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.

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.

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.

FWD: Lancelot’s Choice – Her Way or No Way

Beauty and the Witch

Young King Arthur was ambushed and imprisoned by the monarch of a neighboring kingdom. The monarch could have killed him but was moved by Arthur’s youth and ideals. So, the monarch offered him his freedom, as long as he could answer a very difficult question. Arthur would have a year to figure out the answer and, If after a year, he still had no answer, he would be put to death. The question was: What do women really want?

Such a question would perplex even the most knowledgeable man, And to young Arthur, it seemed an impossible query. But, since it was better than death, he accepted the monarch’s proposition to have an answer by year’s end.

He returned to his kingdom and began to poll everyone: the princess, the priests, the wise men, and even the court jester. He spoke with everyone, but no one could give him a satisfactory answer. Many people advised him to consult the old witch, for only she would have the answer. But the price would be high as the witch was famous through out the kingdom for the exorbitant prices she charged.

The last day of the year arrived and Arthur had no choice but to talk to the witch. She agreed to answer the question, but he would have to agree to her price first. The old witch wanted to marry Sir Lancelot, the most noble of the Knights of the Round Table, and Arthur’s closest friend! Young Arthur was horrified. She was hunch-backed and hideous, had only one tooth, smelled like sewage, made obscene noises, etc.

He had never encountered such a repugnant creature in all his life. He refused to force his friend to marry her and endure such a terrible burden, but Lancelot, having learnt of the proposal, spoke with Arthur. He said nothing was too big of a sacrifice compared to Arthur’s life. And the reservation of the Round Table. Hence, a wedding was proclaimed and the witch answered.

Arthur’s question thus: ‘What do women really want?
She said, ‘Is to be in charge of her own life.

Everyone in the kingdom instantly knew that the witch had uttered a great truth. And that Arthur’s life would be spared. And so it was. The neighboring monarch granted Arthur his freedom. And Lancelot and the witch had a wonderful wedding. The honeymoon hour approached and, Lancelot, steeling himself for a horrific experience, entered the bedroom. But, what a sight awaited him. The most beautiful woman he had ever seen lay before him on the bed. The astounded Lancelot asked what had happened. The beauty replied that since he had been so kind to her when she appeared as a witch, she would henceforth be her horrible and deformed self only half the time. And the beautiful maiden the other half.

‘Which would you prefer?’ She asked him.
‘Beautiful during the day ….. or at night?’
Lancelot pondered the predicament. During the day he could have a beautiful woman to show off to his friends, but at night, in the privacy of his castle, an old witch! Or, would he prefer having a hideous witch during the day? But by night a beautiful woman for him to enjoy wondrous, intimate moments with?

(If you are a man reading this…) What would YOUR choice be?
(If you are a woman reading this) What would YOUR MAN’S choice be?

What Lancelot chose, is given below:
BUT… make YOUR choice before you scroll down below… OKAY?

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Noble Lancelot, knowing the answer the witch gave Arthur to his question, he said that he would allow HER to make the choice herself.

Upon hearing this, she announced that she would be beautiful all the time. Because, he had respected her enough to let her be in charge of her own life.

Now… what is the moral to this story?

The moral is…
1) There is witch in every woman no matter how beautiful she is!
2) If you don’t let a woman have her own way, things are going to get ugly.

So, always remember:
IT’S EITHER ‘HER WAY’ OR IT’S ‘NO WAY’!!!

A Letter to MJ

Michael Jackson
Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009)

Dear Michael,

It is almost two months that you have unexpectedly left us. When you announced your farewell concert in London ‘This Is It’, we are all looking forward to an unforgettable curtain call. Even though I was not able to attend the concert, I was hoping to at least get a DVD of the concert when it is released. However, now we are all left with just THE final performance of yours, to be released in cinema on 30th October 2009.

