Tuesday, 26 December 2006

A better way to overcome spousal (and kinds of) arguments

Ustaz Abdullah, a friend of my family, shared with us a very interesting observation. As an ustaz, he sometimes plays the role of mediator for married couples who are weathering some of the most stormiest phases of their marriage.

Usually, when the arguments starts to escalate to a breaking peak, both sides will always blame the other for everything that has gone wrong. Vis-a-vis, they both will try to convince the mediator that they are the one suffering from all this.

A good mediator would often suggest the spouses to go back, reassess the entire situation and come back when everything has been cleared up. And here's the interesting part: once the two has put everything into perspective, the opposite thing happen. They would instead willingly own up to their mistakes and would even go to defend whatever the other is trying to admit.

This happens almost every time. So much so that Ustaz Abdullah is convinced that there's a third party at work. It's none other than syaitan, who would rejoice greatly at the collapse of a marriage. Syaitan's work include causing friction between two harmonious parties and people who also assume this role (batu api) can also be considered as syaitan.

During the arguments, syaitan is hard at work to make the husband and the wife angry at each other. However, when things cool down again, both spouses are able to work thing out because syaitan has left.

What's sad is that sometimes syaitan's influence will finally be gone after the words of talaq has been uttered.

How can husbands and wives avoid from this influence? According to Ustaz Abdullah, the best way is to remain calm and praise Allah by saying subhanallah. Spouses will always find themselve in situations where their patience for the other are tested. But those who successfully overcome these situations are the ones who always praise Allah, in good or bad. Praising Allah is an effective way to counter syaitan's influence. We would be able to maintain our composure and focus on the issue at hand. On the other hand, venting out anger will often lead to other bad things like verbal abuse and feelings of resentment.

Ustaz Abdullah also mentioned that in life we are often tested with people who are opposite of us. A punctual husband will be tested with a wife who's incautious about time. An disciplinarian mother will be tested with a rebellious child. And that's the way it is, since our lives is a test after all. Staying connected to Allah will help us to do right things in handling such people.

Anger will only perpetuate and eventually worsen the problem. The better approach would be to remain calm and ask the other person to help make the situation better. Be kind but firm about it.


Thursday, 21 December 2006

Out now!: Happy Hour is 9 to 5

Chief Happiness Officer, Alexander Kjerulf, has written a lot on why happiness matters in building a successful company over at his blog. Now he's happy to announce that his book, Happy Hour is 9 to 5 is now available in bookstores or purchasable as a PDF e-book. He's even been generous enough to upload the entire content of the book over at his website. I like his message very much: that it's the happiest workers who are the best workers and there's nothing wrong with treating your work as fun (officers and managers, do take note). If you want try out some his ideas, check the book's workbook.

Wednesday, 20 December 2006

IE 7 and Opera 9.1

Was it fate? My Windows XP Automatic Updates finished downloading for me Internet Explorer 7 (IE 7) at about the same time Opera 9.1 came out.

Are you using the latest IE? If not, I suggest you do. IE 7 is a huge leap forward by Microsoft (albeit, a long overdued one). I was skeptical about it at first, but after a while I have to say the IE team has done quite well. IE 7 even does certain better compared other browser like RSS feeds handling. The good news doesn't stop here: tabbed browsing, page zooming (like in Opera), pop-up blocker, phishing filter, better printing options and a revamped, cleaner-looking interface are just some of the newly-added improvements. IE 7 certainly defied my skepticism, and if they continue to improve like this, I may have to like Microsoft again. That aside, marvelous effort, IE team.

Are using Opera? If not, then you should. Honestly, you're going to miss out on one of the best browsing experience accessible to Man. It was the one that introduced me to tabbed browsing. If anything, Opera is one of the fastest browsers around, if not the fastest. It loads itself and webpages swifter than others, as far as my senses are able to notice. What else does it have under its hood? How about automatic BitTorrent support, session saver (another first by Opera, I believe), tabbed browsing with thumbnail preview and note-taking capability? Don't just take my word for it, people, give Opera a whirl yourself.

Monday, 18 December 2006

Recently-bought books (and a few free ones)

I went to Pay Less Book Store clearance sale in Subang last Friday with my friend Xin. We arrived at about 11.30 AM and spent about an hour browsing the selections. What caught us by surprise was the length of the checkout lines. We retreated at about 1.10 PM (since nearly everyone else were buying books in numbers that could easily fill up a small library), abandoned the checkout line, set our books aside in a box by the wall and headed for the Al-Falakh mosque (if I'm not mistaken) for Friday prayers. We came back to claim our spoils about an hour later and had lunch at the nearby A&W before heading home.

I must remind myself to allocate a few free hours for events like these. Due to lack of time, I couldn't practice some (most, actually) of the advice I shared on preparing for a book sale.

Despite the time constraint, I managed to grab a few books that I think I will enjoy. Xin took home 5 books, one sci-fi and books from the Jean Auel's Earth's Children series. I had to put a few titles back on the shelves to save some money for the next trip to a bookstore, but overall I'm happy with my rezeki for the day.

Like most male readers, I tend to gravitate towards non-fiction. I bought two memoirs by Rick Bragg, All Over but the Shoutin' and Ava's Man. He was former journalist of The New York Times. The books are on his childhood in the Deep South Alabama.

I caught this one right before leaving and I'm currently reading it. Home by Choice is an in depth examination of the role of a stay-at-home mother and a rebuttal to the feminist-spawned notion of 'being "just a housewife" destroyed women's potential and caused brain rot', to quote a line from the book. One of my main motivations for reading this is explore solutions that would allow women to fully play their roles as mothers and earn an income at the same time. I don't know if we're seeing the same thing, but I do think that the current situation is unhealthy (or perhaps even hazardous) for the mental well-being of the future generation. Women can become industrial workers, managers or CEOs (and a lot of them are good at their job). The issue here is that we can find people to fill the roles of the industrial workers, managers or CEOs; but there is no one that can fill in the role of mothers other than the mothers themselves. I believe mothers do understand this, but society has no real idea how it is extremely important for mothers to be there for their young children. This book is not about guilt tripping working mothers into full time housewifery, but it is a despairing plea to every one of us to reconsider our decisions in order to ensure that our children will not suffer in this progressively chaotic world.

How much did I pay for these 3 books? RM13. Xin got his for RM12.

I also got a few other books for free.

The Bootstapper's Bible is a book by Seth Godin on the bootstrapper state of mind. I highly recommend this e-book for anyone as a business read and especially for those looking for starter's guide in entrepreneurship. It's currently being offered as a free download only until this 30th December at ChangeThis.

I must thank Jiwa Rasa for his review of this book. Mengapa Kami Bantah!: Penggunaan Bahasa Inggeris bagi Mengajarkan Sains dan Matematik is a collection of academic writings on the highly-debated (not out on the open, anyway) issue. My personal feeling is more on the process of evaluation of the proposed idea, a few years back then. No pilot group, no open discussions with education experts and the speed of which everything was implemented are some of the things that still bug me till this day. I just downloaded this e-book from the Kongres Bahasa website a few hours ago. I hope it will open our eyes, and hopefully the policy makers' as well, to what is happening and what the academicians have to say.

Tuesday, 12 December 2006

Can Ubuntu Live CD read my USB thumbdrive? Can.


It was one of those 'gatal nak cuba' moments. Early evening with nothing urgent to do, I popped in my Ubuntu Live CD and wondered if it could detect USB thumbdrive. My USB thumbdrive is formatted as FAT32 and I hear Ubuntu is able to read it.

Oh? What's this? Ubuntu Live CD really CAN detect my USB thumbdrive. In just seconds. I opened my Business Law assignment, typed in Word .doc file format, without any problem with OpenOffice.

I even tried to open a PDF e-book that I saved in the USB thumbdrive. No problems here too. It wasn't opened using a Linux version of Adobe Reader, but another PDF software that I forgot its name called Evince.

However, I couldn't open the video file I had in the USB thumbdrive because the necessary codecs weren't available.

The screen caps above was taken using a tool in Ubuntu. It was a snap to use. Windows sorely needs to have something like it.

