Friday, September 29, 2006

Early Day at Work

I'm in the office, continuing a Windows Vista RC1 final beta download my colleague started last night. 3.0Gbs ISO DVD image. I'm quite excited actually.

I'll be testing that today.

I've been reading up and all in all, nice new features. Especially impressive is the new Windows Aero desktop and 3D flipping. Very nice.

Provided everything works, of course. It is, after all, Microsoft. As usual, I'll wait about a year before I think about converting my home PCs.

Despite my less that favourable thoughts about MS business practises, lately I've been finding myself becoming more sympathetic to the people who work there. I've dealt with them before on various issues, and they've been very nice. Despite all the Microsoft stereotypes, the people we've dealt with so far really do care about what they do and actually do listen to us.

Anyway, I hope Vista works out as well as IE7 has so far. No really serious problems so far. It's faster, feels less cumbersome than IE6 and is quite possibly the most stable version of Explorer I've used so far.

Personally, I still use Firefox. All this IE testing is work related.

In other news, my package from eBay should be arriving today. I recently ordered a Zeta Gundam Mk. 2. It will be the most complex kit I've gotten so far. It is also my first transformable kit! This is going to be awesome.

This would probably be the last kit I order this year. Next, I'll be saving up for a major PC upgrade. It will cost quite a bit. It'll practically be a new PC. New board, CPU, RAM, PCIe graphics, case, SATA hard disks and possibly a new monitor. I think it'll cost 2 grand. At least.

It all depends on my annual year end windfall. Hopefully, it will be enough. I really hope so because this will also give me a good reason to retire my dad's PC and replace it with my current one. My brothers use my dad's PC regularly and it sucks. It can't do anything really useful at all now. I feel kinda bad for them. With my PC in the common room, everyone can use it for almost anything. My current PC is still very strong and should be enough for most things.

Well, I'll cross my fingers and hope I can afford to do this without having to wipe out a good portion of my savings. If possible, I want to use only my bonus money and nothing else.

And look at that, it's the end of September. Only 3 more months left till the end of the year. This is going to be nice because I really like the final quarter of a year. And Christmas will be here soon. That's always great!

As usual, one wonders, how fast does time fly these days!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

One Good Night

My life is quite nice these days. I have good friends, enough quality personal time and money to spare to be able to spend on the finer things in life. Like a decent in-car audio system. Or 1/100 Master Grade GUNPLA kits. Or nice outings in gourmet coffee houses and other places.

A lot of things to be happy about.

I had a great time tonight. I went to Grand Continental to meet with Zack, Azreen and Gette. I don't get to meet Gette often enough. She's great.

Anyway, we were talking and one of those things that came up was the topic of those annoying chain emails that make you forward it to 1,184,876 other people or bad things will happen to you. Or those urban legend ones that tell you that Microsoft or something is giving away free money. Or those sob stories about various dying children who suffer from various exotic fatal ailments.

It's really mean to take advantage of people's misfortune to start a viral email but that goes without saying.

These days, I have a procedure to deal with this kind of mail. I try to debunk them.

I look up Snopes and other places on the internet for confirmation and forward the link back to the senders. Hopefully, everyone learns a little something whenever I do that. It's also more satisfying to do that instead of just ignoring it.

Also, I would like to inform everyone that there is really no harm in ignoring those forward-this-or-else emails or forward-this-and-get-your-free-blessing emails. I've ignored thousands and here I am, not dead and blogging about it.

It's quite surprising that even in this day and age, people are still superstitious enough to fall for stuff like this.

In other news, still nothing much to report. Life is just like that these days and I'm enjoying it so far.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

At the Risk of Sounding Pedantic...

"A GOOD number of Malaysians in Sabah and Sarawak are nursing a grievance because the significance of Malaysia Day — Sept 16, when Malaysia actually came into being — has been eroded and even ignored as the years go by."

Damn right.

I refer to this column in the NST. This is also a kind of extension from my previous post about Malaysia.

Well, the good news is at least the grievances of many Sabahans and Sarawakians have not gone entirely unnoticed. Someone took the trouble to write the aforementioned column, and I appreciate that. According an article in the Star, the Deputy Prime Minister said that the cabinet is willing to discuss making 16th September a public holiday, if there was an official request from the State Government to discuss the matter.

Personally, whether Malaysia Day is a public holiday or not isn't really the point. My point is Malaysia Day's significance is not highlighted enough. It is AS important as 31st of August, not less. It should be made a bigger deal. I've said all these things before and I'll say them again.

Anyway, a common answer to the 16 September question is the US example. The American Independence Day commemorates the declaration of independence of the original 13 colonies, not the dates when other states joined the federation.

