us this year. Yes, a couple of race queens graced our cubicles and caused quite a stir among the sweaty palmed male population in the building.

Konnichi wa! O genki desuka? Minna de fukuran desuka? Doki doki waku waku!


They started with Mr Steven Patrick, who was sitting closest to the door. And for the first time in his life, Steven pretended he actually likes cars.

Konnichi wa! O genki desuka? Shah Ruh Khan desu ne? Kahlia-jin ga DAI-suki desu!


Next, they headed to Ron's desk for a photo opportunity.

Konnichi wa! O genki desuka? Polycarbonate sports car ga suki desuka?


SO there you go. That's the Japan GT.

22 May 2007

...and she said, "Yes."

^_^


We just came back from an excruciating climb up Mount Kinabalu, Sabah (Well, actually the descent was a lot more painful) - took banana loads of photographs there though I've already posted most of them on my Flickr site, which seems more suitable for displaying a large number of pictures.


For me, the highlight of the trip was when Elaine and I reached the summit of Mount Kinabalu:

We made it!
We made it!


We were really slow going up the mountain - thanks to altitude sickness and general lethargy - what should have been a 2- to 3-hour climb from Laban Rata turned into a grueling 5-hour crawlfest.

Anyway, after taking a few pictures at the peak, I told Elaine: "Before I continue taking pictures, there's something I must do..."

I went down on one knee, fumbled with the plastic wrapper concealed in my wallet - where I had hid a ring. A ring that I subsequently slipped onto Elaine's finger, though we were wondering which hand/finger it should've been - we were sobbing :)

I told her that I love her with all my heart and all my soul.

I told her that she brought me happiness nobody else has ever given me.

I asked her if she would be my wife.

...and she said yes ^_^

Bragging rights :)
Me and my future wife


This was the second time I've cried tears of joy (the first was when I got accepted into University, what with my shitty A-Levels results and all).

And after this moment of pure bliss, we had to quickly make way for a group of elderly Japanese tourists who caught up with and later overtook us on the way down the mountain.

And she had to take the ring off her finger, otherwise, she might have scratched it :)

We did contemplate re-enacting the whole thing so we could get it on video, but that would be lame... -_-

For more pictures and commentary about the Kinabalu climb, visit my Flickr gallery at www.flickr.com/photos/chrischong/

18 April 2007

Music Reviews #1

I'm not exactly the biggest music fan on the planet, but I do like my music. And I also have a bad habit of actually buying original CDs (Yes, they do sound better than the stuff you download off the net half the time).

Without further ado, here are a couple of the latest music CDs I've bought:

Album: The Cream of Clapton
Artist(s): Eric Clapton, Derek and the Dominoes, Cream.
Price: RM30-something, I think



Yes, I realise that this compilation was first available in 1994 - but then again, I'm not exactly Mr Current Affairs either...

I've been on a bit of an Eric Clapton craze lately and have been listening to shiteloads of stuff - mostly from his post-UNplugged/Tears-in-heaven days. And I liked it, except that most music snobs would tell me, "Bah... Clapton's best songs were before he became clean. When he was still doing drugs and shit."

"Really?" I said.

"Yes. Especially the original recording of Layla by Derek and the Dominoes," reply the elitist bastards.

"Derek and the what?"

"Look, just buy one of those old compilation CDs and you'll know what I mean."

(Of course, this is only a hypothetical conversation and is more of a summary of many conversations I've had with people whenever I tell them how much I like "Blue Eyes Blue" and the "Clapton Chronicles" CD.)

Anyway, I buy The Cream of Clapton because it's listed on most websites as the best single-CD compilation of Eric's songs prior to cleaning up his act.

And yes, it is a rather brilliant CD - well at least half of it is. It's a good mix of Rock, Blues, Country and Reggae. Yes, Reggae. The best songs are undoubtedly Layla, Badge, Strange Brew, White Room, Bell Bottom Blues, I Shot the Sheriff and Wonderful Tonight.

Apart from having fantastic melodies and some of the best guitarwork ever, it also showcases Clapton's talent at singing. He's not the most acrobatic vocalist in town, but at least his sound is distinctive - you certainly wouldn't mistake him for the 13 million Eddie Vedder soundalikes on the radio today.

