Sunday, January 25, 2009

My New CNY Toy is..

.. a ThinkPad USB desktop keyboard! This is something I have been wanting to buy for a long, long time. I think the 'lust' started about 4-5 years ago but I didn't act on it until 2 months ago when my friend, Mr Fly, asked me about this and convinced me to buy together. It's not easy to buy this baby in Malaysia. I had to call Lenovo, who gave me a number so I can call their Malaysia reseller ThunderMatch. They asked for payment in advance and then would load the order. We had to wait TWO (2) months for it to arrive.. I received it yesterday! Just in time for CNY!

I have been using a ThinkPad* for 13 years! And the feel of the keyboard is unmatched by any other keyboard or notebooks. Of course, the TrackPoint (the red 'nipple' pointer) is second to none. So don't you think that I should be getting a ThinkPad keyboard for my home desktop? The convenience of the TrackPoint and the feel of the excellent keyboard is worth the more expensive price that I am paying!

There are two types of USB ThinkPad keyboard. One is just called USB ThinkPad keyboard, which I owned and is shown in the picture above, the other is called a USB ThinkPad Traveller keyboard. The one I own has the numpad but it is still shorter than the normal keyboard. If you compared to a normal desktop keyboard, you would notice that between the Enter and the numpad, the arrow keys and the "Insert", "Home" keys are missing from this ThinkPad keyboard. Thus, the shorter footprint. They are not so much missing as being relocated to the top and bottom of the keyboard - just like how it is in a ThinkPad notebook.

The Traveller keyboard which my friend bought is exactly the same size as a ThinkPad keyboard. It doesn't have a numpad and the cables are shorter. It's meant for engineers to bring along as they travel.

I chose the non-Traveller version because I feel that as a desktop keyboard, I need the numpad. Besides, some games use the numpad.

Both keyboards comes with two USB ports - so I could plug in my USB drive or camera to the keyboard without having to reach to the PC to install.

Most of the functions keys work, except the Fn Home and Fn End which adjust LCD brightness. There's an additional Fn "NumLk" in my keyboard which launches the Calculator.. cool!

I'm a happy gamer today!

* Let's see, I started using a ThinkPad 755, then 760, then T20, T40 and now a T60. Excellent machines - if I were to buy a notebook out of my own pocket, it will be a ThinkPad!

Update - April 2009: I begin to appreciate getting the full keyboard instead of the Traveller ones. There are games that needed the numpad.. eg Grand Theft Auto 4 when you pilot a helicopter.. so it was a good decision.

Oh.. I saw this video in YouTube:
(yes, it came in that ugly plain brown packaging)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Follower..

I am very sad.. only 1 Follower in my blog! Where are my readers???

Survey

Ringgit went back to EPF today. This time he had all the forms and supporting documents done. He got a number and was attended to in about 5 minutes of waiting. As the officer went through all his document, another lady came over. She looks like the supervisor. She kept on asking the officer if the documentations are complete. The officer nodded yes. She asked again .. can approve? The officer said yes.. Satisfied, the supervisor hand over a survey form to Ringgit to fill - to feedback on the quality of service. Ringgit asked - is it for THIS officer or for KWSP in general because his experience with KWSP YESTERDAY was not very pleasant. Oh.. the supervisor smiled sheepishly, "it's supposed to be for this officer but if you want to feedback about KWSP also can." Ringgit looked at the form and all the questions are about this officer! He wonders why no one gave him a form yesterday. What's the point of giving a form to a 'successful applicant'?

On a side note, I am very pleased with the online EPF portal. I could already see that my application is now Pending approval. Less than an hour and it showed on my online portal.. Nice!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

EPF

Ringgit is angry! He went to EPF today to process on EPF account 2 withdrawal for the house. He came prepared with the right documentation - he even called EPF hotline to confirm. But he didn't tell them this is a joint name house - he just assumed they knew because he withdrew before. This is a second withdrawal after all and he didn't need much documentation when he did his first withdrawal.

