Wednesday, 31 July 2013

C'est La Vie

“A few times in my life I’ve had moments of absolute clarity. When for a few brief seconds the silence drowns out the noise and I can feel rather than think, and things seem so sharp and the world seems so fresh. It’s as though it had all just come into existence.

I can never make these moments last. I cling to them, but like everything, they fade. I have lived my life on these moments. They pull me back to the present, and I realize that everything is exactly the way it was meant to be.”

- C.Isherwood.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Langkawi Chronicles: Kittehs

Two weeks now these little munchkins came to live with me and my life is already changing. 2 kittens is a lot of work but watching them bounce and pounce around makes up for the difficult parts.

Got them from a colleague who offered a pair from her own Queen. A brother and sister pair.

They are somewhat already cat-sand trained but going potty still needs be a supervised and coached activity, if nothing else to ensure no accidents happen. Feeding is a 3 times a day routine where a mix of kitten soft food with biscuits is offered in a his and hers mini bowls.

Twin terrors

Still are nameless, thinking of naming them uhm, Boy & Girl! 

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Langkawi Chronicles: S-l-o-w d-a-y

Since the start of the Ramadhan, things have been very slow here. Like really slow.

Occupancy has fallen to ridiculous levels, lower than 30%. If this resort were a commercial establishment, we would have to close down after 3 months or so due to low room sales.

Not wanting everyone to just fade into the low occupancy malaise, we drafted a maintenance and upkeep to do list. Quite a number of tasks were identified and now the team is ticking them off, item by item upon completion.

Good enough I guess, though to some have begin to question my logic of making them do the work instead of getting external help like before.

Oh well.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Aromatic, Tasty and Appetizing Soup!

The recent hoopla about a certain Pork themed comment on FB really got my pants in a twist. Really. So a person who isn't of my religion posts a culturally insensitive picture blurb and many decided it was okay to announce to the world their outrage.

Why the righteous anger? Surely there are better things to concentrate about, personal sacrifice and penance among them, during this holy month of Ramadhan. Far from being devout (god, I don't know if I can ever claim to be one), but one of the most basic tenets of Islam is to forgive those who do not understand. Explain and educate to the those who do not understand so they will see the true essence of Peace in Islam.

Not go about posting equally crazy comments on FB. Threats, calls for physical bodily harm, for capital punishment should not have been thrown about like confetti at a wedding. Does no one realise that the angrier (and lurid) our comments, the more it perpetuates the misunderstanding that Islam is about harsh measures and punishment, when at the very heart it should be about peace for all.

So yeah, the poster had the audacity to suggest Muslims partake in a Pork dish. Even if the poster intentionally did what he did, it is always our right and duty as Muslims, to take the high road about the insult. Was it Biadap? Sure it was. Was I upset? Certainly. But like many moderate Muslims, I believe the system will take care of things if we use the proper channel(s). True enough, the poster and his co-poster is being taken to task and support was given even by non-Muslims, who for me, is enough to prove that there are many moderate Malaysians amongst us.

How did we allow such a stupid and petty remark by the poster get our panties in such a bind? For what it is worth, some malays actually use the word babi as a pejorative, sometimes racially too. So it is okay for us to fling the word at others (I too am guilty of this on occasion) but as soon as someone suggest we muslim partake in a non-halal dish we go up in arms and put on our knuckle-dusters? Let it go, express your dissatisfaction in a logical and educated way please. Jangan buat malu bangsa dan agama.

And the thing is, has anyone ever tasted the Halal variant of the dish? Substitute the meat with something more agreeable and halal and make it without addition of rice wine (Chic Kut Teh anyone?) and the dish really is 'Wangi, Enak dan Menyelerakan'.

I think the best way to deal with idiots is to ignore them. The sooner we forgive and forget the better it is for us.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Langkawi Chronicles: Cinematic Misery

Right. Langkawi I thought was devoid of a cinema but thank heavens there is one - Chiah Mega Cineplex (click here). This one in Langkawi is fairly large, it has 3 cinema halls and the largest can accommodate about 400 pax ( 20 per row and easily 20 rows named alphabetically). The smaller halls can accommodate about 300 per session. None too shabby actually. Equipped with Dolby Surround and all the usual cinema AV standards. Their concession stand sells arguably the best Caramel Popcorn on the Island - sweet, sticky and crunchy!

