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Sunday, August 31, 2003

11:43 PM - 46 and doesn't look it

Happy birthday, Malaysia. Many happy returns.

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11:07 PM - Saints beat Devils

Southampton beat United 1-0 at St. Mary's in a match which only got exciting in the second half. (The BBC has photos from the match.) Strachan's side got all three points after Beattie headed home a corner in the 88th minute. Some thoughts:

  • This is only United's fourth Premiership match but we've already seen three central defensive partnerships so far. Silvestre partnered O'Shea in the middle of defence this time and the duo did a reasonably good job.

  • Howard put in a very good performance and will be miffed he couldn't keep a clean sheet after a string of spectacular saves. It did appear he was impeded by another Southampton player just before Beattie got the winner.

  • Does Kleberson have glass feet? I don't think he made a single tackle throughout the game. The Brazilian played on the right side of midfield this time and was once again completely unimpressive. Well, at least he's consistent. I was actually relieved when he went off injured in the second half. I don't think Ferguson will be tempted to put him in the starting 11 anytime soon.

  • Portuguese wonderboy, Ronaldo, replaced the injured Kleberson but couldn't provide the magic and inspiration United were badly missing.

  • Djemba-Djemba did reasonably well but he does need to watch his cross-field passes. He once again needlessly gave away the ball in a dangerous position.

United did work hard today but things just weren't happening for them in the last third of the field. All credit to Southampton, who did a great job of shutting down United.

With Scholes slated for a hernia operation, you have to wonder if perhaps United are in for one of their traditional blips.

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Saturday, August 30, 2003

11:02 PM - Rod of the Lings

The Japanese are ticked off over the poor subtitles for the Lord of the Rings movies. A sample:

The Prancing Pony

Barliman:

[script] Good evening, little Masters.

[subtitle] What are these shorties here for?

(Link obtained from MeFi.)

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10:57 PM - War and the GI Joe set

There's an interesting Christian Science Monitor article about war-themed toys on ABCNews.com. I was expecting the worst after this early paragraph:

As the parent of a 6-year-old boy, I have avoided buying toy guns and military-themed action figures such as G.I. Joe. Both made me uncomfortable, as a mom who had absorbed the message that little boys who play with war toys can become more aggressive.

But to my astonishment, the article didn't go in the direction I was expecting it to and concluded thusly instead:

I'm still not crazy about military-themed toys, nor do I want to sound like a gung-ho war supporter, but I've concluded that such play probably won't make my son more aggressive.

After all, boys have played with war toys for generations and most have grown up into peace-loving, well-adjusted men.

Well, sah-prise, sah-prise, sah-prise.

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6:09 AM - Smokescreen going fast

To riff off the Alternators Smokescreen ad:

0 - 300mph in 5.4 seconds.

Pre-order to Out-of-production in six weeks.

HLJ is no longer taking pre-orders for BT-01 Smokescreen. The Japan-based retailer's database lists Smokescreen as being "out-of-production" which in this case means "we can no longer take pre-orders because we don't expect to have sufficient stock."

Bear in mind this figure is only due to be released at the end of next month. That ought to tell you just how eagerly Transformers fans are anticipating this figure.

bigbadtoystore.com has a picture of the Takara packaging. Note the prominent Subaru logo on the top right-hand corner of the package. The Alternators/Binaltech line is based on vehicle likenesses licensed from car manufacturers and Smokescreen is based on the Subaru Impreza WRC 2003.

Remy has some new pictures from the C3 show featuring a race queen holding a BT-01 Smokescreen and standing next to a Subaru Impreza.

That's one happy action figure.

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Friday, August 29, 2003

11:02 PM - Microknight

A digi-doodle of a Microman Microknight. I got the reissue of MC8 Silver back in 2001 and it remains one of my favourite figures.

I love the whole knight concept and appreciated the fact Takara produced additional knight-appropriate accessories (a sword and a lance) for the reissue.

I only wish the figure's hip joints weren't impeded by the cuirass. I had hoped to get a suitable steed for the Microknight and send him out on jousts against my other action figures but unfortunately, Microknights can't sit down.

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Thursday, August 28, 2003

7:21 PM - Flag filched

Someone stole our flag.

"That's incredible!" you're saying. Well, believe it or not, that's what happened. Because you asked for it, here's an abbreviated version of the tale ...

We've had the national flag hanging near our gate for the past few weeks. We've been doing this during the month of August (the 31st is Hari Merdeka) for several years now. Y'know, patriotism and all that.

Well, we woke up this morning and the flag was not there.

Someone took our flag.

I don't know if I should be outraged or wildly amused.

I guess that Tourism Board ad is really effective.

But the message needs to be amended to, "Fly the National Flag But Buy One Of Your Own Instead Of Stealing Someone Else's."

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7:22 AM - More stringent censorship forthcoming

From the New Straits Times:

Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said he would ensure a more stringent censorship of movies and films containing excessive violent and sexual scenes but without distorting their original storylines.

I want to know where these movies and films containing excessive violent and sexual scenes are being shown. Seriously, what are the showtimes and how much are the tickets? I would like to know the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia's definition of "excessive." The article continues:

He said incidents like a child hitting his mother and shooting his father, or anything like that, which did not happen in this country years ago, were happening now possibly due to the influence of such violent films.

I sure wish our local dailies allowed free access to their archives. I would love to dig through them to see if Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi's assertion holds true.

Regardless, I guess that answers that. I know the DPM was talking about movies and films rather than the Net but with another Minister already talking about Net censorship, it must be only a matter of time before someone attempts to seriously subvert the Bill of Guarantees.

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6:22 AM - The price to pay

HLJ has finally listed Masterpiece Convoy in its database. Contrary to previous reports, the Japanese SRP is actually 9800 yen (approximately RM317).

According to HLJ, the second Binaltech figure after Smokescreen, BT-02 Lamboru (a.k.a Alternators Sideswipe), will be released in December. HLJ has a good picture of all three modes and the robot mode does appear less impressive than when I first laid eyes on it. Still, I'm putting in my pre-order. As soon as I'm able to, that is.

For some reason that eludes me, HLJ is not taking pre-orders at this point. I'm certain the company will be inundated with pre-orders (especially for Masterpiece Convoy). I just hope I manage to make mine in time. The company could barely fulfill its pre-orders for the Evangelion chogokin.

Wish me luck.

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4:58 AM - Respect

The game finished 1-0.

Wolves showed the Premiership they aren't going to go down without a fight. If the footballing gods had been kinder and Camara's shooting sharper, it could very well have been Wolves 3, United 1.

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3:51 AM - 1-0

Well, Scholes didn't start the game on the left side of midfield.

He didn't start the game at all.

Ferguson made wholesale changes to the side. Keane and O'Shea anchored the defence with Djemba-Djemba and Kleberson playing in the central midfield slots. Ronaldo and Solskjaer played on the wings (and frequently switched sides). Forlan partnered van Nistelrooy up front. Gary Neville was back in his customary position and his brother, Phil, played at left-back.

Despite the new look to the team, it didn't take United long to start testing the Wolves defence. Solskjaer had two chances in the first five minutes and it only took another five minutes for Wolves to concede the first goal. The giant Irish defender, O'Shea, got on the end of a Forlan corner and powered a header into the net.

But it wasn't all one way traffic. Wolves had one golden opportunity to score after Keane made an error and let Camara through. Fortunately, the Wolves striker just missed the target.

The players seem to have trouble with the pitch. They seem to be constantly slipping and sliding.

Kleberson, making his debut, was very poor and I expect he'll be pulled off in the second half.

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1:39 AM - Wolves at the door

United face Wolves in little over an hour.

