Farewells, and Goodnights
Hello people. Sorry about the lack of updates..it's been a busy day as the Ox prepares to leave for home this morning. As some of you may have noticed, my car battery died yesterday, leaving me in a rush to fix it. Thanks to the wonderful Mr Yap and his team (not to mention my lovely Maxis Assistance staff), my car was up and running by the afternoon. In any case, I don't know if there'll be updates till Monday at least, when I get back..but do check out my phlogger from time to time. I may decide to post pearls of wisdom (or stupidity) there.
Seems like everyone's gearing up to leave someplace. Najah, Jikon, some other friends of mine, me. The prospect of travelling always excites me (unless it's enforced travel, which stunts my excito-neurons) and even though it's just an hour's drive, it's been awhile since I've gone home. It may be good to soak in the solitude of home again..and shoot bullseyes with my brother. Well, here's hoping everyone has a safe and pleasant weekend, and I'd like to take this opportunity to wish Malaysia happy birthday. No matter how much I rant and rave, I still have a soft spot for it. I guess that's part of what keeps me going on sometimes.
It's been a tumultuous few years in our country's history, and I'm guessing there'll be some more turbulence up ahead. But it's okay, because I know for sure that there ARE people who want the change, will work for it, and CAN actually do something about it..and to all these people, big or small...thank you. The Ox doesn't have riches or titles to give away. But whatever God you worship will know what you do, and I pray we all will be able to weather the storms ahead as our little country grows up some more.
Again, selamat menyambut hari Merdeka, and wherever we go, maybe we can just take one minute to reflect on where we've been, where we are...and where we're going.
Looks like a fun ride to me.
Friday, August 29
Farewells, and Goodnights
Wednesday, August 27
A Midweek's Daydream
It's Wednesday...my favourite day of the week, for several reasons. One, CSI:Miami is playing tonight on AXN, and good entertainment is so hard to come by. Two, I get to join Jo and Lia for dinner again at his parents' house. And three: It's the middle of the bloody week! Yay! Only one more day remaining before the long weekend (for me at least, since I'll be off on Friday through Monday..hehehe.
Still, it's been a busy week (as always) for the Ox, and am rushing between several different tasks now, hoping I can get some things done before I go back home this weekend. Met my benefactor again last night, to return her Sandman books, get some more and also reciprocate by lending her several of my Gaiman books. Needless to say, I only dozed off at 3 am, since apparently by reading about him, Morpheus is hesitant to put ME to sleep. Oh well.
Heard from a friend yesterday that a mutual acquaintance is having problems with her marriage. Of all the things I pray I never hear, this must rank in the top 10. I like to think of myself as a realist, especially considering the transitory nature of relationships in the 21st century. But once in awhile, my idealistic sentiments shine through, and it saddens me to hear that somewhere a married couple is having trouble, and may even be considering the D-word. Hell, why not say it: Divorce.
There. I've said it, and I'm very well aware of the challenges facing couples (married or otherwise) in these trying times. And if my observations are correct, I'm not the only one aware either. Here's something you may want to try: Head to a newsstand/bookstore and pick up any mag (men's or women's). Chances are there'll at least be some tips on "How to Keep the Sizzle Alive" or some such article. Which is good, in a way. We could use all the help we can get, that's what I say.
Sometimes, things just don't work out, no matter how hard they both try..and ultimately separation is the only answer. I won't kid myself by thinking I'll NEVER be like that, or that it's anyone's fault in particular. I've had too many friends who come from broken homes, hearing stories of how Raya is never Raya, of arguments and screaming...It just..saddens me, in a way. Maybe it's because I DO hope to get married someday (hopefully to a person I love and loves me back) and yes, even raise kids (I'd like the first one to be a daughter please...heheh).
There's still a long way to go before I reach that stage, perhaps..but maybe today, we could all do something. If you're in a relationship (married/dating what have you), give your partner a call. Tell him/her how you feel. Leave a note in the fridge. Get flowers for no reason, or take them out to dinner. Look at the sunset, make plans for the weekend and do it..anything. If you don't have a special other...well call up your parents/siblings. Talk to them, ask how their day went. And be thankful that they're still with us, that we have someone to love.
Sometimes the simplest things in life are the ones that are the most difficult to get.
Am I an Idealist? Perhaps. Even a romantic, maybe, in some weird way. Or maybe having loved and lost, I've learnt too late to appreciate what I had...and I hope no one has to feel that yearning.
Have a good mid-week, friends.
Tuesday, August 26
Tech Tuesday: Horny Security
Morning, folks. The Ox is back with another edition of Tech Tuesday, and today he's got some links that will provide you a brief preview of what the future has in store for the next few years, as well as some stuff that's already available for y'all to get and download. Since security is a big issue these days, what with Sobig, Blaster and the like running circles around sysAdmins and consumers world wide, today's edition will talk about some other threats to your system, and how you can make your beige/brown/silver box safer. Again, this is all thanks to Lockergnome and Cnet. Feel free to spread the news and tips to friends, relatives or anyone with a PC that's connected to the internet.
First off: Computer Cops has a short article on CoolWebSearch, a notorious form of spyware that's more common than you think. On receiving the article, I remembered that for awhile, one of the PCs at the faculty kept getting hijacked by this weird search site..and strangely enough the name was CoolWebSearch. The scary thing about CoolWebSearch is, and I quote:
"CoolWebSearch is a name given to a wide range of different browser hijackers. The code is very different between variants, but all are currently used to redirect users to coolwebsearch.com and other sites affiliated with its operators. The alarming trend with this hijacker is rapid metamorphosis and the increasing difficulty of removal.."
Now that in itself should already set you on your toes, but it gets worse:
"Manual removal is possible for most of the variants, but can be time consuming. As of this writing, most anti-spyware programs aren't currently addressing all variants. "
The article points you to a download that should enable removal, but there's no link embedded into the document, so I Googled it and here's the page for you. Hope it helps.
