Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Putrajaya and Petaling Jaya

So yeah, I had to go to Putrajaya again, this time for some good news. After that business was done, I headed to the Midvalley Megamall in Petaling Jaya to have lunch before I go back home.



I had lunch in the food court. It was lunchtime and packed with people. Office workers in neatly pressed shirts and trousers, teenagers in odd fashions hanging out, and next to my table an old man is exasperated trying to get a young boy to eat his lunch.



I took a trip around the comic book store here, where the shelves were lined with overpriced comics. There were tables with little dioramas depicting warhammer 40000 battles.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Kites In The Wind

I am at the seaside again. It's a weekend so there are a lot of people here, enjoying the view and the breeze. It's windy, and there are folks flying kites. I'm here to buy dinner at the mall nearby, but it's always nice to stop by the seaside.

Friday, December 18, 2009



I must admit, the only place I've read about James Cameron's new movie was the nerd news site Topless Robot, and one of the editors of that blog has preemptively hated it to no end. I usually trust nerd news sites to give me good movie recommendations, so with all the negative stuff I've read, I decided to pass on it. However, I managed to catch Avatar today with a friend who was very excited about it, and thus I thought I should give it a chance (James Cameron usually delivers an entertaining movie). I went in with no expectations and was I glad I watched this movie. It was a spectacular visual feast. There are minor spoilers in this review from this point on so be warned.

The story is about interplanetary settlers from Earth who discover a rare metal called Unobtanium (does James Cameron read TV Tropes?) on a planet called Pandora. The planet itself has an indigenous sentient species called the Na'vi, who look like tall blue-skinned humanoids. They are a gentle people who live harmoniously with nature, and the humans need them to get out of the way so they can plunder the planet's natural resources. A team of scientists (led by a woman named Dr. Grace Augustine, played by Sigourney Weaver) who want to study the native population created an avatar program, which lets humans thought-control organically-grown, genetically engineered alien bodies that resemble the natives. These avatars let the humans mingle with the local population, and a crippled ex-marine named Jake Sully (played by Sam Worthington) is sent out with the scientists to learn about the Na'vi culture in order to gain their trust (and thus try to persuade them to relocate from the mineral-rich areas). Jake meets a Na'vi girl named Neytiri (voiced by Zoë Saldaña), who takes him back to her clan and teaches him about their culture. Soon Jake finds himself in love with Neytiri and her people, and thus is at odds with his superiors who really just want to mine the planet.

Now, the story is something I've seen countless times before (it feels like Dances With Wolves... IN SPACE!) and I can see all the plot twists from a mile away. However, the execution is so beautiful that you can forgive Cameron for it. The planet and all the alien life on it is a magnificent treat for the eyes. The love story is a tad cliched, but it's sweet and it works. I have to give the filmmakers credit for the sheer amount of imagination that they poured into the creation of this alien world, with all the plants and creatures on it living in a vibrant ecosystem that looks so real onscreen.

I haven't seen many good movies this year, but this is definitely one of the best.

Sunday, November 29, 2009



Eleven years ago, three friends and I went up Penang Hill, and spent the day having adventures there. We took along 2 cameras, and took about 4 dozen shots (they were film cameras). We discovered this creepy building near the top. It wasn't a house, but perhaps a motel or something. It was deserted, and my friends commented on how it'd be a perfect shooting location for a horror film. The photos from that trip were stolen, but I did manage to sketch the house from the photo we took. I recently found the sketch in an old notebook, so I scanned it in and uploaded it here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Richard M. Stallman And Brian Aker At FOSS.my 2009

I had a great time at FOSS.my 2009. The speakers were great, and I learned a lot from the technical talks. RMS also came down, and here's a lively exchanged I recorded with him and Brian Aker on dual-licensing of GPL-ed software.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cat And Mouse

This cat sniffed the mouse, prodded him a bit, and simply let it go. I guess the kitty was feeling generous today.




Monday, September 14, 2009


I took a trip to Putrajaya over the weekend for some official business. It was tiring, but I got some pretty neat photos.




Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Talk Accepted At FOSS.my 2009

I just got an email notifying me that I've been accepted to speak at FOSS.my again this year.

My talk is going to be about System Z. Now I just have to write it...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Oriental Magpie Robin At Lake Gardens

Today we went to Kuala Lumpur Lake Gardens, where I found this very friendly magpie robin. These are my best magpie robin pictures I've taken up to now.



Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Malaysian National Zoo

I'm in Kuala Lumpur on vacation, and today I took a trip to the national zoo. However, it rained shortly after I arrived, and I ended up taking pictures of wet, grumpy animals. Here are some of the photos.











Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I turn 30 this year. I look back and I realise I need to get more publications out!

I had some good pizza for dinner today :).

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Star Trek


I wrote this on my Flickr page when the movie came out, and I've copied it nearly verbatim here (my blog was getting neglected thanks to my photo projects).

Today I saw the new Star Trek movie which was done by J.J. Abrams. When I first heard they were recasting Captain Kirk and his crew, I thought I was going to hate it. Throughout the production of the movie, I heard of the changes they made and like a good fanboy, I fumed online about the little details and how J.J. Abrams is going to "ruin everything". When the first trailers came out with a young Jim Kirk driving a car off a cliff I was furious. How could they do this? This didn't look like Star Trek! I was ready to hate the film.

Then the second trailer appeared. I saw glimpses of Captain Pike, and the new starship, and the awesome space battles; I was intrigued, and the sight of the Enterprise gave me goosebumps.

Today I went in the theatre excited and nervous, and I spent the next two hours thrilled. Initially, I was unsure about the casting of James Kirk, but Chris Pine did a rather good job portraying a young, cocky version of the famous captain without doing any Shatner impersonations. Simon Pegg as Scotty was pure casting win, and Karl Urban isn't too bad as Bones McCoy. A lot of people liked Zachary Quinto's Spock, but it still felt a little jarring for me to see Sylar as a Vulcan. However, we still got to see the classic Spock as Leonard Nimoy returned to reprise his famous role again on screen after all these years.

As for the story, I have to hand it to J.J. Abrams for having the guts to do what he did. For a long time Star Trek has been languishing in a stagnant pool. lacking imagination and innovation (I blame Berman and Braga for this). Abrams took Star Trek and made it his own, rebooting the franchise in a manner that's plausible within continuity.

With this reboot, everything that we know about the Star Trek universe has been reset. There are events that change the course of history of the future irrevocably, and at one critical point in the movie something cataclysmic happens (you'll know when you see it) and my jaw dropped. I couldn't believe what had happened. The shockwaves from this movie will be reverberating throughout the discussion boards of Star Trek fans for many months to come.

The movie isn't without flaws. The product placement is glaringly out of place in a future where money is no longer used (and yet communicators are Nokia brand!) and some plot points are glossed over and inadequately explained (such as Spock's story of what happened in the future).

I don't think any other summer flick that follows can top this one for thrills. It was a fun movie, and it's well worth the price of admission.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Adventure Van


I spotted this on the road as I went to the tax office in downtown Penang to send my forms. It looks like a big adventure van, with "Austria" written near the bumper. These people were definitely from out of town (left-hand drive). From the look of their vehicle, they are probably globetrotting adventurers, going round the world in their van.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Penang Hill

It's been years since I last went up Penang hill. Today I went with my mom, and took a lot of pictures.

The train is working again after months of being under repair.

Another train passes by ours.

The view of Penang is breathtaking.

An older train car is on display on top of the hill.

The tall building is KOMTAR, Penang's administrative complex.

Huge spiders are everywhere on the hill.

A monkey sits and watches the tourists.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Brahminy Kite Flies Overhead

I got a pretty close shot of this brahminy kite as I was wandering around campus. This was near the football fields. I think there is a nest close by.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Few More Bird Sightings

I have a huge backlog of bird photos to upload!

Here are a few:

A yellow-vented bulbul sits in a tree in my garden.

Morning meal search time for this white-breasted waterhen.

This kingfisher shows us which way we should drive.

This olive-backed sunbird was chattering away at a university cafeteria.

I saw a little heron walking in a stream.

Here's a new one for this blog! A little egret!

When I first got a picture of a dollarbird I thought it was fantastic and rare. Now I find out they aren't all that rare after all. I see these birds on the hill at my university every morning.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Another Round Of Bird Photos

This yellow-vented bulbul is sitting on a lamp post, but from this angle it looks like it's thwarting the invasion of tiny aliens in tiny flying saucers by sitting on their mothership.

A brahminy kite launches itself from a treetop in the distance to look for breakfast.

Here's another shot of a coppersmith barbet.

Here's a black-naped oriole.

The last two birds were sitting in a tree at VC Rock in USM. This is the last time we'll see pictures of that tree, for it was cut down over the weekend. It's a pity, since that was a favourite perch for many birds, and the leaves were sparse enough for me to see the birds in the branches. Sigh. Another tree falls victim to human axes. One of these days I'd like to see the trees get their revenge (like the ents in The Two Towers).

