Saturday, 31 May 2008

Currently enjoying: Architecture Inside Out

Boy I wish I had someone like Prof. Tajuddin back when I was in school.

Prof. Mohamad Tajuddin Mohamad Rasidi writes a fortnightly column in the Sunday Star, Architecture Inside Out (AIO). AIO is an immerse guide to the world of architecture, discussing the ways it affects the lives of people and the impact it can make religiously, culturally and historically. Prof. Tajuddin's engaging explanations and his ability to link relevant issues with architecture makes this column something to look forward to every other weekend. He has tackled things from the proper design of a home (he contends the house should be able to grow with family) to the design of mosques (spanning several instalments.)

If you haven't been reading it I suggest you start here. Trust me, you won't see architecture the same way again.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008


How often do hear this word at your workplace?

Been looking at a lot of stuff regarding this for some time now, and it's starting to me make wonder about my own level of competency.

From what I gather (without going too deep into the technical definition, discussions etc.), competency is what an employee is capable of.

Performance, on the hand, is what the employee actually does and achieves.

The details are lengthy and the actual stuff are at the office desk, not with me. Now I see why competencies don't count when our performance is being evaluated.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Resit beli barang

Diskaun terhebat, hanya di kedai Pak Sood.

Monday, 19 May 2008

From Gutsy to Hardy

I waited for 24th April o8. Why? Because it was the release date for Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron.

But I missed it. Too many things to take care of and do. I waited and read about it at blogs and websites.

The Ubuntu I first installed was 7.10, a.k.a Gutsy Gibbon. Ubuntu has an interesting way of naming its releases. The figure 7.10 stands for year 2007 and month of October, the time it was released. The code name is especially amusing, it follows the form of an adjetive and an animal. Warty Warthog for release 4.10, Breezy Badger (5.10) and Dapper Drake (6.06). It makes it easy for people to talk about a specific release without having to remember numbers.

Upgrading from Gutsy to Hardy was done via download. A notifaction icon appear via Update Manager, telling me a new release is available. It took a few hours, leaving me with ample to pray to God that nothing terrible will happen.

Alhamdulillah, downloading the update went well. Except for a few minor hiccups, I amazed at how easy and smooth everything went.

Overall, I wish there are significant changes to report. But mostly the changes are internal, and they make Ubuntu feel more stable. That's a good thing. I also feel it's somewhat user-friendlier a bit. They've added a new CD buring software called Brasero, but I don't have a burner so I can't test it out.

The minor hiccups, one in particular, was the change in the resolution of the login screen. It was big that I couldn't see where to type my username and password. This led to a few seconds of panic. I solved the problem by switching to a less prettier-looking Debian login screen, which fits my monitor's resolution nicely.

Like I said just now, Hardy is a solid release, one that I makes me feel more confident to recommend to anyone interested in Linux or Ubuntu. If you're installing from the installer CD (that you can order for free but remember to sign up first), there's WUBI. WUBI is probably the easiest way yet to install Linux, it makes the installation process similar to the way we would usually install any new program in Windows. Neat!

One thing I'm waiting for though, a change in Ubuntu overall look. The one now is a bit too brown and orange-y. Earthy maybe the word, but how's about more colour scheme options, yeah?

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Working Muslim

There's an amusing line I read from a career development blog: "8 jobs before turning 32." Heh. I'm halfway there already.

My new job is starting to look up. Not that's a downer to begin with, but we get into that awkward first few months where we stagger along our roles, expectations and so on. It's not easy, especially when your boss is someone you know before you work for him. But give it some time and insya-Allah things will slowly fall into place.

I also got a lot advice about work recently, including on the intention of working. We do know that finding a halal means of living is commanded in Islam. In the same way, we are forbidden from stealing or begging or any other form of evil or dependency anything other Allah.

And that's the tricky part, to work with our hearts depending on Allah. Our alim ulama says that Allah hides himself behind this world to test our faith. Who will believe in things and beings and who will believe in Allah himself. Do we see that our company is handing out money to us on pay day, or it is Allah gracefully bestowing just a tiny portion of His infinite wealth?

If we believe that our sustenance is from Allah, then we must try our best to obey Him and not provoke His displeasure. We work with sincerity, not for recognition, wealth or anything else. Because of Him only.

Of course, that takes a lot effort. Such belief doesn't appear in our hearts magically. It's up to us to remind ourselves and other constantly, and be careful of anything that may tarnish our sincerity. Work is ibadah if we perform it with sincerity and remembrance of Allah.

Where am I in my own sincerity, I have no idea. But may He help me and us all, amin.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Vets Might Fly

The 1940s. A war is brewing. James Herriot, like a lot of his compatriots, is summoned to defend the country, as a air crew member of the Royal Air Force (RAF). In crazy times like these, even vets must fly.

This is his 5th book chronicling his days a veterinarian in the Dales of Yorkshire's Darrowby. So far Herriot has survived Darrowby's farmers, pet owners and of course, animals. But how would he fare in a training stint with the RAF?

Making the situation more unsettling is the fact that his wife Helen is pregnant with their first child.

Vets Might Fly seems like a story of how Herriot coped with the training and the then ongoing war. He endures the days in training by reminiscing the times when he still in Darrowby, injecting sick dogs with medicine, castrating bulls when asked by their owners and treating cows that communicate their pain and discomfort by kicking.

Being under the strict order of the army also drives Herriot to a bit of mischief. When he got moved to an area near Darrowby, he secretly snuck out to see Helen. Luckily, he did not got caught. And soon later, he was allowed to go home when his son little Jimmy Herriot was born. He grew up to a veterinarian like his father, and even wrote a book on him.

More on Herriot in the war in the next one, Vet in a Spin.

Monday, 5 May 2008

The return of MS Office (into my life)

I'm one frog that's been sitting under the coconut shell for far too long.

I've been OpenOffice exclusively for nearly 2 years. In my new job, I'm reunited with ol' MS Office, now the 2007 version. And what's this? The "ribbon" interface.

A lot of things come to mind when I work using the ribbon. One is feeling impressed at how much improvement MS has added to its aged office productivity suite. It's certainly looks cool too.

On the other hand, this definitely changes the learning curve. Finding ways to do things like adding tables and formatting the text may take users some time. (Or maybe it's just me.) Familiarity is important because it helps with intuitiveness.

One thing I dislike about Office 2007 though is the difficulty to get it to save file in older formats like Word 2000, for example. But this the same with OpenOffice, where it saves your work in its default format unless we specify otherwise. However, with Office 2007, I had to dig deep into the options to find and enable the 'Save As' function. This is not the way to score points in terms of user-friendliness.
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