Friday, November 04, 2011

Book: Michael Crichton's Micro

I learnt a new word - posthumous.

MC did one-third of the eventual novel, while the rest is the work of Richard Preston. I've never read (or heard of) his books, but I'll definitely get this one solely because it has MC's touch. As always, I'll wait for the paperback.

Reading the synopsis, it is in MC's style. Like his State of Fear. This one's being compared to Jurassic Park, and it is interesting for we'll be shrunken and transported to the bigger world (I think).

Read more:

image taken from MC official site

Sunday, October 16, 2011

at the entrance
It has been a long time since I last entered Singapore. More than 5 years, surely. My children haven't at all. In March this year we made our passports, but only in October we made the trip to Singapore. So near yet if feels like it's so far.

In conjunction with Marsya's birthday, I decided to bring everyone to the Singapore Zoo. It was a busy weekend with not much sleep for me personally. On Saturday I went to Melaka for Burung Hantu 2011 offroad night ride, and back home right after the event ended. Took a nap at Machap R&R for an hour before Fajr and reached home at 7-ish Sunday morning. When I reached home I cleared out the dirty clothes form the night's ride, put things back to their places and did a bit of gardening. I woke everyone up at 8.30 so that we could go early because there are a few things need to be done before we could enter Singapore and head out to the zoo. Eventually, everyone got ready and at 11.00 the car started to roll out to Stulang CIQ.

While queuing at the Woodlands checkpoint, I noticed that somebody in an mpv on my right waving to me wildly. Haha... it was my cousin from Woodlands, Abang Man. He called me up and invited me to come over his place later on after the zoo visit and I said no promises. As soon as I entered the immigration checkpoint, my phone was without network reception. I had forgotten to activate roaming access. Was unable to call him to ask for address and directions to his place. Too bad, maybe next time insyaAllah.

It was the first time I bought an autopass for the car to enter Singapore; with tips from friends and the swiftness of Singapore immigration and LTA, it was not that hard. Just fill in a few standard details in the form, queue up and pay $10. The process took less than 10 minutes. My thanks to Reza for giving me the embarkation card, too.

The Singapore Zoo is not far from Woodlands checkpoint, and there are ample signs to get us there. We reached the zoo at around 12.00, parked the car at a nice covered parking building.

The zoo entrance fee for the five of us amounted to $66. $20 for adults, and $13 for children (3 - 12y). Free for Umar. Not too bad, as the park is big and the animals in there looks healthy. The areas are clean, too.

We spent a bit more that 3 hours in the park. While deprived of sleep and my legs are still tired from the ride the night before, it was surprising that the walk in the zoo did not make me exhausted. Sleepy at times when stopped, yes, but no complains of tiredness from me. Of course the children are.

We had our lunch late, at 3.30pm in KFC. Umar needed a nappy change and so we went off. The toilets at the zoo lobby are nice, but no faucet provided except for tissue rolls.
:P
However, the nappy change room has everything. Washbasin, nappy change counter, faucet (without hose), shower and toilet bowl.

I asked the muslim lady at KFC if there are any musolla available, but there is none except for staff only. She mentioned that people would use cardboards. As it was reaching 4pm (end of Zuhr), we decided to solat at the parking lot. Went up to the uncovered topmost floor, and found a shaded area. Parked the car to cordon us, and we perform our solat. Soon after, we went out of the parking lot.

There's a mini drama happened to me while exiting the parking lot. Apparently, foreigners have to get a 'complimentary ticket' valued at $4 from the zoo counter. So, long story short, I went back to the counter (some 500m walk), bought the ticket and went out. Thanks to Diana the parking assistant over there for guiding me.

The journey back to JB was uneventful. Smooth ride all the way, alhamdulillah. InsyaAllah, there'll be more trips after this. Perhaps a weekend over my cousins' places, and mountain biking at Bukit Timah too.
:)
 
More photos here.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri 1432H

Assalaamu 'alaikum warahmatullah.

I'd like to wish you a blessed Hari Raya, and Taqabbalallahu minnaa wa minkum.
May Allah accept (the fast and worship) from you and us.

I hope that we would foster the strength gained from our ibadah and good deeds made throughout Ramadhan; and continue on towards the rest of the year, until hopefully we could meet with Ramadhan again.
InsyaAllah.

Be safe, and remember that moderation is key, in everything.

Till we meet again, hope you had a good one.