But most of all, there's a lot of soul in his music. A lot of feeling. Unlike most of the manufactured garbage on radio these days. Yes, I've become an old fart at the age of 27.

Anyway, buy this album. I highly recommend it.

Most of the other songs are rather forgetful.



------------


Album: Permission to Land
Artist: The Darkness
Price: RM40-something



Yes, I've heard the Darkness on the radio before and liked their songs but never really knew much about them. So imagine my embarrassment when I went around asking for the band's compilation albums (They've only got two albums, in case you didn't know).

Permission to Land is their first album, and what an album it is - it's one of the few albums I've ever bought in which almost every song is excellent! There's enough variation in style and sound to make it interesting enough to listen to repeatedly.

My favourite songs of course are "Love Is Only A Feeling", "I Believe In A Thing Called Love" and "Growing On Me".

Generally, what I like most about the album is that the songs sound happy, as opposed to making you want to jump off a bridge. These are the sort of songs that get your feet tapping and get you pressing the repeat button.

If there's only one problem, it's that The Darkness is no longer the same band - frontman Justin Hawkins has left the band and is now going solo. Haven't heard any of his new songs yet, but I'll look.

And no, he is NOT gay. In spite of the fact that he sounds like a modern Freddie Mercury, sings in a ear-piercing falsetto voice and wears flamboyant catsuits, he is NOT gay. Not gay, I tell you.

Hawkins: Not gay...


Best album I've bought in years. This album came out in 2003, btw, so I'm only four years late on this one :)

09 April 2007

I fire some guns...!

The guys at the office were invited to Hari Tentera Darat Ke-74 (That's the 74th Army day to you non Malays speaking people), where members of the media were invited to shoot some guns and to basically muck around with their gear.

Wah... so long!


The thing is, I was expecting to be blown away by firing guns (figuratively, not literally). However, it didn't feel any more menacing than firing a paint-ball gun. I like firing paintball guns, btw - but I was expecting it to be more shiok. Never meet your childhood heroes, I guess....


There was a competition among members of the media - where each team of five faces off with another team to hit down 10 metal plates per team. The first team to finish goes to the next round. Of course, this was very cool :)

Edwin, Ron, Kelly, Ravind and me - preparing for our exit from the shooting competition.



We were beaten by some extreme posers from Berita Harian or something - damn annoying, the bastards wore bandanas, did stretch exercises and had battle cries and shit. All for a simple session in a shooting range. What's even more pathetic was that we lost to them by less than a second. The bastards...

Yes, this post is a little overdue. But rather than write more about it, I've posted it up on YouTube as a video... Enjoy :)

Hanif's secret weapon

Hanif reveals his secret weapon:



Using THREE mics so he's only 1/3 as shitty at Karaoke (or three times as good).

29 March 2007

Culling the human race...

There are precisely 5 sorts of humans who should be wiped off the face of the planet. It would be a great injustice for these things to breed, propagating their inferior and very stupid genes around the place.

"Dieeeee...!!!"


Here they are, in order of decreasing right to exist:

5. The Inconsiderate

This is the turd who talks behind you in the cinema and kicks your seat. The asshole who stands on the toilet seat (either that or urinates all over it for fun). The type of smoker who blows smoke in your face and tells you "Oh, it's my right - this is not a non-smoking area."

He's the rich prick in the Mercedes Benz who double parks on a busy main road because he doesn't want to pay parking fees (thus causing a jam). Who also tosses rubbish out his car window because it's dirty. The annoying kid who pushes his way past you on a crowded queue/escalator (some adults do this too!!! - mostly mainland Chinese).

These are the people who queue jump. The lazy co-worker who expects others to pick up the slack.

What's rather annoying about these idiots is that everything that they do is at an inconvenience to someone else. Which is rather funny, because even they are annoyed by their own kind.


4. The Disgusting

This is the retard who wets the entire bathroom by cleaning his face, or flings his hands everywhere except into the basin after washing them (thus, splattering water over all other humans in the vicinity).