On a related thread, here's an article from the BBC on why people write viruses. An enlightening read, it provides a new perspective on how these people work, and also how society views virus writers. Definitely recommended. Finally, here's a link to an article taken from the Economic Times on enforcement efforts underway to unearth Internet worm writers.
Hmm. Right. Now to less serious matters. Everyone's waiting for the latest release of Bill Gates' money machine. Codenamed Longhorn, it's supposed to be better, faster, smoother and what not. Unfortunately, it's difficult to find an unbiased opinion on the subject, at least online. This is why Paul Thurrot's site is amazing, IMO. An industry analyst, his site checks up on major Windows releases and provides previews and reviews. The latest article on the road to Longhorn is here, and it DOES look promising, especially the distribution method. Head on to his site for that and many others.
Well, that's all the time we have for Tech Tuesday. As always, feel free to submit any other tips or info that you think is useful. Have a good week and happy computing!
Monday, August 25
Monday Update: Part One
Another Monday has arrived, but the Ox is in a very good mood for several reasons. Firstly, he gets to go see his parents and siblings for the Merdeka weekend. Secondly, he had a very good weekend. And thirdly, he managed to snag several good DVD releases yesterday (but he's not telling where, for obvious reasons), as well as watch them. I confess I went a bit mad yesterday evening, as it's been a long long wait to get these DVDs. Thankfully, they were worth every minute. So here's a rundown of what I got:
La Femme Nikita (dir. Luc Besson)
This precursor to the quite popular and stylish TV series (starrring the lovely Peta Wilson, also appearing in LXG) is worth a watch to anyone who's a fan of Luc Besson's distinctive directorial style. This French only release stars Anne Parillaud as Nikita, who commits murder while on a drunken night out. Apprehended by the government, she is then given over to a special agency to train her as an asassin. Tcheky Karyo (Kiss of the Dragon) plays her handler, who tells her that Nikita is dead, and she will have to carry out assasination missions to pay her country back for what she did. Jean Reno (another Besson staple) also makes an entrance here. How can I describe it? Stylish, high octane action, with plenty of human sentiment and passion. Like Reno in Leon (The Professional), Luc Besson is not afraid to show the internal struggles and desires faced by the hero/heroine. Where Leon just wants to have a normal life outside of killing, Nikita has to, in order to atone for her sins. I'd recommend this DVD gladly to any action fan. Even better, get a copy of Leon, and watch them together for an interesting study into the mind of an asassin. Again, highly recommended.
Finding Nemo (dir. Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich)
Do I really need to explain? Not having caught the movie during its cinema run, the DVD is chock full of extras, and the visuals are wonderful, thanks to a direct digital transfer by Pixar. It's a simple story of love and letting go, and I absolutely recommend this one withouf reservations. Go ahead. I know 60 year olds who love it. I may be getting the 2-disc special edition as well later.
The Cat Returns (dir. Hayao Miyazaki)
Oh my God. It seems the geniuses at Studio Ghibli have done it again. If you're a cat lover read on, please. If you just like good animation, also read on. This animated feature tells the tale of a girl called Haru, who dreams of escaping her clumsy, boring life..until one day she saves a cat from being run over by a truck, and her life is changed forever. The cat turns out to be the Prince of Cats, and (unknown to him) as a token of appreciation, his father spirits Haru away into the Cat Kingdom, to be married to his son. Luckily, Haru is befriended by Muta (a grumpy fat white cat), Baron Humbert (a swashbuckling cat-type hero) and Toto (a crow-gargoyle). Together, they work to save Haru from the mad King and get her back home...and Haru also learns a thing or two about acceptance, and herself. BTW, if you're reading this and think it's silly for a grown up man to be raving about a "cartoon ", I suggest you stop and go here. The animation is simple, but effective. Little touches of CGI (ala Princess Mononoke) were added, but the bulk of the story is presented using traditional techniques. Miyazaki's team has proven yet again that it is the story and soul of a movie that makes it special. I recently bought a bumper DVD release from Ghibli (original) with 11 of Miyazaki's best work, and a short prequel to this movie, Whisper of the Heart inspired me to look for this one. In case you haven't gotten the message yet, look for it, please.
Identity (dir. James Mangold)
I haven't had an opportunity to watch this one yet, but it's been on my want list for a couple of months already. All the reviews I've read refer to is as an effective, gripping murder mystery. Now add in names like John Cusack (America's Sweethearts), Ray Liotta and Alfred Molina (among others) and I'm definitely hooked. I'll be watching it in the next few days, so expect a review coming soon.
Other noteworthy releases: I saw that the Taken box set is already available for purchase, and it looks like another title to be added to my want list. But first, I need to finish Band Of Brothers. Have been sitting on it too long...hehehe.
Well, that's all for Part One of Monday Updates! Check back for more later!
Friday, August 22
Freeky Friday: Things That Go Bump
Hmm. w.bloggar decided to crash mysteriously just now, wiping out most of my Freeeky Friday in the process. Grr. Therefore I am torn between rewriting the whole thing, or just going off on a tangent, probably unrelated. Oh well.
I received an email today from a friend that reminded me of this interview I heard on Hitz a few days ago. The morning crew had Prof. Hood, who happens to work in the same university as I do. An interesting speaker as well as an excellent anthropologist, you may have seen him in a recent documentary on the Discovery Channel talking about one of our most enduring ghosts, the pontianak. He has travelled the length and breadth of this country collecting stories and tracing the origin of the long haired spectre, so popular in our folklore. Worth watching at least once, although he did comment that the documentary sensationalised the story more than he liked (welcome to showbiz, Prof.).
