Fuyoh! by Gobi

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Saturday, May 31, 2003

9:14 PM - Katchy on Tekkaman

Japanese toy fan, Katchy, has a review of Takara's Tekkaman figure (here's an Amikai-translation), which is made from the same body type as the Microman Microforce figures.

The articulation is amazing. Just check out those poses!

Link  | 

8:47 PM - 20 days in spring 2003

One artist has expressed his outrage about the Iraqi war in a creative manner.

It's not an unbiased work. It's certainly not subtle. But if nothing else, the images and juxtaposed text are thought-provoking.

(Link obtained from MeFi.)

Link  | 

8:16 PM - Missing

Get this: No one has managed to find irrefutable proof of Iraqi WMD thus far. Well, who would've thunk it? Especially after Iraqi WMD was used as the main selling point of the war.

The warmongers and their supporters are getting a bit defensive about this. Here's a typical rejoinder:

A lot of anti-war types are making a big noise about the fact that weapons of mass destruction (WMD) have not been found in Iraq YET. I emphasise the word "yet" because it's still early days. Iraq is a big country. Biological weapons and chemical weapons could be hidden anywhere in some remote location.

Well, gosh, if those WMD are so easily concealed, how did Rumsfeld and Co. just know those nasty thingamajigs were there in Iraq before the war when Anglo-American forces weren't even inside Iraq? Vewwy vewwy suspicious.

But I'd agree those biological weapons and chemical weapons are probably hidden in some remote location.

Thus far, that remote location seems to be somewhere in the warmongers' imaginations.

And speaking of hard-to-find items ...

Dude, Where's My Tank?

The US Department of Defense is having trouble locating some missing items.

Nothing major.

Just one trillion dollars not to mention 56 airplanes, 32 tanks, and 36 Javelin missile command launch-units.

The one trillion dollars is understandable. It's probably behind the couch.

Or in somebody's pockets.

But the tanks and the planes? Where the hell did those go?

(E-mail Rumsfeld if you spot any suspicious auctions on eBay.)

Link  | 

7:41 PM - Tahyul

One of the reasons cited for suspending TV1's Pelik Tapi Benar programme was its tahyul (supernatural) elements.

Meanwhile ...

TV2's airing Angel, a show filled with vampires, demons and other supernatural creatures.

I don't watch Pelik Tapi Benar and I don't give a damn if it's suspended for all eternity.

However, I do find the double-standards practised by local decision-makers to be very aggravating.

Shaping a progressive society, my ass.

Link  | 

7:21 PM - Lessons from students

The kids are having their school break right now. But there's no respite from me, the Tuition Teacher from Hell.

I handed the kids in my class a specimen test paper today. One of the sections required them to rewrite a passage to include details about their own father. The passage is supposed to end with the sentence "My father is a good father."

It was only after I had handed out the test papers I remembered one of the kids in my class, a thin boy who stammered, was abandoned by his father.

To his immense credit, that 10-year-old did the paper without any complaints. I'm pretty sure he made up some details about his dad but given the circumstances, I'm damned proud of him. He didn't whine, cry, feel sorry for himself or ask for sympathy. He just got on with it.

Link  | 

2:54 PM - Hello, Mr McDonald

Who is Ronald McDonald?

The Wall Street Journal reveals all!

Okay, maybe not all. But it's still an interesting look at one of the world's most famous corporate mascots.

An excerpt:

One former Ronald is a vegetarian who has since joined forces with animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to chide the chain. "I feel badly about what I've done with young people," says Geoffrey Giuliano, who played Ronald in Canada in the early 1980s. "I was the happy face on something that was horrendous."

I guess prior to working for McD's Mr Giuliano believed the meat patties in Big Macs were plucked from the Magic Meat Patty Tree.

(Link obtained from Arts & Letters Daily.)

Link  | 

2:48 PM - And I quote

coupland rewrites the premise of a famous Shakespeare play in a Slashdot post entitled "whereis /usr/man/ROMEO?" An excerpt:

They try to pursue their love in secret chat rooms using fake handles, but then the LUG/MUG finds out and forbids them to ever speak again!

Link  | 

Friday, May 30, 2003

7:03 PM - Microforce out!

Takara has finally released Microforce!

I got the payment request from HLJ this morning, rushed to the bank to make out a bank draft and was exasperated to find out the bank's computer was down. Oh well, tomorrow then.

I also need to shoot off an e-mail to HLJ's customer support to ask them to be flexible about their pay-within-14-days rule. It generally takes between 12 to 19 days for air mail letters to go from Malaysia to the US. The last letter I sent took 16 days.

I wouldn't want my order to be cancelled just because the payment was late by two or three days. I've been eagerly anticipating these figures since January.

Link  | 

Thursday, May 29, 2003

8:14 PM - Sa-I-Bo-Gu

I finally received the Neo Henshin Cyborg figure I won on eBay.

It only took 38 days.


To quote Guns 'N' Roses, patience is a virtue and I lost my virtue long ago.

In brief (*), I'm pleased with the figure. It's not perfect but considering the historical significance of the original line and its 5mm compatibility, I think it's well worth the US$33 -- including shipping -- I paid for it.

* Don't breathe a sigh of relief just yet, buckaroo. The interminably long, boring review is coming!

Link  | 

8:04 PM - Buh-log-oh-suh-fee-yuh

I don't understand why anyone would consider the term "blogosphere" pretentious. Does anyone consider the term "Internet" and "World Wide Web" pretentious?

My take is that "blogosphere" sounds goofy rather than pretentious. C'mon, say it with me: Buh-log-oh-suh-fee-yuh. Aiyoh, kaddavuhlay. But if that's what it's going to be called, that's what I'm going to call it.

(Side note: Kudos to the person who coined the term. Propagating it was quite an achievement.)

But I'd agree that terms like "proper blog" sound pretentious and condescending to folks who don't share someone's narrow definition of what constitutes a "proper blog."

I must have missed class the day teacher said all bloggers must emulate InstaPundit in order for their blogs to be considered proper blogs.

Just because someone has zero interest in what a blogger has to say doesn't mean that blog ought to be excluded from the buh-log-oh-suh-fee-yuh.

Aren't we all making up the "rules" and terms as we go along, anyway?

Regardless, I'd rather let others fret about meta issues like terminology and significance. I'm too busy blogging/updating this site/journal/blog.

Link  | 

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

7:08 PM - The return of the Proxomitron!

Evil Pop-up Ad: Ha ha! We will now replicate and obscure Gobi's browser!

Flash Ad and Banner Ad: Ha ha! And we'll be a distracting presence!

Gobi's browser: Oh no! Will no one save me?

(Enter the Proxomitron!)

The Proxomitron: Stand back, citizen!

Gobi's browser: Hurrah! It's the mighty Proxomitron!

Evil Pop-Up Ad: What the-? I thought we had dealt with you!

The Proxomitron: You thought wrong, evil-doer. I'm back and better than before.

Flash Ad: You're bluffing! You look exactly the same!

The Proxomitron: Trust me, it's all under the hood, baby. But enough talk. Time for a serving of smurf-kickin', straight from the oven.

Javascript Pop-ups, Banner Ad and Flash Ad: Oh no!

(The Proxomitron beats up the the evil trio.)

Gobi's browser: My hero!

(P.S. Movie rights are available. I personally see the Proxomitron being played by Shwarzenegger Schwhaznegger Bruce Willis.)

Link  | 

8:31 AM - Pelik Tapi Benar

The Star reports:

RTM has temporarily suspended the Pelik Tapi Benar programme, citing its negative and tahyul (supernatural beliefs) elements.


It cited some excerpts of the show, whereby viewers were shown how headaches could be cured by knocking one’s head on a pole. Another supernatural belief was that a keris could stand on its own.


The ministry also said RTM should not follow in the footsteps of private stations which were only interested in raking in profits and forgot their role in shaping a progressive society.

Ah, so Pelik Tapi Benar (think "Believe It Or Not") has no place in TV1's line-up because it has no role in "shaping a progressive society."

Does that mean the Information Ministry believes Knight Rider which airs on TV2 -- a RTM channel, mind you -- will somehow have a role in shaping a progressive society?

Pelik tapi benar!

Link  | 

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

11:57 AM - Takara toys for adults

If you can only think of items like the Audi-Oh when "toys for adults" are mentioned, it's time to change your outlook.

The Asahi Shimbun reports Japanese toy company Takara is introducting new toys targeted at adults:

``Our goal is to become a total life entertainment company,'' said President Keita Sato, who stressed that Takara would continue its strategy of targeting consumers of all ages.

