The Ethics of Smoking

on Tuesday, 12 October 2004
I personally do not smoke. I have nothing against smokers in general as I have friends who smoke too. What I despise are inconsiderate smokers. People who believe they have a right to smoke, but deny others the right to breathe smoke-free air.

If you want to waste $$$ on packs and packs of cigarettes, that's fine by me, since it helps the economy. If you want to risk a shorter lifespan, that's fine by me also, since our world is over-crowded anyway. If you want potentially huge medical bills in your waning years, that's also fine by me, since it's not my problem. If you want to be a litterbug and throw all your cigarette packs and butts all over the country, that's fine by me too, because I'm not a law enforcer and can't stop you.

What I can't stand is that some of them simply love to smoke in small cramped spaces. It's either the toilet, the area outside the toilet, fire escapes or stairways, or even corridors. I mean, it's fine if it's a rarely visited restroom, pathway, or stairway, where you won't violate the breathing space of others. It's not a question of legality, but of morality. If they can't have respect for people who do not smoke, I don't see why they deserve any respect. Everytime I pass by the corridor or enter the toilet at my workplace, and I smell smoke; I simply curse the fellow in the next office (who's the only inconsiderate one causing the air pollution on the entire floor).

I'll have even lower respect for them if they dare complain about any smells of urine or garbage. What? They can pollute the air but others can't? It's mutual respect. Do not do unto others what you do not want done unto you.

I know I know, I'm just ranting. But I really really hate it when my shirt has to smell of smoke simply because some inconsiderate moron finds it entertaining to stand or sit inside the toilet to smoke. Not to mention the fact that these same fellows find it all right to dump the cigarette butts and ashes on the floor, in the urinal, the sink, or wherever they happen to be standing. While not having very laudable ethics, at least I know I'm not at the bottom.


on Friday, 8 October 2004
My girlfriend is heading back to her hometown again for the weekend. And I'm torn between two different feelings.

First, due to my long working hours, I truly, truly appreciate any time that I can have feeling bored. I never knew being bored and not knowing what to do can feel so extremely wonderful. Sigh, busy busy busy. Hence, I simply love the weekends. Except when I have to work on Sundays of course. On such days, I just want to be left alone and doing whatever I feel like doing (including nothing of course).

But then again, I kinda miss her and wished she could be here next to me. Even though I'd rather be alone. I want to spend the time I have with her. Yet, I still enjoy spending the time alone.

Ah, longing. What art thou?

Maybe I should find a job with shorter hours...


on Tuesday, 5 October 2004
I meant to post this a couple of weeks ago but I kinda got sidetracked by other stuff. But now I shall try to put old thoughts into works.

I blogged about religion and the belief system quite a while back and have been struggling with it since. Funny. As was mentioned by a reader, the more we try to believe, the more mental obstacles we unconsciously put into place. Although I follow my girlfriend to church (well, mostly quite reluctantly), I find it difficult to put faith into something.

But last month, I had this weird experience. There was this guest speaker invited to talk about personal experience and bearing witness to God. Guest speakers come once in a while and they always invite non-Christians to affirm their belief or to join the faith. Sometimes I feel really touched and wanted to join in voicing out. Yet always, I just seem to hold back. Old uncertainties and questions I suppose.

At the end of it, during the silent prayers period that concludes an assembly, I prayed. I think that's the first time I've truly, really, prayed. Quoting Morgan Freeman in Bruce Almighty: "Now that's a prayer." :P Anway, I prayed that the Lord give me a sign, a sign that I should be here (read: church), and be able to find answers to my questions. I suppose I was (am?) in sort of a spiritual crisis.

Right after that prayer, an aunty (a really really friendly woman in the church) came and asked if I wanted to join in a class of introductory lessons on the faith. Coincidence? Divine intervention? I don't know, and perhaps will never know. But something clicked in my head. I just felt more open somehow, more accepting. A sudden moment of clarity and lucidity if you will.

And during that first lesson... a lot of answers came from the pastor's words and from the implications my mind made. All of a sudden, things seem so clear now. It's now up to me what to make of it.

Dungeons & Dragons Links

on Sunday, 5 September 2004

Links to Dungeons & Dragons resources.

Authors, Publishers, and Retailers Campaign Settings RPG Resources Forgotten Realms Resources Tools

Dungeons and Dragons!

on Tuesday, 24 August 2004
Know what's better than my dream job of working as a computer games developer? A computer games developer developing games for Dungeons & Dragons!!!

After reading about the continued development on D&D Online, I wish I could be a part of that team. Such a lucky bunch of people. I really do believe that being really really busy at something you really really love (and getting paid for it) is a wonderful thing. The best one can ask for in a career.