However, every time I go catch a movie invariably some manner of cinema experience ruining things will occur. Sometimes all of them. T_T

Rowdy crowds will often show up late, basking in their exuberant energies and stomp up the stairs leading to their seats and talking to their mates, who from the volume of their speaking would suggest they are across the hall (but in actuality right next to them). How fun it is when you come in late (but buying popcorn takes time!), slowly leg it  to your seats and become the main attraction along the way.


Some person will invariably have their phone NOT silenced. And invariably they will have the most obnoxious sounding ring tone blaring (which they will only realise is ringing after several long seconds) before actually answering the call AND initiating a conversation getting louder as they try to drown out the on-going movie so that the caller can hear them. All this while still comfortably seated in their chairs. Totally oblivious to the fact that many have paid good money for an uninterrupted viewing of the movie.
Sure, I tell myself that it must be a very important call. A friend once had to de-stress by watching a movie during a family crisis, but he had his phone on just in case. So I can see the logic behind it. But these jokers are certainly not expecting an emergency call, with their relaxed posture and animated conversation. Dude! At least GTFO of the hall (or the sidelines) please!

Then there would be families, with mom and dad and their gaggle of monkeys in tow. Innocent enough yes, cute even, but then why would you bring an infant/toddler along for a midnight showing? Mid movie, their demon-monkey (sorry parent/s) would be bored out of their young minds and start twitching, squealing and finally cry out indignantly. In the dark of the movie showing. And their parent/s would only realise their shrieking imp is unhappy a few long moments after. 

Guys, what were you thinking bringing a sub-2year old into a movie screening of Pacific Rim? Did you really think your squirming blood-maggot can actually enjoy the show? That it would be educational? That cute lil' Ahmad or Lisa can benefit from it? Note to couples: If you ain't ready to become parents, put on protection before you do the horizontal tango please. 

Please. Just Help Me!
As if all the above was not enough, there will always be twitchers and chair back knee-ers, whose resonating twitching with increase in frequency along with the excitement level of the on-going show. 


Monday, 15 July 2013

Langkawi Chronicles: New Gadget Review - Asus FonePad ME371MG

The absence of a smart-device finally pushed me off the edge. My Galaxy Note it seems requires a more uhm, stringent inspection and would need to be sent outside of Langkawi. I consented of course, despite at moments wanting to fling the damned thing into a wall for failing on me nary 2 years after buying it.

My previous phone lasted a good 3.5 years before I gave it away to significant other half when she needed one after she lost her phone (which was right after me buying the G Note).

I don't think I am particularly rough with my gadgets, I take precautions to sleeve it in some kind of protection or case - TPU or 'Jelly' types usually, or the occasional Hard case type. I do back-ups and memory updates as soon as they are released by the developers. But, my G Note decided to take the midnight train to anywhere just the same.


So, after some soul searching (a long one! I didn't wanna spend so much cash on a new gadget in the event it dies again and I am ruined financially!), I decided to buy the new Asus FonePad, a tablet with 3 calls/telephony capabilities.

Le box and le FonePad.
Ordered it from and about a week later it arrived. Never mind it took so long, no thanks to TNT, bloody slow couriers.

Simple enough packaging, a black box containing the tablet, micro usb cable, 3 pin fast charger and a manual/warranty booklet. I appreciate the fact that Asus decided not to include wired earphones as those that come supplied are often not good enough for me (that's looking at you Samsung!). Asus' rational was that many gadget owners would already have a few lying about and those who are serious about their music will always have their own personal choice of head vs earphones. Makes sense to me. However, it also did not include a Blue tooth headset (yeah, wishful thinking). I take it Asus wanted to keep the cost down. -1.

No fluff whatsoever.
Setting it up was easy enough with free Wi-Fi at work and as usual the standard gamut of Android (Jelly Bean 4.1.2) startup apps came into play. The screen started up and the soft shine of the 7 Inch IPS screen shone to life. As a person who is used to Super AMOLED, I felt a tad let down by the lack of 'Pop' for colours. It still is a full HD LCD screen with 1280 X 800 resolution, with a PPI hovering around 220.  However, IPS screen does have a few advantages - softer light being emitted results in less eye strain, greater viewing angle, and better power consumption, and these are only discovered after repeated use of the FonePad.+1.

