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Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Summer in Pangkor

I shifted out of my old room in Edusquare some two weeks ago.

Actually I'm still spending my weekdays in school. I shifted out of Edusquare mainly for security reasons. I've lost count of the number of times robbery occured in Edusquare. There was even a case in my house, and my room was freaking 5 metres from the guardhouse.

So I shifted into the on-campus accommodation. The on-campus accommodation are spread across five halls, all named after islands in Malaysia. Great! Now I get to spend my summer vacation in one of Malaysia's famous islands.

Before even my room was confirmed, I was told that the room I requested was only available in Pangkor. Pangkor is one of the two newer halls, the other one being Kapas. The downside is that it is slightly further away from the rest of the school.

16th June. I checked in to my room. It was located on the ground floor, a luxury I never had the chance to enjoy before this.

It was sort of like a 5-room apartment. I took a look at my room, and was instantly satisfied with it. Few minutes after checking in, I already had my phone charger and laptop adapter set up properly.

I was given quite a number of keys. One for the apartment door, one for my room door, one for my closet, one for my bedside table, and another one which failed to open anything I could find. I'm keeping the last key. Maybe it'll turn out to be the Magical Key to El Dorado or something.

There are three more rusty and broken keys. I threw them away instantly after snapping this picture.

The down side of the new room is that I have to used shared toilets. We get to share 2 shower cubicles and 2 toilet cubicles among the five of us. Don't get me wrong - I have absolutely no problem with sharing cubicles. The problem is that the cubicles are so insanely tiny that I couldn't even swing my hair in one, much lesser of a cat.

And remember how short my hair is?

When I was in Edusquare, a burger stall was just a-minute walk away from my room.

Now, in Pangkor, I get the sports complex instead. Are dumbbells edible?

Yet another minute away is the university cafeteria. In the summer holidays, there's even more to eat at the sports complex than at the cafe.

One serious problem with the on-campus accommodation is the kitchen. Each kitchen is shared by over 20 students.

Imagine how the fridge looks like.

But too bad this is not my imagination. It's reality. Click on the picture to see an even bigger and more disgusting picture.

You could even see ants in the fridge. I don't understand. Who on earth eats ants? Why do they need to be stored in the fridge?

The black dots are actually ants. Pardon my XPERIA camera. You should be glad you can't see them clearly by the way.

One thing's for sure - opening the fridge is enough to change your appetite. The other way.

One change I'm glad of is that shifting room forced me to clean up my room after the exam mess.

My old room was this...

... and I packed away my stuff into bags like these...

... and one day later, my room looked like this.

And of course, my new room was totally tidy when I shifted in.

However, two weeks later, today, it looks like this...

Looks like I could use another room-shifting again.


Saturday, 27 June 2009

Cheap Chips

I've always loved potato chips. I used to eat a can of Pringles weekly with my sisters. They're unhealthy and nutritionally worthless, yet they're so addictive and irresistibly delicious.

I was referring to the chips there, not my sisters.

Anyway, I no longer indulge in that much potato chips. Nowadays my life is filled with a different kind of chip instead.

Electronic chips.

It didn't take me too long to realise that electronic chips can be addictive too.

I spent much of last semester programming a PIC microcontroller, and had quite a lot of fun while doing it. I managed to program it to read the room temperature, control speed and direction of the motor, read the motor speed, and display the temperature and the speed on a cute small display.

So I signed up for a similar job for my summer, hoping to fill my holidays learning something new while playing with something I like.

I was given this small circuit containing two chips some time ago. It is called the 5DoF IMU (5-degree-of-freedom Inertia Measurement Unit) by its manufacturer.

How small is it? Well, see for yourself.

One of the first things I learnt while taking this job is that the chips aren't cheap at all. For example, the microcontroller board I'm using costs 60USD. Yeah, that's over RM200.

If you think that's expensive, try checking out how much the 5DoF IMU costs. Keep in mind that we're talking about a small sensor board the size of my thumb here.

Oh boy I sure hope I don't burn that IMU.

I think I prefer potato chips. Someone remind me again the reasons I chose to become an electronic engineer!

Sunday, 21 June 2009

What Do You Do...

1. ... when you have trouble falling asleep?

I used to
- read storybooks
- sing to myself, or listen to music
- abandon sleep altogether
I now
- take out my phone and play some games

2. ... when it rains and you're stuck at school?

I used to
- wait pointlessly for the rain to cease
- rush back home, get drenched, and risk getting sick (on the bright side, you get MCs)
I now
- take out my phone, connect it to the school WiFi network, and browse the net

3. ... when you are stuck in the middle of nowhere (i.e. KL Sentral) with nothing to do for the next 2 hours?

