RT: Of Inventions and Innovations.

Of invention and innovation.

Way back in 1987, I was introduced to the world of computers when my father brought home an Apple Macintosh 512K. I started word processing, drawing and playing games on the computer, using keyboard and mouse via the Graphical User Interface (GUI).

After the Apple was fried due to incompatible voltage (110V for US vs 220V for UK) after moving the computer to another country, my family bought the 286XT, which was later upgraded to 286AT, then 386, and went straight to Pentium V.

I became an Apple user after Steve Jobs introduced the iPad in 2010. Before that, I was very anti-Apple. I even bought myself a Samsung Galaxy S because it looks like the iPhone, functions like the iPhone, but it is not the Apple iPhone.

Back then, the netbook was the trend setting IT gadget, sacrificing processing power and battery life (it was actually Microsoft Vista’s fault, honestly speaking) for mobility. Macbook Air came but the price tag means they are not competing with each other under the same category. I actually blogged about a Dell netbook and ridiculed the Macbook Air for its price.

And then the iPad changed my world.

Today, the list of Apple products that I have owned (or still owns) includes:
1. Apple Macintosh 512K
2. Apple ImageWriter II
3. Apple iPod Nano
4. Apple iPad
5. Apple MacBook Air
6. Apple iPad 2
7. Apple iPod mini
8. Apple iPad mini
9. Apple iPhone 5

Over the years, I slowly began to appreciate what Apple stands for. Apple is never about invention, it is all about innovation.

Apple was not the first company to invent GUI, mouse point-and-click and all-in-one computer (the Macintosh 512K). However, they are the company that combines them seamlessly and brought it to the mainstream (a pretty niche mainstream actually).

They were not the first to put songs and musics videos (iPod mini and iPod Nano) into a portable device, but they were the ones who created a mass market for it. Apple is the one that truly revolutionised digital media.

iPhone was not the first phone to be connected to the Internet, but they have done it right with the Apps and App Store framework. We also have to remember that iPad was developed long before iPhone was conceptualised.

Steve Jobs is truly visionary. In his own words, “Great Artist Steals”. Innovation is about putting good ideas together to make them great. While people may yell and scream that Apple lacks originality, at the end of the day it is the end result that matters, which is, a truly game-changing product.

The price we are paying for them? It is worth every single cent spent. If you ever manage to pay half the price for something that is half decent of an equivalent Apple product, do let me know, because I have not found anything close to it.

By the way, I last checked the prices for Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One, they are both more expensive than the iPhone 5.

Random Thoughts. The Beginning.

Random thoughts.

When we are awake, there are streams of thoughts running through our conscious mind. But how often do we gather our thoughts, organise them, and turn the ideas into something productive?

Often, we let those great ideas pass us by, which might have led to great achievements, because we did not put in effort to write them down and cultivate them.

Lots of great ideas that I might have over the years have turned into inventions that have changed how people live and how they get things done, because someone else have made that extra effort to develop the thought that stroke them.

I need to stop procrastinating and do things that matter. Draft is going to be the tool to finally get me started.

Samsung Galaxy S III Launched!

Samsung Galaxy S III has beat Apple iPhone 5 to the gate again with its release of the all new flagship smart phone. The event streaming from London can be found here -> http://www.thenextgalaxy.com/

Engadget has a pretty nice preview piece written up here -> http://www.engadget.com/2012/05/03/samsung-galaxy-s-iii-preview-hands-on/

Another thing that I would like to point out, is that Flipboard is finally going to be coming to Android. However, it will remain an SGSIII exclusive for the time being. Read what Ewan Spence from Forbes.com has to say about it here -> http://www.forbes.com/sites/ewanspence/2012/05/03/samsungs-galaxy-s-iii-brings-flipboard-to-android/

Unfortunately, I have my heart set on the next iPhone, so it is very very unlikey I will be sampling the SGSIII. However, I still think it is a very very very good phone and perhaps this time it will be iPhone that will be doing the catching up.

Random Time Killing Post

It’s been a looong while since I last logged in to my own website. Besides the usual tweet updates on the side bar, this site has been stagnant since May.

Not that I am going to revive this site anytime soon, but just trying to kill some time in between waiting.

Also I am trying to drain my phone battery by doing all sort of stuffs that I normally do on a full fledge computer. So here I am writing this entry while also keeping tweetdeck running in the background. By the way, I am using HSDPA and signal here is pretty weak so it has to keep switching between 3G and 3.5G.

Also I forgot to mention that this is a 4 incher Super AMOLED screen. I have successfully consumed 3-4% of the battery since writing.

Ok enough of the thumb jabbing on virtual keyboard. Definitely going to suffer when I grow older.

Signing off now. Hope to have a proper update before 2011 arrives.

Take care.

Jan Lamb Stand-up Comedy 2010 @ Genting!

