Sunday, January 23

Expect Some Changes

Hello, people.

This is your friendly neighbourhood InsaneOx, speaking to you via delayed blogocast (rest assured though that everything will have been tailor-made to your particular time zones by this time). There'll be significantly fewer updates this week as he struggles with exporting all the goodies you're used to be reading to somewhere a little more advanced (but not too much so that he won't have time for other important things, like work for example).

Ladies and gentlemen, I'm officially testing out TypePad (Link). Sure, it's not THE most cutting edge thing out there - but it's cheap, and it'll serve my needs for now. Forgive me for the unfriendly URL (Link), I'll redirect the moment I get my domain registration up and running.

Until then, all new updates will be there! So update your bookmarks and wish me luck!


Saturday, January 22

The C-Word, and Other Stories

Talking to a friend earlier this weekend I remember him saying two things that for some reason made the most sense among all the other sentences I've heard all month:

1) "You're a pig, Ash." - on what I've been getting up to recently (you don't want to know).

2) "That's a bit rich, coming from you." - this in response to certain statements I made about my approach towards relationships these days; and believe me, you'd have said it too (I think I'm having an Alfie complex).

I guess that's one of the things I expect my friends to do the most: tell me off when I need to be. This, of course is simply because I sure as hell won't, and it won't be as effective otherwise. In any case, this is what I told my friend that night after dinner -

That all other things being equal - if I were to even be interested in a relationship (or any such similar thing) the amount of emotional baggage the other person carries must not exceed a particular threshold, else I just won't bother. There. You have it. Even NOW it sounds rich; coming from someone who ultimately carries his own weight in said commodity. As I realised that night, it wasn't about exorcising the other person's personal demons - it was about mine.

And THAT, I think needs to be gotten out of the way before anything else. Hell, it's Saturday night, and I'm in (again, but by choice). So while everyone else's out there doing whatever it is they do, I'll be wondering where all the good cybersex went, and apparently I'm not the only one (Link). Wired's Regina Lynn's been asking the same question. I mean, when I first got wind of the internet (and that was in 93) and back then the Microsoft Network was just the bee's knees (it was either that or BBS) I remember chatrooms being a place where actual flirting ensued - not the downright crude state of affairs that has gradually taken over the past few years.

Back then, people actually did some seducing - and boy that's a far cry from whenever I dip my feet in these days. Still, it's fun reminiscing, and if that gets boring I'll just fantasise about tantalising toys that will be (for most of my life) definitely unreachable, like this little baby (Link).

Ahh well. If Ken Kutaragi can apologise in public for all the major (and sometimes downright stupid) gaffes Sony's been responsible for (Link), other miracles may not be so far off after all.

Have a good weekend folks, and rock on!


Friday, January 21

Trauma. No, No Morning Edition.

There are days when I feel positively old. Not physically, mind you (although there are those occasions) but it's like I missed a step, fell out of sync, did a Rip Van Winkle - but you know what I mean. One missed login into PPS, an RSS feed overlooked and all of a sudden it's this sudden deluge of information, rantings, pr0n, and news.

Oh, and I got fondled today at the pool.

Believe you me, I'm still reeling from the experience. It started like any other day - I came, walked into the change room and saw this guy already there who said hi. Being civil, I didn't see any reason not to reply - until he started asking me things like my age, and if I was married. By this time alarm bells were ringing all over my body so I started making a big show of getting ready to get into the pool.

And then he touched me. Mind you, I don't usually let strangers touch me, but I think I was too shocked to respond. He got his paws on my shoulders and stomach, all the while murmuring "tsk tsk, ini boleh bagi fit". Now granted I don't have the most cut bod in the world, but I take my exercise sessions seriously, and there's still plenty of go in this frame even if I did leave the world of sports ages ago. And then his hand went lower, and I flinched.

Picture this - a tall 30ish guy who's not even good looking (if I swung that way), with a potbelly the size and slope of Vesuvius brandishing a ciggie telling ME my body wasn't built enough?

Urgh. This in itself would be traumatizing were it not for the final act. Oh dear reader, can you imagine the shock and horror I felt when he, while mumbling something about some Indian massage slipped his trunks down and showed me his penis? (For the benefit of the first time reader, I am a doctor's son - so naked bits and pieces ordinarily don't bother me. Especially if they're female). Still, looking at him flash his bits, looking oh-so-satisfied with himself just did it for me. I bolted for the pool, and jumped in where there were a couple of girls calmly breaststroking their way through. Anything was better than that. Anything.

Later tonight, talking about this to a friend I realised that in some weird way perhaps this person was a closet homosexual looking for a quick fix in the change room. Now even if I WERE gay (which I'm not, women just do it for me in all the right ways) I'd think I have enough taste to actually choose a good looking person to bugger. Not that stinking piece of closet trash, who was wearing a wedding band I might add.

Oh God. IS there no safe haven for a guy to have a simple swim these days? DO I have the words "fuck boy - good blow" stamped on my forehead (although if said words were visible to females I'd not mind as much)? Must I bring pepper spray in case some other repressed maniac feels like he wants a quickie?

All I wanted was a bit of a swim. Nice, enjoyable exercise. I don't think I'd ever feel quite safe in the change room after this. And trust me - if he tries that again, or anyone else for that matter he may just find out the meaning of "being buggered" once and for all.

Before anyone launches into a diatribe about how homosexuals are the most evil things on earth let me get this out of the way - I have no problems with gay people. I know a few who are some of the most intelligent and pleasant people in the world to be around (unlike some other straight people I know). It's these repressed ones I'm worried about - and the kids who go to these pools.



Addendum: since we're all moving towards the way of the media telecast, can this be consituted as my early morning show? Do I need to put in bits about the weather and how seriously we should all take ourselves today - since bloggers, in case anyone didn't notice, are the best things in the world since sliced bread.

And I thought the wheel was nifty.

Over and out. Someone switch off the fucking TelePrompTer please.


Thursday, January 20

(Mini) Midweek Movie Madness

Okay, so technically we're past the midweek - but what IS time but something we came up with to explain why we're so hungry during the days, and why "night" is good for a..myriad of activities.

