Friday, April 29, 2005

Casio Exilim Pro Ex-P600

Old harddrive
Macro shot is very good

No zoom
No zoom

Optical 4x zoom
With 4x optical zoom

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Sexy Traffic Wardens

Most Londoners hate traffic wardens. If they have it their way, the traffic wardens would be lined up and shot dead. Traffic wardens are indiscriminate in issuing parking tickets on vehicles with no valid parking tickets even on Chealse tractors. You see, middle class (and upper) love traffic wardens who clear shit (and hippy) cars from the road but would go mental if any of their gas churning SUVs get ticketed.

Before I continue, I would like to state that I am neutral on the issue of traffic warden. This is because I do not own (or care to own, at least in the near future) an automobile. I do not know what my reaction would be, but most likely will be as mad as some of the offenders/victims I have met.

I have seen many incidents where people who park in the local area were issued tickets in less than a minute. For some reason they, the traffic warden, have a sixth sense, an ability to see offenders arriving. Of course most of the 'victims' are not happy if placed in such dire situation. They can spend £100k on an automobile but would not want to pay the 100 squid in fine. Traffic wardens are only doing their jobs set out by the local council. But what they get everyday is abuse by people who knew they were breaking the law.

Over the past few months I have noticed that our council has started recruiting fine ladies as traffic wardens. Sexy wardens as I would usually dub them, they roam the streets here dishing out tickets to any parking violators. As you can see from this candid capture this warden has a body to die for. You would be glad to get a ticket from her wouldn't you? Sorry I could not get a capture of her face, but trust me she is a stunner.

Image hosted by

And she isn't the only one. I have seen many of them, some taller than me with Gisele like figures walking around. Most of them seem to be Eastern Europeans (we have a large Polish population here). Who says immigrants are bad? Stuff this, I am going to apply to be a London traffic warden tomorrow.

I wonder how would conservative Malaysia MPs (especially the oldies in PAS) react? I am sure the would be complaining in parliament about such sexy uniform creating distractions resulting in fatal traffic crash among the red blooded male population. Oh and rape too.

DVD Review: No Angels series one box set

I wanted to purchase No Angels DVD box set for quite some time. Meaning to order it from Amazon but it is too expensive (£22). Finally came across a high street store that had one in stock for £14. I caught the first series when it first aired but missed a couple episodes here and there. I am huge fan of it and the second series currently shown on Channel 4 Tuesdays 10pm is even better (the scene where the whole ward brawled was a classic).

No Angels is produced by World Production for Channel 4. The 'medical' drama is based on four nurses and their constant battle for female supremacy with fellow doctors in a NHS ward in Leeds. They mix work and play together, enjoy loads of sex (well except Lia).

No Angels Menu

The box set comes in those cardbox which is typical for Channel 4 DVD series. The high quality packaging is very similar to their Teachers box sets. The series one box set comes with three DVDs. Bizarrely the second DVD (DVD5) only contains two episodes while the other two juggle four episodes each. The third also comes with extras. Picture quality is excellent as you can see from the screenshots here (click for full size screenshot)

No Angels Episode Menu

The extras are not that special. The usual cheesy out takes are there. The production crew also gives a tour of the sets mainly the ward, the pub and the girls home. A making of short is also somewhere there. Nothing really interesting.

No Angels DVD

The great thing about this series is the portrayal of the girls as vulnerable. They may be glamorous yet they rent a flat together. They are modest and act like what most normal people would do on a Friday night - such as having a booze-up, taking drugs and general knobbing around. And the series is not only about naughty horny nurses but also takes a pop at real issues such as the deteriorating state of the NHS and arranged marriages among British Asians.

No Angels DVD

The acting is great. The performance by the cast is excellent and certainty beats some of the usual humdrum we get from other sitcoms and soaps. James Frost playing the constantly hacked off Callum is great as is Francis Magee as senior doc McManus (he is even better in season two).


Forget bollocks like ER and their professional baloney. This is what real hospitals are. If all nurses are like Beth or Anj, I would pray I fall sick often. Just look at Jo Joyner. What a looker!

No Angels DVD

Some of the jokes cracked might not be suitable or even understandable outside Britain but that shouldn't stop you. The humour is great and this is a suitable introduction to British comedy/drama.

Update 9.15pm: Added screenshots

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

E4 launching on Freeview in May

Channel 4 will be turning digital channel E4 into a non-subcription channel on the Freeview platform. Just in time for the numb reality TV show also known as Big Brother.

With five million UK households equipped with Freeview access either through DVB enabled televisions or those with old ITV Digital boxes, it only makes sense for Channel 4 to free its pay only channel for the masses. The extra audience number would surely increase its advertising revenue which would offset the revenues they were receiving from subscription.

I think this is great news. I have been DVB enabled for two years now and just can't wait for that extra channel. I can now tune in to E4 from next month catching old episodes of Peep Show and ER. For the youth market there are The OC and Smallville (blah). My girlfriend can now tune in to old episodes of Friends and Sex and the City (double blah!). E4 is not only a repeat channel like ITV2. It also broadcast new episodes (one week in advance of Channel 4) of new sitcoms like Desperate Housewives and Darren Brown: Trick of the Mind.

Source: MediaGuardian

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

How to evade questions...

I listen to BBC Today almost religiously. The current affair program is tough to beat and in the past has claimed the scalp of the government. Of course the Andrew Gillingan affair that preceded the David Kelly affair has dented the reputation of the program a little bit (Gillingan was mostly correct in his assertion that the government has sexed up the Iraq dossier). Yesterday John Humphry questioned Foreign Secretary Jack Straw over Lord Goldsmith's (Attorney General) advice on the legality of the Iraq invasion. The Independent has published an edited transcript of the showdown and it is a cracker. The clash reveals the classic New Labour style of evading simple questioning through spins and more lies. I have decided to include the transcript of the clash here since Independent's article sometimes expires. You can also listen to the interview here.

