Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Volume 3 of Cloverfield Manga Translated


Several months back in January, Kadokawa Shoten started to release a Cloverfield manga as a tie-in with the movie's release. Out of four volumes, so far three volumes have been published and graciously fan-translated by Merzmensch a.k.a. Kosmopol.

Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3

In case you're wondering about the awkward English text, the translator is a Russian living in Germany translating Japanese manga to English, hence English is his fourth language. Being multilingual is quite an accomplishment, isn't it?

News source: Cloverfield Clues - Cloverfield Kishin 3 Manga Translated

Monday, April 28, 2008

BBC: 'Free Tibet' Flags Made In China


From BBC:

Police in southern China have discovered a factory manufacturing Free Tibet flags, media reports say.

The factory in Guangdong had been completing overseas orders for the flag of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

Workers said they thought they were just making colourful flags and did not realise their meaning.

But then some of them saw TV images of protesters holding the emblem and they alerted the authorities, according to Hong Kong's Ming Pao newspaper.


This is just irony to the nth degree. Chinese authorities suppressed so much knowledge until the point of making its citizens ignorant. Ladies and gentlemen, that's authoritarianism at work here.

The Star's Otakuzone Article Too Similar To Wikipedia?

Otakuzone manga review.

Wikipedia article.

Plagiarism or paraphrasing? You decide.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

30 Latin Phrases You Should Know

Are you confused when your friend says to you carpe diem? Frustrated when your boss tells you to use a quid pro quo approach? Puzzled when the judge says that this case is adjourned sine die?

Here's a list of commonly used words that come from Latin, the preferred choice of language for Gregorian monks and judiciary systems all around the world:

ad valorem - "to the value" (used in commerce)
ante bellum - "before the war" (used to refer to wars)
bona fide - "in good faith" (nowadays it means genuine), opposite of mala fide
carpe diem - "seize the day"
ceteris paribus - "all other things being equal" (used in economics)
coitus interruptus - "interrupted congress" (a form of [ineffective] birth control)
curriculum vitae - "course of life" (résumé)
de facto - "in fact" (unofficial)
de jure - "by law" (official)
et cetera - "and the rest" (and so on)
habeus corpus - "you may have the body"" (used in legal text)
lorem ipsum - "sorrow itself" (a mangled text used as filler in websites)
magna/summa cum laude - "with great/highest praise" (used to refer to academic honours)
memento mori - "remember that you will die"
non sequitur - "it does not follow" (usually used in arguments)
prima facie - "at first sight" (used to refer to suggestive but not conclusive evidence)
pro bono - "for the good" (work taken for no expense)
quid pro quo - "what for what" (a favour exchanged for another)
rigor mortis - "stiffness in death"
semper fidelis - "always faithful" (motto of several organisations, including the US Marines)
sine die - "without a day" (indefinitely)
status quo - "the situation in which" (the current situation without change)
tabula rasa - "scraped tablet" (a clean slate)
terra firma - "solid land"
verbatim - "word for word"
veritas - "truth" (motto of several academic institutions)
veto - "I forbid"
vox populi - "voice of the people"

Source: Wikipedia - List of Latin phrases (full)

New Blog Template... Again!

Just barely a week into a new blog theme, I'm changing again into this one. The previous theme was bright with Web 2.0 colours and it was basically pleasing to my eyes. I liked it but I came to the conclusion that it's not suitable for a blog like mine. So I've decided to let my words sink into a dark theme that reminds me of chocolates and a cafe latte.

After all I'm writing a personal blog, not Malaysiakini. :P

Edit: This is how it looked like before the change.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Y.B. Lim Guan Eng, Please Kick Streamyx Out From Penang!


First of all, congratulations to Y.B. Lim Guan Eng for winning the trust of Penangites and earning the coveted position of Chief Minister. Thank you for breaking the Barisan Nasional's hegemony over our state but our residents are still miserably plagued with one ugly BN legacy – Streamyx. Unfortunately no elections can get rid of this one.

Streamyx is what you get when you have decades of first world ambition and third word service. A service like BN, takes criticisms like a punching bag and acts like a douche bag, ignores it like there's nothing wrong. No clarification, no apology, no compensation, absolutely no quality at all.


So what is the perfect alternative for Streamyx's startlingly slow snail speed services? It isn't corporations like Maxis nor Celcom and their wireless services. The answer lies in Penang's own backyard - PenangFON. Yes, we already have a Penang-based broadband company but it's limited to several dozen apartments and condominiums in Penang. All it needs now is extra investment so that they can provide broadband throughout the entire island! Just help them attract some foreign investment or pour some of Penang's state funds into PenangFON. Watch them expand their coverage and I swear you'll see swarms of disgruntled Penangites abandoning Streamyx like a sinking ship.

P.S. The reason why I wrote this post was because a portion of Penang Streamyx users were disconnected for two days without rhyme nor reason. I'm still pissed.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Mongolia To Sever Diplomatic Ties With Malaysia?

From the New Straits Times:
The father of murdered Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu slammed his fist on the table during a press conference yesterday and threatened diplomatic consequences should the trial of his daughter’s accused murderers not be fair, free and speedy.

Setev had fought hard the whole press conference to hold back the tears. That his eyes watered up several times was clear to all, but he still put on a brave front.

Up until his outburst, that is.