This is the first time I have won something from a lucky-draw kind of competition. I have always wanted to see him LIVE but was put off by the ticket price. Cheapest tickets (the pair I have just won) start at RM100 per seat. I was lucky to have won a pair of tickets to see him LIVE. But, the very same night is Yi-Shen’s wedding night and he has asked me to be his emcee. So I have no choice but to give away the tickets to those who REALLY like Jan Lamb. So this is the case of being lucky (to win the tickets) and yet so unlucky (I have other commitments that I could not go). Tough luck.

Jolicloud

A couple of years ago, I was in the market for a new portable computer for my mother. She was using a hand-me-down Dell Inspiron 710m which was getting old and tired. Even though it was a 12-inch notebook, it felt quite heavy with the battery and the DVD-ROM. Running on Intel Centrino at the clock speed of 1.6MHz with 768MB of RAM, the Windows XP notebook has been serving me (and later my mother) well and long enough (4 plus years to be exact) that it deserved a retirement.

That was the time when the world was in recession and affordability (in other words, cheap) is the key to making any purchases. Netbooks of different flavours are springing up like mushrooms after the rain but I was turned off by the small screen size and the puny keyboards. However, there was one model that caught my eye. A little while before this model was launched, Apple Macbook Air made its debut and grabbed all the headlines when Steve Jobs retrieved the almost razor thin notebook from a normal A4 sized envelope. However, I could never afford to fork out RM6k+ therefore have to set my sight at the level where my wallet felt more comfortable.

That was when Dell came up with Inspiron Mini 12. Retailing at RM1.5k, it costs just a quarter of the Macbook Air with comparable dimensions to the shiny device. While I fell in love with the Dell Mini 12 almost at first sight, I failed to do enough research before making the purchase online.

This attractive little netbook (the largest netbook back then with a screen size of 12-inch) runs on Intel Atom Z530 at a clock speed of 1.6MHz (same as the 710m) with a memory of 1GB (non-upgradable). On paper, the specifications seem to be good enough for my mother to do her online browsing, chatting, video-calling and occasional gaming. What escaped my attention was that the GMA500 chipset and its driver was having a lot of problems as it was not developed by Intel themselves. This fatal problem was hotly discussed in the forums from day one this model was announced. It was no wonder that Dell decided to discontinue this model shortly after launching it.

The second killer punch was that this model came with Windows Vista Basic. It was a well-known fact that even computers with 2GB of RAM have problems running Windows Vista smoothly, so I was not surprised when my mother eventually decided to go back to the 710m.

Now this poor thing was sitting there collecting dust. I have read enough forums to conclude that running Vista on this netbook is a dead end and I have to either go with Windows XP or Ubuntu. While I have already paid for the OS that came with this netbook, I am not willing to pay for a new copy of Windows XP (when Windows Vista is already one-year-old and I am running the beta version of Windows 7 on my desktop). I have tried instally Ubuntu Netbook Remix and ran into problems mostly caused by the GMA500 chipset, not to mention that the whole OS felt more lag than the Vista. I even contemplated on running a bootleg copy of Mac Leopard OS. Until I came across Jolicloud.

I downloaded a copy of Jolicloud pre-beta and it installed without requiring much input from me. Even though initially I was put off by the screen resolution of 1024 x 768 (but they have later fixed the chipset driver for GMA500 and I am running at 1280 x 800 now) but was happy enough to ignore the distorted display.

Subsequent releases of Jolicloud updates (all with just a click of a button) have made my experience with my almost-ended-in-the-recycle-bin netbook more and more pleasant. Their friendly support team will frequently solve the issues brought up on getsatisfaction.com/jolicloud. The interface of Jolicloud is simple and intuitive, even my mother was using it with ease. Who would have ever expected that my mother will ever feel at home with Linux-based OS?!

Even though Jolicloud is mainly web-based, I was able to run a word processor (OpenOffice) while offline. I could also listen to music and watch some videos from my portable hard disk. It would be a blue moon night when I was not connected to the Internet therefore I think it is irrelevant to highlight the usage of the netbook while offline. While online, the apps offered (for free!) are more than enough to make me wish for a 48-hour day. This really is cloud nine.

I wrote this blog entry on my Mini 12 running with Jolicloud. There are free online photo editors for me to touch-up my photos before uploading to my blog.

Although I have nothing but praise for Jolicloud, there are still one main shortcoming that was not their fault. Flash player has not been too kind to netbooks and I will avoid playing flash games on this netbook. It hung on me a few times and even with the latest Flash player beta version 10.1, it did not fare much better. I would have to agree with Steve Jobs that Flash is very buggy.

