Sunday, August 30, 2009

Merdeka! Merdeka!

This is the best National Day youtube movie la!
Happy National Day my dear fellow Malaysians!

Another excellent MV on 1 Malaysia...excellent music.
(why all the better MVs on 1 Malaysia are NOT done by governments?)

Compare the above two with this!!!!! (the so-called official video for 1 Malaysia)
5 seconds into the music I 'sien' already...


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Letting go

I can't always be right...let it go

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

giving directions...

No offense meant, but I find that in general females are poor in giving directions...

"You go straight, keep on straight, then when you see junction, then you turn la"
"You go straight, then turn at ESSO la..."
"Go to the round-a-bout then just turn..."
"It's near the shop-lots..."
"I can see Tesco opposite me..."
"When you see traffic light, then turn left..."

These are just some of the very misleading and confusing directions. Let me tell you what's wrong with them...

"You go straight, keep on straight, then when you see junction, then you turn la"
- What kind of junction? T-junction? or just a junction to the left? turn which direction? left or right?

"You go straight, then turn at ESSO la..."
- there's more than 500 ESSO stations in Malaysia, turn at which ESSO station? It is not uncommon to have more than one ESSO stations in close proximity to each other

"Go to the round-a-bout then just turn..."
- typical round-a-bouts have 3 exits. Turn out to which exit?

"It's near the shop-lots..."
- Too vague. What you think is near, may not be near for the driver. Besides, shop-lots are usually surrounded by roads, so when you say near it doesn't indicate which road precisely.

"I can see Tesco opposite me..."
- There's nothing opposite you. Only the road can be opposite you if you are driving, unless you are at a T-junction. Although it is not wrong to say some landmarks are opposite you, it doesn't serve any purpose if you cannot identify the landmarks to a particular road. For all you know, you can see KL Twin towers opposite you in roads across Klang, Shah Alam and Sungai Buloh. So what good is it that you tell someone this? Therefore you should only specify landmarks at the two sides of the road that you are currently on.

"When you see traffic light, then turn left..."
- this is very confusing because the driver would need to know to turn BEFORE, AT or AFTER the traffic light.

Below are some tips for giving good directions:

1. It must be unique, i.e. the directions must lead you to the destination no matter which point of reference the driver is looking at.
e.g. if you say "go straight along Jalan Damansara from Victoria Station" there's actually two ways to view this (not unique). If you go from Victoria Station towards HELP institute it is "along Jalan Damansara", but if you go from Victoria Station towards Damansara Utama it is also "along Jalan Damansara". Hence the driver may get confused. The better way to say this is, "If you are along Jalan Damansara and ALSO if Victoria Station is on your left..." then it is unique - you would have to be on the road going towards HELP institute.

2. For a direction to be unique, two points must be speficied (mathematically this is also true, i.e. on a surface, a unique line or direction can only be obtained when at least two points are specified)
e.g. "Turn left at ESSO" can never be unique. Consider that ESSO is on your left when you are driving up a hill. Turning left means you turn towards the ESSO petrol station. If you are now driving down the hill, ESSO will be on your right. So the direction "turn left at ESSO" would actually mean turning AWAY from the petrol station, i.e. going to the right if you are going uphill. So there could be two different situations (not unique) given the same direction.

3. Use landmarks
Landmarks are buildings or icons or billboards that are easily seen by the driver. It is probably the most useful tool in giving directions. But care must be taken in using landmarks:

i. Use landmarks that are uncommon
e.g. if you use ESSO petrol station as landmarks, please do take note that there is possibility that 2 ESSO stations could be in the same vicinity. If you are thinking of using a tree as a landmark, forget it! This is because there's millions of trees in Malaysia. The driver would never be able to guess which tree you are referring to. (No Kelapa Sawit won't do either). Don't even try giving direction by saying "turn left at this big tree". It's a big NO NO!!

ii. Use landmarks that are closest (preferably along the two sides of the road you are currently on). Landmarks that are most visible may not be the best landmarks because it is so visible, i.e. it can be seen by many people at many locations, it doesn't give a unique direction/location of your wherabouts (refer to 1). But sometimes, visible landmarks are useful when you are completely lost. Because this would at least indicate your approximate location.

iii. Remember that landmarks can only ASSIST the driver in finding the destination, it doesn't define the final location completely. Never give directions, using ONLY landmarks. e.g. don't say "my house is next to TESCO. Because there is at least a few rows of shops and houses next to any TESCO."

