Thursday, September 28, 2006

Remember Dreams Come True


Leann Rimes - Remember When

Disneyland 50th Anniversary Special

Do you still remember when you dreamed and wished you could go to Disneyland? I seemed to have forgotten that dream.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Ladyman, You The Man!

I'm sure all motoring fans know about Richard Hammond (Hamster)'s horrific crash while attempting to set the land speed record. Naturally, all the Greenpeace and anti-Top Gear wimps have come out bashing the show, saying it's dangerous and environmentally unfriendly. Apparently, Stephen Ladyman, UK's Road Safety Minister has come out defending the series, expressing his regret at the actions of these idiots. Now, that's a cool Transport Minister. Of course, he appeared on Top Gear before and drove the Suzuki Liana in the Star In a Reasonably Priced Car segment. He also drives a red Alfa Romeo:))

On a separate note, I've actually sent the following get-well-soon message to Richard but Top Gear didnt dare to publish it:P


Please get well soon as Top Gear wouldnt be Top Gear without you. It'll just be 2 old farts trying to act young talking about cars too fast for them. Seriously, you've done a great job and hope you'll be up and running soon."

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Dr Ross Anderson

Another post for geeks. Hehehe. Just attended a talk by a guest lecturer, Dr Ross Anderson from Cambridge University. Very cool guy. Why? Cause there's actually an entry on him in wikipedia. Dr Ross is an expert on all things security and as seen from his webpage, he's done some very very cool research. He even puts his whole book online free for download. He came to share on two of his most interesting research areas.

The first one was titled "Programming Satan's Computer". Satan's Computer was a term he coined with Roger Needham in expressing the difficulty in coming out with cryptographic protocols. He shared a lot of his previous experience in helping banks come out with better ATM security systems. He also shared his dislike for Microsoft and their "treacherous computing" idea:P

2nd topic was on Economics of Security. It's basically applying economic reasonings rather than tehcnical ones on why security systems sometimes fail and why do certain people do certain things and caused havocs in computing environments. One interesting topic was on incentives in finding bugs in software. He gave a rather funny example to illustrate this point. Supposed, the National Security Agency (NSA) finds a bug in Windows. Would they inform Microsoft to patch it? If they do, they will protect about 300million Americans. But if they don't, they can spy on 400million Europeans, 1billion Chinese and a couple of Middle-Easterns. So the rationale in security is more often than not, driven by economic and sociology motivations. Hence, his research together with a few economists is to analyze the trend in security systems via an economic perspective.

I have no plans to specialize in security but it's still so interesting. Will be doing mostly databases and data management stuff. That should be fun as well since database research is pretty strong in Edinburgh University. Will also find time attend all these ad-hoc guest lectures. Lots of new and interesting ideas to glean from:)

Publishing Your iCal Calendars on Google Calendar

Found this ingenious method of getting iCal calendars on Google Calendar. Why would someone wanna do that? The geek factor I guess:) In the process I've also accidentally published my calendar on iCalExchange. Here are my personal calendar and my studies calendar. Doubt anyone would wanna know but just in case:)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Pride and Joy of Malaysian Automotive Industry

Well, well, of all things seen in Edinburgh, this has to be quite memorable. Seeing my country's own national car. Known as Proton Wira in Malaysia, it was "technology-transferred" from Mitsubishi Lancer in 1993. Still in production 13 years later and sold in various guises by Proton locallly. In UK, it's apparently known as Proton Persona and also used by the Dominoes delivery guy near my living place:P

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Corruption in EPL

Just saw a very shocking program called Panaroma on BBC. They just did an undercover job to reveal the depth of corruptions amongst the player agents and club managers. Many names (very big ones I imagine) were withheld due to lack of evidence. However, 3 stories were shown as they had video and audio recordings:

1. Bolton's manager Sam Allardyce had taken money directly or via his son, Craig (an agent for players as well) from agents during player tranfers to and from Bolton

2. Liverpool and Chelsea's Youth Academy blatantly tried to tap Middlesbrough's young player Nathan Porrit when he was offered like farmyard sale by his agent, Peter Harrison. If you dont know what tapping means, just search these terms in google: Ashley Cole Chelsea tapping:P

3. Harry Redknapp, manager of Portsmouth tried to tap Blackburn's Andy Todd when he was offered by the same agent again, Peter Harrison. Harry's assistant Kevin Bond also called the undercover journalist to express their (Harry and Kevin) interest in getting their "palms greased" when there's a transfer deal in the future.