Hesitation, deviation, and repetition: Straw under fire over legality of war

On Radio 4's Today programme yesterday, John Humphrys questioned the Foreign Secretary over the Attorney General's advice on the invasion of Iraq. It was a classic clash. This is an edited transcript

26 April 2005

John Humphrys: There is only one full week left in the election campaign and it has changed ... Iraq has become a big election story, and that's because somebody leaked to The Mail on Sunday a document which raises important questions about Mr [Tony] Blair's claims that the war was legal. Prime ministers get their legal advice from the Attorney General. He, Lord Goldsmith, did tell Mr Blair it was legal. But what's at issue is whether he changed his mind under political pressure.

He has always denied that, but Mr Blair has refused to publish the details of any earlier advice from Lord Goldsmith. Now those details have been published and they show Lord Goldsmith entered a whole string of caveats. When he answered a question in the House of Lords 10 days later he made no reference to any of the caveats. And a few months ago, Mr Blair said the advice had been clear throughout. Indeed, Mr Blair went further, and he said it was unequivocal. We now know it wasn't. Why were we denied that information?

Jack Straw: Er, that's not true, John. The advice which the Attorney General set out to the House of Lords on 17 March, the day before the debate in the Commons, was unequivocal and it set out that resolution 1441 had effectively revived the authority for use of force under Security Council resolution 687 because of Iraq's clear further material breach in its refusal to comply with its disarmament obligations.

Humphrys: Mr Straw, I'm asking you about questions surrounding the legality of the war and the way that was presented to the nation by the Prime Minister... We did not know about those six areas of legal concern. Mr Blair said it was unequivocal. If I ask you, as a lawyer, for advice on something, and you say to me, 'Here are the six areas I am concerned about, but on balance I think what you're proposing is legal', I would not describe that advice as unequivocal. Would you?

Straw: Well ... what I would describe as unequivocal is the clear view that the Attorney General set out in the Lords on 17 March.

JH: Yes, but all Lord Goldsmith did was produce a 337-word written reply in the Lords. That's all.

JS: Yes, but, hang on a second. Lord Butler also looked at the whole of the legal advice as well.

JH: ... I'm not talking about Lord Butler. I'm talking about what the Attorney General said to the Prime Minister.

JS: No. And I was present, John. You were not present at the Cabinet on 17 March. Lord Butler's advice to the Cabinet was very clear. And Lord Butler's advice was fully reflected in the view he offered on 17 March later in the day. Now ...

JH: No! Look, there is a ministerial code of conduct that requires the full text of any legal advice to be made available to such cabinet meetings. No other papers were provided. And that is the reality. I wasn't there but if you're going to tell me I'm wrong about that I'd be interested to hear it.

JS: Yeah and also ... if you ... I haven't ... if you look at ... I've dealt with this, and ... keep your hair on. Er, I dealt with this ...

JH: It's a serious issue and I'm trying to be serious about it.

JS: It's a very, very serious issue. The Attorney General came to his view, he offered the view, it was unequivocal, the Prime Minister was right. There have been four separate inquiries into this, including...

JH: No there haven't.

JS: Yes, excuse me ...

JH: No there haven't.

JS: Yes, yes excuse me a second. There have been four separate inquiries into ...

JH: No.

JS: None of those have said for a second that the Prime Minister lied or deceived anybody ...

JH: Right, let me take you up on that. There have indeed been four inquiries. None of those reviews address the question that you have just raised.

JS: Well, with great respect...

JH: None of them.

JS: I just want to say this, John; there were always, around the world and in the United Kingdom, two views about whether or not a military action without a second resolution following 1441 was going to be justified. Some people took the view that there had to be a second resolution. Others - and we in the United Kingdom were clear about this - took the view that it imposed very clear, further obligations on Saddam Hussein. And if he failed to meet those obligations, the authority for the use of force, set out in an earlier resolution, 687 and 678, would be revived.

JH: Before you leave that, it was the view of the Attorney General in that document on 7 March, that it was the UN, not Mr Blair, not the UK government that should rule on resolutions breaches.

JS: I am not confirming the contents of what is alleged to have been ...

JH: Well then, it makes this a very difficult conversation because you can put up any number of smokescreens. Can't you?

JS: Well no, with great respect. I'm not confirming what is alleged to have been in a ... leaked document.

JH: Are you denying it?

JS: All parties ...

JH: Are you denying it?

JS: I'm simply not confirming it.

JH: So what does that mean? I'm sorry, I'm not going to let you get away with that because if you're not denying it then I and the listeners of this programme are entitled to assume it's accurate, aren't they?

JS: Well, they're not entitled to assume it's accurate, either. But let me just deal with this issue. There was always a question as to whether or not 1441 revived the use of force set out in 687 and 678. Now ... when this issue was before the Commons in the Blair government, in 1998, over the US-UK operation against Iraq, the Liberal Democrats took the view that there was no need even for a first resolution 1441...

JH: I'm really not concerned with what view the Liberal Democrats took on anything ...I'm trying to talk to you about the Attorney General and the advice he gave to the Prime Minister and the way the Prime Minister presented that advice to us, and you seem remarkably reluctant to address that question.

JS: I'm certainly addressing it, and the advice was very clearly set out in the Attorney General's view that he put before the Lords ... And I supplemented that with a lengthy document, some seven pages, which set out the legal background to that decision.

JH: Your own legal department in the Foreign Office thought that the war was illegal.

JS: Well, with great respect, some lawyers did and some lawyers didn't ...

JH: Well, we rather assumed, if I may say so, that our Prime Minister reads the advice he is given by his own Foreign Office.

JS: Of course, well ... let me just ... let me just make this point, right, because I want to answer your question, rather than, er, well, I don't want, I want, I want to answer the question. The issue was this: did 1441 revive or not the authority for military action?

