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Saturday, 30 August 2008

AUD: Negaraku Merdeka!

Yesh! It's Malaysia's National Day. A happy 51st birthday to Malaysia.

Actually, that isn't quite accurate. Malaysia was formed on 16 September 1963. The national day we celebrate is actually the independence day of Malaya, 31st August 1957. However, Malaya only includes Peninsula Malaysia, and the country is officially renamed Malaysia after Singapore, Sabah, and Sarawak merged with the Peninsula. However, it makes no sense to say happy birthday Malaya, so... *shrug*

But nope, I'm not good at history. Ask any of my classmates in secondary school, and they'll tell you the times I got humiliated in front of the whole class for failing my exams.

One thing I can do, however, is to play the piano! I've played Malaysia's national anthem, Negaraku, by ear.

I have to say I'm sorry for two things. Firstly, it is Negaraku, not Negarakuku. Secondly, I didn't have a camera with me, and could only record the audio using my MP3 player. The good thing is the massive reduction in size (less than half a megabyte!), allowing you to download it.

Care to cheer with me? OK, "merdeka", on the count of three. It's pronounced as "mer-day-car", by the way.

1... 2... 3... MERDEKA!!!

Pirates, Beware!

If you're using a pirated copy of Microsoft Windows XP Professional, of if you're not sure that you are, beware! Microsoft is checking the validity of your OS through the internet. And if you fail, your access to your computer will be limited!

Well, there's always a way around it. You can purchase a legal copy of Microsoft Windows. Doesn't have to be XP, it can be one of the many Vista packages too. Please bring with you a couple of hundreds of ringgit while you go Windows-shopping.

Oh, while you're at it, make sure you get a legal copy of Microsoft Office 2007 too. It's not too expensive, another few hundred for a student bundle which includes Word, Excel, and Powerpoint.

But then most people will have a copy of Adobe Photoshop in their computers. Seeing the fact that the price of the software is skyhigh, I think they are probably using underwater versions of it too.

Add those things with a genuine copy of Nero CD/DVD/BD burner, a valid version of Norton security suite, and original Warcraft III installer...

Oh wait, then there's the thousands of songs in your computer. Erm, how many albums do you need to buy to fully legalise them?

Wait, I think those things cost much more than a new computer.

It's just not fair. Bill Gates is already that rich and we still have to pay that much of money for that much of software. Those things aren't even edible! You can't even touch them! You can only see them but can't get to them! It's torturous! Yet we are still charged! Charged for torturing ourselves!

Erm, charged as in asked to pay, not as in sued in court.

For me I've dumped Windows on my old desktop. It's almost 5 years old anyway, and I don't do much with it other than going online, chatting, and watching TV shows. I've install Ubuntu Linux instead. It certainly feels good to use LEGALLY FREE software. Goodbye Microsoft Office! Goodbye Norton! Goodbye Photoshop! Goodbye Windows!

Anybody wants to join me?

Monday, 25 August 2008

Four Years

After 16 days of drama, the 2008 Summer Olympics has finally come to an end. For many of us it seemed rather short for a multi-billion dollar activity.

However, no one can doubt that a lot has happened during these days. There's Liu Xiang's tragic exit from the 110m hurdles. The Jamaicans also managed to zoom to glory, thrashing world records aside. Needless to say, swimmer Michael Phelps collected 8 gold medals for the 8 events he participated, in which he broke 7 world record times and another Olympic time. Not to mention the "most successful Olympian" and "most gold medals won in an Olympic" stuff.

It'll be another four years before the next Olympics. Four years may not be that long for baby boomers, but for us who are still going through the different stages of life rapidly, many things can happen within that 200 weeks. No one can deny that big changes occurred to them between each opening ceremonies of the Olympics.

Let's give some examples.

Four years from now, I'll probably own a new cellphone and computer. Much better ones too.

Four years from now, I'll have graduated, and probably have a job in hand too. Good thing, as I'm tired of two decades of spending money.

Four years from now, Malaysia will be getting ready for another general election. This is something to look forward to - nothing, even the Olympics, can be as dramatic as Malaysian politics.

Four years from now, Vista will probably be getting obsolete as Microsoft roll out new "wows". Or maybe, by then a new operating system by Microsoft will not be a wow anymore when another OS takes over Windows as the most widely used OS in the world.

And another four years after that, most of us would be involved in relationships. Or would have been.

Another four, we may have evolved from being children to parents.

And another four, from proud parents to er, parents who wish they weren't parents.

That doesn't matter. The point is, time passes by fast, doesn't it? Or rather, we grow up quickly, don't we?

So, is there more drama during the Games or between them?

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Sights, Sounds, Thoughts

You should hear me complain how noisy my hostel mates are. I'll go on ranting non-stop like politicians in Malaysia nowadays. It'll be so bad you'll wish you were deaf.

Or rather, you'd wish I was deaf. If I were deaf I wouldn't have heard anything to complain about.

I'm proud to tell you that your wish has come true.

Or at least, partially.

