I spent last Thursday fixing up the MALM 4-drawers chest, which took about 1.5 hours and 2 people. The result was quite satisfying, except that some drawers were quite tight.
Yesterday night, we fixed up the HOPEN queen sized bed frame, which took about 2 hours and 4 people. The bed was much more difficult to fix compared to the drawers. The size of the planks, the minuteness of the screws, and the lack of proper tools led to a very interesting assembly session indeed.
Nonetheless it is a very satisfying experience to fix up my own furniture, and IKEA furniture provides the opportunity for some good old DIY action.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
I spent last Thursday fixing up the MALM 4-drawers chest, which took about 1.5 hours and 2 people. The result was quite satisfying, except that some drawers were quite tight.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
I had the opportunity to get hands-on impressions of these 2 lenses. Also took some pictures and previewed on the 1.8" LCD, which was not much of help. Anyhow, here are the impressions:
1) Build quality - the f/1.4 certainly looks and feels more well built compared to the f/1.8. Metal lens mount, larger focusing ring and filter thread complete the look. The f/1.8 looks like a cheap toy.
2) Focusing action - the f/1.4 benefits from a larger focusing ring, Micro USM silent focusing, and full time manual override. The f/1.8 is limited by the small and awkwardly positioned focusing ring, micromotor focusing mechanism, and no full time manual override.
3) Picture quality - not that I could perceive picture quality using the 1.8" LCD, but overall the effect from the f/1.4 is more pleasing than the f/1.8. Maybe my perceptions were biased, since the four-fold price premium was ringing in my head.
4) Maximum aperture - f/1.4 vs. f/1.8 will really show its advantages in low light indoor ambient light photography, e.g. wedding banquets. It also benefits casual "snapshot" photographers, where most of the action takes place unplanned.
5) Filter size - The f/1.4 also has a 58mm filter thread, which allows me to reuse the UV filters from my kit lens. The f/1.8 on the other hand uses a 52mm filter thread, which is quite a funny size.
6) Price - The f/1.4 retails at RM1350, while the f/1.8 retails at RM320. That's a 4x price difference. However, I look for durability and keepability. Most likely I'm going for the f/1.4, but I'll see if this takes precedence over a Speedlight.
Friday, November 03, 2006
The Honda Jazz and the Honda City are derived from the Fit platform. Other than external differences, both are actually the same vehicle, as explained further:
1) Same chassis
Both cars use the same chassis, i.e. the Fit platform. Both enjoy small exterior dimensions with large interior space. Both employ central fuel tank location. Both are cab-forward designs.
2) Same dashboard and interior fittings
Both cars use the same dashboard, steering wheel, gear stick, seats, seat belts, door trims, wing mirrors, etc.
3) Same engine
Both have either the i-DSI variant or the VTEC variant. The same engines are used in both cars.
So why does the Jazz cost RM19,000 more than the City?
Differences as follows:
1) Country of assembly
The Jazz is assembled in Thailand, while the City is assembled in Malaysia.
2) Form factor
The Jazz is positioned as a mini MPV, while the City is positioned as an entry level sedan.
Still, I don't think that these differences justify the large price difference.
Retail prices as follows:
City VTEC :: RM84,800
Jazz VTEC :: RM103,800
difference : RM19,000
City iDSI :: RM79,800
Jazz VTEC :: RM94,800
difference : RM15,000
Friday, October 06, 2006
14 months into the investment, my unit trust NAV has increased approximately 16%.
My actual returns to date would be 10%. Much better than fixed deposit rates of around 4%.
I plan to leave this investment to grow for another 2 years. I estimate my nett returns (minus management and sales fees) to be around 25%.
I made the terrible mistake of sending a rather harsh email to a Buddhist friend regarding a serious issue, and now have to bear with the consequences of my action. I was labeled "rude", "ungrateful", and "disrespectful".
I realize that I should have made the initiative to at least clarify with him regarding the situation, before actually launching into the full blown email attack.
However, the damage has been done. I'm sure that my actions have somehow marred his perception of our group as a whole. Yes, it isn't fair, but life is like that.
I only hope that I will be able to mend this friendship with him, so that our endeavours may continue in future.