Which brings me to my post today. Asian ghosts and ghouls have always been more malevolent compared to their western counterparts (Sadako, anyone?). Images of a white clad, often female figure with long hair permeates the subconscious of the most urbanised citizen. What is it about the pontianak, hantu kum-kum, hantu susu, pocong and so on that scares us so? Is it because we can't see them, or that if we can it's often too late? How many of us feel reluctant to look into the rear view mirror when driving alone at night, thinking of a half forgotten tale of a face, or figure seen in the back seat? Or spectral cars that roam our highways, waiting for the unfortunate traveller to goad into a race that he can never win? Or silent, grey figures walking the halls of a convent/office/dormitory? Some may not be so silent. Some leave marks. Or make noise. How many of you have had a close encounter with the other side?
Asuang, Pontianak, Manananggal (Filipino), Penanggal, Langsuir.
It's Freeky Friday, my friends. Let's scare ourselves a little.
Thursday, August 21
Of Comments and Thoughts
Another day, another controversy. I've been having trouble monitoring the blogs today, since the university backbone decided to fail (not so mysteriously). Some of us in the faculty think it's related to the Blaster worm that attacked MIMOS and some other facilities these past few days. Whatever it was, I've just announced today to be Zero Productivity day. I'd have posted a lengthy Telly Thursday on Battlestar Galactica, if not for the network problem and the storm over Sasha Saidin's wedding pictures. I myself know only the bare necessities, so have refrained from any comments except to remind some overzealous Samaritans to not be too violent in their wrath (however right they think they are).
This whole week has seen a deluge of religion related issues, heated comments passed back and forth...it's been a very busy few days in the blogosphere. Emotions tend to run high when we discuss religion, or when we perceive there's been an offense committed against it. The only advice I think would be good for these trying times..is to always take a deep breath before you comment, and take care to frame your opinions carefully and thoughtfully.
It's always another person on the other side of the screen, behind the phospors, beyond the wires (or wireless, depending on what you use). Giving out judgements is always easy, but taking them back..is another matter all together. However, it's my opinion that this is necessary, as the integrity of the blogging community rests on how we handle crises such as this.
Hopefully, we'll be having an extra scary Freeky Friday tomorrow.
Wednesday, August 20
Hello, people. Have just returned from Sunway Pyramid, where my PC received its 3rd power supply unit this year (and I parted with some sorely needed Malaysian Ringgit). It's been absolutely busy the whole day, checking up on my students, marking assignments, meetings. Hoo boy. Being a lecturer's not all "goyang kaki", apparently, although temptation reared its ugly head when a pretty young student asked me if I could help with her assignment marks, which were dangerously low. Thankfully, I managed to ignore the devil (this time, at least) and sent her off with a stern talking to (chewah).
I have to make a trip to Johor next Monday, checking up on our students who are doing their training attachments. I have 8 of them to check on, and they're all spread over the state. There's one in Kota Tinggi, 1 in Mersing, 1 in Kluang, 1 in Tangkak...you get the picture. So now I just hope my leetle Kancil can stand the trip to and back. With wallet running thin, this will really be like one of those episodes in Amazing Race. Luckily I'm taking a friend along, so hopefully it won't be too bad.
Well, me eyes are getting blurry, I'll try and do a Weekly World Wednesday, but only if I have strength in my misshapen fingers.
Tuesday, August 19
Do Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?
There's something hot brewing in the blogosphere:
Aiz's recent entry on his blog sparked a heated series of comments. Take a looksie, and do leave a comment or three. This may turn out to be very interesting.
And as always, the Ox believes that there'll be something good out of this one, too. Perhaps, this discussion is only fitting, since we ARE in Merdeka month. Everything needs to start somewhere, or somewhen.
Tech Tuesday, and Some Other Things
My biological clock has finally readjusted itself to the calendar, which means I don't think ahead one day anymore. Anyhow, welcome to another little edition of Tech Tuesday. As always, here are some choice picks from my leetle inbox I'd like to share:
The mere mention of this topic can literally start wars, but I'm going ahead anyway. It's the eternal battle for OS supremacy yet again, and this time, Graeme Bennet and his friends bring you the showdown of the year: Mac Os X vs Windows XP vs Linux. They start it off with a nice little disclaimer:
"Would-be flamers, please note: yes, I am aware that you can add third-party software or hardware to almost any system to expand its capabilities. To be fair, we are primarily considering "vendor-supplied" capabilities, although we'll also note, where applicable, some freely downloadable utilities that can address or augment built-in capabilities. Any list of downloadable third-party add-ons is, of course, necessarily incomplete and is intended only as a guide to further exploration.
I also got this excellent article written by Mark Hachman. Entitled "Ending the Copyright Wars", it's an honest, gritty look at the state of copyright, especially with all the hullaballoo created by the RIAA. He also suggests two scenarios that may benefit both sides of the equation. I'd like to think responsible file sharers should at least give this one a looksie, if no one else will. On a related front, check out this TechTV interview with Kazaa CEO Nikki Hemming, and find out what she has to say about being Public Enemy No 1.
This one could be of interest to Mobile Windows users. This article compares several flavours of Mobile Microsoft solutions, in terms of similarities and also differences, and also the roles they play in Microsoft's new Mobile computing strategy.
Thanks to Lockergnome for all the above news. Check back often for updates, and feel free to share! The OX appreciates contributions too!
Monday, August 18
Is it Really Monday?
Oh man, here I was thinking it was already Tuesday. No such luck, it seems. Well, it's been a good day, in fact. The fever's receding, I actually sound better, and there's this very nicely done discussion on religion going on in PPS that I think is very healthy indeed! (Now remember, before any of you decide to label me a heretic, read very carefully, aight?). Let's recap my early start to the week, since I promised Hani I would (heheh):
Sunday: I moaned, I groaned and I whined. But in the end, the Ox left with foot firmly in mouth. I guess for people who're used to it, it gets boring after awhile. And maybe it'll get boring for me, too someday. Until that day comes, however, I don't think I'll be able to forget what it felt like entering the hall as a lecturer, looking at the parents, the students, the air abuzz with pomp and ceremony. Proud, expectant, happy faces. For some parents, coming down all the way was worth it, I think. Worth it to see their children do well, breathing huge sighs of relief at the same time, I suspect. I drove home in a rather introspective mood. I realised that for some reason, I had been given a chance to power. Not in the traditional sense, but power to help shape minds, and perhaps open them.