It all started when I bought my first English album and was introduced to a world of pop music, and met the King of Pop. You potrayed a Bad image for the album, pretended to be the Smooth Criminal, and even boasted about the Dirty Diana. But you did not forget to remind us to make a change starting from the Man In The Mirror. I still remember that I listened to the tape so much that it was eventually spoilt.

I still Remember The Time when your Dangerous album was released, I bought both the tape and the CD, which was a relatively new technology back then. I even bought a CD player just to listen to your songs so that the tape would not get Jammed due to long hours of playback. After your previous album, you have undergone some changes and sometimes it made me wonder if you are Black Or White, but that did not matter as long as your songs are nice. There will be things that you want to keep In The Closet, and we will all Keep The Faith in you. When you asked all of us, Will You Be There, the answer will be ‘YES’!

You followed up with the album HIStory, with so many songs that became my all time favourite. Your version of Charlie Chaplin’s Smile is my favourite song. You fought back at the people who tried so hard to tarnish your image by saying that They Don’t Really Care About Us. You Are Not Alone, Michael. When you feel like Screaming, we will always Come Together and scream with you, along with the Little Susie and The Stranger In Moscow.

In the new millenium, after a very long wait, you finally released your final all new album. I had Butterflies in my stomach when I found out about it. Your album is so nice it has proven that as the King of Pop, you are Invincible. You Rock My World whenever your song is on the radio. Your songs start my day at the Break of Dawn, when I wake up and prepare for school, and it was your songs that I listen before I go to sleep.

When us fans found out that you are dead, we tried our best not to Cry as we thought you were Unbreakable and Heaven Can Wait. A lot of us pleaded to you Don’t Walk Away, because to a lot of us, You Are My Life. However, we have slowly learnt to accept the fact that you are gone. Rest in peace Michael, and we want you to know that Whatever Happens,  you will always live inside our heart.

From your life-long fan,
aacee

The unMysterious Disappearance of Andrew Choo

Hello again. It has been a while since I last blogged. One month and nineteen days to be exact. So what happened between these forty-nine days of my disappearance? A lot.

First of all, if you happen to follow my blog, and eventually gave up due to me not updating it as frequent as I have promised, please accept my most sincere apology. It was not my fault. Blame it on my web hosting provider, and blame it on wordpress. Ha ha. No, serious. The very last time when I wanted to update my Monday Blues series, I encountered some technical problem. I could not upload anything to my server. WordPress keeps telling me it failed to upload.

After trying different solutions that was posted on the Internet, except for setting permissions 777 for my uploading folders, I gave up. The very last time I set permission 777 to a folder on my website, my website got hacked and was turned into a phishing/pharming site. I was not aware of that until I received a serious warning letter from a bank in America.

At first I thought it was some kind of joke, but after checking my website folders, I was shocked to find out that I was running a phishing site. The phishing site that was hosted here, in simple words, is a fake online banking login page. I believe the hacker has collected a number of login details, to the extent that the bank’s IT guys noticed that and kindly asked me to remove the illegal site before reporting to the authority.

Soon after, my site’s IP address has been blacklisted by a number of DNS (domain name servers) and I have trouble sometimes to login to my site or to check my emails. It was very frustrating and eventually I wrote to my web hosting provider and asked them to move my site to another IP address, which they kindly did promptly, free of charge.

But that did not solve my wordpress problem. The trick that did it was, to create a new uploads folder, set permissions to 755 and try to upload a file via wordpress. If that works, copy the entire contents of the old uploads folder to the new one and continue blogging!

Well, that did not take me almost one and a half month to solve, it is just that I was occupied by other things. I went for job interviews and finally landed myself a job that I am happy with. In between that, I spent most of my time with my beloved because once I start this new job, I will not have much time for her. Not to mention time to blog.

However, I will try to keep my Monday Blues running as usual, and post short but frequent updates in the future. Until my next post. Take care. See you soon. 🙂

p.s. While I was AWOL, one of my favourite entertainer, Michael Jackson, has unfortunately passed away. I was looking forward to his last rounds of concerts but seems like Heaven Can’t Wait. Check back soon, I will post a tribute to MJ this weekend.

