It's our fault?

on Tuesday, 9 December 2008
Ok, I'm probably missing something here. The Bukit Antarabangsa landslide tragedy appears to be the public's fault... at least, that's what our Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi thinks it is. Apparently, it's the fault of Malaysians for buying houses with good views built by developers licensed and taxed by the government on land approved by the government.

Yep. Our fault. Why the heck did those unfortunate Malaysians buy those houses? Don't they know that hillsides are dangerous? They should never trust developers who are licensed by the government who are developing on hilly areas approved by the government. I mean, you obviously can't trust them, they're just out to earn your money and can barely be held responsible for building those residential buildings in the first place, never mind the initial approval given by the government, who obviously, can't be blamed for the issue since they just approved the development, and didn't actually build it....

Wait... huh?!

It's even more confusing when you read that the Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak requested that developers not to lobby or pressure the government for any building permits for hillside development. Apparently, the government issues permits for whatever you want when you pressure them enough... I want free broadband! I'll make sure to start pressuring them and see if it works.

Two days now and nobody has talked about how to reimburse the poor residents. No one talked about how to help them through their tragedy. No one talked about taking the responsible parties to court and trying them. Of course, with rescuers like these, I'm not sure if people want them to help further. Remember what happened after the collapse of the Highland Towers? No? Of course not... nothing happened! Business as usual, that's why we're having this landslide tragedy. And 5 - 10 years down the road, I bet something similar will happen again and our politicians will say the same thing again. I sincerely hope the residents will get some form compensation, but given the Highland Towers incident, I am, unfortunately, much in doubt.

LKS posts:

Warhammer Online - Bottomline

on Friday, 5 December 2008
WAR is fun to many of its players, yet WAR is also boring to quite a few. Some guesses about what kind of players who may not like WAR:
  • Players who don't like playing alone. Certain servers or periods of time have less players around, so for a large part of the PvE experience, you'll might be doing it alone. This applies to players who don't like to join strangers as well. The party search, public quests, scenarios, etc. are designed to make it easy to group with strangers. Even if you're in a guild, play times are different; sooner or later you'll run out of guildies of the same level to play together (when you're still far from max level 40). If you can't bear to level alone and prefer to only play with people you know, especially if you don't enjoy discovering and reading lore or hunting for Tome of Knowledge unlocks, you definitely won't like this game.
  • Players who get frustrated by randomness. In Open RvR or scenarios, the warband composition on both sides are entirely random. Due to the careers not being played equally, you'll sometimes find yourself in a situation where there's a distinct lack of healers or tanks. If you don't like losing because you're in an unbalanced or disorganized group, then you might not like WAR's style of PvP. Also, the measure of contributions for public quests and keep sieges appears, for now, to be quite random as well. If you go in expecting an appropriate reward for your contributions, you're just gonna disappoint yourself. Play for the sake of playing, and not for better loot and you'll do fine.
  • Players who love non-combat skills. In many MMOs, like World of Warcraft, there's a separate set of skills and an "economy" for training "crafting" skills and for acquiring materials for those skills. In WAR, the crafting skills are very simplistic and somewhat unpolished. There's really no depth to it. Don't expect any sophistication with crafting and you'll be happy.
  • Players who don't want to pay for an unfinished game. As of right now, even with version 1.0.6 and, I suspect, 1.1, this game is far from polished. Graphics clipping, graphical delays, activation delays, crashes to desktop, login timeout issues, scenario queueing issues, population balance issues, promised content, etc. are significant negatives. The key thing to bear in mind is that MMOs are always under development; just that some are released with more polish. Even World of Warcraft had their own issues when it was released. If you're very picky about such things as bugs and minor glitches, you might want to wait a little. The more people who decide to wait though, may indirectly affect how well the game gets polished.
  • Players who rush to the end-game. Personally, I think I play at a moderate pace. Not too fast and not too slow. Just enjoying it as it comes and trying to see and unlock everything there is in one place before moving on. Some players simply love rushing through the game, as if not levelling up at least once per play session is a blasphemy. For these people, they'll probably run out of things to do rather quickly. Because for them, it's all about maxing levels and getting loot. These "hardcore" or "powergamers" tend to get bored the earliest. I'm not there yet (halfway at level 21 on my main character), but I've been reading complaints from level 40s that there's not much left for them to do. Don't agree with their complaints but then again, I can't relate to their play style, so this is certainly something to consider.
Anything else? I donno. If you don't fall into any of the above, I think you'll love the game... if you like RPGs, online games, and can bear the subscription cost :P personally, you won't really feel the pinch. Just skip one expensive meal a month and you'll be fine, well.. if you're in the working class that is. Even if you do fall into one of the above groups, try it, you might still like it. I guarantee it'll at least be a distraction for at least a few months as you level up. See in the game!