In 1999, the toy maker launched a new division catering to the adult market.


Overall, sales in Takara's new ``adult'' segment rose to 11.9 billion yen in fiscal 2002, nearly double sales of toys for girls.

Takara's new products for adults include a single-seater electric car, U Car, (a follow-up to the Q-Car) and "tu," a motorised bicycyle. (There's a 56KB PDF press release on Takara's web site).

The 190,000 yen motorised bicycle sounds interesting. It's cheaper than the Segway Human Transporter and sounds far less dorky.

It also appears Takara's purchase of Atlus was aimed at gaining a foothold in the purikura market.

Link  | 

12:51 AM - Spaceward, ho!

I've been growing a little bored of Medieval: Total War of late. The campaign is progressing well but I'm getting tired of waiting around while my production struggles to feed my war machine.

I had Championship Manager 4 all queued up for play after M:TW but unfortunately, the sloppy production of that game -- it's still buggy after its third "enhancement pack" -- meant an unforgivably sluggish performance on my Celeron 900. I'm not going to try a CM campaign until I get my Pentium IV upgrade.

Am I destined to be game-less in the interim?

Fear not, true believer!

I've got another strat title queued up and from all indications, it looks like an excellent candidate for a prolonged case of game-lock.

The game?

Galactic Civilizations.

Remember the name. It may have had a small budget and it was released without fanfare but I believe it's going to go down in gaming history as a classic of the genre.

I first heard about the game through the Quarter to Three message boards, where it has been getting some rave reviews from the hardcore gamers, journalists and developers who post there.

GalCiv isn't too dissimilar to the Master of Orion series. However, from what I can tell, this is a very polished and well thought out iteration of Ye Olde 4x Formula.

In other words, not Master of Orion 3.

I was pleased to see the designer, Brad Wardell, posts on Usenet. He's been quite accessible and is ever quick to answer queries and take suggestions.

I've been especially impressed by the way Wardell has been listening to users. To cite just one example, he initially opposed the idea of having an in-game tech tree as he considered it a cheatsy crutch. However, he has since been convinced users want that crutch and that feature will be made available in an expansion to be released this summer.

The price of that expansion?

Is it RM119?




It's free!

Feel the love!

Galactic Linkizations:

  • Here's the official web site. (Turn on Javascript -- or switch off the Proxomitron -- to navigate with the menu on the left side.) There's an online high-score board for obsessive-compulsives to obsess over and be compulsive about.

  • There are a couple of campaign recaps that serve to highlight various strategies one can use when playing. Even with the none-too-subtle spinning -- e.g. the AI routines are so good, they surprised and beat the author! -- you can see the smurfalicious strengths of the game.

  • It's nice to see the game has a sense of humour. An awkward moment indeed.

  • I'm thrilled the developers recognise players shouldn't have to drag things out.

  • There's an excellent post-release Gamasutra article by Wardell that candidly discusses what went right and what didn't during the production of the game.

  • Metacritic and Gone Gold have links to pro reviews while PC Game Review has user reviews.

  • Try the 49.8MB demo and see if the game floats your boat.

  • Gamers Dotcom has the game for RM139 (excluding freight) while PC Game.com.my is selling it for RM149 (including freight). I'm ordering the game as soon as I get paid.

Link  | 

Sunday, May 25, 2003

12:23 PM - Supercon Optimus Prime

This is almost a perfect Transformer. In fact, it's so close to perfection, the few flaws present make me want to sob and curl up in a fetal position. But because I am a manly man (with an irrepressible inner child) I will continue with this review in a responsible manner.

I'm not going to provide much of an overview of the Transformers Armada line. Mainly because I am a lazy bastard. However, I did endeavour to locate some useful links and have listed them below. You owe me plenty for this and I will collect. (All I'm saying is don't get too attached to your firstborn.)

5 mili jointo!

I think most fans of Takara's toys will know what 5mm pegs and ports are. For the uninformed, they're pegs and ports which are -- surprise, surprise -- 5mm in diameter. The fact they're present in numerous Takara action figures and accessories produced over the last thirty years means that you can take an accessory produced for one line and fit it on a figure from another.

The Powerlinx pegs and ports found in the Transformers Armada line are a little different from Takara's standard 5mm pegs and ports, though. A Powerlinx peg, found on the larger figures in the line, is a 5mm peg with a needle-thin button in the middle whereas a Powerlinx port, found on the Micromaster-sized Mini-Cons, is a 5mm port with a needle-thin peg in the middle.

When a Mini-Con is attached to a Powerlinx peg on a larger fgure, the button on the Powerlinx peg is depressed and this usually activates a gimmick on the larger figure.

I initially thought the Powerlinx ports were unique to this line but was surprised to find that that many of the 5mm pegs on the Robolinks/Blockman figures and accessories have a thin hole capable of accommodating the needle-thin peg on Powerlinx ports.

Roll out

In vehicle mode, Armada Optimus Prime is a futuristic 6-wheeled prime mover. It's a long-nose cab that bears a slight resemblance to the cab for Laser Optimus Prime from Transformers: Generation 2.

I find there's little play value in this mode aside from the vroom-vroom factor, though.

In terms of connectivity, there's a 5mm peg on the rear of the cab that functions as a trailer hitch. This allows you to attach the trailer from the larger Super Base version of the character. There's also a Powerlinx peg on the vehicle mode roof and a standard 5mm peg just behind the cabin. Finally, there's a standard 5mm port just left of the trailer hitch and you can attach the bundled Mini-Con, Over-Run, here. But I recommend you don't do this. In fact, I recommend you take Over-Run and burn him. But I'm getting ahead of myself.


Transformation into robot mode is straightforward with few surprises or original moves.

Although the instructions suggest you should extend the lower legs while they're attached to each other, I find it's easier to extend them if they're separated.

In robot mode, Armada Optimus Prime is a muscular 13cm tall figure thanks to his bulky upper body. I'm pleased that the designers came up with a head design that's almost identical to the animated G1 Optimus Prime. The recognition factor is higher this way.

All in all, it's a good robot design and one worthy to bear the Optimus Prime monicker.

Strike a pose

(Pose: Ow! Ow!)

The articulation is almost perfect.


The low-down:

  • Neck - Ball joint.

  • Waist - Swivelling detent joint.

  • Shoulder - Two hinged joints and a swivelling joint.

  • Elbow - Ball joint and a hinged detent joint.

  • Hip - Ball joint.

  • Knee - Hinged detent joint and a swivel joint.

  • Ankles - Two hinge joints which allow the feet to hinge up with severely limited side-to-side movement.

As you might be able to extrapolate from the joints described above, the figure's got terrific articulation and you can place it in some wonderful action poses.

To further improve the figure's poseability, the figure's hip joints aren't impeded by the hip panels and the, ah, butt flap as all three can hinge up to allow for a greater range of motion.

That's the good news.

And here's where I explain the "almost" part of "the articulation is almost perfect."

Unfortunately, the decorative nubs on the upper thighs hinder the articulation. It's still possible to raise the upper thighs 90 degrees -- you'll have to rotate the upper thighs outwards at the hips and then force the upper leg up -- but it's unnecessarily difficult.

Another weakness is the hinged piece that connects the upper arms to the torso pops off easily during play or transformation. Reattaching the arms is simple but all that popping off and reattaching can only serve to loosen it further. Plus, it's annoying as hell.

Over-Run: Half-baked and underdone

The bundled Mini-Con, Over-Run, has three modes: robot, jet and blaster. Sadly, all three modes are disappointing.

In jet mode, he's got a pair of working wheels for his rear landing gear but a dummy (ie. non-rotating) wheel for his forward landing wheel. I don't get it. Why bother producing rolling wheels for the rear pair if the front one is incapable of rolling?

The uninspiring 6cm tall robot mode has swivelling shoulder joints and hinged hip joints (which, unfortunately, only allow sideways movement). Over-Run is not overly blessed with playability in this mode.

The final mode, a Targetmaster-ish blaster, looks every bit as silly as the pictures might suggest.

In terms of connectivity, Over-Run has one Powerlinx port on his back and a standard 5mm peg on his heels/tail.

If you're a discerning toy fan, don't be afraid to lose this Mini-Con and equip Optimus with some other weapon(s).

Deux coups de poing!

The "double punch attack gimmick," activated when you attach a Mini-Con to the Powerlinx peg on the figure's back, is embarrassingly bad. It's barely noticeable.

While the gimmick doesn't hamper the superb articulation of the figure, I suspect it's the main reason for that weak hinge joint in his shoulder.