As for now, I know I screwed up, and I screwed up big. Emails are dangerous, especially when either party responds emotionally to the message. Not everyone can be detached and professional about the emails they receive. Words on the screen can mean so many different things to different people. Body language, voice tone and pitch, facial expressions - all these are missing from emails. Their absence makes it hard for the reader to truly understand the intentions of the sender.
My lapse of judgment may have jeapordized our bonds with this Buddhist friend. However, I will do my absolute best to mend this broken bridge.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
My wish list to complement my existing system...
*Note: images used without permission
Standard zoom lens:
Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM
Alternative for standard zoom lens:
Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC
Standard prime lens:
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
Alternative for standard prime lens:
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
Ultra wide zoom lens:
Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM
Alternative to ultra wide zoom lens:
Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM
Super zoom lens:
Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS
Canon 580EX Speedlite E-TTL II
This is the reply that I sent to Air Asia on 26 September 2006 after their initial unsatisfactory response. I am still waiting for their response to this letter.
ATTENTION: Mr. Tony Fernandes, Chief Executive Officer of Air Asia
Thank you for your reply dated 25/09/2006. Unfortunately, your reply did not address the points in our letter of complaint, specifically:
1) Why was there inconsistency between the information provided by your customer service hotline and the execution of hand luggage policy by the ground crew of flight AK6315, PEN-KUL, 14:55?
2) Why was there double standard and blatant discrimination when your ground crew operating flight AK6315 allowed a foreign gentleman to bring his guitar into the cabin, and even helped him place it into the overhead compartment, while we were rudely disallowed from doing so?
We wish to remind you that only after we had confirmed twice with your customer service hotline had we brought the guitars to be placed into the cabin. If we had known that you practice inconsistent policy execution and blatant discrimination, we would have arranged alternative transportation means.
Furthermore, you did not provide detailed explanation nor any formal apology for your ground crew's rudeness and poor customer service, specifically:
1) Openly threatening us with closing the gates
2) Giving multiple and ridiculous excuses which do not address the actual issue
3) Being unreasonable and inflexible to the situation
4) Total disregard of basic courtesy to your passengers
Please note that we are extremely dissatisfied with the way we were treated on that day. Your ground crew made no effort to help us address the situation. Instead, we were being treated like criminals. The crew acted like police officers, defending only their "policy no matter how unreasonable", and not finding ways to help us.
Thus we deem your reply dated 25/09/2006 as unsatisfactory, henceforth we expect a satisfactory response to the above queries, in addition to the demands stated in the original letter of complaint, failing which subsequent action will be taken.
Khoo Nee Sern
o/b The Undersigned
Monday, October 02, 2006
This is the reply from Air Asia regarding our complaint, sent on 26 September 2006. Compare the length of their reply to the length of the original letter of complaint. Compare the points made in their reply to the points raised in our original letter of complaint. See for yourself whether or not this type of reply can be considered satisfactory!
Dear Mr. Khoo Nee Sern,
Thank you for writing and letting us know your concern. We regret for the inconvenience caused on Flight AK 6315 Pen – Kul on the September 17th, 2006.
We have now completed a detailed investigation in respect of this matter and wish to advise you that as stated in our terms and conditions of carriage, only one (1) piece of baggage is allowed to be carried on board provided that it does not exceed the dimensions of 56cm X 36cm X 23 cm and provided that it does not weigh more than 7 kg. It is our policy and discretion if the item is small and the flight is light, your guitar may be taken on board as hand carry, however Flight AK6315 Penang to Kuala Lumpur on September 17th, 2006 was full load and we determine that offloading your guitar was necessary for reasons of safety.
The above terms and condition was also advised to you personally by out Captain on duty on that day as AirAsia is committed to “Safety First” and maintains consistently high standards to ensure the safety of our crew and guests.
On a separate note we are extremely concerned to learn your disappointing experience with our staff at the Penang Station. We apologise for the inaccuracy of information and miscommunication given to your good self. All our staffs are repeatedly reminded to be courteous, attentive and professional towards our guest and we are indeed disappointed by such lapses in service.
In view of the above, we regret we are unable to meet your claim. We fully appreciate your loyal patronage of our airline and thank you for your understanding.
We hope this incident does not deter to fly with us in the future and look forward to welcoming you on our flights again in the near future.
Guest Support Executive
Guest Support Malaysia
Jalan KLIA S3
Southern Support Zone
64000 Sepang, Selangor
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
(For now, I have removed the name of the person who replied. This may change.)