I nearly forgot: American Idol's back. It's nice to see Simon and crew again, although Paula DOES look like she's had a little too much Xmas turkey. Still - it made for an entertaining slot tonight, with some really horrible attempts, but we know we see that every year.

But I digress. Since I can't possibly achieve the deep thought and sociological vision necessary to elevate this particular blog into some sort of a fifth estate (no, no link there, try PPS; although I DID spend some time in rubber estates playing when I was a kid - does that count?) entity, I'll do what I've been doing for the past two years or so, which pretty much involves me pleasing myself (and perhaps some kindred souls out there). Anyway. If you're looking for some entertainment this weekend, here are some choice picks I've been meaning to review for the longest time, but never had the time to. As of the time of publishing (I fully expect that in the near future most blogs will have set publishing times, you know, like newspapers -Read Ash.Ox Morning Edition at 545 am!!!) these are all available in reliable D9 durian format from your friendly neighbourhood vendor (except Paranoia Agent).

Please don't shoot them, okay?

Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow

I didn't expect to be impressed by this, but I remember reading some reviews last year which were really favourable towards this highly stylised flick and upon viewing I was suitably entertained. Yummy Brit boy Jude Law (also Alfie this year), Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Giovanni Ribisi star in this art-deco-ised science fiction movie set in an alternate 1940s. When several scientists go missing and a plague of strange machines invade major cities around the world, it's up to plucky reporter Polly Perkins (Paltrow) and her heroic old flame the Sky Captain (Law) to get to the bottom of the mystery. Along the way they bump into Shangrila, remnants of obscene nuclear experiments, and Angelina Jolie in one of her sexiest roles I've ever seen her in. Everything about the film screams of attention to detail, especially when you bear in mind the actors had to act with little to no props or locations at all. It's not for everyone, that's for sure; but if you're in the mood for something with a little vintage feel to it but still rollicking enough for a few hours, check this one out. The disc also comes with several notable extras including the original 6 minute short film that inspired the making, and commentary tracks. Audio and video quality's excellent overall, although truth be told I WAS expecting the aural component to be a bit more earth shattering. Transfer rates are in the high 6 megabits, if you're into that sort of thing.

3.5 out of 5

Paranoia Agent Discs One and Two

If we equate anime greats like Miyazaki, Mamoru Oshii, Katsuhiro Otomo and Shinichiro Watanabe to Disney, The Wachowski Brothers, Spielberg and others respectively, Satoshi Kon MUST be the Asian counterpart to David Lynch, at least. In a time when anime series are starting to get mired in their own convoluted twists and turns (I fear the worst for Naruto, for example) Kon (Tokyo Godfathers, Millennium Actress, Perfect Blue) proves that you don't need robots, explosions or big bosomed heroines to craft a compelling, disturbing tale. Set in an undisclosed time that looks suspiciously like our present, Paranoia Agent (Mousou Dairirin)'s episodic format presents intertwining tales that whilst incredibly confusing on their own meshes into something that may literally change the way you look at animated series. Ever. A series of vicious beatings prompt two detectives to try and get to the bottom of the case. Does the mysterious assailant (called Shounen Bat) really exist, or he is just a figment of the victims' repressed, unspoken fears? Who can be trusted? A cop who builds a new house for his family only to tape his 17 year old daughter undressing in her own bedroom? The school tutor whose split personality compels her to become a high class prostitute at night? What of the kid who vomits maths formulas during an exam?

There are no blacks OR whites in Agent - just increasing shades of gray until the final, shocking denouement. Audio/video quality could be better, with a lot of artifacting perhaps due to the low bit rate. Subs are generally competent although I expect the fansub community to quickly come up with an even better version soon (please do!). In short - this is one series any anime fan worth their salt should check out. This one is available from eflix (Link).

4.5 out of 5

Onmyoji 2

The sequel to 2001's surprise hit, Onmyoji 2 sees previous actors Mansai Nomura and Hideaki Ito reprising their roles in the Heian capital of Old Japan, vanquishing a new evil - this time in the form of a vengeful reborn god. Nomura returns as the enigmatic court wizard Abe no Seimei whilst good friend and nobleman Hiromasa (Ito) again pulls them both into a whole new adventure. Along for the ride is hottie Kyoko Fukada (as Lady Himiko) and Hayato Ichihara as an unwitting and unwilling god. A word of warning - this isn't like your average blood and gore chambara. Instead, the story is told in a deliberate manner, with loads of emphasis on the customs and mannerisms of the kingdom at a time. Having said that, there's enough atmosphere, magic, blood, demons and even a semi boob shot of Fukada to reward adventurous souls. Recommended, but check the first one out. It helps. This is available in VCD format from eflix or DVD in durian. Picture and sound quality are about average for Japanese releases as they don't seem to worry too much about artifacting and video fidelity. You won't be stretching that new plasma LCD on this one.

3 out of 5

Other notable releases include Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Stander (which seems to be a bloody good flick) and Kandahar. There are also several foreign/indie flicks that I'd love to get my hands on...but not yet. Also, if you're so inclined, a six disc version of the Kamasutra is out on durian, so if any of you out there need some pointers, I'd be happy to hook you up.

Well that's about all the time I have for this week - especially since it's going to be one HELL of a January. So enjoy the weekend, and do come back for more bits on movies, games, pr0n and almost anything that's digital - or not. All absolutely estate-free, of course.

Oh, by the way: Nigella Lawson is now on Astro. Thank you, God.



Tuesday, January 18

Pic Pile

Mmmm. I love Picasa. It makes looking at those snaps I take sooo much simpler.


Ahh! My Back!

The trouble with opening my big fat mouth, as I've found out time and again is that I generally land myself into trouble - even when it doesn't seem that way to other people. For a demonstration, let's look at today's little retreat at the Shang in Putrajaya. On the one hand there were several notable pluses:

1) I managed to convince the audience we needed the shift in syllabus content.

2) There weren't many voices of dissent, since the crowd were people whom I knew well (especially their weaknesses).

3) There was a guest speaker from the Media Studies dept, which I've been aching to liase with, and who came up with some pretty crazy ideas for our new programme.

4) I managed to diss the hell out of our policies and procedure. Very satisfying.