Power button and volume rocker
Bottom ports - micro usb for data transfers & charging
and the 3.5mm head/earphone jack

I loved the fact that the physical buttons are all at the top left edge. Away from accidental presses while gaming or landscape-oriented gadget use (I am a rightie, so I hold my tablet in my left). The only other visible ports would be for the micro usb and the 3.5mm headphones and these are placed on the bottom of the device. Access for the Micro SIM and External micro SD card which is supported up to 32gb (and even an external HDD via OTG cable- mine is a Seagate 1Tb Backup Plus), is hidden behind a back panel which was a real bitch to remove. Looks easy enough in the many YouTube videos, but I wasted close to an hour trying to thumb the thing off. In the end I had to resort to using a blade to slip into the tiny gap and slowly lever the thing off. At least now I an sure it wont come off easily and lose the bloody thing somewhere. -1.

Bloody hard to remove SIM & SD card cover!
Using the device is a joy as the 7inch screen size is certainly upgrade from my 5inch G Note, the black bezel framing the screen quite well. The best part is of course the Intel Atom Z2420 chip. It is actually the latest chip from Intel designed for use specifically in mobile devices. Single-core yes, but this lean chip supports 'hyperthreading' which functions somewhat like what a dual-core chip would. It made my browsing and page flicking and swiping smooth and zippy. This is indeed a wonderful surprise from Intel and Asus. Heavy graphic games, especially with 3D rendering like Dungeon Hunter 4 and Temple Run 2, certainly show some lag and stuttering, but that is common even for a dual core device. However, the combination of Jellybean's low memory use and Intel's Atom chip works well. I am yet to experience a Force Closure of any apps. All JB operating devices have this annoying pop-up that comes on when a certain activity is not responding, but on the FonePad, as soon as I tick the 'wait for response' option, invariably the app resumes. To me this says the chip's capability does not let up. +1

Battery life is also outstanding (4270 ma/h) with Asus saying it would last about 9 hours on talk-time. I can be considered a heavy user - Sync On, Emails/Whatsapp/Messaging, Videos and Streaming as well as some gaming, so I was very impressed with the 6 hours and 39 minutes the device gave me despite my constant use of surfing, gaming and videos. On most days since I have had it, the battery meter only decreases and 1-5% after lunch (from 100%). I work using a lappie and free WiFi, so it reduces demand on my own data enabled FonePad. Activate the battery monitoring Asus App - Power Saver, and it places greater control on battery consumption. +1.

As far as Skins or Apps go, Asus has placed very little onto the FonePad so I get a near vanilla Android feel to it. The few Apps installed certainly do help me in my work - Asus' own Audio Wizard (nice sounds from this tablet), Studio (a wonderful tweak that allows Picture & Video file creation and cataloguing), WebStorage (5gb of cloud storage), Splendid (for managing the Screen and Colours) and of course my faves, floating Apps that function like mini pop-ups (12 in total, including a Note taking app which after using the G Note, is something I look for in any device). +1.

The front and back cameras are of course (1.2 & 3.1 MP respectively) working only with passing ability. It could have certainly been better. Pictures turn up washed out and grainy, and sometimes out of focus; no thanks to the auto-focus's problems. The lack of an LED flash is also a real issue. I have seen better performance on other 3MP snappers so it isn't about the 3MP resolution at all, perhaps the App itself or the hardware (lens mainly). I will have to try downloading a Camera App from Google Play and see if this situation improves. -1.

Dessert of Pandan Kaswi looking sandy!
Shrimp in Chili Tamarind also looking sandy!
One of the better shots, after the lens finally
managed to stop focusing/un-focusing.
The 7inch tablet with 3g calling and telephony works perfectly for me. And when I am making calls, I don't hear any distortion or is it any difficult to use. It functions and works exactly like it should on any other Android device (only this is a 7incher). I do feel a right twat with this slapped on my face while making/taking calls, so having a Blue tooth headset will greatly reduce my embarrassment (although, many seem to be perfectly okay with having a book sized phone across their faces). To each their own I guess. +1.

The best thing is the price! I bought mine from Superbuy at only RM709! A steal as it easily outdoes most other phones in the same price range (and then some). A beautifully designed sub-RM800 Tablet/Phone combo that has all the required bells & whistles, metal back panel, wonderful sloping edges and solid performer to boot. What else can one hope for?

Heheh, because of the savings (retail it is RRP RM849, which is still cheap, by the way), I have ordered myself a BT Keyboard Case (click here)  and a 16gb micro SD card. Lets see what I can get up to with the keyboard!