In case you've been in some isolated camp away from urban civilised areas for the last couple of decades and have not heard of Dungeons & Dragons, I'll give a quick intro. But then, if you didn't, you probably wouldn't be reading this would you now? DnD is a role-playing game (it's the role-playing game (RPG). It's the father of RPG. RPGs are where you create a character and begin role-playing him or her in adventures designed and narrated by the Dungeon Master (a
fellow human who's in charge of how the game progresses). It's hard to explain in a paragraph., especially when I'm doing this during work :P I meant to type this several days ago too.

Check out the DnD quick links I have on the sidebar. It'll all open in a new window.

One more thing: D&D Miniatures.

I think it's better than Magic The Gathering, which is getting becoming too commercialised with all must-have rare and very rare cards out there. I'm seiously considering get some start packs, even if it's just to collect the miniatures. They simply look so good compared to other miniature games. I wonder if there's any active player group in Subang... Maybe I'll find the time to play... sigh. Guess not.

Conspiracy theories

on Monday, 9 August 2004
1. Road builders and public works (water and electricity)
Ever noticed how those who lay the pipes or wires always comes after those who tar the roads? It's like they must wait (purposefully) until the road has been very recently and nicely tarred and resurfaced before proceeding to dig along the length of the whole road to put whatever it is they're supposed to put under the road. The worse thing is that resurfacing of the road after such works is simply horrible, and usually right along the side of the road, where your tyres roll on when you try to keep to the lane. Theory: "The public works/utilities people only dig up a road if and only if it has been recently resurfaced, to give a more constant and continuous source of income for those who resurface the roads."

2. Road builders and car suspension makers
Ever noticed how all new roads seem to less flat compared to the aged and cracked older roads? This is evident in new highways like the NPE and supposedly upgraded Old Klang Road. These "new" roads are bouncy to say the least, and one cannot even get a smooth ride for even 5 seconds while driving on these roads. Is there something wrong with our road builders? How come they can't build a stretch a flat road? Or at least something close to flat, not some tarred road that's attempting to mimick dirt roads. Theory: "This is simply to wear down a car's suspension faster so that car suspension makers get more business."

3. Highway concessionaires
Ever noticed that these days, all so-called major road upgrades always results in tolled roads? The NPE, Penchala Link (probably the world's first highway to actually do advertisements and promotions), Kajang Ring Road (soon-to-have toll booths rite?), etc. Weird isn't it? When it's supposed to be the government's responsibility to provide the country's citizens with better and more convenient roads. Also, notice that all new highways usually result in the road that it was meant to replace getting an upgrade as well. But that so-called upgrade usually has a side-effect, which is to make it more congested. NPE? Federal Highway has more cars than before. The NPE has much more traffic lights than before. It used to 1 or 2 lanes needing to wait to make a turn. Now the whole stretch has to stop, which simply creates more congestion. Same things with Penchala Link and LDP. And don't forget the traffic lights next to the toll plaza heading to Section 16 PJ from Section 17. Theory: "These guys don't build roads for convenience, they build roads purely for profit; and they try to get as many cars as they can on their new roads by making the old roads less favourable to travel on."

Handphone harrassing

on Monday, 2 August 2004
I wonder if most have heard stories about people getting harrassing or prank calls from complete strangers. Well, it's been a few weeks since a friend of mine got a prankster coming from 012-9326934. It's not that I feel I'm helping to get revenge on that childish fella but attempts to actually contact that person was not successful; not that I expected otherwise.

I had even thought about writing about this and sending his number to our newspapers for publication. But I wonder if the newspaper would be allowed to publish the number without the owner's consent. So I'm placing it here. Hoping, just hoping, that if anyone knows the person holding the number, they'd be kind enough to let the fella know that I'm wondering about possible legal action. Yes, that friend, is a really close friend.

Gonna write to the network providers involved asking about this. Again, I repeat, 012-9326934, just so that search engines may find it easier, in case anyone searches for that number. Why someone would be so childish as to keep up prank calls and arrogant SMS is beyond me. I have reason to believe that the idiotic person behind this is a Malay guy. Why? Well, if I'm not mistaken, the '9' indicates Pahang. And the fact that the fella actually sent SMS in Malay asking why my friend did not pick up his call. Weird isn't it? Picking it up would merely result in some background noise. I once heard a girl giggling in the background from which sounded like a mamak stall. Some people have so much money they don't mind calling inter-state every once in a while.

Getting worked up for nothing? Well, when you start getting prank calls in the middle of the night as late as 2-3 am or as early as 5 am, then you'll see what I mean about getting harrassed. And it's not like it's letting up. Plus, I believe the number I posted is not the only one. There were at least 2 different numbers, both starting with '9'. The one I posted was just the most frequent. Sigh. Some people really have nothing better to do. To all who were kind enough to read this entry to the end: Feel free to make use of the posted number for any form of registration that would result in a lot of advertising SMS.

