Tuesday, September 29, 2009

4:3 or 16:9?

I am still using my 5-year old notebook PC. Its monitor has an aspect ratio of 4:3. That is, its width to height ratio is 4:3.

In the last few years, there was a shift towards the aspect ratio of 16:9, or the so-called widescreen (WXGA) format. The shift is now complete. We can hardly find monitors with the old format in the market today.

Widescreen is best for watching movies. Unfortunately, I seldom watch movies on my PC. As far as browsing the Web is concerned, I still prefer the old 4:3 ratio. I don’t understand why the PC makers don’t give us a choice. Even Dell, the PC maker known for mass customization, offers widescreen monitors only.

What aspect ratio do you prefer, 4:3 or 16:9? Please tell me by taking the poll on the sidebar of this blog. Thank you for your participation.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Wawasan Bridge

Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia, but Putrajaya is the seat of government. In other words, Putrajaya is the administrative capital of this country.

Putrajaya is the brainchild of Tun Mahathir Mohammad, former Prime Minister of Malaysia. It is a beautiful city, with magnificent government offices, mosques and bridges. Somehow, after spending a few hours there recently, I started to feel something not right.

Many people have complained that Putrajaya is very warm. The center of the city, where the supersized monuments are located, is a concrete jungle. There are few trees to provide cooling effect.

I was searching for a restaurant, but there were very few shops. In the end, I left the city with empty stomach. In fact, I had difficulty in locating a gas station.

Precinct 2, where many government departments are located, is like a ghost town on weekend. It would have been better if there were a few shops, such as restaurants. Unfortunately, there are none.

Tun Mahathir was a very ambitious person. He wanted Putrajaya to be grand. Unfortunately, the sheer scale of the city means that it is not pedestrian-friendly. The former Prime Minister was fiercely anti-America, but Putrajaya reminds me of the typical American cities, where cars are king.

Beautiful as it is, Putrajaya is a flawed city…

Precinct 2 the ghost town
P/S Blogger and our future architect Soleilian has a post on Putrajaya too. Read his views here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Southern Vietnam – Mekong Delta

The Mekong River originates in China (Tibet), where it is known Lancang River (澜沧江). It flows through Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. In Southern Vietnam the mighty river flows into South China Sea.

A visit to southern Vietnam is incomplete without a tour to the Mekong Delta. Many tour agencies in Saigon arrange for tours to the delta. A typical tour lasts for one, two or three days. I joined a two-day tour. Here we go, let’s see what is interesting there…

Coconut trees are abundant in Mekong Delta. This is a factory producing coconut candy…

What is this lady making? The tools she uses resemble those for making kuih kapit in Malaysia, but much larger…

Can Tho is the largest city in Mekong Delta. This is its river front. Note the conical hat worn by the women on the left…

This is Can Tho’s floating market (but I think I still prefer the one in Damnoen Saduak, Thailand)…

Vietnamese students in their traditional costumes – ao dai. There are NO fat women in Vietnam!

I haven’t been to Northern Vietnam, but it is said that Southern Vietnam is more prosperous. There are a few reasons which explain this:

Firstly, infrastructure in the North was destroyed by the Americans during the war. Secondly, the North had been ruled by the Communists since 1950s, but the South was a capitalist country until 1975. When the Vietnamese government engaged in economic reform in 1980s, Southerners adapted to market economy better than their counterparts in the North. And finally, former boat people, now residing in Western countries, return and invest in Southern Vietnam.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Disclaimer: No offense to Guangzhouites






The City of Plain-looking Girls

A friend of mine was an insurance agent. He had a client who worked as the instructor for blind masseurs, and he hailed from Guangzhou, China. Despite officially blind, he actually could see. He just needed a magnifying glass when he read the insurance documents. He even told my friend and I that Malaysian girls were not as pretty as those in China.

Now that is funny. Over 20% of the people in this country are ethnic Chinese, whose grandparents or great grandparents migrated from Southern China. The proportion of ethnic Chinese is even higher in Kuala Lumpur, where the Guangzhou guy worked. Why did he say Malaysian girls were no match to those in China?

Not long after that, I had a chance to work in Guangzhou. There, I met a Malaysian engineer, who shared the same surname with me. China had the world’s largest number of cell phone subscribers, and mobile network were expanding fast. To cope with shortage of engineers, network vendors such as Ericsson and Nokia hired foreigners on temporary basis. That’s why I went to Guangzhou.

I didn’t work long in China, though. Many Malaysian engineers work for longer duration in the Middle Kingdom, and some of them already got Chinese girlfriends. Even an Indian Malaysian guy had a Chinese companion. Surprisingly, the engineer in Guangzhou, whom I mentioned earlier, was still lonely despite his 3-year stint in China. His explanation was: There are no beautiful girls in Guangzhou.

True to what he said, I hardly came across pretty women during my stay in Guangzhou. Common sense tells us that, as a prosperous city, Guangzhou should be able to attract many fashionable girls.

Until today, I still do not understand why pretty women were so lacking in Guangzhou.

Chinese beauties - in short supply in Guangzhou

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Happiness Survey Results

On Friday, September 11, 2009, I hosted a happiness survey on my blog, using the tools on SurveyMonkey. Here are the statistics.