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Debian Lenny Released!

Oh, hey! New Debian stable! :)

From: Alexander Reichle-Schmehl [email blocked]
To: debian-announce@lists.debian.org
Subject: Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 released
Date: Sat, 14 Feb 2009 22:58:48 -1100

The Debian Project http://www.debian.org/
Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 released press@debian.org
February 14th, 2009 http://www.debian.org/News/2009/20090214

Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 released

The Debian Project is pleased to announce the official release of Debian
GNU/Linux version 5.0 (codenamed "Lenny") after 22 months of constant
development. Debian GNU/Linux is a free operating system which supports
a total of twelve processor architectures and includes the KDE, GNOME,
Xfce, and LXDE desktop environments. It also features compatibility with
the FHS v2.3 and software developed for version 3.2 of the LSB.

Debian GNU/Linux runs on computers ranging from palmtops and handheld
systems to supercomputers, and on nearly everything in between. A total
of twelve architectures are supported: Sun SPARC (sparc), HP Alpha
(alpha), Motorola/IBM PowerPC (powerpc), Intel IA-32 (i386), IA-64
(ia64), HP PA-RISC (hppa), MIPS (mips, mipsel), ARM (arm, armel), IBM
S/390 (s390), and AMD64 and Intel EM64T (amd64).

Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 "Lenny" adds support for Marvell's Orion platform
which is used in many storage devices. Supported storage devices include
the QNAP Turbo Station series, HP Media Vault mv2120, and Buffalo Kurobox
Pro. Additionally, "Lenny" now supports several Netbooks, in particular
the Eee PC by Asus. "Lenny" also contains the build tools for Emdebian
which allow Debian source packages to be cross-built and shrunk to suit
embedded ARM systems.

Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 "Lenny" includes the new ARM EABI port, "armel".
This new port provides a more efficient use of both modern and future ARM
processors. As a result, the old ARM port (arm) has now been deprecated.

This release includes numerous updated software packages, such as the K
Desktop Environment 3.5.10 (KDE), an updated version of the GNOME desktop
environment 2.22.2, the Xfce 4.4.2 desktop environment, LXDE, the
GNUstep desktop 7.3, X.Org 7.3, OpenOffice.org 2.4.1, GIMP 2.4.7,
Iceweasel 3.0.6 (an unbranded version of Mozilla Firefox), Icedove (an unbranded version of Mozilla Thunderbird), PostgreSQL 8.3.6,
MySQL 5.0.51a, GNU Compiler Collection 4.3.2, Linux kernel
version 2.6.26, Apache 2.2.9, Samba 3.2.5, Python 2.5.2 and 2.4.6, Perl
5.10.0, PHP 5.2.6, Asterisk, Emacs 22, Inkscape 0.46, Nagios
3.06, Xen Hypervisor 3.2.1 (dom0 as well as domU support), OpenJDK 6b11,
and more than 23,000 other ready-to-use software packages (built from
over 12,000 source packages).

With the integration of X.Org 7.3 the X server autoconfigures itself with
most hardware. Newly introduced packages allow the full support of NTFS
filesystems and the use of most multimedia keys out of the box. Support
for Adobe(R) Flash(R) format files is available via the swfdec or Gnash
plugins. Overall improvements for notebooks have been introduced, such
as out of the box support of CPU frequency scaling. For leisure time
several new games have been added, including puzzle games as well as
first-person shooters. Also notable is the introduction of "goplay", a
graphical games browser offering filters, search, screenshots and
descriptions for games in Debian.

The availability and updates of OpenJDK, GNU Java compiler, GNU Java
bytecode interpreter, Classpath and other free versions of Sun's Java
technology, into Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 allow us to ship Java-based
applications in Debian's "main" repository.

Further improvements in system security include the installation of
available security updates before the first reboot by the Debian
Installer, the reduction of setuid root binaries and open ports in the
standard installation, and the use of GCC hardening features in the
builds of several security-critical packages. Various applications have
specific improvements, too. PHP for example is now built with the Suhosin
hardening patch.