Thursday, September 28, 2006
As promised, here's the first original letter of complaint which we sent to Air Asia, reproduced in all its glory for all to see.
ATTENTION: Mr. Tony Fernandes, Chief Executive Officer of Air Asia
19 September 2006
COMPLAINT ON THE RUDE CUSTOMER SERVICE AND THE MISPREPRESENTATION AND INCONSISTENCY IN THE EXECUTION OF HAND LUGGAGE POLICY ON AIR ASIA FLIGHT AK6315, PEN-KUL, 14:55, 17-Sep-06
We were the passengers of Air Asia flight AK6315, PEN-KUL, 14:55 on 17-Sep-06. We were not allowed to bring 2 guitars on board into the cabin, and we wish to make an official complaint, points raised as follows:
1.1 We have contacted Air Asia customer service hotline on 14-Sep-06 twice, between the times of 7.45pm and 8.15pm, and your customer service has confirmed that we are allowed to hand carry guitars into the cabin, provided they are in their casings.
1.2 We have confirmed again at KL LCCT that we are indeed allowed to carry guitars on board into the cabin.
1.3 We had no problems on our Air Asia flight AK6318, KUL-PEN, 11:10 on 16-Sep-06, where we were allowed to carry the guitars on board into the cabin.
1.4 During boarding for flight AK6315, PEN-KUL, 14:55 on 17-Sep-06, we were told last minute while boarding that we were not allowed to carry the guitars into the cabin, despite the earlier confirmations from your customer service that we are allowed to do so.
The following is a summary of the account of the incident which happened at Gate 13 in Penang International Airport during boarding for flight AK6315.
2.1 During boarding, we were approached at the last minute and told to place our guitars into the cargo bay, without further explanation of why we needed to do so.
2.2 We explained to your ground crew that we had already contacted the Air Asia customer service and confirmed that we are indeed allowed to bring our guitars into the cabin.
2.3 Your ground crew rudely replied that she was the customer service head, and did not provide any apology for the inconvenience whatsoever.
2.4 We then explained that we had carried the guitars on board our flight AK6318 KUL-PEN, and requested your ground crew to explain the inconsistency in policy.
2.5 Your ground crew responded that the policy for KL LCCT and the policy for Penang International Airport are different. We thought this to be ridiculous and unprofessional.
2.6 We then asked if this inconsistency showed lack of communication within Air Asia between the customer service and the operations crew.
2.7 Your ground crew diverted, provided a different excuse, and explained that it was so that our guitars don't block other passengers in the cabin.
2.8 We proposed a solution to allow all other passengers on board, and we were to board the plane last.
2.9 Your ground crew then diverted yet again, giving a different excuse that we did not declare our guitars during check in, and they did not know what size our guitars were.
2.10 We responded again that we had already obtained confirmation from Air Asia customer service, and reiterated that we had successfully brought the guitars on board AK6318, KUL-PEN. We then asked your ground crew if they had ever seen a guitar before.
2.11 Your ground crew then provided a different excuse, saying that it was because the plane was full.
2.12 We responded that this shouldn't have affected anything, as we had confirmed with Air Asia customer service that we are indeed allowed to do so.
2.13 Then, an old man emerged from the plane, and very sarcastically provided a different excuse. He said that it was because of Air Asia safety policy that disallowed us from bringing guitars on board.
2.14 Again, we reiterated that we had obtained confirmation from Air Asia customer service that we were indeed allowed to bring guitars into the cabin, and cited our experience in doing so on flight AK6318, KUL-PEN.
2.15 At this point, your ground crew were extremely defensive, rude and taking our dissatisfaction very personally. They continued to insist that we check in our guitars into the cargo bay, and they even threatened to close the gates on us if we did not comply.
2.16 We then asked the ground crew to take full responsibility on the 2 guitars which were forcefully placed into the cargo bay.