Sincerely,
Akmal Hizam

image taken from here

Monday, August 15, 2011

X-stitch: John Clayton collection

Breathtaking designs.
Note: my Summer Meadow project is still on-going, 4 years and counting :)
His other works (for Heritage Crafts) is here.
Check out the panoramas and a piece titled Harbour Reflections.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lau Kaa Na Bainana

TV Alhijrah - channel 114 Astro sekarang ni ada menyiarkan rancangan Lau Kaa Na Bainana (jika Baginda ada di antara kita). Masa siaran adalah 5.30 pagi dan juga 10 malam.
 
Baca di sini (ada video jugak) untuk maklumat tentang rancangan tu. Yang aku boleh tambah, ialah ianya meninjau sejauh mana pembawaan akhlak Rasulullah SAW ke zaman kita ini. Banyak yang boleh kita (aku) ambil iktibar, dan muhasabah diri sejauh mana kita ikut akhlak Rasulullah SAW.
 
Yang menariknya, cara pembawaan rancangan ini adalah segar, walaupun kaedah 'wakenabeb' digunakan. Kelainannya di sini ialah, ianya bersifat positif, bukannya menonjolkan yang negatif atau untuk mengenakan orang. Aku suka dengan gambaran visual 3D yang ditunjukkan untuk membayangkan kehidupan di zaman Rasulullah SAW.
 
Namun, yang paling pentingnya aku rasa ialah energy dan passion yang dikongsi oleh pengacaranya. Itu sahaja, rasanya mewakili separuh dari kekuatan rancangan ini.
 
Kena tengok dan hayati sendiri.
:D
 
Ramadhan Kareem
Apa azam anda?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Waiting Game

Is it a game? Well, it's a tough game if it is so.
 
If you know that the thing you're waiting for is going to come at a definite date and time, still it is a tough game. Because you can't really do anything about it, except for waiting for it to arrive. Makes you want to scream, really. If you do know that the thing is going to come, but no idea at all when it would arrive, then it would be doubly tough game.
 
For things that are uncertain, it's not called waiting; but still we are preparing ourselves for them. For the one thing that is certain, I'm struggling to prepare myself. I pray that Allah eases this journey to prepare for my last day, and not merely waiting.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

E22 Fully Opened 10.06.2011

 
Great news to me, personally.
Now (errr... tomorrow), it will be much faster to balik kampung to Pengerang as I don't have to pass by Ulu Tiram and Kota Tinggi anymore.
 
May the area around Bandar Penawar, Desaru, Pengerang and the like would also flourish from this.
 
Shall we have our breakfast at Bandar Penawar this weekend, dear?
:)
 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

awek Celcom dan 1 Gb

saya: apa kadar untuk capaian internet dari telefon bimbit, kalau tak daftar dengan pelan data?
awek Celcom: 10 sen untuk setiap 10 kb
saya: hmmm... kalau pelan data untuk 1 Gb?
aC: RM38 sebulan untuk 1 Gb
saya: kalau tak gunakan pelan data, jadi berapa ringgit untuk 1 Gb?
aC: maaf, saya tak tahu lah... tapi *tersipu-sipu*
saya: awak boleh tolong kirakan dengan mesin kira awak tu tak?
aC: *tersenyum manis*
 
Untuk awek Celcom, diri sendiri dan kawan-kawan:
1 Gb = 1,048,576 kb
 
Kalau 10 sen untuk setiap 10 kb, maka
RM10,485.76 untuk setiap 1 Gb.
Macam tak betul je pulak...
 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Membazir Ikut Kemampuan

Artikel oleh Tawel, sila baca di sini.
 
Aku suka paradigma yang dibentangkan. Bernas!
 
Ketahuilah bahawa sebenarnya sama ada gaji sekadar RM1,000 atau RM10,000, kita semua berpotensi untuk menjadi seorang pembazir. Orang berada, bila melabuhkan kepalanya di bantal, mungkin akan menganyam mimpi untuk memiliki Ferrari walau di halaman rumahnya sudah pun dihinggap oleh BMW 3 series. Yang gajinya sekadar RM1,000 pula, ligat berazam untuk mengumpul dana dari gaji bulanan demi menceraikan Kancil dan lantas menikahi Inspira.