Buy ori? Where?!

on Friday, 30 July 2004
Just the other day, I got the urge to buy an original game (Warcraft III, it's an urge that's lessening though), but I had trouble even locating it, much less buying it.

KLCC? Sure, some games there, but not much, Diablo II, Baldur's Gate II Collection, Icewind Dale Collection, a whole bunch of the Sims expansions... but no Warcraft III. Will they get new stock? Don't know. Mid Valley? Can't even see one selling a boxed PC game. Pyramid? Very few selections, mostly old games. 1 Utama? Haven't checked there yet. I think Subang Carrefour has a shop that carries some.... hmmm... should check.

The point is, sometimes it's not that people don't want to buy original software. It's pretty hard to even find a shop that sells a good variety. Want to buy Acrobat Reader? Uh... where? Photoshop? That's a tough one. Microsoft stuff? You're crazy to fork out that much $$$ ^-^

And then several days ago... or was it weeks... anway, I went surfing Woo! Look at all the stuff that I want! And it's cheap, even considering the shipping costs! But as I proceeded to check out... nope, they don't ship software, books, or electronics to Malaysia, or to Asia Pacific for that matter. Darn. And I tried to check out alot of stuff :) Must be tax laws and policies and such. Sigh. Are Malaysian gamers destined to play only pirated games and use pirated software? I'm of the opinion that one really has to have very strong and rigid principles (like a colleague I know actually, but he doesn't play much games) to have the patience to actually wait for the title to actually get into Malaysia and then begin the hunt for it. I live in the capital and think original games are scarce. Imagine those living in smaller towns. And all this without mentioning how expensive it is to buy an ori game.

Java anyone?

on Friday, 23 July 2004
I'm a programmer. Work day after day is churning out lines of code. But it's fun sometimes, as you wrack your brain trying to solve an elusive bug or producing just the right algorithm. The triumphant feeling you get sometimes justifies the previous scalp-scratching exercise. Ha! Don't let me scare you off though. I program mainly in Java, though I know alot others, just rusty in them by now.

As all programmers know, the tool with which you use to program is very important. My recommendation? vi. Yes, that Unix/Linux editor with an extremely steep learning curve. But once you get the hang of it, learning its nuances and secrets known only to the hardcores, it's a wonderful editor, not just for programming. Don't have Unix/Linux? Try gvim, the Windows version! vi (or vim) can do just about everything a sophisticated IDE can do, but at a much much much smaller size and faster speed. And there are several things it can do that modern IDE can't. vi has syntax highlighting (for dozens of syntactical stuff, even some obscure ones), text replacement, macros, hundreds of quick shortcuts to accomplish editing needs, code folding, method browser, method traversal, registers for copying, window splitting, sorting, aliases, key mappings, visual selection, regular expressions for just about anything, save options, encryption, initiating compilation within the editor, color schemes, allows plugins, and quite a few more I can't think of right now. Phew. Yes, it's that good.

But of course, you sometimes just can't beat the visual look of an integrated IDE. My favourite at the moment is NetBeans, which is a free open source development platform that supports just about anything about Java. It has official Sun support too! Of course, for those who do not prefer NetBeans, they usually prefer Eclipse, which appears more flexible as it is not limited to Java. Put in the right plugin, and you can start writing code in some other programming language. NetBeans is now version 3.6, while Eclipse is 3.0.

Download quick links: gvim, NetBeans, Eclipse.

Unlucky 'saman'

on Thursday, 22 July 2004
As a law-abiding citizen, well, mostly a law-abiding citizen, I got my first official 'saman'. That's a Malay word for fine.

And no, it's not a speeding ticket, it's not for continuing through a junction during yellow or red lights, and it's not for neglecting to insert coins into the parking meter. It's for obstruction of traffic of all things. And me, someone who simply abhors people who "double-park" or park in such a way that they inconvenience other drivers. "Double-park" is a term coined for those who park their cars parallel to legal parking spaces such that they still allow the inner parked cars to exit but block traffic on the road.

Worse, I got the ticket during the day on a public holiday on a side road in Desa Sri Hartamas. The road was the one at the back, right next to the highway and near the place where you turn into the Penchala Link. The other entrance to Projet. Traffic there is usually light, what with that road being able to hold fours cars in parallel.

What I simply find so unlucky about the incident is that during normal working days, that road is simply packed with cars parked on both sides of it. And that's from early morning (about 8 am) up to late evening (about 7). No, that's not when the road starts to clear, it's when people start to double-park. And that goes on till past midnight. I know because I've been there at those times. I happen to work near there, and my working hours are pretty long.