Now, for the tiring news:

1) For being so convincing, I now have to draft an extended version of the course outline for use in the subsequent semester.

2) Crowd was equally comfortable delegating multiple tasks to me - something I have to fix in the future.

3) Have been voted adhoc chairperson for student activities pertaining to multimedia content.

4) I get reminded why it's so freakin hard to get anything done in this place.

All this ended a little after 5, and when I stumbled home I was only too pleased to remember I have an 8 am class tomorrow. Oh, the humanity. So, since I can't be bothered to even think, much less blog I present to my dear readers some things that are precious to me (okay, so I lied about the precious part).

For one thing, I never knew Bill Gates did centrefolds (Link). I can't say he looks absolutely sexy or whatever - but let's face it, the guy has seen more money than I ever will in my whole lifetime. That, and the fact that he continues to laugh even when losing money just kills me. Photos are circa 1984. In a less than stellar development, evil copyright abuse rears its ugly head again (Link) as more and more independent documentary producers are finding out that they can't use footage they've been using for ages - simply because archival footage now costs them a bomb.

In an age where libraries are turning their backs on some of their best customers (for the money, of course) the documentary industry seems to be losing one of their best used sources of material. Are there ways to get around this? Sure, if you've got the dosh. Here's another one:

"The legal defence in the United States of "fair use" means that footage can be used if the documentary is specifically critiquing that footage. So, a documentary-maker could use a clip of Gene Kelly splashing around in Singing in the Rain, if the documentary is commenting on Hollywood musicals and that one in particular, Else says. A documentary on rain, however, couldn't use the clip. But having to use "fair use" as a legal defence means that the documentary-maker is coming under legal pressure. Many simply can't afford the legal fees to get out of that kind of situation."

What this means, ladies and gentlemen, is that by the time some of us have kids, they'll be watching reenactments of historical events instead of recordings of said events. How wonderful. So in the spirit of preserving our copyright free images, here's a gander at the new version of Picasa (Link), thanks to Google. Now, everyone can post pictures.

Well, it's time to go. Have a good one, folks.


Monday, January 17

Warning: Walrus

I had one of those dreams again, last night.

When I woke up, there was a nasty taste at the back of my mouth, and my teeth were on edge. I felt more tired than I did going to bed, and that was after a near two hour swim. I've got a long way to go, apparently. The trouble with these types of dreams is that they never seem to need any trigger - they just happen; and when they do, they make this huge splash in your otherwise undisturbed, coping life (we all cope, don't YOU?) and throw some things out of whack just enough to irritate the hell out of you.

Yes, yes. It's over. I got the point, bought the t-shirt and moved on - apparently in the Department of Lost Dreams And Wishes, Section 12, Universal Karmic Judiciary they still haven't heard. I swear it's almost personal.

In other news, I have re-discovered a potentially addictive activity: attempting to swim. I admit, I have a bare minimum of swimming expertise (with most of the training provided ad-hoc by a close friend) and never had the time for organised classes; so when my sister suggested we try a certain community centre near my place, I jumped at the opportunity.

Two days later, I still ache all over - but I haven't felt this good in ages. So good in fact that I snuck an hour of said activity today with my brother, fully intending to come back for more. A word of warning - you may want to stay away from said community centre. It's not a pretty sight when I'm there, heheh.

I think I'll chalk this to another excellent way you can spend your RM 2. Anyway, the Shang calls tomorrow, and there's a whole lot of work to do - plus I have an exchange I'm looking forward to later that evening.

MmMmm. Good night, folks.


Sunday, January 16

Yellow Brick Road? Turnwise, 2 Kilometres

God how time flies. It's Sunday night again, and this time I'm a little bit UN-excited about the coming week, for several reasons:

1) It means I have to get going on the whole university celebration thing, when I already have several other things to take care of (refer below).

2) My brother's here on a short break -and it's unfortunate that this is one of the busiest weeks I'm ever going to have, which means I won't be able to spend as much time as I'd like with him before he goes back to Kulim on Saturday, not to mention the fact that it's supposed to be a long weekend, goddamit.

3) There's a retreat on Tuesday at the Shang in Putrajaya. Ordinarily I'd be ecstatic (Shang = good food) but since it's for one of those things I've been incessantly at work at since 2003, I don't foresee any sudden miraculous resolutions. Professors can be a tough crowd to crack.

4) Extended abstract to write for games in education paper AND my PhD proposal. Oh God.

5) Okay, so this is optional, but I just spent some time playing LucasArts' latest Xbox release, Mercenaries - and I have to say they've managed to roll out some of the most impressive gameplay I've seen this side of the PC. Think of it as GTA on steroids meeting Ghost Recon 2's Lone Wolf mode (apologies to the non-gamers, but this is too good to let by). If you can see it, it probably means you can blow it up.

How is that not a good thing? Anyway - I'm sure these doldrums will have passed by the next time you surf over, so until then, have a good Monday, and try to get some work done.

I know I'll be doing the same.



Barely weeks after the 26012 and the beaches in parts of Thailand hit by the tsunami are again abuzz, this time with what appears to be otherworldly visitors (Link). Reports are coming in of wailings and voices from the beachside - something that most of us Malaysians remember well from the Highland Towers tragedy in the 90s.

Hmmm. Mass psychological trauma, or otherworldly manifestations?


Saturday, January 15

Music Of The Night

Crazy night.

Flashes of memory, past stains. Old hurts. It's all in the package, you know? Don't mind me, I should be sleeping. There's some work to do early this morning, and I'm debating if even sleeping is a wise course of action.

Jack Bauer's cool. He makes words like "debrief" sound official, as if the fate of the whole world rests on how well it's pronounced. Tension headaches we all know - but tension heartaches?

"That's when your heart feels like it's gonna burst out of your chest, simply because you miss someone THAT much."

I do, sometimes. We're all jigsaws, sometimes we fit together nicely, other times we have to accept that I belong to this corner and you..well you just better go ahead and screw yourself silly; because if you don't, the world will do it for you.

Trust me, there ain't no Durex big enough for that one.

I love early mornings. They make my brain all disheveled. If you're reading this at 3 am, spare a thought for your life (because apparently I have more of one). If you're not until Sunday, kiss that person you're with, you lucky bugger.