All in all, I recommend you forget about the gimmick and take solace in the fact he's got a strategically-placed 5mm peg on his back. Speaking of which ...

Mix and match

Ah, 5mm peg and port interchangeability. Just gotta love it.

However, I must say Takara missed some opportunities to propagate the 5mm interchangeability here. F'rinstance, the vehicle mode smokestacks (which double as forearm-mounted blasters in robot mode) do not attach via 5mm pegs but with smaller-sized pegs and ports. The figure also has two ports on its shoulders but again, they're smaller than 5mm in diameter.

That's plain stupid.

If there's an opportunity to further incorporate the interchangeability of 5mm pegs and ports, use it. It just adds to the playability of the figure.

Anyway, in addition to the pegs and ports mentioned for his vehicle mode, Optimus Prime's fists have 5mm holes.

I quickly retrieved a 15cm silver-chromed sword from a bootleg Magnemo-11 Red Falcon variant and gave it to Optimus. As expected, it was a perfect fit and he looks magnificent with it.

I also put together a nifty flight pack made of a Robolinks figure with a nose cone, two wings and three jet engines. The flight pack attaches to the Powerlinx peg on his back in robot mode. He's got that great ball joint for his head so he's able to look where he's going when placed in a horizontal flying pose. The flight pack also attaches to the vehicle mode to form a flight pack but it's much less convincing.

In conclusion ...

This is a terrific figure (albeit with some flaws) and at RM49.90, one that offers wonderful bang for buck. Highly recommended.

I realise this review isn't complete. Hell, it's not even in the same postal code as complete. But I'll try to post some follow-up entries to discuss some other aspects of the toy.

In the meantime, here are some, heh, Power Links for further reading:

Link  | 

6:26 AM - Transformers Armada: Prime time

Ah, happiness is finding that one action figure you thought you'd never be able to find.

Yep, I finally got my hands on a Transformers Armada Supercon Optimus Prime. I had initially planned ...

Inner child: I got Optimus Prime! I got Optimus Prime!

Harumph! As I was saying before I was interrupted, I had planned to get the Japanese version, MC-06 Standard Convoy, but was disappointed to find it had sold out before I could place my order.

Fortunately ...

Inner child: I got Optimus Prime! I got Optimus Prime!

Shut the smurf up! Anyway, I managed to get Supercon Optimus Prime and the Air Assault Team at the Jusco outlet in Mid-Valley Megamall for RM79.80 on Friday. There were several still available so if you're a Transformers fan, get them and give 'em a good home.

Long, rambling reviews are forthcoming.

(Be afraid. Be very afraid.)

Link  | 

3:00 AM - Down with SARS

The Bangkok Post reports Bandai isn't immune to SARS:

Bandai Inc, Japan's third-largest toy-maker, which produces famous toys such as the hugely popular Tamagotchi and Digimon, reports that sales in its major Asian markets -- Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan -- have plunged around 60-70 % in April due to the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

Actually, Bandai is Japan's largest toy-maker.

The article also reveals Hong Kong is Bandai's largest market while the Philippines is the fastest growing market. The Japanese company apparently intends to shift its focus to Australia this year.

Link  | 

Saturday, May 24, 2003

3:44 AM - More M:TW

How lame am I? This lame ...

I kept hoping the terrific in-game music would be made available as MP3s and only discovered yesteday the music is available in the Sounds/Music folder as WAV files.

Me am sheepish.

Anyway, I've got the themes in a WinAmp playlist now. My favourites are "Arab Battle 1", "Arab Battle 2" and "Arab Battle 3". Great stuff.

Time out

Yet another correction about the time limits for campaign battles. It varies. It can anywhere from 30 minutes to 55 minutes. I'm not sure what the time limit is based on. Is the size of the armies? The province? Time to dig out the manual and have a look-see.

The lull before ... another lull

I've been playing 4X games off and on over the past decade. Civilization was the first one I played and then there were other favourites like Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, Master of Magic and Colonization.

In case you're wondering, the 4X refers to these games' emphasis on X-ploring, X-panding, X-ploiting and X-terminating.

Now, I do enjoy the X-ploring and the X-terminating but the X-panding and the X-ploiting can be tedious particularly in mid-campaign when things tend to bog down.

There will come a time when you haven't got enough military resources to continue your advance and you're basically stuck churning out units and then moving them to the front-line. Meanwhile, the AI is pumping out units as well. Which means you'll have to pump out even more units to ensure your offensive is successful.

So you're basically sitting around waiting.

This is not my idea of fun.

It would be better if the 4x game in question had a robust diplomacy option to while away the time while your production catches up with your grand plans for expansion.

Now I realise M:TW isn't a typical 4x game but those reasons are precisely why my Almohad campaign has slowed down to a crawl.

I've disposed of the Spanish and the Aragonese and am now taking on the Freedom, sorry, the French. I haven't got enough frontline troops for a sustained offensive so I have to spend several turns sitting around, waiting for my provinces to pump out armies and then moving them manually to the Almohad-French border.

Would it have killed the designers to include a waypoint system that automatically moves units on the strategy board?

(Previous M:TW entries: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)

Link  | 

2:46 AM - Feist forward

From Michael Cheang's review of Raymond E. Feist's latest, Talon of the Silver Hawk:

The character is predictably young and handsome, immensely talented and turns out becoming not only a great hunter, but also a master swordsman (isn't it strange how fantasy lead characters always seem to have "great potential" or tend to pick up skills very fast?).

Well, jeez, if he was an inept bladesman and picked up skills poorly, he'd be dead in his first battle and that wouldn't make much of an exciting read now, would it?

(Incidentally, the first chapter of the book is available online.)

Snarky comment aside, I agree with Cheang's assessment of Feist. He does tend to be a formulaic read but crucially, he's also breezy fun.

If you've just discovered Tolkien though the movies, you might want to give Feist's work a shot. I recommend his first trilogy comprising of Magician, Silverthorn and A Darkness at Sethanon.

Link  | 

Friday, May 23, 2003

5:49 PM - Smurfalicious

I hereby declare this to be Talk Like A Smurf Week.

Do not smurfing ask why. Just accept this and let the smurf go.

Link  | 

Thursday, May 22, 2003

11:53 PM - Microforce, where art thou?

Takara's highly anticipated Microman Microforce line has still not been released, dammit. I'm raring to get my hands on one.

Here's something to whet your appetites even more. Thai-Toku ("The Best Tokusatsu Website for Thai Fans") has made available a scan from the June issue of Hyper Hobby magazine that reveals the complexity of the design

Let me just repeat this astounding fact again: These things are only 10cm tall, have over 50 parts with over 30 points of articulation. I haven't made much of an attempt to translate the Japanese text in the scan but a casual glance at the katakana shows the magazine makes the same points.

(Link obtained from the Micropolis Embassy.)

(Previous Microforce entries: 1, 2, 3)

Link  | 

12:17 AM - Flame on: Firebird flies

I've been using Phoenix 0.5 for five months now and I've been so happy with it that it has supplanted the quirky OB1 as my browser of choice. Some quick notes about the new version, 0.6 (now temporarily renamed "Mozilla Firebird"):

  • The ZIP file for the Win32 version is larger than that for v0.5 by about 500KB. The original plan was to reduce the size of the ZIP for the 1.0 milestone to 5MB. That's still feasible as there's a lot of extraneous stuff inside. A peek at the Advance Preferences menu (via the excellent Preferential widget) shows a lot of superfluous options originating from the Mozilla suite.

  • There's no Win32 installer for Firebird 0.6 but installation is a snap: Just uncompress the ZIP to a folder of your choice. Take note that the developers do not recommend reusing your existing Phoenix profile(s).

  • The Bookmark Manager is nippier. Much nippier. I used to dread going into the Phoenix 0.5's Bookmark Manager as there would always be a slight delay between action taken and response. And I don't even have a large bookmark file. No such problem in Firebird 0.6. But you can actually bypass the Bookmark Manager altogether. To, say, delete a bookmark, simply highlight the entry in the bookmark menu, right-click and select "Delete" from the context menu.

  • The new browser theme, Qute, is a nice bit of eye-candy.

  • New browser features include smooth scrolling and image resizing. However, I couldn't detect much of a difference with the former and I didn't require the latter so I eventually disabled both.

  • The Preferential extension -- a must-have as far as I'm concerned -- works perfectly. But you can also opt to type "about:config" in the URL box to edit some advanced preferences.

  • The new milestone includes a trackback feature to send data about crashes to the development team. Unfortunately, there's no way to turn off this feature. Apparently, your only recourse is to decline to do so every time Firebird prompts you. I say apparently because Firebird hasn't crashed on me in 5 days of surfing. Score one for Firebird's stability.