Heavy responsibility, indeed.
Today: I woke up thinking it was already Tuesday. Typical. I got another surprise as I strode into the office. I'm to be Master of Ceremonies at the ITSIM 2K3 conference in the Crown Princess this September. Am international conference! Researchers, potential PhD supervisors galore! The prospect of conducting such a big (to me, at least) do appears to be daunting, but I'd like to think it's a good chance for me to see what I'm made of. And I just found out that graceshu is no longer blogging. A sad loss to the blogosphere. She writes such wonderful imagery. Whereever you are, my dear..I wish you well.
Hmm. Tummy's making noises already. See you later, people!
Sunday, August 17
The Cold Strikes Hard
The Ox is sick again, folks. Repeated exposure to rain has again gotten the better of me, with fevers running up and down. And tomorrow, horror upon horrors, instead of comfortably resting and sleeping it off, I'll be sitting in the main hall of the uni, sweltering along with my colleagues. It's convocation day, and as usual, they decided to be smart about it and have it on a Sunday. There goes my down time. The dean has decreed that faculty members are to assemble at 12.30 pm, with the ceremonies concluding around 5-6 pm.
Joyful joyful, indeed.
I just hope I have enough strength, and that my nose doesn't leak.
Good night, friends.
Saturday, August 16
Sotto Voce, Please
It seems the little hommage I paid to Mr Gaiman got some of my readers worried.
I apologise, for it was only meant as a little work of ficton (for the book I may never write). I am alright, and I thank you all for your kind thoughts.
I shall label my prose next time, so as not to overly distress my audience (if any).
Have a good Saturday!
What Do You See When You Close Your Eyes?
A dust-streaked desert (they're always dust-streaked, what else is there in a desert?). Sun-baked, parched. Cracks in the ground, memories of rains past. It hardly ever rains here anymore. The soil remembers, though. The feel of water, seeping through the cracks, into the thick clay bed, into earth. The soil remembers, and wishes. And dreams.
One, a woman. Average height, features hidden in the folds of the rough scarf she wears to keep the dust out (black though, why black in the desert?). Every so often she runs a hand through her hair, it looks reddish brown (but it could also be the dust). She walks, step for step matching her companion, seemingly uncaring about the heat.
The man, a shock of wild hair (is it dark? black? blue?), pale, slight. He walks alongside the woman, footsteps matching hers. He wears something..undefinable. It may be a robe, may be a large piece of cloth. There are flames on it, and they seem alive, somehow. And his eyes, there but not there, seeing all things and none. They are both barefoot.
The wind picks up, suddenly. There is a cloud of dust, dry and choking, tendrils prying into nostrils, mouths. The man pulls the woman nearer, as she draws her veil/scarf closer to her face. The dust devil dies, dissolves, and the desert is still once more. Still and empty, for the figures are gone.
There is a beach of yellow sand, and whispering waves. The girl dreams, of this beach. There are shells, arranged neatly in rows. She dreams of the beach, and of the hot sand. The man is there, as well, though she does not realise. A shimmer of air, and he is gone. She does not see this. She sees the shells, and the sand, and runs to let the water lap at her feet.
Of love lost and found and lost again. Of terrible things, and running away (oh my God it's so scaryscaryscary why can't I run oh please oh God). No, that's nightmare (you know, the ones where you can never run, where your feet feel like they're stuck in treacle). Of little tokens, of laughter, of family, songs sung, food shared, journeys taken.
But most of all, dream of hope.
In tribute to dreams, Neil Gaiman's Sandman, and also to that little spring in me that won't let me sleep until I write down its cooing, bubbling tales. I like to think I can actually write, sometimes. Good night, my friends. Sleep well.
Friday, August 15
Whooa. Tired now, and sleepy. Spent a significant part of tonight marking some more assignments, capped off with a satisfying hour of alien blasting in Futurama: the Game. Anyway, aside from the car (which also turned out alright) the rest of the day was very pleasant, indeed. As I was filtering out my inbox however, something from CNet's news bulletin caught my attention:
"...The worm--also known as W32/Lovsan.worm and W32.MSBlaster--is successful not because its creator was knowledgeable about programming, but because a great many people whose computers are connected to the Internet are still ignorant of security.."
How's that for a reality check? The full article can be gotten here. I guess in a sense, the statement IS true. Quite a few PCs belonging to colleagues in the faculty got hit, and luckily most of them had already been patched. But how about the other faculties, and other less savvy users? I used to find that most regular computer users will not update their antivirus solutions, partly due to ignorance, and also because they think they'll never get hit. Anyone remember the CIH fiasco? There was a lot of downtime, then..and some people I know ended up with barely usable hard disks. Ironic that in a lot of ways, computer viruses are like their biological counterparts. Take Dengue, Malaria or even AIDS, for instance. Replace the worm name with any other easily communicable disease of the past century and we find that the sentence still works. Sometimes, some of us feel we're invulnerable." It always happens to someone else..", we think.
The truth is, to other people, we're all "someone else". Hopefully, with computer literacy on the increase, we'll see more users being aware of new threats such as these, and how to avoid them. And I'm not talking about just electronic viruses, worms, trojan horses or what-have you. I'm also talking about not sharing needles, laying off dangerous drugs, practicing safe sex (or abstinence, whichever works for you), a clean living environment or in simpler terms: Plain Common Sense. Always take a few moments to think about it (and I'm speaking partly from experience). Sun Tzu once said "know your enemy."
I'd like to think we're on the way to doing just that. Well, Friday's peeking round the corner, and the Ox will be a busy bee. As said by my favourite writer:
"Preludes and Nocturnes, a little night music from me to you.
