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For all Grabble fans :( March 18, 2008

Posted by Tim in Personal, Uncategorized.
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Apparently it should be called Anagrams :(. I still think Grabble is a better name!

I miss those days…


Rowling’s Magic August 3, 2007

Posted by Tim in Literary, Personal.

Magic, pure magic – that’s how I’d describe Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Anyone who has read any of the books will already know that Rowling is a storytelling genius: the world of Harry Potter ranks right up there with Middle-Earth or Narnia – perhaps higher, given how easily you can relate to her world and appreciate her parodies on society and politics ([edit] I’ll say it again – the Ministry of Magic is sooo like our Govt, have you read about how they’re trying to paint Anwar as a lapdog of the US and the Jews?) without squinting for religious analogy or keeping track of odd names. Granted, her writing isn’t impressive in a literary sense (I believe someone commented that Rowling “never met an adverb she didn’t like”) – then again, I cringed at Tolkien’s attempts at songs too. She also takes pains to flesh out her characters, even the minor ones, and lets them grow with every book. And of course, I’m also a personal fan because of her rags-to-riches story writing the Great British Novel(s).

The last book was like the finishing of an intricate spiderweb. (Seemingly) small details from the previous books came together, nearly everyone has their moment in the sun, and the pace was breathtaking. The final chapters especially were glorious. The only problems I really had were the last two deaths, which didn’t seem to contribute to the story much by that point; and the epilogue, which was horrendous. She’s going to produce a final booklet for charity though, and if you want a better epilogue check out the transcript of a 90-minute chat between Rowling and MuggleNet.

Will end with a quick note about the Deathly Hallows price war: A letter in the newspaper observed that the major bookstores are getting a taste of their own medicine – many small retailers haven’t bothered stocking Harry Potter even before this, because they could not match the prices of the major chains. That said, it was a little… weird to see Deathly Hallows being promoted in a Carrefour newspaper ad – next to a promotion for potatoes. I preordered my copy from Borders, so it didn’t set me back much anyway – RM88 total, with 20% off the next two books.

13 More Days July 8, 2007

Posted by Tim in Humour, Personal.

Was on MSN today and saw Marv logged in with “12 more days” as his status message. I happened to have “13 more days” as my status message. After the ensuing conversation I realized my priorities may be backwards…

Me: 12 more days to what?
Marv: My gf coming back. You? 13 more days to what?
Me: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!!

Nuffnang View June 27, 2007

Posted by Tim in Nuffnang, Personal.
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Well I seem to have chosen to join Nuffnang at a time when things are really busy so I haven’t had time to post as often. There are a lot of things to be done!

The office is small but has a pantry well-stocked with junk food. And a coffee-maker – would you believe I’d never seen a coffee-maker before I came here? The pantry has a window that offers a great view (we’re on the 20th floor):

Pantry View

At least can cuci mata a bit while coding!

No More Grape-ing!! June 7, 2007

Posted by Tim in Humour, Nuffnang, Personal.
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Been busy doing stuff for theCICAK, ferrying my sister to her A-level exams – and going for interviews.

My first interview was at Gizwiz Studio, which is in Northam Tower. It’s an easily recognizable building, because the engineers must have been colourblind – it’s purple. Yes, the building is PURPLE!

The interview was cancelled, unfortunately. The next day (Tuesday), I was in Northam Tower at the Samsung customer service center to replace a broken ice tray. That same evening, I got a call from Netcentric Sdn Bhd to go for an interview the next morning. The address I was given was “Menara Northam, 20th floor“.

“Ah yes yes, I know where that is – see you tomorrow”.

When I arrived for the interview half an hour early I thought everything was going fine… until I went up to the 20th floor and couldn’t find the office. I went down, called the company; “Yes, yes, it’s the 20th floor”.

Then I realized Northam Tower has two wings. So I went up to the 20th floor in the second wing… nope, not there. I actually went up the first wing *again* before making another call. This time the person mentioned Maxis being on the ground floor.

But Northam Tower has Samsung, not Maxis, on the ground floor! I went out and realized that:

Northam Menara Tower Northam

The building on the right, where I was, is called Northam Tower. The building on the left is Menara Northam!

Seriously, which genius came up with these names? (Probably the same fella who decides when to use Bahasa “Melayu” and Bahasa “Malaysia”).