When it was his turn, he showed them the documentation and form and the lady informed him that he has to show that he's related to the two people in the joint name - as in, must show birth cert of everyone listed in the S&P. It's a new policy since Oct 08 - because of many fraud cases, they wanted proof that you are related to the person in the joint name a/c! Ringgit argues that he withdrew before and that they didn't tell him when he called. They said too bad - it's a new policy.

Ringgit is pissed!

Windows 7 Beta

Microsoft is letting user try Windows 7 Beta. Download NOW! Expires August 1st
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/beta-download.aspx

Monday, January 05, 2009

At least you are not drinking in a pub


I blogged about me asking a friend to help me buy GTA4.

Below is a short email exchange between us:

Kittie Kat:
I take it this is a pc game that (wife) does not approve off ;)

Ringgit:
It's not that she doesn't approve of this game.. she doesn't approve of me gaming :P

Kittie Kat:
I feel her pain...but then tell her at least you will be at home and not at the golf course or drinking in a pub.....
well i hope you are at home! :)


The exchange leads to me blogging today about this particular topic.

There are men who spent lots of time outside of home, especially the older generations - be it golfing with buddies, mamak with friends, drinking with colleagues or customers, going to arcade centers for video games/bowling (olden days), going to spa/massage centers and lots of other activities. Men are not known to be at home - they usually escape from the house because they just want to be out.

I bet you the wives of these men with interest such as above would complained that their husband is never around the house, not helping out with the kids and chores, not taking care of the house. Some even said that their husbands spend more times with friends and business associates than with them (wives).

And I bet you that they would give the world to see their husbands 'chained' at home.

Now fast forward about 10 years. Men these days are more accessible to video games and computer games and the Internet - mainly because computers are so easy to use and many games are designed for the general public, not hardcore targetted gamers. You hear a lot of people who didn't play games started to get an interest in computer games. I could name you many friends who have zero interest in games now playing them at home.

And so these men, including me, spend A LOT of time at home. We don't go out for drinks, mamak or spa. We stay at home - sometimes between gaming sessions, we helped out with the house chores .. and YET.. the women complains! And the complains are typically - we spent too much time on the PC, we need to go out more, help buy this, buy that.. etc.

You can never win with the women!

So, which is the lesser of the two evils? PC games or Golf/Drinking in the Pub?

Comment away in the comments...
edit: for the record - I played games, at most 1 hour/day. And only full day Saturday - provided we are not going out on Saturday.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Teluk Intan

I am not sure if I need to update this in Ringgit Places as the blog is dead. I'll just update here and cross reference from there.

We just came back from Teluk Intan - we visited Anne's 3rd uncle who gave a house warming party. It was a short family trip - my whole in-laws went. We drove two cars. 3rd uncle is my favourite uncle in law. He's loud, he's expressive, he's direct - but he's also fun, he been through life a lot and he shares wonderful stories. I enjoy talking to him. So, I was looking forward to this trip - and I tried the famouse Teluk Intan chee cheong fun.. it was as good as people claimed. The texture was smooth and the 'har mai' was crunchy and delicious. Yum.

3rd Uncle booked us a house for the night. This row of semi-Ds, which is a stone's throw away from his new house was designed as a lodging place. On the ground floor, it has 3 rooms, each with it's own bath. Upstairs are 4 rooms with attached bath. It's very clean and very comfortable. I have not heard of such a concept before. A row of semi-Ds designed as a lodging. I am not sure if it is even legal - just last week I read in The Star about residents complaining about this bungalow being converted as a hotel.

3rd Uncle moved to a big house - 24x75 - very spacious house. He bought it for RM182K. Opposite him are new semi-Ds of the same design. I don't know how much it cost but spending a night in Teluk Intan cause me to think that it's a very good place for retirement. You don't need to go Australia to retire. You can retire, right here in Malaysia - just move to a small town and Teluk Intan looks to be just the small town. It's not as 'ulu' as other towns. It has new and modern developments such as 3rd Uncle's Taman. The air is clean - this morning, the whole taman is shrouded in mist. Yes, mist - because it was raining the whole day yesterday. The air smells so fresh!