If you're a Phoenix 0.5 user, upgrading to Mozilla Firebird 0.6 is a no-brainer. If you're not, give it a spin, you just might be pleasantly surprised.

Link  | 

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

12:32 AM - Feel the vibe

Ever felt like, ah, jilling off to your favourite song? There's a device that turns sound into vibrations.

Customer comment:

"My wife doesn't complain about my band practicing in the house any more! You guys rock!"

(Link obtained from memepool.)

Link  | 

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

12:45 AM - Malaysian housing

From a Year 4 English textbook by the Curriculum Development Institute of Singapore:

In other hot, wet countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, most of the people do not live in the towns but in the countryside. Many Malaysian houses are made of wood, with sloping roofs made of the leaves of the attap palm. The houses are built above the ground on stilts.

To be fair, the book was published in 1983 but even so, I'm guessing no one from the Curriculum Development Institute of Singapore had visited Malaysia in about 20 years when they wrote that.

But I urge my fellow Malaysians to simply laugh this off as we sit in our quaint old attap-roofed wooden houses instead of communicating our indignation to all and sundry via smoke signals.

Link  | 

Monday, May 19, 2003

9:46 PM - A doodle once done ...

... may not be undone. But perhaps, it may yet be mitigated. (With apologies to Bob Forward.)

Yep, a digi-doodle of Transmetal II Dinobot from the third season of Beast Wars.

He's not my favourite character from Beast Wars (that would be the chivalrous -- and hilarious -- Silverbolt) and the toy isn't my favourite Beast Wars figure (that would be Transmetal Megatron) but in both forms, Dinobot has his charms.

Link  | 

9:23 AM - Warren piece

Warren Ellis:

When you talk about movies, there's always that which bookstores live by; the book is almost always better than the movie. You could have no better case in point than FROM HELL, Alan Moore's best graphic novel to date, brilliantly illustrated by Eddie Campbell. It's hard to describe just how much better the book is. It's like, "If the movie was an episode of 'Battlestar Galactica' with a guest appearance by the Smurfs and everyone spoke Dutch, the graphic novel is 'Citizen Kane' with added sex scenes and music by your favourite ten bands and everyone in the world you ever hated dies at the end." That's how much better it is.

(From a Slashdot interview.)

I haven't bought a comic by Ellis. Time to remedy that. If you're just as Ellis-less, you might want to head on over to artbomb.net. There's a free online comic entitled "Superidol" by Ellis with art by Colleen Doran available there. It's an interesting exploration of cultural viruses by way of a world-dominating CG super-aidoru. An excerpt:

The songs -- uber-pap horrible jingly music viruses about love and one world and sharing dreams -- became the planet's soundtrack.

And once you're read the entire comic, consider this little news snippet: Japan's Foreign Ministry announced the creation of a CG character that will be used as a goodwill ambassador to promote exchange with ASEAN countries.

The ministry also unveiled a theme song for the exchange year, titled "Treasure The World."

So tell me, how high did you raise your eyebrows?

Link  | 

Sunday, May 18, 2003

11:12 PM - Michael Crawford reviewed

Action figure reviewer, Michael Crawford, has been profiled in a good article which also serves to introduce one into the wonderful, wacky world of obsessive-compulsive toy collectors. An excerpt:

Crawford is an authority on the subject of "collector fever," the compulsion that drives collectors to visit every Target and Toys 'R' Us in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan, looking for the newest toys.

"It is a strange compulsion," he says. "The Net fuels that, because I will know the exact day a new Simpsons toy hits the Targets in California, which means it will be here in two to three days, so you have to go every day. If you miss the first wave, you may have to wait a month before it comes around again, or risk paying a higher price on eBay."

Link  | 

5:04 PM - SARS and Takara

The Asahi Shimbun reports SARS is impairing the Japanese economy. Sheesh. Just what the Japanese economy needs: Impairing. The article mentions toymaker Takara as well:

Ninety percent of toy maker Takara Co.'s production is carried out in China. It is now bathing its finished products in ultraviolet rays in an attempt to keep its toys SARS-free, but Takara President Keita Sato said, ``If this epidemic is prolonged, I think it will affect our performance.''

Link  | 

Saturday, May 17, 2003

4:57 PM - Firebird ... finally!

Mozilla Firebird 0.6 has been released. Get it while it's pipin' hot. Then read the FAQ.

Link  | 

9:21 AM - Stack overflow

Robert Stack passed away. Fans of his work in Transformers the Movie won't be able to deal with that right now.

Sorry, I just couldn't resist.

Link  | 

12:43 AM - Jeff Ooi: Ombudsman?

Blogger Oon Yeoh recently described fellow-blogger Jeff Ooi as an ombudsman. I suspect that's mainly because Ooi himself uses the word frequently (see here and here) -- and it's on his links column as well.

Oon Yeoh helpfully provided a link for the definition of the word but unless the word has a new, looser connotation and I'm completely wrong about this -- feel free to send a caustic comment my way if I am -- the description cannot be applied to Ooi.

I've read multiple definitions of the word and they all cite an ombudsman's role in helping to solve the problem.

Ooi doesn't solve problems.

He comments on them.

And while I'm sure Ooi's increasingly popular now (both Oon Yeoh and Ooi have been getting ink-time from the dead-tree media of late), I doubt the folks he writes about even know about him, let alone go to his web site to get solutions to their problems.

If you call Ooi an ombudsman, you may as well call every Chong, Nik and Samy blabbering away about current issues in a tea stall an ombudsman.

Oh sure, it would boost the egos of every Chong, Nik and Samy but it's hardly accurate.

And while I'm on Ooi (oh hush, Mr or Miss Literal), he recently wrote:

Admittedly, gaining more eyeballs is a boon, but to put up with higher expectation of a wider audience will be a challenge.

Nevertheless, in the absence of blogs sponsored by mainstream media in Malaysia - in the likes of MSNBC, Guardian - it will surely help in expanding the blogosphere beyond Ooh Yeoh and Jeff Ooi and beyond Malaysiakini in the near future.

The local blogosphere is already beyond Oon Yeoh, Jeff Ooi and Malaysiakini. Was that a slip indicating how little Ooi thinks of the rest of the local blogosphere? Or was it just an unintentional gaffe?

Link  | 

Friday, May 16, 2003

2:00 AM - Takara tops

The Japan Times reports Takara has released its 2002 financial results:

After booking a one-time gain the previous year, the nation's No. 2 toy maker saw its group net profit slip 33.3 percent to 3.99 billion yen, but group operating profit soared 54.3 percent to 7.08 billion yen.

Group sales also grew 29.2 percent to 85.69 billion yen.

The company attributed its strong performance to brisk overseas sales, which nearly doubled to 14.96 billion yen and accounted for 18 percent of the firm's total revenue.

Link  | 

12:03 AM - Last stand

A rather slapdash digi-doodle of Ratchet, shortly before he bought it. It needs work.

Link  | 

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

7:21 PM - Survivor 6.13

Against all odds, the 21-year-old swimsuit model, Jenna Morasca, the last woman standing, won the one million after winning the jury vote 6-1.

Some brief thoughts on the finale and reunion:

  • Congratulations to Jenna. She wasn't the nicest survivor out there but the game is about outplaying, outwitting and outlasting and not out-nice-ing. And I agree with Probst when he noted she became a little more likeable towards the end of the show.

  • I completely underestimated how poorly the others thought of Matt. The others really did think he flipped out. Matt claimed it was partly a strategic move to deflect attention away from himself and partly caused by dehydration, but Alex didn't buy it and the two exchange some terse comments and brief glares. It will be interesting to read Matt's chat transcript once it's up on the official site.

  • I thought Rob had the best jury question: Why didn't the person next to you deserve the million dollars? Jenna went for "he doesn't need the million dollars and he doesn't care about anyone here" while Matt pointed out Jenna didn't contribute much and sorta gave up at an earlier point. Neither argument was particularly good.

  • Rob -- Probst repeatedly refers to him as the smartest Survivor player ever ... to never win -- had a cross between a big smile and a painful grimace whenever someone referred to him during the reunion. His anecdote about his untrusting girlfriend was amusing (and unsurprising).

  • Christy showed her indecisiveness again at the reunion. She had earlier claimed she would ensure Jenna would not win the one million but then ended up voting for her. She didn't provide a satisfying explanation for doing so.

  • Ryan, the -- heh -- unbalanced male model who was first survivor voted out, showed his tart side with a comment about Probst's flashy jet ski moment.