Shocking indeed but not surprising since so much money is being passed around in EPL. What a sad day for football

100 Sexiest Cars


Top Gear just came out with a list of the 100 Sexiest Cars. I love it so much I went through the whole list and these are some of my own favourites. Really hard to choose:P The top comment for each car is mine. The photos and car descriptions are all blatantly copied from Top Gear:

The muscular no-nonsense looks just grabs you by the throat
Aston Martin V8 Vantage
You'll be wanting the Series 3 with 430bhp 'X-pack' Works Service V8 then, sir. It's like driving a supercharged tractor, but cool as dry ice.

Weird choice I know but the space-ship shape is rather cute and sexy:
Citroen DS: the car that Citroen still trades on 30 years later...
Enough has been said about the DS over the years that if you don't know about it, then you've been living in a hole. The reason? Well, it was absolutely, without a doubt, one of the sexiest cars ever built.
It looked like a spaceship that had been ram-raided by a luxury speedboat. It contained technology that was so far ahead of its time that William Woollard may have regarded it as witchcraft, and had the canny knack of making every woman driving it look like a French screen actress just back from the Riviera.
How many other cars have self-levelling hydropneumatic suspension that have saved French presidents from assassination? Witness De Gaulle's escape from the baddies in 1962 thanks to the fact that a DS could still drive even when miscreants had shot out the tyres.
In the 1950s this was a car with a hydraulically-assisted shift and clutch. It was a car that combined style and forward-thinking not re-created until Apple got jiggy with personal music players. As with everything, though, there's a DS sexual-chemistry hierarchy. You need, and this is non-negotiable, a 1954 DS Convertible in white. Mmmm.

The first F1 car with aerodynamics parts and nice sponsor colors. Btw, the word "fag" below means cigratte not erm faggots:P
Lotus F1 Type 72: the ads get sexy
The debate goes on: is it who's at the wheel, what a car has achieved or something entirely different that provokes an often inexplicable sense of hormone-fed awe in onlookers? In the Lotus Type 72's case, it isn't so much that it won 20 Grands Prix, three constructors' championships and two drivers' titles, but, that, for a generation, it represented the finest car you could possibly wish to place on a Scalextric track.
And as a symbol of a defiantly un-PC decade - one viewed via a can of Watneys Party Seven and the eye-stinging haze of a splosh of Old Spice - it's also a contender for the finest race car livery of all time, courtesy of a fag sponsor.

Mclaren SLR is just such an amazing car. It has rear spoilers that comes out to help the car brake faster:
Mercedes SLR McLaren
The SLR is sexy because it sounds like a WW2 fighter. Our only caveat is it must be in black.

The Ferrari 599 just looks stunning and it has almost Enzo-like performances as well.
Ferrari 599 GTB
The Ferrari 599 is so unutterably cool because it just gets more and more attractive the longer you spend with it. This isn't an instant addiction car, it's one that hooks you in deeply when you have spent some decent miles in the driver's seat.
You don't fancy it, or lust after it. But you might just fall in love with it. And that, my friends, is outrageously sexy.

The Ford GT just has such presence although Jeremy Clarkson owns one and he's been complaining about it since he got his, which incidentally was 1 year late in delivery:))
Ford GT: rebirthing gene pool
A 5.4-litre supercharged V8 with 550bhp through the rears, retro styling and the coolest use of stripes since the Viper. The GT is sexy. Except for the fact that Jeremy Clarkson owns one. Oh dear...

If one cannot afford a Ferrari, then one should get a Lambo instead (<-- this statement does not make sense)
Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder: if ever there was a time to lose your head...
The car that made a Lambo a temptation over the equivalent Ferrari eventually lost its head a couple of years after the Coupe first snarled and spat its way into the collective imagination.
Powered by the same 520bhp, V10 engine, the Gallardo Spyder can mince your hairdo at 190mph with the roof down, but better than that, it comes in the kind of colour pallet that takes it from just impressive to downright outrageous.
There is nothing sexier than a powder-blue Lamborghini drop-head anywhere near a beach.

Very futuristic and yet retro looking concept car. No wonder it's sexy
Alfa 8C Competizione: retro never looked so modern
You can sense shades of inspiration for the stunning 8C in the Tipo 33 next door. A car so beautiful they gave it a cool-as-heck name. The '8C' refers to the early 8-cyl powered cars and the 'Competizione' bit is a homage to the 1950s 6C 2500 Competizione that Fangio used to drive.