Good night.


Thursday, January 13

Not About The Blackout. Well, Not Really

There's nothing like a near-nationwide blackout to provide instant blogfodder. I can imagine some people like myself this afternoon, trapped in another dreary workday, thinking of tomorrow's potential shenanigans when WHOOMPH! the electricity cuts off and we find ourselves blinking and wondering if we saved that document we've been working on.

I hope I did. I also came back early from work today. For those of you who don't know, I work in a container (refer to those in shipping yards) hence when a blackout occurs, these turn into instant ovens. After an hour and a half, I bid a very warm adieu to death and started on my way back to Subang, where the power wasn't restored till about 4 pm.

Still. Anything's better than slow baking in that coffin lookalike. By this time I'm sure everyone would have had their fill of blackout-related tidbits, and the single memory that stands out most in my head was when I asked a friend who called "They're here, aren't they?".

Morbid, I know. If I had a choice for an invading force, I sure hope it's not these guys (Link). Not only do they have to keep short hair to appease the great Leader (refer to Team America), but said Leader has the luxury to keep his bouffant hairstyle! Talk about contradictory. No wonder so many games released these days put them as the bad guys.

In the meantime, several interesting things popped up on the radar today - and the best thing is, they all involve sex in some form or another. For starters, some of you who had fantasies involving Dana Scully may want to take a gander at this Ooooooold clip that's floating around on the net (Link). I'll mark it as NSFW just in case, since if you look really, really hard you can spot a nipple. And then there's this bit of news thanks to Animal Planet (I swear it's one of the three reasons to get Astro): that while male flies tend to woo potential mates with gifts in exchange for sex, some members of the species actually bring in fake gifts (sounds like another species I know) in order to score (Link).

From the site:

Females among many insects and animals, including humans, enjoy receiving gifts during courtship, but a new study on flies reveals that males can woo their intendeds with worthless, fake love tokens, even if such cheating is otherwise undocumented for the species....[the researcher] added that some flies even present their mates with empty packages wrapped up with layers of silk...He said, "By the time the female finishes unwrapping her gift and discovers that it is empty, the male has mated with her."

If insects with a lifespan of 24 hours can do it, I suppose it's not that surprising that some of us make it a career target. Hmm. But of course, such tricks can only go so far in real life, as I'm sure this guy found out (Link), and he didn't even cheat (for those of you too lazy to click, a guy got one testicle ripped off by an angry girlfriend who then presented it to him saying "it's yours."

Ouch. So there it is, guys. Whichever side you're batting for, play carefully. Especially if you'd like all your, er, bits where they are. I know I do. Well, I'm off now - work to do, and if anyone's wondering what to watch this weekend, try Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle: hilarious no brain fun that's good for an hour and a half plus there's tits.

Or boobs. Well, you know.


Update: Great Bollywood actor (and Indiana Jones villain) Amrish Puri has passed away (Link). He was 72. Here's a farewell to one of the best guys I've ever hated on any size screen, ever. Rest in peace, Mola Ram.


Wednesday, January 12

Lost and Found

It's a time of beginnings and endings.

Literally. Coming home from work I booted the PC only to find out all my bookmarks had disappeared from Mozilla. The customary cussing and thrashing of foul language ensued, following which I realised I only had one thing to do:

Re-bookmark every single one of those pages. Kids, please. Back up your bookmarks, at least if you value your hair (and sanity). I know I lost at least some tonight. The upside is my bookmarks folder has never looked cleaner. The downside is that well, things are a bit too clean.

On another front, CSI: Miami finally bowed out on AXN tonight, with a poignant little wrapup. It's not one of the best episodes of the series, not by a long shot, but it's still a fitting end for the series' second season - good enough for me to forsake the pile of paper on my desk, at least for an hour. I guess until CSI: NY comes on in April all that's left for me to do is play catch up with those Miami episodes I've missed and finish up the first two seasons of 24; just enough time for the third season to come on eflix (Link).

That settles my entertainment worries, I think.

In the meantime, a friend said this to me on IM recently:

"I miss being in love, Ash."

As much as I'd like to say that I don't, the fact of the matter is I do, and it's like a niggling little worry at the back of my mind. Now before some of you start saying things like you shouldn't be in love with the idea of being in love, Ash or anything else, let me assure you that I am very much still sane.

It's just that like my friend, there are times when I miss those things people in love feel or do. The anticipation early on, the frantic search for a connection, anything to justify the fact that you feel so things are so right. And then there's the excitement. Oh God, the excitement.

Sadly, I'm far too self aware to let myself do the abovementioned. Love is surrender, I read somewhere once; and right now I don't think I can let myself surrender to anyone. Too many issues, too many complexes, and too many complications have made Ash.ox a very contradictory boy.

So now, if you'll all excuse me, I have some more bookmarks to hunt down.


The 300 Orphans

Reading through Jordan's post today (Link) reminded me of something I'd wanted to post up here awhile ago, and it made me do some digging in my inbox. Luckily, the offending document was still there. I present it to you now, in its entirety. I even include those irritating "forwarded marks" for authenticity.

