Monday, January 25, 2010

Quality vs Quantity

Ok. The word "quality" probably stretches it a bit too far, akin to bestowing yourself the nickname Rapunzel when your hair barely surpasses your scapula, but I'm sure you get my drift... a lower frequency of posting inadvertently assumed to be well thought out and crafted posts. How far it is from the truth... Sigh.

So here I am, taking the blogging bull by it's proverbial horns, doing the best I can to get back to somewhat regular posting - preferably every other day, training my mind to view things from the left hand side of a tightly closed box (whatever that means), appreciating the amusing stuff that happens on a daily basis and documenting them no matter how daft. I will try to avoid rants as much as I possibly can, though... unless they're in the form of haiku.

Therefore, while we may lack quality, which I am fervently hoping will not be the case for too long, here's to a tad bit more quantity (does a crazy toast with a giant blue water bottle and coffee mug). Oh, and if you look closely at the top left hand corner, we have a poll there... which would you pick? Quantity or Quality?

Edit: The question of picking quantity vs quality is just a general poll, like if you're a blogger, would you rather blog more, or scrutinise every single post and only post it when it is perfect? And if you're a reader, would you rather read more stuff (no matter how silly), or would you rather read carefully crafted posts?
However, the result of the poll will probably not influence the direction of this blog... our aim is quantity at the moment

Sunday, January 24, 2010

All in the Fingertips

With the immense quantity of information floating around these days, it would be surprising indeed if you were not exactly aware of what is going on around you unless you purposely shut yourself out, something which is possible but unlikely, or is it impossible but likely???

A case in point is the recent, never-ending string of natural disasters that have happened, the latest being the massive earthquake that crippled Haiti. Now, certain quarters may say that recent events indicate evidence pointing to how we are nearing the apocalypse or something along those lines, anyway, but when you think deeply, are we realising the existence of these natural disasters in alarming numbers because we are more aware and more exposed to up to the minute news? It seems much more likely, I'd say. Besides, the Earth has never exactly been the most stable planet, and probably never will be either.

But I digress...

In the past week or so, the people of the country have been stunned into almost silence by a certain statement made by a previously important person who still seems to get way too much attention from the media despite being retired (anyone heard from Margaret Thatcher lately?), and that too for a statement so far-fetched that upon initially hearing it I felt sick to my stomach. (I'm afraid you have to click the link as I do not want to pollute this page by quoting such a ridiculous statement) In fact, had anyone taken the statement seriously (or if his opinions had still been considered significant), it could have caused a war. What about the people who were victims of the incident? What about the number of kids who lost their parents, or parents who lost their kids, the dead firemen/firewomen and rescue staff?

Naturally, as a person who believes in the right of having the freedom to express thoughts and opinions, we can't ask him to shut up, but seriously, there is a line between fact and fiction and he has clearly lost the line that divides both among all the squiggles. Of course what was going through his mind as he made the statement is anyone's guess... did he want to create a sensational headline? Or did he want to get the attention he thinks he deserves?

I suppose he did get a whole lot of attention, a random Googling of his name, and certain keywords leads to many sites where blogs have quoted him, news articles and other such things. Clearly, information is at our fingertips.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wisdom at 21 Meme

Books and memes happen to be two of my favourite things, books in the real world, and memes in the virtual world, and therefore, I had pilfered this meme from Trav's Thoughts.

The rules are simple enough and seem pretty fun. 
1. Find the nearest bookshelf of your favourite reads, cookbooks, tech books, magazines. It doesn't matter. This will work for all print media. If you don't have seven books lined up on a shelf, grab the first seven you see around the house.
(I had to modify this a bit seeing that my books are 
a) practically everywhere or 
b) may cause an avalanche with attempted removal from the cupboard they're arranged in (term used very lightly), 
which led me to pick the last seven books (fiction) I read (they're in a box) arranged in the order they were read. I have also eliminated about 3 books because they're from the same author - went on a mad Roald Dahl marathon recently)

2. Book #1: Turn to page 21. Read the 21st sentence (you may have to turn the page - and count!).
Write it down.
3. Do the same with the first seven books or articles you see. The sentences will make a paragraph. You must write them down in the order you found them.
4. When you are finished, read over your "story" and title it.


Here's what I got...