2.17 Your crew then said it was not possible, and insisted we signed the indemnity condition.
2.18 On the same flight AK6315, PEN-KUL, a foreign gentleman had also brought his large guitar casing into the cabin. He was allowed into the cabin without much fuss and rudeness. His guitar was not checked and he was not asked to sign the indemnity document even though he was in front of the queue while boarding as compared to the rest of us. When we pointed this out to your ground crew and reminded them to be consistent, we were assured that checks will be conducted on this foreign gentlemen as he was already on his way to the cabin. Later, when we were forced to surrender our guitars, we took upon your words in good faith that this policy is to be applied consistently to all passengers. However, when the flight touched down in Kuala Lumpur, we discovered that the foreign gentleman’s guitar casing was nicely rested in the overhead compartment. In fact, your cabin crew had also helped this gentleman to place his guitar into the overhead compartment. This speaks of double standards and outright discrimination.
2.19 Nowhere in the whole process did your ground crew or cabin crew offer any apologies:
2.19.1 They were rude and kept on asserting their power to place our guitars into the cargo bay.
2.19.2 They threatened to close the gates on us if we did not comply with their request.
2.20 Nowhere in the whole process did your ground crew or cabin crew offer any satisfactory explanation. Specifically they could not explain:
2.20.1 Why there were inconsistencies between the Air Asia customer service and the ground crew operating that flight?
2.20.2 Why was it possible for us to bring the guitars into the cabin on flight AK6318, but not AK6315?
2.20.3 Why was there double standard and open discrimination when they allowed a foreign gentleman to bring in the guitar but not us?
This incident clearly shows the lack of basic courtesy and totally unprofessional conduct on the part of the ground crew. They were rude to us and only knew how to assert their authority, without giving us credible and reasonable explanations.
Your ground crew and cabin crew's rudeness, arrogance and unwillingness to help your customers have forced us to place our guitars into the cargo bay below. You know very well our apprehension toward this, as we had witnessed inappropriate handling of such fragile items upon loading and unloading. Furthermore, extreme temperature changes may have caused damages to the construction of the guitars.
Thus, we demand a full investigation and satisfactory explanation from Air Asia regarding the above incident, specifically on the following:
3.1 Full record of your Customer Service hotline, schedules of your ground crew and cabin crew who were on duty during the incident and a full explanation of the incident.
3.2 The sheer inconsistencies in policy and lack of coordinated knowledge of such policies amongst all your operating departments.
3.3 Full explanation on why the foreign gentleman with his guitar was not checked first and was allowed to the cabin without further checking although he was way in front of the queue. Further, reasons as to why he was allowed to place his guitar on the overhead compartment while the rest of us are rudely forced to surrender ours. For your information, his guitar casing was much larger and occupied much more space than our 2 guitars.
3.4 Explanation on the outright lack of basic courtesy of your ground and cabin crew, such as offering apologies and flexibility on how to handle such situations.
3.5 Formal apology from your Management and the crew for the rude treatment to all of us. When we were in the cabin, other fellow passengers told us that they were really shocked and disgusted by the rude behavior of your ground crew. This does not augur well for Air Asia as a regional airline.
In addition, we demand compensation for the following:
4.1 General damages for the inconvenience and inconsistency of your policy.
4.2 Damages to 2 guitars due to extreme temperature changes which affects the construction of the guitars, effects of which can only be evaluated in the long term.
4.3 Emotional distress for time wasted reasoning with your illogical and outright rude ground and cabin crew.
You are hereby given three days from the date of this letter to provide a satisfactory response to us, failing which subsequent action will be taken.
(This letter carries 12 signatures)
Monday, September 25, 2006
On 17th September 2006, there was an incident involving Air Asia flight AK6315, PEN-KUL, 14:55pm.
Mainly there were 2 issues:
1) Rude and unprofessional customer service
2) Inconsistency and misrepresentation in the execution of hand luggage policy
We encountered very rude and ill-trained ground crew, and were also subjected to discriminatory actions from Air Asia regarding our fragile luggage. There seemed to be inconsistencies and no communication among all their operating departments, from the customer service hotline to their operations crew.
In our letter of complaint, we mentioned that subsequent action will be taken if we do not receive a satisfactory response from them. And while there was a response, it was hardly satisfactory.
Therefore, the next step will be to go public with this.
The details will be uploaded shortly.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
For the past 2+ weeks, customer never say need to do anything extra. Everytime we provide updates, they never requested for us to do anything extra.
After all our tests completed, had a discussion with customer. Now customer request to do 2 more test cases.