If I sold my house, I probably could own a bungalow there (edit: ha ha.. I kid myself.. I have not even settled my loan yet! It's not like I own my house now - the bank does...) And life there is quiet and serene. Food is cheap too. A bowl of noodles cost RM2.70 vs RM4 in KL or Ipoh.

The picture on the left showed the morning mist. I wish I was able to capture a better picture.

Teluk Intan is about 40km away from another town called Bidor. Bidor is at the exit of North South Highway. There is not highway linking to Teluk Intan directly - and I guess this 'inconvenience' is its charm because it is disconnected from the world and yet, it is not like the small towns that you see in other parts of Malaysia. Teluk Intan is much better developed and it's very independant and mature. It's old name was Anson and it was a popular town during colonial times which I guess explains the reason it wasn't like any other town.

One million daimoku

In April 2008, Anne and I started our resolution to chant 1 million daimoku in one year. It's already Jan - and I am only one-third of the way. I really need to WORK HARDER - coz I made another 1 million resolution from Jan - Dec 2009.

The chart you see on the right of this post is a chart that we put beside our butsudan. It tracked our chanting progress. Every 20 minute, we coloured one box. Mine is the one on top, Anne's at the bottom - you can see that she made much better progress than me! Hmmm.. come to think of it, I am not even at one third!!

Edit 22 March 2009: Thanks to Google, a couple of friends in faith found this post and they want to know how many hours of chanting is required to achieve one million diamoku. Here it is. Based on our publication in Malaysia, 20 minutes of chanting is equivalent to 1,000 daimoku. So, one hour is 3,000 daimoku. 1 million would take about 333 hours.

3 roses

I suprised Anne with 3 red roses on 30th Dec. One year ago, on the same day and month, I gave her a hand-bouquet of 30 roses and married her into the Ringgit family. One year later - a symbolic 3 roses - should be ok, right? Look how they bloomed :)

It's a surprised because I already gave her a card and a 'dinner for 2 @ anywhere she chose' self-made-voucher on our 1st anniversary.

Friday, January 02, 2009

2009 Resolutions

Everyone's making a list so Anne and I sat down after our midnight gongyo and daimoku (*) and make a list.

Our resolution:
1. Create a harmonious family every single day
2. Chant 2 million daimoku in 2009 (*)
3. Have 20 encouraging conversations with people in a month. This is in line with the Soka Gakkai's 2009 mission of having 1-1 conversation with people about Buddhism.
4. Read 2 New Human Revolution books per month - one each.
5. Achieve one Gohonzon enshrinement per year - helped one person take up faith in Buddhism - there are people who chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo but they don't have a Gohonzon at home. So, our resolution is to have one person enshrine the Gohonzon in his/her home.
6. Be on time to all Buddhist meetings :)

Ultimately, the point of these resolutions is to strengthen our faith, The core of our faith is happiness for oneself and for others - so strengthene our faith also means bringing ultimate happiness to self and others. Also, not an easy task.

* gongyo is reciting two important chapters from Lotus Sutra. We do this twice a day - morning and evening gongyo. For the new year, we would do one at midnight - to herald the start of a new year. These two chapters are important because they document that every living being has Buddha nature and that it is possible to bring forth that Buddha nature.

daimoku is another term for Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. We chant the daimoku every day. The more daimoku, the better. Daimoku can bring forth the Buddha nature from within us, thus giving us the Buddha courage, wisdom and compassion to win over our daily problems. Chanting daimoku is like establishing a ryhtm within our lives - a rythm that resonates with the rythm of the universe, the rythm of our cells, our bodies, our envirnment. Typically, we chant one daimoku per second.

20 minutes of chanting is equivalent to 1,000 daimoku. So, one hour of chanting per day is about 3,000 daimoku. One year of one hour chanting per day is about 1 million daimoku. NOT an easy task!

Economy is bad?

Have you noticed that it is very difficult to get home improvement work done these days? My roofing (pergola, to be exact) had some problem ...