JH: I'm sorry, but that isn't the issue.

JS: 1441 is at the heart of this...

JH: No, at the heart of this is the advice the Prime Minister got, and why he did not tell us that there were all these caveats. Six different caveats and that is why, now we realise of course, he didn't publish that information from the Attorney General.

JS: The Attorney General's advice was never going to be published, whatever it said, because Attorney General's advice is never published ...

JH: No, there is a precedent ...

JS: Very, very limited, and very specific ...

JH: But there is precedent and this could hardly be a more important matter; why we went to war.

JS: What indeed, and what has often not been the case, is that the Attorney General's view has often not been published. The Attorney General has repeated on many, many occasions ...

JH: Hmmph.

JS: ... that that view set out in the Lords on 17 March was an accurate reflection of his opinion. That remains his view. Now I also just want to say this. Some of those who argue that the legal advice was somehow wrong are basically trying to say the war was not justified ...

JH: I'm not putting that point to you, Mr Straw. I am not asking you whether the advice was right or wrong ...What I am asking you is: why it was that the Attorney General drew up this document with a whole series of important caveats, and yet, when the PM told us about the advice he had received, he said it was "unequivocal"? And it manifestly was not unequivocal.

JS: Look, what I can tell you John, is this, right, if you'll just allow me the time. When 1441 was passed, it did revive 678 and 687... We hoped very much that we could get a second resolution, to secure a consensus in the security council. We also hoped that that, in itself, would not be necessary because Iraq would come fully into compliance.

JH: All right.

JS: The issue, the issue was: was it an appropriate stage to take military action? Some said containment might work, but the truth was containment had fallen apart. Where we have now got to is a far better Iraq, and those who opposed the war, and I understand why they do that, need to understand that much good has come from it.

JH: We could have a very long discussion about that, but we've no time for that.

My 15 seconds of fame stopping a theft

My life is a very boring one. Eat, sleep, work, blog and play. Nothing exiting has ever occurred to me. Not even being caught by the police. Today something happened that has seismic effect on my rather mundane (15 minutes of) life. This is also a cautionary tale of life in London.

Me and a friend was at a London railway station. We were at a Starbucks cafe (I know - guilty as charged! Readers of my blog know how much I hate Starbucks yet here I am sipping overcharged unethical coffee - it isn't my fault though, my friend just didn't want to walk the two minutes to another cafe). You know just chatting. The room was almost packed with the usual city workers working on contracts and some groups of chattering friends.

About 45 minutes later a tall woman (probably the same height as me) entered the first floor room. Immediately she started using her feet to try to fish a lady's handbag(which was on the floor - this is normal here). It was pretty difficult so she sat down on the table next to them. We were sitting close by and my friend saw what was happening. The thief realised that my friend was looking at her and yet she continued fishing the bag. I did not see what was going on bt I can see the tote ever moving underneath the victim's chair.

We had a dilemma. We debated in hushed voice on what we should do. Obviously we could either let her continue or we had to stop her. I, being a victim of London's professional pick pocket scene thrice (1996 when I was a tourist, 2001 off my MD player and 2003 off my wallet), decided that we ought to catch her red handed in order to apprehend her. I knew by watching the countless BBC documentary on London stealth thieves that you can not simply accuse someone of theft attempt. That is why most roomy department stores allow thieves to continue with their handy work (while recording them) before arresting them just outside the store.

I asked my friend to look away from her. Promptly the woman who was wearing a beret cap pulled the bag up and quickly made her exit. I stood up and walked up to her in 'stern voice' "Excuse me..." She looked at me and shook her head pleading me to keep quiet while continuing towards the stairs. My friend called up to the victim to alert her. I spoke much louder now and she finally handed me the bag. I wanted to collar her but she ran down the stairs. Starbucks layout isn't the best for manoeuvering (much like other calorie infested fast food restaurants) and I did not want to injure myself by hurling myself down the stairs Jet Li style. So I let her off. Besides we knew there was a CCTV camera there.

There you go, my 15 seconds of fame. Probably the most I ever got to people actually noticing my very existence. My friend got the most attention though as she was the one who first saw the incident. Later we found out that there are hooks on every Starbucks table. The hooks are there for a reason - to hang your bloody bag. These hooks now don most of London's cafe and restaurant tables. So use them!

Starbucks, as per usual, were pretty useless about this. When we came down we reported the incident to the counter. We knew that the incident was recorded on tape. They brushed us off and promised to 'look into it' while thanking us for reporting it.

On hindsight I realised how professional thiefs are in London. Unlike Malaysia, where they try to snatch whatever you have from you while riding a bike or slit your throat for a couple of bucks, the criminals here are more cunning, just like the bloke from Splinter Cell. They don't barge in creating a scene. They move in silence often working in groups on the street and along in fast food joints and cafes. Stealth is the key unlike mad Malaysians (or illegal immigrants who our authorities love to blame).

Update: My girlfriend, Jennifer, has agreed to be identified as my 'friend'. She was in London on business and I met her in Victoria Station before she boarded her train to Brighton. She has keen eyes (or just love to look around - hei, she is in architecture) and probably deserve praises more than me. In fact I got 15 seconds of fame while she got the full minute. ;)

Monday, April 25, 2005

Music Review: Bloc Party - Silent Alarm

I was looking through my post listings and there are a couple of drafts that I have written but has not been published yet. Including my review of Bloc Party's Silent Alarm album. How silly of me. Such an album deserves to be praised by anyone who has been converted by their amazing style. So here is my review:

Bloc Party - Silent Alarm

based band Franz Ferdinand have just won two coveted Brit Awards - Best Group and Best Rock Act. They obviously deserve the awards - their album was a technical and artistic achievement taking cues from legendary rock bands such as Joy Division.