Setev claimed two letters were sent by the Mongolian prime minister to Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi late last year. He claimed the letters did not receive any response from Abdullah.

"If this case is not solved, Mongolia will sever diplomatic ties with Malaysia. The people of Mongolia take this case very seriously," he said, through interpreter and lawyer Mijidorj Munkhsaruul.

So yeah, apart from the NST this was reported on TV3's Nightline a while ago.

Diplomatic threats can sound very menacing, until you consider the fact that Malaysia does not have an embassy in Mongolia and vice versa. In fact the nearest Mongolian diplomatic mission is located in Bangkok.

Taiwan currently has formal diplomatic relations with 23 countries whereas Kosovo has 38 countries (and counting). If Najib and co. wants to screw this case up, Malaysians will have one country less to visit in their holiday plans.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

American Anime Fan Goes Missing in Japan


From ABC News via Anime News Network:

The family of a troubled American student who purchased a one-way ticket to Japan perhaps with suicidal intentions pleaded with the local media today for help finding the young woman.

"We are very worried about what she will do when her money runs out," Susan Budnick, mother of 21-year-old Skye Lynn Budnick, said at a press conference in Sapporo, the main city on Japan's northernmost main island, Hokkaido.

Budnick's family members say the junior at Central Connecticut State University and native of Southington, Conn., left the United States on April 1 without telling her family members she was going to Japan. On April 4, her family looked at Budnick's e-mail account and discovered that she had booked the one-way trip to Hokkaido by way of Tokyo.

...

The itinerary discovered by Budnick's family described a passage from the United States through Tokyo to Hokkaido. "She doesn't have a cell phone, she didn't pack any belongings," Megan wrote, adding that the only item missing was her sister's laptop.

The missing woman's family also found a suicide note saved in draft form in her e-mail account that was prepared for a friend, according to Megan Budnick.

A missing person's report has been filed with Japanese authorities, but because Skye Budnick is an adult, there is little that can be done by authorities, according to her sister.

...

Megan Budnick suggested in an interview with The Associated Press that her sister previously spoke of wanting to see the Japanese cherry blossoms, a springtime tourist attraction that typically occurs later this month on Hokkaido.

"That'd be something she wants to see before she dies," Budnick said.

...

The Budnicks, citing information from local Japanese authorities, traced Skye to an inn in Noboribetsu, in southern Hokkaido, on April 7. The missing woman reportedly told an innkeeper that she was heading to Sapporo.


As much as I'd like to imagine a Megatokyo scenario, unfortunately this is a real life event with a real person's life on the stakes. Please spread the word, especially if you're in Japan. Let's hope that she gets found safe and sound.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Lee Kah Choon Quits Gerakan!

From Malaysiakini:

Bekas timbalan setiausaha agung Gerakan, Datuk Lee Kah Choon mengambil tindakan keluar dari parti itu ekoran kontroversi yang tercetus selepas beliau menerima jawatan dalam pentadbiran kerajaan Pakatan Rakyat di Pulau Pinang.

"Memandangkan, pucuk pimpinan Gerakan tidak boleh menerima keputusan saya (menerima jawatan tersebut), maka saya percaya langkah terbaik bagi saya ialah untuk menarik diri sepenuhnya daripada politik parti," katanya dalam satu kenyataan hari ini.


Smart move for the guy! He managed to quit before Gerakan expelled him from the party, just like any other narrow-minded Barisan Nasional parties would do. The ex-Jelutong Member of Parliament will have less distraction in his duties now that Gerakan won't be harrassing him anymore.

Update: More details from The Malaysian Insider.

Ugly Malaysians 2: How Not To Behave In a Cinema

Related article: Ugly Malaysians 1: How Not To Park Your Car

I've told my friend Ed before, maybe it's a personal jinx between me and the GSC cinema in Queensbay Mall. I either didn't enjoy the movie (I Am Legend), missed part of the beginning (Die Hard 4.0), or didn't find the movie to be entertaining enough (CJ7, Death Note 3). I thought I was in luck to see Eva Longoria Parker (Desperate Housewives) act in Over Her Dead Body, a movie which scored just 13% in Rotten Tomatoes. My expectations were low enough not to be dipped any further, so I should enjoy the movie right?

Wrong.

When the movie was about to start, we heard a guy with a crystal clear voice a row behind us. That was an ominous sign.

Moments later the guy started to laugh at every single line of mildly humuorous dialogue between the main characters. This went on and on, every single sentence was so damn funny to him. And then when the rest of the audience actually laughed, the guy split his sides and laughed as hard as a shrilling hyena from Animal Planet.

After a few stares and 10 minutes into the movie I turned my head around and shouted, "can you please control your laughter?! Please be considerate and control yourself! Thank you." Surprisingly it worked (from my viewpoint) although my friends were already annoyed to hell by this Neanderthal. At the end, I raised a hand and said "sorry about that" and all I got was an amused stare from them. One of my friends later said that moments after scolding the guy, he butted in and asked "chio pun beh sai?" meaning "why can't I laugh?" in Hokkien. I might've missed hearing that part, but that would almost be impossible considering his vocal cords. And if I knew he had said that, I wouldn't have apologised for scolding.

I can take it if people chatter a bit, I'm fine if they answer urgent calls, I'm okay with people having bad coughs. I understand them. But what crosses the line is when you have a bloody baboon cinema virgin who absolutely has no common sense and civility. For hell's sakes, these kind of people should be banned from every GSC outlet in Malaysia!

