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Monday, 31 August 2009

52 Years Ago

There was no LRT.

52 years ago, the Malayans rode noisy, uncomfortable, polluting steam trains.

And there was no iPhone.

52 years ago, people relied on snail mail for communications.

Then there was no Penang Bridge, which was opened in 1985.

52 years ago, ferries were used to travel between Penang Island and Seberang Prai.

The word “Streamyx” hadn’t been coined yet, not to mention the phrase “Streamyx sux”, frequently uttered by MMORPG players.

52 years ago, people played Congkak, Gasing (spinning top) and Layang-layang (kite).

Within these 52 years, our country grew.

We got not just one, but two national automobile companies.

We went to space and came back the Malaysian way.

We get access to multiple free-to-air television channels, and even have digital TV Astro.

KFC came to Malaysia. Then McD. Then Pizza Hut. And we get our own fast food chain – Marrybrown’s.

We get F1 circuit. Hosted SEA games. Commonwealth games.

We get access to mobile phones. 3G. WiMAX. Then there’s CSL, the made-in-Malaysia cell phone company.

The number of Malaysians tripled. And is still growing.

Needless to say, Malaysia has come a long way. We still have a lot to do, but we certainly do have achievements to be proud of.

And for the things we did, we did them our way. That's what made us unique. The ONE Malaysia.

May the coming year be a great one for Malaysia.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

When My XPERIA Camera Surprises Me

Recently, my interest in photography got stronger than ever.

Taken at my school's cafeteria. This picture, taken by my cellphone, turned out a lot better than I had anticipated. The only grudge is the loss of details of the two white stones.

To satisfy the beast within me, I will be taking three steps to get myself closer to the journey to taking stills.

Step one: album. I will be selecting favourite photos taken by myself, get them washed out, and compile them into an album. The album may even include metadata of the photos, such as camera setup.

Taken at MoDian, where I learn Chinese Calligraphy. Applied brightness/contrast tuning.

Step two: gear. However much I want a DSLR, my wallet doesn't allow it. So far, I have to settle with my good ol' Nikon Coolpix 3200 and my recently acquired Sony Ericsson Xperia X1.

Taken in front of my school's cafeteria in the evening.

Step three: blog. The reason I'm writing this today. A separate label "Owl's Eyes" will be created, containing picture posts.

And I did. I've even edited my digital watermark.

This picture was taken two months ago - note the different watermark. It is one of the photos produced by my cellphone that I like.

It's been months since I got my SE X1. Before I got it, I was kinda worried about the camera's performance. And I was right - X1's camera produces images of rather mediocre image quality. So I quickly learnt not to expect too much from it.

This photo demonstrates the weak dynamic range of X1's camera - the sky is totally blown out.

Not to say it is entirely useless, though. Having a phone with a camera naturally means you have your camera anywhere, which proved useful when a guy called Joe came across some busybodies some time ago.

Photo taken by Joe.

There are also times when X1's camera surprised me with rather satisfying images.

Low light, low ISO, fixed aperture, all led me to worry about the long shutter speed. Turned out the long shutter is a blessing in disguise for this shot after all.

Step 3 - done. Two more steps to the journey of light-capturing.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

How Long Does It Take To Make A Friend?

It's not easy to find good friends.

When I say good friends, I don't mean classmates. Nor colleagues. Not lab partners, either.

No. When I say good friends, I mean friends who call you when they're in trouble. Friends who complain about that stupid teacher you had with you. Friends with whom you get stick in the crowded KTM train with. The kind of friends who make any sort of boring activities interesting. Those with whom you couldn't help but talk non-stop and end up getting sore throat for the next two days.

And yes, they don't come by that easily.

I spent five whole years in primary school. At first I thought I did well - I had people to play with every recess, and I was even invited to birthday parties. But then I skipped one year ahead of my peers, and boom! I had to start from scratch.

I found someone to whom I chat with non-stop for 6 hours straight at school when I went to secondary school. So imagine the disappointment when I couldn't find his name in my class's name list one day.

I then finally joined a clique, which made my final years in secondary school my most enjoyable ones yet. But SPM came and went, and before too long, the five of us were shredded all over the world.

Two years in college - it was in the second year that someone finally saw me as his best buddy. A little too late, to be honest, for we were no longer coursemates few months later.

Now in university, things are going to be harder. I'm spending my first university year as a freshman in a Malaysian private university. Then I'm going to UK for my second year. Before I can probably adjust myself to a whole new country, I'll be back home for my third year.

Things are gonna be interesting. I'm not sure how many mates I'll meet for these three years. I will be enjoying myself, though - friends are still friends, however far apart.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Kay Poh

Kay Poh is a Hokkien term to describe meddlers. You know, meddling people.

