The King is Dead. RIP Michael Jackson

The King of Pop has passed away on 25th June 2009. Goodbye, and thank you for the lyrics and the music you've enriched our lives with. Hopefully the media will finally ease up on you. :(

Rest In Peace
Michael Joseph Jackson
(29 August 1958 - 25 June 2009)

... RIP Shek Kin @ Shieh Kien

Rest in Peace Shek Kin
(1 January 1913 - 3 June 2009)

Veteran actor Shek Kin, who is alternately credited as Shih Kien has passed away on 3rd June 2009 at the age of 96. He was famed for his portrayal of villains in multitudes of Chinese kung fu (martial arts) movies. I remember him most vividly as the power-crazy druglord in Bruce Lee's 'Enter the Dragon'. Rest in Peace.

Read more on Channel News Asia.

Shek Kin with Bruce Lee in 'Enter the Dragon'

... of Bachelor number 35 ...

Cleo Bachelor 2009 Contestant Number 35: Eugene Tham.

That's my friend. I mean a real good friend of mine - the one I went camping with, indulged in bak kut teh between college classes with, got hammered in Langkawi with. Someone I would give up my life limb right hand left pinky for. That means a lot okay? I play the guitar, and my left pinky is extremely essential, especially when playing those chords I never could name.

We humiliated ourselves 2001 at some attitude search and raised all sorts of hell in our college halls corridors. Sadly for both of us, work got in the way of friendship and though we still think the world of each other, there's just never enough time to really meet up and catch up.

So imagine my surprise when one day about a week ago I was droning over my laptop and suddenly I see a Cleo advertisement with Eugene's face popping out at me. Needless to say, I promptly told my friends about it, despite Eugene's short but succinct request to "SSSHHHH!!!!".

I eventually told Fiona, Eugene's college sweetheart, who instinctively blogged about it. Not only did she write about it, she also cited me as her source, saying that if she's going down for this, I'm going down along with her. And since I'm going down, I might as well go all out and start plugging for my Bak-Kut-Teh-Eating, Beer-Popping, Hell-Raising, Lecturer-Kicking, Clothes-Iron-Obsessed, Overall-Nice-Guy buddy Eugene Tham.

Here's what you do:

1. Follow this link to look for him: AskCleo. Once you're on that site, just click the right arrow until you reach Bachelor 35.

Bachelor 35: Eugene Tham

2. Post nice comments, much like this one:

Shout out your best memories of Bachelor 35!
Click on the picture to view comment sample. Alternatively, you can right click, and select "Open Link in New Tab".

3. Also remember to help him out by voting for Eugene online (follow this link).

That's all it takes, three simple steps :)

Now, what good is a Cleo Bachelor if he doesn't have his own theme song? Lucky for us, I happen to know of one that just fits right up his alley.

No, not THAT alley.

Song of the moment: Pink Martini - 'Eugene'
Catch it on YouTube here.

Or try streaming it here:

Error Code: 0x86000107

I was recently vexed to no end when I discovered that my HTC TYTN II (also known as the HTC Kaiser) refused to sync with either my laptop or home PC for over a week, popping up an error message each time I tried. At first I thought maybe something was wrong with the sync options, like perhaps one of the free applications and games I've been installing caused some hidden problem (check it out: tower-friggin'-defense on the go! What better way to waste precious daylight away?).

Countless hours of uninstalling and re-installing applications proved fruitless, while the multiple times I restarted Windows and resetting the Pocket PC just added to the wasted effort. Then I thought of something I should have done from the very beginning - each time Windows pops up an error alert, it also provides an error code if you click on 'Details' or 'More Info'. I, like countless other people who have pledged their dependence on Microsoft, have gotten used to just clicking 'Close'.

Anyways, long story cut short, I Googled the error code (0x86000107), crawled through forum after forum, and tried every suggested solution (download this, update that, tweaked some settings) to no avail. Finally I came across a completely non-technical suggestion and since I’d run out of options, I thought “Why the friggin’ hell not?”

1. I manually wrote down all the contacts and appointments I made since my last successful sync.

2. I deleted the partnership between the Pocket PC and my laptop’s Sync Center (ActiveSync, if you’re on XP), and disconnected the cable.

3. I reconnected that same cable and re-established the partnership.

It worked.

The most brain dead solution possible and it worked. Best of all, it took less than ten minutes.