WTF? In the first place, you never asked us to do it. So why suddenly change story? Now have to do extra tests for 2 days: Sunday and Monday. I already made my travel arrangements and cannot stay for another day. The best I can do is go back to KL on Sunday, then come back to Penang on Monday to support on the test. What a stupid waste of energy, money and time. If in the first place customer already requested for us to perform these additional tests, then we would have known how to schedule it into the timetable. But NOOOO it had to be an ad-hoc addition to the existing schedule. So what can we do but to oblige? We cannot say no. We have already pushed the original schedule so far back, that we have absolutely no leverage to negotiate with them.
This is actually not unexpected. I had already anticipated that they will ask us to repeat some of the tests, but not so soon! And not on an entirely new test condition!
What lesson to be learnt from this episode? That we should have initially set into paper all our agreed points to be tested? That we should have better negotiated the entire test matrix to suit our own agenda? That we should have been more rigid in saying what we can test and what we can't test? That we should have opened a WBS for this whole project?
Seriously speaking, I believe in the power of aspiration. If we make positive aspirations in the beginning, we will be able to succeed in whatever we do. That was what happened for the past 2+ weeks. We made good aspirations to successfully complete the tests, and we did in record time! Why customer did not ask us to squeeze in the new tests into the one extra day we had is not entirely clear.
So now, we have to improvise a quick solution. What I suggested was for one of the less complicated tests to be performed by our subcontractors, since it does not involve too much inter-department coordination. But for the other test, I think that experience counts. And only a few of us who have actually done it have the relevant experience.
What can be done now, except to say "too late"?
Thursday, August 24, 2006
I've been working like hell for the past 4 nights. Since Sunday night, I've been working between 10.30pm to 6.30am daily, and this is expected to continue until 28 August when the testing period is finally over.
I will be on the road, connected to the Internet via 3G-HSDPA technology. I'm getting 1.8Mbps wireless broadband connection. Apart from the sleepless nights and the tiring afternoons trying to make up for lost sleep time, life here is pretty fine. There will be an interesting update soon, once I find the time to get the material ready.
Stay tuned ;)
Friday, August 18, 2006
Big talk Najib Razak is so sure of himself when he issues this arrogant statement:
"These post-Independence kids do not realize that racial harmony today did not happen on its own.......
"They do not understand how difficult it was for us to develop this country from a poor nation to one that is highly regarded...."
To Mr. Najib... please get a bigger brain instead of shooting down "post-Independence kids", as if we are some nuisance that you'd rather not have living in this country.
Friday, July 14, 2006
Friday, July 07, 2006
They can be a great people, Kal-El. They wish to be...*whooooshhh*
They only lack the light to show them the way...
For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I send them you - my son.
And so Superman Returns to Earth with a big bang (literally), arriving in a Kryptonian spaceship that crashes right on Kent Farm into the frail arms of his adopted mother.
He doesn't take long to get his return known to the world - by participating in a CGI-assisted-mid-air-airplane-crash-rescue.
Oh, by the way, he's also heartbroken that his lover Lois Lane already started a family with Daily Planet Editor-in-chief's nephew Richard, with a 5-year-old son to boot. Man, he must be so depressed. And to add salt to the wound, Lex Luthor was released from prison because Superman failed to testify in court (he was busy looking for the remains of his tattered home planet).
Anyway, Lex Luthor manages to find Superman's secret hideout in the North Pole, steals some bling-bling crystals, and threatens to create a new continent with the alien technology. Oh, wait a minute, he does... and infuses the land with a healthy dose of Kryptonite (so long Superman?)
As usual, good prevails over evil, and Superman saves the day with some heavyweight lifting stunts.
Is the movie any good? It certainly brings back some nostalgic memories about the simple superhero without any dark history or troubled past. Superman is the kind of superhero that exists simply to save the world, nothing else. And if this movie helps to revive the feeling of hope that good will eventually prevail over evil, then it is certainly worth the 2+ hours in the cinema. Oh yeah, the soundtrack penned by John Williams is just stunningly amazing and needs to be experienced in the cinema hall.
Let's all forgive the boring story, lacklustre plot and bad acting. After all, who can resist the pull of the Man of Steel who wears red underwear on the outside?
Superman Returns gets a 2.5 stars out of 5.