The definition of meddling,
–verb (used without object), -dled, -dling.
to involve oneself in a matter without right or invitation; interfere officiously and unwantedly: Stop meddling in my personal life!
Retrieved 19 August 2009 from

Take, for example, a car accident, that happened in, say, the otherwise boring morning of a Monday, 17th August 2009.

Let's assume that a typical Malaysian, let's call him Joe, on his way to KL, and spotted something in a dirty drain-like river.

He stared and stared. What IS that? Is that the roof of a car? Holy ****. I'd better move around for a better view. Oh wait, I must capture this with my camera.

After a while, Joe got tired of looking at the meaningless piece of junk in the river. So he started observing other things. Like how many motorbikers have stopped just to stare at the scrap metal. The stupidity of that.

Like how many drivers have slowed down, wondering what's wrong, causing a massive traffic jam. The absurdity.

Like how many pedestrians stopped, too. In the LRT station.

Along the walkway.

Just about anywhere!

How bizarre!

It was until then that Joe suddenly realised that he was one of the pedestrians. It was then that he decided to blog about this incident, and to use a fake name for himself, and decided that Malaysia is not a good place to be involved in a car accident.

Poor Joe.

Friday, 14 August 2009

LOL!!! WTH R U Babbling Abt?

So you've been online for years now. You've explored many parts of the world wide web. You know how to tell the difference between URL and email address. You know what to do when someone tells you "my blog is at". You know where to view videos. And you laugh at people who still uses Internet Explorer.

All these years of experience have been reflected on your uncanny ability to read internet abbreviations. Strange letters like LOL, WTH, BB, BRB, GTG, WB, AFK, Sry and NP now make perfect sense to you.

Or do they? Let's see if these do.

1. UG2BK
3. NMP
4. PIR (you have to know this, extremely useful for teenagers)
5. PAW
6. 99
9. BI5
10. DEGT
11. BIL
12. PCM
13. IMS (kinda useless, IMO. Don't tell me you don't know what IMO is.)
14. TOY
16. CID
17. FWIW
18. HAND
19. IAT
20. NRN
21. 4COL
22. WRUD
23. LMIRL (girls, beware of this combination of 5 letters! Unless of course you're chatting to me =P)
24. ^5

Answers (highlight to see)
1. UG2BK - you've got to be kidding
2. GBTW - get back to work
3. NMP - not my problem
4. PIR - parent in room (see? I toldja it'll be useful)
5. PAW - parents are watching (note the ARE, is there a PIW?)
6. 99 - parents no longer watching (I don't get this at all)
7. GFTD - gone for the day
8. FYEO - for your eyes only, so keep your mouth shut
9. BI5 - back in five (minutes)
10. DEGT - don't even go there
11. BIL - boss is listening (or looking?)
12. PCM - pulse code modulation please call me, good for SMS
13. IMS - I am sorry
14. TOY - thinking of you (not useful for me... yet)
15. KUTGW - keep up the good work!
16. CID - consider it done
17. FWIW - for what it's worth
18. HAND - have a nice day (nice abbreviation!)
19. IAT - I am tired (this is so lame)
20. NRN - no response necessary, opposite of RSVP
21. 4COL - for crying out loud!!!
22. WRUD - what are you doing?
23. LMIRL - let's meet in real life
24. ^5 - High Five

No I did NOT created them! Don't believe me, click on the link below.

Adapted from
Stephanie Raposo, 6 August 2009.
Quick! Tell Us What KUTGW Means. Retrieved 7 August 2009, 1006 from

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Vid: It's National Day Again... for Singapore

Singapore is celebrating its 44th anniversary from its divorce with Malaysia today. And because of that, I have a few gifts to share. To make up for all the bad things I've said about Singapore in my previous post.

1. A new Anthem

Last year, about this time, I put a video of me playing Majulah Singapura, Singapore's national anthem, up to Youtube. I wasn't totally satisfied with it, but it was the best I could do within the short time frame. This year, I had the opportunity to polish it, and produced a better version.

I know it isn't too different from last year's, but I hope you like it better anyway.

2. Score

Not the football type of score. I mean piano score. For Majulah Singapura.

Yes, you read right. While most Youtube pianists have refused to provide piano scores for their songs, I've broken the trend and hand-wrote two versions of piano scores for Majulah Singapura.

I wrote them using pencil, so it may be slightly harder to read, sorry about that.

For beginner pianists (below about, say, ABRSM Grade 5 standard), I have a simplified version here. It uses a different (albeit theoretically incorrect) time signature to make counting easier, simplified rhythms with omitted ornaments and lack hard-to-read chords. The downside is it doesn't sound as powerful as the other version, and certain syllables of the lyrics (like the 'ma' in 'Mari kita') are missing. Still, it should be great fun for the young pianists.