It turns out that Windows Mobile 6.1 has issues syncing up with more than one computer, and though a fix has been purportedly sent out by Microsoft to their mobile partners, HTC has nothing available for its customers yet.

** solution credit: windowsmobiletraining dot com **

... of (not so) fast paced lives ...

Streamyx. If anyone out there is considering a subscription with Streamyx for the very first time, I think you should be given a counterpoint to all the marketing hype that they dish out periodically.

I'm not going to delve into the customer service. I'll let you go through that waiting experience yourself. I'm also not going into the helpfulness of their pre-fabricated answers when you tell them of your broadband woes.

What I *will* do is dive straight to the heart of it all: the lack of speed.

Once upon a time I subscribed to Streamyx's 1.0Mbps (download)/384kpbs (upload) package for RM88 per month, but since I've only broken the 600kpbs mark ONCE since I discovered in mid 2007 (I hit 784/382 on 30th September 2008 while testing against a server right here in Kuala Lumpur), I saw no reason to maintain a 1.0Mbps service. I thought maybe their servers couldn't consistently handle speeds beyond 500-600kpbs, so I downgraded to their 512kpbs package. but the moment I switch my service package, my speed dropped to an average of 150-200 kpbs when tested with Malaysian servers. I'm not talking about working hours when offices and businesses are tapping up bandwidth, I do my speed tests between 11pm and 1am. I guess it was never about the capacity of their servers or the quality of the copper wires, Streamyx just DOES NOT DELIVER WHAT THEY'RE SELLING!

Recent speed test results below (bear in mind that I'm subscribing to a 512 / 256 package). Tests were done between 11.40pm to 12.05am local time, Wednesday 25th March 2009 (through Thursday, 26th March if you want to get technical over it).

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - 213 / 71

Singapore - 203 / 101

Rome, Italy - 131 / 59

San Diego, USA - 352 / 217

Florida, USA - 104 / 84

So what other alternatives are there?

I've been thinking of switching over to P1 or DiGi Wimax, though I hesitate as I've not heard much feedback from their subscribers. I also hesitate because of coverage issues. Check it out:

Neighborhoods surrounding me are covered by PacketOne (P1) Wimax. My neighborhood (Sunway Damansara) just barely got left out. I wonder why I keep getting leaflets from them though.

DiGi Wimax covers my neighborhood, but I reside along the outer rim of their coverage. That makes it quite risky for me to switch to DiGi.

I guess I'm stuck with Streamyx for a bit longer, but if you're still looking for a broadband provider, I'd highly recommend that you shop around for options first. I'm planning to make that transition away from Streamyx once my area is fully covered by DiGi or P1.

... walk, walk, walk (part 1) ...

I went somewhere and saw this:

Where did I go?

... HTC TyTN II ...

I've just gotten myself a new toy in the form of HTC's TyTN II Pocket PC phone :D Just got it second hand a couple of days ago through Malaysia's own auction site Lelong for a pretty good bargain. Prices have been dropping in general and I was actually waiting for the HTC U1000 to drop within RM1,000, but I decided that it wasn't going to happen anytime soon.

Instead, I started stalking Lelong for a TyTN II that was in good condition while falling within my budget. A quick piece of advice is to take your time and stalk around for a bit if you're hunting for gadgets on Lelong -- I lost a few bids over a one-month period in order not to break the budget I had in mind, but I finally got what I wanted a few hundred Ringgit lower than what I would have had to pay for if I had chased after the bids that I lost.

Anyway, here's the TyTN II:

In a nutshell, the TyTN II runs on a Samsung Qualcomm 400MHz processor that comes with an integrated GPS chip. It operates out of the box on Windows Mobile 6.0 and offers WiFi, Bluetooth, 3G, and GPRS connectivity options. It comes with 128 MB RAM and 256 MB flash memory, and can support one MicroSD Card for additional storage space. Bundled software includes MapKing and World Card Reader, on top of the usual array of productivity programs that typically come with Pocket PCs.

Upgrading the TyTN II's firmware.

The Pocket PC (PPC) runs a little sluggishly according to XDA Developer's forums so I upgraded its firmware to the latest ROM provided by HTC, which also includes an operating system upgrade to Windows Mobile 6.1 . I faced a bit of problems here as I couldn't get anything from HTC's website, despite registering with them. It seems that the problem is pretty common amongst HTC users, and you can find the ROM update uploaded by users who had managed to download them. You can download the South East Asian release directly from HERE.

