Nee Sern is...

really really sleepy

Friday, July 27, 2007

Saya telah membeli alat permainan yang baru...

Update 3

Yet another test shot. The focus point is between the "o" and the last "n" of the Canon word. This is a picture of the 18-55 kit lens. As you can imagine, the kit lens size is not that big, so the distance to the floor is only a few cm. Yet, the floor is completely out of focus already. Even the letterings of the "18-55mm" on the lens barrel is blurred. I love the 50mm cheapie! Note: picture is auto-levels adjusted.

f/1.8 :: 1/15s :: ISO800 :: 50mm

Update 2:

This lens is superb. I took this picture of small figurines on my decorative shelf. The distance from the 2 cats to the picture frame in the background is only 10cm. The focus point was the nose of the right cat (I know, I know, it's not really in focus). Check out the blur! Only auto-levels adjusted in Photoshop.

f/1.8 :: 1/100s :: ISO400 :: 50mm

Update 1:

Got it from J-One Amcorp Mall. Will post sample pictures soon. In the mean time...


Untuk maklumat lanjut, sila tunggu sebentar. Saya belum menangkap gambar dan menulis karangan lagi...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Drive Of Life

I normally don't chase chinese TV dramas. When I do, it's usually because they are of exceptional quality in terms of storyline, acting and overall production.

The most recent one I caught was the Dicey Business (dou cheung foong wan) which revolves around a casino operation, friendship, brotherhood and betrayals. Top notch acting and storyline but of course some cheesy scripts abundant in Hong Kong productions.

Now that Astro On Demand is showing non stop repetitions of The Drive Of Life (sui yuet foong wan), I find myself gravitating toward this show. It's only at the 7th episode, but already showing the quality since the first episode. The storyline generally focuses on family, friendship and trust, and of course expounding the goodness of the Chinese government and the Chinese people.

Will I have the strength to follow through this drama? Well, let's put it this way. Even if I miss the original screening time, I can always watch the entire thing all over again via all the repeat screenings of all the episodes. Thanks to Astro On Demand, I am able to do this. Of course it comes with a price, but the price is only 99sen per episode, which is actually quite a good deal. It works out to about RM55 for the entire drama. I'm sure the original VCD's will probably cost about the same when it does get released. And from what I see, this price point is generally acceptable by most of the viewing customers.

However, there are some pain points. Firstly, there is no subtitle! How can anyone understand Hong Kong cantonese without some helpful subtitles, even if the subtitles are in chinese? The better option would be to supply on-demand subtitles. Secondly, the picture and sound quality is substandard. The picture looks like it's been compressed several times over that there are splotches of colour everywhere instead of fine detail. The sound is also quite terrible, with the extreme high trebles and extreme low basses severely muted. Often, the conversation is muffled because of this, making it even more difficult to catch what is being said (minus subtitles!). Astro should fix this, considering we are paying premium to watch this show.

Harry Potter 5

Finally watched the movie yesterday in a freezing cinema hall. 1 Utama management, please make it more convenient for moviegoers in TGV to access the car park in the new wing!

Anyway, the movie actually made me understand the story of Harry Potter 5 much better than the long-winded book. And I'm actually surprised to see how little story development there is in HP5 compared to the previous books. Dunno, maybe if I go back to the book then I'll be able to pick up all the missed out bits that were intentionally left out by the movie director.

The movie plods along fine, the focus this time more on Harry. Sure, Ron and Hermione get some screen time, but it's comparatively less than the previous outings. Cho gets limited screen time and fails most of the time, while Luna Lovegood serves as comic relief with her weird self chatter and incessant obsession with Nargles.

Dumbledore is in his finest performance for this installment (check out the dueling scene at the end!), while Sirius is given fine treatment here. The other characters don't really get much screen time (Ginny, Neville, Moody, etc.) which is a good thing to keep the movie flowing but also a bad thing because the magic of previous movies is just lost in this one.

A good view, but could've been better. I very much preferred HP3 and HP4 movies.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

How to take night photographs with flash?

This post is written with the Canon user in mind.

Normally, if you want to snap a picture of someone at night, you will use the flash, set your camera to the green box or P mode and fire away. All is fine, till you review the picture. The background is so totally blacked out and only the subject is well-lit. What happened?

Well, in the Canon system, if you are using the green box or the P mode, the camera will assume that you are using ONLY the flash as the main light source, and will set the minimum shutter speed to 1/60s to avoid camera shake. Also depending on the camera, ISO will be set automatically (or not). Anyway, since the built-in flash of many cameras have very limited power, the amount of light generated from the flash is not enough to light up the entire room or background. It can only reach far enough to light up your main subject. That is why you get what you get.