Friday, June 30, 2006
Although the owners are at fault for not complying with local council regulations, the Vet Services Department should not have condoned shooting the poor animals, and of all places in the owners' compound! Look at the blood stains in the photo, and tell me that the owners can still sleep without nightmares.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Friday, June 09, 2006
You were my voice when I couldn't speak
You were my eyes when I couldn't see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn't reach
You gave me faith cause you believed
I'm everything I am
Because you loved me
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Uncle Vijaya mentioned that we die with every exhaling breath and are reborn with every inhaling breath. But because the duration between the life and death states is so minute, we perceive ourselves as a constant being, and so the Ego forms, and the illusion of permanance invades our consciousness.
Which brings me to wonder. What about those insects that "breathe" through pores on their bodies which constantly cycle air in and out of their respiratory system? How does this "breathing" parallel make sense?
I was leafing through some Christian literature about Spiritual Healing. One of the sections refer to False Religions as a manifestation of the Devil's ways of destroying the Chrisitan faith.
Interestingly, Buddhism is listed amongst Islam, Scientology and other religions of the world as a False Religion.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
There must be mutual respect between two people for them to have a meaningful relationship. The respect must transcend superficial tolerance toward each other. Rather, it must be a deep seated willingness to accept each other's characteristics and quirks without prejudice.
With mutual respect, both parties must be open and transparent with each other. There should not be any secrets or hidden resentments. Any dissatisfaction must be sorted out immediately in order not to allow it to grow and pile up irreversibly. Open communication is vital toward the success of any relationship.
While respect and openness are fostered, there will be times when either person will experience a breakdown and thus bouts of emotional bursts will occur. This should never be taken personally, and instead of confronting it, the other person must have the patience to let this subside.
With these three ingredients - respect, openness, patience - a truly healthy relationship can be formed and sustained between two people.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Give your respect not only to Buddhist monks and nuns, but also to holy leaders of other religions. All are noble people who wish to make a better world for their followers.
A monk wears yellow robes, because the colour yellow represents a ripe mango that easily detaches from the tree; compare this to an unripe mango that, when plucked, refuses to detach from the mother, instead it causes much agony and pain when it tries to be detached. Thus yellow symbolizes the physical and mental readiness to lead an ascetic life free from the attachments of worldly pleasures.
Ajahn Brahm says that in this world, there are two types of religions:
1) Those that bend the facts to fit the faith
2) Those that bend the faith to fit the facts
Buddhism is the second type. Faith is important in the beginning to cultivate a strong confidence and belief in the Buddhist teaching. It allows us to think "OK, this teaching looks good. I'll believe it for now."
But we must then start to examine it, study it, and dissect it to truly understand the teaching. Blind faith is never enough to fully benefit from the practice of Buddhism. Ehipassiko: Come And See. Examine for oneself what it truly is. Do not blindly accept just because some holy man has said it.
We can sum up the Buddhist teachings in 3 simple sentences that everyone should learn and follow:
1) Avoid Evil
2) Do Good
3) Purify The Mind
Indeed, it is as simple as 1-2-3!
Monday, May 29, 2006
This animated feature from Dreamworks (same flers that brought us Shrek) may not live up to the insane humour found in the green ogre's tale, but it has enough warmth and heart, and lame jokes (both for kids and for the grown ups) to make up for it. Besides, the eye candy is amazing! Cute furry animals that talk are just so hillarious!
Favourites: the possum that plays....possum, the skunk that was fit with a cork and later on bombs the house, the little Hammy that is overcharged on caffeine, the cat that couldn't smell and fell in love with the skunk... my my! Bring the kids along and have a good laugh!
Thursday, May 25, 2006
When a movie is made based on one of the most controversial and widely criticized novels in history of mankind, half the battle is already won. No matter what the movie critics say or write, chances are that 50% of the general population will watch the movie "out of curiosity". Another 30% who have actually read the book will want to see the characters and places described in the story being fleshed out on the silver screen. The remaining 20% are the ones who couldn't get a ticket for X-MEN III.
So what's the verdict? It's quite thankful that it's been a while since I read the book, so I forgot some of the twists, such as who is the true identity of the "Rector". So for a plot-driven movie, it holds up well. However, why must they explain everything in words?! At least, there are "recreated" visuals to aid us in imagining the world of the Roman wars and Pagan demise. The direction is messy and bland, with no chance for the audience to connect with the heroes. The scenes are so dark that sometimes I wonder if they decided to turn down the lights just to hide all the flaws of the movie. Even the much anticipated albino self flagelating monk Silas was forgettable. I mean, at least Darth Vader had more character in Star Wars 3!