Right click on the pages and select "Save link as...".

For intermediate pianists (above ABRSM Grade 5), you can try this one, which is what I played in the Youtube video. To be honest I'm kinda satisfied with it.

Right click on the pages and select "Save link as...".

For the really advanced pianists (with ABRSM Grade 6/7/8 Theory experience), please promise to give me some feedback on the scores if you downloaded them.

I hope you find the scores useful. Don't keep your hopes too high though, I don't think I'll be doing this again for quite some time.

So once again, happy anniversary... for Singaporeans.

PS: I have a feeling I have to do something for Merdeka Day to even things up. Sigh. It's tough when your parents have different nationalities.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Singapore Policies and Fertility Rate

Disclaimer. Although based on facts, this post is written purely for entertainment and does not reflect the author’s true opinion in any way. The author did not, does not, and will not have any intention with the publishing of this post, whether political or personal. Re-publishing of this post by anyone other than the author without prior permission is strictly forbidden.

Some decades back, it was decided that Singapore was too small to accommodate millions of people, and the one-child policy was enforced. Not long afterwards, however, the sudden drop of fertility rate scared the city-state of under-population, and the policy was then lifted. When things didn’t get better, the government now encourages locals to work harder by offering various incentives with subsequent children.

However, today, Singapore remains as one of the countries with the lowest fertility rate. Why?

1. CoE

Certificate of Entitlement is one of Singapore’s many creative ways to prevent overpopulation of the public roads. Buyers of vehicles have to bid for the certificates, usually costing from thousands of Singapore dollars to more than $30000 for small cars. No vehicle, not even the motorcycles, can escape from the wrath of CoE. This, together with Electronic Road Pricing (ERP), has made sure that the traffic flow in Singapore remains smooth, however dense the country is.

However, Singaporean men find themselves losing a weapon on their belts to win ladies. The car is a significant step in serious relationships. From the boy driving the girl at prom night to the young man fetching the young lady home every night. From the couple driving to the beach and laying on the hood and enjoying the stars to the passenger feeding the driver on the road. From getting the car rocking to and fro with the windows all steamy to bringing the children all around the country for trips and holidays and classes. The much matured MRT system is an alternative to private cars, but you can’t do all these in MRTs.

Of course, the desperate ones can always empty their pockets for a CoE, but these relationships usually end with the girl leaving the boy because he is broke. By the time most men are able to afford their own cars, they’re well past their thirties and too late for the hotties.

Too bad. That’s why Singaporean men call their cars ‘babies’. For only 10 years, though, for that's how long it takes for a CoE to expire.

2. Ban of chewing gum

The chewing gum is a very useful tool. It trains the jaw muscles as we chew on them. They’re great toys, too, and many people enjoy blowing gum bubbles. And as pointed out by the Singapore government, they can be used as great adhesives (albeit annoyingly so) that come with all sorts of colour.

And most importantly, as deodorant, breath-freshener, floss and teeth-cleaner. The lack of this important tool greatly affects men’s appeal. Of course, in this case, the gum can be replaced by a visit to the bathroom, toothbrush (preferably with toothpaste), mirror, dental floss AND perfume, by when all of them have been used properly (3 minutes of tooth-brushing, remember?), sight of target will probably be lost. In comparison, gums only need to be popped. And chewed, of course.

Ask around the playboys who visit bars and pubs regularly. They ALWAYS have two things in their wallet – condoms and gums. It’s a shame the latter is banned in Singapore, and Singaporean ladies either have to get used to bad breaths and seeing food leftovers in men’s teeth, or learn to run when their predators enter the washroom.

3. Two-year NS program

National Service (NS), frequently called An Ass by Singaporeans, is a two-year program compulsory for all Singaporean males, typically at the age of 18. The program has been blamed for stunting the education for NSmen, resulting in earlier graduation of female students, possibly bringing them further in education than males. This, in turn, makes the highly educated women harder to find deserving life partners, affecting fertility rates in the end of the story.

However, I disagree. Though entirely possible, the explanation is too far-fetched to be acceptable.

From the way I see it, NS affects fertility in a different way. Being stuck in camp for two of their teen years with extremely limited connection to the outer world, the NSmen have no one to spend their time with other than their fellow muscular NSmen in uniform. After some time, certain tastes change in certain beings, ultimately resulting in their switch in sexual orientation. Singapore government knows this, of course, although it is absurd to scrap NS and risk the country’s national safety just for this. This is why gay rights have always been debated in Singapore, with Minister Mentor Lee Kwan Yew saying “gay is OK” – he feels guilty and is actually responsible for this.

Now you’ll wonder why so many people migrated to Singapore!