Thursday, August 13, 2009



马华对国家发展不完全是没有功劳。翁诗杰也有做对的时候。翁诗杰在面对我国媒体被打压以及马来前锋报煽动种族情绪的报道时“沉默是金”,是应该被严厉地谴责。我也认为,马华在这个课题上,简直是“缩头乌龟”,没得救。但是翁诗杰揭发PKFZ丑闻的处理手法,在我看来,比林冠英处理Kg. Buah Pala 来得更专业。面对过去几届总会长留下来的烂摊子,你如果是他,你会怎么做?有可能做得更好吗?不要忘记,PKFZ与马华以及过去几届的交通部长是息息相关的。 他没有办法狠到像反对党要求的那样。在他的情况下,该做的,可以做的,都已经做了。

然而,有眼睛的人都可以看得到,他因为把张庆信的Kuala Dimensi的舞弊行为公告天下而惹来后者的攻击与诬蔑。许多反对党的人看到国阵内讧了,都在那里拍桌叫好,抱着幸灾乐祸,隔岸观火的态度。他们也许在想“这回应该有好戏看咯!”这种反应可以理解。但是,就连反对党的人都应该看得出来,这是张庆信“报复”的方法,其言论的真实性是非常有争议的。正如,翁诗杰自己说的,如果他确实有拿过这笔钱,他何必这么积极调查PKFZ的亏损呢?在PKFZ上,一方是揭发者,另一方是“受害者”。谁是“好人”应该很明显。如果,换作是反对党在面对同样的情况,民联早已经大声放话说有“大阴谋”。

就好像当雪兰莪民联政府因为啤酒时间闹翻时,我们对于国阵的煽风点火,“趁他病,拿他命”的做法感觉到非常不满意。如今,这种“内乱”也发生在国阵。反对党还不是抱着一样的心态吗?千万不要抱着“你做初一,我做十五”,或是“投我一桃,报之以李”的心态。英文一句话说得很好,“two wrongs do not make a right"。

不管你是在朝在野,你都是为人民做事,为国家做事。如果,你认为翁诗杰对于PKFZ的调查是真诚的,有利于为人民与国家讨回公道的。那么,不管你是在朝在野,希望你会支持他,甚至帮忙他解除“障碍”。你可以以“每日3问”的方式继续盘问他,给他更多的意见 ,甚至谴责他调查行动缓慢。但是当有“坏人”成为障碍时,或是有人“恶人先告状”,或是他被人家暗算时,我们为何不应该“保护”他?难道把PKFZ的丑闻调查得水落石出不是大家想要的吗?



Monday, August 10, 2009

The end of knowledge

Of all the abilities that a man possesses, nothing is more important than the ability to transfer knowledge from a generation to the next. Human's life-span in the early days must have been somewhere between 20 -40 years old. Without the ability to transfer knowledge to our next generation, there would be very little progress in the development of our civilisation.

Through language, we transfer our knowledge in the form of story-telling. This is the earliest method that we use to transfer knowledge. But we all know that this is not a very efficient one because stories that are passed on from generation to generation are very susceptible to errors. After a few generations, the border between facts and fiction blurred, real knowledge became fairy tales.

Then, we developed writing and books. This was an important milestone. Information and knowledge that are contained within books or other form of earlier writings (whether it's on the rocks or tree skins) survived for many generations. Information was passed on accurately, withstood the harshest weather and test of time. Even now, we can still see discoveries of caves with ancient writings that are more than 3000 years old.

About a century ago, camera allowed us to store information and knowledge in the form of a picture. And more recently, the development of optical devices like CD, DVD and magnetic storage devices like MRAM, our thumbdrives and HDDs have revolutionise the way we keep information and thus our ability to transfer knowledge.

Our photos, 1000s of them, are in our camera, memory cards, flickr or thumbdrive and some in our portable HDDs; Our diaries, are on the internet - blogs, homepages, etc - which are stored in the server's HDDs somewhere in the world; Our contacts and addresses and to-do-list are on Excel spreadsheets, notepad, or some other form of electronic application stored in our thumbdrive which we carry with us all the time; Our books are in pdf format, stored in our computers; Our birth certificates and other important documents are scanned into tiff format and stored in HDDs or other magnetic storage devices; Libraries all over the world are turning into an electronic one, e.g. storing older books (that are already crumbling) in the formed of scanned digital copy.