I hope you liked them. Good night.
Neil Gaiman, afterword to The Sandman : Preludes and Nocturnes, 1991.
Thursday, August 14
Post-Car Repair Bliss
It's about 5pm, I'm blogging, and I've just spent RM 700 on my car. Oh, and I've had a pretty good afternoon. Not bad for a Thursday. Thinking about it, I'm glad I forked out the money (albeit reluctantly). The engine's quiet, I have a new set of tyres (or tires) and they even knocked out some of the irritating dents from my door, finally allowing me to open it fully.
Yes, my Kancil is a battered old thing, but I love it anyway. For some reason, I was quite calm as I counted the thick wad of notes and passed it on to Mr Yap (I don't have a credit card, not yet). I think it's the effect of growing up. The thought of not being able to make it to work or anywhere else safely just overrides any other thought. And getting behind the wheel, I saw it was worth it.
For now, at least.
Well, the Ox is tired now, and will probably laze around some more. Take care, people, and see you tomorrow for Freaky Friday!
Wednesday, August 13
The Ox Loses Money, Again
Yup, you read that right. In its infinite wisdom, my little white horse (or Kancil, rather) decided to pull a hair-raising, death defying trick today. In the middle of one of the worst thunderstorms I've ever had to drive through, to boot. I got the message, though. Therefore the Ox has decided to take tomorrow off in order to supplicate the gentle beast. Lucky for me the mechanic's just down the hill.
I did a little mental arithmetic earlier and figured that the repairs will cost just a wee bit shy of RM 700. Yes, you read that right. Since the long awaited backpay does not seem to be any nearer on the horizon, I thank God I have an emergency fund. Still, the thought of losing it all at once gives me the shivers.
Oh well, I suppose I'll have to make the most of it. If life gives you lemons, and all that. Errk.
Goodnight, people. I hope Mr Gaiman can make me feel better. And I've got Rushdie on tap too, just in case.
Oh my God. Last night, it was Sandman. Today, I got this juicy piece of news from Creature Corner. My (and almost everyone else who knows) greatest zombie-killing hero of all time, Ashley (Bruce Campbell) may pick up his chainsaw and boomstick again for a final adventure. The ever vigilant guys at CC say that this time, Ash will face his greatest threat yet: Freddie and Jason. Yes, it's true. Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees will stand in the ultimate battle against our hero in a yet-to-be named film.
Fresh out of their latest outing: Freddy vs Jason, the terrible two's face off with Ash is apparently being seriously considered by the folks at New Line Cinema. Hopefully, Campbell will agree, and with any luck Sam Raimi will want to helm this one too! Get the news here and here.
Tune in regularly for more updates!
And So To Bed
Just a short update before I sleep..managed to meet up with my mysterious benefactor tonight, where she handed me some manuscripts I have lusted after for years. And she's also an academic, which of course made conversation easier. A gem of a find, indeed. And tonight, those wonderful books will be next to me as I sleep, and drift into the chaotic world of the Dreaming.
Gaiman always does that to me. He awakens words in me, some how.. and I can only wish I can write like him.
Maybe that is MY contribution to the Dreaming.
We chase demons, tonight. Care to join me?
Tuesday, August 12
Tech Tuesday: Internet Schtuff
Hello people. Welcome to this week's edition of Tech Tuesday, where the Ox likes to share his favourite techy things and sometimes even attempts to talk about tech issues (gasp!!!). In any case, here are some software picks for today (as usual, thanks to CNET, Lockergnome and Symantec):
Don't let the name fool you, cause it's got nothing to do with being friendly to spammers. What it DOES is provide a pretty good free spam filtering program, especially if you're using Outlook Express (or its many reincarnations). Try getting it here. There's also a very helpful how-to to guide you through the installation process. Hopefully, you won't be getting strange e-mails from desperate sons of bank owners/princes/tribal elders anymore.
Some of you may get annoyed when you don't really know the size of the file you're trying to download from some sites (especially since not all of us are blessed with broadband). This is a nifty little IE plugin that can get the real size of any file you want to download, simply by right clicking on the link and selecting "Get File Size". So far it works with most links, so give it a go!
Yeah, the Ox is a sucker for free encryption utilities. Maybe it's because his PC is full of...interesting things. Anyway, for those of you who have yet to get one, try this on for size. It's small, easy and also open source. MMmmm.
Okay, before I go, some tech news, courtesy of Cnet:
A minor victory won against the evil schemes of the RIAA. Apparently a Massachusets court has blocked subpoenas from the RIAA aimed at college file swappers saying that the universities involved are not required to immediately hand over the swappers' identities. Hopefully, this gives them sometimes to prepare for the onslaught that is sure to come, ever since the RIAA and MPAA decided to take this whole new take-no-prisoners attitude. We'll see what happens next, as they say it's only a minor setback.
Time to panic, now. The MBlast worm has started its spread, exploiting what some say is the most widespread flaw in the OS ever. Essentially this means we're all at risk, or at least those of us who are still happy with Mr Gates holey OS. This may be a serious blow to the company's recently released Trustworthy Computing Initiative, and analysts at Symantec predict the attacks will last till the end of the year, at least. Worried? You should. Go here for an update on the current spread, and then here for workarounds and patches. Get cracking, people!
That's all the time I have for today's Tech Tuesday. Tune in tomorrow for wonderful blogging goodness, only from the Weekly Wild World news.
Monday, August 11
A Mirror Has Two Faces
Hey again, folks. Just finished a long-missed tube watching session, and I must say that the programming on Astro has improved by leaps and bounds. I guess by now almost everyone who reads me knows just how much I like to indulge in the telly every once in awhile, and last night and tonight has been very good for me. I managed to catch new episodes of CSI: Miami and Boomtown, and it was time well spent.