Still in the mail. Can't wait!
You can read more on the about the full specs of Asus FonePad, by clicking this.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Langkawi Chronicles: Smart-device Hunting

My G-Note is still dead, no thanks to Grace One Telecommunication (read it here: Which forces me to analyze and accept the fact that I need to have my phone contacts and data with me all the time. Some would argue that this is actually (inter)Net Addiction.

I however, love the fact that I can easily access any type of information that I require in mere seconds. I find the convenience really appealing, especially for my line of work as it allows me the ability to react to my guest's needs for information speedily. Sure, some information should already memorised - emergency procedures, resort facility and equipment how tos, places of interest, contact details, etc..

I got around on Facebook asking my friends what I should do to alleviate my deprivation. A simple voting request of sorts with a few key facts - a) I need a smart device for calls, email, Internet & 3G data, and, b) Max budget to purchase new device capped at RM800.

Okay friends, need your opinion. You know the sitch on my smartphonelessness. The adventure continues. Should I:

1) Attempt to repair my Galaxy Note.
2) Fuck repairing it. Get a new device.
3) Shaddap and save Money. Live with the dumb ass Nokia and usb Broadband stick
until Note 3 is unveiled

The response has been quite good thus far. With many of them really understanding my own motivations and situation. Many sent in their votes and option 2: Get a new device seems to be leading. 

I have a few gadgets and accessories I am eyeing that fits within my budget.

Current Fave: 7" IPS Screen, 3G Data, Telephony Capabilities,
Low power consumption chip, Expandable storage,
Bluetooth capable, ASUS floating window Apps.

Recommended by a friend: Cheaper than Asus Fonepad, All the Android Bells & Whistles, effectively a Sammie G-Note clone. Cool!
Back to square one. This is indeed a Samsung Powerhouse.
All rounder capability @Dual Core, Super AMOLED screen, 5.3" Screen,
Note capabilities. Endlessly root-able :)
The best phone I ever had - great package all in one!
A departure from Android (I am a Fandroid), but quite intriguing as I love the Windows Tile and how it works.
Low power consumption and minimal RAM resource needed. It is a bit over my budget though. Sigh.

And of course the multitudes of accessories I may need - Bluetooth Keyboard (only if I do get the Fonepad, so I can do remote typing), Cases (well, you would want to protect a new device yes?), Screen Protector (de rigeur I think) and perhaps a Bluetooth headset for pairing for taking and making calls (which I already have, Samsung HM1200). 

The voting tally roughly slants towards getting a new device so lets see what the final results will be. The old phone I may still send for repairs to be used as a secondary device. 

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Rant Alert: Grace One Telecommunication, Langkawi

In late May, my Galaxy Note went wonky and decided it was not going to switch on while I was at work. Being someone who relies heavily on data and information accessed through a handheld device, I was definitely thrown off kilter.

Incoming emails I couldn't immediately respond to, my calendar and appointments pop-ups were gone, and not to mention the contact data and other such much needed information. As it were, I do have a typical dumb-phone ready for use in a cases like this, so it wasn't a total loss. 

The adventure began when I opted to send my Note to a nearby phone repair shop close to my rental home and work. 

Thus begins my suffering. 

After 8 days, I was still not getting any updates despite calling the store twice to ask for updates. The lady shop assistants (2 of them at least) were woefully uninformed. They did not know what was wrong with it, or did they know where the phone currently is at (which sent screaming bells of alert through my brain). They did however said they will contact me a couple of days later. 

2 days later on 9 May, I dropped by the shop inquiring about the phone, but alas, it was still not ready. Apparently their boss/proprietor had taken the phone to Alor Star to repair or replace the power management IC chip, and will take another week to bring it back as their boss was on leave (the fucker took it and dropped it off at his buddy's place). The chip replacement was expected to cost me RM150. I relented after the shop assistants promised to notify me.

A few days later (16 days in total), I received a text - "Anset anda da siap. RM250. Grace One Telecommunication". When I enquired why the charge has ballooned, they couldn't say why. I asked to have the replaced chip and they said, "Oh kami memang tak bagi dekat customer". I told them the chip is rightfully mine as it came out of my phone. After a lenghty silence, I paid the girl and demanded for a receipt. Even then, she was hesitant to write me up one. Gave the bitch the evil eye and she relented. Said my thank yous and I stormed out of the shop. 