Verdict: Another reason for me to seriously consider using Ubuntu Linux. 'Makin kenal, makin cinta (are you listening, Microsoft?) Hehe.

POSTSCRIPT: The title of this post is actually patterned on the speaking style of one of my former teachers, Dr. Al-Irhayim, an Iraqi and one of the founders of my previous faculty. He speaks Bahasa Melayu with a rather remarkable fluency. And as we can see, he's mastered Manglish too.

Friday, 8 December 2006

Adobe Reader 8: sleeker and faster

Adobe recently released the latest version of its PDF reading software, Reader 8. Reader 8 is noticeably faster and has a newly designed interface that will probably make the previous versions of Reader look so last millenium. Other newly-added refinements include tools for working with PDF documents and a smaller size. Far too early for me to tell whether I like this version or not, but so far, it's not bad.

Saturday, 2 December 2006

Tak laku

Saya pun tak sedar bila masa not RM10 ni sampai ke tangan saya. Kedai, bank, semuanya tolak bila saya hulur not ni.

Nilai dunia, masa tu saya terfikir. Sekejap saja tempoh lakunya.

Tuesday, 28 November 2006

How to prepare for a book sale

Book sales (especially stock clearance sales) are a good opportunity to find bargains, books that are no longer displayed on the bookstores' shelves sold or those out of print .

I've been to a couple of them myself and I've learned a few things that we can do to make the best of out a sale. To be honest, I'm still new at this. I'm just sharing some ideas that have worked for me and some people I know. And you're also welcome to share yours via comments.

What kind of book sale is it? Textbooks? English books? Used books? Old magazines? Save your fuel, energy and time by going to sales that offer the kind of books you're looking for.

Make a list. Making a list is a good way to avoid overspending and overbuying, especially if the prices offered are unbelievably low. Unless you're buying books to decorate your shelf.

You don't need to limit your list to titles only. Your list could be of books by certain author or of a genre or interest. A little flexibility here can go a long way.

Check the database/online catalogue on the organiser's website, if there's any. See how many books in your list that you are going to be available for the sale. And if you really, really need a certain book and worry that others will buy it first, try calling the organiser and see if they're willing to save you a copy.

Read reader's review/recommendation on websites and blogs. The power of word-of-mouth marketing. But like all kinds of opinion, be cautious and form your own conclusion.

What kind of book is it? In US books, on the copyright page, there's the Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data. This data helps clue us in on the book's content. For example, The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of The Learning Organization is catalogued under 1. Organizational effectiveness and 2. Work groups. For Bahasa Melayu books, look for Data Pengkatalogan-dalam-Penerbitan Perpustakaan Negara Malaysia.

Bring a willing and helpful companion with you. Like the list, this person can help you keep yourself grounded, offer advice, keep an eye on the time spent and so on. I stress 'willing and helpful' here for obvious reasons.

Preview read. Don't just grab a book you that heard is good and toss it in your basket. Read a few pages from random parts of the book. Ask yourself honestly if the book interests you.

Pray and hope. Especially when you're really, really looking for that certain book. Keep a positive outlook. Even if you missed the book or even the sale. The world will eventually end, but not because of this.

Friday, 24 November 2006

19 More Free Quality Fonts (!!!)

Computer Modern Serif Unicode, one of the ones I downloaded

Vitaly Friedman has been a very busy, busy guy. The last time, he compiled one of the awesomest list of free, quality fonts I've ever seen.

And now he's introducing another 19 more free, quality fonts to the world.
The results are listed below - the most beautiful fonts, created by the open-source community and free for personal, academic and (sometimes) commercial use. The disclaimers are changing from time to time, so you better first take a close look at disclaimer before using the font in a commercial project.
Whoa. 19. I'm going to need a moment to try to calm down.

In the mean time, check them out yourself. 19 new fonts for your posters, labels, logos, DIY CD covers or anything that creative mind of yours can think of.

[ Smashing Magazine: 19 More Free Quality Fonts ]

Thursday, 23 November 2006

Incredibly amazing painting painted using only MS Paint

Hats off to you, Diamonster. A clear proof that skills matter more than the tools used.

MS Paint? Is he kidding? This is really impressive, IMHO.

Wednesday, 22 November 2006

Kenangan Tunku

A portion of my last weekend was spent on Kenangan Tunku, by K. Das and Kua Kia Soong. It is a collection of interview transcripts between Almarhum Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra and the late K. Das, who was working on Tunku's only authorised biography. The biography was never finished because K. Das passed away in 1994. Kenangan Tunku is filled with candid recollection by our Bapa Kemerdekaan of his younger days, the Japanese rule, Merdeka, 13 May and UMNO. It was also my first real attempt at reading something from Malaysian history (aside from the stuff for Sejarah exams way back in school).

I realised a few things after reading this book:
  • Tunku was part royalty. This gave him the insight on the significance of the Malay Sultanate on the state and national governments and on the rakyat.

  • Tunku was a law graduate, as were the next two following PMs. It seems there are major differences between a leader how understand the philosophy behind law and its role in society and one who does not.

  • Prominent, younger politicians have tried to oust and silence Tunku for critising NEP (DEB) and other government policies.

  • Allahyarham Ghafar Baba was with UMNO since the beginning (and he was, IMHO, rather under appreciated).

  • A lot of things Tunku critised then still rings true today, despite the change of leadership.

Check it out if you have the opportunity. It's an interesting personal look how at the struggles made to bring this country into existence.

On a related note, another of Tunku's close associates, Allahyarham Khir Johari, passed away on the day I was reading this book. Al-Fatihah.

I'll admit that I know very little about our country's forefathers, but my fondest memory of them is from a sketch by Dato' Lat. I can't remember what it was about, but I remember a caricature of Tunku looking very cheerful and calling Khir Johari over the telephone. Khir was at home, in his sarung (!), responding nervously to whatever that Tunku said. It still brings me to smiles every time I think about it.

Tuesday, 21 November 2006

Zubair bin Awwam RA dalam berniaga

(Antara perkara yang membangkitkan saya untuk menulis pos yang sebelum ini.)

Zubair RA adalah antara sahabat yang masyhur sebagai peniaga yang berjaya. Apa kata beliau tentang berniaga?
Aku tidak pernah membeli barangan rosak untuk diperdagangkan dan tidak pernah berkeinginan untuk membuat keuntungan. Akan tetapi Allah telah mengurniakan keuntungan kepada siapa sahaja yang dikehendakiNya.

Tuesday, 14 November 2006

Respect and authenticity

Seth Godin, the marketing thinker, was asked to conclude an interview with what he thinks would be his 8-word legacy. His answer was:
Respect and authenticity are the secrets to success.
By respect, Seth mentions the respect for employees and the customers, both existing and potential. Authenticity is doing what we say we're going to do, and marketers who get what they want are the ones who keep their promises.

(You can listen to the entire interview here, by clicking the Download Podcast link.)

What Seth says echoes a lot of what I've thinking about, particularly with respect to Muslim-run businesses. Muslim business people argue that there is not enough support and confidence shown by Muslim consumers. In my humble opinion, this can be overcome, provided that these businesses possess both of the above.

Respect. People are tired of being treated as stupid and ignorant. Tell the real story behind the product or service. Cut the PR crud, give customers some time and they can tell whether a company knows what it is doing or not. There's no reason to stick around with a company that's all talk and nothing else.

Authenticity. Deliver what you promise. Don't promise what you can't. Offer according to your capabilities. Overselling is proven way to make people hate you, if that's what you want.

Create positive experiences for your customers and they'll become your marketers. Word-of-mouth and personal recommendations are still far more powerful than any sophisticated marketing plan you can ever think of, and that is still true today as it was during the days of the first market on Earth.

Sunday, 12 November 2006

Business Law student

I'm taking a course on Business Law this semester. Surprise, surprise, law is actually quite a colourful subject.

I'm very fortunate to get Prof. Akram as my teacher. He's got a very strong grasp on the subject and uses the old school method of delivering his material (no Powerpoint slides, the projector is only for display the Windows screensaver in giant size). Plus he's a quite a funny guy and even pokes fun at himself. ("I hate lawyers. Sometimes I even hate myself.")