In a worst case scenario, we would've asked for the GSC ushers to kick that guy out or else we would've left the cinema on our own and ask for a refund. The movie was enjoyable to watch but too bad we had a damn retard sitting behind us.

This incident happened on the same day as the previous post. So you can see the number of ugly Malaysians on one single day.

Thankfully all tension was erased after a trip to Queenbay Mall's Sushi King...



Oishii! (Delicious!)

Photo credit: Evangel Lim

Ugly Malaysians 1: How Not To Park Your Car

With much apologies to Malaysians who consider themselves less than attractive (I'm sure you all look fine), this kind of "ugly" refers to their personality in ordinary everyday events.

Anyone who has been to Penang's PC fair in PISA knows that parking lots are scarce and precious, everyone would squeeze into every single available space and sometimes even double park just to get their worth out of the RM2 car entrance fee.

If parking lots were water, this guy just left the tap turned on and forgot to turn it off...


This guy parked his car horizontally and ended up taking four parking lots!


I don't know about you but I feel a tinge of sympathy for someone who drives a rickety first-generation Kancil model. That doesn't excuse the person from parking inconsiderately though. The people in the pic are my friends, we were there from around 2 to 4:30pm but we didn't manage to catch a glimpse of the guy responsible.

In case anyone's wondering, this is how the crowd looked like on Saturday, the second out of three PC fair days.


Related article: Penang PC Fair Loot - Keyboard, Pendrive and DVD+Rs
Photo credit: Evangel Lim

New Blog Template!

Remember when back in 2005, Blogger was just rolling out Blogger Hacks and everybody was busy experimenting it on their blogs? Making your blog work correctly back then was a hassle just as much as it's a hassle now.

Setting up this template was quite a pain in the ass, since the coder embedded things like his own Adsense ads and referrals into the XML file. It took me a few minutes to replace those. And then I had to consider things like Adsense/Advertlets ad placements and accessibility for Entrecard droppers.

But then I'm still glad for this template update. The old one (initially coded in 2004) looks like it's optimised for 800x600 monitors whereas this one feels like it spreads from sea to sea. I was aiming to get a dark template to fit in with the "dark den of destruction" theme, but I'll make do with this blueish one. :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

How To Check Media ID In Blank DVDs

Step #1 - Insert a blank DVD and open Nero StartSmart.

Step #2 - Select Nero InfoTool and wait for information to be collected.

Step #3 - Select disc tab and cross reference ID with information from this digitalFAQ website.

Apparently CMCMAGM01 means that my HP DVD+Rs are manufactured by Taiwan's CMC Magnetics. Second class media discs, I don't really mind that but I'll know what to look out for.

Thanks to Willchua for bringing up this topic in yesterday's blog post!

Two Dead and Three Arrested Over SMS Misunderstanding

From Gizmodo:
The surreal mistake happened because Ramazan's sent a message and Emine's cellphone didn't have an specific character from the Turkish alphabet: the letter "ı" or closed i. While "i" is available in all phones in Turkey — where this happened — the closed i apparently doesn't exist in most of the terminals in that country.

Related article: Original article from Hurriyet in Turkish

Personally I prefer Japanese and German, but languages like Turkish can screw you up pretty bad.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Speakers Cornered Given NC-16 Rating by Singapore's Censors

From TODAYonline:

BOTH documentaries feature Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan. But while one was earlier banned and saw film-maker Martyn See questioned by police, the other film has just been passed uncut.

Yesterday, the Media Development Authority's (MDA's) Board of Film Censors gave an NC16 rating to Speakers Cornered, a 26-minute film documenting a demonstration led by Dr Chee at the Speakers' Corner in September 2006.

The attempted march was timed to coincide with the World Bank/ International Monetary Fund meetings here, and resulted in a three-day standoff between SDP members and the police.

Related article: theonlinecitizen - "Submit your boldest work to the censors." - Martyn See

Finally! An opposition-related film that didn't get banned by Singapore! Congrats to the director Martyn See and chief protagonists Dr. Chee Soon Juan and his sister Chee Siok Chin, your efforts on that day have not been in vain.

Speakers Cornered can be viewed here in its entirety:


Singapore Revel can also be viewed here in its entirety, but keep in mind that you're watching a banned film:

Penang PC Fair Loot - Keyboard, Pendrive and DVD+Rs

One has to declare one's assets after plundering the event known as Penang's PC fair, and here is my loot:


Item #1 - Logitech Classic Keyboard Plus
Price: RM20
Warranty: 2 years
Item reviewed here (by KhimHoe.Net).


Item #2 - Kingston 4GB DataTraveler 100
Price: RM47
Warranty: 5 years
Item reviewed here (by Techware Labs).



Item #3 - HP DVD+R (50 pieces)
Price: RM38 (split 50-50 with friend)
Warranty: 2 years
Sorry but no pictures and no reviews. Pics uploaded upon request.

Other blogs about the recent PC fair in PISA, Penang:
n305er Industries - Parking in PISA during PC Fair. Don’t be STUPID
Penang Views and News - Pikom PC Fair is a death trap!

BBC: China Urges 'Rational' Protests


From BBC News:
China has urged its citizens to be calm amid further anti-Western protests in the country, focused on French supermarket chain Carrefour.