Membazir itu amalan syaitan. Aku harap aku tak membazir bila beli barang basikal.
:)
 
Terima kasih kepada Dino, selaku penyampai maklumat

Saturday, April 23, 2011

16.04.2011 Marsya's Spell It Right

Marsya was among the 10 pupil chosen to represent her school for RHB-NST's Spell It Right (SIR) Challenge. The place: Danga City Mall, on a beautiful Saturday morning.
 
I sent her to school, and she went there with teachers and fellow pupils. I went back to fetch the rest of the family as they were still asleep when Marsya and I headed out earlier.
 
The competition was supposed to start at 9.00 am. I arrived there from home at about 9.30am and Wan Zaleha Radzi was still doing a mic check. Well, that's the most important thing for this kind of event. I didn't check what the time was when the emcee finally introduced her as the event anchor, but looking at my camera's timestamp, it must be after 10.00 am.
 
I'm pretty sure the audience (other than those who were nervous) were mesmerized with WZR's opening speech. She elaborated about the wonderful, weird and exciting world of the English language, before proceeding with the competition's details. Her spoken English is excellent. Being pretty is a bonus, actually. I wouldn't mind if it was Adibah Noor on that day, for I know she would fare as good, English wise.
 
There will be 9 - 10 pupil on the stage at one time for the first round, and only 1 will stand to go for the next. For that, each will go turn by turn according to their numbers. Those who failed to spell the correct word within 20 seconds would have to leave the stage (read: can already go back). Those who spelled correctly would have a go for another word if there were more than one who did so, until the last man standing, so to speak.
 
Marysa was number 049, and her turn was at 12.22pm. I could understand the nervousness and being bored at the same time, while waiting for her turn to come. Been there, done that, except for a much different setting. We used to have competitions in a school hall, or an indoor setting not really open for general public. Nowadays the large corporations behind all this decide to do it out in the open.
 
Her word that she has to spell infront of friends, strangers and the general public?
throaty
from the Concise Oxford Dictionary (10th Ed.) it means "(of voice or other sound) deep and husky"
Okay, that's not familiar to me at all.
 
She went "t, h, r, o, a, t"
Pause
Cleared her throat
"t, r, o, a, t, i"
Teeeetttt, the buzzer went off denoting the time limit.
Marsya went away from the stage.
 
Hmm...
Well, I must say that she did well amid her nervousness. Anyway, I'm sure the experience is the most valuable thing she got from the event. And I'll support her for every other such events in the future, insyaAllah.
 
All the best, Marsya.
 
More photos in here.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

bus ride

I'm longing for a bus ride.
So that I can read the whole book, uninterrupted.
Without the aircond blowing full blast, of course.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Book: Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton

 
My review for MC's novel in Goodreads
I had a 'like' yesterday morning, so I thought I'd share it in here too...
 
=====
It took me quite a while to get the momentum rolling at first. I find the book giving it's grip after more than a dozen chapters - thence I find it hard to put down, and always looking out for whatever spare time I could have to continue.

In the beginnning I was bombarded with characters who emerge, and new ones continue to be introduced, until a few chapters. Well, it goes to show that MC is crafty, and these different characters have their purposes. They play different roles, and as MC's narration to educate the reader on many aspects that he wishes to tell in this book.

This time, he tells about cannons and maritime warfare in old waters. Surprisingly, there's not much detail on piracy (or privateering). Seamanship and maritime jargon are abundant - make sure you know the terms, for there's no glossary provided.
:P
Thank goodness, having worked with a maritime project, I don't have to get a dictionary to understand the various terms.

As always, there's the plot of cunning, wit and bravery of it's main character, Charles Hunter, in his attempt of getting a considerable sum of loot while no one believed it to be possible. Of course, he's not alone doing the job. His accomplices are a team of colourful characters who complement him nicely, though at times are too good to be true.

Reading this is a reminiscent of The Great Train Robbery, a favourite of mine, and the modern day's Ocean's Eleven. Of course, this one is set on a different mode of transportation.

If Timeline introduced me to the trebuchet, greek fire and other medieval warfare, weaponry and war tactics, this one is about the same. I learnt a bit about ship cannons, sea warfare and its tactics.

Many characters are killed in this one and there are many events taking place, however I find that the descriptions are too brief, and they can be further extended, albeit they are grippy still.