Aslm, detail kronologi usaha membawa 300 orang yatim piatu daripada
> acheh ke malaysia beserta serba sedikit update drp Acheh.
> Assalamu'alaikum wbt.
> Untuk renungan dan kongsi-kongsi bersama.
> Disertakan sms yang saya terima sejak 3 hari yang lalu.
> 01/01/2005 05:10PM- Salam. Baru melawat pantai Sigli..Puluhan ribu
> mangsa..
> Mayat di merata tempat.. Ramai anak2 kecil yg yatim.. Sms dari Dr Syed
> Azman.
> 02/01/2005 09:19AM- Salam..Suasana di Acheh so bad.. DiDaerah Melabuh
> saja lebih 100,000 hilang..Gegaran terus berlaku tiap hari..Teruskan
> bantuan n doa buat saudara2 kita..Team medical kita nonstop
> bekerja..Sebarkan. Sms dari Dr Syed Azman.
> 02/01/2005 11.00AM - Airmata kami sudah kering..Kami ngak bisa nangis
> lagi..Itulah rintihan saudara2 kita di Acheh.. Hulurkan bantuan kita,
> saudara2 semua..Team medic kita selamat alhamdulillah..Sebarkan. Sms
> dari Dr Syed Azman.
> 03/01/2005 08:00PM - Pls ask among friends who would like to adopt
> orphans from Acheh. 300 orphans coming soon. Need muslim homes.
> Christian missionaries going for them. Pls help! Pls call Dr Fairuz
> 0122784033.
> P/s: Saya dah call Dr Fairuz, dia comfirm sms ini. Siapa yang berminat
> boleh call dia. Dan saya ada bertanya 2-3 pondok pengajian/maahad dan
> mencadangkan agar menerima anak-anak ini dengan cara tajaan by ibubapa
> angkat. Sesiapa yang berminat bolehlah e-mailkan nama dan no. h/phone
> untuk tindakan susulan.
> Subject: Sms dari Acheh.
> Assalamu'alaikum wbt.
> Lagi sms dari Dr. Syed Azman : Salam..Kita nak bina hospital
> sementara. .Di Acheh amat sad.. Kami bersama mayat dan yg cedera.. We
> cried alot.. Doa untuk kami. SEBARKAN. >From Dr Syed Azman. Sms tamat.
> Wassalam.
> Sms terbaru 30/12/04 11:41 malam, yang diterima daripada Dr. Syed
> Azman yang mengetuai misi 7 orang doktor membantu mangsa Tsunami di
> Acheh :
> 'Sallam...Bandar Acheh bagaikan padang jarak padang tekukur..Puluhan
> ributerkorban...3/4 kota Acheh musnah.. Mayat bergelimpangan..Doa
> bersama airmata dari kami..Sebarkan berita ini..'. Dr Syed Azman. Sms
> tamat.

Now some of you may be wondering why I haven't yet contacted this Dr Fairuz to confirm/deny the email. Truth be told, I was planning to, but I got sidetracked, especially after reading a report in a newspaper that there are several versions of a fraudulent email going around. Jordan's recent encounter with one variant somewhat confirms this. Anyway, if anyone else has any other information on this, please feel free to email it to me, I'll be happy to post it here.

If it's one thing I hate, it's disinformation; especially when it contains an implicit religious threat (refer bold words). When things like this happen, you start to wonder what sort of people gets off on sending fraudulent messages like these, and if they are even now patting themselves on the back for a job well done?

Go figure.


Tuesday, January 11

Work! The Musical

Seems like things are starting to go topsy turvy. It's half past four, I'm sleepy as hell and there's a busload of work I have to do before the week ends.

There's a small throb in my left temple right now, and that can't be good. Marking assignments, drafting exam questions, a course outline for a new programme that was never my job to begin with, coming up with a suitable paper for the symposium later and the small matter of ten PhD scholarships I'm contesting for in a certain European country (I only want one of them) doing what I like best:

Computer games research. The scholarships just came out on offer yesterday - so I guess I don't have much time if I want to catch one before the deadline expires on March 1st. They pay well - about RM 13k per month, and that's after fees and what not.

Of course, overshadowing all this is the looming threat of the upcoming 35th anniversary uni celebrations, one that promises treats such as a P. Ramlee and Saloma appreciation night, vast dull exhibitions on absolutely nothing interesting at all, and other delicious delights. Be still, oh my poor heart.

Anyway, I'm off home. There's too much on my head right now, and none of them has anything to do with leisure. I think I'm going to enjoy the next few months.



Monday, January 10

The State Of The Bunion

Come this March, I'll have officially been blogging for two years.

Man, how time flies. One thing I've noticed though (don't worry, I'll not get all mushy, sentimental and constipated yet) is that every couple months or so, as the face of the blogiverse (my own term, can't stand blogspherewossname) evolves two little issues will come out of the woodwork with the consistency and perseverance of those irritating little sores in your mouth you can't help but shove your tongue into.

You know what I'm talking about. The culprits are the infamous What Is A Real Blog? dilemma and the Newspapers Versus Blogs! conundrum. It's like clockwork, in a sense. Someone's going to get pissed at a recent (or maybe even ancient) article on any one of those subjects, write a nice long rant about it (which in turn will be responded to and commented by other bloggers, especially the newer ones) fume and steam for awhile before finally making their peace with their matter and carrying on pretty much as usual, writing the way they're most comfortable with.

Which is precisely the whole point to begin with.

Now I admit I was heads on in it at first as well. I fumed, I raved, I got upset. These days, I just don't bother, although it DOES somewhat remind me how no matter how things change they always stay the same. Someday in the future, when blogs have turned into yet another historical quirk of the early 21st century, some people in skin fitting spandex, mentaltyping on their porta-hovercycles are going to stop and think:

"So what constitutes a REAL metatranscriptojectomediapub?"

Uh huh. It's gonna be a looong ride for this species. In the meantime, if you're into the issue, check out Penny Arcade's response to a traditional syndicated columnist's attack on their business model (Link) and also this may be of extra interest: A list of companies that have fired staff members who blog (Link). If anyone wants me, I'll be signing up for the Bloggers' Legal Defense Union.

Blog safe, kids!


Sunday, January 9

Gay Aphrodisiacs, and Other Goodies

Oh my God. It's been such an excellent Sunday.

In fact, for some people who are in the know, it's been absolutely 'banging'. But that aside, not only did I get to spend an extremely fun time having breakfast with some very wonderful people, I also finally got to sit down and watch the first season of 24 I got from eflix (Link). I remember I started around 3 pm, and after my sis joined in we went straight on till about 630 (or somewhere around episode 9).

Needless to say, I'm glad I have the entirety of season 1 at hand (not to mention season 2 on the way); else I don't know how I'd be able to handle the tension - it's that good. I am sorely tempted to post a review of Kung Fu Hustle, but keeping in the Sunday spirit, I think I'll just say two words:

Go watch.

I don't remember the last time I laughed so hard without feeling guilty. So whilst waiting for myself to pick my brains up, gather them nicely and post actual content, here are some little bits that found themselves in my bloglines (Link). Nice way to wrap up a Sunday, if you ask me.