The official Communist Party newspaper, the People's Daily, said patriotism should be expressed rationally.

The protesters have been angered by disruption of the Olympic torch relay in Paris and London.

They also accuse the West of supporting Tibetan separatists, and the Western media of bias.

The official Xinhua news agency said more than 1,000 people carrying banners had gathered in front of a Carrefour store in the city of Xian, and there were also protests in Harbin and Jinan.

Xinhua added that police were monitoring the demonstrations in the three cities, which remained peaceful.

The protests came after Saturday saw hundreds of people demonstrating in cities including Beijing, Wuhan, Hefei, Kunming, and Qingdao - often outside Carrefour stores.

Protesters denounced French President Nicolas Sarkozy's refusal to confirm whether he would attend the opening ceremony of the Games.

Carrefour has restated its support for Beijing's hosting of the Olympics this August, and denies the accusations by some protesters that it backs the campaign for Tibetan independence.

The front-page Sunday editorial in the People's Daily called on Chinese people to cherish patriotism "while expressing it in a rational way".

It said: "As citizens, we have the responsibility to express our patriotic enthusiasm calmly and rationally and express patriotic aspiration in an orderly and legal manner.

"The more complicated the international situation is, the more calmness, wisdom and unity need to be shown by the Chinese people."

The BBC's Daniel Griffiths in Beijing says this is a clear sign that the Chinese government does not want to see any escalation in the protests.

Related article: New York Times - "Young Chinese have no sympathy for Tibet"

So the Chinese government have realised that using the patriotic card can be a double edged sword. I'm sorry China but when you release the genie, it can be damn hard to get it back into its lamp again. But what I'm going to do is to congratulate China for its successful brainwashing programme at a national level. It's this kind of patriotic fervour that has led its citizens to be herded around like sheep, susceptible to manipulation by the authorities. Even soldiers in wartime sometime question their purpose on the battlefield. Really, patriotism can be the last thing on your mind when you're battling for survival.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs dictates that physiological, safety, belonging and self-esteem aspects must be fulfilled in order to achieve self-actualisation. We can come to the conclusion that the needs of protesters in China are mostly fulfilled (and oblivious), and that protesters in Tibet are still stuck struggling with the safety aspect.

Personally I wouldn't give my patriotism to a country who doesn't think twice about breaking your limbs and popping your kneecaps if you have alternate views. Patriotism is only worthy when there's space for personal freedom as well as dissent. It has to be earned through winning the hearts and minds of people, not through brainwashing.

What better way is there to gain freedom than to dismantle an authoritarian government through independence? This is why I advocate Tibetian independence, Taiwanese international recognition and any other authority which wants independence as long as that's what the people wants. There's no point being possessive over a region which clearly doesn't want to be controlled.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Link Exchanges, Blogrolls and Entrecard Droppers

I've gotten around to setting up a proper blogroll now, so I'm also interested in having some link exchanges between blogs. If you want to be included, just link to my blog, leave a comment below and I'll add you back. It's the same thing for serious Entrecard droppers. :)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Entrecard Drama Brewing in Lowyat Forums

The participants:
Vkeong - Claims that he knows a way to drop 300 cards within 5 seconds.
AhKong - Tipped off Entrecard admins.
Phirate - Entrecard admin, banned Vkeong without concrete evidence.

Thread #1
. Thread #2. The drama continues...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Dotster Offering 500 Coupons For Free Domain Names

From Dotster.com:
Get online and develop maximum visibility with Dotster's Happy Hour! On Thursday, April 17 at 4PM Eastern (1PM Pacific), Dotster will be giving away 500 FREE, .com, .net, or .org, new domain names on a first-come, first-served basis (1 free domain name per customer*).

Now 4pm Eastern Standard Time would be 4am for Malaysians. If you're still awake at that time, get your Dotster account and credit/debit card (for verification) ready if you wanna grab this offer. :)

Edit: I got my coupon!

Election Day Mystery Still Unsolved?

Amidst the mountain of news surrounding political parties and state/federal governments, I'm sure most of us have forgotten of an incident that occurred on the eve of polling day: The poisoning of 42 Barisan Nasional workers by unknown people. There has been no updates on the incident so far.

Now when the upper echelon of UMNO speaks up and say that they were sabotaged by their own men in Kedah and Perak, I put two and two together and came up with my own conclusion. What about you?

Scare, Threaten, Oppress, Scare Again... Repeat Cycle (2)

If the "untouchables" can be caught, then the touchables are certainly dead meat.

There is a close relationship between the government and newspapers. Instead of a fruitful relationship, it has now turned into something akin a master and his dog. The dog disobeys the master's orders, he smacks the dog. Now that the dog is angry and has bitten his master, he beats the dog to its death. This kind of abuse (metaphorical or not) is unacceptable, but then if the master was hauled off to court, he would've been slapped with a RM200 fine. This goes to show how much our laws need to be rehauled.

Back to topic, it is a bit hard to swallow the fact that the government had just crippled one of its own fingers to teach the MIC-owned newspaper a lesson. Despite any contempt for the mainstream media, let's not forget that 100 families will lose their major source of income, advertisers will have one less avenue to turn to, printing presses will have one less customer, newspaper vendors will be earning less and so on. I suppose the government can afford to close down a small newspaper with a circulation of 52,000 or so but if they target larger English and Chinese dailies that exceeds a daily readership of 300,000, they might as well commit economic suicide.

