Something fishy with my Streamyx connection ...

UPDATE 17-01-2009: Scratch this post as I only just figured out it was a problem with the router firmware.


Been having problems with my Streamyx connection this past week. Many sites would not load on the first attempt and require multiple F5 refreshes to fully load. This lead me to wonder if my modem/router settings are causing too many dropped packets. So I did the usual MTU fragment checking and lo and behold, the Max MTU has been lowered down to a measly 1272 bytes!! My modem/router settings were set to the default of 1492 so this basically means hundreds of packets were being discarded because they were too big.

WTF?! the MTU is now a low 1272B!!From the image above, I've highlighted the maximum packet size that I can send/receive through my ISP. Adding on the 28 byte header brings the new MTU setting on my router to 1300 and once I changed that value, suddenly all sites are now opening quick and snappy. So, if you're like me and having problems with Streamyx, then check your current connection settings with this command (replacing with a valid website address to test)

ping [website add here]-f -l XXXX <- that is lowercase 'L' and NOT numerical '1'

What I'm wondering now is when did those bloody f**king a***oles at TM change this value and without informing subscribers?

Who wins TARA 3?

Its 12pm and I'm at work with 9 hours to go to the broadcast of the final episode of TARA3. Message boards at the official site have been blasted from supporters/fans/detractors/etc each one claiming a winner from their country. So I guess I'll have to wait and see who really wins.

UPDATED 30/11/2009
Everyone knows by now that the Hong Kong boys won TARA3 (can they actually be called Hongkies since Sam is Singaporean and Vince is Canadian ... oh well). The wonders of television and creative editing made the final episode of TARA3 seem like a close race between S&V with G&T but in reality they were 45 minutes apart to the finish line. Our final Malaysian team, I&T, were dissapointingly delayed for 1 hour and 30 minutes at the airport due to one lazy desk clerk and lost their lead and the race in the end (but kudos for still being good sports and completing the race!).

From what I can dig out, TARA3 once again sets many new records in the Amazing Race series (I could be wrong on these facts, but AFAIK they're correct)
  • It probably had the longest legs in any TAR race (some lasting over 40 hours non stop, hence the tagline "toughest race ever").

  • I'm also guessing that Tania is the first ever pregnant racer (she was about 3 months along during the race and only confirmed the pregnancy a month after it ended!).

  • Probably has the couple that changed detours the highest number of times (G&T changed 5 times in the last detour).

  • First TAR to be filmed in high-definition video but dissapointingly broadcast only in standard def.

  • Highest number of teams that gave up during race and quit in a detour/roadblock (5 out of the total 10 teams - Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangladesh, Thailand ×2). Team Malaysia did contemplate giving up during the detour to locate the right Bluray disc but didn't in the end. Team Phillipines G&T gave a passing mention during the minature museum task but also didn't opt to quit (and in the end were rewarded with Sam's blunder!)

This already adds to an impressive list of prior records made in TARA and TARA2 which include

  • First ever all female team to win an Amazing Race (Joe Jer and Zabrina, Malaysia in TAR)

  • First ever disabled person to win (and complete) an Amazing Race (Adrian and Colin, Singapore, TARA2)

So, only a year's worth of waiting until the TARA4 ... at least TAR12 is running and is FINALLY picking up the pace.

..... Show/hide full post

What's new in the beta WLM9?

Installed the beta version of Windows Live Messenger (Build 14.0.5027.908) and was pleasantly surprised with several new features and updated implementations of older ones. The installer integrates tightly with the Live series of products and upon installations asks if you want to install the other items in the suite (including Live Writer, Live Mail etc).

Messenger chat window has been rearranged
First thing you'd notice is the messenger window has been rearranged and display pictures now appear of the left side. The pictures and toolbar can be hidden by clicking on an arrow that appears when you mouse nearby to give you more messaging space. Typing indicators now appear in the centre of the window (where its written Last message received ... in the pic above) instead of at the bottom of which now houses the message options.

Display pictures are now more flexible and allow animated gifs to be properly displayed with the animations (previously only a still frame appeared). Additionally, integration with a webcam seems better here as there is an option to do a snapshot directly from within the picture dialog. If I'm not wrong (as I rarely used it before) you couldn't actually do this in the older version without resorting to additional software to do a snapshot and then add it to available pictures.

