Friday, February 27, 2009

A/S/L Love

My school was one of the first in the country to have an internet connection, thanks to rich old boys, and that was where I got my first taste of the internet. That was back in 1996, when internet was just a fledgling technology in Malaysia. I learned about Yahoo and Hotmail and mIRC there, then of course the holy trinity of the internet. The time when connecting to the internet alone takes 10 minutes and the teet-krek-krek-toot was a welcomed sound, and getting disconnected was a common occurance.

I used Yahoo up until 2005 or so when I converted to Google, I'm still using the same Hotmail account that I registered back then and who can forget mIRC? All the cool cats and copycats were spending their time on mIRC back then. I used a few different nicks like feuersturm and dressler, and was a regular on #warisan (for SBPians kan?) school-centric channels like #sunset, #overfloor, #sylvatica, and some others I can't even recall now. When I'm bored I would change my nick to something inviting like liana^love and join common channels like #mamak or #metropolitan and enjoy the sudden burst of private messages asking "hi, a/s/l?". Boy we sure had fun back then ;)

Oh to this particular guy, I'm sorry I lead you on. We made plans to meet up, he said he's in Damansara area so I said let's meet in Uptown (back when Uptown was THE place to hang out), eventhough I'm in Kuala Kangsar. I told him I'll be wearing a skirt with a blue top. Tsk tsk tsk liana^love, kesian dia...

Then cybercafes started sprouting up everywhere, even in sleepy Kuala Kangsar. Some people would go to play computer games like CM3, Command & Conquer, Warcraft, Diablo etc, while I go to code. I learnt HTML coding from Yam during one of those boring computer classes when the teacher would teach us how to use Microsoft Word *yawn*. Visits to cybercafes on weekends would see me coding and later updating my first 'blog', that was back in 1998 or so. It was hosted on Angelfire, but I can't remember the exact URL now, pity.

Dad hooked us up to the net in 2000 I think, and we got a quota of just 40 hours to be split amongst the 3 of us siblings. So me and Pija would sometimes eat into Kimi's portion =P Nights spent online at home was usually spent downloading songs through Napster or iMesh (one song would take hours) and chatting through mIRC. There wasn't much else to do back then anyway.

These days I'm just a consumer, technology like Blogger just kills the need for me to manually code HTML like I used to. I can't hope to reach Eddie's level of web knowledge these days, or Yam's, or my brother's for that matter. My interest has moved on to other things these days but just like first loves, you'll always remember the good times you had together

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Death On Deadline Day

The Director have this annoying habit of calling people to give work and will mete out the tightest deadline possible.

Me, my boss and another colleague went to see him to tell him that a business case we're building does not sound viable because of it's low margin. To cut a long story short, we got blasted at and he ended it by expecting me to see him on Thursday morning with a comprehensive presentation on how are we going to overcome the limitations and barriers that we've told him earlier.

The worst part is I'm on leave tomorrow. Or supposed to be.

Since the person in charge of stats is on course today, I can only get the necessary stuff from her tomorrow. So I have to come to work tomorrow regardless of my approved leave. And hey, I might even still be at work tomorrow night.

Oh God, I'm sure I'm gonna be shot to pieces come Thursday morning. It's like preparing for my own execution, bleargh.

All in a day's work huh?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Reality

Last night's news told of another person running into trouble at Bukit Tabur in Melawati. Previously a Chinese youth fell and injured his head and broke his legs I think, and now a female news reporter were unable to come back down after scaling the hill.

My advise is, don't underestimate the hill.

I hiked/climbed up the hill once before and it proved to be very challenging physically and mentally to me. I'm in no way in my best physical conditioning so that is to be expected anyway. But the terrain itself is not suitable for just a leisurely hike.

Before I made the climb, I went looking for information about it on the net and most of it says that it's just an easy climb. A friend told me that his friend said it only takes 30 minutes to climb to the top. A few hours later, I say bullshit to all those people. Probably they were trying to make themselves look tougher by saying it's so easy.

Let me tell you how it is. The climb up wouldn't be very taxing for most people I would expect. It's more of a steep hike through secondary forest and shrubbery. I don't think climbers will have any problems reaching the first peak, where you can see the sunrise and also the Klang Gate reservoir. It's the most scenic and probably the only place you'll be able to sit back and enjoy the view.

My advise, turn back the way you came to go down and it'll be much much easier. For the more adventurous (or misinformed as I was) you can forge ahead and go through the strenuous part of the hill.

The hill then turns into a series of steep and narrow ridges which you'll have to negotiate by climbing up and down the face of the rock, mostly with no safety equipment at all (except for some ropes in certain places). At one ridge I remember having to jump across a gap to the other side. Don't look down seriously, or you'll lose heart instantly.