Now Bloc Party aims to emulate the Scottish bands success by their new album Silent Alarm. Obviously such a tag is not deserving on them because they have been on the scene longer than Franz Ferdinand. Commercially the indie band would probably be never as successful as Franz Ferdinand. With this, the hope of the second wave of Brit Rock will hopefully bring the young London band much deserved attention.

Comparisons with Franz Ferdinand is inevitable. Reviews has popped up describing the band as the new Franz Ferdinand. Even I am guilty of writing a review that has referenced Franz Ferdinand more than Bloc Party before the review actually begins.

Silent Alarm is nothing short of exiting. 'Artrock' as it has been called by certain music journos, is certainty evident throughout the album. I would attempt to write the review through a track by track analysis rather than the usual low-down.

From the emotive powerful opener Like Eating Glass the band flaunting energy is the key to the rest of the album. The guitars are simple, no fancy riffing or silly technical show offs, the drumming are rhythmatic. The second track Helicopter is even more amazing with excellent guitar. Jumpy at parts, you would want to dance to the song. The lyrics are anti-Bush you know.

Positive Tension starts awkwardly but eventually builds up to something more special. The next one Banquet is my favourite of the album. (Update: Banquet is the lead single) The following track, Blue Light is slow and almost 'romantic' but its not weak. She's Hearing Voices is great. It sounds misplaced among the album but still powerful enough.

The Modern Love is one of my favourites. I just can't stop listening to it. Aggressive it isn't (none on this album is anyway), but very very emotive. The rock returns in the form of another anti-war song, The Pioneers, great vocals on this. Superb chorus. The weakest track, another anti-war track, however comes next. Price of Gasoline despite the great lyrics is just too weird for my personal taste.

More melodies with So Here We Are. This was the first single released by the band from this album. The song is very radio friendly and mellow. Despite this I love it. Luno returns the album to ultra fast pace non-stop. Very Sonic Youth. After that you would certainty want to catch a breather and Plans allows that. The final, Compliments, is another slow mellow song. I love ambient music but this is just too weak to end the album. They probably should have gone with a faster song. If this has gone somewhere in the middle of the album then I would probably love it.

If you are a new fan of Franz Ferdinand or listen to old 80s rock bands like Joy Division, 90s legend Radiohead or more recently bands like The Libertines, then do yourself a favour and check this out. I would be surprised that Bloc Party didn't win next years Brit.


Sunday, April 24, 2005

Casio Exilim Pro EX-P600DDA

Bought a Nikon Coolpix 5200 from Jessops the other day. The movie mode was excellent but I am not purchasing this for the video more hence the reason why I returned this. Don't get me wrong, the 5200 is very good and very small (although I don't like the design, the hand grip works well). The quality is amazing. You can see some of the images (resized) I took with it on my Flickr account.

Anyway I ordered a
Casio Exilim Pro EX-P600DDA. The P600 is a year old but it has a six megapixel CCD sensor and 4x optical zoom. The size is pretty big for a digital compact but it does come with a larger battery compared to the 5200. And at £192 it's a bargain.

The reason why I swayed towards the P600 is the ability to use conversion lenses from Canon! It has the ability to save images in uncompressed TIFF format plus the inclusion of a wireless IR remote control is a huge bonus. Other reasons to like is the great design. I know some people hate the 'robotic industrial' design but both me and
Jennifer like it.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Blogging politicians and their wives

I am not much of a Tory fan, but at least Michael Howard's wife - Sandra writes her own blog. She might be old but she has that certain 'charm' that seems to contradict evil Dracula. Maybe she should take over the party.

I know Cherie Blair is a liability but so is Tony. So why is she being hidden?

Anyway here is Tony Blair's blog which I still doubt it is being written by Tony himself despite the first person narrative.

Charles Kennedy's battle bus blog.

John Prescott's battle bus blog.

Source: BBC News

Geeks have lower IQs?

See, erase your gmail accounts and smoke more Cannabis instead.

I have yet to dump my two pence on the current Sino-Japanese face-off sparked of by a textbook. And news has came in that Japanese PM has apologised over their wartime past.

Personally I don't really care about the whole situation. I do not see the protest in China and some parts of Asia as helpful. People need to remember that although you should not forget the past, you should look towards the future in building relations.

It is not as if part of my family hasn't been victims of Japanese World War II brutality, but we forgive and move on.

Other news:

I think the new Pope should do well to remember that the Spanish people voted in the current socialist government. In case he doesn't know - it is called democracy.

AUT vote to boycott Israeli's academics. What do they expect when you have things like this going on?

Get Your War On


Searching for a new lifestyle digital compact

Been very busy today. First I did not jog because my body hurts all over. But I did enjoy the sun by burning myself lying in the park for 45 minutes.

I was also spending my time looking up for a new compact digital camera. 5mp should be sufficient. I am not a megapixel nut, so a cheap (sub £200) small digicam with good (3x) zoom lens, adequate macro shot, manual controls over shutter speed/aperture and SD card slot should do fine. I am planning on lugging it around during the summer festivals all over blighty and an expensive d-SLR would only hurt my back (and my wallet).

Besides I have an old 1980s 35mm Nikon SLR for those special moments where quality is important (eg. overdosed mate). Searching for new compact is not as easy as looking out informations on other technology related goods such as mobile phones. Teh interweb is just so cluttered. I found Steve's Digicams to be a great review site as is Digital Camera Resource Page, but actually looking through the hundreds of online stores in the UK and then comparing the prices (with delivery options) is a fucking headache!