Webcam options and animated gif support
A new added feature in here is the option to create your own dynamic display pictures. You need a webcam as you are not allowed to import ready made pictures or animations (without resorting to tricking the software). You can then capture either a still or a 4 second video and assign it to the default picture or any other 4 emoticons you want. When that emoticon is entered as a message, the display picture will animate accordingly to what was recorded.

Create your own dynamic pic
On the main program itself, the interface has been slightly altered and the left-hand tabs are now not/optionally displayed. Interface settings are hidden until you mouseover the top right corner of the program to reveal the configuration menu. By default, WLM9 includes scenes or themes that match the online Live series of websites (Live Hotmail and Spaces). If you don't like them you can add your own.

Peel-away reveals configurations
Theme settings
The contact list now supports 4 different sizes of icons (3 shown here) and can be set individually for contacts or favorites lists (you can still sort contacts according to groups or status)

Bullet or icons
Internally, now you have to option to disallow sign-in from another PC. Previously, whenever you sign-in onto another PC, any existing ones are disconnected but now if you do that, you are notified on which PC you're still signed on to.

/out options
The sounds panel has been heavily changed and now supports different sounds for different events and different users. By default, WLM9 uses the same sounds as before but it also comes with 10 pre-installed audio samples for you to assign. Additionally, you can assign different sign-in sounds to different people on your contact list (i.e. like different ringtones for different callers).

Contact soundsAlien?!?
You can also assign your own 'signature sound' which other contacts will hear when you come online (note that they need to be running WLM9 too).

In use, the WLM9 beta seems pretty stable and so far no bugs have appeared on my PC although reports have surfaced that some beta users lost their contact lists, history and installed packs. So if you're not willing to take a risk, wait for the final release else take the plunge and download WLM9b here.

Based on personal tests, WLM9 beta currently does NOT work well in XP (even with SP3 installed). In the 3 XP PCs I tested, one would not connect to the messenger service no matter what I did, another would crash on startup and the third cause XP to crash along with it. If you took the plunge and installed it on XP and are facing problems, you're probably looking for a way to uninstall it to install the older version('cos it doesn't create an uninstall option for you surprise! surprise!). Fortunately, you can manually uninstall it by running this command in the Run dialog box of the Start menu (Vista users need not worry as the normal uninstall option works for them)

msiexec /x {B1403D7D-C725-4858-AACC-7E5FA2D72859}

This tip comes from Jonathan Kay, MVP at his blog here. Note that screenshots above were taken with Messenger Plus Live! for WLM9 beta installed along with the additional Live and Emoticon packs (Wall-e, Fantastic 4, BearRabbit , I'm a PC) so some items may not be available in the default installation.

..... Show/hide full post

Why do we pirate?

I was asked a funny question once in which the person said "Why do you buy original DVDs? Can get at the pasar malam for RM6 only-ma". This got me to thinking as I surveyed his living room which, not surprisingly, had pirated DVDs and VCD/CDs displayed amongst other things - Why do people buy pirated goods?

The most obvious reason of course is price - with knockoffs of originals selling at a mere fraction of the originals' price. With this alluring factor comes demand and with demand comes more piracy, thus we have a never-ending cycle that continues to flood the market with fake goods.

There are reasons why pirated DVDs sell so cheap. For one thing it relies on the work of others. By buying a pirated DVD, you have stolen a paycheck from the person who created the content on the disc. You have taken away the effort put in by the artwork designer that created the original cover and packaging for a cheap photocopy. You have thrown away all the hardwork of the staff at legal distribution and production companies. Not forgetting to mention, minisculed the hardwork of the hundreds (if not thousands) of people who work so hard on the film it contains just for 1-3 hours of your enjoyment. None of the money you've paid went to the actual people who deserved it but went into the pockets of pirateers instead.

FACTS you might not have known about piracy

  • Authoring something like a DVD can cost anywhere from US$10,000++. This does not include costs for obtaining copyrights and production of new materials (e.g. documentaries, commentaries), manufacturing and packaging as well as promotion and distribution.
  • Pirated DVDs may cost anywhere from RM3 to RM20 but the cost of each pirated disc? Maybe around 30 sen (maybe less or more depending on quantity). Buying a pirated DVD means you're probably paying for his third Ferrari car.
  • That RM100 Nike Shox was probably made in Vietnam by workers that earn few a sen a day (not saying that originals are that good either ... just better)
  • Piracy DOES feed into the black market. Watch the documentary on C&I channel and see how children (sometimes abducted) are shackled to sewing machines for hours at end making fake apparel for a few measly ringgit per day. Do you want to support this industry? What if it was YOUR child or someone you know?
  • Supporting piracy means attracting greed and greed makes man do the most despicable things. Worst case scenario occurs when piracy affects human lives (melamine tainted milk scare anyone? or killer cold medicine?) You wouldn't want to end up in the hospital suffering just because of faked goods would you?

