Tuesday, 30 November 2010
Tech Tales

Yesterday, my laptop failed me once again. I was so annoyed that I could not bear to write about it because I was at a loss for words. Thankfully, it wasn't a huge problem so I managed to fix it myself. I'm awfully tempted to change my laptop now, since this is the third time in a year that it's failed me. Suddenly, Macbooks seem more and more tempting. It's not that I don't like my laptop; it's just that if it's not working out then I have to move on. It's like relationships in life- when you commit to a relationship and you're not being met halfway, then it's time to stop trying.

But because my laptop is still new, I'm rather reluctant to change it. But I'll just have to see how things go.

My current laptop, I think

Another change I've noted in me is that more and more, I seem to be becoming interested in tech news. I don't consider myself a techie, because while I can recognise quite a number of gadgets, unlike tech junkies I do not wait in line to get the latest gadgets, nor am I one of those people who need to use a certain gadget to perform a task (like an ergonomic mouse). But I do rather enjoy reading about them. Mashable is one such site which I enjoy reading, because it features a wide variety of topics and is updated very often.

Take today, for example. Did you know that the WIkileaks website was attacked? Well, someone has claimed responsibility for it. Then there's the news that Google will be launching its 'social initiative' early next year instead of this year. The birth of another social network based on social causes caught my attention, too. Honestly, I think that there are enough social networks already. Facebook alone is already mind numbing at times.

I remember that when I was younger, I had signed up for multiple social network accounts- Friendster, Hi5 and a few others I don't remember. This year, I deleted all of them, at least those that I know of. I'm certain that I still have a presence in several other sites, but I just don't know their names. I definitely don't see myself signing up for any other social networks, unless it becomes as popular as Facebook and everyone jumps on the bandwagon. In which case, I guess it would be time to consider closing my Facebook account.

Don't get me wrong, I do think social networking is a wonderful tool. I mean, for once, I don't have to admit that I actually don't remember someone's birthday, and communication becomes so much easier and cheaper. But at the same time (this was what I learned in class) our online identities become a performance, like how a celebrity manages their image. So in a way, it's not really who we are. And I sometimes do find that online interactions can be a little too public.

Do you feel the same way?

I don't know about you, but I found that video extremely hilarious, especially Serena Williams. That was a very... shall I say dramatic performance? I almost couldn't believe it when I saw it on TV last year!
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Monday, 29 November 2010
Just Because

This will be my second entry in two days, because I'm determined to surpass the number of entries I had last year, and it just dawned on me that to do that I would have to update almost every day until year's end. So, here goes nothing!

Today I will write about... living abroad. It is something that I am a little passionate about, because I'm obviously, not living in my home country anymore. For many people, I guess they don't see themselves staying on in Malaysia, and so they seek greener grasses elsewhere.

I absolutely understand when someone says that they're moving overseas to further their career or to seek better opportunities. It's natural. And sure, the Malaysian government needs to rethink its strategy in attracting Malaysians back and preventing more from leaving. I mean, can you really ask people to leave their high paying jobs for a substantially lower one, with less work-life balance?

The way I see it, it makes sense that if a professional gets a better offer elsewhere, he/she would take it. The challenge for the Malaysian government, therefore, would be to try to give these people a reason to stay. Suppose they implement new workplace laws that ensures quality of life for employees.

But what I cannot tolerate, is when Malaysia is degraded. Granted, we do have our issues that should be talked about, but there has to be a line between obvious issues out in the open like education (Maths and Science in English, for example) and so-called open secrets like 'the government is corrupted'. I mean, call me dumb, but I do recall this game called 'pass the message' that shows that whatever message at the end of the line is very different from the beginning.

And let's not forget the Malay proverb 'meludah ke langit, jatuh ke muka sendiri' (or something that goes along that line). Criticising your own country only brings you down. Sometimes, when the locals are surprised at my English proficiency, I do feel annoyed, but I also feel happy that I'm breaking down stereotypes. If you go and keep saying 'Malaysia is bad' then everyone will just think you're bad too.

These are just the sort of things I think about sometimes when I have nothing better to do. They're really interesting, because there's no definite answer- there are many sides to an argument that are all logical. In due time, maybe I'll write them down. For now, that's all I have!

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Sunday, 28 November 2010

So I'm back, and at a loss as to what to blog about. I had written a reminder to blog about some of the things I've cooked this year, but I can no longer do that since I've lost my pictures. And that's really a shame, because one of the dishes I cooked this year was actually really tasty. It was a dish that I made myself because I had a little bit of everything, but not enough for a dish. So I pooled them all together to make a soup-ish dish. It tasted really good that I purposely made it again. But alas, I don't have a picture of it!