  • Jeanne managed to slip in a dig or two Heidi's way. That "younger, cuter and better bodies" comment really came back to bite Heidi in her younger, cuter and better ass.

  • Despite Probst's attempt to get to the bottom of it, we still do not know who smuggled in that granola bar. How will we ever sleep at night? (Answer: Easily!)

  • Heidi came across as a complete twit both at the final tribal council then later at the reunion. Surprisingly, Probst later revealed her IQ test results were "off the chart"(remember Kelly from S3?) and even higher than rocket scientists Dave's.

  • Probst gave Roger and Daniel an opportunity to make up at the end of the reunion and the duo hugged. Gosh, do you think it was a sincere gesture on both men's part or did they do it because they were put on the spot?

  • Probst introduced two die-hard fans of the show whose houses had just been demolished by a tornado. It turns out their immediate concern was not missing Survivor. Kinda pathetic. The only way it could have been more pathetic was if they wrote bland blog entries about the show. (Cough.)

All told, it was a satisfying conclusion -- and appropriately astonishing given the numerous surprises this season -- to an entertaining Survivor season.

Previous Survivor 6 entries: 1, 2, 3, 4. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, Recap, 10, 11, 12)

Link  | 

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

9:01 PM - Judge a book ...

Atlas Comics has picked the 25 greatest comic covers of all time. I was mostly an 80s comics fan so there were few covers on the list I recognised. But agree or disagree with their choices, the feature makes a nice read.

The flip side of that is Atlas Comics has also highlighted some hilariously bad covers. Pay particular attention to the cover for The Rifleman. Prior to seeing this cover, I wouldn't have thought something could be disturbing and funny. Live and learn. I'm still trying to figure out if the photographer knew what he was doing or it was completely unintentional. And that Criminals on the Run cover is just plain hilarious. But I wonder who the criminal is: the guy with the gun or the guy who committed the vicious assault with a deadly fish?

(In a similar vein, Christopher DeLaurenti showcases Comic Covers of Evil from his comic collection.)

Check out the rest of the Atlas Comics site for more features highlighting the greatest artists and inkers in comics.

(Link obtained from MeFi.)

Link  | 

Monday, May 12, 2003

7:34 PM - The reformatting

I formatted the hard disk and reverted to a single OS: good ol' Windows 98SE. The rig was previously running as a dual-boot Win98SE/Win2K machine and that caused some problems.

The main reason I did it, though, was to try to clear up the problems I was having with Streamyx. I was hoping I would be able to surf without being disconnected on a frequent basis after The Reformatting.

No such luck.

To clarify, my DSL line remains hot but I can't connect to remote servers and I need to log on again before I can continue surfing. This is only mildly annoying when surfing but it's a major problem when it comes to online gaming. I can pretty much kiss off any hopes of playing MP NWN until I get this sorted out.

The Telekom Malaysia technician called me this morning to find out how the service was and I told him I was experiencing problems. He came over around noon and I showed him the problem.

His response was to give a call to "an expert in Klang" who asked what modem I was using. When told I was using a D-Link, Mr Expert in Klang immediately identified that as the problem. Apparently, he had trouble with two D-Link modems before.

Eh? Just two and he's convince they're problematic?

Hell, I could point to five or six users of D-Link modems -- the same exact model even -- who say it works fine. What does that prove?

I then called Exzee Computer, the place I got the modem from, and let the proprietor speak to the technician. The tech relayed the "two problematic D-Link modems make a trend" anecdote. The Exzee Computer guy countered with a "I sold the same model to another customer and no problem wan" defence.


The tech came over again in the afternoon -- I guess that RM50 did gain me some good will -- with a Dell notebook and Hyundai modem to remove line quality from the list of suspects. After about 15 minutes of testing, he seemed assured it wasn't the line and it was either my PC, my PC's settings or the modem.

I wasn't quite convinced, however. I explained to him that the disconnects were somewhat random. Indeed, I spent two blissful, problem-free hours surfing later only to find myself disconnected in a later session after a mere thirty minutes. If there's a pattern here, I'm unaware of it.

I'm trying to get feedback from other DSL-200I users from the Southeast Asia Broadband forum. Perhaps one of them can provide a solution.

Troubleshooting PC problems can be such a, ah, female dog.


Link  | 

Sunday, May 11, 2003

5:43 AM - Back in the Bubble

I've just finished a three hour session on the Magic Bubble.

What started out as a short test session to see how my ADSL connection would fare during multiplayer Neverwinter Nights games quickly turned into a marathon roleplaying session when one of my favourite players, Rogue ("Tajean"), logged on to the Bubble. It turns out he hadn't been playing MP NWN since earlier this year as well.

I enjoy playing with the guy and his characters. He puts quite a bit of effort and thought into his RPing and that challenges me to do the same.

Plus, combat is more tactical when he's around. One of the biggest gaming thrills I had in my early MP sessions was when he and I (both playing low-level characters) took out a Sword Spider in the graveyard using a coordinated pincer movement. Up until then, combat engagements were mostly a "rush in and hope for the best" affairs.

So yeah, I did enjoy myself in the last session.

I was startled but flattered folks would remember my player nick. I got a "/tp" (that's NWN hep-talk for "personal message") from Panyx when I logged on today. He's been made DM and I couldn't think of a better candidate. He's thoughtful and creative. He said Salio doesn't get much action but he's still around. That's good to hear. That bard was one of the characters I could always go to for a fun time or conversation.

And a fun time can be had as long as there's one player I enjoy playing with logged on to the server. It takes only two players to generate an interesting conversation and two sufficiently creative players can generate a quest for themselves at a drop of a hat.

I'm going to do whatever I can to tweak my connection before logging on again, though. My connection died on me with remarkable frequency in the last session. The final straw was when I got disconnected thrice in as many minutes followed by a nwmain.exe crash.


Upon rebooting and reconnecting, I found they were just about to reset the server.

I took this as a sign the Gods of Role-Playing wanted me to stop and after saying my goodbyes to Rogue, I did.

But I'll be back on the Bubble tomorrow, I think.

Link  | 

Saturday, May 10, 2003

10:09 PM - Transformers Tatakai!

TFormers.com reports the Transformers-flavoured PS2 fighting game I wrote about earlier has 100(!) Transformers characters to choose from and includes the ability to take control of a 3-character squad.

Check out some screenshots taken from the trailer.

I finally have a legitimate reason to get a PS2.

Link  | 

9:59 PM - Pardon me, your slip is showing

Japan Today has an article entitled "Seven rising stars of business world" which mentions Masahiko Kajita :

Masahiko Kajita, a 41-year-old employee of Takara Brewery Co, who introduced the canine translation machine "Bilingual."

First, it's "Takara Co. Ltd." not "Takara Brewery Co". Second, it's "Bowlingual", not "Bilingual."

Link  | 

8:02 PM - Toys for Iraq

Good news for the Iraqi kids. They're getting free swag. From Figures.com:

Hasbro has announced that with the help of World Vision, one of the world's largest international relief agencies, it is donating over 25,000 toys to be used in schools in Iraq.

Richard E. Stearns, President of World Vision sez:

Half of Iraq's population is younger than 18. This generation of 13 million children has seen little but war and privation. These toys are not just for play. They will play an invaluable role in helping thousands of children reclaim their childhoods.

Anyway, the toys include "Games, Puzzles, NERF, PLAY-DOH, SIT & SPIN and KOOSH products, among others."

I guess with the memory of the war still lingering in the minds of these kids, Hasbro isn't going to be handing them GI Joes anytime soon.

Link  | 

3:45 AM - More on CM4

Additional notes:

  • "Enhancement Pack 3" is out now. There are two versions. The smaller one weighs in 13.8MB while the full update (which includes updated player transfers) is a 45.5 MB download.

  • Contrary to my earlier entry, you can indeed watch the entire match with the 2D display.

  • Performance on my machine is still sluggish even playing with a mere four divisions with full detail turned off and a small-sized database.

I've grown so annoyed with the snail-like response to some actions -- selecting the tactics option during the game is unforgivably slow -- I doubt I'll be playing much of this game before I get a P4 upgrade.

It seems clear to me SI goofed by bowing to publisher pressure and releasing the game way too early.

Weird. You'd think that people who spend so much time thinking about football statistics wouldn't have a problem with premature release.

Link  | 

12:36 AM - Survivor 6.12

With all the shocks in Survivor 6, I suppose I should have been a little shocked to find there were no shocks in the latest episode. Duplicitous Rob promised slimy Heidi he would be voting for her and it looked like Heidi would be voted out but then ... she was.