Prof. Akram is one of the teachers who go great lengths to get people interested in a subject. A student may not understand the importance of that subject, but a teacher does. And if he or she believes so, he or she will try hard to convey that across using any means possible.

Wednesday, 8 November 2006

Launchy. It can change your life

It help changed mine.

According to its creator, Josh Karlin:

Launchy is a free windows utility designed to help you forget about your start menu, the icons on your desktop, and even your file manager.

Launchy indexes the programs in your start menu and can launch your documents, project files, folders, and bookmarks with just a few keystrokes!

Do you wish for a faster way to find files or launch a program? With this, you can. Simply activate Launchy using the Alt+Spacebar keys. A search bar (picture above) will appear and as you type, suggestions of the program or file you're looking for will be shown. Hit Enter and that's it. Alt+Spacebar to make Launchy disappear.

No need to click or point your way through folders and the Windows Explorer. (Just feel your life changing.)

However, Launchy can't simply find every program or file on your PC. A little tinkering is needed to optimise Launchy, by right-clicking on the search bar followed by clicking 'Directories'.

The 'Directories' option allows you to assign which the files and folders you wish to access with Launchy. You can also specify the file types, adding to more Launchy goodness. The official website has a better explanation on how you customise Launchy for your own use.

Do remember, Launchy can only find files and programs in specified directories and of specified file types.

Launchy: a small, sweet, free and useful little software that can help change lives. For the better.

Sunday, 5 November 2006

Pac pie

Something for the weekend, and for the children of the 80s.

[ Original link: ]

Thursday, 2 November 2006

The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency

The first time I heard of Alexander McCall Smith was from an interview in the Sunday Star, a couple of years ago. He was asked, as a male writer, how did he manage to write such a convincing female character? He then turned to his wife who was sitting beside him, suggesting jokingly that she was actually the person behind the books.

Since then, I waited for the opportunity to enjoy his work. That opportunity finally came when this book arrived at my school's library.

The story is set in Botswana, which is like the rest of Africa, a place I know very little about. My only links to continent are my classmates, one Eritrean fellow from my batch and a lady in the new batch, a native of Zanzibar, Tanzania.

Precious Ramotswe, or Mma Ramotswe, is Botswana's first and only female private detective. Using the money her late father left her, she sets up a small detective agency near Kgale Hill, Gaborone, with a tiny white van, two desks, two chairs, a telephone, a typewriter, a teapot and 3 cups (for making redbush tea, of course).

Mma Ramotse cases include investigating a husband who disappeared during a baptism, a daughter of a rich Indian merchant who sneaks off behind the family's back to meet with a mysterious boyfriend and a doctor who seems to be alternately competent on one day and incompetent on another.

The first chapter is a hint of Mma Ramotswe's crafty mind. A client comes with the problem of a man claiming to be her long lost father, who was earlier thought to be dead. Driven by a hunch that man could likely a con, Mma Ramotswe decides to beat him at his own game, by pretending to be nurse and faking a life-threatening situation. Needless to say, in the end the old con is foiled by his own admission.

The cases are fairly puzzling and some of them can be figured out after reading a few pages. But this definitely an instance of when the journey far outweighs the destination. A large portion of the book is about Mma Ramotswe's investigations and the things that happened to her. Between the investigation and happenings are her observations of the people and the land that she calls home. In Mma Ramotswe's eyes, Africa is alive and kinetic as any place on earth, and its people as familiar as anyone could imagine.

This is one of the best book I've ever read. In my life. Going from the front cover to the next was an absolute delight. McCall Smith writes with such a sharp insight and a love for the place, people and culture. I wholeheartedly recommend The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency if you're looking for a something out of the ordinary, and, if you're like me, unable to afford to trip to Africa.

Wednesday, 1 November 2006

Test driving Ubuntu Linux live CD

(This is a repost. I took it down awhile ago but at dzul's request I'm posting it back with the hope that it'll be beneficial for anybody who's seeking a life without Microsoft.)

I recently received a pleasant surprise in the mail, shipped all the way from Isle of Man. It was the Ubuntu Linux CD that I ordered online several weeks ago. I was surprised that they actually sent it, and all for free.

Ubuntu Linux is a project by South African entrepreneur, Mark Shuttleworth, to provide the public with free Linux operating system software that is user-friendly and at no cost. It is designed to work as similar as possible to the Windows operating system, in order to appeal to non-technical users. 'Ubuntu' is a Zulu/Xhosa word that means 'humanity towards others.'

The CD itself is both an installer and a live CD. I've only tested Ubuntu as a live CD because installing Ubuntu would require me to perform some hard disk management since I already have Windows XP installed in it and if it is not done properly, I might risk losing the data that's currently there.

As a live CD, I simply inserted the CD, rebooted the PC and the CD will load my PC in Ubuntu by reading it directly from the CD. Running a live CD is not recommended if you have a small amount of RAM (less than 256MB), a slow CD-ROM drive or faulty hard disk, as these will slow things down significantly.

And indeed the rumours are true! Ubuntu does look a lot like Windows. However, it's best not to compare between the two because they are both fundamentally different. And that's actually a good thing.

Ubuntu's advantages include: it's free, it's got 3-year security updates support, Ubuntu is virtually virus-free, and there's a lot of free software available for it like OpenOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird and others, that should help users get their things done as they would using Windows. Ubuntu Guide has a rather extensive list of how to get FTP, IRC, media players and other programs to work in Ubuntu.

I played around Ubuntu for awhile because there isn't much you can do with a live CD. I did however watched a video of Nelson Mandela explaining the philosophy of Ubuntu, like when a person goes to village, he will be welcomed and fed and will not be feeling alone, or something similar to that. It also cannot detect any files in my computer because Ubuntu uses a different file system (Ext3) than Windows XP (which uses NTFS). I read somewhere that Ubuntu can read FAT32 file systems, used in Windows 95, 98 and Me.

So what's the final verdict? Ubuntu certainly looks interesting, and I'm feeling like giving it a try. I've been talking to my classmate who's a network adminstrator and he's been encouraging me to make the leap. "If people met Linux first before they met Window, they'll choose Linux over Windows", my friend concluded, at the end of his Linux versus Windows presentation in one of our Management Information Systems classes.

Interested in joining the leap? I can make a copy of the CD (in fact, on the back of the CD case, it says that I'm encouraged to do so) if you want. Or, you order yourself a copy from Canonical and get free Ubuntu stickers like I did.

Free stickers. I'm telling you, they can be a very, very persuasive marketing tool.

Sunday, 22 October 2006

"Selamat Hari Raya, Maaf Zahir Batin"

Maafkanlah segala salah silap saya, yang sengaja serta tidak. Semoga kita semua diberi kekuatan olehNya untuk meneruskan serta menambah segala kebaikan yang kita telah usahakan semasa Ramadhan untuk baki usia sepanjang tahun. Amin.

(Gambar hiasan: cermin mata saya yang lama, baru diganti beberapa hari lepas. Agaknya kenapa? Cuba tengok betul-betul.)

Sunday, 15 October 2006

Abu Bakar As Siddiq RA before Islam

(Just recalling some things I learned from a tazkirah.)

Before Islam came to the Hijaz, it was a land of lawlessness. Tribes fought each other over major and trivial matters and blood was sometimes spilled like dishwater. There was no power to prevent or to intervene all this. According to historical scholars in Islam, the Arabs of Hijaz lived such a barbaric existence that the superpowers of the era, Romans and Persians, felt that there was nothing to be gained from conquering them.

But it is only human to seek justice and what is right. Although there were no legal framework, regulations or an institutionalised government in Hijaz then, disputes were at times referred to a few respectable figures in society. One of them was Saidina Abu Bakar As Siddiq RA.

These figures were considered as honourable and trustworthy. Their words were considered as acceptable and must be honoured by all. In a way, they were like publicly appointed judges.

