Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Clearing clutter from the Windows desktop using Jedi Concentrate and denial

This is my Windows desktop. It's got lots and lots of icons. As you can see it's a bit organised but still looks cluttered.

Most productivity guru will tell us that clutter on our workspace will lead to a cluttered mind. I find this to be somewhat true. There's a gigantic sense of relief and freedom that comes from seeing our workplace cleared of towering stacks of papers, books, etc.

And Thank God for the people at The Software Jedi, getting rid of all the clutter is a cinch.

Jedi Concentrate (JC) is a tiny app written to emulate Exposé, a feature found in Mac OS. Once started, the app will dim the active windows including the desktop, except the window with focus (the currently selected window). The purpose is to allow us to be more focused on finishing what we're doing by dimming all other possible distractions.

This is JC in action. But this is not my desktop, but a screencap from a site called MOONGIFT (thanks!). (I tried to screen capture JC in action on my desktop but without success.)

Let's not forget the second ingredient needed for this task: denial. This is my desktop with JC activated, by a simple press of the F12 key.

Where are the many, many icons before? I can't seem to see them now.

A cluttered desktop? Mana adaaa......

Sunday, 21 January 2007

Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas

15 or 10 years or so ago, I wouldn't want to even be caught near a book like this. But I guess with age, I've mellowed.

Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas is written by James Patterson, the author more known for his Alex Cross thrillers. Two of his books, Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider, have been made into movies, with Morgan Freeman playing Dr. Cross. With this book, it seems Patterson has decided to branch out to romance and relationship-type stories. This is actually my first time reading anything by Patterson.

On the first page we meet Katie, a senior editor in New York, who met the most perfect man she could ever imagine. Matt was her client, a promising poet from Martha's Vineyard. While still falling headily and unbelievably in love with each other, Matt suddenly disappeared and left her a diary.

Katie is crushed. Further adding to her wounds was learning that diary was written by Suzanne, who is Matt's wife, for their son Nicholas. Reluctantly, Katie picks up the book, with mixed feelings.

And as Katie searches for answers, we begin to see glimpses of Patterson the mystery writer. And like all good mystery tales, the final and critical clue is often revealed at the very later parts of the story. By the time the final page is reached, all ties that link Katie, Matt, Suzanne and Nicholas are made known to the readers. Patterson has succeeded at what I think he was going for: to write a romance story with a tinge of mystery.

My only complaint would be how incredibly amazing Matt is as a character. He's great husband, father, son, friend, lover, cook, carpenter, handyman, who's sensitive, thoughtful and writes beautiful poetry. Either Matt is an actual specimen of the perfect, dream guy or Suzanne is an angel of a wife who fails to see any of Matt's flaws.

Perfect man aside, this book for me is a gentle introduction to Patterson's works (who by the way writes in very, very short chapters) and the world of romance (which I don't plan to revisit any time soon). A story lacking slightly in realism, but beautiful in its simplicity.

(And a wonderful year ahead to all Muslim readers.)

Friday, 12 January 2007

Kari ikan sembilang dan biskut cream crackers

Idea mak saya.

Wednesday, 10 January 2007

"Excuse me, what's your blog's theme?"

My blog is sorely lacking something important: a theme. Yes, I fly from one topic to another, like a sugar glider flying from tree to tree. There's nothing central to hold it together. An utter mishmash.

I've sorted my posts in the categories you see below every one of them. Thanks to the, I'm able to perform an analysis of my posts. Hopefully, I might find a deeply buried theme to this blog.

Ongoings is basically about what's going on in my fairly eventful life. The truth is in real life I'm not good at talking about myself. I usually let other people talk about themselves while I listen. But how about writing about myself? According to my Ongoings tag, this is the category with the most posts (63!). Well, well. Turns out that I'm no so good at talking about myself but I'm better at writing about myself. Maybe the next time people ask me about myself, I should tell them, "Read my blog." (Lame bloggers' joke. I know. I'm very sorry and very ashamed.) Ongoings is after all a rather loose description. As long I as I'm in the post in some way, it's going under Ongoings.

Next is Computer-related, which is self explanatory. I'm a techie to a certain level and I did study in computer school as an undergrad. However, I'm most interested in stories with a human angle, and not entirely technical (which explains why I glided to management school later in my studies). Number of posts: 48. Not too bad, if I may say so.

When I started this blog, I was at the peak of my Anime/Manga fever. That has declined a lot lately since this is of a more of social thing for me. A lot of my anime/manga network people (my friend dzul included) has gone off to live busy lives, becoming engineers, move to other states or gotten occupied with their spouses, kids and in-laws. And there's also my issue with differentiating between "appreciators" and "consumers" of anime/manga. Sadly, the appreciators are in low numbers nowadays, and the consumers are rising exponentially, thanks to the mainstreaming of anime/manga. (I'm not trying to be a snob or anything, I just wish people would have more appreciation for other people's works.) To date there have been 14 posts, the lowest among the categories.