In conclusion, I would bring this netbook with me whenever I have to travel to keep in touch with the cyber world and to keep myself entertained. While the newly released Apple iPad is very very appealing, the price tag is not. Before Apple decides to drop the iPad’s price to an affordable (read:cheap) price, I will stick with my Dell Mini 12 running on Jolicloud for a long while more.

Monday Blues Series – Super White

Now you can tell your mum that you are singing (when you actually wanted to swear).

Monday Blues Series is aimed at lighting up your Mondays when you reluctantly drag yourself to work. It will be a series of pictures, jokes, or light articles that will, hopefully, bring some life into you. Stay tuned every Monday at 9 a.m. (Malaysian time, +0800 GMT) for my Monday Blues Series.

Exam Tips from Andrew Choo (not the Tuition Teacher)

Recently, I have a lot of visitors to my blog and I was wondering why the sudden increase in the traffic. I found that a lot of visitors are SPM-ers looking for examinations tips from Andrew Choo the Tuition Teacher. If you are looking for his site, click here.

If you think that I am trying to ride the fame of Andrew Choo so that I can increase the traffic to this blog site then I have to clarify myself. I have my own online presence since 1995 and I just found out about Andrew Choo the tuition teacher after I returned to Malaysia from Melbourne in 2005. Furthermore, when my parents named me Andrew when I was born, they would not have expected my name to be the same of a successful tuition teacher.

However, to those students seeking exam advice who have came to this site by mistake, please read on.

SPM

I am not able to predict what kind of exam questions will come out in the papers in November, what I can tell you is, you still have time to prepare for it. Perhaps you have two weeks left and have yet to do anything regarding the exam preparation. Or maybe you have already had enough of studying and revision, you just want to test how prepared you are.

Since I am giving Maths tuition to SPM bound students, I am sure you know that there are a lot of model papers and guides to assist you in your exam preparation. Two weeks before the exams start, I think it is time you turn your focus on doing the model exam papers, and do as much as you could possibly handle. Put yourself in exam mode while doing the papers, make sure you stick to the time frame and do not try to look at the answers before the conclusion of the paper.

Clock

Time management is very important when you are doing papers that require a lot of writing. Make sure that while you write fast, you write clearly. Otherwise you are just wasting your time. If you got stuck at one question, skip to the other one, do not waste time trying to recall things that might not be right. If you have confidence in answering the question in the first place, you would not have gotten stuck. Stop wasting time working out how much you are going to score by doing certain questions and skipping others. Just do all the questions you are confident of and let the results take care of themselves.

Try to enforce the above time management practice when you are doing the model papers and you can definitely tell the difference when dealing with the real paper. Most of the time, the students panicked during exams and could not perform at their very best. Pressure is sometimes a two edged sword, so we have to handle the pressure appropriately.

Eye

Secondly, get enough rest in between studying. When your brain is exhausted, no matter how much you try to cramp the books in, it will result in nothing. You may even lose what you have studied earlier. A healthy body is the key to an efficient mind. Keep your eyes fresh, maybe with the help of some eye-mos, and take a 5 minute break from studying every two hours.

Studying is like consuming food, we have to bite (read), chew until the food is broken up enough (comprehend the material we study and break down into easier parts so that we can relate to when recalling), and then swallow (commit to memory what we have read, comprehended and broken down). If we ate too hastily, we might end up having a bad stomach ache and all the food will go down to the toilet bowl, literally speaking.

Pencils

A day or two before the actual exam, check whether your writing tools are adequately prepared. Sharpen the pencils and make sure you have extra erasers as well. Also make sure your pens’ ink are still flowing. Always prepare extra and REMEMBER TO PUT THE PENCIL CASE INTO YOUR BAG the night before. Make sure your identification papers are in the bag before going to bed.

The night before the paper is very important. DO NOT study through the night, or you will not have enough energy and fresh brains to do the paper. Sleep before midnight, if you are nervous and could not sleep, just close your eyes and thinking of ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Listening to some soothing music may help too. Also remember to eat PROPER breakfast on the exam day and if possible, take some chicken essence too. You cannot have a soldier with an empty stomach to fight a war, can you?

Achievement

Perhaps to all the SPM-ers, this is a very important exam to them. Like I mentioned earlier, having pressure is not necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes we might get overwhelmed by putting too much pressure on ourselves to achieve good grades. Always remember that our achievements are not just reflected on that one piece of sijil, but of the effort and hard work we have done in preparation for the examination. Sometimes we might not score as well as we would like to, but we definitely have benefited from going through the preparation and sitting for the papers.

Like the UPSR and PMR before you, SPM is just another exam. After SPM, we will be going through more exams (not necessarily academic ones) and we will have to learn from each and every exams we go through. If you have read until here, I thank you for your patience and I wish you all the best in your SPM. I spoke from experience and I hope you would share yours to your juniors in time to come.

If possible, share your experience and advice in the comment box and make everyone a great achiever in studies and in life.