Abu Bakar RA was a man of integrity and character. He respected for his background as well as a pragmatic resolver of conflicts. In such a chaotic society, being perceived as like a judge definitely says a lot about a person's stature.

However when word of Abu Bakar RA embracing Islam spread out, the people of Mekkah including those respected him previously, sought him out and sprang on a brutal attack. Narrators mentioned that the injuries he sustained left his face unrecognisable. A man once considered as a pillar of society, now reduced to the likes of a despised criminal. All for bearing witness to Allah SWT and His Prophet SAW.

He laid unconscious for some time surrounded by closed ones and other early Muslims. But immediately after gaining consciousness, he asked for Rasulullah SAW. He did not even asked for how long he was out or anything else. It was clear that Rasulullah SAW was on his mind all the time. Such is the the man that Allah chose to accompany his Beloved and lead the ummah as the first Amirul Mukminin.

Wednesday, 11 October 2006

Why Georgia? Why?

(a.k.a. Times New Roman for...everything? Part II)

From the last post, I sense that people think I'm asking them to use the font Georgia over Times New Roman and all other fonts.

Why Georgia? Why not Verdana, Arial or any of the rest?

Well, the answer to that is this. Times New Roman is a common, serif font. Hence, a good substitute for it would be another common, serif font.


Now, about common fonts. From the previous post:
...A font file needs to installed first before a PC can properly display it. The fonts mentioned above easily found in all Windows PCs, but this is not true for all fonts. For example if I use the font Helvetica for my PowerPoint slides (since I have in it on my PC) and opens it on another PC without Helvetica installed, that PC will only choose a close equivalent font to it. Since different fonts handle spacing and sizing differently, I may find slides' content placed out of position, for example. To be safe, stick to common fonts like the ones mentioned just now.
Common fonts are also referred to as core fonts for the Web. Basically it means that these fonts are found in virtually every PC and can therefore be safely used for the Web (as well as other programs that uses text like Word and PowerPoint). Both Georgia and Times New Roman are part of the core fonts, and they're both serif fonts.

The whole point of core fonts is ensure that they are available in most, if not all, PCs. Remember, font files are referenced or pointed to. Based on this understanding, if in your PC the Times New Roman font file is either not installed, deleted or not found, your PC cannot recognise Times New Roman or display it. Simple as that.

Serif and sans serif

What are serif fonts, then? For that one, let's together revise our secondary school art class lesson on font types.

This is serif (Georgia)

This is sans serif (Verdana)

Serif font are fonts with serifs. The red parts in the picture below are what are called as serifs.

Sans serif fonts are naturally fonts without serifs. 'Sans' is French for 'without'.

Let's sum up why Georgia is a good substitute for Times New Roman. 1) It's one of common/core fonts. 2) It's a serif font.

A lot of people insist on serif font for official documents, thesis, reports, etc. What I'm proposing is that for these purposes, try using Georgia, if you're allowed to do so. Especially when you're preparing them using a PC word processor like MS Word. Georgia, as I've also mentioned, has a superior wordspacing and letterspacing capabilities. The result is a better-looking, more readable print-out of your work. Georgia is gorgeous on screen, in print and easier on the eyes.

Take a quick at the contents of books, particularly paperbacks. You'll probably notice mostly serif fonts are used. However, for textbooks, magazines and the Web, a mixture of both serif and sans serif is often employed.

What about Garamond?

ieka mentions that she likes Garamond. Garamond is also a fine font. In fact, Harry Potter books uses Garamond. But Garamond is not part of the core fonts and it is also not part of the fonts supplied with Windows XP. These considerations make Garamond an unsuitable substitute for Times New Roman.

What about the rest?

Let's say that you work exclusively with Windows XP PCs at both work and home. Then it would be OK for you to use any of the XP-supplied fonts. In this case, check out Palatino, another very recommended serif font with a good on screen readability.

If you like to design posters, brochures and others, you'll also likely to install new fonts for your PCs. This shouldn't be much of a problem if you print your own work. The problem will surface when you print your work using a different PC, with a different set of fonts installed in it. And be aware that not all fonts appear the same on screen as well as in print.

The subject of fonts is a very fascinating one. I didn't care much about it myself until read a very long essay by a font expert berating a particularly badly designed font that he saw in a book. At first I thought this guy was make a big deal out of nothing, but after I learned more about fonts and its history, I started to appreciate the ingenuity and effort that goes into designing one.

To people who still uses Times New Roman all the time, I would like to say, "There's more to life than just the default setting."

Have a productive and blessed Ramadhan.

Tuesday, 10 October 2006

Times New Roman for...everything?

Thanks to Microsoft, Times New Roman has become ubiquitous and probably the #1 most used font in work, school and just about everywhere the MS Word word processor is installed. Mainly because it's the default font for the program.

Times New Roman is a good font but not a very good font. At first I thought I was being picky and overthinking things. I use Word and PowerPoint a lot, and when I look at the final draft of my works, I couldn't help stare at how inconsistent Times New Roman looks. Most knowledgeable people (i.e. people who can explain these things better than me) cite Times New Roman's poor handling of letterspacing and wordspacing as one of the main issues.

I'm not someone with an art background and I can't really talk about things like a font's x-height or ascenders/descenders and so on (you can learn about that better here). What I do know is that some other fonts can do better job as the font of choice.

So what are the other fonts to use? Well, for starters, there's Georgia.

Yes, Georgia. I don't really understand why people don't use this font more often. It's elegant, it's optimised for screen display and it's part of the default set of fonts in Windows.

(Recently, I typed a group assignment using Georgia and after I passed it to a fellow group member, he changed everything back to Times New Roman before printing and binding it. Sabar je lah.)

Go ahead. Try Georgia. Or Tahoma, Verdana or Trebuchet MS. These are commonly found in all Windows PC and they are designed for screen readability. Times New Roman was initially designed for the newspaper and print. If you know CSS (cascading style sheets), you can use the techniques described here to make Times New Roman look wonderful for the Web.

One last thing. Please don't go overboard with fonts. A font file needs to installed first before a PC can properly display it. The fonts mentioned above easily found in all Windows PCs, but this is not true for all fonts. For example if I use the font Helvetica for my PowerPoint slides (since I have on it in my PC) and opens it on another PC without Helvetica installed, that PC will only choose a close equivalent font to it. Since different fonts handle spacing and sizing differently, I may find slides' content placed out of position, for example. To be safe, stick to common fonts like the ones mentioned just now.

And another thing. Installing lots and lots of fonts on a PC can slow it down considerably. Install what you need and you should be OK.

And another one last thing. Please give Georgia and the others a chance.

Ramadhan karim.

Thursday, 5 October 2006

Turn your résumés to PDF

My two former classmates, saiehun & fzk, came to me with a request. They wanted me to help them turn their résumés into PDF. That's a brilliant idea. Turning your résumé into PDF makes it tamper-proof, so no one will be able to 'accidentally' alter or delete any information on it when you submit it along with your job application. Plus, PDF is one of the best file format for printing.

The question now is how to do it? From my experience, there are a few ways that you can try.

The most obvious solution is to use Adobe Acrobat, the program designed for creating PDF documents. Not to be confused with Adobe Acrobat Reader, which can only be used to read PDF documents and costs nothing. Adobe Acrobat is expensive, costing around a thousand ringgit or so.

I'm here to suggest to you a few cost-free solutions to PDF creations. They're quite easy to follow, nothing too technical. You'll be turning documents (not just your résumé) into PDF in no time.

Solution #1: OpenOffice

OpenOffice comes with a feature for turning (or as they call it, exporting) documents into PDF. It also can read files in Microsoft Office formats. So if you wrote your résumé in Word, you can still open it in OpenOffice Writer without much problem. And turning it into PDF is as simple as clicking a button on the OpenOffice toolbar.

Solution #2: PDFCreator

For people like me who can't afford Adobe Acrobat, there's PDFCreator. This program acts as a virtual printer, where it prints your documents to PDF instead of through the printer. It works with a large number of programs and virtually any file format you can print using the printer. PDFCreator also comes with a lot of features, including security.