More RvR Keep Sieges:

Warhammer Online

on Wednesday, 3 December 2008
The latest patch of 1.0.6 to Warhammer Online is massive, containing balance fixes, bug fixes, general improvements, as well as the addition of two new classes: the Knight of the Blazing Sun and the Black Guard, which were previously cut from release due to time constraints.

So far, I've been enjoying the game tremendously (yea, the subscription fee is a pain, but bearable). My man character is a Witch Hunter. While Guild Wars still holds a special spot for me, this is definitely something that will tide me over until Guild Wars 2 comes out (at least, that's the plan, who knows, I'm already getting addicted, heh).

What I love about it is that the PvE side is not boring (especially if you love really rich background stories and lore). What's even better is when you get to RvR (Realm versus Realm). Search for videos on Youtube, there's already an incredibly large number.

What I really really miss from Guild Wars (and where EA Mythic can improve) is instantaneous map travel, shared character storage, and more beautiful graphics. Cutting down travel time, better item sharing between characters of the same account, and better art will definitely improve an already impressive game.

And for players around the UTC+8 timezone, there are Malaysian guilds (with a smattering of other nationalities) on the Ironclaw server. For Order, check out Vosian (me in this guild). For Destruction, check out Celestial Order (my Guild Wars guild).

For Warhammer resources, check out WarDB, TheWarWiki, HammerWiki, and the Warhammer portal on GamePressure.

Trailer 1:

Trailer 2:

Tier 4 Keep Siege RvR:

Cyberjaya is an example of poor planning

on Monday, 1 December 2008
Now that I've been working for over a month a Cyberjaya, I can safely conclude that this township is an extremely good example of extremely bad town planning. The so-called "intelligent city" isn't very intelligently implemented. I won't talk about the pros; simply because the pros like not having much traffic and being near the Puchong area and Serdang are far outweighed by the cons.


It is located 50 km away from the Kuala Lumpur. Why in the world did they build it so far? (this applies to our KLIA as well). It's like it's full of buildings. There's ample space to build it 10 km closer, and being 10 km closer may well make it 10 times better for employers and employees alike. The distance between buildings is also laughable. You'd think they were trying to fill in as big a space as they possibly could the way the buildings are spread out. Things are not within reasonable walking distance, especially so when you get scorched by the midday sun in business attire. I wonder if the city planners thought we were in a country that sees very little sun.

Public Transport

You would've thought that this being a new township and all, they'd be smart enough to incorporate efficient public transport into it. Did they? Nope. They brought in sometimes-punctual buses with poorly labeled destinations (neither the buses nor the bus stops). If they're gonna place buildings so far apart, and with Putrajaya being close by and also a new township, you'd have thought someone would be smart enough to put in a convenient LRT system. Nope. Too much to hope for. It was probably decided that everyone either drives or simply loves the (in)frequent buses. It's probably the latter since there's a lack of convenient car parks (and yes, they expect people to walk a lot).


I failed to find anything "intelligent" about the intelligent city. The broadband speed is as sucky as it is in other townships (despite the fiber optics cabling). There's absolutely no adoption of any cutting-edge technology. No intelligent traffic lights, no hi-tech security systems in the residential areas, no computer-controlled watering or drainage system... About the only techie stuff there are what the companies there have set up. Oh, and the "funky" and "hi-tech" road names like "Jalan Multimedia".... Road signs give poor directions and don't accurately tell you where's where, until after you made the turn.

Enough ranting. While I think my office is a pleasant place to work, I'm just irked by whoever designed Cyberjaya and Putrajaya. A concept that has incredible potential screwed over by people who couldn't grasp the potential.

Malaysian political oddities

on Tuesday, 23 September 2008
I can't even begin to list all the obviously politically-motivated issues that's been hogging the headlines lately. It's really tiring to keep hearing stupid statements and silly explanations being offered daily.

RPK is now being forced to serve a 2-year sentence under ISA for allegedly insulting Islam in his blog, where he mostly laments the current state of affairs of the Muslim world from his perspective. Inflammatory perhaps, but I wouldn't call it insulting or threatening national security. That article states that cabinet ministers were "shocked" at seeing the contents of the blog. Strange that no one reported them being "shocked" at seeing Teresa Kok being arrested under the ISA for having allegedly told mosque officials in Kota Damansara, Sri Serdang and Puchong Jaya to tone down the call to prayer. What's really funny about that is that the mosque's involved had actually come out and stated that nothing of that sort had happened. Apparently, according to the "wise" Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar, she was arrested for her protection. I've really never even thought that a law like the ISA, which was concepted for tackling communism, can be used for protection of an individual against an accusation that was based on a blog post and a newspaper article based on that blog post. Wow.