Unassuming and Ordinary
Too ill with flu to write much. He was so sozzled that we could have used him for fuel. What was he doing here? No, I shall spend my energies enlightening America's unassuming and ordinary. I should have known. Sargeant Jackrum shifted uneasily. It was hot - but not scalding. 

5. Show us your bibliography at the end of this meme.

Book 1: The Lost Diaries of Adrian Mole 1999 - 2001, Sue Townsend
Book 2: Confessions of an Old Boy - The Dato' Hamid Adventures, Kam Raslan
Book 3: Dracula The Un-Dead, Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt
Book 4: Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Marisha Pessl
Book 5: The BFG, Roald Dahl
Book 6: Monstrous Regiment, Terry Pratchett
Book 7: The Complete Horowitz Horror, Anthony Horowitz

As usual, I'm not tagging anyone, but feel free to tag yourselves if like me you feel that blogging has taken a turn for the worse....

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Credit Cards, The People-Unfriendly Budget and Something Funny

"They really need the money" so said fellow blogger and the informant of all things financial, Zewt. And although it makes sense to a certain extent (you need money to run a country, naturally) the whole thing seems a bit unfair... as though you're being punished. At least that's the way I feel...

It's been awhile since the budget was announced (I wasn't exactly in the country then, and after that I got a tad bit too busy to review it) and there was one thing among a few that people were generally unhappy about. However, despite the numerous complaint letters sent to the papers (mainstream media, alas - sniggers), they had not backed down from the decision to charge every credit card holder a service tax of RM 50 for each principle credit card they have (not necessarily used)

The thing about credit cards is that they're convenient... especially for people who don't fancy carrying around cash. If you look at it, RM 50 may not seem like a huge amount, and it probably isn't for some people, but when it is taken away from you under the pretext of tax - especially service tax, you feel deep pain and intense hatred. It's just like paying the service tax at this certain restaurant my sister and I went to once where people (us included) had to end up doing lots of self-service because the waiters and waitresses there were not providing any.

What's really annoying is the 'reason' behind it... I read somewhere that they thought the imposed fee would deter people from having too many cards and thus reduce the chances of declaring bankruptcy at a young age. Yeah, right. Certain quarters argued that the banks could increase the interest rates for credit cards so that it wouldn't be misused, but even that suggestion was not accepted as it supposedly would push the credit card users into further debt.

With nothing else left to do, and most banks refusing to absorb the service tax, people have been cancelling their cards. If you're Malaysian, you'd understand the humour behind the attachment below... If you're not Malaysian, the person used as a referral (the reason for cancellation) in the application form happens to be the person who tabled the budget back in October, who is also the Finance Minister and our current PM!

Edit: According to insider information from Zewt, the banks were asked to not absorb the service tax. I find that very, very interesting... Hmmm...

Click to enlarge

Monday, January 18, 2010

Of News and Paranoia

"Will the police check all blogs?" my mother asked the other day as I was sitting on the floor doing something which I can't recall now.

Now, that is a classic example of 'borrowing' things to worry about. Mom has always viewed this particular hobby of mine with apprehension because she probably thinks that I sometimes don't know when to keep my mouth shut (which is true sometimes, unfortunately) and I occasionally do exaggerate to her about what I want to write, just to annoy her (like how I used to purposely support the team playing opposite Liverpool when I watched football (or soccer) with my dad)

About a few days before mom asked me that question, they had announced on the news (seriously, my mom watches too much news these days much to my horror) that they were conducting checks on contents in blogs and would make arrests if the contents incited hate or were throwing blame on certain parties for a string of what could possibly be defined as planned hate crimes/attacks which had happened over the past week, something which is a tad bit too worrying for a country like ours whose very foundation stands on toleration and unity. As weird as it may seem, the country seems to fear blogs and bloggers alike for the effect they had on the 12th general elections back in 2008. For the record, this was never one of those blogs, though...

I suppose my mom is just worried that I might have said something on the blog which could get me arrested (she doesn't read it, and is therefore spared from my consistent spewing of self-absorbed nonsense), but she seriously has nothing to worry about... if I were ever arrested, it will most probably be for being silly!

PS: Amma, just so you know I do have plans to give my satirical two cents worth on what happened, but it may take awhile... ;) And don't worry, it won't be too obvious!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Of clones and Doing What's Right

It would be very, very interesting and beneficial if I could form a bond between myself and the laptop using my ponytail as we seem to constantly live in the utter hopelessness of disharmony. Silly notions aside, the idea for this concept was naturally 'borrowed' (although the bond should logically be between objects that are animate instead of inanimate) from a movie that has seemed to have gathered fans like a famous football player.