This season marks the first time Wolves have been in the top-flight for 19 years. They've had a torrid time so far. They were hammered 5-1 by Blackburn and then Charlton slammed four past them.

And who do they face next? The champions.

At the Theatre of Dreams.

I'm guessing the Wolves manager, defence and 'keeper have discovered religion in a big way.

What will Dave Jones do? Will he opt to play 11 behind the ball in an attempt to limit the damage? If he does do that, it will be interesting to see how United react. Will the Red Devils patiently probe away or launch an impatient all-out assault?

Will we see more of Ronaldo? I expect Ferguson will throw him on early in the second half to give the kid a chance to strut his stuff. We might also see Kleberson in action for the first time. I'm hoping Ferguson gives the Brazilian a shot at the right of midfield.

And for the love of all that's holy, please play Scholes in the middle from the start. Move Giggs to the left and allow him to drift in but let Scholes play in the middle from the get-go.

United moved up a gear in the second half of the last two games they've played and that was at least partly due to the fact Scholes switched to a more central role in the second half of both games.

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1:07 AM - A Bowlful of Happiness

Anyone who read comic books in the Seventies and Eighties would be familiar with Sea-Monkeys. Remember the ads? They depicted pink smiling humanoid creatures whereas the actual things were a type of brine shrimp and looked like tiny versions of something Ellen Ripley would really want to kill.

You will be pleased to hear Majestic Studios is producing action figures of Sea-Monkeys based on the version seen in the ads.

Now if someone would only produce working x-ray glasses ... .

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Wednesday, August 27, 2003

9:40 PM - "KKKT!"

Some comics may be Gone & Forgotten but one site has done an amazing job of remembering and capturing the unintentional charms of these horribly bad comics.

If it ends up highlighted on this site, you can rest assured it's not likely to win an Eisner award anytime soon. We're talking titles like Hansi: The Girl Who Loved the Swastika and Skateman (roller-skating for justice!).

Moving on, you might think that a web site devoted to the guttural exclamations of comic characters would be ... a tad odd. You'd be right.

But the site in question, The Unh! Project, is also hilarious and that's due to the wicked commentary from the author, Tom Turrittin.

I wonder what he'd say about Rapture going "Unah!" in Transformers #77.

(Here's what I said.)

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Tuesday, August 26, 2003

10:11 PM - "In a world ..."

There's a nice preview of the Alternators line on Transfandom. I love the Hasbro teaser ad for the line:

0 - 300mph in 5.4 seconds.

Vehicle to robot in 1.7 seconds.

My appetite is well and truly whetted.

Bring it on.

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10:00 PM - "Going Up?" v 2

A mod of an earlier digi-doodle with a minor difference in pose, added decals and airbrush abuse.

Spot the differences and you just might win yourself Absolutely Nothing! (Now improved with 50 per cent more Nothing!)

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Monday, August 25, 2003

6:39 PM - Hikarian

How can this be piloted by this? How can they possibly be part of the same toy line? One looks so magnificent and the other looks like a rejected character from SpongeBob SquarePants. It's like Gundam Deathscythe Hell Custom being piloted by a smurf.

Anyway, this Japanese site has some nice out-of-the-box pix of the Hikarian God X. (Here's a translated version courtesy of Lycos.) Lightning Garuda (translated) looks like another winner from the same line.

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6:30 PM - Flagging interest

August 31 is the Malaysian independence day (*) and to celebrate it, the Tourism Board has an ad featuring Malaysians stating their reasons for flying the national flag. It's all very touchy-feely and suitably patriotic.

Still, it's a bit odd. We're told we're supposed to show our pride in being Malaysian by flying the national flag in our homes this month. What should we do with the flag the other 11 months of the year? Should we use it as a bed sheet or something?

How are we supposed to know without an advertisement to tell us what to do?

(* Malaysia, then Malaya, achieved independence from the British in 1957. We show our independence now by drinking copious amounts of tea, spelling words with a "u", driving on the left side of the road and watching more English Premier League matches than the English do.)

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6:28 PM - Makes one helluva name tag

I got a new student last week.

Me: "Can you give me your name?"

Student: "A-R-V ... "

Me: "A-R-V"

Student: "... I-N-D"

Me: "All right, Arvind, now if you ..."

Student: " ... H-E ..."

Me: "Uh, right ..."

Student: " .... M-E-N ..."

Me: "Uh ..."

Student: " ... T-H-I ..."

Me: " .... "

Student: " ... R-A-N."

I know it reads like a rejected skit from the Mind Your Language pilot but it did bring a wry smile to my face.

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Sunday, August 24, 2003

8:29 PM - More Alternators/Binartech

Start saving up 8980 yen (and don't forget to add shipping costs on top of that) because word is Masterpiece Convoy is being released in Japan on December 11. HLJ still hasn't got a pre-order page up so treat the info with some healthy scepticism until a retailer confirms it.

The same source reported Transformers Binartech BT-01 Smokescreen will be released on September 26 in Japan.

Speaking of Smokescreen, Snakas has some pix from Takara's booth at the Cultural Convention of Characters 2003 show. Check out the picture of a kyokudai-scale Convoy next to a real Subaru Impreza, the inspiration for Smokescreen's vehicle mode.

There are additional pictures from the show on Transfandom's forums. Interestingly, the card next to the Smokescreen sample reads "Binaltech." Some had suggested earlier "BinarTech" was Japanese short form for "Binary Technology" (sorta how "personal computer" was abbreviated to "pasokom") but what in the blue blazes is "Binal" supposed to be? A mistake perhaps?

Fan to Fan has some nifty pix taken from Figure King magazine. This one highlights the fact Smokescreen's doors and bonnet open. I hadn't realised the vehicle mode engine transforms into the robot mode's rifle but it's nice to see no separate containers are required to store robot mode accessories.

The character card lists Smokescreen's function as "Diversionary Tactician," which is identical to the G1 version.

Will Takara and Hasbro be treating the Alternators/Binaltech characters as G1 characters in new forms? It would make sense considering the target audience would mainly consist of adults who grew up with the original 'toon. Plus, it's the best way to reuse a name to maintain copyrights.

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8:16 PM - Order

I recently found a Malaysian toy store which accepts online orders. There seems to be a good selection of Japanese, US and Hong Kong toys although predictably, the more desirable stuff is sold out. I haven't placed any orders with this company yet but I expect I will soon enough. I'd rather incur shipping costs than spend the entire day traipsing around the city looking for a particular action figure.

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Saturday, August 23, 2003

10:01 PM - Two halves

United beat Newcastle 2-1 at St. James's Park earlier. It was, as they say, a game of two halves.

The story of the first half -- and here I'll quote Andy Gray -- “bhegs o' contrrrroversy.”

Shearer should have been carded in the opening few minutes for a reckless challenge from behind on O'Shea.

O'Brien, with a yellow card to his name, should have been sent off after bringing down Giggs on the edge of the area.

Fergie was banished from the touchline after remonstrating with the fourth official, Jeff Winter, about the previous injustice. I was tickled to see this happen actually. It's nice to see the old man still has fire in his belly. He's 62-years-old but the passion is still there for all to see.

Shearer's goal was well taken but it did appear as if he had manhandled his marker. His left hand was gripping Silvestre's wrist and his right hand shoved the Frenchman's shoulder down. Whomp, down went Silvestre, leaving Shearer with a free header which the ex-England international put away with his usual authority.

The story of the second half: St James's Park: Roy Keane ownz0r u!

I've been fond of saying he isn't capable of doing the end-to-end stuff these days but I'm delighted the United skipper made me eat my words. (Mmm, words.)

Captain Marvel 2.0 tackled, intercepted, threaded, crossed, assisted and generally conquered Newcastle in the second half. Dyer and Speed were nowhere to be seen. One can only assume they were sitting back and admiring Keane's performance like the rest of us.