Somehow I find it hard to believe that this is a complete work of MC, as reported to be found in his computer. It seems like there's something amiss; not really meaty and lacks a bit of punch. Nevertheless, it doesn't feel like it's not MC at all. For that, it is a great read. That is, when you've gone past the characters introductions.
=====

Monday, March 07, 2011

CD: Reza Salleh - Realize

I bought his six song CD, Smoke City, released a few years ago at KLPac lobby, during intermission at KL Sing Song gig. Listening to him while admiring his fingerworks on the guitar, live, was breathtaking. Unfortunately I haven't got the chance to attend his Moonshine gigs as my stint in KL was over, just as I had gotten to know about Reza Salleh.
 
As the usual about me, I get to know about news very, very late. He realized and released his latest CD in November last year. From the listing of places available to get my hands on his offering, I had to resort to online order. Available in music stores only around KL, Singapore and Thailand. Well, that makes it easy for me to decide, then.
 
I placed an order and made payment on 1st March, and received it this afternoon. 4 working days is not laju at all. Compare that with having to go to KL myself, well...
 
There are 16 tracks on the CD, 5 of which appeared previously in Smoke City(underlined), either as demo tracks or acoustic version:
kasih
stracciatella
soultune
what the hell just happened i'm not really sure
sunsets with you
a relic is what i live in
the dotted line
angan-angan permata
ocean spanning sorrow
rest & relax
for her
need
50 down the way
battery
smoke city
for her (solo acoustic)
6 tracks in Smoke City can't give me enough of Reza Salleh. Hope that the newer 10 numbers are as good, if not better (I have only had a round of listening for now, and my favourites are sunsets with you, battery - the full version music arrangement is awesome and for her - solo acoustic). However, yeah, I bet it wouldn't top his acoustic, live performances.
 
I believe so.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

36

I was pleasantly surprised this morning when I logged into my gmail and got more than 40 new messages - mostly tagged as 'facebook'. I received notifications from fb on friends' (and relatives) messages left on my Wall. Whaddaya know, friends even those whom I have not contacted for a long time wished me happy birthday.
 
To all of you, thank you very much for your wishes and do'a. May we all grow wiser and better as we age, and may our ibadah and 'amal increase as years pass.
InsyaAllah.
 
You know, it's nice to have private messages from your friends and acquaintances once in a while (okay, once a year in this case). Y'all made my day, truly. Can't thank y'all enough.
 
Shall I get a birthday present for myself?
Hmm... tempting.
 
As of now, wishes kept pouring in. Nice. I'm enjoying it.

Friday, February 25, 2011

FASTer food at McD?

Wanna get your McD meals without the hassle of standing in a line waiting for your turn to get your orders taken? Go to their drive thru whenever possible. You'll be sitting in your car, your orders are taken real quick, and best of all, you don't have to wait for long compared to standing in the line at their walk in counters.
 
After that, you may opt to stay in your car or bring the food into their premises to enjoy after you found a parking spot (free wi-fi, mind you).
 
Bonus: you get a brown bag and cup/drink holder too.
 
Neat.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Goodread's Barcode Scanner

what a cool idea
 
You're browsing for books in a shop, and you're wondering whether the titles that caught your attention are worth a read (and/or buy). You know, we always have this feeling of getting highly motivated and a heightened sense of wanting to absorb the texts of all the books surrounding us when we're in a book store. Many of my trips would always end up with me tugging a book or two and lining up the checkout counter. However, there's no way to know whether the books are as good (apart from the words of praise in the book itself, which sometimes quite suspicious to me).
 
Enter the GR's Barcode Scanner app. It's developed for iPhone, and iPod touch too. Scan the barcode of the book's ISBN and you'll get the details of the book, plus (more importantly) the reviews and rating of the book by fellow GR members. Now we have a tool to help us make better choices.
 
Click here to find out more about it.
 
If only I have an iPod (or an iPhone)...
:P

Monday, January 24, 2011

Pearl Jam's Ten Reissue

lots of stuff from four different packages
 
Coinciding with the 20th Anniversary of their Ten album, PJ released a reissue of the album on 24.03.2009. In FOUR different packages. I had the cassette back in 92 I think. And was hooked with PJ since then. They'll reissue their Vs and Vitalogy albums this year, too, according to RTT's news on 22.01.2011.
 
Being me, I don't really have all their studio albums, but I do have loads of their singles. Rare collections which I treasure (sitting quietly in a Toyogo box under a desk in my room). Adlee gave me the Vs CD which he bought while studying in the States. I bought a Vitalogy cassette thereafter, and it was all blurry after that.
 