Both Edmund Bon from the Malaysian Bar Council and Singapore Democratic Party head Dr. Chee Soon Juan have cited the existence of just and unjust laws. Dr. Chee says that unjust laws "are put in place to prop up the ruling party" and Bon says that "the unjust law deserves to be broken". Although Malaysia and Singapore have two different political situations, the same concept is still there. To the government, stop shooting yourselves in the foot and start abolishing unjust laws! If they don't do it soon, perhaps Anwar might help them do so.

Creative Zen Stone Plus Speaker Reviewed By AnythingButiPod

Creative. Zen. Stone. Plus. It used to stop at that point, but now it comes with a speaker to go along with its monochrome screen. Check out this review by AnythingButiPod.

And in related news, Epizenter rumours that Creative might come up with a ZEN X-Fi model with supports either touchscreen, Wi-Fi or perhaps even both! Rumours are still rumours unless it's officially confirmed though. We shall be waiting with bated breath.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Singapore's J.B. Jeyaretnam To Register New Political Party On Friday

From SGpolitics.net:

There will be a press conference on Friday, 18 Apr 2008 at 2.00pm at the Quality Hotel at Balestier Road to announce the submission to the Registrar of Societies the application to register The Reform Party. The Pro-tem Secretary General [J.B. Jeyaretnam] will outline the objects and goals of The Party.


I'm not sure if Singapore needs another opposition party at the moment. Currently there are three main players in the opposition side, Worker's Party, Singapore Democratic Party, and Singapore Democratic Alliance (an alliance of four smaller parties).

Will they get their application turned down just like Parti Sosialis Malaysia? Will they survive the oppression of Singapore's ruling People Action Party? Will they work together with the other parties for a more cohesive opposition? That's the million (SG) dollar question for now. Still, all the best to them.

Scare, Threaten, Oppress, Scare Again... Repeat Cycle

From the New Straits Times:

The alternative media is not as untouchable as the public might think they are, [Information Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek] said.

As such, he said, even though people had the right to write whatever they wish through blogs and other online media, they could still be subjected to actions under the law if they spread slander online, BERNAMA reports.

"People think that the alternative media can do what they want. This is not true. Recently, there were cases against some of these bloggers," he told reporters after the launch.

Ahmad Shabery also said that the government had the responsibility to protect others from untruths and slander.

With technology available today, cyber forensics would be able to trace and detect the identity of online writers or slanderers even though they might use the anonymity of the Internet or a different name as a shield, he said.


It looks like we gave the new information minister too much credit when he said he'll listen to bloggers now. So can someone please tell me where does this threat fit in with post-election Malaysia?

Here are the facts:
1. Cyber forensics can only be done when they can obtain an IP address. If there's no fingerprints nor DNA in a murder scene, can the police identify a suspect?
2. Blogger.com's services (blogging and commenting) are air-tight when it comes to privacy. If bloggers stay anonymous and don't want to be identified, there's no way that anyone can identify them unless they subpoena Google through the American judicial system.
3. Likewise, if it's not in Malaysia then it's out of the government's hands whether they like it or not.

So, let's face it. Anyone with an internet access and Google skills can dig up any piece of information lying around in a blog. It's not that hard to pinpoint a person without sophisticated cyber forensic tools. Apart from being an attempt at discouraging the public from taking up blogging, veterans won't find this statement disturbing in any way. Don't threaten bloggers, just educate the public on what's considered as responsible blogging.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Reporting While Omitting, MSM Still Writes Without Balls

They didn't dare to give a true estimate of participants at last year's Bersih (est. 40,000) and Hindraf (est. 20,000) protests, they didn't dare to say how many people attended DAP's gathering in Han Chiang College in Penang two days before polling day (est. 30,000), now they didn't even dare to report the true amount of people at Anwar's "Black 14" gathering last night either.

While Malaysiakini puts the size of the crowd last night as 20,000, The Malaysian Insider initially said 30,000 but later revised it to 10,000, the police differed and said 7,000 but what about The Star? They played down the event and merely said "thousands" without even the vaguest of estimates. No estimates is fine, but no pictures as well? If NST can accept reality, why not The Star?

If the people working in the mainstream media (MSM) are patting their backs thinking that they've undergone a journalistic renaissance, think again. The MSM are still trapped in their own time-warp, hindered either by personal allegiance or by people pulling the strings in the background. Now's the time for established news websites like Malaysiakini to make preparations in publishing a daily newspaper. By sticking to their ethics, the Rakyat (people) will give journalists like them the credibility that they deserve.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Star: Opening of Butterworth Bus Terminal Postponed


From The Star:

THE opening of the RM5mil temporary bus terminal in Butterworth has been deferred to July.

Penang Public Works, Utilities and Transportation Committee chairman Lim Hock Seng said although the terminal was ready last month, the developer needed three months to complete a temporary hawker centre nearby.

The centre, to be occupied by about 60 stalls, will be located opposite the terminal mainly to cater to the needs of the bus commuters.

...

Lim said work on the RM2bil Penang Sentral transportation and logistics hub could begin once the new terminal started operations.

The project’s first phase, which involves the construction of a permanent bus and taxi terminals with access to the railway station and ferry terminal, he said, would be ready by July 2011.

...