Van Nistelrooy got the equaliser after doing his trademark turn-flick and lifting the ball over Given. He had earlier put the ball wide after a superb Keane ball put the Dutchman in a one-on-one situation with the Newcastle keeper. But the Striker Supreme doesn't waste too many chances. He's scored in 10 successive Premiership matches now. The records keep falling.

Scholes got the deserved winner from close range with his chest after a cross from – who else? -- Keane.

Ronaldo had another twenty minutes but had much less of an impact compared to his debut. The double step-overs, twists and feints were less effective this time around but he did provide a couple of oohs and aahs. But with United content to hold on to a one-goal lead, perhaps he was under orders to waste time and not to give the ball away in a silly fashion.

Djemba-Djemba Djemba-Djemba Djemba-Djemba continues to impress. A few of his passes might have fallen short and he was caught in possession once but all told, he ably filled in Butt's shoes.

And we still haven't seen Kleberson in Premiership action. The Brazilian made the bench but we only saw him warming up. I suspect Fergie will want to fit the World Cup winner in the right hand side of midfield soon. Solskjaer, perhaps tired after international duties, wasn't firing on all cylinders today.

United take on Wolves early next Thursday morning. Will there be live coverage, I wonder?

I'm anticipating goals galore.

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Friday, August 22, 2003

11:25 PM - Geek analogies

Tuco_7 explains the difference between Windows XP and Windows 2000:

When you see that hot looking lady all dressed up with fancy clothes, thats XP Pro....

When you see that hot looking lady dressed plain looking clothes , that windows 2000 Pro...

But under the clothes their pretty close, Win2000 has the better A$$ and will make you smile!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It must be true otherwise he wouldn't have used so many exclamation marks.

Right?

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7:17 PM - Skeeters strike again

The local health authorities fogged the neighbourhood again just now. I spoke to one of the guys in charge of the operation and he said there were some new dengue cases in the neighbourhood but the situation wasn't as bad as it was before.

I was curious about the chemical mixture they were using for fogging and he rattled off some terms which, er, I didn't manage to remember. They are apparently switching mixtures regularly to ensure the mosquitoes don't get immune to -- I hope I'm not intimidating you with this technical term -- "the stuff."

I also asked him whether "the stuff" would affect small pets (say, a rabbit) and he claimed it wouldn't.

I'm going to take that with a pinch of salt, however. I went into the house five minutes after they fogged it to switch on the fans and the lights. I was in there for less than two minutes but I had a slight headache after that which lasted for an hour or so. They are using some heavy-duty stuff.

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Thursday, August 21, 2003

9:19 PM - Whoa

CNN reported Chemical Ali has been captured by US forces. What makes this all the more remarkable is that Chemical Ali was reported killed earlier.

Forget about the WMD. Bush and Co. should concentrate on finding that hidden stash of Iraqi Raise Dead scrolls.

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7:57 PM - Better late than never?

Why is it I only discover errors in my entries months after I've posted them?

Case in point:

I initially thought it was a region coding issue but even after switching regions I received same error message.

What I meant to say was: "... after switching the regional setting in my DVD software ... ."

What, you thought I actually took the trouble of shifting to a new region just to fix that problem?

Hey, I'm not that crazy!

(Yet.)

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6:28 PM - "Going up?"

Yet another digi-doodle of Microforce NinjaMicroman.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2003

6:09 PM - Get out of my head!

Digi-doodle of Microforce NinjaMicroman.

Vaguely Heero Yuy-ish.

Song in my head right now: Makiko Esumi's "One Way Drive", the ending theme from the dorama, Shomuni. She's not singing as much as chanting and drawling but the song (overproduced to compensate for the lacklustre vocals perhaps) is catchy as hell with hooks that will stay in your head days after you've first heard it.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2003

6:31 PM - Alternators Sideswipe proto

A prototype of the second Alternators figure, Sideswipe, has popped up on -- where else? -- eBay. The robot mode seems horribly mistransformed (it should look like this) but the vehicle mode, a Dodge Viper (a RT/10 Roadster, I think), is beautiful.

(Link obtained from the RTM BBS.)

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Monday, August 18, 2003

7:24 PM - Plo wha-?

I'm not Californian but I seriously hope Ahnuld becomes governor. Directly or indirectly, he's going to be such a source of hilarity (e.g. "plo chops" and "outercourse").

"Plo chops" ... I can't stop laughing.

(Link obtained from MeFi.)

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7:21 PM - Sadistic statistics

I've ditched my Bravenet stats tracker due to the many inconveniences so I'm on the lookout for a new one. I miss reading those weird search engine misdirects to this site.

I did find a suitable candidate in FreeStats. However, I was taken aback by the list of things FreeStats doesn't tolerate. The no-nos include:

Content that contains or contains links to: nudity, pornography, adult content, sex, extreme violence, or foul language.

I'm guessing FreeStats wouldn't like my idea for a web site featuring MPEGs of people performing sadomasochistic acts in the buff while talking dirty about their income taxes.

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Sunday, August 17, 2003

9:14 PM - 'Toon out

Apparently, some things can be ruled out. Transformers designer, Orson, has quashed the Alternators cartoon rumour.

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9:08 PM - And knowing is half the battle

Trivia is big in Japan right now. Among the fascinating items of trivia revealed:

... spiders can't create webs properly if they drink coffee ...

So, please, the next time you see a spider, don't serve it a glass of Nescafe.

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2:30 AM - About time

Idi Amin's dead.

The world just got a little better.

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12:35 AM - Bryan, Eric, David and now Cristiano

A panic buy, my ass.

Cristiano Ronaldo can play. The kid can dribble, pass and cross, and he can do all that on either flank. United's new number 7 displayed his credentials to an ooh-ing aah-ing Old Trafford crowd after being brought on in the second half of the match against Bolton.

His skills and pace terrified one defender into giving away a penalty. One of his crosses led indirectly to a Giggs goal and another was uncharacteristically spurned by the Dutch Master, van Nistelrooy.

The final score: United 4, Bolton 0.

Giggs started the rout with a brace: the first was a free kick -- will we see a movie titled "Bend It Like Giggs" soon? -- and the second was from a fortuitous rebound. The third, by Scholes, should have been ruled offside but what the hell. Van Nistelrooy, who had a bad day at the office all things considered, emphatically made it four when he blasted the ball into the net from close range.

The champions could even afford a van Nistelrooy penalty miss. As his wont, the Dutchman powered a shot to the keeper's right but the Bolton keeper, Jaaskelainen, did well to stop the shot.

It was the second miss in a week for the United's regular penalty taker after he failed to convert in the penalty shoot-out in the Community Shield. Would it kill him to fire a shot to the keeper's left once in a while?

All told, it was a great second half display from United. I'm especially pleased to see the new signings assert themselves. Djemba-Djemba had another good outing in the second half and Howard put in another good performance in goal. The only new guy I haven't seen in United's colours is the Brazilian, Kleberson.

Tactically, Scholes started the match on the left again. And again, he was only influential when he switched to the middle in the second half. I think Ferguson's attempting to make United more unpredictable with these odd tactical choices but it only works in some cases. The effervescent Ronaldo did well when he switched flanks but Scholes clearly is more comfortable in the middle.

United take on Newcastle next Saturday.

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Saturday, August 16, 2003

7:48 PM - Alternators slash Binartech

I managed to find some additional details about the upcoming Transformers line, Alternators (or Binartech as the line will be known in Japan).

At 1/24 scale, the Alternator vehicles are going to be significantly larger than the Diaclone-generation Transformers that inspired them. Pyre provides a picture comparing a 1/24 scale Corvette model and a G1 Red Alert.