While in Manchester, I collected those singles. I'm not sure how many I have, and I'm not gonna list them here. However, I do have the Jeremy single which also features Yellow Ledbetter.
 
Ten Reissue is in my list of the CD to get. If you find one, do tell me. Deluxe or Legacy should be fine.
 
 
image taken from here
 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Plastic Bags

tesco's green bag
 
There's a recent move by the government for supermarkets to 'sell' plastic bags on Saturdays. Well, that's the way I see it. The objective is to 'teach' consumers to limit their usage of plastic bags, and be more environmentally conscious due to the fact that plastic bags are a burden to the environment. They degrade slowly, if they do at all. Thus, on Saturdays, supermarkets would charge their customers 20 sen for each bag that they issue out.
 
However, let's look at the alternatives that are being offered by the supermarkets. No bag at all, or at 20 sen per piece, or you can buy the store's own nicely designed reusable shopping bag.
 
That's great. I myself has been reducing the use of plastic bags at supermarkets. Whenever the cashier loads the items that I bought into many different bags, separated according to types of items (food and laundry detergent, for instance, are never put in the same bag), I would try to stuff as many items that I can into as minimum number of plastic bags. I'd say the usual is about 20% of the bags issued are reduced.
 
During my days in the UK (1996-1998), Kwik Save and Aldi sells the bags at 2 pence each. That minimal 'penalty' is enough to deter people from using bags. However, paper boards and cartons were available to be reused in-store. An example of this can be seen in the film Employee of The Month.
 
Personally, for dry items, I don't need plastic bags. However, I still need plastic bags for fish especially and other wet items. Albeit, plastic bags are a little bit porous and thus need at least two linings in order to be totally drip-free. At home, I'm using plastic garbage bag for the kitchen refuse as they are almost always wet. That being said, I use only bio-degradable garbage bags.
 
Tesco and Jusco use oxo-biodegradable bags with TDPA additives from EPI. I don't know, but perhaps it costs more than the normal bags (like in Giant). The oxo-biodegradable garbage bags are comparatively more expensive than the normal ones, definintely. Well, with the 'no plastic bags' on Saturdays, they would save at least some $ for sure. And, at the same time gain $ by selling the 'eco friendly reusable bags' to customers. Of course, for this reason alone supermarkets would be giving thumbs up for the government's push. What more with the 'green' image. However, with the introduction of reusable shopping bags, my house is now finding it a bit scarce of the 'singlet' plastic bags. For a week's dry groceries, I need at least 3 of those reusable bags. And, would have no clean plastic bags to be used for wrapping my clothes and packed meals I bring to the office whenever I ride the bicycle to work.
 
My thoughts:
1. Plastic bags should be at 5 sen a piece, and they shall be of the oxo-biodegradable type. I still need them for wet items. 5 sen is still quite expensive, but that's the smallest change that we can pay. Or, it can be priced cheaper, at 3 pieces for 10 sen for example.
2. The expensive 'reusable bags' need to be scrutinised in terms of their eco-friendliness (how they are manufactured, will they biodegrade, can they be recycled, durability, etc.).
3. Supermarkets need to have the paperboard cartons made available for customers to use, in store.
4. Why only on Saturdays? Make it every day. People would just avoid shopping on Saturdays and hurt supermarkets that way.
 
Other thoughts:
 
True enough, people would generally think twice to bring their Tesco reusable bags to shop at Giant. At least I do.
 
 
image taken from the star

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bella Delivered

from left: A, B, C, D and E (tentatively)
 
Bella, the mother cat who invited herself to stay within our house compound some time ago, has delivered 5 healthy kittens 2 days ago. This is her second birth. Her first was a few months before this without any survivor among the 4 kittens.
 
Hopefully all A, B, C, D and E would survive and stay away from the warm car engine compartment, tires, and many other dangerous nooks and crannies loved by kittens all over the world.
 
Hmmm... I wonder what Marsya and Adam would eventually name them.
 
 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Boy Bawang

boy bawang!
 
My Filipino office mates (and boss, too) went back to their hometown for Christmas and New Year holidays. As always, their return to office is accompanied with tidbits from the Philippines.
 
My favourite: Boy Bawang, of course. Some may dislike it due to its garlic flavour ('bawang' means garlic in Tagalog), but I just love it.
 
Can't get enough of 'em.
 
Corn nut, on Wiki.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011