The former bus terminal, sited at the Penang Port Commission (PPC) Complex, could not be used after fire razed the complex in May 2001.

Fruit seller Mohd Sulaiman Ray Abdullah, 31, said proper toilet facilities were badly needed at the terminal, noting that presently commuters had to travel a distance to use the one in the railway station.

"It has been very inconvenient trading temporarily by the five-foot way. We hope the hawker centre will be built soon," he said.


Why did the government (both state and federal level) take seven whole years to build a replacement bus terminal? Four years from now, the replacement terminal would be torn down to make way for Penang Sentral. If this isn't considered as a planning problem then I don't know what is.

Could Malaysia's Hockey Team Have Qualified For Beijing Olympics?


Yesterday's copy of The Star had a glaring headline on its back page: ROBBED. This was when Japan scored a 68th minute goal to draw 3-3 with Malaysia in the Olympic qualifiers in Kakamigahara, Japan. The thing is, were they robbed of their victory and a place in the final? Most probably yes. Were they robbed of their place in the Beijing Olympics? Most probably not.

Contrary to football, hockey matches only last 70 minutes spreaded over two halves, there are strictly no extra-time and the with the blow of a whistle, the referee has the authority to stop the clock just like in basketball.

Just a week or two ago, team veteran Jiwa Mohan personally pointed out that the Malaysian team has a real knack of "falling asleep" during the last ten minutes of the match. Looks like this nasty habit won't be going away soon.

Take a look at their 5-match performance (source here and here):

Malaysia 2 - 1 Poland (eventually got 4th place)
Malaysia 4 - 4 Italy (5th)
Malaysia 0 - 3 Germany (1st)
Malaysia 4 - 3 Switzerland (6th)
Malaysia 3 - 3 Japan (2nd)

They ended up defeating Poland 3-0 in the classification for 3rd place.

Back in 1998 Malaysia won a silver in the Commonwealth Games, and a bronze in the 2002 Asian Games. At one point they were even candidates to qualify for the semi-finals of the 2000 Sydney Olympics. With the kind of performance in Kakamigahara recently, did they even have a snowball's chance in hell of getting to the Olympics?

You know what? Let's not just bash the hockey team, I'm sure they had enough of kicking themselves for not playing at their best consistently. For the national football team, getting them to rise 50 places in FIFA's world ranking is practically a fool's errand. Asking the badminton players to bring back a gold medal in Beijing is almost impossible now. Even former Olympic silver medallists like Korean shuttler Shon Seung-mo have faded into obscurity in the badminton circuit, just like Muhammad Hafiz Hashim's performance after winning the 2003 All-England. So, are we even looking at the right places when it comes to medal hunting?

Two serious medal prospects for Beijing this August might come from cycling and archery. Currently the cyclists are riding on a golden wave in the Asian Cycling Championships, and the archers have proven themselves worthy by winning the silver medal in an Olympic test event last August. Besides that, the divers might be able to spring a surprise or two. I'm quite hopeful that Malaysia will get at least a medal this time round, but this time not from badminton. Despite coach Rexy Mainaky's efforts, the pairing of Koo Kien Kiat and Tan Boon Heong had a glimmer of an Olympic gold at one point but inconsistency has cost them a lot. No matter how much money the government pumps into the Badminton Association of Malaysia, we are looking at nothing if there's no more fresh talent.

Keep an eye out on our underdogs in the Olympics, expect nothing from the expected, and we might end up with a modest sum of medals in Beijing.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Hayate The Combat Butler Renewed For A 2nd Season (But I'm Not Exactly Happy)


Got an SMS from my friend earlier today saying that Hayate the Combat Butler (Hayate no Gotoku!) was officially renewed right before airing the last episode of its first season. Anime News Network has confirmed but I'm not exactly happy about it.

To anime fans, sometimes the second season is practically the Holy Grail to them. But in Bleach's instance, its first season is now in its 166th episode and it doesn't look like it's ending soon. Is it gonna be epic? Yes.

Now then occasionally some animes like Hayate gets lucky and they get renewed for another year-long 52-episode season. Make no mistake about it, I'm happy that they got a second season but come on, other lesser known animes deserve that extension contract! Loveless? They only made 12 episodes. Pumpkin Scissors? 24 episodes. Shuffle? 24 episodes. Trinity Blood? 24 episodes. Shounen Onmyouji? 26 episodes. And then you have franchises like Gundam and Naruto (both which I didn't watch) stretching episodes into infinity as well as getting renewal contracts just to milk their fanbase dry.

Just please, if anyone's listening out there, Hayate the Combat Butler is a nice anime but stop with the random episodes! Please start a proper story arc, no matter how loose or crazy it might be. Let us see some serious relationship or romance episodes, and make Hayate choose between Sanzenin Nagi, Katsura Hinagiku or Nishizawa Ayumu. The really hilarious episodes lasted until episode 20 or so, and then it wasn't that funny anymore. The only redeeming quality of the anime was watching Hinagiku or Ayumu-centred episodes and watching that Ichimaru Gin-lookalike butler bashing up his weakling master. Hinagiku (right) FTW!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Dattebayo Trolls Bleach Fans... Again


First on April Fool's Day, Dattebayo released a torrent labled "Bleach Movie Diamond Dust Reballion". Of course the egg's on the fans when they found out that the only bally thing in the torrent is actually a baseball match. After the laughs were finished, the subbers only had this to say.