Transfandom has pictures from Hasbro's booth at Wizard World Chicago. The most interesting one was the first rear view of Smokescreen. Check out those large feet, a result of the detailed cabin. It looks like they might get in the way of each other and hamper the superb articulation.

It's a shame but bear in mind the interior and exterior detail might attract the die-cast car collector crowd and give this line some cross-over appeal. The die-cast collectible market is worth some US$1.7billion and collectors think nothing of dropping US$30 for a single one. At US$20 a pop, the Alternators are bound to tempt some of the 6 million collectors who make up that market. I hope so. The better the Alternators sell, the more figures we'll see and I do want to see more.

Interestingly, ICv2 claims Smokescreen will be the first of six figures and goes on to claim a cartoon will be in the offing in two years' time. I was inclined to dismiss the news of the cartoon as unlikely but how could you possibly rule anything out now? Just about every TransFan wish has (or will) come true.

Unicron? Check.

A Soul of Chogokin-style figure of Optimus Prime that transforms? Check.

A new line of Diaclone-inspired transformers with super articulation? Check.

A new TF movie? Being worked on.

Reissues of classic Transformers? Check.

Comics? Check.

TV show? Check.

'Tis a very good time to be a TransFan.

Years from now, TransFans will look back on this time and say, "That truly was the Golden Age."

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7:24 PM - It begins anew

United have completed the signing of Kleberson and made a surprise swoop for Cristiano Ronaldo.

I had not heard of the latter before his signing but everyone seems to be singing his praises now. The kid -- United paid £12.2m for an 18-year-old, if you can believe it -- is tall, confident and judging from excerpts I've seen of him in action, he's got flair and skill. But it's another gamble by Fergie. Was it a panic buy, I wonder?

United take on Bolton in a few hours. It's a tricky fixture. Bolton have managed to get the better of United in the past and United do have some injury concerns in defence as both Silvestre and Fortune have picked up knocks.

There has been some talk of Keane playing in defence and I'd like to see him there. That would leave a midfield spot open for Djemba-Djemba. The young Cameroonian is a battler and is capable of running from box-to-box, something Keane can no longer do.

My prediction? Bolton, now captained by Okocha, will give them a run for their money but United will get all three points.

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Friday, August 15, 2003

8:16 PM - Back

Surprisingly, the store owner didn't raise a fuss when I returned the dying Fireball. He did tell me several other customers had returned Maxtor slim drives due to problems. It's funny how he forgot to mention that little detail when I was buying the drive back in December.

This site claims Quantum Fireball hard disks are susceptible to power spikes. (Maxtor merged with Quantum back in 2000.) I do experience power spikes from time to time but I've got an AVR so I doubt power spikes are the cause of the problems. More to the point, I've got a 3.2GB Quantum Fireball as a slave drive in my rig and it hasn't given me problems in the 6 years I've been using it.

Others have complained about the Maxtor Fireball online here and here but it appears some Maxtor Fireball owners had no problems whatsoever. I think I just got a bad unit.

Anyway, I was told I'd get a replacement in two or three weeks.

Which probably means a month.

In the meantime, I'm using a hard drive appropriated from another system. It just happens to be another Maxtor Fireball 3. Hopefully, this one will stay stable.

(Incidentally, Maxtor has a nifty utility on its web site called Powermax that not only checks Maxtor hard disks for problems but is capable of low-level formats as well. It's handy when you want to erase data from your hard drive. Like, say, when you need to return a faulty drive.)

TCP/IP, MTU, DrTCP and you

I've been restoring my data to the other Maxtor Fireball over the past two days. It wasn't a straightforward process because another one of those Bizarre Computing Problems That Don't Quite Make Sense occurred.

I had trouble surfing to a few web sites including Soccernet, Lowyat.net and various Yahoo-related sites. The weird thing was all the other sites I visited were fine.

I had a similar problem before and solved it by changing DNS servers. That didn't work this time, however, and after hours of checking and rechecking software settings, I wasn't even close to fixing it.

I then thought it wasn't something on my end. Perhaps the blackouts had affected those particular sites. Perhaps it was due to the various worms that are making the rounds right now. (A couple of web sites and online services have been facing problems including Microsoft Update and Grisoft's AVG virus definition update.)

Or had I pissed off the Internet Gods?

Well, close.

I eventually found the answer online. It turns out I had neglected to tweak my TCP settings. Once I had set the MTU limit to 1492 (I used DrTCP for this), it was all smooth sailing.

But that's the trouble with PCs: Troubleshooting can be such a rhymes-with-witch.

(No, not "ditch.")

(No, not "pitch.")

Link  | 

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

7:14 PM - Fireball burning up

The 30GB Maxtor Fireball hard disk I got last December is dying faster than expected.

I've had problems with bad sectors and read/write errors but I had a real scare today when the PC refused to boot-up Windows. It was a problem because my back-ups were outdated. Fortunately, a boot disk and three hours with Scandisk saved my ass.

I had better get a replacement for the Maxtor, though. The next snafu might not be treatable. The hard disk is still under warranty but I'm sure the dude at the store will make it difficult for me to get a replacement.

I have almost no faith in local computer store personnel. They're your best friend when you're buying something and they treat you like you're carrying sort of infectious disease when it comes to post-sale support.

I realise there's little money to be made with after-sales support but c'mon, is it too much to ask for a bit of courtesy?

Link  | 

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

9:28 PM - Microforce review

Ah, Microforce.

Microman returns in 2003 and in some style. These are arguably the best traditional action figures in the market today and after two months of playing with them, it's finally time for me wax lyrical about them.

Well, okay, ramble interminably would be more accurate.

I'm not sure what spurred Takara to do this line. Did Takara want to outdo Bandai's Microman-inspired Beta Midget line? Or was Takara inspired by Toy Biz's Marvel Legends character-based line of super-articulated action figures?

Regardless, this is a brand new line that's targeted at older toy fans. That means no gimmicks like magnets and light-up LEDs but superbly-sculpted figures with outrageous articulation instead.

The Microforce line has a sister line, Tatsunoko Fight, based on characters from the similarly named Takara videogame released in 2000.

Bear in mind I've only got CommanderMicroman and NinjaMicroman and my observations about these two may not necessarily be true of the other figures. But all the figures have an identical body design -- I gather Tekkaman has some modifications, though -- so I don't expect my comments will be too far off the mark.

The figures retail in Japan for 980yen and are currently available in the US for around US$6. That's great value for money and I'll tell you why in a moment. But first we'll take a look-see at the ...

Packaging

Each figure comes twisty-tied in a PET plastic cannister package and it is possible to remove the figures from the packages without tearing the latter apart. Just carefully peel away the cellophane tape surrounding the cover. The figures come with a lot of accessories -- some of them are tiny -- so the cannister will come in handy for storage.

The accessories come in two small plastic baggies -- one holds the weapons while the other contains the extra hands --- secured with cellophane tape.

There's little in the way of promo material in the package. There aren't any instructions but it shouldn't be too hard to figure out how to accessorise the figures. There are tiny captioned pictures on the cardboard insert -- the closest thing to a catalog --- and you can use them as a guide. The cardboard insert includes this para in teeny-weeny eye-straining type:

Time has flown by since the birth of Microman in 1974. Now, in 2003, he has returned to us in a new form. We entrust him to the care of those who have a child's heart in order to explore the unforseeable future

Got that? Takara has entrusted these figures to our care.

For 980 yen a piece. (Gee, thanks, Takara!)

I, for one, am glad I still have a child's heart. The child I took it from will just have to get a new one.

Figures

The figures stand roughly 10.2cm tall. They're slightly taller than the vintage Microman figures and much taller the MagnePowers and LED Powers figures that preceeded this line.

