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.
Related Posts with Thumbnails
Copyright 2009 introspector. Powered by Blogger Blogger Templates create by Deluxe Templates. WP by Masterplan