Needless to say, I was late. Thankfully, the interviewers were understanding – I get the feeling this is not the first time this has happened.

The day was about to get more surreal though. I was sent outside after the interview, and someone came in whose face looked vaguely familiar… Ewe Thiam! We used to go to the same church youth group – ten years ago. He seemed to recognize me (well my face at least) as well. I was like “oh you’re working here? or coming for interview?”

This is an example of how getting used to skimming over articles is bad. Netcentric is the company behind Nuffnang, a Malaysian web startup that does blog advertising. If you read blogs often, you’ll have noticed their ads, along with their rival company Advertlets. They were featured in In-Tech recently.

Anyway… I skimmed over “Timothy Tiah” – co-founder. His full name turned out to be “Timothy Tiah Ewe Thiam”…

Small world, no?

To cut the story short, I’ll be starting work at Nuffnang :).

I think localized blog advertising is a good thing. I absolutely HATE advertisements as a rule, unless they’re one of the more entertaining, funny ones like you see on ASTRO sometimes. I hate it when people throw flyers over your gate, or stick them on car windshields. Online, the much-touted Google Adsense NEVER serves any relevant ads to Malaysians – what more generic banner ads. Even “established” sites like these run inane “HOME BUSINESS!! EARN RESIDUAL INCOME!!” ads.

If you read my earlier (gushing) review of Opera you’ll know it’s freaking easy to zap any offending ad (along with all similar ads) in a few mouse clicks, then you never have to see it again. But somehow I never blocked Nuffnang (and this is way before I joined the company!!), because I had to (grudgingly, at the time) admit that the ads it serves were relevant. For example, they recently had some MPH discount promo, and now they’re offering some free drink thingie at Foodloft, Gurney Plaza. In both cases these are actually places I go to all the time.

What’s ironic is that I can’t serve Nuffnang ads here with free WordPress. The affiliate program they’re having with Exabyte web hosting looks tempting though.

Discovers Social Bookmarking May 15, 2007

Posted by Tim in Personal, Reviews, Science/Tech, Trends.

Ok, ok I’m a little late to the party. But for those of you unfamiliar with the concept, think Friendster except instead of sharing friends you share inane bookmarks.

Useful for me because I’ve been piling up a lot of bookmarks and need a place to organize them. Trying to decide between Del.icio.us and BlinkList atm.

Del.icio.us has a (much) larger userbase, useful for finding sites related to your interests. It was also acquired by Yahoo! recently so there’s no chance of it going under, and you can expect updates and features to come regularly.

I like BlinkList’s interface though – more personal. When you add a page to BlinkList, you don’t have to open a new window, and you can view the tags you already have. That’s a nice implementation of AJAX. It also lets you rate and “star” bookmarks so they stand out. If you’re looking for the Boleh spirit, MindValley, the company behind it, is partly based in Malaysia; could also be a reason why BlinkList feels faster for me. Drawback is the smaller userbase.

[Edit] If you want the stats, Del.icio.us has 1,000,000 US visitors and BlinkList about 200,000.

What’s impressive about both is they support Opera well. Kudos! What’s bad is that both don’t let you mass edit bookmarks to say, delete them or make them private. There are several other options that I didn’t try: Furl (ugly GUI), Magnolia (GUI too good, maybe if I had a better connection..), BlueDot (too MySpace-y), etc.

[Update] You can read a more detailed review here.

Surprisingly, Google Bookmarks is pretty lame.

[Update]I’ve settled on BlinkList. You can view my BlinkList here. I’ve also added it to the bottom of my sidebar.

On the subject of socializing, wth is wrong with the BN “bocor” clowns? You don’t need a PR agent to realize a simple, unconditional “sorry” is what’s needed here. Meanwhile, DAP and PKR are happily milking the issue for all it’s worth.

Mummy-Day May 13, 2007

Posted by Tim in Personal.
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I was thinking that if one wrote a long post thanking Mum for everything, then what would one do the year after? Thank her for everything + 1?

So this year’s post will be to thank Mummy for going all-out to teach me English:

  • Thank you for reading me flash cards when I was a toddler,
  • Thank you for starting me on Peter and Jane,
  • Thank you for moving me to Enid Blyton and buying so many (by many, I mean many) of those books for me,
  • Thank you for bringing back the newspaper from the office every day for me to read,
  • Thank you for “graduating” me to Reader’s Digest,
  • Thank you for agreeing to buy a Zip drive for me when I was the editor of the church’s youth magazine (what an investment that was),
  • Thank you for helping me with canvassing when I was in the school editorial board (well ok, not “help”, you did it all),
  • Thank you for subscribing me to TIME,
  • Thank you for everything!