This is not a good example. The US' and Malaysia's independence/formation are not the same thing. Let's examine the United States Declaration of Independence. The 2nd line of the introduction is the following phrase,

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, (*emphasis by me)

According to that, the country was called the United States of America from day one. The other states gradually joined this federation, which as we can see from the document, was ratified on the 4th July 1776.

In Malaysia's case, it was different. On 31st August 1957, MALAYA was officially declared independent. On 16th September 1963, MALAYSIA was formed when Sarawak, Sabah, Singapore and Malaya banded together.

So prior to that date, Malaysia DID NOT EXIST. People can twist and turn and deny and pooh-pooh, but there you go.

I'm in NO WAY saying that we should change the date of National Day. It is no doubt, a vital date in our history. Neither do I want to be parochial or regressive or whatever else people might want to call me and others who feel the way I do.

What I DO want is to see 16 September 1963 be recognized for what it really means, not just for the sake of our people in Borneo, but for every Malaysian. We should ALL know what 16 September means.

The federal and state governments can and should do MORE. The current situation is NOT satisfactory. What do I mean? Go out and ask 1000 West Malaysians about what happened on 16th September, see how many people know. The result will be surprising.

I'm NOT being paranoid or stupid. I went to college in KL and Johor until the mid-90s and NOTHING happens on the 16th of September over there. NONE of my West Malaysian classmates EVER made a big deal out of the date.

This is NOT right.

I have a suggestion. Why not celebrate Independence over 2 weeks instead of just one day? I don't mean we should be wasting money by having parades everywhere for two whole weeks. Rather, the period between 31st August and 16th September should be treated like a memorial period. For example, we could have more documentaries, exhibitions and activities that celebrate the events and the people who were responsible for our independence. Sure, some of that is being done, but it's not enough. It must be more.

That way people won't forget, like they do now. Maybe, just maybe, if that happens on a regular nationwide scale, Sabahans and Sarawakians will start feeling closer to being more Malaysian. Maybe, just maybe, West Malaysians will get to know more of our half of history, get know us a little better and stop misunderstanding us.

Everyone will come out a winner.

As usual, I'm quite passionate about this matter and I think this is enough for now. One last thing, if it is true that our state leaders and politicians never made an official request for more recognition of Malaysia Day, then I'm very, very disappointed. Not surprised really, but disappointed nonetheless.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Games To Look Forward To

Ever since I've been playing World of Warcraft, I haven't been playing much else.

That could change not long from now.

Firstly, FM 2007. The world's best football management sim is coming back, better than ever. 100s of new features, updated squads, a proper youth system and feeder clubs. Coming in December.

And then, we have Medieval 2: Total War. The Total War series has always been mindblowing. When Rome: Total War came out, I was thinking it couldn't get any better than that.

I'm going to be wrong apparently. This new one is going to be awesome. No release date yet though.

In other news, we watched Keroro Gunsou at Jerome's house, It's... evil man. Really. But seriously, it was hilarious.

That reminds me, I have many animes to watch.

Not much else to report. Tomorrow, I return to work.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Lest We Forget, It's Actually 43

31st of August 1957 was the day that Malaya got its independence from the British Empire. It is also the official date for National Day. Malaysia was officially created on the 16th of September 1963 with Malaya, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak forming the new federation, although most casual observers and lay people most probably wouldn't know that. Singapore left in 1965, unfortunately.

Sarawak Flag, 1963-1973

I'll say it again like I've said it before. There is simply not enough mention of the event. I can safely say that many Sarawakians and Sabahans feel kind of slighted by this apparent lack of recognition. No, hosting this year's National Day is not even close to being enough.

Not to be a pain in the ass, but a little respect would be nice. After all, the resources of the two states help power the whole country does it not?

Much more could be done to make the people of our two Borneo states feel more at home and on par with the rest of the country. It would be nice if more parts of Sabah and Sarawak history make it into the national education syllabus. It would be nice if we could get more money from our oil and other resources. We really do need it, especially Sabah, which is poorer than it should be.

Sarawak Flag, 1973-1988

In that respect, we Sarawakians are lucky. Our politics are relatively stable and the state government, for all its shortcomings, has so far done an adequate job balancing our books.

It would be nice if we could get more TV and media time, if only to prevent West Malaysians from thinking that Easterners still live in trees, are naive jungle dwellers and have no access to technology. I'm not being paranoid, ask any Sabahan or Sarawakian who has studied, lived and worked in the Peninsular and we can tell you about all the dumb questions that we keep getting from Westerners. It's not their fault really. They don't know.

The Powers That Be need to answer that question. Why don't they know? Why is it so many people are still ignorant about us?

Yeah, we kind of feel like no one cares sometimes. This has a side effect. Part of why Sabahan and Sarawakians are so fiercely proud of their state and heritage is the very fact that we feel we are misunderstood and ignored. It's us against the world. Our loyalties lie with our state first.