Secondly I almost fell into their prank yesterday when Dattebayo announced that they were making a complete switch from .avi to a .mkv format that supported HDTV. High Definition picture quality? I believed that, but 7.1 channel surround sound? Hokay, now that's something fishy. From what I heard those who downloaded the .mkv files got treated to a nice epilepsy-inducing video.

So... Gambatte Dattebayo! We support your quest to umm... defeat the evil fans by wasting their time and bandwidth?

I'm pretty darn sure everyone wants these trolling to be stopped, but there's little that we can do when fans demand fast and quality subbing and that actually gets delivered. So in short, they end up doing a good job even though they're on the immature side. So be careful when wading through DB's minefield. Google for other anime forums if you feel suspicious. You don't wanna be pranked.

Creative Sells Headquarters For SG$250 Million


Barely one week after their public relations fiasco, Creative has announced that they have sold their international headquarters along 31 International Business Park in Jurong East for SGD 250 million (USD 180 million).

From Epizenter:
I don't think I'm alone when I say this is bad news. Sure they've made a real estate gain from selling the property, but it's the fact that they had to sell it to begin with that worries me. This feels like another tell tale sign of a company that won't survive for very long. Creative also stated that they're expecting an operational loss for the Third Quarter.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Star: Sitting Positions of MPs Finalised

From The Star:
KUALA LUMPUR: It has taken Parliament staffers more than four weeks to come up with the seating arrangement for frontbenchers and MPs, but it's mostly done now.

It's not as easy as it looks as the MPs' seniority, position in their respective parties and other factors must be taken into consideration.

...

The bigger number of Opposition MPs – 82 this time compared to 19 after the last general election in 2004 – means they will occupy three and a half blocks now on the left side of the Dewan.

Previously, the Opposition – 12 from DAP, six from PAS, one from PKR and an Independent MP from Sandakan – occupied only one block of 20 seats.


Too bad The Star didn't provide graphics online but thanks to my trusty scanner, I'm able to reproduce the entire page here in my blog (click to enlarge).




In the Barisan Nasional corner:
• Abdullah Ahmad Badawi takes Block A, seat #1.
• Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah shares Block E together with Ong Ka Ting, Rafidah Aziz and Fong Chan Onn.

In the Pakatan Rakyat corner:
• Wan Azizah Wan Ismail takes Block I, seat #1.
• Khalid Ibrahim takes Block I, seat #2.
• Lim Kit Siang takes Block H, seat #1.
• Lim Guan Eng takes Block H, seat #2.
• Abdul Hadi Awang takes Block G, seat #1.

Come April 28th when the fighters take to their boxing arena, only will the true fight begin.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Author John Birmingham Releases First Chapter of New Novel Online


Australia's leading alternate history novelist and author of the Axis of Time trilogy, John Birmingham has released the first chapter of his upcoming novel on his blog. It's been three months but Birmingham isn't planning to reveal the title of the new book yet and he also isn't telling us if it's related to the trilogy in any way.

Set in 2003 just days before the Iraq invasion, the premise of the new novel involves the emergence of a "phenomenon" that engulfs almost the entire continental United States and a good chunk of Canada. The thing is, every single person within the "phenomenon" has vanished into thin air and the United States military in Guantanamo Bay are desperately trying to find answers for it. This new novel will hit Australian bookstores sometime in August or September this year, so keep a good eye out on your own bookstores as well.

The Axis of Time trilogy (Weapons of Choice, 2004; Designated Targets, 2006; Final Impact, 2007) is also available in all Malaysian bookstores. If you're a WWII enthusiast or interested in alternate history, do try to check out this trilogy.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Chi's Sweet Home Picked Up By Yoroshiku Fansubs


Yoroshiku Fansubs have just picked up Chi's Sweet Home recently. The anime revolves around a little striped kitten who finds himself separated from his mother, but luckily he gets adopted into a nice family.

The anime is only 3 minutes long and airs from Monday to Thursday in Japan. At the moment Yoroshiku only offers a .mkv version (meaning it's soft subbed) whereas DATS offer a .avi hard subbed version.

Aside from those two fansubs, you can also find an easier way to watch it through YouTube. Enjoy. :)

Btw, I'm still waiting for episodes 25 and 26 of Shounen Onmyouji from Yoroshiku. Please pick up the pace!

Monday, April 7, 2008

KL Alternative Bookfest (3 - 4 May, 2008)



1st Kuala Lumpur Alternative Bookfest
Venue: The Annexe Central Market
Date: 3 to 4 May 2008
Time: 12pm to 6pm (both days)

From Amir Muhammad's blog:

KLAB is ... basically a gathering of small, independent publishers who would like a popular venue to sell, launch and discuss books. We seek to fill 10-15 tables. Each table can be taken up by one publisher, or it can be shared between various people who each have books to sell.

There are many happenin' Malaysian books now being published; the trouble is, not many of them are readily available in the main bookshops. This is an opportunity to bring these books to the public, and to make the whole process fun lah.

As of April 7th, 18 spots have been taken and registration is now closed. Among the 18 participants are Silverfish Books, Kinibooks, Kakiseni, as well as the Malaysian branch of BookCrossing.com. Non-governmental organisations such as Amnesty International and Sisters In Islam will be there as well.