Rob kept his word.


What were the chances of that?

In other developments, Matt won the reward challenge and got himself a rather dull-looking car from a sponsor as well as a barbecue with his ally, Rob. He maintained his momentum and later won the Immunity Necklace as well.

He also kept using the word "duuude" and threw in a "stoked" as well. Who knew that 30-plus days in the Amazon would turn a restaurant designer into a surfer dude?

There was some attempt at drama when the remainding members of the Jacare tribe found their shelter had burnt down. But ho-hum, we had a better one in S2 with the flash flood.

It wasn't the greatest episode of the series. But it's building up nicely to an interesting finale.

The two hour finale and reunion airs on Monday night.

So who's going to be in the final two?

Well, if Jenna doesn't get immunity in the next episode, she's surely toast. That would leave Butch, Matthew and Rob.

The producers want us to think the final two is going to be Matt and Rob. Assuming that indeed is the case: who's going to win the jury votes? Rob's stabbed just about everyone in the game but he's also a better talker than Matt and has a shot at convincing the jury with the "I played the game the best" routine. Still, I gotta go with Matt.

But what if -- yah, I know it's improbable given her whining "I-can't-take-it-anymore" routine in this episode -- Jenna manages to win the immunity necklace?

The final immunity challenge looks like it's less than physical. From the brief glimpse offered in the previews, it looks like the final four were blindfolded and asked to solve a puzzle. Jenna might have a slim chance of winning immunity. What then?

The remainding men would be forced to turn against each other. While it appears Butch is currently the odds-on favourite to be the 14th Survivor loser, he could leave earlier.

That would leave Jenna, Matt and Rob. If the final immunity challenge is one of those endurance challenges, Jenna might still have the mental strength to persevere to win a place in the Final Two.

I'm hoping she does end up in the Final Two. Can you imagine the haranguing Christy would give Jenna? It would put the whole scene between Sue and Kelly in S1's finale to shame, I'm sure.

But I'm going to be conservative and pick Matt and Rob as the Final Two with Matt eventually winning the one million.

Previous Survivor 6 entries: 1, 2, 3, 4. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, Recap, 10, 11)

Link  | 

Friday, May 09, 2003

7:51 PM - CM4 in my hands

CM4 arrived today. Turnaround time from payment request to delivery was 5 days this time.

I initially had trouble installing the program. Fortunately, I had read the FAQ and knew I had to download Windows Installer 2 from Microsoft before I could install the game on my Win 98SE machine.

Installation was straightforward after that with 300MB-plus worth of files dumped to my hard disk. Once installed, I applied the 5.73 MB "Enhancement Pack 2" to "enhance" the game from 4.01 to 4.04.

(A third Enhancement Pack is due soon and I gather it will include a data update.)

One feature quickly got on my nerves. The news ticker ought to be ditched. I wouldn't mind it if the news ticker only showed items you haven't seen but no-o, even if you have seen a news items, it still scrolls down down there at the bottom screen in a very distracting manner. Now, I dislike scrolling text on web pages and I do not want to see web annoyances, ahem, pop-up in the games I play. What's next? In-game Viagra banner ads?

As far as I can tell (and admittedly, I haven't really explored the game that much), there is no option to turn the news ticker off. If that is indeed the case, it was a thoroughly stupid move on Sports Interactive's part.

The game performance was abysmal at first. I had a three second delay between selection of an option and the response.

Granted, I'm playing on a Celeron 900 with 256MB RAM running on Win98SE. It's hardly a state of the art rig. But I started my campaign with only the four English divisions selected at full detail with a large database.

Where can wan so bad like dis?

Appalled at the performance, I quickly restarted the game but declined to use full detail and ran a smaller database the second time around. The performance seems to be much better now.

As is usual with the CM series (I've been playing since CM2), I started with the Third Division side, Torquay United. It's more of a challenge -- I have no transfer funds available for one thing -- and it's ultimately more satisfying building a footballing dynasty out of a bunch of no-hopers.

Eager to try out the much-heralded 2D match view, I quickly selected my first eleven and started my first match in charge, a pre-season friendly.

I was a little disappointed to find the 2D match view offers only highlights. From what I can tell, the game simulates the match the old way but now replays -- or attempts to recreate -- the action through the 2D match view.

Tactically, the game is slightly improved with a few new tactical options. I need to play a bit more to see how much of a difference it makes.

One final bit: I'm really glad SI decided to finally provide some hot-keys! While previous CM games made almost no use of the keyboard, CM4 allows you to select important gaming screens with a press of a single Function key. Yay!

More on CM in later entries.

Link  | 

7:48 PM - Streamyx stream of thought

I've had broadband access for some 24 hours now. Some comments:

  • The thing I appreciate the most about Streamyx is the flat-rate pricing scheme. I'm more relaxed during surf sessions now. There's less of a hurry-hurry, must maximise surf session, must skim through text to see if it's worth downloading to read offline.

  • The speed isn't always great. At times, it feels like I'm back with dial-up. But I think that's server specific. One server might give you a blazing fast 34KBps download rate while another may send you a file at a sedate, stately 3.4KBbps.

  • Streamyx is a lot more unstable than my dial-up connection was. The line keeps dying on me with alarming regularity. I believe it has something to do with network congestion. Surfing at 6pm when most folks get back from work seems to be a bad idea while afternoons and early mornings seem to be okay.

  • I've done some tweaking of my TCP/IP settings using DrTCP, a utility recommended by the folks over at the Southeast Asian Broadband forum. It's a tiny app that allows you to edit TCP/IP settings using a GUI. It doesn't seem to have improved my speed or stability, though. I still seem to be getting the same figures on TM Net's bandwidth test page. I need to do more testing.

Link  | 

Thursday, May 08, 2003

11:49 PM - Biar lambat, asalkan selamat

I was relieved to hear the seller received my payment today. It took the registered air mail letter a slow 16 days to go from Malaysia to New York.

Asimo the cat's still missing, though.

My 67-year-old father has been reduced to tears, my stalwart mother has been sombre and downbeat, and I'm not too chipper myself. That cat is well-loved around here. We thought we spotted him outside the house earlier and rushed out. It turned to be another similarly sized and coloured cat. It didn't have Asimo's striking blue eyes, however.

I suspect that's part of the reason why he's MIA. That damned white furball is simply too adorable for his own good.

Wherever he is, I hope he's safe, happy and well-fed.

Link  | 

10:38 PM - Streamyx!

I got a call from a Telekom Malaysia technician this afternoon. He assured me he would be arriving before 4 to set up the Streamyx connection.

My theory about Telekom Malaysia operating in another time-space continuum where time passes at a different rate was validated once again when he showed up at 4:25 PM.

He first spent about 30 minutes ensuring the line was okay. The first few bandwidth tests weren't too promising ... 219, 183, 314 ... It was much less than the promised 384Kbps.

He then checked the wiring and explained it needed changing as it was the reason I couldn't get the optimum speed. He said I could contact a contractor to have it done. He then casually mentioned he could do it himself for ... pause ... RM25.

So I asked him to do it. Why wait to contact a contractor who would then take his own sweet time to come over? (That time-space continuum thing might apply to outside contractors affiliated with Telekom Malaysia as well.)

We went downstairs and then he had a contemplative expression on his face as he gazed at our downstairs phone extension.

It was the sort of contemplative expression that said, "I could make a few ringgit more here."

To no great surprise, he announced he could do some additional rewiring which would allow us to use our extension wire for the phone downstairs. It would cost ... pause ... RM35.

Fine, whatever. RM35 for the extra wiring.

When was he coming over to do this rewiring, I ask?

After five.

So factor in the Telekom Malaysia space-time continuum anomaly, I figured that meant roughly 5:30, possibly 6.

He showed up 5-something and it took him about 40-minutes to install the wiring.

I supposed I shouldn't have been surprised when the speed still wasn't near 384kbps after the rewiring had been done.

Ah, screw it, I thought. As long as it feels significantly faster than the dial-up connection I had been relying on for so long, I'm content. Oh sure, I'd be happy if I could hit ludicrous speed but hey, I'm just pleased to be surfing using a flat-rate pricing scheme.

Anyway, I paid the guy RM50. The extra dough should gain me goodwill and I figured being in the good books of a Streamyx technician might prove to be beneficial in the long run.

So, after I saw him off, I eagerly spent time testing out my new fat Net pipe. I started out by downloading anime theme song after anime theme song. I took one look at my download rate and started to giggle. It took me about two minutes to download an average song (roughly 4-plus MB). It used to take me 20 minutes on my 56k dial-up connection.