Sarawak Flag, 1988-present

As long as the status quo remains, many of us will continue to feel more Sarawakian and Sabahan than Malaysian. Sorry, but that's the truth.

Happy 43rd Birthday Malaysia.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Wanting New Stuff

Last night we were hanging out and I mentioned a particular song that appeared in a particular episode of South Park. When I went home, I looked the song up and found it on Youtube.

Here it is, Let's Fighting Love from the episode "Good Times with Weapons". It's quite funny.

I just finished downloading Gundam Seed right before I left for work. I'm still thinking about what to download next. Talking about the various videos that I keep, I've been rather busy with them. I'm also running out of hard disk space. But that's my fault really, I have so much data it takes ages for me to housekeep.

I think I'm going to download South Park episodes next. And the South Park movie. Or another Gundam OVA/series. I don't know yet. Or some other thing. I'm sure there's something out there that I'd really like but am forgetting about right now.

This last few days I've also been playing WoW. I'm happy to report that the lag is completely gone and everything is stable. I hope the next Streamyx hiccup won't happen very soon. That's the sad thing about Telekom, service interruptions are always a when, not an if.

I also moved our router outside and secured my wireless access point with a WEP key. That will prevent other people from using my connection without my knowledge.

I helped a friend upgrade his PC. Biostar AM2 board, RAM, AMD Sempron 3000 AM2 CPU, GeForce 7100 PCI-E graphics card. Total around RM950/-. I also realized that there's quite a lot of new technology out there that I'm not so good at. I'm a bit rusty.

The next day, I went out and bought a 80Gb SATA hard disk because we discovered that his current 20Gb hard disk is not big enough for all the stuff that he wants to put in the PC. Good thing I managed to set up the hard disk properly the first time I tried it. I've never set up a fresh SATA drive before.

Very rusty.

I'm thinking about changing my own hardware the end of the year. About time I get on the SATA/DDR2/3000+ CPU bandwagon. This is going to be expensive. A new PC, literally. This will also enable me to retire our old Duron 600 that my dad's been using. My current rig will replace that one.

It'll be nice to have 2 very capable machines in the house. I'm sure everyone would appreciate it.

Anyway, I think I need to save up over the next 2 months. The new machine is going to be a monster if I can get the kind of spec I want.

In other news, nothing much is happening. Life is quiet and routine. Not much excitement or drama of any kind. Which, despite my natural inclination to complain about it, is actually yuite nice.

That means I will be updating at my current infrequent rate.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Flavour of the Weak

I managed to find some time to cull my Blogroll. Perhaps now I should find some time to edit the links list. I have other online places I go to nowadays.

Last week, I finished downloading all 50 episodes of Gundam Seed Destiny. Watched 8 episodes so far. It's bloody awesome, every bit as good as Macross was. I'm also halfway through watching the original Mobile Suit Gundam DVDs that I borrowed. Also good, but I feel I like Seed and Seed Destiny more, perhaps due to the more contemporary, polished, sharp anime stylings of the Seed series. The original Gundam style of anime was the typical one for the 80's. Storywise, it's hard to pick between the two. I like both storylines.

I'm halfway through downloading Gundam Seed now. Should be done in about 2 days. I think I'll try to download as many of these things as possible. And by the way, does anyone know where I can get the entirety of The 08th MS Team? I am very intrigued by its sypnosis.

Yeah, this Gundam thingy is my latest flavour of the week. And it's been great fun so far.

And talking about downloading and stuff, the lag that I've been having in World of Warcraft has corrected itself. It's back to normal now and I can actually play it. It's been ok for the last 2 days now. I ran some tests and it seems there was some trouble with Telekom's international gateway which seems to have been dealt with. I'm relieved.

I'm getting off work very soon. Which is good because I'm very exhausted. It's been a hard week.

In other news, I read this entry that Kenny wrote. The interesting thing isn't the entry itself, it's the comments.

Relationships are in essence, simple. But is it really? It's supposed to be about trust and mutual affection and commitment. It should be so, but I guess it's not strictly that anymore. Love is tainted these days. I'm not sure if I want it anymore and now I'm not really sure if it was that way all the while. Perhaps it is pure only to those who aren't jaded yet, or those who are young and innocent?

To me this is a vindication of sorts of my decision to go on an indefinite relationship hiatus. I don't need that kind of headache right now.

To think, I used to be so eager to get involved in one...

Anyway, tomorrow I go and buy computer parts for a friend and build him a new PC. That's always fun to do!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Bad News

Steve Irwin is dead. It's not a hoax this time, unfortunately.

I'm not a fan by any means, but it's very sudden and very sad all the same.