I have to agree with the Top Gear writers about this animated porsche. If Porsches are alive, they should be like this, very disconcerting:P
Sally Carrera: it's all in the voice, dear
This is ridiculous. How can a cartoon car make it into the top 10? Well, just listen to Sally the 911 Carrera and you'll see. Voiced by Bonnie Hunt in Pixar's movie Cars, Sally Carrera is the love interest for Lightning McQueen - the story's hero.
Quite apart from the fact that Sally sounds like what you imagine a 911 might in your weirdest fantasy, she also has some rather interesting pinstriping which would suggest intimate tattoos.

I put this C6 in because the description says very very nice things about intelligent people being sexy:P
Citroen C6: smooth and intelligent beats macho grunt
A well-turned ankle or washboard stomach is one thing, but nothing pumps the handle of love's well like brains. Einstein had several mistresses, and many women admitted to being slightly smitten with Robin Cook when he was in office.
He was a thin bloke with a beard, but he was clever, and that sent Peter Snow's sex swingometer straight into the red. And all blokes get a bit hot for Carol Vorderman - not just because she's good-looking, but because she can add up. And this is before we get onto librarians in owlish glasses. The C6 is a brainy car for brainy people, a pleasant antidote to everything sporty and cardiovascular. It's handsome, certainly, but it's the strong silent type.
A ride in a C6 is an intelligent and sensitive form of seduction. It lowers your resistance imperceptibly, like a pre-coital massage. It's a car for anyone who was turned off by the old Bullworker ad. The C6 simply wouldn't kick sand in anyone's face, it would rather disarm you with a timely quotation from Roland Barthes.

Who says 4-door saloons cant be sexy, especially if it's a Maserati
Maserati Quattroporte: Ferrari in an overcoat
Maserati has always maintained a romance about the name despite some shockingly poor cars, but once in a while it manages something really special.
Yes, the Duo-Select paddle operated gearbox might not work in fully automatic mode, but the Quattroporte is simply one of the most evocative four-door saloons anywhere in the world.
A Ferrari-sourced 4.2-litre V8 howls down the screams from the back seats as you make a large Italian four-seater flick through the twisties like one of its more exotic Cavallino cousins. And it seduces your eyes away from your brain. We love it.

One word says it all: Bond.
Aston Martin DB5
Even discounting its 'Bond, James Bond' connotations, the DB5 is a seriously sexy car. It's an Aston for pity's sake. Hell, it's THE Aston, and it's our number one Brit.

No 1 takes a while to understand but you'll get it after a while. We've always associate car sexiness with sleek low-profile sports cars but there are like so so many of those that they've become sort of common. The Fiat Cinqueciento is a rather smart and sexy choice. Of course, LC made a good point about the old Beetle and old Mini being better choice. But unfortunately, those 2 have newer modern versions that look like the old. That's not sexy:P
Fiat Cinqueciento
And, yes, ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. A car that embodies the essence of sexiness; a car that drips desirability from its every curve. Yes, it's Italian. Yes, it's a classic. And yes, we want one. Each.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Churchill House @ Richmond Place

This will be my home for the next 1 year. The names alone bring such a sense of Englishness already:)) Richmond Place is a very quiet residential street with my hostel being a section, the rest are flats and houses.
Dont misunderstand, this isnt Churchill House (I wish) but one of flats opposite Churchill House. Nice brick design and all, very English. If you noticed that in the first picture, you can see some hills. They're missing in 2nd pic due to foggy weather.

Pass through an arch and you come into Churchill House:
The entrance is in the 2nd pic. Rather dull looking I know but it's very comfortable as you will see.

The ground lobby has a foosball table, some sofas, our individual mailboxes and some vending machines selling sweets, chocolates and soft drinks.

Take a lift up to 6th floor and you'll pass by some corridors to get to my room. Very hotelish. Well, the word hostel is like the word hotel but with an "s" in the middle:P
Left corridor of my room

Right corridor of my room. Ya I know, exactly the same

This was my room's original arrangement. After seeing some corridor-mates redecorating their room, I decided to have a go myself. Gave myself a lot more room to practice putting during winter as you can see:

Each room's gets its own en-suite bathroom

The kitchen is shared with about 10 people sharing one. Quite nice. Has sofa, TV, dining table and the usual cooking-ware.

My kitchen apparently has the best window view:)

My microwave meal: 8-minute microwave instant lamb chop with peas, carrots and potatoes. It's £2 only:)

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A Very Enjoyable BUT Stressful Week (part 3)

Never thought I'll be able to write a triology of articles:P but this will be the last part of my travel log from Malaysia to Dubai to Manchester to Edinburgh. Read part 1 and part 2.