Solution #3: PDFOnline

If you have an Internet connection, why not try PDFOnline? Simply upload your résumé. in .doc (Word's native file format) and let PDFOnline to the rest. There is however a 2MB file size limit.

Remember, these methods are for turning any .doc documents into PDF, not necessarily just for résumés.

I've heard that the online word processor, Zoho Writer can save documents in PDF as well. If you've tried it please share your knowledge since I haven't tried Zoho Writer myself.

I hope (at least one of) these methods will work for you. If you got suggestions or questions, leave a comment or send an email. If you happened to be job hunting right now, all the best! And to all Muslims readers, Ramadhan Karim!

Thursday, 28 September 2006

Pergi dan kembali

Masanya dah tiba untuk mengucapkan selamat pergi kepada Bulan Berbahasa. Sekarang saya benar-benar faham kenapa masa SPM dulu saya tak dapat A untuk BM. Tapi tak mengapa, yang penting saya dah belajar banyak perkara dalam masa lebih kurang sebulan ni. Sebenarnya, saya ingat saya tak akan mampu melakukannnya, ditambah pula dengan kerja sekolah yang bertimbum-timbum. Idea pun kering, tak tau apa nak tulis. Alhamdullillah, segalanya tak seteruk yang saya duga. Terima kasih kepada semua yang menyokong serta memberi pandangan.

Adakah saya akan menulis dalam BM pada masa akan datang? Entahlah. Saya akui saya kurang membaca dalam BM. Rasa nak beli atau pinjam buku baru, tapi buku -buku yang dah saya pinjam dan beli masih banyak yang belum dibaca. Saya juga rasa kurang senang selagi saya tak habiskan buku-buku tadi. Dah habis kebanyakannnya, barulah boleh fikir pasal buku lain.

Alhamdullillah, bulan termulia di sisi Allah SWT, sudah pun tiba. Saya ingin mengajak diri saya serta semua di sini untuk sama-sama menambahkan amalan kita demi keampunan serta keredha dariNya. Kita sebenarnya sangat bertuah kerana dapat berada di kalangan umat Nabi Muhammad SAW, yang mendapat keistimewaan mengecapi nikmat malam seribu bulan, Laitul Qadr. Sangat-sangat beruntung kita jika terpilih untuk menjadi kalangan mereka yang menghidupkan malam mulia ini.

Namun, kita kena ingat, taufik serta hidayah untuk berbuat baik datang dari Allah SWT. Sebab itulah kita kena berdoa dengan penuh hati agar diberikan kedua-dua perkara ini serta kekuatan dan keikhlasan untuk memenuhi setiap saat dalam Ramadhan dalam ketaatan terhadapNya.

Untuk mendapatkan perkara-perkara baik, kita kena usaha. Kita masih di awal Ramadhan, ada banyak lagi peluang untuk kita baiki amalan kita di mana yang kurang. Semoga kita semua mendapat keberkatan daripada Ramadhan ini, amin.

Tolonglah ingat saya dalam doa-doa kalian, sekiranya tak keberatan. Ramadhan Karim, semua.

Thursday, 21 September 2006

Inovasi: beberapa pandangan

Inovasi adalah antara topik atau isu yang sering menarik perhatian saya. Ramai yang telah membicarakannya secara panjang lebar dalam pelbagai forum, seminar, buku dan sebagainya. Dari sudut keusahawanan, inovasi merupakan salah satu kualiti yang penting untuk menjayakan sesuatu perusahaan.

Inovasi secara asasnya adalah mengenai bagaimana kita menggunakan daya kreativiti, daya persepsi serta sifat ingin tahu untuk mereka serta membawakan sesuatu yang baru atau unik dan tidak pernah dilihat, difikir atau dilakukan sebelum ini. Inovasi juga menuntut beberapa kualiti penting dalam diri inovator itu sendiri seperti berani mencuba, mempunyai keyakinan terhadap apa yang diusahakan, mampu mencorakkan wawasan, serta bersifat sabar, tawakal dan cekal.

Mitos inovasi

Dalam artikel The Myths of Innovation, penulisnya telah menggariskan beberapa mitos mengenai inovasi. Mitos-mitos, yang menurut beliau, merupakan punca mengapa ramai pihak berasa bahawa inovasi itu tidak penting.
  1. Inovasi adalah untuk "industri-industri lain" ("bukan kita")
  2. Inovasi adalah penciptaan produk-produk baru
  3. Inovasi adalah RnD
  4. Inovasi adalah untuk syarikat-syarikat besar (gergasi-gergasi)
  5. Inovasi adalah satu pilihan
Kebanyakan mitos-mitos yang disenaraikan boleh diatasi dengan melihat inovasi sesuatu yang boleh membawa kebaikan jangka panjang. Misalnya, inovasi sentiasa melibatkan usaha yang lebih, dan seperti yang kita dapat lihat di sekeliling kita, usaha yang lebih sering kali akan membawa seseorang atau sesebuah syarikat itu lebih jauh ke hadapan.

Dilema golongan inovator

Jika inovasi dianggap sesuatu yang baik dan sangat bermanfaat, dan telah ramai yang telah menempa kejayaan melaluinya, mengapa pembangunan inovasi masih berada pada kadar yang mengecewakan?

Di sini satu pandangan kedua telah diajukan, tentang kenapa inovasi sering kali gagal. Menurut apa yang dialami oleh penulis kedua, melalui pengalaman beliau sebagai seorang perunding, inovasi selalunya menemui kegagalan kerana:
  1. Kebanyakan usahawan tidak bersikap inovatif
  2. Kebanyakan pelanggan tidak mahukan inovasi
  3. Mereka yang memerlukan inovasi selalunya tidak mampu memilikinya
Pandangan kedua ini mungkin nampak agak pesimitik. Tetapi, ia lebih berdasarkan apa yang berlaku dalam dunia sebenar hari ini. Penulisnya telah mengembangkan beberapa idea daripada buku The Innovator's Dilemma yang turut cuba untuk mencari penyelesaian kepada masalah kekurangan pemikiran inovatif. Dan menurut beliau, ketiga-tiga hujah yang beliau kemukakan di sini tidak mempunyai sebarang jalan penyelesaian. Jika ada pun, ianya merupakan sesuatu yang tidak mungkin dicapai dengan mudah.

Misalnya, inovasi sering dilihat sebagai sesuatu yang kritikal dan salah satu sumber daya saing bagi sesebuah syarikat. Namun hakikatnya, inovasi membabitkan sumber serta masa yang agak banyak untuk mengkaji pelbagai faktor dan kemungkinan. Tak ramai pengurus dan usahawan yang mahu membuat semua ini, kerana ianya rumit. Mereka juga enggan melibatkan diri dalam penyelidikan kerana banyak sebab yang lain termasuk, tiada jaminan ianya akan berjaya atau menghasilkan sesuatu yang menguntungkan secara ekonomi. Lebih senang untuk mereka untuk menumpukan perhatian terhadap apa yang sudah ada atau terbukti keberkesanannya.

[ Atul Mathur: The Myths About Innovation ]
[ Dave Pollard: The Real Innovator's Dilemma ]
[ Petikan dari buku The Innovator's Dilemma, oleh Clayton M. Christensen ]

Friday, 15 September 2006

Cakap pasal wang (2)

Ada sekali saya terdengar dalam satu majlis tazkirah.

"Orang Islam sekarang kalau disuruh sembah berhala, dia akan marah sebab katanya, ini syirik. Tapi kalau berhala tadi diperbuat daripada emas, dan ianya dileburkan menjadi jongkong-jongkong. Dan apabila orang tadi lihat jongkong-jongkong tadi, lalu berbisik, kalau aku dapat emas ini aku boleh jadi kaya dan aku boleh buat itu dan ini. Sebenarnya, inipun adalah syirik."

Syirik yang dimaksudkan di sini ialah keyakinan terhadap wang, yakni ianya mampu memberi kesenangan serta faedah (dan begitu juga sebaliknya). Syirik jenis ini adalah satu ancaman terhadap iman kita, sebab dalam kehidupan masa sekarang, wang adalah sesuatu yang dikejar dan diagung-agungkan.