On the way out I noted a Chinese chap (who I am guessing is the shop owner) finally slinking back into the shop. 

Happy that my trusty device is okay I parked my sour mood away. 

6 days later, the disaster struck. My phone just quit and refused to boot up again! Incensed, I called up the shop wanting warranty repair on it. I also called the owner and gave him a piece of my mind. He was strangely, rather calm despite my icy tone. Sent it back for repairs on 15 June.

The story is yet to have a happy ending. 5 calls and 7 SMSes later, including a particularly stiffly worded one, the owner said my phone will be ready by today. I swear to God if the bastard does not get my phone fixed, I will lodge a police report and raise hell.

Yet another day without my smartphone.

Peeps, if your phone breaks down in Langkawi DO NOT, under any circumstances, dire or otherwise, send your phone to Grace One Telecommunication in Beras Terbakar of Padang MatSirat.

I repeat, DO NOT send it there, unless of course you want the SLOWEST phone servicing action on the planet, four most useless shop assistants (lovely to look at but TOTALLY lacking in understanding of customer service) and the biggest LIAR of a proprietor.

Absolute flip-flopping-wanker-scumfeeding-slimes-of-the-earth of a shop!


Update: 4 June 2013, 1850Hrs.

Dropped by at the shop at 1806hrs and was greeted by 2 of the shop assistant ladies. "Ah, mai dah", they said. I mentioned I was there to pick up my phone as promised by their boss (who slunk outwards, in the same Yellow shirt I saw him wear weeks ago). Then the bombshell.

"Kami pulangkan fon tu naa, Kami tak buleh buat. Boss kami hantaq pi Kuah pun tak buleh. Jadi kami pulangkan 250 Ringgit yang bayaq hari tu semula la naa".



Monday, 1 July 2013

Out & About: The Frangipani Langkawi Resort & Spa

Week before last, we had a group from Hospitality Services over at our resort and one of the activities requested involved a visit to a nearby establishment. Noting that the purpose of the session was more for the exposure benefit of the participants, I suggested The Frangipani Langkawi Resort & Spa, nestled in Pantai Tengah. A few introductory emails and calls later, the resort's GM graciously granted us a visit to their property. 

It turned out to be a lovely session, mainly due to the perfect handling of our small group by the resort team. 

We arrived fairly early by 8.30 a.m and was immediately received by Frangipani's EAM, FO Manager, Housekeeper and Environment Officer. After a short welcome speech by the EAM Mr Bennet, we were quickly split into 3 smaller groups and taken for a guided tour and expalanation of our target department's activities.

Welcome note and pre-briefing! That gigantor in black would be me! :P

Throughout the session, it was very evident to me of the level of love and care the Frangipani team had for the property. And what made it even more interesting was the fact that this hotel/resort is one of the few in Malaysia to be able to claim having implemented Green initiatives. 

Them awards!
Even the sign is made from available resource - reduce, reuse & recycle indeed!
There were touches of Green everywhere, low wattage lights, solar panels, rainwater saving tanks, recycle bins, creative reuse of glass bottles. In fact, the hotel actually encourages interdepartmental "Best Garden" contests. In fact the resort even collects used cooking oils and grease from staff and exchange them for new! How cool is that?

Glass bottles used as part of the wall decor, lets in colorful light into the guest rooms
Disposal & Recycle collection bins
Signboard made from reused floor panels!
Air-conditioning condensation collection. Apparently, during hi-season they can capture
up to 1000 liters of water this way and used for watering nearby plants by the Landscape team.
Month old herb garden
Herb garden
Note the liberal use of bottles as garden edging.
Winter-melon vines. These are grown the green way, organically,
with fertilizers taken from their in-house compost
(which is fed by any organic wastes the resort produces - leaf trimmings, kitchen scraps, etc).

Reused bottle lampshade
The Environment Officer giving us a run down on benefits of capturing rainwater to be used as greywater
(water for flushing, plant watering, etc - not for shower & consumption)
Every single room is equipped with a solar powered heater.
This saves the resort some 10K a month in heating bills!
Even the in-room amenities are Green conscious!
The electrical equipments and A/C are switched on only upon guest entering the room (by the resort personnel).

 It was really inspriring to the see such conviction towards making their resort Green. The efforts by the Frangipani surely deserves applause. 

Yup, I am still huge!
A big thank you to The Frangipani Langkawi Resort & Spa team