The smarter way would be to switch to some manual modes. You can use either Av or Tv or M mode. In these modes, the camera will assume that you are using the ambient light as the main light source, and the flash as a fill-in light only. This means that the camera's light meter will set the aperture and shutter speed to expose for the room or background correctly. Typically, for night shots, I like to use Tv mode set to 1/25s or 1/30s, ISO800 or ISO1600, and fill-in flash. This achieves several things: firstly, the shutter speed is slower than 1/60s yet not too slow to induce camera shake; secondly, the ambient light is well registered in the camera by using high ISO; thirdly, by filling in with flash, I can fill in the shadows in my main subject and also catch some sparkle reflection in their eyes.

Alternatively, I also use Av mode sometimes, but I have to keep my eye on the shutter speed to ensure that no camera shake is induced. Typically I like to underexpose by -1/3 or -2/3 and correct the levels in post processing later.

If you have a separate flashgun (e.g. Speedlite 430EX), you can do some bounce moves and have better control over the direction and size of your light source. I am now learning how to use a bounce card to achieve better flash results. I point my flash gun to the ceiling, attach a curved piece of white paper to the back of the flashgun so that the reflected light is diffused forward, while the main flash strobe is bounced on the ceiling to create a soft effect. This can work 80% of the time, but of course the photographer must be mindful to ensure that the ceiling is not too low (overpowering flash) or too high (wasted flash power).

Anyway, those are the tips I can think of. Basically, don't use the green box and P mode because that will fix your shutter speed to 1/60s or faster, and that is just too fast for the camera to capture any ambient light from the room or background.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Don't Play With Fire!

With an article from today's theSun page 10, I've compiled my personal ramblings in my other blog. Actually, it's true. I've seen this "don't play with fire" phrase so many times that I decided to track the instances down. So I googled UMNO "play with fire" and here are the results!

581 hits for the phrase UMNO "play with fire".

Selected Excerpts:

From Malaysiakini: Umno warns PCCC not to play with fire
04 Oct 2006

The Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce (PCCC) call for abolition of the 30 percent Bumiputera quota in housing and commercial projects has been labelled a racial statement and has warned the chamber not to “play with fire”.

Bukit Mertajam Umno division head Musa Sheikh Fadzim, asked to comment today, said the PCCC should not play with fire.

Don’t stir the hornet’s nest. We are only asking for our rights which is 30 percent. We’re not asking for 40, 50 or 100 percent (of the share). This is a racial issue, so we’re asking them (the chamber) not be extreme,” he said.

From Chow Kon Yeow: "Ministers, don't play with fire!"

23 January 2006

This morning while driving down to work, a banner hung at the busy Jalan Jelutong/Jalan Kudin traffic intersection caught my attention.

“Jangan Main Dengan Api” , the UMNO Taman Perak Branch warned the nine non-Muslim Ministers for sending a memorandum to the Prime Minister, calling for a review of laws affecting the rights of non-Muslims.

From Aliran: Troubling times
15 February 2007

An Umno veteran, Mohamed Rahmat, who should know better because of his vast experience - previously a cabinet minister of many years, Malaysian Ambassador to Indonesia, a long-standing former BN and Umno secretary-general - nevertheless warned, “Please don’t test the Malays; they know ‘amok’. We don’t want to reach that level.”

The delegate from Malacca, Hansoor Sidang Hussein, declared, “Umno is willing to risk lives and bathe in blood in defence of race and religion. Don’t play with fire. If they mess with our rights, we will mess with theirs.”

An Umno Youth exco member did not mince his words in expressing his views, “When tension rises, the blood of Malay warriors will run in our veins.”

A Penang Umno delegate, Musa Sheik Fadzir, added, “Don’t test the patience of the Malays and don’t play with fire.”

From The Malaysian: Now Puteri Umno Has Started Posturing, Wants Cartoons Censored! Oh Dear!
17 November 2006

Rahimah also asked the Umno leaders not to compromise on the establishment of the Inter-Faith Commission (IFC) and the government to use the Internal Security Act (ISA) on those who cause trouble. "Say No, No, No to the establishment of the IFC. We will not compromise with parties who try to disturb our rights. Don't play with fire, or you'll get burnt. Just arrest them and place them under the ISA!!!" she said.