The cousins, sister and I had watched Avatar at the very beginning of the year, as usual hoping that the crowds would have dissipated by then, but as luck would have it, it was not to be... we got our tickets alright, but it was insanely close to the screen, which I suppose we didn't mind at the end of it.

Now Avatar has a particularly intriguing concept... an alien planet by the name of Pandora (Pandora's Box, anyone?) similar to Earth, with inhabitants similar to us (but so very different at the same time - language, their view on life) who seem to have achieved harmony with their surroundings. Enter humans. First a group of scientists, whose sole interest is the biological aspects of the planet. They enter as Avatars, their bodies cloned with the Na'vi to be able to survive in those surroundings (the air is apparently poisonous to humans) and then the others, bent on taking what's not theirs by hook or by crook. I'd say by crook...
And you've got to love their sleek, strong, agile bodies, which I suppose would be almost impossible to achieve even if you spent all day doing sit ups (yes, even when you're asleep!)

It's set slightly into the future and from what they tell us, Earth has lost her battle against human greed, and as usual the greed takes humans elsewhere and rears it's ugly head once again at the expense of the folks there (they're called Na'vi), the forests and most importantly, the Home Tree, where the Na'vi have made their home. The sister and I discussed the movie (we were both fascinated by the how the Na'vi communicated with their surroundings... how they listened and learned stuff, how they formed a symbiotic relationship with the things around them and so on) and she said that she thinks that perhaps we were able to do so too once upon a time until we completely stopped listening, which is why the birds flew away and humans got killed during the tidal wave of 2004.

The movie also deals with issues such as trust, love and to an extent fighting for what you truly believe in, which makes me wonder... how many times have we actually fought for what we truly believe in? Or worse, is there actually anything out there which is really worth fighting for? (To be honest, I don't know... but these questions sometimes keep me awake at night)

I did think the movie was awesome, and I'm quite glad that they decided to take the idea of making this movie out of the storage box that once held it.

Anyway, I found this pretty cool application on a friend's profile and figured I'd have some fun with it... and this is how I'd look if I were a Na'vi... even my glasses are there! Not bad ;) (must remember to stop grinning like an idiot for photos, though...)








The application can be found here :

http://www.mcdonalds.ie/MMMMenu/Avatarize-Yourself.aspx

So, go ahead and Avatarize yourself...

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Technology Woes

I just realised that giving death threats to a thumb drive or pen drive or whatever else it's called is as futile as chasing away a man (or woman) eating tiger with a "shoooo" and a wave of the hand.

That said, a trusty old pen drive (5 years and counting) which had been working just perfectly fine yesterday evening (until 6:45 pm) has decided to close it's curtain on me. The only thing it tells me is that it is not formatted and would I like to format it now? I don't.

All I want is for it to open so that I can e-mail something very, very important which took me a few good hours to complete to my boss! So, if there is anyone out there who knows how to retrieve the data that refuses to show itself... please help.

Thank you... (trying my best to not panic)

Edit: I got a lead from a friend on Facebook, but there are still some hitches, as in the software tells me that the documents are still there, somewhere, but I'm not very clear on how to 'rescue' them as they are in some unrecognisable format.  

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Who Stole the Groove??

So it's 6 days into the promising, untainted white cloth that is the year 2010, the only problem being it seems to lack something vital, which in turn makes it seem like a drab grey cloth with frayed ends as opposed to the fresh clean one.

I took the last few days of 2009 and the first few days of 2010 off (it was the weekend, after all), a kind of reprieve from the real and virtual world, a chance to shut down the brain, take a break from the blog and the internet and just do as I like (I did have some 'homework' to do, unfortunately and quite a number of errands to run) hoping that by the time I had to return to work, I'd be fresh, awake and ready to take on tasks that come my way with enthusiasm and gusto.

Instead I find myself back to the way I was before I took my break, exhausted, worried and now I'm wondering where the hell did my 'getting back into the groove' get to. I suppose it's the fact that the moment you come back you realise your next three weeks have been stolen by other people who want your time. Or perhaps it is due to the fact that maybe five years is one too many, or maybe the naturally gloomy conditions of the intermediate office. I really hope I can get my groove back. Damn...