I used to
- grab my mp3 player and hope it has enough juice to last for the 2 hours
- walk around the complex, buying some snacks, checking out stuff, watching TV...
I now
- take out my phone and read an eBook

4. ... when you're standing aimlessly in the train, hoping the journey to end soon?

I used to
- play Rubik's cube
- stare blankly into space
I now
- plug a headset to my phone, blast music to my ears, and shake my body to the beat

5. ... with your hands in your toilet, while your behind is faithfully making chocolate cake?

I used to
- grunt
- plan my next meal (surely nothing with chocolate)
I now
- play Uno or Bejeweled on my phone

I think I'm addicted to my phone. Damn.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Goodbye Edusquare

Nine months ago, I checked in to TTS5/2 (AKA Edusquare). I got a nice corner room upstairs, which is a bit hot in the evening (when the sun shone in directly through the windows), but it has a nice view at any time of the day. The roof downstairs extended just directly below my window, and I immediately dreamt of crawling out of the window, lying there on the roof at night, staring at the stars. I would soon realise the stupidity of this idea - the guardhouse was just barely 6 metres away, and I hate to think what they would do if they see me climbing through my window in the middle of the night.

My room, September 2008.

The room seemed perfect to me and I found myself loving the place more than I expected. Maybe because it marks the turning point of my life - entering university. Maybe because I enjoyed the company of 13 housemates who are so different from my KTAR ones. Or maybe it's just because I spent 6 days a week there for the past year.

I take the stairs so oftenly I couldn't even count the number of times I use it in a day. I even noticed that there are an odd number of stairs (19, I think), so I always step on the bottom most one before taking them two at the time, so my final step would land on the top floor.

Soon, the place became more homely than I could ever call my house in Klang.

Upstairs, September 2008.

For the past 9 months, I did many things in my little room. I clogged up my toilet boil. Not once, but twice.

That little room was where I did the three things I never thought I'd do.

I even witnessed the walls surrounding the house grow by more than a foot some time ago.

The conference table where the few of us sat and discussed serious matters, like why Char Siew Pau cried in the movies but Man Tou didn't.

Time passed by, and things must change. Some noticeable changes of the house include the amount of notices that accumulated over the months.

Click on the image for a bigger shot.

Light bulbs popped. By the time I finished my second exam, all but three light bulbs of the common area upstairs were broken.

Of the many ornaments we already had (our house was used as a showhouse before we shifted in), we still managed to get one more.

The Chinese Calligraphy writing in the living room, written by me some two or three months ago. Missed focus here (got the couch instead!), but I still thought this picture looked a bit modernistic.

I wrote the four words for my dreaded subject Malaysian Studies some two or three months ago as part of a group assignment. It isn't my best work, but it definitely is one of my favourites because of the unforgettable experience of producing it.

As time went by, my room got messier.

My room, 15th June 2009.

But other than these things, many others stay the same.

We took care of the house well. Our place was simply one of the cleanest (male) houses in Edusquare.

How bad can the other houses be? Well, let's just say my friends are surprised we still have both of our TV sets - theirs were stolen long time ago. We don't use the TV though. Reception was poor, and I tried to hook it up to my laptop with no success.

The living room upstairs, September 2008.

The living room upstairs, 15th June 2009.

Anyhow, sooner or later, we'll have to go. The truth of having to leave never really set in until the accommodation office called me last Friday to arrange for a checkout appointment.

Suddenly I realised that I had to say goodbye to my room. Suddenly I realised that the house would be nothing but memory to me in a few days' time. Suddenly I realised how much I've bonded with my room.

My bed and my stuff beside it.

Being the type of guy who doesn't get touched by movies, I didn't expect myself to gave in to my emotions so easily. I took my time packing up my things on Monday, hoping to delay my goodbyes.

There was the colourful curtains, which served so well as the backdrop of so many of my photos, the most notable one being my Facebook profile picture.

My table - the curtains posed for the photo before our goodbyes.

That night, I brushed my teeth and was off to bed for my last night in Edusquare. After switching off the lights, I noticed the cloudless night sky outside, filled with twinkling stars.

I toughened myself up and crawled out of the window. It felt smaller than I anticipated. I laid my feet on the cold porcelain roof tiles, made sure they're strong enough to support my weight, and lied down.

It wasn't as good as I imagined.

The streetlights were too bright, and I couldn't see the stars as clearly as I hoped. The roof tiles were hard and uncomfortable. The occasional appearances of traffic were noisy and annoying.

Few minutes later I crawled back in and went to bed.

The next day, I had everything packed away and looked around my room.

That's everything I had in my old room.

The room was irrecognisable. Blank, still, quiet and cold.