Sure. Everyone wants a PDA. But not everyone can afford one, especially if the nature of our lives aren't THAT busy, yet. Here via BoingBoing is something pretty intriguing for us techy masses out there: the Hipster PDA (Link). All we need is a stack of file cards and a binder clip. Trust me, it's that easy. And then, just when we've finished thanking the Gods of USB for thumbdrives, out pops another little add-on: the SD card with a USB interface, courtesy of Sandisk (Link). No more hassle copying your pics from the camera; slide a little notch on the SD card to reveal a USB connector, slot it in the PC, and you're good to go.

I swear I love technology. Last but not least, here's something that'll make you think twice about NOT buying those gas masks of the 'net. The US's Freedom of Information Act has recently revealed that up till 1994 at least the government has been actively involved in developing a chemical that; when dropped on enemy troops make them want to have sex with each other (Link).

In short - a gay aphrodisiac. Now while some may debate the merits of employing such "non-lethal" technology, I just wonder how long we have to wait until someone somewhere decides to make a consumer level variant, even unofficially. I'd even wait a little for the straight version - if that's at all possible.

Hmmm. Anyway, I'm off for now. Tomorrow's a brand new day, and I think I can slot in another 2 episodes of 24 tonight, at least.

See you Monday, folks.


Saturday, January 8

KL Epilogue

4 a.m:

He doesn't sleep, though he knows he needs the rest. There is a tangible impatience in the air, as if something's waiting for someone to do some other thing somewhen. KL is quiet. He knows because he drove there himself to see. So's Shah Alam. In fact, everywhere's quiet. The light drizzle that fell on the city and its surrounding areas must have helped speed the slumbering populace to wherever it is they find (and lose) their dreams.

The Xbox is still making funny noises when it loads games, and I hate that. It also doesn't seem to be loading Halo 2 at all. Is it dying? Does this mean my console days are receding?

He flits; from stranger to stranger like a moth ever intrigued by the intricacies of light. There will be a price to pay for his actions, no matter how he thinks he's gotten away. We all pay, sooner or later. They receive him, take him into their bosom, but he knows it is all shadow play. Come the morning, they're all just what they promised to be: playmates.

Someone scratched my car, the bugger. And after I gave him room for parking and going out as well. Fuck. At least there were those two cute Japanese girls in KLCC. Vastly underage, but since I was only looking....

The sleepiness is overtaking. He can now think clearly for the first time in days.

Finally I don't have to remember, and no one can blame me for forgetting. No one.


Friday, January 7

Friday! Yes!

Busy rushing about today - I've got classes up the wazoo, but I still thought I'd share some nifty little links to my faithful readers.

Hello, there.

I've always been fascinated by Coffeelese (you know the pidgin pseudo latin they use in Starbucks) so when I came across this site (Link) I was very happy (thanks, BoingBoing!). I think it'll help the next time you need to step up to the counter and order something that'll make you look and sound a little.."in" it. Some examples:

Single Made with just one shot of espresso. This is the normal amount for all Tall-sized drinks except Mocha Valencias and Americanos.

Double Made with two shots. This is the normal amount for all Grande- and hot Venti-sized drinks except Mocha Valencias and Americanos. Also the normal amount for Tall-sized Mocha Valencias and Americanos.

Triple Made with three shots. This is the normal amount for Grande- and Venti-sized Mocha Valencias and Americanos. Also the normal amount for most iced Venti-sized drinks.

Quad Made with four shots. Hope you weren't planning on sleeping anytime soon.

Ristretto This is so rarely requested that even many baristas don't recognize it. A normal shot of espresso takes about twenty seconds to pull; a ristretto shot is stopped at fifteen seconds, making a slightly smaller, less bold shot.

OOkay. Looks like I have a little brushing up of my own to do. The next thing is something I'd love to try out on a partner, which I unfortunately do not have. T-shirt underwear (Link)! The site shows guys and girls how to craft personalised, cute little undies with just an old tshirt, elastic cord and some fabric; and they look quite cute as well (I'm using CUTE in a sentence? Bah!). I'm thinking if I get some practice now, I can actually make some in time for a couple birthdays this year...

Anyway. Have a good weekend, folks. I'm off.


If you're in the mood for a little giggling fun, try this (Link). It's good entertainment, for a few seconds.


Thursday, January 6

Wikipedia Vs Britannica: Update

I love going to work early these days (though I can assure you it's not for the love of the office) simply because the internet connection seems a little faster, and I can catch up with stuff to post for my readers (hello again, you three).

Thursday sure comes up fast when you've got mountains to move and water to walk on. In between marking, setting exam questions and trying to come up with a suitable paper for the Games In Education symposium later this year, I find this ongoing debate between Britannica and Wikipedia (Link) highly interesting (for context, click on this link).

Following the articles and rebuttals, it comes across as highly ironic that in an age where the distribution of information (and subsequent distillation into knowledge) can happen at the speed of thought one of the co-founders of Wikipedia himself is giving everyone some reasons why this new "faith-based encyclopaedia" can NEVER, in actuality, become one.

One of the major points he raises is of course, the perception of credibility. By having such an open, editable (in net speak "living") document it raises certain issues regarding governance and authenticity. Regular media have been quick to highlight this seeming weakness (Link) and they have certainly not been remiss in criticising what they perceive to be serious faults within Wikipedia.

I for one, think that in no case at all should any ONE source of information be allowed to eclipse other possible ones. The fluid nature of information in this era requires timeliness as WELL as accuracy, something traditional Encyclopaedias simply may not be equipped to do; therefore I was delighted to see this compact, elegant response (Link) to another article on one person's doubts about the whole thing (Link), which in my mind raises several important questions of its own.

At the end of the day, these different sources of information should act to complement, not antagonise or replace. Wikipedia's fast updates allows it to stay abreast of current news, as evidenced by the recent Tsunami coverage (Link) but Britannica and its ilk will continue to provide authoritative, peer written articles that serve a more scholarly need. Is it fair to say that one should supplant the other? Not at all, in my opinion.

As we move further into what some call the information age, it is high time we celebrate our advantage of "context". Sources like Wikipedia allow us to get a glimpse of the unadulterated big picture AS it happens, allowing us to prefigure the contextual content long before the regular channels get it.

Perhaps that's the most important bit of all.