In terms of construction, the bodies are made from polycarbonate, the weapons are ABS and the hands are made of softer styrene elastomer. (I'm not sure about the last, though. I couldn't find the definition of the kanji between "styrene" and "elastomer." But it's a rubber-y feeling material.)

The figures are very well sculpted with good proportions for the most part. The hands seem a bit large but I'm probably being hypercritical.

Each Microman figure has a unique head sculpt. Commander has perhaps the most traditional-looking sculpt. Ninja, on the other hand, has a face mask that covers his facial features but oddly, leaves his distinctive faux-hawk uncovered. He wants secrecy but craves attention. He's so confused.

As is Microman tradition, the figures are colour-coded. Commander is dark red while Ninja is an un-ninja-like purple. The figures also have unique decals printed on their biceps, chest and right thigh with symbols and kanji in their personal colours. Commander has the kanji for "one" while Ninja has the kanji for "two."

Bottom line? They look great. But how do they fare as action figures?

Strike a pose

The articulation, I'm glad to report, is stunning. Let's talk joints:

  • Ball joint for the neck

  • Double ball joints for each shoulder

  • Swivel joint in each upper arm

  • Double hinge joint for each elbow

  • Hinge joint in mid-torso

  • Ball joint for the waist

  • Ball joint in each hip

  • Swivel joint in each thigh

  • Double hinge joint for each knee

  • A hinge-ball combo joint for each ankle

There are 25 joints there. In addition, there's effectively a swivel joint in each forearm thanks to the pegs on the detachable hands. And since all the hands have a hinge joint in the wrist, there could be up to 29 points of articulation in these figures. Not quite the "over 30 points of articulation" I earlier thought the figures would have but it's still impressive.

Why?

These figures are 10cm tall.

I especially love the ball joint in the waist. Coupled with the mid-torso hinge joint, it gives the figures a tremendous range of torso motion hitherto unavailable in figures in this scale. The torso of each figure can bend forward and backward and side to side.

The double ball jointed shoulders allow the figures to swing their arms forward and backward to a slight degree. The double hinge joints for the elbows and knees allow for some extreme poses while the hinge-ball combo joints for the ankles ensure the figures remain standing stably.

I just wish I had a digital camera with a killer macro mode. These figures need to be given the Tim Brisko treatment.

You can have these figures lying prone in a sniper pose. You can have them hang their heads in terrible shame. You can have them doubled up in pain.

In short, these figures have the articulation to match your imagination.

Faibu mili jointo

I've written before of my love of the 5mm peg and port system found in Takara toys. You can imagine my disappointment at the dodgy 5mm port on the back of the Microforce figures. They are a tad too large and much too shallow to keep 5mm pegs firmly attached.

Perhaps it's due to an engineering issue. Considering how many joints the chest piece had to accommodate, I suppose the designers couldn't make the port too deep.

Regardless, the 5mm port in these figures' backs comes across as a mere nod to tradition rather than something functional. None of the accessories make use of the 5mm joint.

(Again, I've only got CommanderMicroman and NinjaMicroman and it's possible that one or two of the Tatsunoko Fight figures might make use of the 5mm port.)

Few reviewers have commented on the 2.5mm ports on the feet. There's no reason for them to be there at the moment. Did Takara originally plan to ship the figures with stands?

If it was another nod to tradition, you'd think Takara would have opted for 5mm ports. It certainly isn't due to space limitations. The vintage figures managed to accommodate 5mm ports on their similar-sized feet.

Granted, the LED Powers that preceeded this line did have 2.5mm ports for their feet but I think that was to make them compatible with the Transformers Action Master vehicle moulds that were recycled for the earlier line.

Curiouser and curiouser

More interestingly, there's a mysterious 3mm-long slot to the rear of the 2.5mm port on each foot. I've not seen anything like it in other Takara action figures.

I vaguely remember somebody suggesting vehicles or accessories for the Microforce line were forthcoming. (I've not heard any word since then, though.)

Does Takara plan to introduce a new style of connectivity like it did for Transformers Armada/Micron Legend line with the Powerlinx pegs/ports?

Jiggle, jiggle

I'm disappointed in the two-piece chest harnesses for both Commander and Ninja. They make no use of the 5mm port on the back. Instead, the two pieces attach together via three of the tiniest pegs I've ever seen. Unfortunately, the harnesses don't fit snugly on the chests of the figures and they jiggle whenever you play with the figures.

Since I'd rather my male action figures didn't have parts in the chest area that jiggle, thankyewverymuch, the harnesses have remained in the package.

Accessorise

The accessories are otherwise very well done.

Aside from his harness, Ninja comes with:

  • A katana

  • A zanbatou-sized sword

  • Two shuriken that are bound to be the first things everyone loses

  • A shuriken-holder that attaches to the front of the harness

  • A sheath for the katana which attaches to the back of the harness

Aside from his harness, Commander comes with:

  • A large machine gun

  • A handgun

  • A combat knife

  • A forearm holster for his knife

  • A holster on his thigh for his handgun

I generally avoid using the word "badass" but "badass-itude" just emanates from the well-sculpted Microforce accessories. I especially love Ninja's katana and Commander's wonderfully detailed machine gun.

Get a grip

Takara has generously included additional pairs of hands which attach to ports in the forearms. These include:

  • Weapons grip hands that hinge up and down at the wrist

  • Weapons grip hands that hinge side to side at the wrist

  • Gun grip hands with trigger finger slightly extended to grasp the triggers on the rifle and guns

  • Karate chop hands

  • Hands with the fingers spread wide

  • Clenched fists

That's right, these figures ship with six pairs of hands each. Talk about overkill.

I love it.

Flaws

I was a little worried about QC issues when I realised the sheer ambitiousness of the design. A 10cm tall figure made of over 50 different parts with 29 points of articulation costing less than 1000 yen? Outrageous!

It's perhaps understandable that this new body design has a couple of QC issues.

These are some of the problems I've encountered:

  • Commander's arms kept popping off but I chalked it up to a tight ball joint in the shoulder. Once the larger of the two ball joints that connect the arm to the torso loosened up with play, Commander ceased having insta-amputee problems.

  • Another problem was the ball joint in the waist. I had a deuce of a time trying to twist the waists of both figures to the left and had to resort to excessive force. Strangely, I had no problems whatsoever twisting the waists to the right. I'm attributing this to an uneven ball joint or ball joint receptacle.

  • It's difficult to attach some of the hands because the pegs are slightly too large for the forearm ports. I had to force them in which I did reluctantly and very cautiously since the pegs on the hands are made of softer material.

  • Commander's chest and bicep decals have all but rubbed off. Ninja's are still okay, though.

I gather others have had similar problems but for the most part, the figures are all right. There certainly haven't been any horror stories about the figures breaking.

Some folks have wondered about the dark silver chrome used for the heads. It seems to be another flaw rather than a deliberate aesthetics choice. The chromed weapons and accessories are much lighter in colour and there's no historical reason for the heads to be that dark silver chrome. Is it a problem? Hardly.

Microlinks

I realise there's no way in hell I'm going to be able to cover every aspect of these figures so here are a couple of useful links for further reading:

A thousand words

Some Microforce-related pix to gawk at:

(Previous Microforce-related entries: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)

Link  | 

8:52 PM - So many, so little time

My current definition of "hell": Defining a particular kanji.

It wouldn't be so difficult if I didn't have to hunt for that damned kanji before I can define it.

Link  | 

6:33 PM - Still practising

Simple lines.

Link  | 

6:19 PM - Say what?

From BBC's footie Quotes of the Week:

They must buy a new coach as well, to get everybody on!