I remember watching 12 Angry Men when I was 10, and that particular movie (albeit in black and white) remains in my opinion as one of the best non-action movies ever made. It's biggest strength was the story, and how a good script can always shine over anything else. Even the 1997 remake (starring my favourite CSI William Petersen) maintained that aura of tension and intelligence, so good that by the time it was over, I was literally sweating bullets. When I was 20, I heard of this movie called Rashomon, by Akira Kurosawa, and finally I managed to hunt it down on a very ugly bootleg disc (which has now disappeared, thank God). For those of you familiar with the story, it's a simple tale of a murder, seen through the eyes of several people. Every retelling of the tale would show a unique perspective, depending on the teller. Ever since then, I have been extremely hooked on different ways of telling a single tale (before I continue, let me add The Usual Suspects to the list of movies I deem very worthy indeed).
So why am I spouting all this? The answer is simple: tonight's episode of Boomtown moved me, in a way I didn't expect. In essence, Boomtown is similar to Rashomon, in that every episode shows a crime/event from the viewpoints of not only the principal players, but sometimes also the victim or perpetrator, or anyone else whose life was touched by it. One of the major characters is an Deputy District Attorney, David Mcnorris (played to perfection by Neal Mcdonough). He's a person you either love or hate. Haunted by his past (father was a gangster, or a "fixer") he struggles to maintain his legal integrity while at the same time trying to avoid turning out like his father. His character cheats on his wife with reporter Angela (Nina Garbiras), makes shady deals with powerful public figures in order to further his own career, and generally plays everyone off one another.
Right bastard, you may say. So I thought. But in every episode, the cracks in his psyche become apparent, as the viewer sees just how much he loathes himself, how he is (in his own words) "..becoming everything I have ever abhorred in my life, my father.." and finally, in an excellent episode, he comes clean. Here's the synopsis, thanks to NBC.com:
McNORRIS SUFFERS A MORAL CRISIS -- Deputy District Attorney David McNorris (Neal McDonough) comes dangerously close to selling his soul when he obstructs justice in order to protect a murder suspect -- the teenage son of a wealthy Hollywood producer who can help further McNorris’ political career. Detectives Stevens (Donnie Wahlberg) and Smith (Mykelti Williamson) pursue the investigation, while the prime suspect appears to skip town on the family Lear jet before officers Turcotte (Jason Gedrick) and Hechler (Gary Basaraba) can detain him. Nina Garbiras and Lana Parrilla also star.
At the end of the episode, David is a broken man as he leaves his mistress, tells his wife the truth then proceeds to beat the crap out of the Hollywood producer, all the while proclaiming that kids don't necessarily need to turn out like their fathers (his wife leaves him, by the way). Some may say that I'm reading a bit too much into the whole show. Perhaps. But what actually made me sit up straight was how familiar some of him is to me. In a way, I've always admired David (or people like him). Good looking, powerful, intelligent, physically imposing, and never flinching from his objectives. In the past year, I've changed. I used to have a very powerful conscience (I call him Jiminy Cricket, or JC). I've found that lately I'm prepared to do anything in order to move ahead..and that JC is shrinking. Often at work, I find myself categorising people according to their usefulness. And it's a trend that's been growing steadily.
I hate myself sometimes, for letting JC shrink. And I know that (in my department, at least) I may have a better chance of making it to Head of Department than anyone else, if I play my cards right..what scares me is I can see myself grinning as I step over anyone in my way. Maybe it's just an irrational fear..or is it? Check back with me in 5 years. I mean it.
Monday Mayhem At The Office
Holy Cow. Just got back from fetching me sister, and am I pooped. Must be all the rushing about I did today, cleaning up messes that shouldn't have been created in the first place, fighting bossy, inconsiderate people who think just because they have some initials behind their name entitles them to be like that and also marking answer scripts that are just slightly more legible than my 14 year old sister's homework.
Yeah, just a regular Monday..and honestly, I've gotten used to it, no matter how much I complain. To make things worse, I've actually had to take some work back for the day...first time in years! I really hope they process that appointment letter ASAP..I seriously think they're not paying me enough for this, LoL. Ahem.
Oh yeah, before I forget, this link is for the Gaiman/Comics fans out there (you know who you are). Another brilliant article by Peter Sanderson. I had to put that down before I forgot. Looks like I got my whole week mapped out already, and I have to attend a convocation ceremony this Sunday afternoon (what???) since am now a member of the academic staff, although some people DO look at me twice when I tell them I lecture and that I'm going to do my Ph.D soon, God willing. I guess the notion of an academic who DOESN'T wear lab coats all day long and actually knows how to have a good time is still a frightening idea to some people, but frankly, I don't give a damn.
Had a conversation earlier this week when I was talking about my desire to get myself an Xbox with a friend. Another guy (who I didn't really know) looked at me sideways and asked me "and you're going to do your doctorate soon?", while shaking his head in that irritating manner I definitely know I hate (I think they call it er..dismissive?). I mean, if I'm going to be doing my doctorate in any branch of IT, wouldn't it be logical that I would have to like technology in the first place? I quickly retorted with a "well, it's people like you who make it so difficult, always with your set little ideas.." D'oh. Think outside the box, man.
Still, irritants aside, I'm definitely feeling better this week. I may not have a lot of free time, but then again, I find that I've somewhat evolved into some sort of twisted workaholic. Taureans are like that, I guess. Always planning for something. And this time, I am planning to get myself a slice of Microsoft's little black (and green) box. MMMmmm.
Well, before I leave, here's a little peek into what I want in my sock this Christmas (or earlier, please!). Watch out for Tech Tuesday (hopefully there'll be one!) tomorrow.
Sunday, August 10
If I Go Crazy Then Will You Still Call Me Superman?
I am at peace, now.
Okay. It's safe to ignore that sentence. I am not really at peace..heheh. But tonight, looking out the big hole in my wall where my window used to be, I feel more at ease than I've ever been in a long while. Life has a way of simply turning you upside down when you least expect it. And what I thought was gonna be a bleh weekend turned out to be one where I not only got some work done, but also enjoyed the hell out of myself, hung out with some good company, and finally managed to get back some of my sanity.