So after a few hours I have managed to narrow down my target to
Pentax Optio 5mp range (S5i, S5n, SV, etc.) or the Casio EX-Z55. Both are under 200 squid and both are compact. The Optio WP has no zoom and costs more but is water proof. Ideal for my beach escapade. Right now I am inclined on purchasing the Optio X (£180) because of the swivel design which is great for those over the head shots at beach gigs. Nikon's Coolpix S1 is very very nice but also very very expensive.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Blogger of the year: Groklaw

I couldn't agree more with Dana Blankerhorn that if anyone ever deserves the title of blogger of the year, it would be Pamela Jones of Groklaw. I have been reading PJ's blog since August 2003 when the SCO Vs IBM case came to my attention. PJ has been a huge asset to the Linux community in digesting the legal documents that so many geeks would not understand if not of her.

Congratulations Pam!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Music Review: British Sea Power - Open Season & Garbage - Bleed Like Me

British Sea Power - Open Season review
Garbage - Bleed Like Me review

Just bought two CDs yesterday and had a full chance to listen to them today. Here is my short take on them.

British Sea Power - Open Season

An amazing second album by the Brighton quintet rock band. It is probably a little bit less agressive if compared to their debut 'The Decline of British Sea Power' but is still a hell of a ride mixing melodic beautiful guitar riffs with their 1980s influence. There are a couple of poppish mainstream radio friendly tracks such as Be Gone, but overall it is all great and even power medleys like Please Stand Up and North Hanging Rock are unforgetably good. My favourite track is actually the last one True Adventures. Forget girly bands like Coldplay. You need to get this now!


Garbage - Bleed Like Me

'Bleed Like Me' is the comeback album in the likes never before heard from Garbage. The first album in four years, this takes Garbage back to their early years with more guitar and less electro sound. The heavier side is damn well evident in the form of Dave Grohl's drumming. Scottish born angst babe Shirley Manson is a great front woman, her vocals just suit every track. Shockingly my favourite tracks are the 80s influenced happy tunes Run Baby Run and Right Between The Eyes. There are a couple of crap songs here and there but on average this is a fine album that should get played a few more times.


£2 tube travel after 7

Reading some of the past posts of Tube Diaries, I decided to jog along to the nearby station to check on my Oyster card usage. True enough, all my post 7pm travels are only charged at £2 (normally £2.50 or £2.80 on non-Oyster). Goody... I now stand to save a couple of quid a week.

Problem is tfl has been slow in advertising this fact. According to the TubeGeek, the tfl website contains the information buried somewhere although I couldn't find it. I did find something I did not know of - price capping. Here are the rates.

A new beginning?

I have to admit that I am not much an active person. Ever since coming to Britain seven eight years ago, I have put on weight, lost my stamina and generally becoming a weaker person. Sorry no proof, but one day I will post you a picture of me in the mid 1990s so you can do a comparison.

Part of it is because I am only into light fun sports like badminton and basketball. But there are hardly any basketball courts here and badminton courts are almost nil (the free ones). You can't play badminton outdoors because the wind will fly it to Katmandu. Nowadays in order to stay slightly healthy I just power walk (about 3-6km a day) or get off the bus one or two stop earlier.

Anyway I am twenty something now. I should be fit or so says my partner. So today I decided to do a little bit of jogging. My first jog in two years! The venue was at the nearby Gunnersbury Park. From my home to the park and around the park and back again would be roughly 5-6km.

In preperation of the jog, I drank about three quarters of a pint of water. Didn't want to do a Paula Radcliffe hence why the lack of large quantities of liquid.

And what a fucking failure. I was so out of breath half way through the park I decided to call quits and power walk the rest of the journey. The air is so thin I was struggling to catch my breath and I had no access to water.

There is good reason on why I failed. The were no birds today. Most of them were flocking at the other nearby parks (Walpole Park and Lamar Park). Having none of them here today gives me no encouragement to jog.

But today is the first. I hope to do so again tomorrow and this time with a friend. Summer is coming and with it comes festivals and sun burning on the beaches. So it is only fair that I should buff myself up after a total neglect over the past 1 1/2 years.

WMD Hunt

Via Bloggerheads, search Tony's home for WMDs.

May 16 nerd invasion on West End

For the first and last time, anywhere in the world, Lucasfilm have agreed to screen all six films back-to-back at Leicester Square's Empire cinema.
May 16 will be the first day of screening. 1000 Star War fans are expected to pay the 50 squid needed to watch the adventure over a gruilling course of three days. Yes, three days of nerd invasion on our favourite West End hangout.

In other news, more nerds are expected in London later today for the screening of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Source: Yahoo! UK News

Behind the Closed Doors of AMD's Chip Production

I am not a big fan of Tom's Hardware, but they have an excellent feature on AMD's chipmaking procedure in Fab 30, Dresden, one of the most advance fab facility in the World. Well probably until Fab 36 opens.
A single Athlon 64 chip is a little less than one third of a square inch (two square centimeters) in size; the tiniest structures are a mere 130 nm thick. The chipmaker is now switching over to 90nm production, which will almost halve the surface of each individual chip. The benefits are obvious: smaller components mean that more of them can be packed into a small space. Circuits are shortened and thus eat up less power and the transistors can work faster.

Just a little more to the right...

Vatican, thank you for choosing someone:

who is against woman's right in the Church
who is against pro-choice
who is against homosexuals
who is against secularism (the separation of faith from government)
who has downplayed the American clergy child sex scandal
who has attempted to mute liberal parts of the Church
whose rhetoric is stuck in the middle age
who has a lamentable record in promoting interfaith relations
who is against theological pluralism
who isn't non-European (updated)


Mixed reactions

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Public whip

If you are still undecided who to vote for in this election, swing by The Public Whip, a website watching MPs and how they performed (attendance, rebellion rating, voting records etc.) in parliament.

You can also take the simple
seven question test, to see who you should vote for in your local area based on issues such as the Iraq war, gay rights etc.

Source: BBC Election Weblog

Democracy in the Vatican

I know I might ruffle a few feathers with this post about the Vatican and conclave currently in progress to choose a new pope. But to hell with it.