I was still giggling over this when our entire neighbourhood got hit by a blackout.


(Previous Streamyx-related entries: 1, 2)

Link  | 

12:17 PM - Re: Boot

Gordon Strachan after witnessing his team hit for six by Arsenal:

I might just go through that psycho-babble of kicking a boot across the floor and smacking someone in the head, as it looks like that works.

The two teams meet again in the FA Cup Final on May 17.

Link  | 

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

9:49 PM - Cat-gone

Our cat, Asimo, has gone missing.

We haven't seen him since the fogging operation last night. It's been over 24 hours now.

The neighbourhood strays -- including Asimo's parents -- disappeared for a couple of hours but they all popped up as usual later.

Asimo could be gone for good.

I miss him terribly. It's going to be weird not having the cat scratching at the door wanting to suck on my fingers.

Link  | 

8:33 PM - Snikt!

A quicky of Logan.

Link  | 

12:56 PM - Streamyx speed

There still hasn't been any sign of the Telekom Malaysia technicians. I made my application for the company's broadband service, Streamyx, on April 25 and was told then it would take three or four days for the technicians to show up.

It's been 12 days.

I have just received my confirmation slip containing my username and password. The clerk said I could expect the technicians this week or next week.

But that's Telekom Malaysia time.

You see, I believe very strongly time very passes at a different rate for Telekom Malaysia because the company doesn't operate in the same space-time continuum as the rest of us. One or two weeks in Telekom Malaysia time is a month (maybe two) in normal time.

This would explain so much.

Link  | 

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

8:26 PM - Fog of war

They've just finished fogging my neighbourhood. No doubt news that my next-door neighbour was hospitalised for dengue less than two weeks ago was responsible for this latest round in the War against the Bloodsuckers of Banting.

Tonight was the first time I saw them using a Land Rover to spray the streets. They've apparently been doing this for some time now. The chemical is streamed out from the back of the vehicle as it drives along the neighbourhood. They're doing this to supplement the door-to-door fogging operations.

Fat good it's done so far.

I was talking one of the guys responsible for the fogging operations and it seems the local residents' apathy is the main culprit here.

Surprise, surprise, right?

Apparently, even the water collecting under one's fridge is a potential breeding ground for the Aedes mosquito.

Link  | 

6:02 PM - Snail mail

I complained about PosLaju's lack of speed in a previous entry. Well, I posted another letter to Gamers Dotcom noon yesterday via PosLaju. I had ordered Championship Manager 4 and I was posting the bank-in slip after depositing the payment into their account. I was startled but very gratified to discover the letter was received within 24 hours this time. Outstanding.

However, the registered air mail letter I posted to New York containing the payment for the eBay auction I won has still not arrived at its destination. It's been two weeks and I've just received an automatically-generated late payment warning from the seller.

Pos Malaysia's online tracking feature indicates the letter left Malaysia on the 24th of April so the tardiness is due to something on USPS's end.

All I can do is hope and wait.

Don't you just hate it when you're conscientious about a task and someone else screws it up for you?

Link  | 

Monday, May 05, 2003

1:05 AM - 8 in 11!

United won their eighth Premiership title in 11 years after Arsenal were gunned down 2-3 at Highbury by Leeds United. An 88th minute goal by Viduka ended whatever hope Arsenal had of retaining their title and so the Premiership trophy heads back to Old Trafford.


The BBC has two nifty articles up. The first highlights Wenger's poorly-chosen words throughout the season while the second highlights United's incredible resurgence in the last ten weeks.

I had given up all hope of United winning the Premiership earlier this season but I couldn't be more pleased to be proven wrong.

Even when all hope seemed lost, Ferguson's men kept on fighting.


Link  | 

12:14 AM - En garde, Monsieur!

A bit slapdash but I'll work on it.

Meanwhile, Monsieur Wenger's Arsenal is taking on Leeds in a must-win match. If Arsenal do not get three points from this match, United can start celebrating.

The match is tied at 2-2 with 67 minutes gone.

Another nail-biter in a season full of them.

Link  | 

Sunday, May 04, 2003

11:08 PM - On blogging

Want an indication of how widespread blogging is and how diverse bloggers are?

Check out this list of Malaysian blogs.

Veteran Malaysian journalist MGG Pillai has a blog (description: "journalism & commentaries") listed four links below another site with the description "phuck me, i'm kornie".

That just about tells you everything you need to know, right there.

Link  | 

1:19 AM - Ali gets a United jersey

Remember Ali Ismaeel Abbas?

He's the orphaned Iraqi kid who got both his arms blown off in the coalition air raid that killed 16 members of his family.

The kid, recovering in a Kuwaiti hospital, recently received a Manchester United jersey autographed by the team. (He's apparently a fan of Fabien Barthez.)

It was good to see him with a smile on his face.

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12:51 AM - More Bowlingual

Kajita-san, the inventor of Bowlingual, once hated dogs. But fear not!

Kajita says Bowlingual has ensured he's not longer dogged by dogs.

Spot the PR-marketing angle there? The article continues:

In fact, he's become something of a canine specialist, having picked up a vocabulary of about 2,000 words of dog language.

I'm taken aback by the claim he knows about 2,000 words of dog language. It's hard to believe any dog would have that large a vocabulary. I'm assuming 1,990 of those dog words are synonyms for "food."

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Saturday, May 03, 2003

11:18 PM - No kidding!

Least surprising revelation about Paula Taylor and Paula Malai Ali:

By coincidence, both share the same first name. 

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9:33 PM - Solomon tweaked

I tweaked and replaced the digi-doodle of Microman Solomon I published earlier. I'll probably work on it a bit more. Something about the face -- specifically, the eyes and the jawline -- bugs me.

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9:22 PM - 4-1!

The match ended with Ruud van Nistelrooy scoring a hat-trick as United racked up a 4-1 victory over Charlton.

Arsenal now must win at Leeds to have any chance of retaining their title.

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8:22 PM - 3-1

United had that man van Nistelrooy to thank once again as the Dutch master scored twice to put United firmly in control of both the match and their destiny. The first half has ended 3-1 and Ferguson will be happy if the score remains the same come the final whistle.

Now United just have to show their pedigree, keep their nerve and hold on.

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7:55 PM - Nervy blues

United are taking on Charlton right now. There is so much riding on this.

The match is barely 23 minutes old but there has already been two goals. United drew first blood through Becks but Charlton equalised a minute later as Carroll fluffed a clearance.

The danger here is that United, perhaps overeager to seal the win, will leave themselves open to a Charlton counterattack.

I'm following the match through Soccernet's live text commentary feature. For some reason, the BBC live text commentary hasn't been updated since the first minute.

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12:12 AM - Survivor 6.11


The season 6 Tribal Councils just keep getting better and better.

If you were one of those Survivor fans who grew jaded after the third or fourth season and gave up on the series, I strongly urge you to tune in to what's left of season 6.

It's easily the most astonishing and entertaining season since the first. In previous seasons, my interest level would dip right about this point in the game as the dominant alliance picked off the powerless players one by one.

The difference with season 6 has been down to just one person: the conniving mastermind, Rob, who has manipulated just about everyone and switched sides with astounding frequency.

Every player out there knows Rob to be an untrustworthy snake -- and in case we just don't get it, the producers have helpfully included lots of shots of anacondas in this episode whenever he's mentioned -- and yet against all odds, he is still in the game and is still outwitting, outplaying and outlasting.

The shocking outcome of this week's episode was the ouster of Christy, who became the 11th person voted out.

I say shocking because it seemed certain the dominant alliance of Matt, Butch, Christy and Rob would vote off either Jenna or Heidi.

The episode starts with both Jenna and Heidi being shocked and dismayed at Alex's ouster the previous episode. They feel absolutely betrayed. I guess they now know how the folks they betrayed earlier -- including Deena and Jeanne -- feel.

Anyway, Jenna and Heidi hurled a lot of abuse in Rob's direction for his betrayal in the previous episode. Well, he deserved it and it was very satisfying to watch the guy squirm.

Matt later easily won the Reward Challenge and earned himself a visit from his mother. A teary moment, right? Naturally, the producers milk it. Probst then tempts Matt into giving up his visit with his mom so that the other survivors would get visits from their loved ones.

Matt deliberates briefly and against the teary urgings of the others, he gives up his opportunity to meet his mother so that the others get the chance to meet their mothers (Heidi and Rob), father (Jenna), boyfriend (Christy) and wife (Butch).

And sappy music plays yet again.