Kesempurnaan iman mengkehendaki kita mempunyai keyakinan penuh terhadap Allah SWT. Dalam Al-Quran Allah SWT memperingatkan kita berkali-kali tentang rezeki kurnianNya untuk sekian hamba-hambaNya termasuk manusia seperti kita. Hanya pada Allah terletak segala kesenangan serta kesusahan.

Di kalangan mereka yang tidak beriman, ada yang lansung tidak mempunyai keyakinan sebegini. Mereka kata semua duit mereka adala hasil usaha titik peluh mereka 100%. Atau mungkin nasib mereka baik. Tuhan tak ada kena mengena dalam perkara ini. Pemikiran sebegini telah membuahkan fahaman 'masa itu wang', yang sangat bertentangan dengan ajaran Islam.

Tidak dinafikan, masa merupakan sesuatu yang sangat berharga. Bahkan dalam Islam, ada ulama yang berkata masa itu nyawa, yang bermaksud orang yang mensia-siakan masanya sesungguhnya mensia-siakan nyawanya atau hidupnya. Surah Al-Asr, surah yang terpendek dalam Al-Quran, turut mengandungi peringatan tentang masa dan golongan-golongan memperolehi keuntungan atau kerugian daripadanya.

Tetapi doktrin 'masa itu wang' merujuk kepada kehalobaan terhadap usaha mencari wang dan bahawa masa adalah modal untuk mencari dan membuat sebanyak mungkin kekayaan. Bagi mereka, setiap saat mesin tidak bergerak atau pekerja tidak membuat kerja adalah kerugian buat syarikat tersebut. Hasil daripada pemikiran sebegini adalah kilang-kilang serta kedai-kedai yang dibuka sepanjang hari dan malam, pekerja-pekerja yang dipecat jika bekerja tidak cukup pantas dan sikap tidak bertolak ansur terhadap sebarang kesilapan di tempat kerja. Segala-galanya untuk memastikankan keuntungan maksima mampu diraih.

Kebimbangan terhadap fahaman yang membahayakan ini bukan setakat mengancam akidah umat Islam, malah turut menimbulkan kebimbangan dalam penganut agama-agama lain. Ada yang menamakan fenomena ini sebagai 'agama wang', di mana wang dijadikan tempat pengabdian serta penyembahan. Segala saat berjaga mereka adalah mencari dan menambah wang yang ada. Dominasi sistem kewangan berasaskan faedah serta kapitalisme adalah dua sahaja contoh yang lahir daripada amalan 'agama wang'.

Islam tidak melihat harta sebagai sesuatu yang buruk. Harta adalah keperluan manusia untuk hidup. Mencari harta juga tidak ditegah, selagi ianya melalui cara yang halal. Apa yang ditegah ialah ketamakan dalam mencari harta, hingga melampaui apa yang digariskan oleh syarak. Menurut sebuah hadis riwayat Muslim, Baginda Rasulullah SAW bersaba yang bermaksud, "Apabila kamu diberi sesuatu harta tanpa kamu minta maka pergunakanlah (makanlah) dan sedekahlah sebahagiannya."

Para sahabat RA telah menunjukkan kepada kita bagaimana cara untuk kita mencari harta dengan cara yang diredhai Allah. Abdul Rahman bin Auf RA, ketika berhijrah ke Madinah, tidak mahu lansung menerima bantuan kewangan daripada kaum Ansar. Beliau sebaliknya meminta panduan untuk ke pasar Bani Qainuqa' dan berusaha sendiri untuk rezekinya melalui ikhtiar berniaga. Abdul Rahman bin Auf RA dianggap sebagai antara sahabat yang terkaya dan banyak menghabiskan hartanya di jalan Allah.

Abu Bakar as-Siddiq RA juga seorang peniaga besar. Beliau mempunyai kira-kira 8 buah gedung, tetapi demi untuk meninggikan agama Allah, kesemuanya gedung-gedung tadi dikorbannya tanpa sedikitpun rasa ragu. Demikianlah sifat pengorbanan yang ada pada diri para sahabat, sanggup untuk berpisah dengan harta kesayangan mereka demi untuk mendapatkan redha dan kasih daripada Allah SWT.

Mencari harta bagi orang Islam bukanlah sekadar untuk keselesaan hidup diri dan keluarga semata-mata tetapi untuk memajukan agama Islam serta membantu orang-orang lain yang kurang berkemampuan. Kesemua ini berasaskan iman terhadap Allah SWT sebagai pengurnia rezeki dan pemiliknya yang mutlak. Tugas kita adalah untuk menguruskannya dengan menurut kehendak Allah SWT serta RasulNya SAW. Semoga Allah memberikan kita taufik dan hidayah untuk membelanjakan rezeki pemberianNya ke arah yang diredhai.

Wednesday, 13 September 2006

Cakap pasal wang (1)

Kita selalu dengar:
Masa itu wang.

Tapi baru-baru ni saya ada dengar dari satu temubual:
Masa itu lebih bernilai daripada wang.

Apa pendapat anda?

Bersambung (insya-Allah)...

Wednesday, 6 September 2006

Kemunculan Animax! Ramai gembira tapi ada yang tidak

Ah, sedih, sedih. Dah berapa pos yang ditulis sempena Bulan Berbahasa, yang telah dirasmikan 16 haribulan lalu? 1, 2,.......3! Satu kalau ikutnya. Satu pemberitahuan (pos yang pertama) dan satu lagi promosi untuk jualan Gundam terpakai. Walau bagaimanapun, saya tetap mengucapkan berbanyak-banyak terima kasih kepada semua yang sudi mengambil bahagian.

Hari Merdeka pun dah berlalu, hampir-hampir ditenggelami oleh kemeriahan menyambut perkahwinan seorang artis ternama kesayangan ramai. Saya pula ada satu ujian pertengahan penggal sehari sebelum Merdeka, jadi dalam fikiran yang nampak kertas soalan yang berkibar-kibar. Sungguh tak berperikewarganegaraan saya ni.

Tarikh 31 Ogos lalu juga merupakan tarikh pelancaran saluran 75 Astro iaitu Animax. Ramai peminat-peminat anime seluruh Malaysia (yang ada Astro, atau ada kawan atau saudara yang ada Astro dan bagi mereka pilih saluran mana nak tengok kalau teringin) menyambut ketibaannya dengan gembira. Saya pun gembira juga, tapi mungkin tak segembira orang lain.

Sebelum Animax diperkenalkan, saluran AXN pernah menghidangkan siri-siri anime untuk beberapa dalam program hariannya. Antaranya Shadow Skill, Sakura Wars (siri 1), Starship Girl Yamamoto Yohko, Rave dan tentu sekali, You're Under Arrest!. Tetapi selepas sahaja Animax disiarkan kali pertama di saluran satelit di negara-negara luar seperti Filipina dan Singapura, slot anime AXN telah dikurangkan kepada satu siri sahaja dan akhirnya ditamatkan sama sekali. Kejam sungguh mereka.

Kemudiannnya ada idea dari Astro untuk menayangkan Animax di saluran borak mereka, @15. Sebagai saluran borak melalui SMS, kebanyakan paparan saluran tersebut (kira-kira 4/6) adalah untuk memaparkan mesej-mesej yang telah penat-penat dihantar oleh pengirimnya untuk mereka-mereka yang turut sama berborak. Siri-siri dari Animax (kalau tak silap saya) kebanyakannya ditayangkan pada awal pagi. Animax yang ditayang dengan 2/6 skrin sahaja, dan mesej yang muncul tak putus-putus pada paparan selebihnya. Kekejaman mereka sekadar berganti wajah.

Dan akhirnya pada 31 Ogos 2006, peminat-peminat anime Malaysia telah dimerdekakan daripada kekejaman-kekejaman tadi, dengan kemunculan Animax melalui salurannya tersendiri. Tiada lagi mesej demi mesej berentetan, mendominasi pandangan serta ancaman slot yang semakin dikecilkan dari hari ke hari.

