Friday, 30 June 2006

Handphones, in SVG

First, I would to extend a long overdue thanks to reader Jeff Schiller for suggesting that I upload my SVG files for others to benefit. What I learned recently that Jeff happens to be a very well-versed person on the topic of SVG and has written numerously about it over at his site and blog. Thanks also for dropping by, Jeff! I've uploaded them at my account and shared the folder publicly.

This is another SVG I made not long ago (please click on it for a better view). I used Inkscape and created the handphone on the left first using the freehand lines tool. The handphone on the right was based on the other one, but created using the rectangulars and squares tool. The signal strength meter on the top left of the screens were created using the spiral tool and it took me awhile to figure out how to create the wave patterns. This was the biggest challenge for me.

On a related note, Inkscape version 0.44 was released earlier. It features several noticeable changes, including a colour palette at the bottom of the window for easier colour selection.

For a look at my earlier posts on SVGs:
[ Talking, in SVG ]
[ Deming, in SVG ]
[ Inkscape 0.42.2 ]

Wednesday, 28 June 2006

Sumber Karam Singh Walia terbongkar?

Agaknya beliau akan singgah ke sini, setiap kali sebelum keluar Buletin Utama?

[ Kamus Istimewa Peribahasa Melayu ]

(Terima kasih, Jiwa Rasa)

Tuesday, 27 June 2006

The queen of the tambourine

This book is kind of like a walk down memory lane for me. At 13, I lived with my grandmother and grandaunt while our parents went for Haj. A few years earlier, my grandparents stayed with us while my father did his Masters in Manila.

The Queen of the Tambourine is actually the book I didn't mentioned in this earlier post. I was being cautious at the moment. I don't know if the book was recommedable to others (except maybe the liberal-minded who are open to anything). But after finishing it I could say that it is one of my most memorable reading experiences.

Let me reintroduce you to Eliza, Mrs. Peabody to the people of Rathbone Road, an undefatigable volunteer at The Hospice of The Dying, and member of the Wives' Fellowship. She's steadily going through her middle-age years and life seems to be going well, except for one thing, or rather person. Joan is the one neighbour Eliza couldn't seem to catch. The next thing she knows is Joan has left everything: family, neighbourhood, country and all, to travel to places like Dacca and Prague. Her reasons for doing so remains a mystery to even Joan's own family.

Curiosity drives Eliza to write letters to Joan, and that's how whole story is told. Letters after letters, all chronicling her days following Joan's unexpected departure.

On Eliza's side of life, things aren't quite rosy either. Her husband suddenly decides to leave her to live with another man, more precisely, Joan's husband. Joan's daughter, clueless of her own mother's whereabouts, calls Eliza to Oxford after becoming pregnant while still in her second term. Eliza barely knows Joan, but slowly their lives are fast getting entwined in ways Eliza never could've imagined.

Along the story, new and interesting people help shed light on who Eliza really is. Eliza finds companionship in Barry, of the hospice's patient, who seems like the only person able to make sense of what Eliza's going through.

Her brief encounter with the Deecies, her neighbour's parents visiting from out of town, helps her see what it's like to have a child married and living away (Eliza is childless).

The evening with Nick Fish's (one the hospice's commitee member) children as a bidan terjun babysitter turns out to be extremely delightful. The children are wiser beyond their years and seeing them enjoying her company restores Eliza's own faith in herself.

There were also the Penumbras, a Middle-Eastern family who once lived in Rathbone Road. They help reveal to us that Eliza's husband is a former diplomatic officer, and they both have lived in countries like Syria, Iran and Iraq.

And of course, there's Anne, the cousin who Eliza is unfavourably compared to all her life. Despite her contant attempts to not say nothing bad about Anne, Eliza's frustrations are far from being completely hidden, especially after the events told in the later parts of the book.

After finishing the last letter, we're able to finally decipher of code of Eliza Peabody. She sounds defeated, but she is never deterred. She looks confounded, but she is unmistakenly clever. Much of her life may already pass her by, but in the end she manages to find the strength remain hopeful about any uncertainties in the future.

A wonderful ending, an admirable lead character and plenty of humourous moments (courtesy of Eliza own's wit that even she fails to realise), this book is a window to the side of life that few ever care to peer into. But for those who do, they might be able to catch a glimpse at something surprisingly, and even perhaps pleasantly, familiar.

Wednesday, 21 June 2006

I learn about hard disk being a mechanical device a long time ago in CAD (Computer Architecture and Design) class, but the reality of it didn't struck me until recently.

As a mechincal device, a hard disk is exposed to wear and tear. It is made of a stack of glass-like disks with needle points to read and write data from and to the disks' surface. The disks spin constantly while the needle points move as well, like the needle on a record player (phonograph turntable). Due to the spinning and moving, frictions occur and eventually they degrade the hard disk's performance. In turn, everything on the computer will start to slow down. Files will take longer to open or programs start later than often, among other things.

Worse, your files in the hard disk could be corrupted (which I think sounds more dramatic than just saying 'damaged'). Nothing can help you much in this problem, unless you have backup.

My hard disk suffered from a crash not a long ago. Windows was corrupted, blocking me from accessing anything within the hard disk. Gone are some of my school works, the photos my cousin took of our families and some articles in PDF that I downloaded for reading. No spinning. No moving. No backup. Only the memories.

Alhamdullillah, I have a new hard disk now. I think insya-Allah I will take better care of it. Hard disk is not cheap, especially the ones with good features.

Lessons from the ordeal:
  • Backup, backup, backup, backup, backup, backup, backup, backup, backup, backup.

  • Hard disk, when damaged, can turn your life upside down.

  • Hard disk are not cheap. Take good care of them.

  • To restore your 3-year-old PC back to the way it was, with a new hard disk, is super time-consuming and taxes your patience incredibly.

  • Shutting down your computer abruptly (in my case, frequent occurences of blackout in my house) is a fast and proven way (again, in my case) to corrupt your Windows operating system.

  • Patience, prayer, repentence and hope are great strategies to solve any problem, big or small.
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