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Monday, 28 July 2008

Science for Seven-Year-Olds

I recently heard a boy asking the following question.

"Do you know what gravity is?"

The older girl he was asking answered no, and he went into a long rant of explanation, describing the invisible force causing everything to drop clunking onto the floors.

It is no wonder science so frequently fails to appeal to youngsters nowadays, as compared to games and TV shows and iPhones.

Learning Science in primary school is good. School children get to observe the surroundings more and learn to appreciate all the things that make the world go round (for all the 'lil uns, that's the Earth's rotation). Learning Science and Mathematics in English is even better. You don't understand the pain of having to memorise the periodic table in Chinese and Malay before converting to English.

However, I personally don't see the point of feeding an 8-year-old with the knowledge of phantom forces. I mean, what's the use of such knowledge to them? So that they can blame gravity when they drop something (just like one of my friends)? Or stop pretending to act like Superman (or Batman, whatever) jumping off the desks?

In my opinion, they should be taught more realistic stuff that prove useful to them, and, at the same time, interesting enough to keep them glued to the encyclopaedias for the rest of their lives. Nutritions, for example, is surely useful, seeing the fact that most children are picky (including my own sister) when it comes to food. Or maybe the fact that the universe is such a gigantic place will stop them from bickering over small matters.

That's sort of ironic, actually. I was a curious boy (who wasn't?) and knew quite a lot about science from all the children's encyclopaedias featuring Mickey Mouse and Goofy. I've heard of numerous theories for the extinction of dinosaurs, how spiders cling on to the walls, how planes stay up, and also knew that it is possible to fry an egg on a rock under the midday sun. Now, how useful were those knowledge to me? Even the present day me can't make good use of those things. I mean, unless prices of gas skyrocket to, say, $150 per barrel drop, I won't be frying eggs under the hot sun for quite some time.

Anyway, it seems like children are getting smarter nowadays. It's no wonder the primary schools have problem recruiting teachers recently.

Saturday, 19 July 2008


I didn't quite quite realised this, and I was very surprised it took me two whole years for me to notice it.

The thing is, I think, for the rest of my life, I will not spend much time at home anymore.

I mean, since I joined college, I spend 6 days a week at school.

And of the one day I stay at what I called "home", I spend over 8 hours sleeping, few hours learning Chinese calligraphy, some time for my meals, a bit more for my weekly laundry, packing...

And oh! It's time to go to school.

See what I mean?

Well, after graduation, I don't expect myself to spend a whole year rotting at "home". Maybe I'll take a month's holiday, then I'll probably pack my stuff and leave for good. I mean, as an Electrical or Electronic Engineer, I don't expect to get the jobs I want in Klang. AMD has labs in Singapore and factories in Penang, that may be a good deal for me. Or maybe I can pursue my passion for railway transits, again, not in Klang.

Anyway, you get my point. I think that's growing up. Sooner or later we'll leave home for good. It's good I get to start small, leave home for few days for a week. I've heard of some people crying their eyeballs out of their sockets after being sent to a university in Mars East Malaysia.

For those who are not used to the sudden change, suit yourselves - change is in the must-list of growing up.

Are you sure you shouldn't stop calling that place "home"?

Sunday, 13 July 2008

How's Firefox 3 Coming Along?

It's been quite some time since Mozilla Firefox 3 came out.

So what do you think of the new browser? Discovered any new features yet?

Well, the first thing I've noticed is that the installer has shrunk in size. A mere 8MB for an amazing browser! That's an amazing feat. This probably means it will take up less computer resources too.

But who cares about backend changes? Nobody gives a damn about what they don't see. What they care are the things that matter.

So far I've only uncovered few important changes.

1. The address bar

Firefox's address bar gets smart! Instead of typing the URL of a website, a user can enter a keyword from the URL or the title of the website, and a list of sites will appear, with the related keywords are bolded and underlined.The sites include bookmarks and history. Bookmarks are denoted with cute yellow stars to their right. This is real handy, as it is easier to remember the title of a website rather than its URL.

Search as you type, smart address bar!

You can now delete entries from the address bar's dropdown list too. To delete an entry, mouse over the entry. The entry will be highlighted. Then, press the delete button on your keyboard. Now you see it, now you don't!

2. Better drag and drop

OK, you're browsing Wikipedia. Or Owl Order, whichever you prefer. You stumble across an adorable picture. How often does that happen when you browse Owl Order? Well, anyway, what do you do next? You right click on it, and then choose "Save Image As...", choose your destination directory, click "Save", watch the download manager finish the download, go to the destination to make sure it's there, clean up the download manager, and close the download manager.

Wait. That's the past. Now, it's different.