Tapi sejak Animax ke udara, saya baru menontonnya selama 1 jam. Itupun 2 episod Honey and Clover musim 1 yang saya pernah tonton sebelum ni. Ada seorang kawan saya dari Shah Alam telah menghabiskan malam (dan siang) Merdeka bersama Animax.

Macam saya cakap tadi, saya tak segembira peminat anime yang lain. Sebabnya Animax merupakan saluran alih suara Bahasa Inggeris. Anime, bagi saya, kalau sudah dialih suara, akan kehilangan sedikit sebanyak keunikannya. Melainkan kita belum menontonnnya dalam Bahasa Jepun (tentulah dengan sari kata, pengetahuan saya tentang perkataan Bahasa Jepun hanyalah setakat sebutir dua). Ada sebabnya seseorang pelakon suara atau seiyū itu dipilih untuk memainkan seseorang watak dalam sesuatu cerita oleh pengarah dan produsernya. Dan melalui proses alih suara, pelakon suara yang sesuai mungkin tidak berjaya ditemui dan mereka mengambil sesiapa yang berkemahiran, dan bukan semestinya mempunyai suara yang padan dengan watak tersebut.

Tapi ada juga masa di mana alih suara dilakukan dengan berjaya dan 'spot-on'. Contohnya pemilihan Billy Crudup (Almost Famous, Big Fish) untuk memainkan watak Putera Ashitaka dalam versi edaran Disney filem anime Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke). Tapi ini projek berbajet besar, sedangkan siri anime biasa tak mempunyai kelebihan kewangan sebanyak ini. Cuma apa yang saya nak kata, saya bukan anti-alih suara tapi biarlah suara pelakon yang dipilih itu kena dengan personaliti sesuatu watak, dan mampu membawanya dengan baik.

Saya rasa saya patut berhenti di sini. Kerja-kerja sekolah saya sedang memanggil-manggil di meja dan di komputer.

Suara-suara yang enggan didiamkan, nampaknya.

Saturday, 19 August 2006

Perihal membela burung

Saya baru balik dari kampung. Ada hal keluarga sikit. Lagipun dah lama tak balik sebab ada peperiksaan, kelas dan sebagainya. Banyak betul benda yang dah berubah. Sepupu-sepupu saya yang dulu kecil, sekarang dah nak mula sekolah. Ada yang dulu belajar, sekarang dah kerja. Yang tua-tua, ada dulu yang kurang sihat, tapi sekarang nampak kuat sikit. Alhamdulillah.

Satu lagi perubahan ketara, makin banyak sangkar burung di keliling rumah Pak Su. Sekarang, dalam rumah pun ada dua tiga sangkar. Dulu di luar saja.

Pak Su saya seorang cikgu. Pagi beliau mengajar, dan waktu petang adalah waktu beliau melakukan rutin beliau sebagai pemelihara burung. Masa petang hari kedua di kampung, saya jumpa beliau di bahagian tepi rumah. Bagi mandi burung, terang beliau. Bagi mandi burung?

Pergi tengok dalam bilik air, kata Pak Su. Saya pun menjenguk dari tepi pintu. Ada sangkar mandi rupanya. Sangkar mandi lain dari sangkar biasa sebab pada lantainya ada dulang untuk isi air. Di situlah burung akan duduk dan membasuh dirinya menggunakan kepak dan paruh. Untuk memindahkan burung tadi dari sangkar ke sangkar mandi, sangkar-sangkar akan dirapatkan pada bahagian pintu. Burung tadi akan terbang dari sangkarnya ke sangkar mandi apabila pintu kedua-dua sangkar tadi dibuka. Pintu sangkar dibuka dengan menariknya ke atas.

Selepas mandi, burung tadi akan akan dimasukkan semula ke sangkarnya. Bergantung pada jenis burung, ada yang boleh terus dibiar begitu dan ada yang perlu dibawa supaya berjemur di bawah cahaya matahari. Murai batu, burung yang saya lihat di dalam air tadi, boleh terus dibawa masuk sangkar dan disangkut semula.

Takda kerja cari kerja. Ini yang orang kata hobi, Pak Su berseloroh. Beliau mengikut jejak arwah datuk tiri saya yang pernah membela burung tekukur. Tapi selepas datuk tiri saya meninggal dunia, Pak Su berhenti membela burung. Ketika itu beliau bimbang tentang hukum Islam mengenainya. Oleh sebab tak pasti, beliau terus tinggalkan hobi tersebut.

Tapi dalam hati dok teringin, seperti beliau kata. Selepas lama berfikir, Pak Su mula mencari kitab-kitab yang menghuraikan tentang hukum berkaitan pemeliharaan binatang, termasuk burung. Dari pembacaan beliau, tak ada hukum yang mengharamkan seseorang dari membela binatang.

Tapi untuk lebih pasti, beliau berjumpa dengan beberap orang ustaz, termasuk beberapa orang yang dari pondok. Mereka pun semua menyatakan perkara yang sama, dalam Islam membela haiwan adalah dibolehkan. Cuma ada sesetengah golongan, seperti para sufi, yang kurang setuju dengan pendapat ini. Tapi secara umumnya, membela haiwan dibolehkan, sebab ada antara ustaz serta alim ulama yang membela ikan, burung helang dan sebagainya. Tak salah membela binatang dengan niat kita ingin mengambil manfaat daripada binatang tersebut, seperti keindahan bulunya atau kemerduan bunyinya. Dengan syarat, janganlah mengabaikannya atau menzaliminya. Kalau nak lebih kepastian, silalah tanya sendiri pada mana-mana ustaz atau orang alim yang arif serta mursyid.

Selepas bersembang-sembang dengan Pak Su tentang bab membela burung, teringat saya kepada satu cerita yang pernah saya dengar dulu. Pada satu ketika, ada seorang alim yang membela seekor burung yang pandai mengajuk suara manusia. Orang alim tersebut pun mengajar burung peliharaannya menyebut kalimah syahadah. Selepas setiap hari diajar, lama-kelamaan burung tadi pun boleh menyebutnya dengan betul.

Suatu hari, sedang orang alim tadi duduk-duduk menikmati kicauan merdu burung peliharaannya, datang seekor kucing yang lapar lalu menerkam burung tersebut tanpa disangka-sangka. Melihat apa yang berlaku, orang alim tuan punya burung tersebut terus jatuh pengsan.

Orang-orang berhampiran tempat itu terus menerpa ke arah orang alim tadi dan berusaha untuk menyedarkan beliau. Selepas sedar semula, mereka yang kehairanan melihat apa yang berlaku pun bertanya, "Tuan guru, adakan tuan pengsan kerana burung kesayangan telah mati? Usah tuan guru bimbang, kami sedia untuk mencari ganti burung tadi dengan burung yang lebih baik."

Orang alim tadi menjawab, "Bukan itu yang membuat aku pengsan. Burung itu aku latih setiap hari supaya pandai menyebut kalimah syahadah. Tapi apabila dia diserang kucing tadi, bukan kalimah syahadah yang keluar dari mulutnya, sebaliknya dia menjerit-jerit dalam bahasa burung. Apabila aku melihat perkara itu, aku bimbang bagaimana keadaan aku nanti ketika aku diserang maut."

Wednesday, 16 August 2006

Bulan Berbahasa

Sempena Hari Merdeka yang dah dekat ni, saya ingin membuat satu pengumuman. Untuk 1 bulan (lebih kurang), semua pos-pos di blog ini akan ditulis dalam Bahasa Melayu! Bulan Berbahasa kini bermula! Para pembaca sekelian, silalah turut serta dengan menghantar komen-komen dalam Bahasa Melayu. Bersama kita jayakan!

(Inilah saja gambar yang sempat diambil semasa majlis pelancaran Bulan Berbahasa yang telah diadakan semalam.)

Sunday, 13 August 2006

Coyote Ragtime Show preview

Coyote Ragtime Show belongs to the 'girls with guns' subgenre of anime. It's exactly what it is, shows with strong female characters, lots of bullets flying and occasionally, splashes of blood.