He's the chain-smoker who gives you a shoulder massage - leaving a nauseating imprint of his scent on your collars (no, I'm not making this up!). The horribly overweight woman who wears a belt, passing it off as a skirt (strangely, this type of person also wears enough perfume to kill a small mammal).

He's the mainland Chinese who chews with his mouth open (making those awful, sticky sounds). He also sneezes/coughs at you repeatedly.

They are also the people whose behaviours don't match their appearances (i.e. acting cute when they are ugly, trying to be sexy when they are revolting, talking with American accents when their basic grammatical skills are absent).

These are people who offend you by virtue of being themselves. Terrible.


3. The Condescending

This is the person who takes the high horse, the mightier than thou attitude... The bitch (I'm not talking about anyone in particular, really!) who seems to have done everything before you have, eaten at all your favourite restaurants before yourself. read every bloody book that you're planning to read and... you know what I'm saying. And for some reason, your opinions don't seem to carry much weight with them. For that matter, they don't even seem to be listening - she hears the first half of your sentence and goes, "Yeah, I've done that before..." and proceeds to finish your sentence, tell you what your opinions/experiences are AND later tells you that you're sorely mistaken and that her ideas and experiences are, in fact, better.

She then goes "Aww... you poor thing. Too bad you're not as intelligent as me. I should have told you."

But you didn't, so shut up and DIE!!!

Oh yeah, and these people often place a huge importance on intelligence and often compare themselves to others (who for some reason, are always more stupid than they are). Wankers.


2. The parrot

These are the people who have no opinion of their own. Rather, they often share opinions with someone who just said something 5 seconds prior. The same applies to their general knowledge. In any mildly interesting discussion, their sentences always seem to begin with "Oh yeah!", followed by an echo of what someone else just said.

In meetings, discussions and general chitchat, the parrots are supremely annoying because they add nothing to the conversation yet prolong it unnecessarily. And worse, sometimes they mis-quote facts and come out looking incredibly ignorant.

And the moment you ask these people something, they shut up - unable to say anything. Unable to come up with an original opinion simply because they have none. And if they do have an opinion about something, it's either something extremely obvious, trivial or borrowed from someone.

These people are soulless - they wander the Earth absorbing personalities from all who surround them. Which is quite funny when you realise that they take on the most obvious traits from everyone around them.

While these sort of humans are of no danger to mankind, they should be put to sleep for their own sakes.


1. The shameless

These are probably the worst sort of humans - they know that they're being unreasonable, two-faced, inconsiderate, disgusting and so on - yet, they persist!

This is the sort of person who will give thirteen million excuses why she hasn't got time to do something, and later goes for a 2-hour lunch. Or spends the next hour playing computer games - all this after asking for an extension.

The sort of person who says that she has to leave work early (with unfinished business) because of an early appointment the next day - only that she's really gone off to party and her appointment is at 10am (Wow... THAT's early).

This is also the sort of person who kisses ass.

This is the person who is paid more than some of her colleagues, yet does less than half the amount of work AND COMPLAINS THAT THERE'S TOO MUCH PRESSURE!!!

This is the guy who is conveniently struck by a hard-to-diagnose virus everytime there's a hint of pressure at work.

This is the guy who asks you for a favour, and then CRITICISES you for not meeting his expectations.


---------------

Admittedly, most of us slip into one of these categories when we are not at our best (I probably fit into at least two myself).

However, I've actually met at least two beings that seem to be in ALL FIVE categories on a fairly regular basis.

There. I've let it out...

-_-

21 March 2007

The pig flew!

Today, the guys at the office witnessed an incredible event. After coming up with a page 1 byline in The Star on Saturday (Mar 17, 2007), Steven Patrick bought us lunch!

No, really! In spite of all the pressure, he actually showed up for work today and followed us to Kanna Curry House in SS2. And he actually paid for the bill! With his own money!

Which means that he really isn't a cheap bastard! At all!!! Here, we've got photos to prove it:

Steven paying the cashier


Steven waiting for the change


Steven with the receipt



See? He actually paid for lunch!



Steven Patrick, we salute you. We now officially forgive you for all the times you finished the biscuits and chocolate on the cabinet and didn't throw away the empty packets. You're the man...

And thanks for lunch!