Mother’s Day Special – Lunch @ Beacon Point, Ipoh

It has been a long while since my last post entry, almost a month to be exact. I have been pretty busy, so busy that I seldom check my blog. Apologies if you have been trying to contact me via my blog to no avail. Without further ado, I shall start this entry with a Mother’s Day Special, a lunch with the ladies of my family at Beacon Point, Ipoh.

Restoran Beacon Point
Restoran Beacon Point

The restaurant is located within walking distance from my home in Ipoh. I have been passing by this place for decades but have only visited this restaurant for a handful of times. Since mother’s day is around the corner, I have decided to book and have lunch with my grandmother, mother, aunty and cousin (all ladies) on 10th May, 2009.

Jodie Foster and Chef
Jodie Foster and Chef

Beacon Point has been around for a long while. I moved to the area some time in 1988 and I remember seeing the restaurant (used to bear the name Beacon Point Trading and Training Co.) some time afterward (1995 to be exact). I knew that the restaurant serves good food and have always wanted to dine there. Little did I know that when Jodie Foster came to Ipoh to shoot ‘Anna and The King’ in 1999, she employed the Chef of Beacon Point, Phillip Chang, to cook for her. She found out about the restaurant from ‘lonely planet’, which means that the food is more than ordinary. Phillip is also commissioned to look after the diet of HRH Sultan of Perak.

Mothers Day Menu
Mothers Day Menu

Beacon Point is usually closed on Sundays. However, since Mother’s Day fall on the second Sunday of May, they have decided to cater the good food to mothers who deserve a good pamper, and offered three choices on their mothers day menu. The full course menu consists of the following.

Soup
Soup

Delicious Fresh Cream of Almond Soup served with Herbed Garlic Bread pictured below.

Herbed Garlic Bread
Herbed Garlic Bread

The soup tastes nice even if I do not like almond and I finished the soup without any hesitation. The garlic bread is toasted to perfection and it is not too hard for my grandmother. Even after we finished the meal, the leftover garlic bread is stilll very crispy.

Next we have the main course.

Marinated Chicken Drumsticks Bunashimeji
Marinated Chicken Drumsticks Bunashimeji

Along with Roasted Potato, Corn-on-cob, Butter Glazed Broccoli, Cauliflower and Carrot Sticks, we have the Marinated Chicken Drumsticks Bunashimeji with Garlic-pepper Sauce. The marinated chicken tastes nice and is very tender while the garlic pepper sauce complements the chicken very well.

Pan-Fried Snapper
Pan-Fried Snapper

Next, we have the Pan-Fried Snapper with Cajun Spice & Anchovy-Caper Sauce. The fish is fried to perfection and the sauce brings out the freshness of the snapper. However, I had to be careful with the fish as there are little bones in it.

Roast Leg of Lamb
Roast Leg of Lamb

I ordered this dish, the Roast Leg of Lamb with Tomato-Mint Relish. The roasted lamb was a little to hard for my liking, but the tomato-mint relish did make the chewing experience a pleasant one. Afterward, my mother and I both agreed that the stewed lamb leg served at a certain S.R. restaurant is better than this dish.

Mocha Souffle
Mocha Soufflé

To round up the menu, Mocha Soufflé is served as the dessert, which is better than having a brownie after a heavy meal. The dessert is sweet but it does not have the filling feeling when compared to having brownies or cheese cakes. All in all, the meal was a good experience and I am giving it a 4 out of 5.

The Bill
The Bill

For two sets of Chicken Drumstick, two sets of Roasted Lamb Leg and one set of Snapper meal, the bill came to the total of RM146.50, which is light on the wallet too. I would recommend anyone looking for a good food experience at an affordable price in Ipoh to pay Beacon Point a visit and pamper yourself with either a meal or some cheesecakes.

For more information, please visit the following links:-
Beacon Point Website
Review from The Star paper
Rasa Rasa Malaysia Review