Wednesday, January 5

Closing Time

I needed a bit of quiet before an evening engagement (not with Das Experiment, if you MUST know) so I found myself at a table, assignments on one side, an Ed McBain paperback on the other, the MuVo and a caramel latte.

This is possibly as close to bliss as I can get without breaking the bank (though IKEA has possibly the best way you can spend RM 2, ever) but what I liked the most was simply the quiet. Something Jikon said here (Link) started me thinking; of how prone I am to just disengage from being in the present - and how sometimes I can't live anywhere BUT the present.

The past few months have been strange, because as I strive to live in the present (where I need to be) I am also nowhere, or perhaps nowhen. It's as if I am forever peering through semi transparent matte paintings of the past, overlaid with what I'm supposed to be looking at now; whilst the future hangs in the distance like a grey fog that I just can't really think about.

I think, I've been closer to not knowing who I am this early in the year more than ever, and that scares me.

Come the morning, I'll wake up, rush to the bathroom and resume normal programming. But for now - anyone's guess is as good as mine when it comes to where the fuck I'm going; or even where I am.

It's 12 midnight. Do you know where you are?


The Sun Vs Disney: The Real Culprit

Just as I was wrapping up my previous entry, the news started to crowd in.

A Disney GBA game, Monsters Inc, contains the phrase "Fuck off and die". According to the Sun (Link, not one of the most trustworthy tabloids, on or offline) little Beki Stewart booted the game and got the foul message. Her dad who apparently spent a wad of dough on two GBA consoles and the games for his kids was suitably incensed at Disney, which resulted in the Sun thrashing Disney and THQ, the developer.

What they somehow conveniently forgot to mention was the fact that the cartridge Mr Stewart bought was a pirated one, and which had been modified by a certain warez group. As any self respecting gamer knows, warez groups like to label their cracks, hacks, serial numbers, and games. Sometimes it's just a simple shout out to their mates. Other times it's profanity (like in this case). Had they done their research like these folks (Link) they would have found that it's Mr Stewart to blame for not getting his kid an original GBA cart. So while Mr Stewart can claim that he splashed 200 quid on the game and consoles, something nags at me instead, telling me that there's a possibility he bought the cart at a garage sale for next to nothing and spent the rest of the dough at the local watering hole.

It's as simple as that. Now spread the word. As much as I don't like Disney these days, no one deserves THIS sort of defamation.


Return of The Box

There is reason to celebrate: Monolith is safe after a round in the operating room.

For those uninformed, Monolith is my Xbox. I consigned it to the service shop last Saturday after spending several worrisome hours wondering why the hell wouldn't any of my games load. As the service people remarked yesterday, the cause was apparently "a timing failure". What this means is that the data being picked up by the laser in the disc drive was not in sync with the data from the BIOS of the console - resulting in some wonky happenings.

Still, all said and done the console's fixed, and whilst it will cost me RM 80 I'm just relieved to have it back. My TV area's been looking skimpy the past couple days.

In the meantime work looks nasty. There's all sorts of meetings (and if I know anything about the nature of these things, that also means more legwork) and then there's this symposium on games in education going on in May and June that I absolutely MUST join (and God willing, write for) so I have to brush up on my game theory and design blogs like this one (Link) as well as reading material like this highly entertaining article (Link).

Oh work. For all my complaining, I thank God heartily for it; simply because it gives me something to do when the Xbox is kaput, my nights are lonely, and there's not even the faintest glimmer of a shag on the horizon.

Yes, Jikon, I AM sad.



Tuesday, January 4

We Are All Made Of Stars

God, it's already 9, and I feel like a sack of potatoes. Bad ones, to boot. It's been a long and tiring day - so much so I can't wait for the weekend simply because I would so like to wake up a little later than the usual 530 am. With the new committee assignments coming out for the uni's 35th anniversary (not to mention I have to break the news to the faculty that branding IS essential) I'll be having my hands full up till the middle of..

well, whenever.

I did manage to see something relatively interesting during my slightly sleepy drive home. This particular turning into the USJ area is very busy after 5 pm, and it's not unusual to see vehicles of all shapes and sizes run the traffic lights. I may have missed the incident, but my guess is it wasn't long before I bumped into the scene, judging from the policemen still there.

It must have been going pretty fast to achieve that kind of a state. By the way, I managed to catch Joel Schumacher's Phantom of The Opera last night, and though I'm gagging to post a review I will have concede defeat on this, simply because I'm not familiar enough with the source material to be able to conduct a fair, knowledgeable one.

And then there's the fact that I'm just tired out of my skull. There's also that faint tingle that signals trouble on the horizon, and these bones - they just get all tetchy. I was actually supposed to post a diatribe against a certain person I know (it's just gotten too much!) but I'm thinking revenge tastes better cold.

Frozen, even.

G'night, peeps.


I almost logged off before remembering that I HAD to post an addendum, a semi tribute to a woman I consider one of the sexiest ever to grace the telly: Nigella Lawson (Link). I caught a couple episodes of her cooking show Forever Summer on Singapore TV when I was in JB, and I was mesmerised. Here was a woman who was not only extremely visually and aurally appealing (to me, at least) but also blessed with an amazing sense of culinary panache. I won't say any more, simply because in this state my brain will probably ooze more hormones than anything, so enjoy some pics of the lady here, here and here.

I know which one I like the best.


Monday, January 3

Xbox SNAFUed, and More DRM Issues!

It's Monday all over again, and my God, I never knew I'd be so fearful of schools reopening. Note to self: leaving at 630 am seems to be safest bet for getting out of Subang before the monster jam starts.

Yesterday, I came across a little piece of office equipment that I'd REALLY like to get my mitts on, and it only costs USD 6! Anyone feel like giving the Ox a staple-less stapler (Link)? Like the site says, do we call it a stapless? Or an unstapler?

In related news, Monolith (my Xbox) is now in the shop for servicing, due to what I suspect to be a disc-drive lens issue. I've not played a game in several days, which in my opinion may serve as a catalyst for the sudden interest in Das Experiment. My TV area feels somewhat empty now, and I can only hope that 1) it'll be ready soon, and 2) it won't cost me a bomb. I miss watching my CSI: NY episodes, not to mention playing Ghost Recon 2 (if you're any self respecting gamer, you want that game, and yes the PS2 version sucks because it's done by a different developer).