It was a really simple dish, stir fry vegetables and chicken breast with garlic, added with some other ingredients (mushrooms and sausages and some others if I'm not mistaken), and some water to make it soupy (the garlic added flavour, really tasty!) and some chilli sauce to make it spicy. And voila! That was probably the best dish I've cooked. Or maybe it's just because I've only cooked it twice.

Evolution of a foodie

This semester, I'm finding myself becoming more of a foodie. I think it's because I have relegated myself to eating uber simple meals that lasts for a week. Basically, I cook during the weekends, keep the food refrigerated, and microwave them every day until it runs out. Then the cycle begins again. Lack of good food's definitely got to me, and I now find myself scouring through various food blogs from here and from home. Of course, it is a very simple thing of forcing myself to cook every day, but I'm just too lazy for that.

But that's also a good thing, because it makes me appreciate what Malaysia has to offer (don't you think the Tourism Ministry should really just start advertising good food instead of all that cultural stuff that gets embroiled in legal battles with neighbouring countries?). But I've also learned other things here, too. I've had some life lessons handed to me, and I've learned things about myself and other people. I like to say that after being here for almost a year I'm now less naive, less likely to believe convincing empty promises, and less likely to tolerate bad treatment.

The Harry Potter cast at the Deathly Hallows Part 1 premiere- don't they all (minus Ralph Fiennes and Emma Watson) look so much older than their actual age?

One of the more interesting things people tell me is that I don't seem like a PR person, because I don't talk much. That's what I have to go into a tirade about how there's more to PR than just talking; there are things like writing that's part of PR as well. But then I remember that the person is only saying that because they don't know me well. There are many sides to me, and (I have to brag about this) I've always gotten very good results (most recently, a High Distinction) when it comes to assignments involving presentations and speeches. So what does it say when I perform better than the 'people person'?

Finally, as I've run out of things to write, here's an article I read on how technology is improving education. It was pretty logical, although from my previous post I'm sure you know that there are downsides as well. But then again, nothing's perfect, right?

And of course, there's the almost-mandatory movie trailer!

Have a great week ahead!
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Monday, 22 November 2010
Did You Know

Did you know that in a study on how Facebook functions in real life romance:

  • Guys are more likely to keep relationship statuses under wraps: 17% of guys don’t share their status, compared to 12% of girls.
  • Girls think it’s exciting to change their relationship status: 50% of girls get a kick out of the status change — one-third of guys agree; 24% of guys find it unnecessary, compared to 17% of girls.
Also, that the rise of the Internet, computers and other gadgets in our lives have now led to us younger people being easily distracted? I find this pretty true, sometimes I find it hard to focus on reading a book. And even when reading things online I only skim through it, I find it so hard to focus entirely on a written article now when there's YouTube.

That's probably why now my posts aren't very long any more, and they tend to skip from topic to topic (yes, I've noticed).

That's also why experts say one of the most alluring sleep distractions is the 24-accessibility to the Internet.

But like the article pointed out, it's not necessarily a bad thing; for if I grew up in this age I would definitely have had an easier life learning new things- books would be so much more interesting when read on an iPad, and no teacher would punish me because of my handwriting (I really got it bad one year) because it's all neatly typed out anyway. And perhaps I would've found my interest for writing earlier.

Anyway, I'll be away for the week so I won't be updating in the next few days, so here's two videos to keep you amused till then. One's a trailer for the upcoming movie The Tourist, and another is a clip I saw on TV last night.

See you soon!
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Thursday, 18 November 2010

A blog is like a journal, full of one's thoughts, filled with one's personality and style, and documents the changes in a person throughout the years.

This blog, started in 2007 as a WordPress blog, before I moved to Blogger because it was so much easier to use. When I first started my entries were short as I struggled to find words to express myself. Throughout the years I've had many experiences, most of which I've even forgotten. Through reading my previous entries I could even see the changes in me as a person.

Today, while rereading some of my previous entries I definitely felt a feeling of nostalgia. Some of these experiences I had written down, I had not remembered until I read it. This semester, in one of my subjects where we explored Web 2.0 (interactive technologies like Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia that places an emphasis on user-generated content), it was said that there has been 3 changes in youths today- First, they think of themselves as having an audience, second, they have archived their adolescence and third, their skin is thicker than most adults. Isn't this completely true? I write this blog, knowing that only a few of my friends read it- the rest of my readers are people who I don't know- or people I know, but whom I'm unaware are reading my blog. And this... journal, blog, whatever you want to call it, is my diary, in a way- it contains my high school life (the end of it anyway) till now. They're like an archive of memories, just like a photo album and a diary.