From Malaysian Malaysia

In 1999, controversy was reignited when Lim Kit Siang of the Democratic Action Party (DAP, the former Malaysian branch of the PAP) called for a second campaign for a "Malaysian Malaysia". Then acting UMNO Youth Chief Hishamuddin Hussein angrily responded with a warning not to "play with fire," and accused Lim of politicising an issue that had been decided at independence with the social contract. Lim argued that the concept of a Malaysian Malaysia did not differ much from the government policy of establishing a Bangsa Malaysia (Malaysian race or Malaysian nation). Some noted that ironically, Hishamuddin's grandfather, Dato' Onn Ja'afar, the founder of UMNO, had left the party to form the Independence of Malaya Party based on the concept of eliminating special privileges for the Malays.

From BBC: Row over Malay privileges
18 August 2000

On Friday, youth leaders of Dr Mahathir's United Malays National Organisation party (Umno) held a protest outside the Chinese Assembly Hall in Kuala Lumpur.

Umno's Vice-President Najib Tun Razak has also warned the Chinese community against raising the issue.

"My advice to these Chinese associations is not to play with fire," Mr Najib said.

Down the drain...

It was a change of venue. From Starbucks Curve to Starbucks 1U to Starbucks Uptown. Had dinner at Naili's. Was supposed to eat with Jo but she couldn't make it on time. Proceeded to Starbucks after that, waiting for the rest to arrive. Jo's call came: "I've been robbed. Laptop is gone."

Shocked beyond comprehension. No words to describe. Mun Yee called Jo to clarify. She's safe. Bag and personal documents not taken, only laptop. All felt weird. Li Kim says Uptown is not safe to be walking around alone. Alex says girls shouldn't walk alone. Jyon says she already kena 5 or 6 times and still not scared? MJ frets about our country's lost bearings.

Deep down, I felt sick. Was it my fault for not thinking of her safety? After all, I should have offered to drive her over. Instead I thought nothing of it when knowing she was supposed to walk over to Naili's.

Anyway, the important thing is that she's safe and not harmed.

Now to do some serious thinking. Our police force human resource is really crappily assigned. Out of the 100%, only 30% of the force is deployed for crime prevention. The remaining officers are for top management, administrative, special branch, and all other branches not related to crime prevention. So are we surprised that we never ever see patrol police officers doing their ronda rounds? Instead we normally see the ubiquitous traffic police hiding behind trees trying to catch minor offenders. Or special branch officers tracking down innocent bloggers (detention without arrest, anyone?).

Must we resort to citizen's policing? Should we lobby our Ms. fried mee hoon to step up crime prevention efforts? Will we have the patience to deal with all this shit?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

@#$**$#% the @#$*#*$#-ing police!

This is criminal intimidation by the police!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Damned if we do, damned if we don't

This news article reports residents in Penang protesting over the construction of a telecommunications tower near their residential areas. The interesting thing is that the tower has been built according to MCMC (the government regulator for Communications) standards and safety guidelines, and as a response to the vehement complaints of poor coverage by the residents themselves. So they want good phone coverage but don't want the tower in their backyards?

Let's take a technical look at the misinformation. According to these protesters, building the tower so near to their houses will cause a lot of radiation and thus affect health and cause cancer. Let's see. The maximum transmit power of the base station is normally 43dBm, or 20W. After passing through the combiners, filters, feeders and antenna system gain, the EIRP (effective isotropic radiated power) will be around 55dBm, which is approximately 320W. However, since the waves need to propagate through the space from the antenna to the ground level, there is some form of degradation in the signal strength according to the appropriate propagation model. Usually, the signal strength on the ground level deteriorates to a value of -40dBm (depending on the distance from the antenna), which translates to a wattage value of 0.0000001W!

If we want to be worried, we should be worried about our handphones. Our handphones have a maximum transmit power of typically 21dBm, or 0.13W. Since there is no feeder or combiner system, and the antenna gain is typically 0dB, the EIRP from the phone is also 21dBm. Now, considering the fact that we normally use the phone by placing it against our ear (which is like just next to our brain), we expect the loss contributed by our body to be around 3dB. This means that the amount of power that is reaching our brain is 18dBm, or 0.06W. Compare this to the 0.0000001W from the base station. The power received from the base station is miniscule compared to the power received from the phone.

Does this mean that the phone will cause cancer? There is no absolute proof, no confirmed research to indicate yes or no at this point. However, we tend to take conveniences for granted, without understanding first what the facts are. We look at the large telecommunication towers with their large antennas and we become frightened. We look at the small handphone which we use and we think nothing of its radiation.