Yes! I've gone deaf. Partially I mean.

That night I was digging my ears merrily. Merrily because of the satisfaction one feels for seeing all those disgusting things leaving our precious ears. But all the bliss was short lived, as I accidentally pushed my earwax deeper into my right ear.

And poof! There goes all the noise from my ear, to be substituted by a constant buzz.

"Ooops!" I said to myself. I tried to dig the cotton stick a mite deeper in, but it was useless.

But that night, I slept like a log. The first time for many weeks. Of course, the endless buzz in my ear is good enough to hypnotise me any time, but the piece of stubborn earwax managed to block almost every single decibel from reaching my eardrum.

The next morning, I plugged in my right earphone to my right ear, and was surprised to find that I only received like 10% of the original volume.

The Ultimate Being has made hell paradise!

Seriously, it's not so bad being partially deaf. Many famous musicians, like Elliott Yamin, Lugwig van Beethoven, and Phil Collins had hearing impairment. And they lived with it.

Of course, I may have to ask people to repeat everything they say from time to time, but I just can't ignore all the advantages of being partially deaf due to earwax clogging.

Firstly, by clogging up just one of my ears, I can preserve my awareness to the surroundings and keeping my main mode of communication. Secondly, by making it temporary, I can always assure myself that sooner or later, I will get better. I know this because this is the third time this happen to me. Thirdly, by clogging up my right ear rather than my left, when I bang on the piano, the melody part got muffled up, reminding me to give more emphasise to my right hand rather than my left. And of course, I can expect to sleep better from now on.

So, old men go deaf because of inelastic eardrums or build up of earwax? A little of both, I'll say.

PS. - OMG, I'm suffering the same problem Beethoven faced - Tinnitus. It is described as a constant ringing in one or both ears, due to many factors, such as bla bla bla and bla bla bla and wax build-up! Gawsh, am I gonna be as famous as him? *Stares into space, and then pops back to reality* Nah I doubt it.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Am I "Cute"?

I went out for a movie with a few of my friends the other day - two men and two ladies. Two of us guys were poking fun at the other guy, and being born in the year of the snake, I showcased my ability to retaliate anything at all with pure poison. I was certainly dominating until I heard something.

One of the two girls (whom I met for the first time) pointed at me halfway through my lecture and squeaked while pointing at me "He's sooooo cute!!!!".

This expression caught me by surprised and I was immediately stunned. At that moment I felt more like a squashed worm rather than a venomous viper.

Of course, every guy would like to be called cute, hot, good-looking, handsome, sexy, and so on. And upon reaching our, er, mating ages, we are bound to come across these phrases very oftenly. But when expressions like those come at the least expected time, they can really cloud your mind!

Well, I have to admit that I am not bad looking. At times, I even surprised myself when I managed to get myself to be good-looking accidentally. Like getting my hair wet after a shower, for instance. I'm a killer with spikey hair! (Or so I think XD)

But then, I don't see why I deserved such an exaggerated compliment. I mean, what was so nice about me? My small, tired eyes covered by heavy eyelids? My pimply, spotted skin with a wild mixture of acne and facial hair? My curly, messy, oily, smelly, dandruff-y hair that never gets into order? My mouldy and nerdy-looking glasses which I wanted to get rid of for ages?

And mind you, I got that special compliment a few times that night. I couldn't even come up with a proper counter-attack for the subsequent encounters!

The only way to stop the embarrassment is to shield ourselves with a cuter guy.

This proved effective when everything turned back to normal after 2 hours of watching Pixar's new film, WALL-E.

By the way, the film is real good. Thanks Pixar for making such a good film. And for saving my neck that night!

Saturday, 9 August 2008

VID: Olympics Opening and Singapore National Anthem

Yesterday night was a historical night for China.

It is needless to mention it here, as everybody knows that it was the opening ceremony of the 29th Olympics, Beijing 2008.

I took a peek at the "most expensive extravaganza the games has ever seen" that night.

And boy, it was really elaborate!

Thousands and thousands of people were involved in it. Sometimes it was hard to make out whether it was more crowded at the spectators' stands or at the performers' stage! Well, this certainly highlighted what China can do with their 1.3 billion people before India takes over them as the country with the most population.

But that's not all - all the traditional shows, dramas, dances, and performances! With nearly 4000 years of constant growth trajectory, the Chinese is one of the oldest surviving ancient civilisations, and they surely wowed the world with merely half (2000 years) of their stories!

And wait, the fireworks! It was so spectacular! Everything else seemed to lost its shine to the wildfire spread across 29 spots in Beijing. This surely reminds us who the inventors of the fireworks were.

But hey, I'm not going to elaborate about the Olympics here. The television I watched on was horribly small, and I'm sure many of you had a much better view.

Plus, that's yesterday. Today, something else is happening. 9th of August - the National Day of Singapore!

Well, there's no reason for me to celebrate it, actually. Anyway, I played Singapore's National Anthem by ear on the piano and here it is!