Which leads back to one of my favouritest (is there such a word) topics in the tech world, ever:


I've been posting on this before, but an exchange between BoingBoing's (Link) Cory Doctorow and Wired Magazine's (Link) Chris Anderson has me checking out the RSS feeds quite intently, with the result that Cory has responded to several comments on the issue here (Link). A particular part of the whole article sums up my feelings rather nicely:

"Take the example of the Media Center PC. There is one show -- the Sopranos -- that is currently being cablecast with a flag switched on that prevents you from burning a DVD of the shows you record.

If you're not a Sopranos fan, that's not a big deal -- maybe you're a classic movie buff building a collection of Cagney films off of TNT. $2,000 for a Media Center PC seems like a good buy for you right now.

But how are you to know whether TNT will switch on that same flag? Are you a party to those negotiations? Is there anyone who considers your interests who's in the room where that's being decided? Is there even anyone in that that room who can tell you how it's going, so that before you buy the box, you can read up on the current negotiations and make an informed decision?"

The very fact that the studios can force hardware manufacturers to limit the capabilities of their products reeks of something very smelly to me. Would you in good faith buy a product like a PVR or DVD recorder knowing full well after three months your recorded files may just delete themselves off your hard drive? Of course, one may argue that there's always Ah Nam, Ah Hong, or whatever your friendly pirate DVD vendor's name is; but staying legit is a way of us showing appreciation to the men and women behind the entertainment. As he writes in the first article:

"If you want to watch all the Sopranos or Six Feet Unders in a row at the end of the season, you'll have to do it on Pay Per View. You'll have to buy what you used to get for free: the right to record a show and watch it for as long as you'd like. You get less, you pay more. And the studios can change the rules of the game after you've bought the box and brought it home: the only way you can protect your investment is if you can somehow ensure that no studio executive decides to revoke one of the features you paid for back when the box was on the show-room floor. Remember, these are the same studio execs who are duking it out for the right to limit how long a pause button can work for."

Of course, there will always be the somewhat-optimists who believe that in the end it will all pan out and we'll all reach some sort of a media harmony.

Uh huh. I'll believe it when I see it.

The moment I read these articles I was reminded of a similar controversy when I was growing up - about how VHS was a threat to the TV and movie industry, and suddenly it struck me just how this whole digital era shebang has all the studios and content providers in a tizzy. It's an interesting start to the new year, and we can expect the discussion to get even more heated as time goes by.

In the meantime, if any of you are planning any big tech purchases this year (especially that Windows Media Center Edition PC), you may want to brush up before anything.

Over and out, guys!


Sunday, January 2

Das Experiment: Part One

Since I had a relatively lazy Sunday ahead of me when I finally woke up this morning, I thought I was feeling brave enough to conduct a little experiment I'd been meaning to try for ages:

Go out on a date with a girl five years younger.

The subject: an acquaintaince from Yahoo! Messenger, who is now finishing her TESL degree (which somewhat ensures a competent command of English).

The task: Go for a movie, possibly dinner afterwards; and to record my impressions of the whole deal.

(looking back, I now realise it's one hell of a way to kick off a new year. Why bother with resolutions when you can find out if it's worth resoluting for?)

The preliminary results:

Though conditions appear to be workable, there are enough differences in multiple areas to warrant a closer examination of my mental capacity should I wish to indulge in this activity to the next level. I now have firsthand experience that more than ever confirms the rather large (but bridgeable) gap that exists between a male working in an educational institution such as myself and an average university student in Malaysia. Read on to find out.

First Impressions:

As my initial chats and conversation indicated (and of course validated by previous experience) girls much younger can be quite pleasant conversation. However, straddling electron beams on IM and actually spending time in meatspace together are two totally different things, as I found out.

First of all, speech patterns are demonstrably different, perhaps due to environmental factors such as locality and current trends. The age factor does seem to come into play here, as the topics for conversation mainly revolve around events that affect student/campus life directly. Subject performed several verbal parries and displayed quirks that showed promise during the conversation, although these were tempered by expressions and body language unique to people of that age bracket.

It will be quite unfair to "review" the person I went out with, or even to come to a conclusion this early in the scenario (since of course this is a person we're talking about here, not a cow). What I can say however is that there is an interesting dynamic going on that makes for an excellent reason to continue this experiment; even if it is to simply see if the initial interest can be sustained.

I will be posting regular updates as time goes by, so keep tuned as I kick off the first possibly mentally damaging act of the year!


Saturday, January 1

The New Year Muffin

Last night, as I was sitting down with a couple of friends in Taipan, it suddenly struck me how the new year is very much like a muffin.

(Before everyone screams how I've all of a sudden turned potty, please bear with me. When you're done reading, you may contact the authorities.)

When you first get a warm muffin, you will at first be tantalised by the way it looks, and the smell. Any muffin (except for some very badly baked ones) will look extremely inviting at first. And then, you gingerly approach it with your fork, taking into account that by rushing into it you'll probably ruin the whole experience hence a slow, methodical approach is required, as illustrated by Figure 1 below.

Fig 1: the beginning of the year/muffin

Now where were we? Ah yes, the muffin, and how it is like the new year. As you dig your way through, it is almost inevitable that some parts of the thing will fall off and break into heretofore unpredictable patterns and pretty soon your initially orderly eating plans will be in disarray and you're forced to blunder your way through.

Naturally, ordered or not, the muffin will end up eaten, as illustrated by Figure 2.

Fig 2: the end of the muffin

It will be very obvious to the reader now how similarly structured our forays into every fresh new year is to eating a muffin (and if it's not, I don't dare assume anything on behalf of the reader's mental ability since muffins ARE tricky creatures) so in essence - it's pretty much as good an analogy as you're apt to find these days.

So anyway, before I further consign myself to the annals of madmen, I hope that some of you have recovered enough from your hangovers and assorted new year's entertainments to take some time to say hello to 2005, and to maybe not rush into it, but enjoy it - and prepare for the crumbly bits.

After all, what's a muffin without crumbly bits?