A total of 14 persons responded to the survey, but only 12 completed the questionnaire. Out of these 11, five were males and the remaining seven were females.

If you still remember, the questionnaire was divided into three sections. Section A asked negative questions. The more you disagree with the statements, the happier you are.

Sample questions:

I am not particularly optimistic about the future.

I do not have particular happy memories of the past.

Section B asked positive questions. The more you agree with the statements, the happier you are.

Sample questions:

I feel that life is very rewarding.

I have very warm feelings towards almost everyone.

Section C asked you to specify your gender and age groups.

I have devised a rating scale such that the higher the score, the happier one is. Maximum score is 6. And here are the results:

Average score: 4.45

Male average: 4.02

Female average: 4.75

P/S Many thanks to all the participants.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Southern Vietnam – Cu Chi Tunnels

Cu Chi Tunnels, located in greater Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), is a network of tunnels built by the Communist guerrillas during the Vietnam War. The tunnels served as the living areas, storage facilities, weapons factories, field hospitals, command centers and kitchens for the insurgents. (Source: Lonely Planet)

I was on a business trip to HCMC a few years ago. After completed my duty, I took the opportunity to visit Cu Chi Tunnels. According to the tour guides, America sent ground troops to search for the Communists in Cu Chi area, but the narrow tunnels proved too tough for the taller Western soldiers.

Note that Vietnam War is known as American War in the country it was fought. Apparently, Hanoi wants to emphasize that the War was fought NOT between North and South Vietnam. Rather, it was a war between (all) Vietnamese and the American intruders.

Here is a tank abandoned by the Americans. The guy in blue shirt is the tour guide…

This is a booby trap constructed by the Communists. It is difficult to imagine that the guerrillas used such old-fashioned method to deal with the American troops, who possessed advanced weaponries.

And here is the entrance to one of the tunnels…

This is me emerging from the tunnel

Coming up next: Mekong Delta

Friday, September 11, 2009

Online Survey

Many bloggers have added polling widgets to their sites. Grass, for example, conducted a poll to find out whether his readers were happy.

These online polls are usually simple, consist of one multiple-choice question. Let’s try something more complex – a survey with multiple questions. SurveyMonkey offers such capability.

One can sign up for a basic account or a professional account on SurveyMonkey. Basic account is free but offers limited features. Additional features are available to professional account users at a fee.

Based on the online poll by Grass, I have developed a happiness survey questionnaire on SurveyMonkey. The questions have been derived from the Oxford Happiness Survey.

OK, please take the survey by clicking the link here. It will take you just a few minutes, and the information entered will be treated with strict confidentiality. Tell me:

How happy are you?

Please take the survey here.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Southern Vietnam – Saigon

Majority of Malaysian tourists who visit Vietnam head to the northern part of the country. Apparently, Halong Bay in northern Vietnam is the top draw.

I have never been to northern Vietnam, but have been on business trips to its south. I feel that southern Vietnam has been overlooked by the tourists. Here, I would like to share with you my experience in southern Vietnam and photos taken there.

Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is the gateway to southern Vietnam. The largest city in this country was formerly known as Saigon. After South Vietnam was conquered by the Communists in 1975, Saigon was renamed HCMC. Somehow, the city’s airport is still coded SGN.

Vietnam was formerly a French colony, and it’s in Saigon that the French influence is the strongest. One of the legacies of the French is the magnificent Notre Dame Cathedral, shown below…

This picture was taken inside HCMC’s post office, yet another French-era building. The map shows southern Vietnam in early 20th century…

HCMC’s theater

This is Rex Hotel, where journalists who covered Vietnam War stayed. The journalists returned in 2005 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the fall of Saigon

Coming up next: Cu Chi Tunnels

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Life with Influenza A Outbreak

Since this country was hit by Influenza A (H1N1) outbreak, I find myself to use elevator less often, and staircase more.

A crowded elevator can be high risk place to catch the flu. Mexico, the country which was the epicenter of the outbreak, had a nationwide ‘shut down’ to stop the spread of the deadly virus. During the 5-day shut down period, no more than six people can enter an elevator. So I decided to avoid crowded elevators whenever possible.

Of course, I don’t walk up the staircase from level 1 to level 5, carrying my notebook computer. If I am without my heavy load, going two or three levels up is certainly possible. It also doubles as a physical exercise.

Are you attached to elevators?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

False Claims

Influenza A (H1N1) has caused havoc throughout the world. The Association of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Malaysia claims that Chinese traditional medicine is effective in fighting this deadly disease. The reason given: China has not recorded a single fatality.

A few years ago, when SARS was on the rage in Asia, South Korea was lucky to have escaped the brunt. The nationalist Koreans attributed it to their national cuisine – kimchi. This time they are not so lucky. Several Koreans have already died from H1N1 infection.

China, on the other hand, was badly hit during the SARS outbreak. One wonders why Chinese traditional medicine is effective against H1N1 but not against SARS.

Meanwhile, a Malaysian doctor claimed that homosexual acts and masturbation raise the acid level in our bodies, and thereby weaken our immunity against H1N1. Should we encourage casual sex and ‘decriminalize’ prostitution so that lonely men and women need not masturbate?

This same doctor also said that coconut water is an antidote to Influenza A. Well, if I sell sate (satay), I will also tell you that:

Sate will save the world from H1N1!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009