...which was interpreted on one television bulletin as this: Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has ridiculed Chelsea's spending spree and suggests they go out and buy a manager as well

Meanwhile, Kleberson has got his work permit after an appeal. Ferguson will have to play him regularly or the work permit will be revoked. The question is where will the Brazilian play? On the right or in the middle?

Link  | 

12:59 AM - Juxtapose for fun

Reuters reports:

Weapon sales by rich countries were responsible for the proliferation of wars, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

...

Last Tuesday Malaysia signed a $900 million deal to buy 18 Sukhoi Su-30MKs from Russia.

You can practically see the smirk on the reporter's face.

Link  | 

Monday, August 11, 2003

11:04 PM - 3/4

Three-quarter view.

Memo to myself: Add "noses" to list of body parts to study.

I've been working on a review of Takara's Microman Microforce off and on. There are a couple of reviews out there already but seing as how my site pops up in Google searches for the line, I might as well do one myself and add some useful links if anyone's interested in additional reading material about the line.

This is a terrific line of action figures but Takara hasn't been aggressively promoting it outside Japan. Microforce is targeted at adult toy fans rather than kiddies (although I'm sure the kids will love the figures) and the line doesn't have an anime or manga to push it. It's up to toy fans to spread the word as much as possible.

I would love to see Takara expand the line to include vehicles and Robotman-style mecha.

That's only going to happen if Takara's very happy with the sales for the current assortment.

Link  | 

6:21 PM - Pound for pound

Deloitte & Touche has analysed the 2001-02 footie season in England. Some interesting stats:

Teams finishing in the top three of the Premiership and taking part in the Champions League stand to make between £44m to £55m from TV, prize money, gate receipts and other commercial spin-offs.

Over the 10 years of the Premiership, Manchester United registered the highest cumulative profits at £229m, with Tottenham Hotspur in second place with £74m.

The Premiership is the strongest league in revenue terms. England's total income rose 21% to reach €1.748bn (£1.2bn) and the Premiership receives more revenue than France and Germany put together.

In 2001-02, Manchester United reported the highest operating profit at £34m, followed by Newcastle United at £15m.

Average wages for players have increased 700% during the Premiership's existence.

The biggest spenders in the transfer market over the past six season have been Manchester United, followed by Leeds United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.

The average Premiership club pays £35.3m in wages, up from £28.1m in 2000-01.

(Link obtained from SportsFilter.)

Link  | 

Sunday, August 10, 2003

11:51 PM - United down Gunners

United won the Community Shield after beating 10-man Arsenal on penalties.

It was an ill-tempered affair with retaliatory fouls being committed on a number of occasions. (Would I be showing my bias too much by saying Arsenal were mostly at fault?)

Jeffers was sent off for one such foul in the second half after lashing out against Phil Neville. Cole should have been sent off in the first half for a similar offence against Solskjaer but the ref strangely chose to be lenient after awarding two yellow cards in the opening two minutes of the match.

The relatively poor atmosphere would have been worse if it were not for the hot weather. Everyone looked knackered with the sweat freely pouring off players' faces. As a result, the match was mostly drab with few clear-cut opportunities for both sides.

Silvestre, voted man-of-the-match, put United in front with a free header in the 15th minute after Keane flicked on a Giggs corner. The lead just lasted five minutes, though, as Henry curled in a stunning free-kick -- which Vieira had bamboozled the ref into giving -- from some thirty yards out.

It finished all square after regulation time so the match went to penalties. Howard saved from Pires to earn his first piece of silverware and it looks like the American will be United's first choice keeper this season.

Ferguson chose to pair Ferdinand and Silvestre in the centre of defence with Neville playing right-back and Fortune at left-back. Ferguson should stick to this defensive unit because the defence did very well and managed to contain Henry nicely.

In midfield, Butt and Keane started in the centre with Solskjaer on the right and oddly, Scholes playing towards the left. Giggs was drifting behind van Nistelrooy and was often found on the right in the first half.

It was a strange way to use Scholes -- Ferguson did the same thing in the friendly against Juventus --- and I don't think we saw the best of the ginger-haired midfielder until he switched to a more familiar central midfield role in the second half.

United take on Bolton next Saturday.

Link  | 

2:01 PM - 'Ere we go, 'ere we go

United will face Arsenal again in the traditional curtain-raiser to the English Premier League, the FA Community Shield, in about seven hours.

The match is considered a glorified friendly but it will hardly be that when these two teams go head to head. There's bad blood between the two juggernauts of English football and the two managers involved are fond of winding each other up.

Expect a couple of yellow cards and don't be shocked if someone gets sent off. Expect crunching tackles. Expect confrontations between the players. Expect the two teams to go all out to scalp each other.

The result of this match won't be a good gauge of the Premiership race itself, though. United usually lose the curtain-raiser but often go on to win the Premiership itself.

Still, the match should be entertaining.

Link  | 

12:07 PM - "Airborne is reborn!"

A long time ago, there was a favourable Computer Gaming World review of a rather unique game called Glider Pro. In it, you controlled a paper plane as it glided through the rooms of a house while trying to avoid all sorts of obstacles. I thought it was a cool game concept but was put off by the fact the game was Macintosh-only.

Imagine my pleasant surprise when I found out today the author, John Calhoun, had made a Windows version of the game.

And it was available online.

For free.

The download is a mere 982kb and installation is a breeze. Just unzip the contents to a folder of your choice and run the Glider executable. It works great on Windows 98SE.

Fun!

(Link obtained from MeFi.)

Link  | 

Saturday, August 09, 2003

10:30 PM - For Bruce's sake

Common sense has prevailed. Bruce Almighty will be screened locally after all. The Star reports:

The Government has given the go-ahead for the screening of Bruce Almighty, which was mired in controversy after a minister pointed out that the movie was against Islamic beliefs.

...

The official said the decision was arrived at after the movie was viewed and assessed several times by various government officials including those from the Islamic Development Department and Film Censorship Board.

They had to assess it several times before deciding it was harmless? Good grief.

Only in Malaysia.

Ah well, the important thing is the holier-than-everyone crowd got put in their place.

Link  | 

10:01 PM - "Just add water"

Looking suitably androgynous, it's the eponymous character from Ranma 1/2 Nettouhen.

By the way, do yourself a favour and seek out "Zettai Pt. 2", one of the opening themes from the series. Like the series itself, the song is cheery, upbeat and silly. It begins with a riff from Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and also features a honking horn. You just can't beat that combo.

You'll love it.

Hey, would I lie to you?

(Zettai! Zettai!)

Link  | 

2:53 PM - And I quote

A. Whitney Brown:

There are a billion people in China. It's not easy to be an individual in a crowd of more than a billion people. Think of it. That means even if you're a one-in-a-million type of guy, there are still a thousand guys exactly like you.

(Via Mark Evanier.)

Link  | 

10:14 AM - And I quote

Steve Martin strikes again:

So if you're asking me did Iraq have weapons of mass destruction, I'm saying, well, it all depends on what you mean by "have."

See, I can "have" something without actually having it. I can "have" a cold, but I don't own the cold, nor do I harbor it. Really, when you think about it, the cold has me, or even more precisely, the cold has passed through me.

Link  | 

Friday, August 08, 2003

9:59 PM - Sunset of the samurai

Another piece of history to file under fiction-could-never-top-this:

On a muddy field outside Kagoshima on September 25, 1877, the feudal system that had dominated Japan for 700 years died, not with a whimper but with a defiant roar. At 6 that morning, the 40 remaining warriors of the last traditional samurai army in Japanese history rose from their foxholes, drew their swords and charged into the guns of the 30,000-man-strong imperial army.

I wonder why there aren't that many history-based anime. I'm not talking about history-flavoured anime like Rurouni Kenshin but rather anime depicting actual history.

The accounts of Japanese history like the one above are absolutely riveting and the characters who participated in and made history are downright unbelievable.