For non-native English speaking users the package management systems now
support translated package descriptions and will automatically show the
description of a package in the native language of the user, if

Debian GNU/Linux can be installed from various installation media such as
DVDs, CDs, USB sticks and floppies, or from the network. GNOME is the
default desktop environment and is contained on the first CD. Other
desktop environments - KDE, Xfce, or LXDE - can be installed through two
new alternative CD images. Again available with Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 are
multi-arch CDs and DVDs supporting installation of multiple architectures
from a single disc; and this release adds Blu-ray Discs, allowing the
archive for an entire architecture to be shipped on a single BD.

In addition to the regular installation media, Debian GNU/Linux can now
also be directly used without prior installation. The special images
used, known as live images, are available for CDs, USB sticks, and
netboot setups. Initially, these are provided for the amd64 and i386
architectures only.

The installation process for Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 has been improved in
many ways: among many other improvements, support for installation from
more than one CD or DVD has been restored, firmware required by some
devices can be loaded by using removable media, and installations via
Braille display are supported. The installer boot process has also
received much attention: a graphical menu can be used to choose
front-ends and desktop environments, and to select expert or rescue mode.
The installation system for Debian GNU/Linux has now been translated to
63 languages.

Debian GNU/Linux can be downloaded right now via bittorrent (the
recommended way), jigdo or HTTP; see Debian GNU/Linux on CDs [1] for
further information. It will soon be available on DVD, CD-ROM and
Blu-ray Disc from numerous vendors [2], too.

Upgrades to Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 from the previous release, Debian
GNU/Linux 4.0 (codenamed "Etch") are automatically handled by the
aptitude package management tool for most configurations, and to a
certain degree also by the apt-get package management tool. As always,
Debian GNU/Linux systems can be upgraded painlessly, in place, without
any forced downtime, but it is strongly recommended to read the release
notes [3] for possible issues, and for detailed instructions on
installing and upgrading. The release notes will be further improved and
translated to additional languages in the weeks after the release.

1: http://www.debian.org/CD/
2: http://www.debian.org/CD/vendors
3: http://www.debian.org/releases/lenny/releasenotes


Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 "Lenny" is dedicated to Thiemo Seufer, a Debian
Developer who died on December 26th, 2008 in a tragic car accident.
Thiemo was involved in Debian in many ways. He has maintained several
packages and was the main supporter of the Debian port to the MIPS
architectures. He was also a member of our kernel team, as well as a
member of the Debian Installer team. His contributions reached far
beyond the Debian project. He also worked on the MIPS port of the Linux
kernel, the MIPS emulation of qemu, and far too many smaller projects to
be named here.

Thiemo's work, commitment, broad technical knowledge and ability to share
this with others will be missed. Thiemo's contributions will not be
forgotten. The high standards of his work make it hard to pick up.

About Debian

Debian GNU/Linux is a free operating system, developed by more than a
thousand volunteers from all over the world who collaborate via the
Internet. Debian's dedication to Free Software, its non-profit nature,
and its open development model make it unique among GNU/Linux

The Debian project's key strengths are its volunteer base, its dedication
to the Debian Social Contract, and its commitment to provide the best
operating system possible. Debian 5.0 is another important step in that

Contact Information

For further information, please visit the Debian web pages at
http://www.debian.org/ or send mail to <press@debian.org>.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Painting Your Cat In Photoshop


There's a nice little gimmick you can try with Photoshop to colour your photos using the palettes of famous paintings. It's a simple three step process:

  1. Open both your photo and a picture of the painting you wish to use. Make sure focus is on your target photo.

  2. Go to Image->Adjustments->Match colour and select the painting in the "Source" pull-down menu near the bottom.

  3. Fiddle with the sliders (luminance and colour intenisity) until you get the effect you want, and then hit OK.

I used the photo of Schröder above to try it out.

This picture uses the palette of René Magritte's The Treachery of Images. I was tempted to add a caption to it that says "Ceci n'est pas un chat".

This one uses J.M.W. Turner's The Fighting Temeraire. It brings out the colours of the flowers decorating the couch cushion covers, although Schröder looks like he's been sprinkled with mustard powder.

Andrew Wyeth's Winter 1946 provided the palette for this picture. Andrew Wyeth passed away recently. He was a popular realist painter who loved to paint pictures of the countryside.

One caveat to this is that you can't really get a good colour match if you don't have a good scan of the paintings you want to use as your palette source. Since I got all of my source images off the internet, I don't really know if I got the images right in terms of colour. Regardless, it's still a fun thing to try if you have a copy of Photoshop CS (or better), or other software which has similar functionality.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Pied Triller

I took these pictures last month, but I had no idea what this bird was until now. It's a pied triller (Lalage nigra), according to David Gardener (thanks for the identification help).