In other news, I might be canceling my World of Warcraft account. Ever since the game got patched to version 1.12, cross-realm battlegrounds were introduce. Unfortunately, it seems that this new feature has apparently sucked up bandwidth and now I can hardly play it due to extremely bad lag. I used to be able to get 200ms to 450ms latency, on average.

These days, I'm lucky if I get 1000ms. Some days, the game lags for 5 minutes, and then disconnects. Other days, I get 3000ms. I hit a button and the effect is only seen 6 seconds later.

I'm going to give it until October, since my account is paid up until then.

I really hope I don't have to quit. I like WoW.

In happier news, my life is really good these days. I'm really enjoying it. I'm in a real good place right now. Will write more later.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Something to Think About During National Day

I wrote something this morning, but the NST carried an article that does a better job saying what I wanted to say. I'm reproducing it here so that it won't disappear when the link expires.

It's a good read. Here it is:-

Just Sayin': Time to defend Malaysia for the Malaysians

30 Aug 2006
Brian Yap

WHEN I first read the statement by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak about the post-Merdeka generation being unappreciative of the country’s history and easily influenced by Western liberal ideology, I thought he was talking about me.

It was early in the morning, and my mind still groggy, susceptible to the influence of my ego.

By the time the coffee kicked in however, I realised that such an important person probably has better things to do with his time than read this column and comment on it. I also remembered that I'm not influenced by Western liberal ideology.

Later, it occurred to me that when he reportedly said, "These post-Independence kids do not realise that racial harmony today did not happen on its own," he might be giving advice to members of his own political party.

My concern for this country isn’t inspired by Western-style liberalism nor Eastern-style whatever. To be honest, my political awakening, like many of my generation, was the result of the Anwar Ibrahim saga in 1998, and I take inspiration from more Malaysian leaders than Western ones.

I've read books concerning the history of this country, including those by Rehman Rashid, K. Das, Patrick Keith and others. They explained to me why Malaysia is the way it is today, more than anything I ever learned in school. I’m not claiming to be a historical expert, but neither am I completely unappreciative of the country’s history.

What I do know is that Malaysians, including those born before Merdeka, have been consistently calling for the repeal of certain laws for decades now. So while young people like myself like to think everything begins with us, we have to admit we were beaten by those before us. So the call for a more transparent and democratic society can hardly be the sole domain of youth influenced by Western ideology.

It is certainly timely to ponder these issues — after all, tomorrow is the 49th Merdeka. No doubt a time for celebration, but the commemoration of the fruition of a tough struggle should also be a time to remind ourselves to continue our efforts to realise the nation envisioned all those years ago. The danger is in mistaking Merdeka as simply a time to be nostalgic and wave flags.

Malaysia, after all, is a work in progress, and democracy a conversation. For better or worse, Malaysia is inevitably a multi-multi nation, made up of many cultures, religions, ethnicity and languages. The basis for our nation is enshrined in our Constitution, which can be amended, but should only be done so consensually. Until that is the case, however, that’s the document we are all bound by.

If it is true that the young take the past for granted, then it is equally tragic to take the future in the same way. This is what worries some of us . And when I say us, I don't know if it’s a hundred, a million, or, uh, just me, but there’s a sense that the multi-cultural nature of our society is no longer as prized as it should be. Multiculturalism is being stigmatised, when racism and social inequality are the true enemies.

My disappointment with all the race talk lately lies not so much with what was said, but the fact that people still fall for that kind of talk. Someone says something, another side defends, and both end up looking like champions of their respective communities. This has happened many times in the past. It’s hard to blame politicians for committing themselves to certain communal causes when it’s what Malaysians still want. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t work. I mean, if I wanted to move up the political ladder, I wouldn’t promise a further hike in petrol prices. That would be political suicide. Playing the race card, however, isn’t.

This Merdeka, maybe it is time to demand for leadership that will not pander to the basest of our feelings like mistrust and selfishness, but someone who will find what is great about us, and use that as the framework of our co-operation. You know, something like what the founding fathers of this nation did.

When I say it's time for us to move beyond laws that stifle democracy and open debate, I am inspired by the talk of Malaysians having a First World mentality, something mooted by our Prime Minister himself.

And when I say I long for a day when we find a new political paradigm, where pandering to narrow communal interests is frowned upon by everyone, I don’t think I’m influenced by the West. Instead, I suspect it has to do with the whole Bangsa Malaysia idea constantly being thrown about. Don’t look at me, I didn’t come up with it.

If after almost 50 years, we’re not getting any closer to that coveted goal (some might even say we’ve drifted even further apart), then we have to admit that nation building hasn't been effective as hoped. If so, it is time to address this. There are already too many people defending their respective races and religions. What we need are more people defending Malaysia. Selamat Hari Merdeka.

Brian Yap is a writer at Klue magazine