An example? Take Takamori Saigo:

So great was his dedication that when his government sought a plausible excuse for a war with Korea, Saigo offered to go there as ambassador in 1873, intending to insult the Korean government to such a degree that it would be forced to kill him, thereby providing Japan with its casus belli.

Link  | 

9:40 PM - Side note

Memo to myself: Learn how ears should be drawn.

Link  | 

5:42 PM - Making the right moves

John Brewin is wondering if Peter Kenyon knows what he's doing in the transfer market. He provides a recap of United's shenanigans in the transfer market over the past few seasons and questions the strange mix of parsimony and profligacy that has characterised United's transfer bids.

However, Brewin fails to take into consideration Manchester United is only club in the Premiership which has been consistently profitable. Make no mistake: the money-men at Old Trafford have been very good at their jobs. They've splurged when the results on the field weren't up to expectations -- remember the £47m spent on Veron and van Nistelrooy in 2001? -- and tightened the purse strings when necessary.

Plus, there's a few weeks left before the transfer deadline. There's still time for one major signing.

Link  | 

Thursday, August 07, 2003

3:32 PM - Roll those eyes

The long national nightmare is over:

The 46-year-old national anthem, Negaraku, which was given an upbeat marching rhythm 11 years ago, will go back to its stately original tempo, albeit “marginally faster.”

“It will still be the same Negaraku that we grew up with except that it will be slightly faster than the original one,” said a high-ranking Information Ministry source.

“The 1957 arrangement captured the essence of our national identity but after it was changed to a marching rhythm in 1992, this essence was lost.

“It appears to have failed to invoke that patriotic passion,” he said.

Yeah, I'm so sure the lack of patriotic passion in Malaysians today was caused by the tempo of Negaraku v 2.0. That "High-Ranking Information Ministry Source" -- should I call him "Mr High-Ranking" or "Mr Source"? -- such a genius.

There was no reason to change the tempo in the first place let alone change it now. It's not a change for the better. It's not going to result in better racial relations. It's not going to create a better socio-political environment.

It's simply change for the sake of change.

I'm sure Mr High-Ranking or one of his gang of geniuses is going to change Negaraku again in the next decade or so.

Maybe we'll get a new version featuring an Eddie van Halen guitar solo and a dance beat.

Link  | 

7:59 AM - Devils, er, beaten and bowed

Manchester United lost their 100 per cent record in the pre-season after being spanked by Sporting Lisbon 1-3.

United had some problems with the pitch but from all accounts, the defeat was well-deserved. Even the consolation goal was an own goal.

Interestingly, Ferguson tried some new things in the match. Debutant Djemba-Djemba had a successful outing in the centre of midfield partnering captain for the day, Nicky Butt. The youngsters Richardson and Bellion were on the flanks. In defence, O'Shea played at right-back with Silvestre partnering Ferdinand in the centre leaving the left-back spot to Fortune. Up front, Paul Scholes lurked behind Solskjaer and Barthez was back in goal.

We'll have to wait for the Community Shield on August 10 to get a hint of the first 11 Fergie will settle on for the coming season.

In other news, Ferguson's been spinning to explain Veron's sale. It looks like the canny Scotsman needed the funds to finance the purchase of a defender and a striker.

But who are the targets? And will Ferguson be looking for back-ups or players who can make an immediate impact at the Champions League level?

Link  | 

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

6:38 PM - Fruity

Scott A. Sandford, NASA scientist, compares apples and oranges:

Both samples were prepared by gently desiccating them in a convection oven at low temperature over the course of several days. The dried samples were then mixed with potassium bromide and ground in a small ball-bearing mill for two minutes. One hundred milligrams of each of the resulting powders were then pressed into a circular pellet having a diameter of 1 cm and a thickness of approximately 1 mm. Spectra were taken at a resolution of 1 cm-1 using a Nicolet 740 FTIR spectrometer.

(Link obtained from Slashdot.)

Link  | 

6:22 PM - La Brujita Blues

Veron has been sold for a paltry £15m with £2.5m of the fee dependant on Chelsea's results over the next four seasons. The Argentinian midfielder was bought for £28.1m two years ago so this is a significant financial loss for United. He did have some good performances in the Champions League last season but as far as United are concerned, I think Veron will go down in history as a gamble that didn't pay off.

United may be cash-rich at the moment but as the Veron affair amply showed, a serious outlay doesn't always translate to definite success. (Take note, Roman Abramovich.)

None of United's signings in the off-season strike me as being as Champions League material in the immediate future. (Admittedly, I haven't seen Djemba-Djemba Djemba-Djemba Djemba-Djemba in action yet.) United simply don't have the depth necessary for a successful Champions League campaign the way Team Beckh-, sorry, Real Madrid do. The Spanish side is capable of giving United a serious challenge even without Raul.

A long-term injury to van Nistelrooy would be catastrophic for United.

Link  | 

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

6:52 PM - Red Devils unbeaten and unbowed

The Red Devils beat Barcelona 3-1 in their last pre-season friendly match in the US.

Ferguson will have had some choice words for O'Shea, I'm sure. The big Irishman, playing at centreback again, tried to close down Ronaldinho in the 10th minute but left Ferdinand with the impossible task of marking both Saviola and Kluivert. The latter duly despatched the ball into the net with a powerful header after a cheeky chip by Ronaldinho.

But another brace from Forlan -- I think the Uruguayan has filled his goal quota for the next 6 months -- and inevitably, a goal from van Nistelrooy were enough to see off the Catalan side.

United were perhaps a tad lucky, though. The equaliser was obtained after Cocu was felled by a Scholes thunderbolt leaving Forlan with ample space. The second United goal was similarly fortuitous. Forlan was left with the simplest of finishes after Butt's low cross was deflected into the Uruguayan's path. The third was the result of slack defending by Andersson which allowed the predatory van Nistelrooy to steal the ball.

Howard was in stellar form with at least two Schmeichel-class saves. It appears Barthez will be spending more time on the bench this season.

Fortune put in another impressive performance at left-back. This leaves Ferguson with an interesting dilemma. Who will the manager play at left-back -- Silvestre, O'Shea and Fortune are all up to the task -- and who gets to partner Ferdinand in the centre?

United take on Sporting Lisbon next. I hope one of our TV stations picks up the match as we're likely to see Djemba-Djemba -- who has a tremendously fun last name ... say it with me ... "Djemba-Djemba" ... "Djemba-Djemba" -- in action for the first time.

In other news, United have confirmed receiving a formal bid from Chelsea for Veron. La Brujita was rested for the match against Barcelona and I think it's more than likely he'll be wearing blue come August 6.

I hope he doesn't go, though. Ferguson has admitted United don't have much unpredictability about them at the moment. Oh sure, they managed to win these pre-season friendlies with aplomb but the Champions League q-finals stages and beyond are going to be much more tougher.

I still can't see United overcoming the likes of Team Beckham -- sorry, that should be Real Madrid -- over two fixtures.

Link  | 

6:48 PM - And I quote

Jay Leno:

According to a new study by scientists in England, a chemical in saliva can help inflamed bowels. Here’s my question: How did they discover this?

Link  | 

6:46 PM - Yes, that catchy

Go seek out Yaida Hitomi's "Girl's Talk," young grasshopper.

You'll probably end up in a 12-step program for song addiction but it will be worth it and you will thank me profusely for it.

Just how catchy is it? It's the type of song that gets me dancing.

And I'm not supposed to be dancing.

(There's a court order involved.)

Link  | 

10:28 AM - Gotta love those titles

Adult film star Felicia Fox reviews Freddy vs Jason:

I've been a fan of horror films for years...(you can just imagine how excited I was when one of the first XXX films I starred in was a Sin City film entitled "Hung Wankenstein"

I now feel obliged to link to other funny adult film titles.