So what the fuss is this all about? Democracy! We have no idea what is going on inside the Sistine Chapel. The secrecy imposed by the Vatican in electing a new leader probably rivals that of North Korea. Even the ballots are burnt after every second vote.

While the World moves towards a more democratic place with the system of popular voting, the Vatican which used to have the people of Rome having a say on the election of the pope, has moved backwards in time, now only restricted to a hundred or so cardinals (of whom none are woman).

Why as a non-religious person am I making my opinion heard? Well my two pence is based on certain illegal (and forthcoming) wars which was designed to bring democracy to those sovereign countries. Why is the Vatican, as a sovereign country in its own right hasn't yet incurred the wrath of a supposed democracy imposer from a certain warring nation of the West?

Conservative billboard

Tory poster improvements by product.two, source via Wooster.

Conservative bucket

Was it raining yesterday?

Yesterday was a sunny day in Brighton contary to the forecast by, a so called reputable weather forecasting company. I know weather predicting isn't an exact science, but when they decided to make a detailed forecast which includes morning, noon and evening predictions along with informations such as humidity and wind, you would have thought that maybe they should get it right.

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Rain, rain, rain...was all predict even after 7pm when it was plain that it would not rain at all...

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...but when I was at the sea front between 1pm to 6pm, it was cloudless...

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...not even a speck of rain...

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...but it was also very very sunny...

More pictures here.

Anyway it is a miserable day today...

Monday, April 18, 2005

Will Blair lose?

Will we wake up May 6th with a Labour government minus Tony Bliar? I hope so.

Sedgefield aide turns against Blair

Plus interview with Darren Johnson, a Green Party candidate

Tonight begins a new Hell's Kitchen. I suggest you ignore it.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

My flickr

Just joined Flickr, here are some pictures I took on my current (100th?) trip to Brighton. The quality's not good. I haven't replaced my digital camera yet, so the London pixs are from my mobile and the rest are taken using Jennifer's cheap (but adequate) 2mp digital camera.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Who should you vote for?

Via Chicken Yoghurt, for those having not (or don't plan to) read a single line in the manifestos and still want to vote? Let this test decide for you, but remember, your vote can be used for tactical voting. Well, my results:

Who Should You Vote For?

Who should I vote for?

Labour -26
Conservative -75

Liberal Democrat 108

UK Independence Party -18

Green 39

You should vote: Liberal Democrat

The LibDems take a strong stand against tax cuts and a strong one in favour of public services: they would make long-term residential care for the elderly free across the UK, and scrap university tuition fees. They are in favour of a ban on smoking in public places, but would relax laws on cannabis. They propose to change vehicle taxation to be based on usage rather than ownership.

Take the test at Who Should You Vote For

Football and why Liverpool might actually win it...

I was once a huge fan of football (soccer to our American chums, tsk...). I don't watch them as much as I would want to nowadays. The last time I was really really into football was during the France Vs England Euro 2004 match. Me and my partner watched it together in her room. Her landlord (a Chelsea supporter) was in the next room rooting for England with his friends and Spanish girlfriend.

Well the match was not that great, except that we were supporting France (because France did not go to a certain war). During the 87th minute when France was down, and this is all true, I had a sudden urge to run out to the local Ladbrokes (about half a minute away) and bet on a French win.

I did not of course, being the silly person I am (anti-betting). Stupid me I know. Well as you all know, France eventually levelled, we screamed, thumped the tables and probably made enemies with her landlord's beer buddies. And when France went ahead, the room next door just went dead quiet. We celebrated of course.

Later came the cussing and regret as I realised what I would stand to make if I actually if I stake that tenner (£2500-£5000) I had in my wallet.

I never actually bet in sports before and that was the only time I made a correct prediction. Of course I avoided football ever since except when gathering with friends or I happened to be in a pub and the telly is switched on to some crap football.

Now, Liverpool is set to meet Chelsea in the semi-finals of the Champions League. I don't support either, but I hate Chelski's guts (because of the money involved - and also to annoy Jennifer's landlord) , hence why I will be supporting Liverpool.

There is a reason why Liverpool might win. This is from The Independent:

Liverpool's omens for success in Champions' League: Why 2005 is year of coincidence

* 1978

Wales win the rugby union Grand Slam
Liverpool lose in the League Cup final
The Pope dies
Liverpool win European Cup

* 2005

Wales win the rugby union Grand Slam
Liverpool lose in the League Cup final
The Pope dies

* 1981

Prince Charles gets married
Ken and Deirdre marry on Coronation Street
A new Dr Who is appointed
Liverpool finish fifth in the League
Liverpool win European Cup

* 2005

Prince Charles gets married
Ken and Deirdre marry on on Coronation Street
A new Dr Who is appointed
Liverpool sit fifth in the League

Journey of Life

BBC One's new nature series, Journey of Life started yesterday in the form of Seas of Life. With wonderful ambient soundtrack, special effects and good humour, Steve Leonard excellently narrated a convincing tale about the evolution of life on earth that began 3.8 billion years ago.

Using stock BBC footage from The Blue Planet and other sources (plus original footages), Seas of Life had Steve explores the first life on earth, microbes to giant whales and dolphins.

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Most of these are textbooks stuff anyway that we learn when we are young, but with the wonderful production values that only the BBC could ever manage, it would only take a fool to want to miss this. Discovery Channel should take note.

Natures of Life continues every Thursday 9pm on BBC One.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Nike stunt? Songs for Dubya...

Nike has just published a full list of their factories in an attempt for 'transparency'. Is this a PR stunt or a genuine attempt by Nike to improve working conditions?

Source: Guardian newsblog

Here is a list of songs that The Guardian thinks Dubya should fill his iPod with.