Not bad, for 2 days work. I even managed to sneak in 2 whole hours of alien blasting fun on the Xbox (Halo rocks!!!) on saturday with Jo. Yeah, it left us with a slight ringing in our ears and itchy trigger fingers, but man, it was worth it. Even managed to bump into Sarini and her fiance after that (I know, I'm surprised too). And the Xbox definitely has moved up on my want list.
Oh well, Futurama's gonna be on soon, and as one of the few Malaysians tonight who is not tuning into the footy match, I shall plonk myself down on the couch, remote in hand, laugh till my belly aches, and then settle down to a good night's sleep. Honestly, it doesn't get better than this.
Okay, I lied. It would be better if I had someone to cuddle at night and wake up to, but that's a whole different can o' worms, isn't it? Someone once told me it's the simple pleasures that we miss the most, and are the most difficult to get. I say, right on. You have no idea how right you are.
Good night, people (man, I actually started three out of four paragraphs with O-words. Hmmm.) Have a good week!
Saturday, August 9
A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down
Hi folks. Just got back from what I think was the best thing to happen in awhile: The Official Racheal's Blogger Farewell Party. I was a bit undecided about going in the first place, since I'd be rushing off from several different places the whole day, most noticeably to the night class I would be teaching. But after it finished, I thought I'd like to check it out anyway (since this will be the last I'll see of Rach for awhile). And it was worth every stressful minute looking for a parking spot in the middle of Bangsar, worth every minute of the horrendous jam from HKL.
It was fabulous. Exactly what I needed after a long week. Meesh, Hani, Rach (delicious as ever), Jae (w00t), Graxue, Khalil, KaZ, Vladimir, Aiz and Baizura..and all the others I forget to name..it was good clean fun. Well, at least I thought it was. I don't think I've laughed that hard since I came back from Langkawi. It was several parts crazy, several hilarious, and also some downright sexy moments (you know who you are..heheeh). Thanks a whole bunch, guys and girls, you really made this Che-Gu's night (and week, actually).
As I write, I'm tempted to think of how fast time flies, and how soon some stories end, even if they only do so temporarily. Rach's stories here will be on hold for awhile, as she returns to that far away country..and honestly, we'll all miss her. The fairy girl in white, always hyper, always hugging, always always Rach. She taught me some things I didn't know, and reminded me of others I forgot. For all that, I'll always be grateful, and you're always welcome back here, you crazy girl. I just hope the poem was a gift enough :-(.
There were laughs, screams, pictures (oh my, the pictures), more laughs, hugging..smiling, winks. I was in sensory heaven, as I'm sure some of you heard me boisterously proclaim. Christmas in August! I said. The compilation of all my certain dreams in one spot..hehhee. I wished I never had to go back. Anyways, life has a way of checking in on you when you've been out too late, and like Cinderelly, I hurried back to finish some work, before my little pumpkin burst.
So here's to friendships (old and new, lost and found). Here's to pictures and yelling and naughty antics. Here's to the White Queen, flitting about, dropping fairy dust, dimpling her way into our hearts. Here's to more meetups, and more shared laughs and tears. And finally, here's to life. Wonderful, glorious life. For all my complaining and whining this past week, I now realise that some things...are just worth working for.
Good night, Rach ( have a safe trip, miss you already ).
Good night, friends.
God bless us all.
Thursday, August 7
Hi people. I can't believe it's Thursday already. Where does the time go? (forget I asked that, cause I know exactly where it went). Here I am, not even daring to go out to lunch, cause I have a three hour exec class to teach tomorrow, and I haven't a single clue what to do. Okay, it's not THAT bad. I have to conduct a lab of sorts for this obsolete piece of software called Asymetrix 3DF/x, and I haven't used it in like..erm....4, 5 years? I haven't had a single moment to myself since last week, and I have to relearn the thing in time to teach tomorrow. OOkay. Not impossible, but a bit freaky. I suppose I'll have to wing it at the very worst, but I'll survive (and earn the money while doing it, hehe). Hopefully. Very very hopefully.
In other news, I'm still feeling strangely lethargic. Last night I entertained a peculiar thought before drifting off to sleep: I wanted to kill the Insane Ox. Not metaphorically, but literally. Kill off the blog, and be done with it. I guess I would've done it immediately if I weren't so freaking tired. Thinking about it today, I'm glad I didn't, since I had no idea why I wanted to do it in the first place. Maybe it has something to do with the feeling of..displacement I've been having lately. Yeah. Another excuse?
Psychobabble and what not, there's still things to do. And no amount of displacement is going to take my work away. Yeaaah.
Wednesday, August 6
Of Course, The Rabbit Hole Goes Deep
Ookay. So the writing course is over, and I am very very tired. I can't even find it in me to write proper blog entries anymore, and that's just bad :-(, so I guess there'll be no Weekly World Wednesday for this week, and until things get back to some normalcy around here, I think the same goes for every themed column. Damn, and I was just getting used to that. Hopefully though, I'll be in slightly better shape come Monday, when I'm back in the office, and life proceeds as normal, or whatever the hell passes for normal down in these parts.
It's been a crazy, crazy week. Non stop activity since last Tuesday, followed by surprises galore as I come back from Langkawi to more work, oh yes, sweet glorious, (sometimes) irritating, back-breaking work. And friends who suddenly become addicted to Akademi Fantasia (is there no hope for us all?), or hot little get togethers at Capsikum or Chili Padi or whatever the name is, or senior blogger friend who has landed from the UK, and another hot lil' thang flying off to the States (gonna miss ya, Rach).
Call me confused, Larry.
The Ox feels like he's in one of those weird dreams, the kind where you can't really tell the difference between being awake and sleeping. Or like Silent Hill 3. Or Session 9. The horror imagery floods my senses and all I see are images (scary, I wish they'd stop) and pictures in my head. White, long hair, screams, shaky camera angles. And always lost, always always lost.