Whoever thought up "E3: The Extra Testicle" was a genius.

Link  | 

7:51 AM - Surf no evil

The Star reports:

National Unity and Social Development Minister Datuk Dr Siti Zaharah Sulaiman said her ministry had proposed that "all relevant parties" censor online content that could lead to social and moral problems in the country.

...

Her ministry's proposal is at odds with the Bill of Guarantees formulated by the Malaysian Government as part of its Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) project.

Among others, the Bill guarantees that Malaysia will not censor content on the Internet. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad has also gone on record many times to reaffirm the Government's commitment to non-censorship.

The funny thing is the Government -- or in Manglish terms, "degubmen" -- has hardly been committed to non-censorship when it comes to traditional media. This is the sort of double standard that irks, exasperates and confuses. Unfortunately, it's also far too common around these parts.

Regardless, this is another issue to watch. With Dr M making his exit soon, the man to listen to is Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Will he stand by the Bill of Guarantees? Or will he bow to pressure from the katak di bawah tempurung crowd?

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Monday, August 04, 2003

5:03 PM - Flip-flop

July 22:

We, KLites, must be broad-minded and liberal enough to accept such shows.

Today:

Unfettered freedom to speak, act or perform that can impinge on the social fabric and delicate sensitivity of our population needs to stopped.

Thus spake the Mayor of Kuala Lumpur, Datuk Mohmad Shaid bin Mohd Taufek, on the controversy over a local play. (The second excerpt is from today's Malay Mail).

What could have caused the about turn? Well, the Star reported on July 28 that Mingguan Malaysia columnist Awang Selamat took the Mayor to task for his earlier comments:

Awang said he was appalled when the mayor openly defended ICT in pointing out that the performance was not harmful except that it had one or two disrespectful words.

“I appreciate the mayor’s open-mindedness. Nevertheless, I wonder whether he really understood the script and his own remarks,” Awang said.

This ongoing battle over censorship bears watching as it's a manifestation of the tension between Malaysian liberals and puritans. Sadly, the holier-than-everyone -- at least, publicly -- puritans seem to be winning.

But it's not all bad news.

It turns out Bruce Almighty may not necessarily go the way of Daredevil.

The Star reported:

The Film Censorship Board never intended or even recommended for Jim Carrey’s latest flick Bruce Almighty to be banned after viewing it for the first time, said Deputy Home Minister Datuk Chor Chee Heung.

The current generation of Malaysians should not be underestimated as not being able to tell the difference between comedy and serious issues, he said.

Many of them were well educated and far more exposed, he said.

Let's hope the Deputy Home Minister doesn't end up flip-flopping like the Kay-El mayor.

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6:46 AM - Don't panic!

I've discovered a bug in Firebird 0.6.1. If you use the right-click context-sensitive menu on an entry in the Bookmarks drop-down menu, you'll find you can no longer access the bookmarks for that entire node. Before you panic needlessly, it's not permanent. Just shut the browser down and start a new session and everything's back to normal.

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6:44 AM - Pearls Before Swine

This is the sort of thing that might actually happen to me.

(Click fast for the archives only last 30 days.)

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Sunday, August 03, 2003

2:23 PM - SecuROM: The final entry, I swear!

Atari Australia has acknowledged the problems some SoU customers have had with SecuROM. E-mail neverwinter@atari.com if you're having problems installing the game.

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6:11 AM - NinjaMicroman

A quick digi-doodle of NinjaMicroman.

Incidentally, NinjaMicroman has a David Beckham World Cup 2002 hairstyle (a.k.a the "faux-hawk"). It's the same style Japanese women favour.

But not on their scalps.

I know I wrote about this before but this just cracks me up so much. I love this quote from Wai Wai:

"(Pubic hairstyling) can make the difference for a girl when she's competing with another girl whose looks are about the same as hers."

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5:08 AM - Unfortunate aircraft acronyms

All Nippon Airways Lockheed 1011.

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Friday, August 01, 2003

9:15 PM - The Italian job, part d'oh

Juventus were on the receiving end of another Red Devil spanking in a highly entertaining match in front of 79,000 spectators at Giants Stadium. The 4-1 victory over Juventus was United's third defeat of the Italian champions this year.

To be fair, this was only a pre-season friendly and Marcello Lippi decided to start with several fringe members of his squad. Still, you just had to be impressed by United's commitment and determination.

United started with Keane replacing Butt with Solskjaer playing on the right-side of midfield taking the place of Bellion. The team was otherwise identical to the starting line-up against Club America.

Giggs started the thrashing with a superbly taken free kick on the edge of the area. Y'know, United once had another chap who used to take the free kicks. What was his name? A "B" ... the name definitely started with a "B" ... Bailey? Birtles?

Paul Scholes got the second -- just rewards for the industrious and creative pocket dynamo -- after the restart.

Goal-scoring machine Ruud van Nistelrooy then scored United's third with a brilliant volley after chesting a Veron chip. It would surely be a contender for goal of the season if it weren't for the minor fact the season hasn't actually started.

Lippi then made wholesale changes with 10 players coming off with the big guns like Del Piero, Trezeguet and Nedved being thrown into the fray. The move immediately paid dividends as Juventus put the Red Devils under serious pressure and the fight back looked on when Nedved scored with a well-taken effort.

However, Solskjaer put paid to any Juventus hopes with a superb finish in the 79th minute. You should never give the Baby-Faced Assassin ample space and time with a clear sight of goal.

Ex-Metrostars 'keeper Tim Howard, who I thought looked nervous during the pre-match ceremonies, performed very well in his old stomping grounds. He made some great saves and Ferguson must surely be tempted to give the American a place in the starting eleven for United's first Premiership match on August 16.

Not every United player fared as well, though. The hapless Forlan had two big misses -- one of which was a howler right in front of a gaping goal.

In addition, the United defence -- anchored by two big men, Ferdinand and O'Shea -- was much less convincing this time around. Juventus could have easily plundered a couple of more goals if it weren't for poor performances by the Juve strikeforce and Tim Howard's big mitts.

On an ominous note, United have a lot of injury concerns at the moment. Defenders Gary Neville and Brown are already out and to make things worse, Phil Neville, Fortune, Solskjaer and van Nistelrooy all picked up slight knocks in this match.

Kudos again to NTV7 for showing these pre-season matches live. The games may not mean much in the grand scheme of things but the ones featuring Manchester United have been very entertaining.

I just hope the team doesn't peak too early in the upcoming season. We all saw how Arsenal burst out of the starting gates last season only to run out of steam towards the end.

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4:50 AM - CommanderMicroman 0.2

Version 0.2 of that doodle of CommanderMicroman.

I've only got 17+ MB of space left on this site so I'm always trying to reduce the size of digi-doodles. Unfortunately, Pixia has rather poor JPEG compression which results in rather icky artifacts. I've recently discovered a better method.

I'm currently saving my pictures in Pixia in JPEG format with no compression (i.e. 100%) and then using IrfanView to resize (if necessary) and saving it. The original size of the above digi-doodle was 70kb and I managed to trim it down to 20kb with little difference in picture quality.

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1:23 AM - And I quote

josh crawley:

There's something about the paradigm of text on a screen, and the psychological experience of using a computer that just hasn't been understood yet in interface design. It's something more than a tool-using experience, but less than a "person to person" experience. Hence, the whole argument about "the only intuitive interface is the nipple".

To which, 0x0d0a replies:

I'm dubious as to whether the nipple is particularly intuitive at all. If someone shoves a big, fleshy thing into *your* mouth, is *your* first reaction "Hmm, I think I'll suck hard on this for a while"?

(From Slashdot.)

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