The award for "The Category I Wish I Have Written More In" goes to Islamic, which at present contains 21 posts. I'm not a model muslim or mukmin. But I'm doing everything I could to avoid confusion or misrepresentation of Islam. One of the ways for me to this is to avoid expressing my opinions on Islam, as I'm not qualified in terms of knowledge and I fear that they may be misinterpreted. However, I wish I could do more than what I'm doing right now. I think Pak Adib, one of Malaysia's more well-known bloggers, is doing a great job by sharing tazkirah. Syabas, Pak Adib. Anyway, most bloggers who come here like eika, iena and mudin write more about Islam than I do, so syabas, you guys.

Coming in at second lowest (i.e. 15) is Nukilan, the slot for my Bahasa Melayu posts. After years and years of reading and studying in English, my BM posts sounded like is was parsed through an English-to-BM text translator, as proved during Bulan Berbahasa. Thanks for the honest feedback, faithful readers, I'm going to include more BM books in my reading diet from now on.

The final category (which is the the loosely defined one of all) is Miscellaneous. It ranks as the second highest number of posts (possibly due to its looseness) with a total of 51 posts. Any post that:
  • doesn't have me in it OR
  • not computer-related OR
  • not related to anime or manga AND
  • could be in BM OR
  • not about Islam
qualifies as a Miscellaneous post. It's an umbrella category, basically for anything under the sun and beyond, plus other things that might be under some other different suns. From this category I learned how to correctly spell the word 'Miscellaneous'.

At a glance here's how the catagories rank in terms of number, as prior to this post:
  1. Ongoings (63) WINNER!
  2. Miscellaneous (51)
  3. Computer-related (48)
  4. Islamic (21)
  5. Nukilan (15)
  6. Anime/Manga (14)
To sum up (or unearth) the elusive theme of this blog, here goes:
A blog by a Muslim Melayu blogger who likes to write (but not talk) about himself, computers, Islam, anime and manga, and whatever strikes his interest.
How does that sound? ("Tell us something we don't know", eh, everyone?)

The advantage of writing a blog with a definite theme is that we're free to write about anything as there's nothing to limit our focus. The downside is it will be difficult to promote our blog to people, unless we're famous or super interesting (or super attractive).

Thank you, everyone, for supporting me and my blog. I hope I can write more useful stuff in the future that will benefit us all. This has been my main goal since day 1. All the best to all, and I leave you with a picture of Mr. Sugar Glider wishing you a very productive life ahead.

Wednesday, 3 January 2007

What I'm thinking about lately #1

New Year is a(nother) time for making resolutions

Is it? When people asked me what's my new year resolution, I was stumped. I'm more of anytime-is-a-good-time-for-making-resolutions kind of person.

Learning and intrinsic motivation

Before the advent of modern schools and education systems, people go to become apprentices to learn things. And students seek the teacher (ever heard the saying that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear?). It's similar to the sekolah pondok system. They become sahabat, like the companions of Prophet Muhammad SAW. They form bonds beyond just teacher-student. Now why can't we have more of this today?

Young people are not told to figure out the things that would suit themselves best. Instead they are being shooed into things that are high-paying. We the earlier generation may have done a major disservice. Worse, I think we may have ruined them.

To excel in life and in any field, nothing beats in intrinsic motivation (the one coming from the person's own heart). Telling a school leaver that studying forestry is not a good career option? If he or she has the passion for it, there's no telling how far he or she will go.

We should encourage ourselves and others to find our intrinsic motivation and seek out passions that will allow us to fully make use of our unique talents. No later than now. Or risk living a regrettable life.

Not Vista, but Ubuntu the operating system I'm eying right now for my next computer, insya-Allah. Ubuntu makes Linux approachable and once I'm running it, I'll likely get others on board.

My good friend profar kind-heartedly wanted to donate me a SATA hard disk, but my current (but dated) motherboard doesn't support SATA.

I've used legitimately licensed copies at least 3 kinds of Windows: 95, Me and XP. There have been happy times being with Microsoft, I'll admit. But until Microsoft learns to respect and trust customers (and not unleashing something like last year's crippling Windows Genuine Advantage spyware ), I'm packing my bags to head to more greener and freer pastures.

Too much or too good?

Here's an interesting remark by HP's then CEO Carly Fiorina about the company's new products' time to market. It was made shortly after her appointment. Listen to issue addressed.
"We make over three new products announcements a day. Can you remember them? Our customers can't."
Very interesting. I'll thinking about this a lot in the coming days.
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