Food for thought - if you buy pirated stuff, think of this REALLY HARD. How would YOU feel if someone stole from you behind your back? The act of piracy exists in many different forms and you might have experienced it before:

  • If you're a programmer, imagine not getting a paycheck because your colleague took credit for your work.
  • If you're a teacher, imagine giving classes and never getting paid for any.
  • If you're a software publisher, imagine a program you've toiled thousand of man-hours away being downloaded freely without your permission or worse being sold without you getting the profits.
  • If you're a student, how would you feel if your classmate copied your assignment and got better marks?
  • Would you be angry if someone wins a music competition with your composition?

There's a reason for the sticker price of a few tens of ringgit. It pays the people who work, just like how YOU receive a paycheck for the work YOU do. Don't deny them their means of livelihood and try not to support piracy of any form if you can. You don't want it to happen to you.

P/S: I might sound hippocrite, but this post does not mean that I myself don't buy pirated items. I just try to avoid them whenever I can. I most certainly am NOT going to pay RM1999 for something which I KNOW does not cost that much to make :D

..... Show/hide full post

Quantum of Solace preview

JB:QoS poster
Attended the special premiere of the James Bond:Quantum of Solace movie at the GSC Gardens on Friday night. First of all, The Gardens is like any typical mall in KL ... same stores, same stuff, same atmosphere - so in one word, BORING. As far as I know in the quick walkthrough of the place, nothing really interests me to go back for a second time.

Secondly, are these developers THAT desperate to open? The building is still largely incomplete and the signage is terrible. Locating GSC from the carpark was terrible as doors lead to a dead ends or ended up going in circles. Walkways were unfinished and dangerous - imagine 7 floors above ground level with no walls to stop you falling out. I'm wasn't the only one, 'cos I ended up with a group of maybe 15-20 of us scurrying around the floors of the carpark banging on multiple doors looking for ways into the Gardens. Guards were of no help because they either didn't know or just didn't speak English/Malay/any local language. *sheesh*

Was expecting something else...but is better than nothingAnyways, finally reached GSC Gardens with 10 minutes to spare but the halls were only open a little after 9:30pm, I'm guessing probably due to the lack of staff at the venue. As the crowd grew larger, noise levels went up as well as the heat. Those who won in the Discovery Channel contest were given a bag which featured a banged-up Buster with the slogan "Buster does all my stunts" along with a oversized pen and the current issue of the Discovery Channel magazine featuring James Bond. In the cinema, everyone had a large sized popcorn and Coke drink. The preview was held in Hall 1 which I later found out charges RM20 per ticket!! Pop corn and drinks were RM15 so for two people to watch a movie you would need RM55 ... kinda pricey!

So what about the movie? SPOILERS AHEAD - TO AVOID READING, SKIP TO ***!!! Hmm, if you're a James Bond fan you probably won't be dissapointed with the amount of action in this movie. Although its short (shortest so far amonst all the Bond films) it probably has the highest number of chase sequences in a single movie. It has foot chases (two actually), bike chases, car chases, boat chases and air chase scenes ... heck the only major mode of transportation not covered is on a train! After a while, it felt like there wasn't enough of a story to last the length of the movie so I'm guessing they added on these scenes - a bit too repetitive for my tastes but exciting nonetheless.

Predictably there's always the Bond girl that he sleeps with (no pun in name this time round though ... Miss Fields) and dies in a fashion uncannily like in Goldfinger. There are far less gadgets this time round other than the oh-so-obvious main sponsor Sony handphone that doubles as a camera with face recognition technology. Even the car gets banged up pretty bad after the first five minutes and is never seen again. Characters seem to appear in the movie such that they do not really support or move the story along other than to provide more evidence against Bond to bring him in to MI6 because of his actions.