Let's face it. We are already accustomed to a wireless world. We treat mobile communications for granted, sometimes without knowing the technology that makes it happen. Perhaps MCMC should educate the consumers on the basics of wireless communication technology, so that health scares that lead to pointless protests will be a thing of the past, and we can all progress into the future.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Searching for Truth 2

f/8.0 :: 1/400s :: ISO100 :: 33mm

This photo was taken at Tanah Lot, Bali. It was late afternoon, and there were many tourists in this popular place of interest. I got down low and snapped this picture which shows the people walking as if with a noble aim, but in fact they are just walking towards the Tanah Lot temple.

I performed a lot of manipulation in Photoshop to get these pretty colours. This shows that we don't need to be faithful to the natural conditions in order to create artistic shots.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Malaysian Drivers Most Annoying Habits

I'm putting this down because people I talk to generally don't find this to be such a big deal. So I will illustrate with examples from my personal experience.

1) Malaysian drivers don't know how to use roundabout
OK. Roundabouts may be quite obsolete in heavy traffic areas. But it does not discount the reality that roundabouts still exist, and we should all learn how to use it. Vehicles moving in the roundabout have the right of way over vehicles trying to enter the roundabout. When exiting roundabouts, please indicate with the signal lights. When the roundabout is at a standstill, please don't force your way in and cause a gridlock! Simple rules that somehow are not followed, leading to being stuck for 1 hour in a roundabout (example: Rothmans roundabout).

2) Malaysian drivers don't know how to indicate
This is especially true when I am trying to go into the main road, and I see an oncoming car, so I wait for the car to pass. At the very last minute, the car turns into the road that I'm in, which means that if he had signaled earlier, I wouldn't have needed to wait for him to pass! Or they are trying to cut into my lane but I'm not sure if they are really going to do it or are just blur by moving between the lanes, since he is not signaling his intention. So what I normally do is I just close the gap, until he decides to indicate.

3) Malaysian drivers love to cut queues
This habit is a very annoying one, simply because the act of cutting queues contribute to the formation of the queues in the first place. When the highway traffic is slow moving, for example, these stupid drivers will start to go on the emergency lane, and when they encounter whatever is blocking the movement of traffic, they will forcibly cut back into the normal lanes. This actually slows down traffic in the normal lanes, which in turn encourages these stupid drivers to cut queues. Another example is at toll plazas where there is a petrol station at the side. These stupid drivers will actually cut into the petrol station, and cut back out just to skip the queue of some 2 or 3 cars. Stupid, isn't it?

4) Malaysian drivers love to litter all over the place
Ahah, don't be confused. They love to litter all over the place except their own car. How many times have I witnessed already drivers of supposedly posh cars (expensive SUV's, BMW's, imported Japanese makes) throwing things out of their cars: plastic bags, food containers, cigarette packs, drink bottles, rubbish, cigarette butts. So much so that if you were to drive on the Federal Highway and just look at the road, you will be able to see all this rubbish already forming to become part of the road surface! Also related to this habit, Malaysian drivers just love to open their car door when they are stationary, stick out their head and spit out a thick gooey piece of phlegm, without consideration to the vehicles behind them which will be treading on their biological waste. Disgusting!

5) Malaysian drivers love to flash and tailgate
This is very true on the expressways. Normally, I am legitimately overtaking slower vehicles by using the right lane. I don't speed above the legal limit, but I am not breaking any regulations, since the rule clearly states that I can use the right lane for overtaking. More often than not, there will be some fancy car (typically Mercedes or BMW, occasionally Toyotas or even Proton Wajas) which will start flashing the highlights from very far behind, as if to brag about their large and fast cars, shouting "move aside!!". Of course, I'm in the middle of my overtaking maneuver, so I can't possibly move back into the left lane. Soon, the big car is right behind me, flashing his highlights non-stop and sticking too close for comfort to the back of my car. What I fantasise to do sometimes is to just step on the brakes and watch him lose control of his car, crashing it to the road divider and sustaining some form of injury. Of course I'm rational, so I don't do that. The worst thing happens when I do give way, and he just speeds ahead only to be slowed down by another slower car. I'm thinking... congratulations, you just managed to go ahead by one car. You saved..... 2 seconds off your traveling time! Hooray! Sheesh...

These are just some of the stupid things that Malaysian drivers do on the road. I wonder if they behave similarly when they are out of their big and expensive cars.