My suggestion: Metallica - Kill 'Em All

On a more serious note:

New Labour manifesto

Tories manifesto

Tory poster generator:

Tory election poster

Source: Chicken Yoghurt

New Independent cover

This is the new Independent cover. Mixed feelings about it. While I welcome their move towards a more contemporary design, it does look like a design of one of their supplement magazine. Maybe they thought streamlining would be a good thing. Not sure why they thought Tesco deserves to be on the front page during election month.

New Independent

A note to Malaysian prints, this is what a newspaper should look like - no adverts on the front page!

Quality compact, Malaysian style
'Quality' compact, Malaysian style...

Speaking of Malaysia...Bernama news agency reports that the Malaysian government is
considering giving away free dadah to addicts. Don't know the fuss is all about but for the first time I was considering moving back, until I read that 'addicts' are required to be locked up in a remote island.

Tony Blair's election blog

Yesterday I promised not to blog about the election for the next few days, but sorry, here is one entry for today. Fuck me, I know...

This is Tony Blair's election blog. Apparently written by Mr. Blair himself. An aide is more likely, Alastair Campbell perhaps? Latest entry done by Alex Fergie of ManU.

Now when will Pak Lah and other like-minded Malaysian MPs start having their own blogs?

New Tory manifesto.

Update: LOL, more Tory photoshop, thanks to The Guardian.

Cannabis cuisine recipes

The Guardian has an interview with our cool cannabis granny, along with the recipes for two of her cannabis cuisine. Check it out.

Patricia Tabram with her cannabis outside Downing Street (picture source: BBC News)

Are gadgets dead?

Yesterday I walked past the old Gadget Shop in the local shopping center. It has been closed for more than a week but yesterday mark the final deathbed to our (former) favourite high street store. Yesterday (or the day before) the store was cleared out leaving only a single solitary portable DVD remote control on the display window.

Just last month, our branch of IT, another shop specializing in gadgets went bust and had to close down. Actually they were pretty cool. One of the few shops in London I could actually find the Nextlink Bluespoon Digital (at a cool price of £200!!!).

ITV Digital - The Monkeh
Before Gadget Shop brought us the affordable Monkeh, you have to pay more than £100 for ITV Digital's Monkey Sidekick (Picture source: BBC News

Now our leafy Broadway center only has a couple of tech related stores - Dixons, Currys, Sony, Jessops and a couple of mid-end hifi stores. Richer Sounds is further down the road so it does not count, plus they only sell audio/video equipments.

The closure of both stores I believe highlight the fact that consumers are getting a little more sophisticated in gadget purchasing through 'proper' electronic stores or through the interweb. Either that or gadgets are not 'in' anymore. I am going to argue two ways here.

IMobile Clubbing London
Mobile clubbing, combine geekness with coolness (picture source: The Register)

Prices of proper consumer electronics like digital cameras are falling. When we got our 2mp Fuji digital camera three years ago it was about £300. Now you can get 4mp Olympus digital cameras for under £100. People do not need to go into Gadget Shops to get cheap Praktica or Concorde digital cameras anymore. Why would you when you can purchase a quality 4mp Kodak LS743 with Schneider Kreuznach lens or 5mp Pentaxs for under £150?

Robosapien: At least we don't have to worry tripping over this idiot anymore (Picture source:

Are gagdets still trendy? If so, people here are pretty damn experience in hiding their lust of all things plastic. People are finally ditching their Bluetooth headsets. Wearing one would advertise yourself for arse kicking. The current fad, that is the iPod, is dying. iPod users are replacing their white earbuds for more discreet black ones (finally). People do not bring their laptop anymore (although some still do in the name of 'work') to every darn cafes.

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Luckily for me I can't read that (Picture source: no idea)

Why surf while sipping overpriced Cameral Macchiato when you can do that in the comfort of your home? It is nice to see cafes becoming once again proper public spheres where real people chat with real people in non-digitized voices. People are leaving their mobiles switched off and becoming humans again. Just last week a couple of high school girls offered me cookies (for free - they are not girls scout) when I whizzed through the Broadway.

Picture source: Soho Theatre

While we lost two gadget stores, we gained two organic stores over the past few months. Farm W5 which opened a few months ago is now a popular store among health (and ethic) conscious West Londoners. I can't remember the name of the other one (it just opened last week) but I believe it is a branch of As Nature Intended. The store is pretty large, double the size of normal off-license. Too bad going organic is expensive.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

How to cook good spaghetti bolognese for less than a quid

I have always enjoyed Italian food. In fact apart from Malaysian style cuisine, I rank Italian food as the most enjoyable (along with South Indian and Pakistan asian style cuisine).

My favourite restaurant happens to be FAT leo in Market Street, Brighton. They serve excellent Italian food and the waiters are very friendly (if not a little too eccentric). Unfortunately, although cheap at £5.95 for a two course meal, my budget does not permit me to enjoy such fine dining every week. And did I mention that it is located in Brighton, some 90 minutes away by train.

What do I do? I cook my own Italian dinner and share with you this easy recipe I just tried out today. Classic spaghetti bolognese with a twist and for less than a squid. I am not exactly Jamie Oliver (I don't even shop at Sainbury's) so please excuse the simplicity...

You need the following:

Boil about 90g of spaghetti in salted water. You can use any pasta. My preference is actually tagliatte. Here I am using Buitoni's popular Spaghetti Express which requires about 11 minutes of boiling. It is rather expensive at 69p a pack but I got it from Morrisons which had a buy 2 for 1 promotion.

Now for the sauce. I didn't want anything fancy so I just chopped of a piece of frankfurter to be used as meat. Mixed it with about 180g of Dolmio's Extra Spicy Bolognese. This is the first time I use this sauce. Again I got it from Morrisons. Two for £1.50. Dolmio sauces are not exactly thick and creamy. In order to make it creamier, I added about 2 table spoons of Dolmio's Creamy Carbonara sauce. The pack was already opened and sitting in the fridge over the past two weeks so why waste it?