And it looked exactly the same when I checked in 9 months ago. Everything was gone. Evaporated. The soul. The liveliness. Everything. It's like your best friend had an amnesia or something.

Nevertheless, when I carried the last of my bags out of my room, I couldn't help but stole one last look of my room.

I'm not going to forget this last peek of my room so soon. Coincidentally, this shot turns out to be my favourite among the pictures of my room. Ex-room.

I heaved a heavy sigh, and moved on. That last peek of my room I'm certainly not going to forget so soon.

Goodbye, Edusquare. May the next batch of occupants take good care of you.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Summer Holidays

My first ever summer holidays have just started. Stretching a full 4-month duration, it will be the second longest holiday I ever remember, after my 6-month-post-SPM holidays.

I was so damn excited about my summer holidays that I peed everytime I thought of it. Months before the start of my holidays, I've already made fantasies on how to spend it. Unfortunately, things have been going extremely wrong for me from day 1.

1. Movies

Summertime is when every major film distributor roll out their blockbusters. Angels & Demons, Transformers, Harry Potter, Terminator, Night at the Museum are just a few of the few highly anticipated hits coming out before September 09.

So choosing a movie to watch is not a problem. It didn't take long enough for me to realise that trying to get friends to watch with you is even harder. It took me days to settle on a controversial outing with four of my friends, all of whom are still enjoying their holidays. I woke up 7am in the morning ON A SUNDAY just so I could celebrate my birthday with my college friends. I spend an average of 15 hours a week at home, hoping my friends will make it worthwhile.

However, right now, I don't think I wanna do those too often.


2. Vacation!!!

A lot of my friends are spending this summer overseas! One of my classmates was actually "country-hopping" across few countries in South East Asia, terminating at Bali. Some have gone to UK, some to the US, some planning to go Australia. Nothing but endless bliss. Until September that is.

Or until WHO decided to raise the pandemic level to 6. Dozens of People are getting the H1N1 virus from Melbourne as a souvenir, it seems. And they get a full 10 days with their beloved souvenir after touching down in Malaysia.



3. Computer G4M35!!!

Well don't tell me I can get H1N1 by sitting in front of my computer. With my beloved computer, I can play all sorts of addictive games of any type. MMORPG, online flash games, Facebook games...

Oops!!! Disconnected!!! If anybody's more efficient at controlling my gaming habit than my mum, it's TMnet. And they've done it again.



4. Industrial Training

I need to do it to graduate with MEng. At least I get to keep my bored and rotting brain active. Dammit, hitting the age of 20, I can almost feel my brain decaying by the minute. I gladly sent out more than 20 applications for an internship position.

No one replied me for five whole months.

Stupid economy Crysis crisis.


So what am I doing now? I'm learning moral. I'm learning philosophy. I'm learning ethics. I'm learning religions.

My oh my, what a summer.

Wishing everybody a very happy summer break.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

How I Got My X1

About one month ago, I bought a new mobile phone (I'm still not comfortable calling it a phone, by the way), the Sony Ericsson Xperia X1.

My Sony Ericsson X1.

The X1 is a first for Sony Ericsson in many ways. It is the first globally released Sony Ericsson phone to
1. run Windows Mobile (although this may actually be a negative point)
2. have a screen larger than 2.6" (P1i was the SE phone with the biggest screen at 2.6")
3. be able to capture VGA (640 x 480 pixels) videos (yet-to-be-released SE Satio will the the second)
4. utilise the more widely accepted standards of microSD, 3.5mm audio jack, and miniUSB (SE phones usually employ Fast Port and m2 memory cards)
5. sport a astonishingly high capacity battery of 1500mAh (still the largest in market)
6. employ the ingenious arc slider design

The phone, the phone package, the microSD package (package only!), and invisible shield package.

If you expect such a phone to be expensive, you're right. A new original set of the X1 will cost you about RM2500 (actually there are people selling new original sets at about RM2000 online). You can always opt for the so called "Authorised Products", AP sets, at about RM1900 each.

I've actually been saving for two years to get a new phone. Money doesn't come easily for students. But after spending RM800 for my Chinese Calligraphy exhibition, you can hardly expect me to willingly spend RM2500 for a new phone.

Newspaper article about my exhibition in February.

So how did I get RM2500 for a phone? Well, I didn't - I visited Lowyat.Net (LYN) instead.

Sometime after my first paper, I went to LYN for a visit. My friend just got a second-hand first generation iPhone for RM1000 from someone there, and I thought it was a bloody good deal. So I went to the marketplace, typed in "Xperia", and hit Enter.

After some reading (and a failed dealing attempt), I came across this thread started by someone called Adel'le. Quickly and enthusiastically, I gave Adel'le a message. We ended up messaging each other (and a phone call or two) for the next 12 hours, and we struck a deal.