I'm not exactly a fan of shows with guns (with or without girls firing them) but I was moved by another series from this subgenre, Gunslinger Girl. Gunslinger Girl has a lot of drama, secrets, a bit dark and although the pace was quite slow, it managed to keep me intrigued to the end.

Coyote Ragtime Show, however, is more upbeat and frantic. I decided to check it out the first episode after reading the rave reviews by a few anime bloggers.

The story is about federal investigator Angelica Barnes, who visits a prison on planet Sandvil to look for a criminal who's been eluding her for years, a guy named Mister. Mister is somewhere in there, and on the same day of her visit, a bomb threat sends fear throughout the place.

The situation is made worse when a certain Madam Marciano sends her 'daughters', The 12 Marciano Sisters, to get Mister out.

The Marciano sisters is a group of 12 killer robots girls that noboby should mess around with, and are named after the 12 Gregorian calender months. These screenshots are proof that their looks aren't the only thing that's 'killer' about the sisters. (I'm actually leaving out the bloody parts here.)

Despite the sisters' brutal assault on the prison, Mister flees the scene with the help from his chums who disguised themselves as the prison's staffs and kindly declines to Madam Marciano's 'help'. Mister bails, giant bugs overrun the place (Sandvil is crawling with them), the sisters gets crushed (by giant bugs!, how's that for irony?) and Angelica watches as her prey slips away from her grasps. Next episode, perhaps.

Like I said, violence and lots of explosions (and blood splashing out of gashed victims) aren't exactly my cuppa. But that wasn't what sealed the deal for me. I mean, I've watched violent stuff before, but...

WHY???!!! Why are these awfully adorable, cute-as-buttons triplets (Oct, Nove and Diesse) part of the murderous Marciano Sisters? That can't be right. How can the producers be so cruel?

Thankfully, the triplet's violent role in the episode was to overturn a truck in which the prison warden was hiding. And he wasn't hurt, only shaken a bit, probably from seeing kindergarten-age girls who are capable of extra heavy lifting.

I love anime, but I have to draw the line somewhere. I sincerely believe that violence and cuteness are two elements best kept separated. Cute little girls shouldn't be throwing wardens out of prison trucks, and that's covered somewhere under the law (I think). With that, I've decided to give Coyote Ragtime Show a miss.

But I really, really dig the series's funky, 80s-styled OP!

(For anime non-fans out there, OP is the term for an anime series's opening theme song.)

Thursday, 10 August 2006

Memorising passwords

I used to use the Firefox browser password manager to store my usernames and passwords, mainly because I was too lazy to remember them. Then, as you already know if you've been around here awhile, my hard disk went kaput. I almost lost all of them.

(Luckily, there's a way to recover Firefox passwords by copying certain files, provided they're not damaged.)

I realised that I was too reliant on the password manager, and that I was not using a better password manager, my God-given gift of memory.

Before I recovered the lost passwords, I had to recall the passwords from memory. What I found out was the more I searched my memory, the better I felt. I felt better because I could really feel my mind working and that I tell you is a wonderful feeling. You'll realise that you're capable of remembering more things than you thought possible. The mind is powerfully designed by God to help us through life. I also realised that I don't need the password manager so much and I could do without it.

Now I have nearly everything with me 24/7, wherever I go. That's a major feature that 's hard for any man-made password manager to top.

(I'm taking this slowly, one password at a time. I'm still not good remembering numbers though.)

Tuesday, 8 August 2006

Teacher Man: first impression

(a.k.a The effects of discount on a book buyer on a limited budget)

Frank McCourt's last book, 'Tis, a memoir of his young Irish lad days trying to make it in New York, had me hooked. He is one funny guy. He writes in a conversational style that mixes his own voice and the voice of the other people he's telling you about that it's almost like having him at the same table during a session of minum-minum. I also admire the way he writes about his follies with as much feeling as the way describe his triumphs.

He taught writing for years in public schools and only published his first (and award-winning) book, Angela's Ashes, at 66 of age.

Teacher Man is his jot on his teaching career, which is a highly underappreciated job anywhere in the world apparently. If you've ever seen any documentaries on the US education system, you'll know that public schools is the subject of many heated debates over there for many years now. All I can say is, compared to over there, the education system here is at least more standardised.

I got this book mainly because it had a 15% discount. I was actually on my 'to get later' list, but it's hard to resist that much price reduction on a relatively newly released book.

One gripe though. The font used in it (the paperback version) is kinda small. It should come with a free bottle of EyeMo.

Wednesday, 2 August 2006


A lot have been reported and said about the happenings in Lebanon and a lot of emotions are running high from all sides as a result of them.

But the truth is that I feel that somehow, in all the happenings, I have a share of the blame. If I'm right about this, may Allah forgive me and guide me to help rectify what's wrong.

(I think we're all looking for answers.)

Sunday, 30 July 2006

Akatsuki revealed!!!

(Note: Forgive me, I have lost myself to my gushing-Naruto-fanboy side. I'm writing this just to get a couple of things off my chest. Anyway, if you dislike anime or manga or Naruto, please ignore this post entirely.)

(In case you're clueless, from left ot right are Sakura, Naruto and Sasuke)

Naruto, mainly the manga, has somewhat gone a bit tamer lately (i.e. less battles). However, the recent chapter #317 seems to suggest that things are about to change. Revealed in the chapter is a double page artwork featuring members of the much speculated, much feared criminal (terrorist?) organisation in the Naruto universe, Akatsuki.

Originally a 10-member legion of the most powerful and wanted missing nins (ninjas who have severed allegiance to any ninja village and are generally considered as a threat), its existence has been shrouded in mystery, until now. With the their plan rolling in motion, Akatsuki is set eliminate anyone who stand in their way of total dominance.

Leader of Akatsuki, name and face yet unknown. The shortest guy of the bunch but everyone seems to be taking orders from him, though.

Kisame. His character design is based on the shark. Expert of water-based jutsu (technique). Partners with Itachi.

Itachi, brother of Sasuke who is Naruto's former teammate. Once murdered his entire clan, except Sasuke. Itachi is Japanese for weasel, a symbol of bad omen in Japanese cultural belief.

A possible female Akatsuki member. Has blue hair and wears a flower. Identity, face and ability still unknown.

Hidan. Believes in Jashin, a religion that promotes destruction and death. His weapon is a huge 3-blade scythe.

Kakuzu. Hidan's partner, but doesn't seem to be enjoying the arrangement. Believes in the religion of moneymoneymoney.

Deidara. An artist at heart, an expert of clay sculpture jutsu and explosives. Formerly Sasori's partner, now Tobi's.

Tobi. Akatsuki's newest member, joined after Sasori's demise. Formerly a subordinate of Zetsu. Wears a huge orange mask. So far the liveliest and funniest member. Could he be a good guy in disguise?

Zetsu. Has an attachment that looks like the Venus flytrap on his body. Seems to have dual personalities. One of the higher ranking members of Akatsuki.

A couple of other missing nins have also filled the Akatsuki roster before.

Sasori. A fearsome ninja with puppet jutsu expertise and once Deidara's partner. On their final mission together, Sasori was killed by Sakura (Naruto's teammate) and his own grandmother, Chiyo-ba-sama. (IMHO, it was the last great battle of the series)

Orochimaru. Formerly the #1 villain of the series. Left the group to further his own evil ambitions. Both Orochimaru and Akatsuki now acknowledge one another as enemies. He was seeked out by Sasuke who wants revenge against his brother, Itachi, and they are now allies. His character design is based on the snake.

My interest of any story is often sparked by the villains, as the strategic sparring partner for the good guys. Without doubt, the emergence of the Akatsuki has renewed my interest in Naruto and I'm breathless to see how their presence will shape the future of the series. We're hoping for the best, Kishimoto-sensei!

Thursday, 27 July 2006

Bird by bird (+ another 4) on offer!

I've written about this book earlier, and I have a couple of friends asking about it.

Well, friends, good news. The Star's Mind Our English section and Kinokuniya Bookstore are offering a 20% discount coupon on this book, plus another 4 titles, until 15/9 or stock runs out. One coupon per purchase only. Check out today's (27/7) Mind Our English section for a short review of this book.
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