Now, all you have to do is just to click and hold on to the picture, and drag it into a certain location, be it a folder somewhere in your computer, desktop, or even your messenger to send it directly to your friend.

Dragging an image to the desktop. A translucent copy of the image will follow your cursor. Pardon me, the cursor wasn't captured in the screenshot.

And voila! The image will be sent instantly to the location. Try it and believe it!

Any other new tricks? Please share them with me. Thanks in advance!

Saturday, 12 July 2008

What Motivates You to Study

For a motivating story (or what I hope it is), please read "Second Chance?".

I've been wondering - what motivates you to study?

I can recall my mum years ago. Her and her empty promises.

"If you get 8As for your exam, I'll get you xxx."

"If you get at least 95% for your mathematics, you can have your yyy."

"If your average score is at least 90%, you get to choose between abc and xyz."

Yeah well, mums are good at those stuff. They promise a reward if you do well, and if you don't, they'll give you a big talk. If you do, they'll push the reward for another year. And another. And another. Until you're too old and matured to ask for anything from your mum anymore.

Or too smart to believe in those promises anymore.

I have to say, it's one of the ways to motivate children to study. I wonder what type of rewards parents promise their children nowadays? PSP? Cellphone?

Anyway, we're all young adults now, and we certainly don't rely on those to motivate us to study anymore. So, all geniuses and four-flats and scholars out there, I just want to know - what motivates you to study so hard?

Is it because girls like educated guys? (Or guys like educated girls, whatever.) I can imagine a teenager, sitting with his/her chin resting on his/her palm, staring into space... "... smart... rich... cute... just the type for me."

Or is it because you want to be rich in the future? Seriously, no matter how much money you can earn, I bet your Mercedes Benz (or BMW, whichever you prefer) will still burn petrol faster.

Or is it because you like to see the looooonnng list of 'A's in your result slip? Or if you don't see the 'A's you will go, like, "aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh!!!!"?

Or maybe because you want to get a scholarship, so that you can further your studies to get another scholarship, so that you can even further your studies...?

The thing is, the end of our education is near. Motivated or not, just give yourselves the final push, graduate with flying colours, get a real nice job. And hopefully you won't look back and regret what you do.

For all STPM leavers and university newbies, like it or not, enjoy your final days studying. If you've been arranged to a lousy university or terrible course, then you'll have to change them, or change yourself.

So why are you still here reading my blog? Go sprint to the finishing line!

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

"The Lesser You Know, The Better"

I didn't agree with the saying.

I mean, knowledge is limitless. It doesn't hurt to know more, right? An extra scoop of information is always useful. As some people put it, two is better than one, and one is better than none.

For this reason, consumers will always try to get as much information about the products they are reviewing before actually forking out a sum of money (small or large) from their wallets/purses/credit cards.

I still remember the time mum was buying our third computer. She was so anxious about the computer she asked quite a number of questions about it.

"What is the power rating of the speakers? 60W?"

"Does the mouse has a scroll-wheel?"

"Is the mouse an optical mouse?"

At times I couldn't help rolling my eyes upon hearing those questions. I pity the computer guy, having to answer so many questions to a middle age woman, who knows nuts about computer.

Well, at least that's better than a case like this.

Customer: A Fillet-O-Fish McValue Meal, please.
Cashier: OK, regular, or large?
Customer: Um, what are the differences?
Cashier: Well, large is er, larger, and it costs RM1 to upgrade from a regular meal to large.
Customer: How much larger?
Cashier: The burger is the same, but you get a large box of fries and bottomless soft drink.
Customer: How large are the fries? What is the net weight?
Cashier: Uh...
Customer: What about the Fillet? What is used to made the buns? Is it white or whole meal? Is it Omega-3 enriched? Does it have sesame seeds?
Cashier: ...
Customer: And the fish fillet? How big exactly is it? What fish is it made from? Where was it caught? Was it contaminated with mercury? How long was it cooked? Was it fried, steamed, or baked? How do you...

'Fast'-food, indeed.

Yet, if you know too much, it can be bad too.

I still remember how easy buying a computer was. I didn't even have to say what I want. I just need to state my budget.

"RM2500, please." And I expect them to recommend the best machine within my price range.

Today, however, there are much more to think about before buying a laptop.