There's probably 9 such ridges, where you'll have to climb up and down each one to get past it. After all the cliffs are over, you'll find yourself walking through an orchard for quite awhile before reaching the Reservoir entrance where most people park their cars.

For climbing tips, please refer to my earlier post about the climb.

On a related note, I hiked up Bukit Broga on Saturday with Arin and Nizam and I was not disappointed. I will be back for sure! You can see some of the pics on my Flickr :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tuesday Rant

I don't really think of myself as a good photographer, I do it because it's a passion. I don't think I'll call myself a photojournalist or whatever superlative anytime soon because I realize I'm not worthy. Even my idol Shaz considers herself as 'An amateur' on her Flickr profile, go figure.

A lot of people do wedding photography business these days because it is frankly good money. But it is not easy money, make no mistake about it. Some people think that getting paid thousands just to take a few pictures for a few hours is easy. It is if you're doing it without putting your heart into it.

Before the shoot, you have to make sure all the equipment are working, all the batteries are charged and all the CF cards are working and free of other pictures. Then you have to make sure you have more than enough batteries for your Speedlite, just in case. Never use anything other than Alkalines for faster recycling time and lifespan, though it costs a bomb.

On the day itself, if you have time you should recce the shoot area to find the best place to shoot. If not, you'll have to think on your feet. Keep moving, keep looking, keep shooting. That CF card can hold several hundred JPEGs, don't skimp!

Though you are invited to eat, try not to unless if there's a lull in the proceedings. Weddings are normally hectic with goings-on happening all the time. Eat in advance instead. You're not paid to eat, you're paid to shoot.

You'll sweat a bucket if you're doing it right, trust me. Talk to people, it'll put them at ease with you. Bear inm mind you are an outsider, an intruder of some sort. You need to blend in.
After the shoot, it's time to go through the hundreds of pictures and take out the bad ones. Honestly If I shoot 600 pictures, I would in the end only be happy with 200 or less. My benchmark of 'terer-ness' is when I can take 600 pictures and be happy with maybe 500 of them. Then it's editing time. Some people only want the raw pictures, that'll make your life easier. I don't edit my pictures too much, if it had to be edited too much to make it nice, I'll just scrap it. Editing 200 pictures is not a small task I can ensure you.

After all that, it's time to be properly rewarded for your work right? Not quite. I'm still owed a lot of money from friends. Though at first agreeing to the t&c and paid 20% for the pictures, they don't seem to be willing to pay the rest of the sum. It's my fault too for being too trusting with friends, no black and white agreement etc. Harder to take was when I asked for the money and he told me that my pictures was so bad no one liked them, everything was wrong about the pictures. Eventhough it's tough, I accepted his comments and told him that then I won't take any payments from him for my part but the pictures must be returned. But no, he said he'll still pay because it's unfair to me. And that was 6 months ago. To date he has been using MY pictures on his website about his lovely wedding. Oh well, have a good life bro.

Oh and I do feel some photographers are way overrated, and overcharging too. I've seen this famous photographer's pictures and they suck. I'll prolly churn something like him too, but at least I'm only charging 10% of what he is charging and I'm under no pretense that I'm one of the top photographers in Malaysia. Give me a break. So a word to people looking for photographers, look around and do some research. Just because it's a more household name, doesn't mean that it's gotta be better than the part timers.

But what do I know right, a dilettante talking about the 'pros'...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Old Man

You know, I am a horror story buff. I love listening to or watching a good scare-fare. I am also a skeptic, I don't just buy any sundry ghost story if the source is not credible enough in my books. I have experienced a few myself, but I never actually came face to face with one. Until last night that is.

We were out at this small mamak nearby Ampang Point, doing the usual Saturday night routine of bantering and joking about. It was around 4am when we finally left.

I came alone, so I drove back alone too naturally. I live very nearby, about 5 minutes drive to get home or 15 minutes walk away (yes, I can walk there!). At 4am, you can expect very little traffic and that is the case. My neighbourhood was even more deserted with not a moving car in sight.

So I came to this T junction just behind my condo, and slowed down to turn right. I noticed someone is at the junction and is slowly crossing the road. Gile ape pagi-pagi buta berjalan-jalan, I thought. So I slowed further to let him cross first since he's in my way.

As he came nearer I thought why is he wearing a mask? So I looked harder at him and then I noticed more details that made me regret looking. He's either eyeless or closed his eyes completely, and his skin was a pasty grey shade (you know, like cadavers), and his face was of a very hideous old man.

My heart skipped a beat and I stepped on the pedal. I checked in my rearview mirror to see if he, you know, followed me back. Thank God he didn't. The hairs behind my neck stood up on end, and I kept thinking of the face. So last night I slept with a small light on.