Overall though I can't really complain too much. It IS a valiant effort trying to make a full length movie out of what is actually a short story as it attempts to conclude the story from Casino Royale (eventhough NONE of the story itself is used in the film other than the title). Basically, for effects, action and thrills it earns highest marks but otherwise its just OK and is probably worth the price of admission. Gardens on the other hand gets a dissapointing two thumbs down (for now, might change once its complete) as a place to shop/spend time ... you get more at Sunway/1U/Curve etc.

..... Show/hide full post

Busy busy busy

1034 hrs local (+8GMT)

CNN snapshot of current US poll standings
Gonna try to make this a multi-post day as America decides who becomes their next president (As of now Obama leads 194 to 69 for McCain). Personally, I have no qualms or questions on who should win and neither do I have any preference, its just the current story that apperas on every news portal.

Anyways, have to rush out later and make a trip to ASTRO in TPM, then later to Menara Star and another drop off at Mid Valley at the end ... and I'm predicting a lot of cursing when I join the traffic jams at each area.

UPDATE 1110 hrs local (+8GMT)

CNN snapshot
Decided to go after lunch 'cos its raining :)

UPDATE 1200 hrs local (+8GMT)

Decided to help my dad fix up the dining room ceiling fan. The one that was there shorted out after a power surge and has been left hanging there since August. Since I have relatives migrating overseas, we decided to salvage one of their ceiling fans (since they were going to be sold anyways). Took around 45 minutes to disassemble and dismount the old one and put up the new one ... at least now there's a fan in the dining room again :D Only problem is that this 'new' one hangs 4.5 inches lower than the old one ... its so low I can touch the base without having even to go tippy toe (must remember not to stretch!)

Fan is up and spinning

UPDATE 1910 hrs local (+8GMT)

Its the evening and Barack Obama is now the next President of the USA. I'm back from a tiring day out travelling across the Klang Valley and collecting stuff.

Left the house at exactly 2.00pm and headed towards TPM first but by the time I reached Jalan Universiti, I was stuck in a traffic jam which took me nearly 35 minutes to get through. There are just too many traffic lights on that stretch of road and those bloody f**ing idiots who park illegally in front of PPUM only make things worse. Luckily it was a cloudy/rainy day so at least it wasn't too hot to drive.

Stuck in a jam with nothing to do
Made it to Bukit Jalil circa 3:00pm and proceeded towards TPM for the ASTRO building to collect the first prize for today. After registration, had to make it into the building this time to collect (usually they just distribute at the registration counter).

15 minutes later, I was out of there with two tickets to the premiere screening of James Bond : Quantum of Solace for this Friday at GSC Signature, The Gardens. The remainder of the prize will only be handed over at the venue (*sheesh*) courtesy of Discovery Channel Asia.

Premiere tickets
Then it was back to the highways again as I proceeded to Menara Star for the second prize collection of the day. Took me another 45 minutes to get back due to heavy traffic, rain and of course, those blasted traffic lights again. Finally reached Phileo Damansara area at 4:00pm but decided against parking inside the building after seeing the long queue forming outside - so I parked behind BHP Petrol and walked there instead.

Took me another 15 minutes to get to the Menara Star lobby by foot (took wrong way and ended up in the wrong building ... hee hee) and had to go through the whole registering, deposit license, taking pass procedure just to get to the 7th floor. Collection was fast and I managed a sneak peek at the In.Tech offices at theStar (reminds me a lot of the IT dept at my workplace) whilst waiting ... wonder where all the staff are? There were only a handful there, so I'm guessing either meeting or convetion. The prize? Wall-e movie tie-in merchandise and Canon sponsored calculators.

The polo-tee is kids size unfortunately but I'll probably keep it just because. The automatic umbrella is really cute with the eyes of Wall-e silkscreened on the outer side but the inner side is really neat with a faint imprint of a night sky (the camera somehow picks up the 'stars' and shows them as bright dots ... is probably reflective or something). The Wall-e mousepad goes into my collection (nearly 30+ already!) and I'll figure out where the calculator will do its function.

Wall-e brolly
Ooh.. purty stars
I decided against going to Mid Valley after seeing the then-forming traffic jam. I'll leave that for another day and another journey.

UPDATE 2350 hrs local (+8GMT)

Just found out that the Canon calculator prize is actually made from recycled materials! This probably answers the question as to why give a calculator as a prize. Seems that Canon reclaims old hardware (printers, photocopiers, scanners etc) and disassembles them into its basic components to later remanufacture/remold to create this line of fully recycled calculators that run on solar power.

..... Show/hide full post