Anyhow, I think that the story turned out much better on paper than on celluloid. For a plot that relies on the conspiracy theory, the countless explanations and wordiness of the script did not do much justice to the wasted talents of Tom Hanks and Ian McKellen.
TWO out of FIVE stars at most.
Monday, May 22, 2006
I took a well-deserved break from work up to Gohtong Jaya for the INCOVAR PCIC - Programmers Creative and Innovative Camp. It was great to be back in the group of energetic and dynamic young leaders who are dedicated towards the shaping of a better Buddhist movement amongst youth.
I had a good chat session with Fred, Chee Onn and Alex, topics ranging from current frustrations in work to plans for the future, to philosophical talks about management and sociology.
The charades session proved to be a great activity for all of us. And I'm sure that it will be a repeated activity for future get-togethers.
The trip certainly renewed my faith in the Buddhist youth movement. Unfortunately, I'm now down with sore throat and aching muscles due to lack of sleep!
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Do you know how frustrating it is when your colleague and yourself do not speak the same language? That whatever you say is not understood by him, and whatever he says is not understood by you?
It gets nerve wrecking especially during a time of such high tension and difficulties. The project timeline is squeezed to the limit given the limitation faced in getting 2 foreign experts to consult the local team in a fairly new technology. While one of them had good communication aptitude, he had already gone off on another business trip. That leaves the remaining consultant who, unfortunately for some strange reason, has some kind of difficulty understanding simple English or simple explanations of key points during any technical discussion.
This kind of communication breakdown can only serve to disrupt the progress of the project. It jeapordizes the entire project team and has the potential to slow things down. Eventually, left unchecked, this communication breakdown will result in one very pissed foreigner who will vow never again to work with Malaysians.
On the other hand, this can be interpreted as one of the many challenges working in a multinational environment. Communication breakdown is bound to happen, given the fact that there are different nationalities working together under one roof. However, I have personally worked with colleagues from Thailand, Portugal, Indonesia, India, Taiwan and China, and sad to say, this is the first time I am feeling extremely frustrated.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Monday, May 08, 2006
How not to be angry with these stupid banks? Bank Negara raise OPR by 25 basis points. The banks increase the stupid BLR by 0.25%.
And then they make a big fuss out of their increasing FD rates also. The problem is, it didn't increase by 0.25%. Instead, it only increase by a stupid 0.1%. And this is after Bank Negara raised the OPR 3 times, with corresponding increases in BLR! That's BLR 6% --> 6.75% within half a year. And FD? 3% --> 3.1%. Bravo stupid banks of Malaysia!
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
So the AGM was just over last Sunday. As expected, with the exception of 3 new EXCO members, there were no further changes to the line up.
With this minimal "cabinet reshuffle", I do not forsee any radical changes to the work culture that BGF is used to.
And it is this culture of "everything also I want to do and I must do it my way because it is the way that it has been done all this while" that will eventually bring the organization to a standstill and no further progression.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Somebody with NBTD designed a page to capture my password and now I can't access my yahoo email. F@#$%^#$&%
Therefore, please redirect your emails to:
nskhoo AT gmail DOT com
nskhoons AT yahoo DOT com
And if you receive any emails from email@example.com, please ignore and delete!
Friday, April 07, 2006
Thursday, April 06, 2006
It's interesting to note HOW someone thinks. Especially if one has knowledge on NLP and the infamous eye-movement modalities.
During a friendly interview session, the interviewer asked me questions which normal interviewers do. About my past challenges, my current strengths, the expectations I have for a career, etc.
And interestingly, everytime I was constructing sentences to answer the questions, I consciously knew that I was shifting my eyes to my upper left (Visual Recall), which according to the NLP literature meant that I was accessing my memories. But here's the cool thing. I was not recalling any answer. I was making those answers up on-the-fly. And logically I would categorize that under Visual Constructed.
Alex pointed out that maybe I was recalling certain words and phrases, or picturing how the word would look like when spelt out. Maybe I was indeed recalling whether or not I have used these phrases in my daily communications (verbal or email).