 2 years ago, I expressed my insecurity when it comes to the supernatural. It was an event that I had forgotten, until now. Thinking back, it was a scary experience.

One of those was of Fatimah, a rumoured ghost to be in my school.

One of the teachers told her students that a pregnant student had died in the secluded toilet in the school many, many years ago. She went one floor above to the storage room next to the catering stream, and has been haunting that room ever since. She also said that the previous bodyguard quit his job because one night she came out to see him, and told him not to bother her.

I do remember the time when me and my friends used Fatimah for everything. Every empty seat would have Fatimah sitting on it, every noise would be attributed to her. But that wasn't the scariest- it happened outside of school.

One day, I was supervising the scout juniors in an expedition in Taman Pertanian Malaysia. One of the tasks required the team to hike up a mountain. It was a road in the middle of a jungle. As my team went up, we saw one heading down. They told us that one of their members had a sixth sense, what the Chinese call the ability to see spirits. That girl with sixth sense told us she saw things there which is not pleasant at all. So, everyone headed back.

Once we were safely awaiting the bus, out of curiosity we asked the girl about our school. She told us in detail about many spirits lurking in our school compound. One at the backstage, etc. etc.

And her most horrifying words:

"I even know the name of the backstage ghost. It's Fatimah".

Reading that today, I am shocked that she exists. Not that I don't believe in her existence; it's just that every school has its own spooky tale. Recently I had been spooked once again by another tale, but I shan't share it here.

Then there's this entry about growing up. To date I still regard it as one of the best pieces I've written.

There's also a post about the day I received my SPM results. No kidding, it will be a day I can hardly forget; I am very happy with my results.

One entry that brought laughs to my face is one on me being a movie buff. From watching movies right after it's released, to now, when I watch a movie once every few months. It's pathetic, really. I did watch a movie recently, though- it was The Social Network. I found it pretty good, although when I came home the first thing I did was to find out just how accurate events in the movie were.

 But the entry that struck a cord was one where I retold what a teacher told me and a couple of people.

When you put coffee beans, an egg and a carrot in 3 different cups with hot water, what happens?

First, the carrot. After being immersed it goes flaccid.

The egg is quite the opposite. It hardens instead.

And how about the coffee beans? They produce aroma with hot water.

Sort of like when the going gets tough, the tough gets going, but phrased better. As I recalled this incident it really made me think. Right now it's like being in hot water. Hopefully I'm the one that produces aroma, although I doubt it.

What about you, dear reader? What memories lie in your blog, unwilling to be forgotten?

P.S. Sorry about not posting my own pictures- lost them all to get my laptop fixed. Unfortunate, but can't be helped.
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Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Before I came to Australia, I was pretty much unaware or simply didn't care about security issues, be it physically or online. But since doing media studies, I've come to realise a lot of things that I had not considered before.

Facebook is one such example. I really had not considered the privacy issues on Facebook before, but this year, I became more and more private (so technically, my studies is not the only reason) so I began tightening my privacy settings on Facebook. And for those of you who don't think it's an issue, consider this: what if somebody saves your photos, then creates another Facebook account using your photos and use it for criminal purposes? Unlikely, but still, why leave the opening there?

Melbourne, where I'm moving to next year

I also used to play a couple of Facebook games and quizzes. Games I got tired of, but one day I just deleted all the applications so that they wouldn't be able to get access to my information. Now, if I take a quiz, I always revoke permission once I'm done. It's a serious issue; it was found that many popular Facebook apps give away user IDs to other companies. Which means that these companies can know who you are, who your friends are, and so on.

When I first came here, I locked my room door at night, effectively locking myself in when other people leave their sliding doors open to let the outside air in. I just didn't feel safe at first; at night the area's horribly dark, unlike back home. But now I've let loose a little, so I no longer lock my room door. But when I come home, when I'm going up the stairs I look behind me first to see if anyone's hiding at the top, then look to the right and left to see if anyone's in the corridor before going to my unit.

I know, I know, sounds as if I'm paranoid. But it can be scary sometimes. There was this one night when I was ill that I couldn't sleep, and I heard the sound of helicopters. That was around midnight. The funny thing was, it wasn't just passing by, the sound was continuous, as if it was circling the area. I started scaring myself with storylines you watch in movies. But turns out it wasn't too far from what I imagined- a robbery had occurred that night to a student on the way home from uni, and so police were looking for the culprits.