Keep an eye out on Amir's blog for more updates about the event.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Movie Review - L: Change The World

I have been reading Death Note even before the anime came out, and words just can't say how perfect the first half of the entire manga was. As for the second half? Well, I'll get back to you later about that. :P


Now as for L: Change The World, it's no surprise that I and a few strong Death Note fans made our way to the cinemas like it was a pilgrimage. 6 tickets, 4:50pm in GSC Queensbay Mall, and 2 hours.

The movie starts off with a virus outbreak in a remote villiage in the middle of Thailand, and a small boy who's immune to the virus manages to find his way to L. As for L, he now has his own name on the Death Note and he has to stop the virus from spreading and wrap everything up in neat little knots before meeting his maker within 23 days.

Now here comes the critique:

1. If I had the ability to edit movies with the wave of a hand, I would've edited the first hour into 10 minutes and start off the story with Maki. For god's sakes, I know how important he is but the little guy doesn't even have a proper dialogue! Aside from L, Maki should've been the secondary focus of the movie instead of the boy since she has had more character development.

2. Some of the character's choices were really questionable. Come on, those who would willingly receive a nice syringe full of deadly liquid virus, please raise your hand?

3. Now to the saddest part, L's abilities were really underutilised. It would've been nice to see the legendary L in cracking his brains and solving this case like how a detective would. But then if his last wish was to leap onto an aeroplane, I would've respected that wish.

So, actually it turns out to be quite an enjoyable film at the end, but by then my suspension of belief was strung up so high it's now somewhere in the stratosphere. I'm not sure if I'm misunderstanding some aspects of Japanese culture or was it just really bad subtitling, but I'm getting the impression there's something really wrong with the movie. Despite its flaws, it has some enjoyable scenes as well. I'm giving it 3 stars out of 5.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Political Tsunami Hits Zimbabwe As Mugabe's Government Toppled

Movement For Democratic Change : 105 seats
Zanu-PF : 94 seats
Independent : 1 seat
Not yet announced : 7 seats

Source : BBC

Zimbabwe finally got its long awaited change when Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party was finally toppled in an election riddled with fears of vote fraud. Sounds quite familiar, right?

As for the presidential race, MDC claims that their candidate Morgan Tsvangirai won 50.3% of the votes casted, but government newspaper The Herald claims that neither three presidential candidates reached the 50% mark.

Mudah.com.my - Malaysia's Newest Internet Marketplace!

Organising an internet marketplace is never an easy task, but with the entry of Mudah.com.my, it looks like it's going to give other established local auction sites a good run for their money.

Mudah's front page boasts an interactive map of Malaysia, giving you the ease to browse offers listed by each state as well as our federal capital:



It's pretty clear enough, one of Mudah's biggest advantages compared to its competitors is its pure simplicity in design. Unlike one particular local auction website, Mudah currently has no flashy and distracting ads on their website. In fact, their only ads are the ones that the customers precisely want to see.



For example, take a look at this Creative mp3 player which is currently listed. At RM260, I think it's quite a bargain. Mudah encourages prospective buyers to get directly in contact with sellers personally, eliminating any hassles associated with having a middleman. As far as Mudah.com.my goes, it's one big gigantic noticeboard for anything and everything in Malaysia. :)

This review is brought to you by Advertlets.com and Mudah.com.my!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

How To Avoid Getting Your Debit Card Blocked By Visa

So you think you're a smartass on debit and credit cards, and then all of a sudden Verified By Visa throws a curveball at you.

Two things that Public Bank's website doesn't inform you about their Verified By Visa programme:

1. Your credit line should be "000000" (without quotes).
2. Your mother's maiden name must be entered in capital letters.

If you ever find out that your card has been blocked, you should call 03-2176 8000 which is Public Bank's Customer Service department. But before you call, just remember to have all of your details at hand such as your debit card number, IC number, home telephone number, handphone number as well as your mother's maiden name for verification.

Now I don't know if they implemented this kind of security through obscurity intentionally or not, but one thing for sure is that it annoyed the heck out of me.

Creative Labs - A Complete Public Relations Disaster

From Slashdot:

"Since the release of Windows Vista, Creative has promised their Sound Cards as being 'Vista Ready'. Unfortunately, as many unlucky customers did discover, this is not true. What the users actually found were buggy, feature crippled drivers. Creative insisted that features such as Decoding of Dolby® Digital and DTS(TM) signals and DVD-Audio which worked fine in WinXP, would not work on windows Vista. With Creative releasing less than one new driver a year, things seemed bleak. Fortunately, a talented user, Daniel_K, was recently able to 'fix' many of the drivers, enabling the incompatible features and also fixing many bugs. Just today Creative has decided to put a stop to this. They removed all links to his modified drivers, and banned several users who were posting links to the now banned drivers."


• Michael Tan from CNET Asia also provides a good list of what went wrong in this massive PR disaster for Creative Labs.

• Some forum members are suggesting filing a class action lawsuit against Creative for blatant false advertising.

• Creative's management are indicating that they will allow the modder to continue his work as long as it does not infringe Creative's intellectual property.

• Many people are saying that they will boycott Creative products. A website called BoycottCreative.com has been set up and so far 2133 people have signed an internet petition.

• As of now we are still awaiting an official statement from Creative Labs about this brouhaha. It is expected that Mr. O'Shaughnessy's head will roll by the end of the week, as well as members of Creative's PR division.