I would purchase the three-week-old original Sony Ericsson X1, without the microSD card, for RM1700.

The bundled 1GB microSD comes with original Hancock movie. Since our deal didn't include the memory card, I only get the package, but not the microSD card.

Reasonably good deal, isn't it? About RM400 cheaper than the cheapest new set you can get online.

Sony Ericsson X1 comes with Panels. Panels are different types of home screens to fit different needs.

I went home the next day to get my cash (I don't keep that much cash in school) before meeting with Adel'le. I had dinner with my family and I told my mum about it. My mum had always been pessimistic about online trading (I'm not very sure if she's gotten over that yet) and immediately started to worry about online scams and kidnappings and threats and such.

"Who are you going with?" she demanded.

"Er, no one?"

Even the package itself is presented in three boxes, to remind customers of Panels functionality.

In the end, she insisted on witnessing the trade with her own eyes. I reluctantly agreed on this, and we set off for Subang Jaya KTM station. I don't understand why I chose that location, seeing the fact that I hate KTM so much.

We arrived at the trading spot some 10 minutes late (I'm so sorry, Adel'le!) and was greeted by a gorgeous looking lady (and her boyfriend). Don't ask me how good looking she is, I only had my attention on the X1. Meanwhile, mum stood some 10 metres away, watching us.

Even the user manual is split to multiple booklets. OK OK, enough of Panels already!

I toyed with the X1 (with trembling hands) for the next, what, 20 minutes? After I declare it to be in superb condition, I paid Adel'le the amount of money we agreed on, and we left.

Adel'le even left me her business card. Apparently she works at Ericsson. The name written on her card isn't Adel'le, by the way. Can I be your intern next year? XD

That was not the last I heard from Adel'le, though.

The very same week, I received a message from her, telling me she still had her X1 warranty card with her, asking for ways to pass it to me. I was glad I bumped into such an honest and dedicated trader in my very first online trade. Two days later, a courier service left a message for me in my mailbox, asking me to claim a package at the post office.

Quite some similarities, eh? No, you don't see my reflection on the screen of the phone =P.

It has been one month now, and I've pushed my phone to the limit repeatedly. I flashed (format) it at least 10 times, installed programs to tweak the registry, reset it countless times, and installed quite a number of utilities and programs.

And my X1 is still working great. I have several grudges, but none of them are related to it being second hand at all.

Will I trade online again? Well, most probably yes. But not that soon, I guess.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Spending My 20th Birthday

How I would like to spend my birthday

1. Oo oo ooo!!! (I sound like a gorilla...) I'd like to go to a shopping mall with my buddies, watch an early morning movie, then go out for lunch, then go bookstore for some reading, then go out for dinner, then go for late night movie, then...

2. Eh! Or I can go travel somewhere with my friends or family! I mean, it's my summer break after all! Genting, I've never been there before! Actually I have, but that was a half-day-trip. I've never celebrated my birthday in Singapore before! I'd be nice to see my relatives there for a change too! Or I can go to a beach, banana-boating, diving, swimming, getting drowned...

3. Or I can just grab my sister and we lay around at home, doing absolutely nothing! Well, not exactly nothing, we can bang around on the piano, relax, sleep, relax, play games, relax, watch TV shows, relax, eat Pringles, relax...

How I Didn't Expect My Birthday to End Up

1. Spending my 9am to 3pm in class (in the middle of my summer break). If I'm studying something, say, programming, or er, physical exercise, I wouldn't mind. But it's MORAL, for goodness's sake. Moral!!!

2. Getting stuck with a bunch of friends who didn't know or didn't care or forgot my birthday. Should have advertised my birthday. Everyday.

3. Seeing my classmates celebrate someone else's birthday RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. Rats!

4. Running around paying rent, printing notes, seeing lecturer. Complaining about accommodation. Worrying about my migration stuff...

5. Getting my car clamped by the stupid uni admin. Running around trying to get people to un-clamp it. Wasted my money! As if I'm bloody rich! Oh wait, that's my friend's car. But still...

6. Doing favours for others, translating this, typing that, editing those, capturing these...


I'd still like to thank everyone who remembered (or managed to find out in time) about my birthday. Although I have to say, very few of them (possibly less than 5, eh no, 10, eh no, 15, eh no, 20. That's not so bad!) actually remembered it - thanks to Facebook and Friendster and such.

Actually I'm not a birthday guy haha, I don't celebrate birthdays, so who cares? Still, I had a very different birthday yesterday, and it's definitely worth remembering, at least until my next birthday.

Which I hope will be not celebrated this way again.