Now I know I'm really tired.
I slept in the bedroom again, maybe for the 2nd time in the last 5 months. It's not too bad (it's never been bad) but I guess the only thing stopping me all this time was..me. And the memories. I don't know where the hell I'm going career wise, relationshipwise, lifewise. So many options, and I'm tired of choosing. But as always, the wheels turn, and life pulls you ahead. Sometimes it gets weird, till I feel like crying and laughing at the same time. Crying for the losses, and laughing at myself for being...confused. For being reduced to...ugh.
Get moving, you ox.
I wish I could, you know?
I wish normalcy would come back (but what is normalcy?)
I wish last week was normal so I could flow into this week, but no point in crying over spilt milk. Time doesn't wait. Death does.
It's time to move.
Lock X-Foils in attack position.
Cover me, I'm going in.
Tech Tuesday Comes Late, And Do Not Pass GO
Hey again people. Back from the scientific and academic writing course I was scheduled to go for...and it didn't turn out too badly at all. Good speakers, some good informative content, and most of all, good food. Yes, I have to thank them for choosing Cyberview...heheeh. This ox was very happy to help himself to the sumptuous spread, although he was careful not to let his appetite get away. Moderation, my friends.
Anyway, before the Ox retires, he thinks he should share some of the wonderful things that have been flooding his Inbox for the last couple days. Until tomorrow's update, take care, and see ya later!
This man claims he has shrunk down Windows 95 to a little under 10MB. Head on here for the juicy details. And according to him, it works fine, too!
Who says the Internet can't save lives? I bet this family in the States will beg to differ, after being saved from a horrible death by a girl in faraway Yorkshire!
This is a very basic how-to guide for Linux. If you've ever had a question related to gaming on that particular OS, this document will prove to be very helpful.
This is a godsend for scientists, academics, or just anyone who likes to indulge in serious searches every once in awhile. Scirus.com is a search tool that allows searching of only websites with scientific content. Test it out, and maybe you'll be able to find that particular bit of info you needed for that paper.
If like me, you're also interested in the WiFi revolution, head on over here for a good primer on the technology. It's a bit dated, but some parts are still very relevant.
This is not the Russian space station thingie, but rather a multiple image resizer. It not only resizes batches of image files, but also can add borders, text and flips. Highly recommended.
Finally, a competitor for Trillian! (Not that Trillian is bad in any way, of course). Try out this download, and you may never return to your separate accounts ever! It's only a 2MB download, so even dialup users can join in the fun.
This is a free download that helps protect your PC from snoopers. Warning! Follow the instructions carefully! You've been warned, but if you do, then at least you'll breathe easier when you have to leave the ol' box unattended.
Again, sorry for the sporadic updates, folks! It's been a crazy week, and the ox needs his beauty sleep! Bye!
Monday, August 4
So I Feel Like Singing
There are sometimes when words just fail to describe what one is feeling. Whenever I'm sick, I tend to drift away, and my dreams get jumbled. As I lay just now, straddling the border between sleep and wakefulness, snatches of a song get caught in my ears. I toss and turn, and I decide to blog. It's late, and I'm supposed to be sleeping, but just a bit more. A bit more, so this song gets shared. G'night, people.
Sine the moment I spotted you
Like walking round with little wings on my shoes
My stomach's filled with the butterflies... and it's alright
Bouncing round from cloud to cloud
I got the feeling like I'm never going to come down
If I said I didn't like it then you know I'd lied
Every time I try to talk to you
I get tongue-tied
Seems like everything I say to you
Comes out wrong and never comes out right
So I'll say why don't you and I get together and take on the world
and be together forever
Heads we will and tails we'll try again
So I say why don't you and I hold each other and fly to the moon
and straight on to heaven
Cause without you they're never going to let me in
When's this fever going to break?
I think I've handled more than any man can take
I'm like a love-sick puppy chasing you around
And it's alright
Bouncing round from cloud to cloud
I got the feeling like I'm never going to come down
If said I didn't like it then you know I'd lied
[Pre Chorus - repeat]
So I'll say why don't you and I get together and take on the world
and be together forever
Heads we will and tails we'll try again
So I say why don't you and I hold each other and fly to the moon
and straight on to heaven
Cause without you they're never going to let me in
And slowly I begin to realize this is never going to end
Right about the same time you walk by
And I say 'Oh here we go again'
Why Don't You and I, Santana feat. Alex Band of the Calling
The Ox is Back, But Sick
I'm sick. And I'm at the office. Had to rush there this morning to hand in my acceptance letter to the post of Lecturer (temporary), and to pick up a cheque for an earlier stint at exam invigilating I pulled. I need all the money I can get, hehehe. Anyways, head's pounding too badly to be able to make any sense out of anything whatsoever, and I so wanted to tell you all about my time in Langkawi. Oh well, I'll upload some pics if I can tonight, since I don't think I'll be able to form coherent sentences anymore after this. And to top it all off, I've got a 2 day academic and scientific writing course in Cyberjaya tomorrow. Starting at 8.00. Add that to the fact that a project I was counting on fell through. As we muslims put it, "takde rezeki", but it's okay. I've learnt that something good usually comes around.
I just want to sleep, and rest and sleep. But unfortunately it seems this is already out of my hands. Oh well.
Take care, people, and of course, during the course, expect me to be phlogging furiously. As I should. Bye!
Anyone can do any amount of work provided it isn't the work he is supposed to be doing at the moment.
Robert Benchley (1889 - 1945)
What Happens at 4.30 in the Morning
Just got back. Urgghh. Another day at work looms already, and I have no desire at all to go. But hey, someone's got to make sure the letter of appointment gets through. Am too blanked out to write, people, so will be blogging later today. Have a good week, and take care!
It's definitely good to be back, hee hee.