Yeah, Jenna's dad visits. Her mother, if you'll recall from the previous episode, is recovering from a brain tumour. Jenna's dad says her mother has shingles now. So let's recap: Jenna's mother is recovering from a brain tumour and now has the shingles and where is her husband and only child? On a game show!

The producers have not finished milking the situation yet. They then have Probst bring out Matt's mom so that the duo get their deserved moment together.

Cue more sappy music.

Matt relates he doesn't have a conventional mom and son relationship. Which is a bit icky since it was preceded by him telling his mother they would be spending a romantic evening together. Anyway, the duo spend an evening dining and being entertained by half-nekkid natives.

(Question: If they ever have a "Survivor: North America," will the producers have the survivors entertained by half-nekkid flabby native white guys holding cans of Budweiser dancing around a campfire singing "We Will Rock You"? That would be a quaint and fascinating peek at exotic North American culture, don't you think?)

But the game goes on. Rob notes sarcastically Matt is not the patron saint of reward challenges just because of his magnanimous gesture earlier. Rob realises come the final two, Matt is going to win all the jury votes and hence, the one meeelion dollars. Thus, Rob decides to win back the trust of Jenna and Heidi. It seems an impossible task as the two continue to berate him for his earlier betrayal.

Meanwhile, Jenna and Heidi themselves try wooing Christy. They try to convince the deaf woman, whom the duo had treated rather shabbily earlier, that it was in her best interests to form an all-girl alliance. Christy sees through their ploy but revels in the power she holds over them.

Everything seemed to point to either Heidi and Jenna being the one voted out. When Jenna won the Immunity Challenge, it seemed Heidi would be certainly on the way out.

But there's another shock even before the vote is cast. Jenna decides to give up her immunity at the Tribal Council and hands the protective necklace over to her buddy, Heidi.

A brave but foolhardy gesture? Or a masterful ploy?

It appears to be the latter.

In retrospect, it's clear we were being set up for a shocking vote. First, Christy boasted of her power before and during the tribal council and she confided to her boyfriend she was going to make the final four. And then the clueless Butch says his alliance is strong as he casts his vote for Jenna.

But it was still a stunner when the confident Christy was voted out 4-2. Even accounting for Yet Another Switcheroo by turncoat Rob, there was still one vote unaccounted for. A check with the CBS web site shows Matt had voted for Christy!

When did Matt decide to do this? Before the Tribal Council? After Jenna gave the immunity necklace to Heidi? Was it a spur of the moment decision? Did Rob talk him into it? The next episode should be vewwy, vewwy intwesting.

Believing she didn't deserve to get voted out, Christy was in tears when speaking her final words and vowed to ensure her "freakin' evil stepsisters" would never win the one meeellion dollars.

I had trouble choosing the quote of the week for this episode. I can't make up my mind between Rob's "I've been very bad" and Christy's "I have the power."

Can't wait for next week's episode.

(Previous Survivor 6 entries: 1, 2, 3, 4. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, Recap, 10)

Link  | 

Friday, May 02, 2003

9:47 PM - Boyakasha!

Question: What's funnier than a white actor playing a Brit of Pakistani heritage affecting the mannerisms of a gangsta rapper?

Answer: A white actor playing a Brit of Pakistani heritage affecting the mannerisms of a gangsta rapper interviewing distinguished personalities.

Yep, I watched the "Ali G, Innit" DVD today and laughed myself silly. I don't know which was more entertaining: Watching Ali G trying to "keep it real" or watching the dawning horror on his interviewees faces as they realise what they've just gotten themselves into.

The DVD, a compilation from The 11 O'Clock Show on UK's Channel 4, begins like this:


Welcome to me video. Congratulations on a wise purchase. If you was wonderin' where the money goes, let me explain. 12 per cent goes on distri-byooshun. 8 per cent goes on packagin'. That fancy plastic cover don't come for free. 20 per cent goes to Mr Retailer. And the remaindin' 85 per cent goes into this bag of skunk.

*puts one spoon of "skunk" into the bag*

Thank you very much for your contribution, Alison Redman from Ruislip in Middlesex.

For most of you, this video is purely educationalist and hopefully you will learn some serious stuff abouf life and thing. Unless you is a proper mong.

But for some of you ladies out there, you is using this for another purpose. If your man has left town for a couple of days please do not feel shy to take this off the shelf, stick in the recorder, and have a little fiddle in the downstairs department. I hope I can do for you what Britney Spears has done for me.

However, if you is a boy and thinkin' of knocking one off to this then think again. May I suggest you hexchange this video for a Queer As Folk box set, also available from Channel 4 video. So for the rest of you, free your mind and enjoy. First up, me met a geezer named Judge Pickles, who despite his name ain't a DJ but is hactually a judge. Westside.

Some other excerpts ...

Ali G: "Junglist posse, aye. Now, you is never too old to handle yourself in the ghetto. That is why I run workshops in gang culture here at the Aubrey House Residential Home in Guilford every Wednesday. Now, Heather, tell me, what is the three biggest dangers on the street today?"

Elderly woman: "Uzi, drive-by and crack."

Ali G: "Respect."

[Ali G questioning the Bishop of Horsham about God.]

Ali G: Is he a man or is he a woman?

Bishop: Er, well, he's neither a man nor a woman.

Ali G: Is he, like, a lady-boy?

[Ali G, trying to solve the North Ireland problem, interviews a member of Sinn Fein.]

Ali G: "Is maybe the cause of the problem that they say and maybe is a stereotype or whatever but they say the Irish is always up for the crack? Is that a problem because the crack make you violent? Me know people from me estate they go mental and whenever there's someone around they want to fight them whatever."

Sinn Fein rep.: "No, 'crack' in Ireland means 'having a good time', 'a laugh'."

Highly recommended.

Ali G links:

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7:13 PM - Site change

I've removed all links to my Bravenet forum. Send me a message through my Tagboard!

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6:55 PM - Ironhide tweaked

Another minor revision of an old picture. I changed the black outlines to a more softer gray.

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4:52 PM - Solomon revisited

Another version of the Microman LED Powers L-28 Perfect Shining Tector Shining Solomon digi-doodle I did. (Previous versions are here: 1, 2, 3)

I'm currently in e-mail contact with the author of Blog, Fahim A. Farook, in attempt to work out this picture-posting oddity I have with his blogging program. I generally have to publish my pictures twice before they'll display on the site. It's not a major issue by any means. Still, it will be nice to solve it.

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Thursday, May 01, 2003

7:12 PM - Like a Phoenix

The Mozilla-powered Phoenix browser has been renamed Firebird. If you recall, Phoenix was renamed to avoid any confusion with the browser produced by the makers of the Phoenix BIOS.

So everything A-OK now?

Well, no.

From the Reactor Core:

Recently, the open source Firebird database project felt very hurt when they found out that another open source project, the Mozilla project, had decided to name their new browser product "Firebird" as well. The Firebird user community sent many mails to the Mozilla project in protest. Controversy broke out on various forums. The Mozilla team declined to respond in public, but they were very hurt at their portrayal in the various forums.

So much hurt.

The situation is so tense -- feel free to roll your eyes -- someone offered to mediate.

So, according to this article on the Mozilla branding strategy, the Firebird browser will be referred to as "Mozilla Firebird" (which is merely a codename for the project) and then will be referred to as "Mozilla Browser" once the Mozilla team switches development focus from the Mozilla suite to the standalone browser.


Anyway, the newest version of Phoenix/Firebird/Mozilla Firebird (0.6, fact fans!) is supposed to be released "any day now." I'm looking forward to it.

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7:11 PM - Pixia gets enhanced

Pixia, my favourite freeware graphics program, has been updated again.

Version 2.8d is another bug-fix and it apparently solves some of the crashes in 2.8a. It seems more stable now at any rate.

I downloaded the smaller 1.6MB patch which updates versions 2.5n and above to the latest version. You can also opt to get the full 2.8d installation file which is double the size of the patch-only file.

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7:09 PM - The Proxomitron strikes back

More notes on the Proxomitron.

The utility comes with six different levels of filtering. Level 1 is the most lenient while Level 6 is the strictest. You can, of course, create your own custom filter level.

Switching between the different filtering levels -- or temporarily bypassing the Promomitron's filtering altogether -- is a simple matter of selecting the level from a context menu.

Fine-tuning the filtering is a bit of a hassle, though. It involves getting acquainted with the Proxomitron's text matching language. This is the key to getting the Proxomitron to filter out unwanted files/directories/sites while allowing the ones you deem acceptable.

I'm currently trying to figure out how to create a filter to exclude files from ".. /ban/" directory -- these are usually banner ads -- on a remote server.

Link  | 

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