While you are watching, why not hop over to my sister's photo album and take a look at photos on the rehearsal of Singapore's National Day Parade?

To all Singaporeans, happy National Day! Sorry if I didn't do it properly, I only had 1 hour's time to do it. Will do better next time!

To all non-Singaporeans, you can listen to other versions of the song in Wikipedia. These sound much nicer than mine, I tell you!

PS - if you're wondering why the video sounds so horrible, my sister was sleeping while I was playing it and I had the practice (muffling) pedal down. Sorry about that!

Friday, 8 August 2008

Gr8 D8

If I were to write an article with the title "Gr8 D8" ten years ago, many people would scratch their heads in utter bewilderment. Thanks to the advent and the widespread of cellphones today, I can happily cut my title shorter by, erm, 4 letters.

The point is, today is the eighth day of the eighth month of the year 08. Many people celebrate this great date by many actions otherwise seem mundane on other days.

For example, organisations hold mass weddings today. The number of couples participating may be restricted such that the number matches the date, such as 8, 88, 888, 8888, and so on.

Besides the parents-to-bes, I'm sure many pregnant mums will persuade their doctors to induce births today. Well, having an easy-to-remember birthday is an added advantage, I must admit.

China even decided to hold its Olympics opening ceremony today, at the eighth minute of the eighth hour. The thing is it has to be at night, which isn't logical as 8 at night is the 20th hour of the day.

Some people even squeezed their brain juices dry, creating blog entries containing a significant amount of 8s! Tsk tsk tsk...

I personally think people should not w8 to marry their m8s and seal their f8s just to have this gr8 d8 as their anniversaries. Organisations take this chance to earn extra from the marrying couples. Yeah, it's like the d8 itself is a b8, stealing pl8s of free dinner. Nor should people r8 their days with d8s of str8 numbers. It's just not fair for the other days.

Well, some of you may h8 me and get ir8 for not being str8 at cre8ing this post. Ah well, happy gr8 d8 day to all of you! See ya l8r!

Monday, 4 August 2008

VID: Feat. Owl

Well, my hope has come true. I hoped that the new labelling system will lead to new contents. And this is it!

Presenting... 周杰伦-青花瓷 feat. Owl!!! (Jay Chou - Blue Porcelain Vase).

Played on piano, using the original keys. For those who have never heard of the song before, you can find the original MTV here.

While you are listening, don't bother watching. Nothing nice to watch. Continue reading my post.

I am not a first-time play-by-ear pianist, but I wasn't a good one and tend to keep my abilities to myself. Recently, I polished my skills, sharpened my ears, flexed my fingers (or fluttered my feathers), and decided to try playing my favourite Jay Chou song by ear.

For those who don't know, playing by ear means playing a song not by reading from scores, sheets, books, etc, but by merely listening to the song beforehand.

Anyway, it took me hours of practice and improvising to gain enough confidence to er, face the music camera. I then took out my Nikon Coolpix, and started recording.

Practicing and performing - those produced very different feelings. My heart was thumping louder than the sound of the piano. OK, not literally. Why should I be so afraid of a camera? It doesn't have a brain, nor a heart, nor liver...

Anyway, this is my first "public" performance, excluding the many ABRSM piano/violin exams and also a catastrophic Chopin competition.

So, here it is, the final product after much practicing. I slipped during the bridge, but I hope it isn't that bad. I was in too much a hurry to re-record several times to get the perfect one. Hope you will enjoy it though. Please leave comment(s) about it.

I can sense my piano teacher leaving comments like "Curve your fingers!" "Louder melody!" "Sit further away from the piano!" "Your pedalling is terrible!" "Expressions!".

PS - I nearly forgot about Singapore's National Day! I will try play the National Anthem, "Majulah Singapura" this weekend. An early happy birthday to Singapore.

PPS (9.8.08) - Argh... The piano is occupied during the only time I'm free enough to play it! Looks like the Singapore National Anthem has to wait until next year... Dammit why do I have to make myself so busy until I only have 2 hours per week with the piano?

Friday, 1 August 2008


None of you probably noticed, but the labels went missing some weeks ago. I decided that my topic distribution was made too unevenly among the numerous labels, leading to many posts under "Tech" and "Others" and only a few under "For the Country".

Tsk tsk tsk... Boys today won't fight for their countries.

Well anyway, the labels are back. I gave my labels an overhaul. Posts are now divided onto fewer categories, and although they are still of different sizes, I assure you that none will be dummies for long periods of time.

The categories are:
1. Sights - Sounds - Thoughts
My primary focus of this blog. What I see, what I hear, and what I wonder. Hoot if you think differently.
2. Growing Up
The pains and gains of entering adulthood. I sense a new category "Growing Old" coming up in a little over a decade's time.
3. Tech
Spellbooks, magic wands, unicorns, and ancient castles.
4. About Owl
I usually focus on other things, it's time for other things to focus on me!
5. Other Owls
Miscellaneous hoots.

I hope these new changes will lead to newer contents, what about you?