These things scare me sometimes. It worries me that anyone could be using information gathered about me online to steal my identity. Remember some old Sandra Bullock movie where she was framed as a killer when someone stole her identity and switched it with the impostor's? How can you prove you are who you say you are, then?

I will end this post with one video that is a little disturbing, although it is purely for entertainment.

Pretty creepy, eh?
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Saturday, 13 November 2010
no image

First of all, I apologise for not updating. The laptop decided to betray me by crashing on the eve of one of my deadlines. So for the past week I have been relentlessly doing my assignments, and I only got my laptop fixed yesterday.

I've now completed all of them, and can now enjoy my holidays. Today has been great; I have done nothing but enjoy the day. But while my laptop was not fixed yet I had borrowed some DVDs from uni and watched them there to while the time away, and yesterday I watched this movie Amreeka.

It is the story of a Palestinian mother and son who decided to migrate to America, and how they coped with the struggle to fit in. Here's the trailer:

I've watched the movie, and it's really good! In some small way, I do find that I can relate to them, because I am living in a foreign country as well. One of favourite scenes was when the main character Muna (who just arrived in America) was having a conversation with her sister who has been in America for 15 years, and her sister basically said 'I don't know why you'd decide to come here. If I were given a choice I would go home in a heartbeat'.
Her reply was that it is not the same anymore, and life is just difficult back home- for example the army built a wall to separate two territories and so now, she has to take 2 hours to get to work when it was only 15 minutes before. Basically she felt like a prisoner in her own home, and that it was aimless; they were just living, that's all.

Her sister's reply, was that 'it's still home'. And that really resonated with me, because sometimes that's how I feel too. Sure, there are plenty of opportunities here,  but it's nowhere like home. This is why I think I enjoyed the movie- I could understand how they felt being in a foreign country and what they have to go through every day, struggling to fit in.

So go watch it if you can find it; it's quite a good movie.

This is all for now. I need time to configure my laptop to how I want it to be.
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Tuesday, 2 November 2010
Have You Ever

Do you remember how Enid Blyton used to describe things in her books? The forest full of trees and grass and other plants, kids playing in the woods and all that. I still remember reading her Faraway Tree series, and was enchanted. I vaguely remember how she described the nature-ish things, but I remember that it was really good.

This year, while I had made a short trip to Mount Barker, which is in the Adelaide Hills about an hour by bus from the city, certain parts of the place made me feel as if I had went into Enid Blyton's world.

Me and my friend first made a stop at the train station, and that was where I got the first dose of it. There were people there about to hop on a train, all dressed up looking like they came from the '20s. Of course, you wouldn't understand how I felt at that time because you weren't there, but imagine this: you walk out of the bus, seeing normal signs of civilisation- roads, cars, shops, and then you walk to the railway station, past the archway, and in front of you is a train that looked like it came from the '20s (or maybe later, I'm not too sure- would anyone care to enlighten me?) and people who dressed like that as well. It's like... stepping onto Platform Nine and Three Quarters from Kings Cross.

I looked at the people. They were really dressed for the occasion. The only hints that told me that I'm still in 2010 was the fact that some of them took out their cell phones, and some were drinking a can of Coke.

 Look at how they're dressing! Pretty awesome, right?

 Old-ish looking train

The front of the train

They reminded me a little of Titanic; they were dressed as members of the elite of that time, I suppose. I didn't have many pictures of them (and no close-ups) because I didn't know any of them and didn't want to ask for a photo (I'm shy that way). But it was an amazing experience, even though it lasted for only about 10 minutes.

Then we went exploring, and that's when Enid Blyton came in. There were quiet roads undisturbed by  modern developments;

there were quaint houses filled with greenery;

there were lush, wide fields where animals could freely roam (in this case, just two);

and so many more which I either don't have pictures of or because I don't want to show them (but I'll show you one last one).

 Railway! I managed to take a picture in the middle of it

It was, to say the least, breathtaking. But of course, it came to an end when it was time to leave. That's probably one of the things I like about Adelaide- you have a city centre that's considered to be urban (although not as lively as other bigger cities), but just a short drive away is the country where you can go there just to relax or to enjoy nature (not that I can't enjoy nature back home- remember my Gopeng trip?).

So for any of you who has grown tired of the hustle and bustle of the city and want a fresh change in Australia, Adelaide just might be your place (I don't know why I'm promoting Adelaide even though I don't plan to stay).

And that, folks, is all for today.
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