Pasted below are the instructions from HTC on how to upgrade the TyTN II's firmware:

Installation Instructions:

Before you proceed, please confirm that this software upgrade is a newer version than what is currently installed on your device. If it is the same version and your device is operating normally, there is no need to reinstall the software.

To check what version is installed on your device, click Start > Settings > Device Information > Version tab, and note the ROM version, CPU, and Radio version.


* This is a generic software update. Any additional software or settings provided by your mobile operator or company will be lost. If you require this customization, please contact your supplier first before upgrading.

* Please note that this upgrade will erase any data stored on the device.

Please back up your data first before upgrading your device. Before you run the ROM Upgrade Utility (RUU), make sure you check and do the following:

* The USB sync cable is connected to your device and PC. If your PC is running Windows XPR, ActiveSyncR will run automatically to establish a connection. If your PC is running Windows VistaTM, then Windows Mobile Device Center will establish the connection between your device and PC.

* All running applications on the device have been closed.

* Make sure that the battery level of the device is least 50% (tap Start > Settings > System tab > Power).

* The update will take up to 30 minutes, DO NOT interrupt the update process, make/receive phone calls, disconnect the device from the PC, or press any buttons until the process has been completed.

Once the RUU is downloaded, launch the application on your PC and follow the instructions.

Hope this helps anyone out there having problems with getting the upgrade!

... of arrests at the Police Station ...

Talk about weird. Two pieces of odd news today, both related to getting arrested at the police station.

Rape victim drives rapist to the police station.

A New Zealand rape victim drove her rapist to the police station. The rapist had fallen asleep on the passenger seat after the assault, and the victim maintained a straight head, driving off and delivering the slumbering assaulter to the police.

Coverage on Reuters here.

Teenager caught breaking INTO police station.

It was in the wee hours of the morning. The police station was closed. Unfortunately for a 16 year old in Sydney, that does not necessarily mean that there are no police officers in the building. Police officers working at the back of their building heard the front glass door crashing and discovered a teenager in their front hall. The teenager was promptly arrested and denied bail, but not before incurring A$2,000 worth of damages.

Coverage on Reuters here.

... of Life sans cigarettes ...

Sober people who have met up with me over the last one week or so would have known that I've given up cigarettes (again) as of last Friday. That makes today day number five sans cigarettes.

I've dropped the habit of smoking twice before so far, once some time around 1999 for about a year, and again around 2003 for two years. Logical projections would dictate that this time I'd last three years without cigarettes, but let's see if I can go way beyond that.

Attempt number three was made with prior mental preparations (thanks to previous experiences) for the withdrawal symptoms that will hit - runny nose, all the coughing, sudden rush of interestingly coloured phlegm, grumpiness, the craving periods, and susceptibility towards resorting to food as a replacement. Life is, unfortunately, hardly predictable, and all the symptoms I've prepared myself for did not hit as expected.

My nose has gone dry. So dry it hurts, though I've started expectorating oddly coloured phlegm as of yesterday. I go into coughing fits when someone smokes too closely to (and upwind of) me. Surprisingly I'm not hit by any strong craving for cigarettes as of yet, though the urge to pick one up hits when someone smokes too closely to (and upwind) of me. Luckily such situations also push me into coughing fits, killing any urge to light up a cigarette.

The one symptom that I had not expected, however, is that I've been rotating between itsy-bitsy nagging headaches and cranium-crippling migraine spells. I've yet to determine if this is coming from worrying about work and not getting good sleep or the cigarettes, but for now I'd rather blame the tobacco. I'd rather dislike tobacco than my work.

The one big (and petty) advantage I've gained so far is that I don't have to wonder whether to bear the heat and sit outside when I'm at a cafe anymore.

Day five, and the rest of life to go.

... R.I.P. Leroi Moore ...

Rest In Peace Leroi Moore
(1961 - 2008)

Leroi Moore (aged 46), founding saxophonist of Dave Matthews Band passed away Tuesday 19th August 2008 after suffering complications from an ATV injury on 30th June 2008.

Official band statement on their website reads :
We are deeply saddened that LeRoi Moore, saxophonist and founding member of Dave Matthews Band, died unexpectedly Tuesday afternoon, August 19, 2008, at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles from sudden complications stemming from his June ATV accident on his farm near Charlottesville, Virginia. LeRoi had recently returned to his Los Angeles home to begin an intensive physical rehabilitation program.

The Announcement on the official Dave Matthews Band Website.

Coverage by Reuters.