Saturday, July 07, 2007


Yes!! I finally watched it!! It's simply breathtaking!! I ran out of words to say, after the movie we talked and talked and talked and talked... simply put, this is the best movie of the year PERIOD!

OK. Here's a more proper review of the movie.

First, let's start with the awe factor. Simply listening to the original voice of Optimus Prime in the beginning of the movie brought back nostalgic feelings. The opening sequence in outer space, and in the Qatar desert really pumped up the adrenaline and set the pace for things to come.

When the first transformation occurred on screen, I was simply stunned. The transformation sequences really dropped jaws, slick and seamless moves that turned the military helicopter into a menacing alien robot.

Bumblebee's transformation sequence and his play with radio also adds flavour to the movie's feel. I have to say that Bumblebee looks cool in the movie, unlike the bloated appearance in the cartoons. He's also a pivotal character in the movie, having more airtime than any other robot in the show.

When Optimus Prime appeared for the first time, the transformation simply blew my mind. Here was a super truck which stopped right in front of Sam Witwicky, proceeded to transform into a giant robot that towered over everything. And of course that superb voice is probably the only voice that is capable of bringing Optimus Prime to life.

The Decepticons are pretty nondescript. Megatron doesn't show up until the final third of the movie. Starscream was barely seen that he became quite irrelevant. Other Decepticons also were not that great.

In fact, Michael Bay betrayed true Transformers fans by showing more humans than robots. I mean, what is the story with the military soldier in the middle east? What's the point of the analyst-with-the-horrid-Australian-accent sub story and his ghetto sidekick? What's the point of introducing a quasi X-files like Sector 7 government agency? Seriously, Michael Bay should have just dropped all human characters except Sam Witwicky and his girlfriend, the Secretary of Defense to show how useless human defenses are, and of course the occasional "kelefe" to gawk, run and scream. All other airtime should be dedicated to the robots!

That said, this movie realizes the dreams of those of us who grew up in the 80's when the Transformers were popularized. If only for the nostalgia factor, this movie rates already at 4 out of 5 stars. Unfortunately, the substandard plot development and the inclusion of useless human characters deny it that final star rating. Nonetheless, this IS the best movie of the year for a biased reviewer. Highly recommended for anyone who has played with Transformers toys, watched Transformers cartoons, or simply like CGI robots that can transform to and fro cars, trucks, planes, helicopters, tanks, etc. Go watch it and then spend the rest of the day raving and ranting about it!

P/S - I really didn't like the fact that Optimus Prime's faceplat retracts when he's speaking. He looks so sissy when his mouth is exposed!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

My cheeky nephew

f/5.0 :: 1/15s :: ISO800 :: 43m

My nephew, cheekily laughing while I was taking his photo. He knows how to pose for the camera and make all sorts of funny faces. This was taken with the flash bounced to the ceiling and bounce card. Levels and color balance adjusted with Photoshop, and noise reduced with Noise Ninja.

Note: I've decided to stop posting my photographs in my other blog. I realized that it's difficult to maintain so many blogs. The old photos will still be there for archive, but no more new updates there.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Check out my DIY flash diffuser!

Lookie lookie... EOS350D + 430EX + DIY Flash Diffuser

Check out the largish light source!

Problems: it's too flimsy, difficult to attach/detach. How, how?

Stupid driver

This morning, on the way out from Subang Jaya into Federal Highway, the traffic was quite heavy. Long queues formed on all lanes. There I was on the right lane, and there was a red Saga in front of me. There was a considerably adequate gap between the Saga and the car in front. There was then this Myvi that signaled and started to cut in front of the Saga from the left lane.

The stupid Saga driver immediately sped up and blocked the Myvi from cutting in! The Myvi was surprised and tried to pull back into the left lane to continue on. The stupid red Saga driver then cut to the left in front of the Myvi thus preventing the Myvi from proceeding forward. The Myvi then started to sound the horn loudly and repeatedly. The Saga responded with the horn as well. The Myvi, frustrated by the Saga driver's stupidity, cut out to the furthest left lane and sped off, cut back in later in front. The red Saga driver started waving his fist like a mad dog, scolding and gesturing violently. Later on, the Saga passed by the Myvi again, and the Saga driver slowed down, looked at the Myvi driver, and started scolding and gesturing before driving off.

Ironically, the Saga then signaled to cut left in order to go towards Glenmarie. It's too bad that he did not do so in front of the Myvi, otherwise I'm sure we would have seen full blown road rage escalation!

Friends, please drive with patience and please be careful on the road. You'll never know when there will be this type of stupid drivers on the road.