Brand? Processor? Dual core? 32-bit? 64-bit? L2 cache? Nanometre scale? Intel? AMD? RAM? RAM frequency? SDRAM? DDR SDRAM? DDR2 SDRAM? FSB? HDD? Hybrid Drive? OS? Vista? XP? Mac? Linux? Graphics Card? nVIDIA? ATI? GPU frequency? Pipelines? GPU dedicated RAM? DDR3 SDRAM? 256-bit? 128-bit? 64-bit? TFT screen? XGA? WXGA? Refresh rate? Maximum resolution? Wi-Fi? Bluetooth? Infrared? Giganet? Ethernet? Modem? USB2.0? IEEE1394? DVI? RGB? Serial? 3.5mm audio jack? Dolby Digital Surround? CD? CD-R? CD-RW? DVD? DVD-R? DVD+R? DVD-RW? DVD+RW? DVD-RAM? BD? BD-R? BD-RE? Webcam? Webcam resolution? Microphone? Card reader? Battery? Battery life? Battery stability? Price?

Oh, goodness. It takes longer to answer the questions than to wear out a laptop. So you've got to start planning for your next next laptop now.

The thing is I'm thinking of getting a new phone. I'm currently trying to answer a lot of questions too.

Brand? Processor? RAM? OS? Windows Mobile? Linux? Non-smartphone? PDA? Screen size? Screen resolutiion? VGA? XVGA? Touch screen? Multi touch screen? Stylus? Anti touch screen? Glossy screen? Transreflective screen? 64k colours? 256k colours? 16M colours? Triband? Quadband? GSM? HSCSD? GPRS? EDGE? 3G? 3.5G? HSDPA? HSUPA? 3.6Mbps? 7.2Mbps? Wi-Fi? Bluetooth? Bluetooth 2.0? Bluetooth with AD2P? Infrared? USB? USB2.0? USB charging? TV-out port? Dual-sim?

*Takes deep breath*

Camera? Megapixel ratings? Flash? Xenon flash? Video flash? Autofocus? Camera lens cover? Focal length? Optical zoom? Dedicated camera keys? Video quality? Video fps? Video resolution? Second video call camera? Available on board memory? M2 slot? MicroSD slot? MicroSDHC? Maximum capable memory? Multi-tap buttons? Full QWERTY keyboard? Joystick? D-pad? Buttons layout? Buttons tactile feedback? Metal? Plastic? GPS? A-GPS? Geo-tagging? Ambient light sensor? 3D video processor?

*Pant, pant*

Candybar? Swivel? Slide? Flip? Size? Weight? Audio quality? Audio formats supported? WAV? MP3? Ogg Vorbis? WMA? 3.5mm audio jack? Dedicated audio keys? Audio player? FM tuner? RDS? Maximum storable stations? FM transmitter? Transmitter strength? Polyphonic ringtones? Videos? Phonebook size? Calendar? Java? Multiple alarm clock? Screensaver? Browser? Accelerometer? Auto UI rotate? Battery life? Charging time?

*Wheeze... wheeze...*

Pr... pr... price?


Hmmm. So, the Fillet-O-Fish is made of which fish again? The lesser I know, the better? You're probably right.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Typical Boys, Typical Girls

I guess I've been hooting too much. I just don't understand the typical men anymore.

I just can't get it - why do typical boys like blasting music so much? Spend hundreds or even thousands of ringgit on speakers and woofers which consumers megaJoules of energy per hour. Then they turn the knob to the upper limit, causing all the noise to echo off the vibrating walls, tilting any hung ornaments, rippling water, dropping bits of paint...

What a nice stimulation of the recent Sichuan Earthquake.

I mean, how do they see joy in tearing their eardrums and paying all the extra electricity bills? Oh, and also fixing the paint, straightening the tilted ornaments...

I recently read from an article that the US army is actually blasting rock music at bone-crushing volume on Iraqi hostages.

Typical boys must envy them a lot. No, not the army. The hostages. Loud rock, minus the bill.

Well, I don't understand the girls too. That's not a big deal, seeing that I don't understand boys to start with. Mums should present their sons with an encyclopaedic version of "1000 Things You Need To Know About Girls" on their 18th birthdays.

Not the mums' 18th birthdays. The boys' 18th birthdays. Well, not much difference anyway, I don't remember encountering any 18-year-old mums.

Anyway, why are the girls so after fashion? I mean, they spend so much money on shoes, socks, stockings, shirts, skirts, slippers, skin, shades, specs, s...

OK, I can't find anything else that starts with the letter 's'. Anyway, there are countless girls who spend hundreds of bucks and hundreds of minutes in a salon, only to come out looking identical to their own selves before going in.

Here's a common conversation.

Girl: Hey, darling, do you notice anything different with me?
Boy: Uh, no.
Girl: Look closely!
Boy: Um, new earrings? Nice!
Girl: I got those two months ago...
Boy: Oh.
Girl: What do you think of my hair?
Boy: They look messy. You got chased by a dog just now?

Conversations like this usually end up with the girl slapping the guy, and of course, those two never speak to each other again for the rest of their lives.

I walk a lot, and own a total of two pairs of shoes and two pairs of slippers. I thought that's a lot, until I found out that some people own two closet full of shoes and another two full of slippers. And I haven't started on high heels yet.