Friday 8th September 2006 (Manchester)

Woke up at 8.00am (GMT+1). Yup 48 hour non-stop action, supplemented by just 7 hours sleep. To be honest, I was pretty groggy for the next few days:P. Had breakfast and Jay brought me to my pilgrimage to Old Trafford (homeground for Manchester United, who just lost to Arsenal today in fact:P). Decided not to got for the silly stadium tour (£9.50) but will definitely go watch a match one day (Mr LC Lim, waiting for you). Some photos of Old Trafford:

Shawn forced to jalan around though he doesnt really fancy football:) He found the teddy more amusing than all the jerseys, I suppose:))

Very posh Megastore

Entrance to the entrance to the stadium:P

Then it was off to for some picnic lunch and golf at Jay's "home course":
St Andrews-ish building

Par-3 golf course

Posing sikit to "look" like a golfer. Can still get 2 pars and a few bogeys. Almost scored a birdie also. Golf is a game I have yet to master and probably never will.

Nice spot for a picnic lunch. Jay and Shawn, brothers from Kelantan. Guys who brought me to the dark side as well (world of Unix/Linux)

After golf, we went down to Manchester University where we visited a few places, one of them quite unexpected, Manchester Musuem. It's pretty nice actually

There's a botanical section with life animals in it:

Egyptian section with life mummies, erm, I mean real mummies. Lots of mummies, royalty, government officials, even child mummies, spooky.

Nice one was the pre-historic section, where they actually trace the mini-revolutions (sorry, to me, evolution is nothing but small revolutions initiated by the almighty God for His purposes and plans. Darwinism is as likely as 9 planets aligning themselves randomly so as to revolve around a particular star called the sun and out of these nine planets, it just so happens that the 3rd planet from the sun could support life in abundance) of earth. Do read "A Short History of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson. It's a really nice book that really tries to explain everything like the birth of the earth, all the pre-historic ages (Cambrian, Jurassic etc).
I sort of let myself indulged in a bit of B-grade Jurassic Park acting:)

Visited Manchester University's registry, which had a nice Mazda RX-8 parked there.

Visited Jay's office

Had some nice Arabic food for dinner. White Rice with stuffed chicken and lamb stew. Dessert in 2nd pic above. Forgot what it's called but it's really really sweet.

Went to kacau pigeons after dinner. My job is to feed them till they all start waddling all around on the pavement. Shawn's job? Need I say more?

Went home to play Texas Hold'Em poker again. Played till 1.00am again as well:)

Saturday 9th September 2006

Finally, time to go Edinburgh. Went with Shawn cause he needed to go back to pack and get ready for his job in Sungai Lembu (Oxford). Luckily got him around. Lots of luggage to carry. Kekeke. I helped him a week later to move also. Took the 11.00am train from Manchester to Edinburgh. Transit at a place called Lancaster. Interesting thing about the train ride was that the number of passengers were actually more than the number of seats available. So Shawn and I spent quite a considerable time standing or using my hard-case luggage as a seat. Not bad really.

The train station at Edinburgh is pretty modern:

But my God, the moment you walk out of the train station, you can never forget 2 things:

1. the freshness and coolness of the air you breathed in with your nose

2. the sharp, crisp and clear view you absorb in with your eyes

The combination of the two things really left a deep deep impression in me. Despite still tired, despite lugging lots of stuff, I still could feel this sense of joy and excitement. It's just so amazing. I mean just look at this:
Princes Street: the first street that greets you the moment you get out of the train station. The buildings all look rather old and quaint and yet so well maintained.

Then you can also see the Edinburgh castle from afar, up on a small hill. I dont really appreciate architectures and history but I could still sense the uniqueness and age of everything around me.

Just a stone's throw away from the station is a nice looking park. From the park, you can see this bridge called North Bridge. The Edinburgh Castle used to be surrounded by a moat for obvious security reasons. Now this moat has been converted into parks, residential areas and stations. The North Bridge goes over this former moat area.

Getting onto North Bridge, you can see spectular sights of Edinburgh city, left right centre.

Walk further and it's joined by South Bridge, the old part of Edinburgh city. I live further down this street, off a junction. With such sights, walking out really puts a smile on my face regardless of the weather. Really different from Malaysia.

From North Bridge, you can also catch a glimpse of the highest point in Edinburgh, Arthur's Seat, the knob at the middle and Salisbury Crags, the long sliced off hill, fronting Arthur's Seat. More stories about these 2 in the next article

I'm finally here. The experience is just so amazing. From Malaysia to Dubai to Manchester to Edinburgh. Miss home and all the warmth of family and good friends. Yet strangely, I'm really looking forward towards life here for the next few years.