And so it was during the afternoon of a public holiday along a deserted road, I got myself a warning notice. Ok fine, I said to myself, it's just a warning requiring that I send back the notice (which did not have an address by the way, it's really stupid that I had to go search the Internet) with a letter attached to explain why my car was parked there. I gave my reason that when I parked there, there were other cars there, and that for the whole time I've been working there, nobody ever said anything about cars in Desa Sri Hartamas getting any sort of fines. All those cars parked at illegal parking spaces and/or double-parking along the main (heavy-traffic) road that truly are obstructing traffic and causing massive jams never once got a ticket. I wonder if that's because my cars a lowly local make, most likely not owned by some rich guy with too much money in his pocket or someone who would have strings to pull to 'cancel' the fine.

This is so unfair. If I've gotten the ticket during a normal work day, when there's at least some moderate amount of traffic, and I've gotten that along with a whole road of cars, then that's fine. I accept that. But the way I got it made it seem such a farce. It's like my fine was to make up the quota of whoever wrote that fine. And I took the trouble of writing a letter to explain my situation (in Malay, which was pretty rusty already). Might as well don't bother if they're going to fine me anyway, without even a single acknowledgement of my letter. That letter stating the fine was most obviously computer-generated.

And so ends the 'saga' of my first ever, official, saman.

We don't want top-scoring doctors

on Wednesday, 16 June 2004
Yup. You read that right. We don't want doctors who are also top-scorers. That's the implied meaning I'm getting from our DPM Datuk Seri Najib Razak. Other people might interpret his statements differently I suppose. Sorry, no time to find the right links for any non-Malaysian readers (I wish!).

The government cannot continue to guarantee all top scorers a place to do medicine in public universities by itself is true. This statement I can accept. But.... when it's made in the context that top-scorers are being side-lined for near-top scorers, well... I find that difficult to accept.

True, not all top scorers make good doctors. But what other measurement do we have? Sure, those 128 top scorers might all drop out when they find they don't like medicine. But what's to guarantee that the already accepted near-top scorers won't as well? Strange logic if you ask me.

What's even stranger is when the country's facing a shortage of doctors and all current doctors are being overworked, we're still rejecting potential doctors; seemingly without any previous planning to increase student intake for medicine. Even worse, some of our "learned" academics are even trying to deter potential doctors from becoming doctors. Even stranger logic.

And logically (for me), when I need a doctor, and when I don't know them personally (which is most of the time), I'd rather see one who was a top-scorer in a difficult internationally-recognised and established examination than another who was a near-top-scorer in a locally-recognised non-standardised examination of non-uniform standards.

Months at Work

It's been four and a half months since I started work. While learning quite a few stuffs, people have been leaving. And of the original group that was around when I came in, only a few are left. It's kinda disappointing to see the old familiar faces go, and then becoming the minority to fit in with the new faces all over again (well, it feels that way, ok?). But I guess that's how life is, people come, people go.

Plus, these days are becoming really busy, what with a long overdue deadline and all. Sigh. Starting to feel a little overwhelmed. Did an all-nighter recently, and long nights. Weird, but it's a kinda nice experience, although I'm not at all tempted to repeat such an experience. I hope things start improving soon. It's a nice place to work, just wish people can and will start going home earlier.

Flawed Creations

on Tuesday, 1 June 2004
I've been meaning to ask someone about this but never did get around to it. Just last night, while having a dinner with colleagues, one of them mentioned an event that happened last weekend. My colleague, quite well-versed with Buddhist teachings, was approached by Christians attempting to get him to join a talk or gathering. One of the questions those Christians could not satisfactorily answer was why humans are flawed. I share my colleagues question.

If God created everything and He is Almighty, why did He create flawed products? Jesus gave his life for the people's sins. Yes, that's noble and all (if true), but why do people sin in the first place? Why did God create humans who could and would sin?

I've heard answers that it's because God gave us free will, where we could make decisions for ourselves. But why are we flawed in the sense that we give in to temptations easily? Could God not have created a race of people resistant to temptations? And where is the free will when rules exist as to how to conduct ourselves?

The world has not always been so. Adam and Eve lived in paradise, but Eve fell prey to the evil serpent's temptations to taste the forbidden fruit. Even the very first woman God created was flawed. Why did God create a flawed woman who would doom all Man to forever bear the burden of work and toil, and all Woman to the pains of labour and child birth? Why did God create a serpent that was evil? Why did He allow the serpent to do evil? And why did He create the forbidden fruit in the first place if He did not want Adam or Eve to eat it?

Indecipherable actions with infinitely deep meaning of an incomprehensible God? Or a greater truth that no religious person would dare ponder...?

Back for good?

on Tuesday, 23 March 2004
Hi all! But I guess there's no body to 'Hi' to now. It's been pretty long. I don't know why but I'm getting an urge to expose all my personal thoughts out to the world again, hee. Still working, but no longer as a lecturer. I finally decided to go out and get some real working experience. And boy did I get what I was looking for. 9 -9 job as a software engineer for Tokuii Corporation. It's a CRM software company. Pretty nice group of people. And with me blogging on company time!