Heat it up on the hob for about one minute or until the mix starts to boil. Herta Frankfurters are pre-cooked sausages so it is alright. As you can see above, I accidentally cooked too much. Just dump the rest into a tupperware. The sauce can be refrigerated and re-heat through microwave.

That's it! Just add a table spoon of olive oil and sprinkle some cheese. The spicy sauce by Dolmio is a real winner. It is not exactly hot and won't light any fire but it is fine for what it is. And yes the sauce is a little thin, so the added Carbonara sauce really improved it. A quick brain calculation reveals the cost of the meal to be less than 90 pence (MYR 6.50).

Buono appetit!

iPod street cred damaged

Now that Apple's vastly overrated iPod has a new user in the guise of a warmonger, has the toy lost some of its street cred? I know of at least one friend who has since binned his iPod due to the commercial proliferation of the white thingy by many sad sad people.

Btw, he is planning on getting this. Nice... if only it has Ogg support then I might even consider it.

Sweet Jesus

Thanks to Tim for e-mailing me this link.

After Terry, we have this...

Pharmacists' Rights at Front Of New Debate

More here: Pharmacists 'denying birth control'

Even IMAX cinemas are not spared from these religious onslaught.

Hope it doesn't spread...

Election blog and Archos PMA400

There are loads of election blogs out there, here is a partial list:

Channel 4 is hosting a bunch of blogs by candidates
Brent East Campaigning
Blog by UK Polling Report
Here is one by Lib-Dem councillor Mary Reid
plus a blog watching Blair
Craig Murray, Independent for Blackburn
Battersea weblog
Rob's Election blog
The usual Alastair Campbell blog has been blogging the politic scene for a pretty long time
As does bloggerheads
and Scary Duck too
Nick Barlow's General Election 2005 blog
Here is one for Lib-Dem leader Charles Kennedy Election Campaign
Michael Howard (parody)
Tory Scum
Labour Watch
Lib-Dem Watch
Guardian Election 2005 blog
Tory Trouble
Quality weblog by the BBC

Most of the MPs and Councillors (plus some former MPs) have blogs running, Manic keeps a list here.

Jesus, all these politics is giving me a fucking headache, I am going to try to sleep it off for the next few days. Jennifer is flying back today. If there is anyone who is more apathy about politics, it would be my girlfriend. I am sure a couple of days with her political know-how would refresh my energy. ;)

Btw, CNet has a review up on the Archos PMA430. As you all know, Archos is a French company that is always a step ahead of its competitors (tech wise, three steps ahead of Apple). The only problem is you have to pay through your nose for such cutting edge technology which is why they are not as successful as Apple.

I played around with the PMA400 in the local electronic store and am really impressed by it. The Linux OS coupled with the Qtopia GUI is really intuitive. Too bad I am broke (I am saving up for a new digital camera, I gave my three year old 2Mp Fuji to my dad). For those who doesn't know, the PMA400 series is both a PDA and portable video recorder/player. Forget about TiVo or Sky Plus, the PMA400 series is a glimpse of the future of harddrive based digital video recorders.

Source: Pocket PC Thoughts

Monday, April 11, 2005

Belle de Jour

Remember Belle de Jour? The blogger of the original Diary of a London Call Girl? Well her blog are so popular that media lecturers around the country are reportedly using her online diary as part of media courses into new media and journalism. The blog, read by many in Britain, eventually was named winner of 2003 The Guardian's best written blog award.

Part of the success of the blog was due to the lack of identity and the myth surrounding Bella de Jour. Attempts has been made by the UK media (esp. The Times) to out the author. They went so far and even implicated other jounalists and authors. Fortunately Belle de Jour's identity did not leak and the myth was secured. Was she really a student forced to turn into escorts? Or was she actually a creation of someone else?

Jane Perrone of The Guardian wrote on her newsblog entry citing a clues that actually points to novelist Stewart Home. Anyway read the excellent article and if you haven't read Bella de Jour's journal on her life as a London prostitute, then please do so.

Books books books

Got me three new paperbacks from Waterstones. All from their 3 for 2 offer. Spring (still stuttering) is finally here and my PDA is useless to read in the sun, so I rather have the paperbacks for daylight reading when I am relaxing in the park of by the beach. I started reading Archangel but all the Russian names were really confusing which is a fuckin' arse when trying to read in the park full of kids running by creating noise and dogs who wants to play fetch. I will try later in quieter surrounding.

Robert Harris - Archangel

Synopsis (from Amazon)
Robert Harris's international bestseller has now been made into a major BBC film starring Daniel Craig. When historian Fluke Kelso learns of the existence of a secret notebook belonging to Josef Stalin he is determined to track it down, whatever the consequences. From the violent political intrigue and decadence of modern Moscow he heads north - to the vast forests surrounding the White Sea port of Archangel, and a terrifying encounter with Russia's unburied past.

Yann Martel - Life of Pi

Synopsis (from Amazon)
The son of a zookeeper, Pi Patel has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behavior and a fervent love of stories. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes.

The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with Richard Parker for 227 days while lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his story and press him to tell them "the truth." After hours of coercion, Pi tells a second story, a story much less fantastical, much more conventional--but is it more true?

Joseph Finder - Paranoia

Synopsis (from Amazon)
Adam Cassidy is twenty-six and a low-level employee who hates his job at a high-tech corporation. When he manipulates the system to do something nice for a friend, he finds himself charged with a federal crime. Corporate Security gives him a choice: prison - or become a spy in the headquarters of their chief competitor. It's no choice at all. Adam is trained for his 'mission' and fed inside information when he lands a top job with the rival company. But then he finds that he has talents he never knew he possessed. He's rich, drives a Porsche, lives in a fabulous apartment, and is dating the girl of his dreams. All he has to do is betray everyone he cares about and everything he believes in...