What do they do with so many pairs of footwear? I broke one of my slippers recently, and was wondering what I should do about the pair. Throw them away? Donate them? Exhibit them? Feed them to the dogs?

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Healthy for 4 Years?

A lot of people fell sick these few weeks.

Unfortunately that included me. In fact, I was one of the first ones to catch the trend.

No thanks to my birthday. I was treated exactly one month ago with all sorts of mouth-watering junk food, including cookies, chocolate, chocolate cookies, and cookie chocolate. Hey, don't be sorry. I enjoyed the food. Give me more next year, will you?

Well anyway, after wheezing for over one week, mum decided that enough is enough. She dragged me all the way to the polyclinic I hadn't visited in years. I stood by the counter, wondering if my records were still kept in their cabinets. The receptionist stared at me. After some hesitation, I muttered my name to her. She went to a cabinet and, with a bit of ruffling and much to my surprise, removed a blue card and told me to wait for my turn.

Upon entering the exam room, the doctor scanned the card, and informed me that it had been four years since my last visit.

"Very good! Keep yourself healthy!"

With that, I felt a slight twinge of guilt. For the past two years, I have certainly improved my stamina considerably, however I also fell sick a number of times.

I still remember having to endure with the dizziness, headache, thirst, and a constantly full bladder my first day in KTAR. Thank goodness the fever wore away few days after that.

Then the other time, I fell sick again but visited a different clinic. In fact, I can recall skipping a one-hour-lecture because I was dizzy, and felt bad about it. I felt so guilty that skipping the class actually made me worse.

And not to mention the various appointments with my dermatologist. I have had various skin diseases, from the most common acne to the most horrible rashes, from time to time. It is not uncommon to see me scratching myself like a wild baboon.

Back to present...

"OK, you're done. Keep up the good work!"

I grinned and left the room. Few minutes later, I left with some medication which is supposed to, well, make me perfectly healthy. Again.

Political War Wages On

I still can't get it. How can anybody still sit down on the couch, stay up to well past midnight, get a bottle of beer (or maybe a bowl of popcorns), and cheer on the EURO 2008? I mean, it doesn't really matter who wins the match, right?

I mean, after all, football (or sucker socker soccer) is just a game. Nobody will give a damn to those silly games with so many things to worry about.

Don't you know? Oil prices have skyrocketed to US$140 per barrel. In fact, a new electricity tariff has been implemented lately. If prices keep going up, sooner or later every milliwatt of electricity and every drop of oil will cost us each an arm and a leg. Yeah well, you can still watch football with just one leg, you only need two to play it.

Don't you know? The US Dollar is seriously weakened. This means that the buying power of the States will be diminished. And this will seriously devastate the income of various Asian countries, including Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. With Asian countries going poorer, OK, maybe we really need two arms and two legs to watch football.

Don't you know? The political chaos that picked up after the March general elections hasn't died down yet. In fact, it just got stronger. Anwar Ibrahim plans to take over the government by means of defecting lawmakers from Barisan Nasional (BN). And he doesn't need too many of them to be successful. After all, Pakatan Rakyat snatched over one third of the parliamentary seats months ago.

Don't worry, regardless of who our leaders are, I'm sure none of them will ban you from watching football matches. Maybe PAS will ban beer drinking and ball-betting, though.

Instead of chasing after the ball, why not witness the battle in the Malaysian Arena of Politics (MAP)?

The Deputy Prime Minister is under a lot of stress these few days. Raja Petra Kamarudin recently claimeded that his wife was present during the murder of the Mongolian beauty Altantuya Shaariibuu (why the extra vowels?). If this is true, BN will be smashed to pulp.

Anwar Ibrahim, on the other hand, has been accused of sodomy by a 23-year-old man. What's interesting about this man is that he was a volunteer at Anwar's office during the elections, he left the post a day before accusing his employer ex-employer, and that he is an employee of the government. Another interesting note is that Anwar had been wrongly accused of sodomy ten years ago.

Of course, not to mention the call by SAPP to vote against the PM. This betrayal on the leader of BN is unforgivable. At happier times, BN would happily fire SAPP from the coalition. However, doing so now will cause BN to lose three more parliamentary seats.

I also sympathise the Penangites. With the Penang Second Bridged being delayed again and again, the Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) and the Penang Monorail has been taken off the 9th Malaysian Plan. Is this an attempt by BN to sabotage the opposition party DAP or to punish Penangites for refusing to show support for BN?

As you can see, the political war is raging on. This is the war that will affect our lives. Why should we bother which goal the silly black-and-white ball enters halfway across the globe?

By the way, who won EURO 2008?