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.