I'm sorry I've written a rather long introduction, but yes, until here, it's only the introduction. Because the important point I want to make is this - are the methods of information/knowledge storage improving? Are CDs, DVDs and e-books better than the plain old paper books? The advantages of digital data storage are obvious. They retain information that doesn't fade with time, e.g. a typical paper book printed in 1990 would probably by now have a few pages that are fading and becoming brittle, but ebook doesn't suffer from this; Digital data are easily transferred from a point to another; They are easily managed because they are composed of a series of 1s and 0s; Their capacity are huge, e.g. a few DVDs the thickness of a regular book could probably fit in all the information contained in a typical school library. It would seem that our methods of storing information are actually better and have improved. So it seems that there are little signs that our capability to store information and knowledge would end.

But here's the catch. Two, in fact. And they go hand-in-hand. Firstly, although the writings on books and rocks may fade over the years, they are still legible after thousands of years. Digital data storage on the other hand stores information in, well, digital format which means that one error (a flipping of 0 to 1 or vice versa) would make the entire data corrupted and completely useless (FYI, I know there is error coding, but it isn't sufficient). Secondly, and more importantly, how long do you think a USB thumbdrive, HDD or CD could retain information?

USB thumbdrive? 1 year. Yes, after 1 year, it will lose some or all the information stored in it. Transistors-based storage devices like USB stores information by storing charge. When they are not in use, some charge will be leaking. Although small in quantity, but over time it could be significant enough to flip the data bit from 1 to 0. That is why, if you read carefully the instructions booklet, they always ask you plug it into a PC at least once a year. This is to restore/recharge the charge.

CD, DVD and other optical disks stores information by having 'dents' that reflects lights differently, thus indicating a 1 or 0. Over time, about 20-30 years, these dents loses their ability to reflect lights properly. Because these things are built with such 'accuracy' and each 'dent' is very small, any slight degradation in the material is sufficient to reflect the light wrongly. Therefore, again, flipping a 1 to 0.

Magnetic storage devices (like our HDD) stores information on magnetic particles that have tiny magnets pointing in either two directions, thus indicating 1 or 0. But over the years, heat will cause these tiny magnets to slowly rotate and point in a random direction. After about 100 years, the magnets will be sufficiently random that our magnet heads would not be able to determine if it was a 1 or 0. Our digital data is once again, lost.

In fact, I've just read a journal paper that did a study on the reliability and the life-span of our modern information storage devices. The outcome of the study is that most of our so-called advanced storage devices will not last up to a century. Therefore, it advices that these devices need to be periodically 'updated' or 're-backup'.

But what if there is a war. A terrible war. World war 3, perhaps, that was fortunately not to wipe-off the human race but did a terrible damage to countries all over the world. Would the backup and update happen? It has happened in our history, war-torn countries have their libraries burnt. But some surviving books and cave-writing or other forms of 'older' information storage devices was buried under the sands and rocks, waiting to be discovered by archaeologist many many years later. But is this possible with our USB thumbdrive, CD, DVD and HDD? I'm afraid not.

Our reliance on these so-called modern technology would one day spell the end of our knowledge. All will be lost. All the archaeologist could find are rubbles, pieces of broken CDs and thumbdrives, where all the information about our once glorious civilisation will all be gone.

Of course, this may not happen. If we are able to avert a worldwide massive war or if we invent a 'better' device. But I doubt the former will happen. And seeing the trend of current technology and engineering to prefer simple, easy devices with little long-sightedness, I doubt the latter will happen too. Think about it, we always design, develop and engineer products so that they are fancy, sellable, funky, fast, easy and lasts long enough until the next product is out - which is approximately 3 years or even shorter for some devices. My first PC lasted me 10 years. My last PC lasted only 2 years; The camera my dad bought when I was still a kid lasted 10 years, my last digital camera lasted 3 years before becoming obsolete.

Yes, the end of knowledge will be here. Pray that it will not happen in our generation. Or the next.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

wrecked phone, new phone...

I sent my phone for repair due to a faulty keypad.
They returned me a brand new phone.