Oh, and what about that reporter who reported the infamous "penumpang" statement by the now-infamous Ahmad Ismail? Apparently, reporting (and being a journalist, her job) about an incendiary and insulting remark is immensely more dangerous than actually making the incendiary and insulting remark. It's like saying the reporter of a murder is more than dangerous than the murderer. I wonder why Teresa Kok was arrested for "her protection" about something she was not proven of doing but this Ahmad Ismail was not arrested for doing something he was reported to have done... confusing eh? And after Teresa Kok got released? Some are more concerned with her claims of "dog food" being served than her wrongful detention in the first place. Sad.

And there's so much more I can go about that it's depressing. Hollywood can get a lot of ideas from our politics.

Tags are difficult

Lately, I've been trying to get all my Flickr photos organised but I can't even get well underway. I confess that I can be a real stickler when it comes to data or information organisation, so much so that I have "systems" for organising the books and ebooks that I possess, informal though they may be. I've also put off trying to organise all my videos, CDs, DVDs, but sooner or later, I'll probably do it.

I'm trying to get the photos and video clips all organised but I'm stuck at tagging. Here's Flickr's help on tags. I can get collections and sets mostly figured out on what I want, but tags is really elusive. I think the primary reason is because it's the nature of folksonomy to defy rules. Trying to put in "rules" for how I tag stuff is driving me nuts. Everytime I record down some guidelines for myself, as I work it in, something comes up and puts a damper on my guidelines, forcing me to review again. Argh!!

I suppose having board guidelines is more than enough for tagging and just forget about the specifics and the resultant disorganisation, but I can't help wanting to put in some order. Chaotic alignment I'm not. I really have to settle for guidelines so I can actually finish organising my backlog of "photos to organise"...

Free Teresa Kok, Abolish ISA

on Wednesday, 17 September 2008
To all Malaysians concerned about our freedom and future, and friends of other countries, please join our petition:

UPDATE: Good news, she has been released.

Want To, Have To

on Friday, 12 September 2008
Things you want to do and things you have to do. It would be ideal if your to-dos can fit into both. Our present society makes it a fact of life that you have to put aside things you want to do for things that you have to do.

Lucky are those who managed to find a large intersection between things they want to do and things they have to do. Blessed are those who find satisfaction and reconciliation with themselves for doing things they have to do instead of things they want to do. These people will find less frustration in life each time they look at the clock at night.

Are these people in better control of their time? Could they possibly have more time to spend? Do these people simply require less to feel content and satisfied? Perhaps the things they want to do are quickly accomplished? Or do they simply have less things they want to do? Perhaps it is a measure of selfishness. To be selfish is to want more for yourself. To be unselfish is to want less for yourself. A person is satisfied by getting what one wants. In that light, a selfish person is harder to satisfy, simply because it takes more to satisfy them. It is rather ironic that unselfish people are satisfied because they want others to have more. But are they really satisfied by the thought of others getting more? Or are they satisfied because their feelings of want are more easily quelled?

How do you make yourself want less? How do you make yourself happy by wanting less? The proper answer is that you should not want in the first place; and to be happy of what you have, not envious of what you don't. Sound advice indeed, but I cannot help asking: Are you happy because, deep down, you already have what you want and want what you already have?

Golden Boy of MAS

on Friday, 22 August 2008
After reading that news article, I don't know what which I found more amusing: that the resulting ad hoc produced system sounds suspiciously like an amalgamation of open source software, or that MAS, as the national airlines, is still using a paper-based system for maintenance management!!! No wonder the national carrier has always been plagued by financial issues.

I just found it a little ridiculous that the reporter would choose to use a phrase like "design a database solution that rivals commercial systems". If that were true, don't companies around the world feel stupid to have bought all those commercial systems? And just to be helpful to many would-be programmers, try searching for inventory-related management software on You'll be surprised. And want to manage a database? Try phpMyAdmin. Either the reporter or the subject of the feature article had been exaggerating when mentioning "zero knowledge in programming". He studied in APIIT, so come on, no knowledge at all? What exactly do they teach in an information technology-related institute of education? Of course, I'm not trying to dumb down the accomplishments of that MAS employee and his team, it is certainly a strong showing of their dedication and passion for improving their job environment. I'm just a little miffed at the exaggerations of the article.

And for MAS itself? I'm stumped as to how their management had managed to go that many years without even hitting upon the thought that maybe, just maybe, an IT solution would help reduce their cost. That feature article certainly opened up my eyes as to why MAS kept reporting losses - they seem not to have improved with the times. It's rather sad that it had fallen on an engineer of the company to take it upon himself to improve the company's competitiveness. I hope that same management would reward the man and his team handsomely for their dedication and freelance work, rather than just reap the profits. I suppose MAS is happy to know that they hired a group of people willing to sacrifice for their company without expecting remuneration.