So, there's another tip for you to look out for when providing answers to your potential interviewers. Look up left :P
Friday, March 31, 2006
I thought that having a bigger role to play in my current company is a good blessing.
Now I have another offer from another company for a consultant or senior engineer role. This other company has a better track record in terms of financial standings, history and general perception.
But I'm afraid to move, because it could mean that I have to start all over again. But at the same time, the current company isn't the best one in the country right now.
What should I do???
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Lately, my manager has been hinting that I should take on more responsibilities in leading and managing. Although he has not officially announced it, I have begun to proactively manage a team of engineers and coordinate inter departmental communication.
Instead of doing more technically inclined work, I am now more involved in organizing meetings to clear expectations, setting and enhancing processes, following through earlier efforts or pending cases, trying my best to show that I am more than a mere engineer. That I have the capability to be a great leader.
I hope that I can shine in this organization!
Monday, March 27, 2006
It was an interesting day for sure. There was no turning back. The engagement ring had been procured, and I had applied for a day off. Also my fellow collaborators have agreed to follow through the game plan. The stage was set for one of the more memorable days in my life.
That morning at 10.30am, armed with 6 roses to symbolize the 6 years relationship we've spent together, and the engagement ring, I boldly stepped into the Mont Kiara grounds. Along came Daniel, who provided much needed moral support and photography/videography services.
Plaza Mont Kiara Block D
Me waiting for Daniel
Meanwhile, MJ and Chee Onn were busy convincing elsf to download the so-called publicity flash file, which took quite a while to complete! Daniel and I were waiting at the lift lobby at level 3A, where I think at least 3 or 4 people have seen what must have been quite a suspicious sight: a tall guy with roses, and a shorter guy with a camera, whispering and acting weird.
In the elevator
In fact, the wait was so excruciatingly stressful, that I had to personally call elsf to check whether or not she has finished downloading and watching the file.
"Download already or not?"
Once I knew she had completed the download and finished watching the file, I proceeded to muster up my courage and stepped into her office doors. Showing the flowers and a "ssshhh" to the receptionist, she proceeded to show the way to elsf's cubicle.
She saw me!
With a surprise that shocked her to speechlessness, the office colleagues offered their support in form of applause. I had gone on one knee to ask the inevitable question.
"6 roses for 6 wonderful years together"
The inevitable question
Shocked beyond words
"Please say something!"
With barely a whisper from her shocked self, she hastily accepted the ring and I suppose that must have signaled a yes!
She accepted the ring
With a final photograph for the day, we departed her office, leaving her to savour the experience that must have been one of the more exciting ones to remember.
Me and my fiancée
And, happily now, I am engaged to Lee Swee Feng!
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Friday, March 10, 2006
The project that I'm working on currently at work is indeed one of the most difficult projects I've ever been involved in.
Sometimes I wonder where is the "management" in the Project Manager. Sometimes I wonder, are we even equipped enough to go to the customer and say "told ya so" or "you're most definitely wrong".
I don't want to get retrenched because of incompetent managers and inefficient internal processes. And since I don't subscribe to the CYA theory, I think the best course of action would be to do my job as well as I can while adding some semblance of order and process into place where there is currently none. In fact our so-called "consultant" is no great expert on the subject matter. Perhaps it's fair to say that I may have more in-depth knowledge than him!
Outrageously disasterous. Perhaps I should start looking for a new job...
It has been ages since I last saw the likes of Ming-Yan, Bernard, Ellisha, Naveen, Andrew, Siti Sarah, Zarina, Ah Nei and Wai Sen. But there we were in Tanjung SS14 to talk about food, weather and look at childhood photographs.
Fun and laughter permeated throughout the night. It was a splendid outing! Thanks to Ming-Yan for a great job in organizing this meet up.
Photos coming soon!
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Motherfucker driver of Hyundai Matrix:
You tried to cut into my lane after I have painstakingly lined up in a stupid traffic jam for 45 minutes. When I refused to let you barge into my lane with your sick and inconsiderate attitude, you tailgated me and tried to intimidate myself, and my relatives with your insensitive and immature behaviour.
Not only do I curse you to hell, but I also wish that you will be at the receiving end of a more serious bully that will show you the true meaning of FUCKING HELL!