Happy Mothers’ Day!!

Tag May 12, 2007

Posted by Tim in Personal.
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Marv, the only guy I can remember who was a classmate for all five high-school years in PFS, tagged me…

Six weird things (why six?):

  1. I stutter when I’m uncomfortable, or when I’m speaking (or trying to speak) in Mandarin or Hokkien.
  2. Ever since becoming more health conscious I sometimes don’t finish my food. Mostly happens with french fries, soda, oily gravy, and of course white rice.
  3. Like Donald Duck, I occasionally get myself too engrossed in something. Very good when it’s an assignment, bad when it’s an assignment and I have other assignments; VERY bad when it’s something like say, DotA…
  4. I shake my legs all the time (the trishawman shake)
  5. When I was young I developed the habit of reading at the dinner table and in the toilet – and I still do! (Yea think twice before borrowing a book from me)
  6. Coffee (and caffeine) seems to have no effect on me. I can drink a cuppa right before sleeping and it has no effect.

The rules:

  1. Direct link to the guy who tagged you
    Adventures of Ah Pin (“Horsing” around in Australia)
  2. List down the top 5 places to eat at your location. (Since I don’t have any transport, this mostly equates to what’s within walking distance of my house here).
      Duck rice @ Jia Jia. The skin is sinfully juicy and they give you big helpings. Comes with soup and chili that are just as delicious.
      Heritage Family Restaurant. The only (affordable) place around here with air-con, and certain dishes (Western Roasted Chicken, Chicken Chop) give you lots for a reasonable $.
      Nameless burger stall. Opens opposite Petronas (used to be opposite 7/11) starting about 8pm. What makes it nice is they slooowly grill it over a charcoal fire so you get the smokey taste afterwards. Takes ages and ages to get your order ready though.
      Cendol @ Jonker Walk – Don’t often get to go there, it’s all the way in town and I don’t usually eat sweet stuff, but the gula melaka makes all the difference.
      Can’t think of any place worthy of the fifth spot…too bad ya.

Sorry but this tag will have to stop here… everyone taggable has already been tagged recently so I don’t wanna impose. Only one I can think of is Khor Chin Hau, but he’s having his finals soon and hasn’t replied my last MSN message. If you want to know some weird stuff about him though, the ang mohs in UK call him “Chin”, and his mother is a hairstylist but his own hair is pretty generic…

They Changed the Names May 5, 2007

Posted by Tim in Humour, Literary, Personal.

When I was reminiscing in an earlier post about the Enid Blyton books I read when I was a kid, I mentioned that I’d heard some names had been changed in modern editions to be politically correct. I wasn’t sure about it at the time, only having read about it on Wikipedia.

But today I was in the bookstore and remembered to check – and it’s true! No more Dicks and Fannies.

Below are pictures from two different editions of The Folk of the Faraway Tree (click to view large versions):

Original Names intact:

Modern/politically correct versions (2005 edition):

Forgot to take a pic of “cousin Dick” becoming “cousin Rick”. Oh well.

And what is it with the lame-ass illustrations in the modern version?

PFS 1816 April 9, 2007

Posted by Tim in Humour, Personal.

Once a Free, always a Free

Any of my ex-PFS mates who read that would be rolling their eyes at the oh-so-creative slogan we used to hear back then. And we always agree that our alma mater is going downhill – then again, maybe the generations before us thought the same thing…

But in some people the school spirit is still running strong! ntsocialism has a great post on how he discovered a car (or rather, a pickup truck) with the magic registration number PFS 1816. 1816 is the year Penang Free School was founded, making it the oldest school in SE Asia.

Mr. Lim Yew Meng, the owner of the registration number, is a modest and cheerful chemist who owns a pharmacy in Balik Pulau, Penang. Born and bred in Penang, he underwent his formal high school education in Penang Free School and completed his final year in school in 1983 under the guidance and leadership of the then headmaster, Mr. G. Krishna Iyer.

Amusingly enough, his three weeks old car has already been hit twice by unknown drivers – to which I responded, “Hmm! Must be them Xavierans!!”