Do not watch Cloverfield

on Monday, 28 January 2008
I repeat. Do not watch Cloverfield. Go ahead, click that link and watch the trailer there. Feeling nauseated yet? For those who cannot stand FPS games or are prone to "digicam-motion sickness", do not watch this movie. Keep the contents of your wallet in your wallet, and you'll keep the contents of your stomach in your stomach.

I made another mistake of trusting the advertisement as shown on TV - never ever trust those on movies you don't really hear about much, at least not in Malaysia. According to this reviewer, a lot of hype has been generated by this movie, produced by J. J. "Lost" Abrams.

Too bad. The concept of a huge alien attacking New York (as usual, it's in the US - Malaysia is very safe) is nothing new but can certainly have a lot of potential if carried out right. Unfortunately, it sucks big time. It's a really obvious attempt to ape the Blair Witch Project (I didn't like that one too) but falls flat in terms of execution. First off, the Blair Witch Project is a known budget movie, so the less-than-stellar work is understandable. Cloverfield (the name is apparently a government code name) on the other hand, has a much bigger budget.

It's one thing to use the "digicam style" for effect. It's extremely unwise to use it throughout the whole movie, especially when the whole movie is more about monster effect than suspense (except that one tunnel scene where it was actually decent). What's worse? It took a whole 20 minutes or so for even a hint of a monster. What's in the first 20 minutes? A whole lot of silly and rather poorly executed "character development", which coupled with the dizzying effect, made me totally unable to empathize with the characters. The gist of it? A bunch of friends decides to tromp right into monster avenue to rescue another friend whom one of them had slept with... once apparently. Yes, it sounds silly. The dialogue doesn't even make it seem like it's a true love lost thing - felt much more like infatuation or fling rather.

And the monster? Yea, it's pretty interesting, and the monster kinda looked cool - the few glimpses I've had of it. Where did it come from? Apparently, nobody knows. Yep, I looked around for reviews to see what I missed but apparently, the monster is just an arbitrary monster who decided arbitrarily to stop at New York and arbitrarily start destroying things arbitrarily... even the Statue of Liberty headshot felt really weak - an effect for the sake of making an effect. It seems not to make sense for a monster to surface next to the Statue of Liberty, give it a thwack on the head, and then get back into the water and continue swimming towards the city proper... And oh, the monster likes to chase fleeing unarmed civilians even though soldiers nearby are emptying their ammunition and rockets into its body. *shrugs*

Perhaps refreshingly, unlike Transformers and the previous Americanised Godzilla, the US military portrayed in this movie appears to be quite useless, using rather "mundane" weaponry compared to all the high-tech equipment we've been seeing in many other recent movies.

Anyway, I've drubbed it enough. Enough ranting from me. Just read other reviews if you need more convincing that this is a "sucky" movie. Tolerable when not considering the digicam style; plainly sucks when taken together.

I'll end with one last kick: (SPOILER WARNING - for what it's worth) If I was a dull-witted man who isn't really familiar with a digicam in the first place, I wouldn't be holding it up and trying to film every single second of running around while scared silly. I most especially would not bother to when I'm walking along a very dark tunnel, or when trying to run from creepy crawly spider things, or when the woman I love is in danger, or when climbing tall crumbly buildings, or when the helicopter I'm in is about to drop out of the sky.

Java Swing Layout made extremely easy

on Monday, 14 January 2008
If you're a Java developer working on desktop applications that require you to code the interfaces (especially the really complex ones), you'll love what I found.

First, take a look at this page. See that complex looking list? It's made with a custom ListCellRenderer which was created using GroupLayout. Really nice-looking doesn't it? (see the layout tutorial here)

GroupLayout was specifically designed for use with Project Matisse, the GUI builder for the Netbeans IDE, which by the way, is extremely impressive.

Unfortunately, GroupLayout is complex to use and difficult to read if you do not have access to Netbeans and do not wish to use/learn Netbeans solely for the purpose of designing the GUIs. Or maybe you're just old school and prefer to build GUIs by hand (I know, some of the generated code can be icky). What do you do?

You go and download MigLayout of course! Why? Well, go back and look at that fancy list above again and try to estimate how many nested panels you might need should you use the standard layouts, or how many lines of code and the calculations you need for GridBagLayout. Finished? Guess how many lines it takes for MigLayout... seven. Yes, you read it right, just seven simple lines:
cell.setLayout(new MigLayout("nogrid, fillx"));
cell.add(pic,   "dock west");
cell.add(title, "growx");
cell.add(count, "wrap");
cell.add(line1, "growx, wrap");
cell.add(line2, "growx");

Impressive, no? Check out the website for guides and Java Web Start demos.