I'm not asking you to believe me, I'm just telling you what happened last night. Like I said, I'm a skeptic and I always think of a good explanation for these things. Last night I had none. I wouldn't have been so freaked out if not for the skin tone. It's freakin' grey, not just some pale sickly human skin tone.

Oh if you're up for clich├ęs, he was wearing all white too.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Hospitalism

Dad is doing better now, a big thanks to all the wellwishers. Took 2 days of Emergency Leave so that I was able to help my mom out with either stuff at home or stuff at the hospital.

My family could probably qualify for a medical frequent flyer miles or something. My dad has been hospitalized several times for his heart condition, including a valve replacement surgery in 2003. Mom was hospitalized when she was preggers with Anis back in 2000/2001 due to complications. Anis herself was kept at the hospital after birth because she was born prematurely (due to the previous complication). Iffah was hospitalized due to pneumonia when she was a baby. Kimi had his stay when he went for tonsil removal surgery. I had mine for dengue fever in 2007. Pija? She's studying to be a doctor, she BELONGS in a hospital.

My hospital stay was not really unpleasant actually. I got dengue fever, but detected early enough so I wasn't kept for long. Only three days, though I wish I can stay for a few days more since I was lethargic for a further 2 weeks. But of course, the bank would be crazy to pay the bill as I was staying in a private room at Gleneagles. Yeah, we do have good medical benefits here :)

It was unpleasant mainly for the fact that I was woken up every morning at 5am for the vampires nurses to suck take my blood. But they are nice and was good at it though, I only feel a slight sting each time. And of course the thingy where they connect your hand to the IV drip. That thing is a nuisance, especially when I wanna shower or go to the toilet. It's either I have to take the whole IV stand along or call a nurse to unhook me for a while.

The food was alright, considering that it costs a bomb to stay at the private rooms there I wasn't surprised. I mean I had nasi lemak, pancakes and fruits for breakfast and then chicken chop, salad and some other stuff for lunch and things like that. And I get to choose what I want to eat the next day from a menu. Doesn't sound much like a hospital stay, does it? Of course, the food was very much tasteless as hospital food are wont to be. I would've wolfed it down anyway if not for the lack of appetite and a bitter taste in my throat.

Though indirectly, I have experienced the condition of our public hospitals many times. The wards look ok enough but the toilets are not fit for a hospital I feel. I did not see any handrails nor anti slip mats. There's only like 3-4 toilets and same number of showers per ward which can hold around 30 people or so, and they have to share it with relatives who are taking care of the patients too. Plus you'll get people haning their laundry in the toilets too, isn't there anyway to better handle this?. Cleanliness is alright, thank God.

My mom told me about how hard it is to go through all the red tape just to get discharged from the hospital. The different offices that she needed to go to are all located in different places, and sometimes waiting for hours only to be told she was at the wrong place. I'm sure something can be done about this, process improvement anyone?

Still, I am thankful for all the good these hospitals have given my family and myself. Just perhaps some improvement will make the experience easier to bear for the patients and family.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Living On A Prayer

Dad is hospitalized, internal bleeding. I just arrived home from KL. Do pray for him, thanks.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Reinvention

I'm a man with a plan.

It's been over a year since I've moved into my house and it has always been in a state of 'work in progress' to me, though I haven't really changed much over the course of the year.

Last week, I decided it's time to really think about finishing what has been in progress for ages. Unfortunately since this transition period took so long, I'm no longer thinking in the same frame of mind. I'm gonna make changes. Serious changes.

The bedroom will be repainted, and perhaps change the furnishings too. The guest room will be turned into a multipurpose room, I'm gonna move the PC, all 4 guitars and 2 amps, and other assorted stuff in there. I'm letting go of the queen bed and the dresser and the wardrobe, if anyone wants 'em just arrange for transport to pick them up. It's FOC. I'm putting in a single bed instead to free up more space. The current PC/guitar/ironing room will be turned into a walk in wardrobe. Yeap, one whole room for my clothes. Oh and I'll prolly move my shoes in there too.

The kitchen is in it's original sickly off white tone, I wanna paint it something more vibrant. The hallway is a terrible shade of green now since the sales assistant gave me the wrong colour instead of what I asked, it's gonna change. Dining area might not see much change, but who knows? The living area might also see some changes, though not yet finalized. Perhaps only the toilets will remain unchanged.

Today as I was going though my routine spring cleaning, I realized that I really need to change the way the house is now. I mean, if I don't do it now I might not have the chance later on. You know, with marriage and all I can't really just do whatever I like - need mutual consent dah!

So, I'm really hoping to get this done by end of March. When (or if =P) it's finally finished I'll prolly throw a second housewarming party, who knows? My timeline for the project starts next weekend, wish me luck!